Cheyenne Frontier Days, Here I Come!

On the way out of Little America, I stopped at the truck stop next door to use the facilities and get a Diet Coke. I checked, and showers there are $10. I decided that I was clean enough.

I considered the park-and-ride, but thought I’d look for on-street parking near the fair grounds. I pulled into a driveway to back in to a space and Walden’s front banged against the ground. That bump was bigger than I’d thought.

I parked, backed up a bit more to see that I wasn’t over the yellow line and went to get the bike. The lock was all scraped up. Oh,
that’s what hit the ground. The lock was now aptly named, since it would no longer unlock. It wouldn’t open. This was going to make bicycle riding a bit more complicated.

I set off on foot for the free pancake breakfast. I’m not much of a fan of pancakes, but when in Rome. . .

I’d checked the web site to see where the famed pancake breakfast was. It provided about five hundred words of flowery talk about how many they serve, records that had been set, and how this event kept various groups in shape for feeding masses should a disaster strike. Nowhere did it say where to go. And you know what, it’s not the fair grounds where the rest of the stuff takes place.

A security guard at the fairgrounds gave me directions to get downtown. I found a parking garage. Cheyenne, rather than gouging on parking, as many towns do when there is an event, has free parking for Cheyenne Field Days. Very civilized. I even scored a place on the ground level that was right by an exit, which turned out to be a good thing when it came time to leave.

I followed the crowds and soon found myself in a line that went at least two blocks down the street before it came back toward where the food was.

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The line moved Really Fast. The next thing I knew, I had pancakes. And then there was Miss Wyoming.

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I took a seat on one of the benches they had set up in a place where I could see the band playing. A guy sat down next to me and said “Good morning.” I hoped that I’d get some info about what to do at the event, but he too was an out-of-towner. He had relatives who were locals, but he, like I would be, was along for the ride and knew nothing.

I took some pictures of the food preparation. It was quite an operation. For example, I was told that the pancake batter is mixed in a cement mixer, and not just one like you might use to mix a few bags of concrete in your back yard, a cement truck. You know, one that holds the proverbial nine yards. I did see the truck, but never saw it dispensing batter.

When the pancakes were done, the cook threw them blindly over his or her shoulder and someone with a sheet pan caught them and took them to the serving station.

I headed back to the fair grounds and found a parking place on the street near the entrance to some city park that abuts the fairgrounds. It was a bit of a walk, especially since the bike was immutably mounted on the front of Walden. To make extra sure, I got an adjustable wrench and turned the key hard enough to shear the key off in the lock. It didn’t open. At least I could get rid of that extra key.

I hoofed it to the rodeo. Once there, I had to ask for directions in order to find the Old West Museum so that I could go on the Behind the Chutes tour. After I’d located the museum I still had plenty of time before the tour, so I decided to try to buy a ticket for the rodeo. The ticket booth was clear on the other side of the fairgrounds. About that time, a guy walking by selling tickets. He had a $25 ticket. I remembered that the ones that I’d seen on the web site were $16. He said that these seats were right above the chutes and that this was where I wanted to be. $25 was face value. I wasn’t entirely convinced that I wasn’t getting ripped off, but gave the guy $25 and he gave me a ticket. As he was walking away, it occurred to me that I should check to see that the ticket was for today, which required looking at my phone. Sure enough. It was for the right day.

The behind the chutes tour was pretty good. A huge crowd of us, it must have been a hundred or more, followed a woman on horseback through the pens where the animals were and she gave us history and fun facts about the rodeo.

It probably would have been better to wear shoes though the dirt and poop, but so it goes.

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And here I am, in a chute. These chutes, in which the animals are parallel, rather than perpendicular to the gate, are known as Cheyenne gates and were a big boon to the rodeo, if what you want is fewer people and animals and people getting hurt as the animal leaves the gate. As it turns out, it’s a “foul” if the animal bumps the rider against the gate or whatnot on the way out. I’m not quite sure who explains these rules to the animals, but there weren’t many fouls.

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After the tour, I went down to the Indian Village, where there were Indians (the kind with feathers, not dots) dancing and such.

I got an Indian Taco, which is really more like an Indian tostada, except that instead of a flat tortilla, it’s served on top of this fried dough. There used to be a place in Nashville that served the same dish, but it closed even before I moved to San Francisco in 2001. I sat down at a table with a couple of women. They said that they had more people coming, but that there was room for me. One of them introduced herself to me and then introduced me to the rest of the table. I was going to leave out this fairly uninteresting detail, but I talked to so few people in Cheyenne that I left it in. This interaction was significant in its insignificance.

Then I went to the rodeo. I decided that it deserved its own post. You can see it elsewhere.

After the rodeo, I went to the Buckin’A Saloon. It was happy hour. Beers were three dollars rather than five. There was live music. I still coudn’t figure out how to talk to the cowboy/girl people there, so I left the tent and went and got some food. Dinner was a more organic place to talk to people since the tables seat six and once you’re seated, people feel obliged to be friendly.

After I’d given up on having social interactions with the folks at Cheyenne Field Days, I made the walk back to Walden. I’d hoped not to move him, but I walked up to the park entrance and it said closed at midnight. I was afraid that they meant it.

I headed for Little America, the previous night’s stop. I noticed that just beyond the Little America exit was a rest stop with free wifi. I liked it there, but signs forbade overnight parking. There was a four hour max. I don’t know how such gets enforced, but I didn’t feel like finding out. Then I noticed that I could see “FlyingJ” in the list of wifi hot spots.

After I had consulted Google, I turned my head and saw the Flying J sign. I headed that way and parked on a side street near Flying J. Trucks run their damn motors all night and they’re noisy. I was almost settled in when a big rig parked behind me. I moved between a couple of RVs, hoping that I did so in such a way that would keep other trucks from being able to squeeze in. I felt a little guilty about it, as those guys need to park too, but it seemed like they could go park with the other noisy trucks in the Flying J lot, right?

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