Great Alaska Adventure: Dinner at a (former) Brothel
In 1922, Cassie Waters opened a brothel just west of Cody, WY. A few years later business had grown and she expanded her building to include “cribs” for several working girls. By 1930 she added a restaurant and moved the girls to cabins behind the former brothel now a restaurant. In the 1940s prostitution was outlawed (or existing laws were being enforced) and the brothel closed. But the restaurant continued and tonight I had a 16 ounce medium-rare prime rib in the dining area where the cribs used to be. Cassie’s is now a landmark and popular eating/drinking/entertainment spot in tourist-driven Cody. Her original 1922 cabin is still part of the enlarged building, which features a regular Wyoming bar on one end, a bar/dance floor in the middle, and white linen covered tables in the formal dining room on the other end. The walls are covered with memorabilia and pictures from the past 100 years, including pictures of a variety of celebrities who have eaten or entertained there. The only working girls there now are the waitresses and bartender. (I asked.) You just never know where an Adventure might take you.
Getting to Cody involved a detour through Billings to Beartooth Harley-Davidson to have the oil changed on both bikes. They had me in and out in less than two hours. Good service and friendly staff throughout the store. The service writer pointed out that both bikes are about ready for new tires and brake pads, but I opted to push on and will have additional post-Alaska-trip work done when I get back to Orange Park.
While I was in the store a cute, polite young lady was walking through the place like she was much at home there. I asked her if she was the boss. She said, “No. But daddy is.” I met her dad, owner Barry Usher, while I was waiting for Marilyn’s bike to be washed and brought around. Nice guy. We talked about bikes, traveling, various local roads, and the horrible condition of the Alaska Highway. I thanked him for the service and complimented him on running a good store, noting that I had a couple of friends who had rented bikes there and also had a good experience.
We left Billings and headed for Cody. My freshly oiled bike desperately wanted to take the long way to Cody via the incredible Beartooth Highway and into Yellowstone National Park (OK, it was me that wanted to take the long way), but I knew it was not a road Marilyn would enjoy, so I opted for a shorter, gentler route. There will be other rides west and I’ll get to test my riding skills on the Beartooth Highway another time. It’s important not to overdo it on a single trip, which is why I didn’t have pie today.
Crossing into Wyoming always brings back memories of the years we lived here (1986-1990) and the landscape doesn’t change much. It’s much drier here than where we’ve been for the past month, but that’s typical for Wyoming. The prairie grasses are pretty well dried up and yellowed now, and the sagebrush dominates most of the flat land. But, as I recalled from my years here and the many miles I travelled around the state on business, the mountains are almost always visible. Sometimes with awesome views like the Tetons near Jackson Hole but more often a little more muted like the Beartooth Range to our west as we crossed the state line today and the Laramie Range where we’re headed tomorrow.
Cody is much like I remembered it. A “western/cowboy” tourist town with some great original buildings, like the Irma Hotel, and a world-class museum in the Buffalo Bill Museum. We didn’t go there this time. When we lived here before, a friend was the curator and he took us on a behind-the-scenes tour of one of the greatest gun collections around, as well as a great collection of Frederic Remington paintings and sculptures. Here’s another free travel tip: If you’re in the area visiting Yellowstone National Park, take an extra day to see the Buffalo Bill Museum. You’ll be impressed.
Tomorrow we ride from the northern end of Wyoming to the southern end, about 380 miles and one of the longest days of our two-month adventure. But there are few towns and the roads are generally unpopulated except for fence-jumping pronghorn antelope and mule deer, so we should make pretty good time. But that will take us to our friend Linda’s ranch, which has neither cell service nor Internet. I’m going to keep writing and will post if we go to Laramie, but there may be a 3-4 day hiatus in Great Alaska Adventure blog postings. I suspect three days on Linda’s ranch will provided plenty of fodder for posts. Be back in a few days.