The 2nd Trans-America Challenge 2015

7th - 28th June 2015

Day 16 - Sheridan to Cody

Rolling rolling rolling.... keep those dogies rolling.

Within 60 km of leaving Sheridan. The King of the Cowboy Towns, we were help up by a herd of cows complete with a couple of cowboys chasing down one last recalcitrant dogie. How very appropriate?

The whole of this morning's route was like driving through a movie set, we wound our way through shallow hills covered with pine forest. Drove alongside log cabins and ranch buildings sat in the clearings and, watched as herds of cattle moved slowly along  well trodden and dusty trails to their watering holes. This was the scene as the Rally entered the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation and Crow Country on their way to the Little Big Horn battleground and museum.

Most crews took the opportunity to visit the graves, take in a loop of the battlefield itself and listen to the audio visual commentary in the visitor centre. If they missed this however they can always see it on the TV as there was a British production team there shooting a documentary with Tony Robinson.

There was only one Regularity today, on Black Mountain in the Big Horn National Forest. It was set along a looping gravel road and it took us to new heights, around 2712 m, almost the height of the Stelvio Pass. Marco Halter and Claudia Engelhardt piloted their Ford Falcon to the top spot with Alastair and Dorothy Caldwell and Mark and Colin Winkleman trailing in their dust.

Once through this section and out onto the tarmac we swooped into Big Horn County and took coffee and ice cream - it's getting very hot now - in the delightfully named Dirty Annie's Country Store. Most of the Rally were able to kick back and relax for a few minutes here but Alan Beardshaw had to call on the sweeps to check his engine mountings. Somewhere in the forest he'd hit a bump which caused the engine block to move upwards slightly and had punched two little dents into the bonnet lid. Space under the hood of this Aston is tight to say the least but the sweep, Owen Turner quickly established that there was nothing to worry about.

There was a long, hot, straight run into Cody following this little break via notable towns such as Grey Bull, the Hub of the Big Horn Basin. This also is home to The Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting. Among the exhibits we found here were two C119 Flying Boxcar aircraft which had seen service in Vietnam and later as a Forestry Service firefighting platforms as well as a Twin Beech aircraft similar to the one in which Amelia Earhart was flying in when she disappeared in 1937.

The town of Emblem, with a Population of 10 and its own Post Office, will live long in our memory.

Once we got to Cody, the Rodeo Capital of the World, the fun and games were really set to begin. After an evening meal of bacon and beans, a Wild West staple, we boarded the bus for the rodeo. The dress code? Cowboy / cowgirl casual - ie check shirts preferred and Stetsons supplied by the Rally organisers.

The two hour show was a thrilling end to an action packed day and, as we unrolled our bedding, kicked out the fire and settled down for the night there were more than a few of us who would never watch The Big Country in quite the same way again.

The leaderboard. No change, Phil Garratt and Kieron Brown lead from Peter and Zoe Lovett but their lead is now down to a slender seven seconds. Mark and Colin Winkleman remain in third.

Tomorrow we transit Yellowstone National Park. There's no timing so we can take our time and enjoy this remarkable area.

Syd Stelvio.



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