5:30 a.m. 5:30 A.M. !!! What am I doing here standing on this hard, concrete sidewalk, shivering, grinning like a silly cartoon character, in the cold morning, waiting for this sporting goods store to open??? I must have lost my mind. Don’t laugh! I think I used to have one. Oh, right! We came here with some friends for the “good deals” at 30% off when the store opened at 6:00 a.m. I’m also here because my wife, Sandy, dragged me “kicking and screaming” the previous evening …. to shop. While there that evening she found some things she thought she’d like for Christmas and we should come back the next morning and “enjoy” the 30% discount the sporting goods store was offering. After stirring me out of bed at 5:00 a.m., here were are, 5:30 a.m…. waiting…. waiting in a long line for the store to open at 6:00. It was the longest 30 minutes of waiting I can remember since I was a kid waiting for Christmas. Of course I had to make it seem it was awful and bad so Sandy would feel sorry for hauling me out that early. I wasn’t going to admit it was actually kind of enjoyable standing under the town’s Christmas lights and visiting with friends and breathing in the cool, crisp morning air. No way would I let that out of the bag. I’d stand there pretending I was miserable no matter how much enjoyment I was having “shopping”.
We had been invited by friends, John and Cindy, to go to Buffalo, Wyoming, to the small community’s Christmas’ parade and to participate in some fun shopping and socializing. We were also joined by our friends, Lloyd and Joan. Turned out to be a great trip. We stayed at the historic Occidental Hotel in downtown Buffalo right there on the corner of Main Street and Fetterman. It’s “located near the Bozeman Trail at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains and visited by many famous people of the Old West as they traveled along the Trail”. At least that’s what their web site says. I’d recommend it to anyone, but beware of the ghosts!
During a previous visit, we were entertained by stories of ghosts who inhabit the hotel. One such story is about Emily, who was seven years old when she died, allegedly of cholera. According to hotel stories she has been heard to say “Please hold me.” During this trip, I mentioned to a very nice gentleman wearing colorful cowboy boots who works at the hotel that we hadn’t been bothered by the ghosts. He told me that sometimes they come out to play and sometimes not. He revealed that recently while he was working he felt someone tugging on his shirt sleeve like a child would while wanting to get the attention of an adult or parent, BUT, no one was there… Well, I’m not sure I believe in ghosts, but that was one man’s first-hand experience tale.
Saturday evening was the Christmas parade, but before it started it was suggested we go to the quilting shop as they had a special hot cocoa mix. Well, I like hot cocoa so quilting store or not, I was game. We all went traipsing down Main street to the quilting shop and walked through the front door as if we knew what we were doing. I nonchalantly looked over some of their tables and racks as if I intended to buy something. Strolled right into the back room as if I worked there, and found the special cocoa mixed with 3 liquors. The gentleman poured us each a cup of the creamy liquid. Man!! It was good. It slid right on down with no problem. I did feel guilty about not buying anything, but Sandy fixed that as she found some gifts for the grand kids. The store was also selling chocolate candy, and it’s very difficult for me to pass one of those shelves up. I smiled with my Santa twinkly eyes and politely requested eight truffles and two almond/chocolate turtles. The lady was more than happy to oblige my request. I think the special cocoa turned out to be a good idea for the quilt shop proprietress as I’m sure their sales sky rocketed that night. Plus, I’m also sure she appreciated my Santa smile….
The parade was enjoyable to view. The night was warm at 27 degrees and no wind, very pleasant. It included all the things you would expect from a small town Christmas parade. It had cub scouts, fire trucks, floats, and Santa Claus. In addition John and Lloyd added the pungent smell of cigar smoke. Seems they have made it a tradition to each bring a cigar and light it up at the beginning of the parade so that everyone in front of the Occidental watching the festivities can enjoy their cigars with them. Ummm, come to think of it, there weren’t any people standing around them, and they did have a great view of the parade.
The Virginian is the fine eating establishment connected with The Occidental. Our group delighted in a terrific meal there one evening. I had the Occidental Mixed Grill which consisted of sauteed shrimp, scallops and fish. It was a mouth watering feast. After lingering over our meal it came time to pay. Sandy suggested it was time I started taking responsibility of going through the process of paying for our meals out. Just so you’ll know, I have been allowing my wife to do this for years and we’ve had a running joke that I should be pulling the credit card out and paying. I complained that I didn’t usually pay because I hate to carry my wallet with me. This night I had my wallet so I was going to get stuck paying. Our friend, John, said I should carry a “man bag”, and we all laughed. Of course, I wasn’t smart enough nor quick enough to have a good come back right then but I finally came up with one. I reached down, grabbed Sandy’s purse, pointed to it, and said I had my ” man bag” as I dangled the purse in front of us and said, “and she (pointing to Sandy) carries it.” That got a good laugh out of everyone…. except Sandy who gave me a searing look. I pretended to inspect my plate instead of looking back a Sandy and respectfully continued my dinner .
Breakfast is my favorite meal. There is lots of cholestrol there, too. The Busy Bee is a newly rebuilt and reopened cafe right next to the Occidental. I had heard good things about it from an e-mail that Craig Johnson sends to people on his mailing list. He writes enjoyable mystery books about a fictional deputy sheriff in a fictional Wyoming town which might be Buffalo. The character tends to do business with a cafe called the Busy Bee. He just waltzes right in and asked for “the usual” whereupon the waitress brings him whatever she feels like. But I digress. Our group was intent upon eating at and enjoying the Busy Bee. And we did both. There was plenty of chatter from us and other patrons but in addition we heard the sounds of Gene Autry serenading us with Rudoph, Jingle Bells and other Christmas favorites. He was always one of my favorite country crooners along with Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans when I was a young boy wanting to be a cowboy.
All good things must end. Darn it, and so did our Buffalo weekend. Sunday morning we were up relishing another cholestrol breakfast at the Busy Bee. I ordered “the usual” and got eggs, bacon, and hash browns with coffee. We came with John and Cindy so of course went back with them. On the way we replayed in conversation all the fun activities of Buffalo’s Christmas parade weekend.
Sandy student taught in Buffalo a “few” years ago. I thought it might be nice to include a picture of the place she lived while there. At the time it was the Pacific Power and Light building. Most of the student teachers were housed there. Originally back in the “olden” days (no, even before me) the rooms upstairs were where some of the ladies of ill repute took care of their business. I’m not sure if they were sending a message to the student teachers comparing the past with the present or not but that was the joke at the time. At least the room was affordable. Sandy was in the upper middle room. They still rent rooms there and probably still to student teachers.
For more of my photographs please go to my web site at http://samsherman.imagekind.com/store/default.aspx and click on galleries.