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