Cody Wyoming – The Last Chapter of our Yellowstone Vacation

September 15th, 2010

After four days in Teton and Yellowstone, we packed up the pop-up and headed out to meet up with the CD’s nurse Kay and her partner Bill and Kay’s daughter, Sarah who lives on a ranch outside of Cody with Stuart and their two daughters Shaney and Soriah.  Did you get all that?  Should I sketch out a diagram?

The CD


Nurse Kay and Bill


Sarah and Stuart


Shaney and Soriah

Let me complicate it further by telling you a bit about Sarah and Stuart as they are sort of a phenomenal couple.  They were finalists for the show ‘The Amazing Race’ and could have been on it, but the man who owned the ranch that they were working for at the time wouldn’t let them take the time off.  Sarah is a cowgirl who worked the ranch until she had her second daughter Shaney.  Stuart is a cowboy and a singer/songwriter.  Last year he was out roping cattle and a rogue cow drug him off his horse, across a rocky pasture breaking his back and legs in a billion places.  HIs femur bone was sticking out of his buttock when they picked up his battered body, loaded him into a pickup and drove him back to the ranch where he waited for an hour for a helicopter to pick him up for emergency surgery.  His bone was out of the socket for so long that doctors were sure he would never walk again.

But he did.

Stuart recovered and was slowly getting back to cowboying on the guest ranch where he and Sarah met and worked for ten years, when he was suddenly let go.

The couple have now settled on a new ranch where Stuart works for a guy who owns one of the largest companies in the world.

And Sarah spends her free time running up the nearby mountains, training for marathons at high elevations.  She just finished a race that had a gain of 7000 feet over the course of the race.

So that’s Sarah and Stuart in a nutshell (emphasis on nut).

But first!

We took the Chief Joseph Highway to get from Yellowstone to Cody.

Should you ever be up in these parts…

I highly recommend this route.

Once we arrived in Cody, we hunted around for a hotel room as we were all kind of sick of camping (except the CD who is never sick of anything that involves hardship and suffering).

But there were no rooms available in the entire city because the Sturgis motorcycle rally was going on just down the road in South Dakota and the entire town was full of bikers on their way to the event.

So we stopped at a diner and filled up with all the best forms of grease and starch and headed out to find Sarah and Stuart’s house.

We arrived really late at their house and not wanting to wake anyone up, we set up the pop-up in the dark hoping that we were in the right place.

In the morning we were greatly relieved to see Kay’s horse Apache.

Kay made us waffles for breakfast and then she made us pack up for a horse ride up the mountains.

Each of my children were placed on a horse and then a baby was placed beside them.

Drew got Shaney.

Calder got Soriah.

And Ethan got baby Jack.

I have to tell you that my boys are not experienced horse people.  So the fact that they were handed babies to care for…

While they rode a horse…

Up a mountain!!!!

That was full of GRIZZLY BEARS!!!

Seemed REALLY CRAZY to me.

“Here son… get on this here horse and now here’s your baby to care for.  Keep a hold of her!  Make sure she don’t fall off!  Have fun!”

What is going on?

Is this what all horse people are like?

Is it some kind of trial by fire/horse/baby mentality?

But I figured that these people knew what they were doing, so we set off up the mountain.

This is Sarah leading Ethan and baby Jack up the mountain.

About half way up the CD was sick of my complaining about how hard the trail was and how my calves were burning and how I wished we were sitting in a beach cabana and where the hell is my cocktail with the little umbrella in it and why are we climbing up a mountain with bears and snakes and horses with babies?

So he heaved me onto a horse and told me exactly where I could stick my beach umbrella!

This is me relaxing on a horse!

Please note that I have the signature Wyoming baby clutching my waist.

These Wyoming people are NUTS!

This is grandma Kay with her baby Shaney.

Look!  There’s me!

I’m on a horse!

I’m riding a horse!


I ride horses!!!!

I am a horse rider!

I RIDE!!!!!

I RIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!

I ride and sing songs!

And yodel!

I am so horsey!

I am such a natural horsewoman!

I could probably give riding lessons!

I should open a riding school in Kansas and teach the Wyoming baby/horse method of riding.


Where’s my baby!





Oh! Here she is with Drew!

How did that happen!

Does this mean I am no longer qualified to open my riding school?

And that’s when Mister Mule Train came through.

And Kay and Bill had to push their horses up the hill so that the mule train could get around us.

Please note the trail we were riding on was really just a tiny ledge of dust.

I found a tree that would stop me from rolling down the side of the mountain and in the traditional Wyoming spirit, I clutched a baby.

This guy was with the mule train.  I think he is that one actor.  You know the one?

And this guy looked like an actor too.  What is his name?

The mule train people were ending a three week fishing trip to the most remote spot in the continental United States.  It is located in South Central Yellowstone which backs up to the Shoshone Wilderness.

Do you know what makes a spot remote?

The distance that it is from a road.

There aren’t many spots left in the continental US that are very far from a road.

They had to pack in their own bear fences which they then set up around their tents because you know… it’s just not a vacation unless you are setting up a bear fence around your super remote campsite.

Here’s a bear fence around the playground at the one room country school where Shaney and Soriah might attend someday.

It kind of puts a new spin on dropping your baby off for their first day of kindergarten don’t it?

For Chrissake!  Don’t forget to shut the gate!

Oh!  And it’s a drug free school zone too!

Well now that is a HUGE RELIEF!

Back at Sarah and Stuart’s place, Stuart was home.

He demonstrated his bear safe trash can for us.

And then he showed us his can of bear spray which he always keeps handy.

Sarah takes bear spray on her runs up in the mountains too.

Oh that just makes it all seem so much more SANE!

After our horse ride up into the mountains, we ate some lunch and then hiked down to the creek behind Sarah and Stuart’s house.

The boys and the little girls played in the shallow cold river…

And then we hiked back to the house.

Stuart played a few tunes for us…

And we packed up and headed on towards home.

Here ends our Yellowstone/Teton/Crazy ass people who live in Wyoming/vacation.

It really is a gorgeous state to see.

But you need to be a lot of heartier than me to want to live there.



  • Kait:

    Snort. Snicker. Guffaw. You are a hoot and a half. I told you I am not supposed to laugh around here.
    Stunning photos by the way.
    Oh! Is one still considered an expert horsewoman if one is not holding the reins?

  • Leah:

    Now I understand why I never became any good at horseback riding. I didn’t have no baby.

  • Beautiful pics. Okay two things concern me here. Um, the baby thing for sure, but even more so, those bear fences! Shouldn’t a bear fence like be 12 feet high, and made of reinforced steel, and be electrified, and have a siren and I could go on and on here! But I am a crazy freak who obviously wasn’t made to cut it in any kind of forested area either!

  • So pretty! And such a good story! And you know I love the picture of the mule train guy (not the actor-looking one, & not the other actor-looking one, but the OTHER one!) Seems like an awesome day on a arduous vacation. I’m taking one of the sit on the beach w/a drink (w/a mini umbrella) in your hand vacations in a couple weeks & I can’t wait!

    P.S. I couldn’t help but think, “PW was right! You DO have a baby!”

  • Maryanne:

    That was fantastic!
    Do you get to pick the vacation spot for next summer?

  • Catherine McP:

    Baby Jack!, man, thanks for the hearty chuckle!..Very beautiful place.

  • Martha in Kansas:

    I just checked my doors, and yes they’re locked. Against bears. One can never be too careful.

  • Oh that was fun! Loved every LOL!

  • inga:

    Thanks for the laughs and the very beautiful scenery. And the gratuitous beautiful man shot too!


  • Sharon:

    Were you thinking of the show Intervention when you started yelling “Where’s My Baby!”? Great pics.

  • Michelle Z.:

    Am I the only nosy bitch who wants to know who Stuart works for? A man “who owns one of the largest companies in the world”, and has a ranch? Does Bill Gates like horses? You’re killing me.

    And Mule Train Man. The world can never have enough Mule Train Man.

    • Rechelle:

      Michelle Z – Think beverage. Big beverage. Bigger. Even bigger.

      • LucyJoy:

        Ooops…replied under the wrong post. I’ll blame it on the hacky cold I have.

        August Busch, III?

        • Rechelle:

          non-alcoholic beverage. I am only being cagey here because I am a weirdo and I don’t want anyone to lose a job. Those ultra wealthy executive types can be kind of freaky. We had to hide when he brought a guest out on the river because he likes for his guests to think they are the only ones in Wyoming I guess.

          • Cheyenne:

            My first thought was Ted Turner. But, I think his land is in Montana, not Wyoming, and I don’t know that he has anything to do with beverages. So, Warren Buffett? Google says he owns a lot of Coke stock.

          • GA in GA:

            Hmmm, I’ll have to think on this a bit. Wealthy exec types always want to think they are the only ones on the face of the earth. I think I know who it is and I think he has property close to me as well. . . .

            I was so happy to see another photo of Mule Train Man! He was in the last blog of yours I read before The Remodeling strangled my life out of me and I no longer had time to enjoy your blog. I had to strip wallpaper, paint, and clean up sheet rock dust.

            Now to go & catch up on the rest of your blog!

  • susan:

    That was fantastic Rechelle. That creek….the cold water….would be such great break from these horrible Houston humid summers. Thank you for the mental vacation.

    • LucyJoy:

      August Busch III?

  • Love it! And now I see why you likely opted to skip Mt. Rushmore… Did you not know of Sturgis? Maybe next year you can come enjoy a relaxing vacation in the Hills. I’ll be sure to have cocktails with little umbrellas for you. : )

    Thanks for another shot of Mule Train Man. And the gorgeous photos. And starting my work day with a good chuckle.

    Here I thought I worked for the man who owns one of the largest companies in the world…but maybe it’s just that he owns so dang many of them.

  • Lori:

    I LOVE Cody Wyoming.
    We were there september 20 and 21.
    The Chief Joseph Highway is an outstanding drive. We drove it once in the dark then went back the next year so we could see it in the daylight. Spectacular!

    Instead of the horse back riding and river playing (which is all in my back yard, you know…) we snooped through Cody (on main street is an amazing antique store with even more amazing prices! I walked out of there with a large box of green depression glass items and only spent twenty bucks. Had we more time we’d have toured the dam but instead spent one evening and half a day in the Cody Museum. So interesting!

    What did you think of all the larger than life bronze statues in Cody?
    I took lots of pictures of those.

  • Is that mule guy FOR REAL? YUM.

  • Cacklin Rose:

    Edward James Almos and Randy Quaid??

  • Priss:

    I’ve really enjoyed all your vacation posts. My husband’s been reminiscing about Yellowstone and about Wyoming since we first dated thirty something years ago. He hasn’t been back in all these years, and I’ve never felt the pull even with his telling me how wonderful it all is. Your pictures are gorgeous and certainly more tempting that his old faded instamatic prints. But no horses on dust trails for me if I ever go. That did look CRAZY! Even without babies.

    Randy Quaid for sure on the last fellow.

  • That drive to Cody was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever enjoyed, love that country! You look darling on that horse, “I’m on a horse y’all!” (gotta know rap)

  • Rechelle -
    Your photos really make me want to go back to Wyoming – horses, hikes, mountains, bears and all. Love it.
    I’d be happy living in a very remote area as pretty as that as long as I could get some good coffee (Peets for example), have Internet access and someone who could deliver all the stuff I’d want to order online :)
    Of course Mule Train Man being a neighbor could only make it better.

    Glad you got to experience the Tetons and Yellowstone – they are awesome (and better in the fall when there are less tourists) – good memories for your boys!

  • My ancestors were original Cody-ites–sent up by Brigham Young to tame them there parts. Wyoming –not for the weak of heart.. We here in Idaho only go there when we “don’t care WHAT happens!”

  • Rechelle, all those pictures of your boys and husband in jeans and on horses and NOT ONE SHOT OF THEIR ASSES?
    You missed a PW photo-op:)

  • Loved. Everything. About. This. Post.
    I have cousins in WY and we have done that drive, camped in the Tetons, been in Cody during Sturgis. It’s all very familiar. except for Mr. Mule Train : )

  • Deb C:

    Great post! Great photos. Any photo shopping going on in the ones in the beginning that are all shades of blue? They are gorgeous!

    I wonder if Mule Train Man knew he’d run into someone on the way – unlikely I think, but I find his dress interesting. Shirt opened halfway down his chest and a down vest on. Quite delicious looking…
    I would bet my last dollar that the guest with the eyeglass pocket protector is an engineer of some sort in real life.

    So interesting to see how differently people live – a bit different from my suburban Maine life. You were brave to go on those trails. I have a fear of heights and got dizzy just looking at the photos.

  • You do know that Dick Cheney is a WY resident… Reason enough to be armed to the teeth.

    • Nanc in Ashland:

      And wearing a vest!

  • Great pics. And that dude. Oh my. THAT DUDE!

  • Jennifer:

    Mule Train Man makes any bear sightings worth the risk.

  • carols:

    that was very funny. Thanks for the giggles. We loved Yellowstone despite the crabbing about driving around so much. Gorgeous country. Great pics. Funny stories. Thanks.

  • Okay, the bear fences seem a tad…well, tiny to me. They kind of look like logs and chicken wire. Does that really keep bears out or just slow then down long enough for everyone to run into the building?

  • Someone Someone:

    Duuuuuude. You should have a photo contest for people who like photo contests but don’t think photos look good when they are photoshopped so much they start to resemble a Monet. Or a Polluck. Or a probable alien from that new planet they found. Because your photos actually look good compared to that one lady who likes to channel Lucile Ball.

    You wouldn’t even have to give away cameras and Ipads to make people care or read or submit. You could just give away a nice little one-liner.