Jim Hicks: Up Here In Johnson County, You Have To Live By The ‘Buffalo Code’

Guest columnist Jim Hicks gives an update on the happenings in Buffalo.

Jim Hicks

July 29, 20214 min read

Jim hicks
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

When you find yourself  rejoicing over the temperature cooling down to the upper 80s,  air conditioning is as necessary as heat in your house and smoke from fires blocking any view of the mountains for two months of the summer . . . then it may be time to consider global warming could be a fact.

If you could see the high peaks of the Bighorns you might spot a few snow banks remaining, but the amount of water running in Clear Creek under the Main Street Bridge is getting dangerously low.

Haven’t seen it like this since 1988 when the Lost Fire burned 16,000 acres in the Bighorns west of town.

Those local snowbirds who head for Arizona every winter are starting to wonder if they gained much coming home. Keith and Ileta Neustel spend their winters in Yuma, and noted it was cooler there than in Buffalo the other day.  

The annual Bighorn Trail Ride was held on the west side of the mountain this year, and the Bench Sitters understand there were no big horse wrecks or similar items to report.  One guy shut his pickup door on a finger, but that was about the only blood to be spilled. 

We did learn that Steve Powell got his dad, Gerry, to come up for one evening. Gerry and Donna moved to Billings a few years back after being residents here for many years. 

And the entertainment for the ride this year was provided by the Terry Waugh Band. They will be playing for the “Night in the Park” during the annual Fair and Rodeo. They are a very popular and talented group.

The “ride” has been going on here for more than 50 years, and it has changed . . . A LOT!  Some of the earlier events were wild and wooly, with serious poker games and rodeos nearly every morning as the weekend cowboys mounted up.

Meanwhile, back down in the village we bumped into Lyle Lund at the hardware store and learned you can improve the gas mileage on a motor home by unloading all the stuff you don’t really need.  However, the back of your pickup will be full.

There seems to be new faces around the village all the time, so the Bench Sitters have been working on something they call “The Buffalo Code” to help them become acclimated to the village. A few items on the list so far –

–When giving directions, you always must start with . . . “Go to the traffic light at Fort and Main ” . . .

–Learn how to explain how I-90 turns into I-25.

–We have two traffic lights on Main Street and they are not “timed.”

–Once the light turns green at Hart and Main, only 3 cars can go through the intersection . . . eight more go through on yellow . . . and three more on red. 

–If it looks like a ranch truck or a small white head appears between the top of the steering wheel and the dash board . . . the blinking turn signal means nothing. As Garvin Taylor once said about driving in California –“Don’t use those turn signals . . . It’s a sign of weakness.”

–Interstate roads are always under construction during the summer (it’s a law and you can’t do anything about it).

–It is perfectly acceptable to brag about the size of your air conditioner. 

–When rain is forecast, it is acceptable to be cynical, cynical and snide, doubtful and/or disgusted.

–You realize that boats and snow machines can only be used a couple months each year, but still seem to be great investments.

–If you were born here, down deep you’re angry at everyone who has moved here since that date, and it’s dangerous to start any conversation with “We should change that because it was better where we used to live.”

–You can borrow a man’s pickup, his horse or flirt with his wife . . . but don’t ever steal any of his irrigation water.

–It’s important to know which bit of flowing water is called “creek” and which should be known as “crick”. 

–Counting on finding your favorite camping spot in the mountains to be unoccupied when you arrive is a myth.

–Say “hello and how-ya-doin?” to everyone you meet. It messes with the heads of most newcomers.

 That’s about all from the Bench Sitters this week. They write again if they don’t melt.

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Jim Hicks