It’s come to our attention there’s a heat wave smothering much of the country these days, but you’ll forgive us if we are unimpressed. Something we forgot to mention earlier today is that it was 48 degrees or so on top of Sylvan Pass as we drove through in the rain. And that’s when the rain wasn’t in the shape of hail, coming at us sideways from the wind.
We are not bringing this up because we are braggarts, but instead because of an observation we made: the oldest of the crew were cold and determined, while the youngest of the group were cold and uncomplaining. Which is a wonderful thing to experience first hand when all we hear about these days is how “soft” we’re growing as a country. Like most everything else we’re presented with, you have to read beyond the headline to find the buried lede.
We remember our first cross-country road trip just over 40 years ago. Of course things were different then, like route planning with Triple-A Trip-Tiks and looking out the back window of a blue Mercury Marquis station wagon wondering what was on the other side of all the signs we were passing.
But two things remain the same: a question of what’s over the next hill, and the memories of what you found there. Those are the things that never get old and certain people in every generation can’t shake that sense of adventure and reward.
This trip is, of course, not a run-of-the-mill cross-country and with that comes additional rewards. The younger ones among us are learning about the cars, fighting to be the one who crank-starts the engines. And the older ones are reminding the younger ones that the engine can bite them if the spark lever isn’t retarded and their thumb isn’t under the crank handle along with the rest of their fingers. The antique auto hobby is being passed down to the next generation and willingly accepted.
The younger ones are also learning that a certain responsibility comes with driving these cars on public roads. Everyone’s in a hurry, even when sightseeing, but we can’t be even if we wanted to be. So we pull over every so often to let others pass and based on the number of cars taking pictures of us as they go by we’re not annoying them too much.
Which is good, because we had originally planned on taking the dirt Stagecoach Trail from Wapiti to Cody but instead took what Teddy Roosevelt called “the 50 most scenic miles in America” and is now called the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway. Sure, there were more cars than we’d prefer, but Teddy couldn’t have been more right.
As we sit down to write this over a steak dinner (because the Cody Cattlewomen proclaim Wyoming to be Beef Country and we couldn’t find an argument otherwise) we have yet to to settle on our route for tomorrow. There’s the standard, well-traveled route over the Bighorn mountains, a more remote route at slightly lower elevation through Ten Sleep, or a flatter route through Montana. There are reasons for considering each one but we’ll figure it out before tomorrow morning’s deadline. In the meantime we’ll continue talking about today’s adventure and discuss whether what we tinkered on earlier this afternoon was the cure or just the bandaid. Regardless, it’ll be another day of touring, sightseeing and adventure.
P. S. We are spending the night at A Western Rose Motel in Cody, WY. Our hosts, Brenda and Mark, have been incredibly gracious, helpful and patient with us as we work on the cars and drip oil in their driveway. It may seem we plug everywhere we go in exchange for accommodations but we assure you we’re going broke while meeting some of the nicest people in the country, and it’s worth every penny.