Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Blue Lady Travels in the Red Lands: The Next Buffalo

View of an edge of the Big Horn Mountains
Thursday dawned bright and sunny after a few days of cold & rain. I woke up and decided to do something that is not what people in the east do. I just wanted to take off driving for a couple of hundred miles to see what I could see.  So I did. I lit out for the territory.

The heart of any town. Buffalo WY Post Office
I headed west to Wyoming again, starting out the same as last time, but I kept going on I-90. Ended up in Sheridan WY ... more about that in another post .... and then doubled back for home via Buffalo WY. Ever since I had visited Buffalo & Bison SD, I was determined to visit all the Buffalos. I checked Rand McNally, looking at the cities list for every state and discovered there actually are not that many of them.

The Mother of All Buffalos is, of course, the one in New York. Have you noticed a resurgence of news and interest in this place? I certainly have. Check out this magazine article and this blog post, for example. This past year it was featured several times on House Hunters, each time with young and hip people who wanted to buy homes there because I guess it's pretty young and hip there in Buffalo, New York (even if they still have horrible winter weather). I think I want to visit there some day. But that will have to wait for awhile. I'll let you know when it happens.

There IS a Buffalo, Ohio which has 800 people in it. It's on I-77 not really close to any city you've ever heard of. (unless, of course, you live in or come from southeast Ohio) It looks like maybe Zanesville is the closet larger city. If I ever happen to be on I-77, I may stop and check it out, but it's possible I may pass to the other side without actually visiting ALL the Buffalos.

Bison at Bison South Dakota
Back in the west, we have both Buffalo and Bison in South Dakota and then Buffalo in Wyoming. You would think it would be a more popular name out here, but no. Too many Army officers and railroad executives who needed to have towns named after themselves back in the day, I guess.

Buffalo, WY ... about 4500 people & change ... 4650 feet above sea level...county seat & largest town  of Johnson County ... great location where I-90, I-25 and US 16 all meet up. On the road that will take you to Yellowstone National Park in a few hours. Right at the eastern edge of the Big Horn Mountains. Cattle and sheep country. Large Basque heritage. Plenty of outdoor recreation.

Where all the highways come together on the east side of town, you will find a whole pile of chain hotels and fast food restaurants. Buffalo is too small to have an Applebees, but if you want to dine with the yellow and red clown, you can do that. It would be a good place to stop for the night, because you can find a nice hotel in a town with good local restaurants to try.

A creek runs through it ...Clear Creek to be exact.

Buffalo also looks like a nice place to live. There's full service IGA grocery store, a Shopko & an ACE Hardware. It has a small hospital and several medical offices and clinics. All the schools are there plus a community college & a UW extension center. You have a choice of places to go to get your hair cut or your car repaired or where you can keep your money.You can worship in a number of different Protestant churches or go to St. John the Baptist with Father Pete. Animals are cared for at the St. Francis shelter, but I did not see a local veterinarian's office. There are nursing homes and a funeral business. A general aviation airport is just outside of town.
Clear Creek in downtown Buffalo

The city has a lovely park with a pool and lots of recreation courts and fields. In town are a nice library and museum. There's a golf course, a multi-screen movie theater, a fairgrounds and other rec activites like a bowling alley and a YMCA.

Buffalo is about 30 miles from Sheridan and 60+ miles from Gillette. Both of those have small airports with at least once daily flights in and out to Salt Lake and Denver. (My guess is that if you wanted a bit more choice you would need to drive to Cheyenne or maybe even all the way to Denver.)

Both Sheridan and Gillette have all the larger chain stores like Walmart and Home Depot (but no Target in either one.) Both have a Starbucks corporate store plus larger grocery stores like Smiths or Albertson's. Both have larger hospitals and overall more services and businesses.

So, that's what you would have if you decided to live there. What about just visiting? Well, Buffalo is worth your time and energy.
Public art is plenty here.

Art to begin with. You will find several art galleries and stores selling excellent crafts, much made by local or regional people. There's an excellent all round outdoors stuff store. And local bookstores too. Outside town is a woolen mill with a store. (I'll be writing about that later.)

Then there is food. A local brewery and organic barbecue place plus good small cafes. A couple of "fancy" restaurants where you can have special dinners or just good steaks. You can also have choices of Chinese, Italian or Mexican. And there's a little place outside of downtown where the sign says Basque food.

No music that afternoon. I'll have to come back on a summer evening.
A downtown that has been spiffed up and is charming to walk through. There is a beautiful local square downtown where events are held including music by talented locals. Nice, clean public restrooms to boot. A well marked and maintained walking  to singletrack biking trail.

One of the best historic hotels in the US
The historic Occidental Hotel is where you can stay if the Holiday Inn Express doesn't do it for you. You could plan a destination wedding or other event there too if you wanted.

And as always, friendly people who are happy to have you there.

Hardly any outlaws at all any more.
Overall I really enjoyed my afternoon in this Buffalo. Now that I know about it, I'm sure I'll be back when I have another sunny day when I feel like a ROAD TRIP!
Big sky, open road. Another day, another journey.

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