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Best of the West Tour Recap

Steve Kirby  | Published on 10/1/2019

 

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Best of the West Tour Recap




As is obvious from the other reports in this issue, a lot of Club Members attended Conclave 2019. But we all had to get there and get home, no easy task considering the distance. While some shipped cars directly to Deadwood, others trailered part way and some drove the entire way, I led a small group on a pre and post-Conclave route dubbed “Best of the West” We shipped seven cars via Reliable Carriers to Denver where we were met by two other cars for the outbound leg. Those shipping included Greg and Sandra Aden, Jay and Katie Miller, David and Jacky Deamer, Chuck and Dawn Lakowski, Terry Cowan and Lisa Mandell, Fred Zepeda and Cindi and me. We were joined in Denver by Bob and Shari Bolling, Phil Caliva and Bill MacFarland, and Reid Trummel.

 

Ten cars in convoy we left Denver on a hot afternoon, headed for Cheyenne, WY (105 miles). Our destination was the Historic Plains Hotel. With its Old West furnishings and excellent saloon and restaurant, it made for an interesting stop.

 

Day two saw us travel from Cheyenne to Custer, South Dakota via Scotts Bluff, Nebraska (225 miles). A stop at the Scotts Bluff National Monument, on the old Oregon Trail, was scenic and informative. Seeing the natural obstacles faced by those early settlers was impressive.

 

After the visit, we headed for downtown Scotts Bluff to enjoy a local delicacy for lunch, the Runza sandwich (Google it).

 

Back on the road, it was getting hot, really HOT.

 

We had about fifty miles through the Oglala National Grasslands, miles and miles of rolling plains with no sign of human habitation whatsoever. It was actually a bit unsettling. Finally, we started to climb into the Black Hills in South Dakota and got some relief. By the time we reached Custer, the temps had dropped, and we were much more comfortable.

 

Everyone had their own cabin that evening and we organized a pizza and cocktails party on one of the decks. A very pleasant time. That night we had a bit of rain, but just enough to allow us to wipe off the dust and clean the cars.

 

The next morning, we set off for lunch at the Sylvan Lake Lodge, where we met up with others who had travelled from Salt Lake City and some who had driven down from Deadwood. We had about thirty-five for lunch, after which we headed into Deadwood (60 miles) for registration and the beginning of On Day 8, following the close of Conclave, we headed out with a much larger group for the rest of our tour. We were joined by Peter and Alexandra Roses, Mike and Kathy Scroggie, Ed and Abbe Neumeyer, Mike Biss and Anna Johannsson, Tony and Debbie Trentacost and Russ Thompson. Our destination was Buffalo, WY via the Devils Tower National Monument (211 miles). The skies were threatening, and we arrived at the Tower just in time to get some pictures and have a coffee before it started seriously raining. After a lunch stop at Donna’s Diner in Moorcourt (a find), it was onto the interstate for 95 miles to Buffalo.

 

Just as we arrived at the famous Occidental Hotel (visited by Buffalo Bill, Calamity Jane, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, amongst others), it really started to pour. Nothing like unloading a Healey in the rain! Fortunately, we did not need to leave the hotel, which was as much a museum as a hotel, as the adjacent restaurant served us a fantastic meal, complete with a docent who gave us an introduction to the hotel, Buffalo and the surrounding Johnson County. A very special evening.

 

The Occidental is known to have some haunted rooms, and sure enough Abbe Neumeyer’s iPhone went on the fritz overnight and had to be unlocked by an Apple tech! No one else reported any supernatural sightings, though Terry Cowan did awaken to floorboards creaking, which he attributed to an Indian trying to creep up on him! We awoke to bright blue skies (at least those of us who had not stayed awake all night communing with the spirits!). This was to be a “four seasons” day. We were headed for Cody, WY, near Yellowstone, via the Big Horn Mountains (180 miles). As we drove up, up, up, the temps dropped dramatically. As we passed 8000 feet, we started to see dustings of snow along the roadside. By the time we reached the summit, at 9900 feet, at was like white Christmas, a truly beautiful sight. The trip down the backside of the mountains was equally as incredible. When I saw the sign that said “10% downgrade next 16 miles” I was glad for the new brake pads I had installed before leaving and said a little prayer that my friends had equal brakes! We made it to the valley floor safely and into Cody.

 

Sometime the prior day, Ed Neumeyer’s alternator had gone out and he was running on battery power only. At the summit, one battery gave out and had to be swapped out....thanks Russ.

 

Cody is home to the Wild Bill Museums, five in all, including a Colt Arms Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Western Art Museum and more. We arrived early and many partook of the culture.

 

Next day it was on to Yellowstone, via an equally interesting mountain pass and in through the East Gate (180 miles). Little traffic, but some road construction slowed us down. We took the North Loop Road, eventually stopping at Mammoth Hot Springs for a great lunch and then some broke off to tour the springs and other geothermal sites nearby. We regrouped in West Yellowstone at the Yellowstone Lodge. The town was a bit of a disappointment, so another impromptu pizza and wine party was organized in the hotel breakfast room.

 

Day 11 (229 miles) saw us back in the Park for the South Loop Tour, which included (depending on the sub-group), the Firehole Canyon and Falls, Fountain Paint Pots, Grand Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful. We exited via the South Gate and immediately entered the Grand Tetons National Park. Wow! Miles of views and lunch at the superb Jackson Lake Lodge. Finally, on to Idaho Falls for our last night.

 

By this time, several had split off for other destinations, some fly fishing (reported on elsewhere), and family meet ups. Our original group of seven cars carried on with the Neumeyer’s and Russ Thompson.

 

The farewell dinner was held at Jacko’s, one of the top spots in Idaho Falls.

 

Next morning it was a boring 216 miles of hot Interstate Highway to Salt Lake City and a meet up with our Reliable Carrier.

 

Abbe headed for home via the airport, while Ed and Russ carried on by car.

 

Did we have some Healey challenges? Of course, blown alternator, sketchy fuel pump, some hard starting and rough idling, one out of gas and a few more I probably forgot, but we dealt with it all and I think I can safely say “a good time was had by all”.