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Rocky Mountain National Rendezvous - 1996
          Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming


          Having attended my first "Nationals" at Elk park in Utah in 1994, I knew what to expect from a large rendezvous and so I was doubly anxious to get there as we started out on the 16th of July 1996. This year I rode with one of my closest friends, Lee Cardon. He drove his Toyota pickup which didn't have room for more than two in the cab, so Rick Williams was forced to drive his little  Isuzu truck. We stared out early and made it to Evanston , Wyoming before breakfast. After eating Rick mentioned that his truck was burning a lot of oil, and he needed to get some more. He picked up a case at Walmart and we were back on the road.

          The Rendezvous this year was held just East of the Powder River pass at the Southern end of the Big Horn Mountain range in North Central Wyoming.

          We headed East from Evanston to Rock Springs, then North to the South Pass and on through Lander. When we stopped for Lunch in Riverton, Rick said his truck was really making strange noises. As we left Riverton, just on the outskirts of town, the little red truck gave up the ghost. We towed the truck back into town, and found a diesel mechanic. The mechanic said it sounded serious and that he couldn't get to it for a day or two. We were forced to consolidate our gear taking only the essentials with us and leaving some in the back of Ricks truck. With a tightened load there was just enough room to slide Rick in near the top of the pickup shell. He rode that way for the rest of the trip. Each time we stopped he would roll out of the side window of the shell. And when we were preparing to leave he would stand to the rear of the truck and go rigid while Lee and I would pick him up and slide him into the truck like a stick of lumber. It was a very comical site.

          After passing through Ten Sleep, the road began to climb into some very beautiful country. The canyon here is just incredible, and my sense of excitement rose steadily. As we topped out at the pass we stopped to enjoy the vista. The scene was breathtaking looking south over the Powder River country.

          Just below the pass was the turn off for the rendezvous, and soon we could see lodges and tents through the trees. I was almost ready to jump out of the truck and run ahead I was so excited.

Rendezvous! Rendezvous at last! It had been two years since the last nationals I had attended.

          Unfortunately, we had arrived just after they had closed the gate to the primitive camp, so we were forced to go down the road to camp. We found a nice place relatively c lose and set up with the intention of moving in the next day.

          The rendezvous site was fantastic. An enormous open meadow, sloping up on the North and South ends with a somewhat marshy stream down the middle. Towards the East end was a large outcropping of rocks jutting out of the otherwise bare hillside. Someone had erected a U.S. flag upon its crest and dubbed the area "Council Rocks." There must have been some 600-700 camps on site with the majority dispersed amongst the trees on the south hill side. Traders Row was wrapped from the road on the west towards the east just outside of the tree line.

          We spent the next several days wandering Traders Row looking for personal treasures and meeting friends and generally enjoying the scenery. Each of us picked up various trinkets. I bought a nice grayish~ blue silk scarf, A book on trade silver, a cassette tape of tall tales among other things.

          At some point during the week, we drove out to the nearest gas station/convenience store, where Rick called back to check on his truck. The news was bad. The engine would have to be rebuilt.

          After three days in camp, I suggested we break camp early and take a trip up to Cody, Wyoming to the Buffalo Bill center. The others readily agreed and we headed out on Friday.

It was kinda sad leaving the rendezvous, but we had much to look forward to in visiting Cody, driving through Yellowstone park and stopping in Jackson.

          We drew some stares as we had dinner in Cody that night dressed in our historical clothing. One lady even called us a bunch of "Show Offs." We stayed that night along the Shoshone River west of town. That was a beautiful night under the stars. The next day we went back into Cody and spent several hours at the museum. That place is a Mecca of sorts for western fur trade or Plains Indian re-enactors. A truly awe-inspiring collection of art, firearms , Indian clothing and gear etc. Once again the patrons marveled at our outfits as though we had jumped from one of the exhibits.

          The rest of our trip was more or less a matter of going home. However a trip through Yellowstone and past the Tetons cannot be trivialized. Both places are incredibly beautiful. I shall ever tire of seeing those most majestic and scenic of mountains. I'm sure there are none to compare them to in the world. Many widely traveled people have confirmed this to me.

          The rendezvous had been a great experience, except our merry reflections were ended abruptly. Shortly after our return home my good buddy Lee was admitted to the hospital in critical condition. It seems he had a bad case of pneumonia of which he was unaware until he became desperately sick. There was a point where it was touch and go with him,  and the doctor suggested his friends and family be called to the hospital. To our great relief and fortune, brother Lee shook off the illness and rose to growl again.

          All's well that ends well, and the Big Horn Rendezvous is a happy memory.


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