|Wednesday, May 30, 1990...
This morning, for a change, I dawdled. Slept in, even ate breakfast. Then I returned to Herrick's taxidermy shop, home of the jackalope. I spent about half an hour talking jackalopes with the proprietor, a man in his thirties who took over the business from his father six years ago. I mentioned reading about him in Out West -- he remembered the interview, and also that the editor also interviewed a pet turkey he'd had at the time! The jackalopes were quite reasonably priced: $45 for the mounted head and antlers ($37 wholesale), $85 for the whole animal. He said some places sold the head-and-antlers model for as much as $125.
Even though his family originated the concept -- his grandfather made the first jackalope and his grandmother gave it the name -- other producers have kept him out of the biggest catalogues and cut severely into his sales. He criticized the ones available at Wall Drug, saying they looked like they'd been hit by a semi. I bought the whole jackalope after making sure it fit in the laundry hamper in my trunk. I'm considering photographing it next to my new huge black-velvet Elvis, captioning it "Best wishes from Jack and the King," and sending it as a Christmas card...
From Douglas, I got on I-25/US 20 and continued northwest. US 20 branched off again from the Interstate about 15 miles later, and I meandered through endless expanses of range. The Wind River Canyon, with the road on one side and the railroad on the other side of the Big Horn River, was spectacularly scenic, but the rest of the drive was noteworthy mostly for the enormous views: some snow-capped peaks were visible from 75 miles away. I stopped at Thermopolis to visit Hot Springs State Park, site of the world's largest mineral springs. The park is free and open to the public, and includes a bison range leading off from one end; baths in the springs themselves are operated as concessions.
As the road turned west at Worland and headed straight for Cody and Yellowstone, the scattered thunderstorms in the distance were visible from at least 30 miles off. For a while it looked as though the road would pass right between two bands of thunderstorms, but unfortunately the storms soon caught up. As I arrived in Cody, it was pouring rain. After checking into the Super 8, I made a beeline for the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
I'd heard very good things about this museum, and it did not disappoint. It's actually four museums in one: one devoted to Buffalo Bill, one to a gun collection, one to a Western art museum, and one devoted to the Plains Indians. I found the art museum and Buffalo Bill museum the most interesting. Also spent about 20 minutes talking to one of the museum guards, a local college girl who looked VERY bored spending six hours a day walking the floors of the museums -- she confirmed my suspicions that there wasn't much to do in town and that most people her age saved a little money and moved away. Guess that story's the same everywhere; there's a reason so many small towns keep the same population for 100 years at a time. Then it was back to the motel, to rest up for a long day in Yellowstone tomorrow. I hope to be on the road by 6 AM...
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