Spirited Away

There’s no need to stand on ceremony in Cody’s Irma Hotel. You’d raise more eyebrows asking for the vegan menu than keeping your hat on while you eat. Built by the legendary Buffalo Bill and named after his daughter, the hotel sports stag heads on the wall, a bullet-pocked tin ceiling, clashing flower print walls and carpets and a shiny cherry wood bar, which was donated to Bill by Queen Victoria. My slab of the famous prime rib came with a side of fries, garlic bread and ghost stories, from owner Mike Derby. A former supernatural sceptic, he told me about waitresses being grabbed by thin air, half a solder floating through the room and a lady hovering above someone’s bed. “So yeah, I believe there is something here,” he said. 

Barn Dance

One block on and across the street, built as wide as a dual carriageway to accommodate turning wagons, was the Silver Dollar, a so-called dive bar stuffed full of cowboys and cowgirls who were in town for the famous Cody Horse Sale the next day. We met one called Jerome who was set on a gelding named Tucker’s Disco Red (lot 79), a charming newly-wed couple who met through Future Farmers of America and lots of other people. There was a band playing country classics and, despite the sticky floors, a lot of dancing with polite strangers in jeans, boots and hats, who called the girls ma’am and spun us expertly around. I left for Yellowstone at 6am the next day, very hungover, but I did get a text from Jerome – he was outbid. But he’ll be back next year.