Going to Town

Going to town from the ranch is an expedition, especially in the winter. One of our lovely Danish guests, Nethe, suggested that I write a blog entry about a trip into town, since most people do not have a 40 minute drive and a 17 mile dirt road to contend with when they want to go to the store. So, here we go!

When you live in such a rural area, there are a few rules regarding a trip to town that you must follow if you want to keep from tearing your hair out in frustration. Rule #1: Make a list. A long list with every possible item you might need to purchase. You need to make this list over the course of several days and add to it when you are in different moods, so that you know it is complete. Rule #2: Never think there will only be one stop in town. There will always be many stops, so when you are making your list, have different stores as headings with the items you need to buy listed beneath.  Nothing will drive you crazier than having to return to a store to buy an item you forgot to buy the first time around. Headings help. Rule #3: Make sure you have plenty of fuel before you leave home. When you live so far from town, you have large fuel tanks to store gas and diesel fuel directly on your property. Rule #4: If you have an old dog like we do (Gupta the 15 year old black Labrador retriever), make sure the old dog goes to town with you. Nobody loves a trip to town more than an old dog. Not only do they quickly forgive you when you inevitably curse some crucial item you forgot, they are also so happy to see you each and every time you get back in the car. You feel like a celebrity the whole day! (All these rules might sound nit-picky, but trust me, as a formerly urban woman who has lost her sanity and then retrieved it countless times during numerous rural, shopping expeditions over the past five years: I know what I’m talking about!)

Now that you are armed with your categorized list, full tank of gas and old dog, you are ready to go to town. Isn’t this fun?! The centerpiece of today’s trip to Dubois was my first physical therapy appointment with Margi (pronounced Mar-ghee… a hard G like the G in “go”… elucidating pronunciation is hard!), held at the somewhat new Duffy Therapy and Fitness center, located next to the Dubois Medical Clinic on US Highway 26. It was my first time in the establishment, and it is shockingly well-equipped. I did think it was a bit ironic that when I drove into the parking lot, two men were erecting a Pepsi-Cola vending machine right next to the front door of the health club. Anyone else see the humor in that? Here is the fancy sign posted on the highway….the photograph is grey because today was just that, grey and snowy:

And the Duffy Center itself (sadly, the red truck is blocking the new vending machines):

The interior of Duffy, bright with natural light and shiny equipment:

After my physical therapy session, which was much less painful than I anticipated (I think my marathon sessions the past several days on the exercise bicycle prepared me well), I was off to start the laundry list of chores in Dubois. I got the quick, standard errands out of the way first, depositing checks at the bank and mailing letters at the post office. I then went to our Equitours office to drop off entry forms I had been entering into our database (data entry is something you can do in bed with a useless knee….). The entry forms were from a free-trip giveaway that we offered at the Equine Affaire in Pomona, California a couple of weeks ago– the winner won a free riding vacation in Ireland! While at the office I also picked up a care package from Sundy, another of our beloved guests. Opening it was by far the highlight of my day– I found a box filled with homemade cookies and brownies!

After visiting the ladies at Equitours, I carried on to Super Foods, the only grocery option in Dubois:

In case you have trouble reading the sign, it says “Dubois Super Foods: Your Friendly Hometown Grocer”. If the sign were aiming for accuracy, it would say “Your Friendly Hometown EXPENSIVE Grocer with VERY limited selection, but we are the only grocery store in town so we can get away with it”. We are lucky that we raise all of our own beef and lamb (grass-finished, hormone and antibiotic-free!), which is stored in an enormous freezer in our cabin at the ranch. We also have a good deal of pheasant and the occasional duck in the freezer as well, thanks to Bayard and Richard’s bird hunting expeditions each fall. As a result, we are mainly buying produce, dairy products and dried goods at Super Foods. It is nice to be self-sufficient in the meat department.

My last stop was at Painted Valley Ranch Supply, which, if I am going to be completely honest, I must admit that I drove right past on the way home. Five minutes after my mistake, Gupta picked her head up as a I groaned, shook my head in dismay and made a u-turn– lists aren’t foolproof! I went to Painted Valley to pick up a few bags of Strategy, a pellet horse feed that we give to the stallions. Shopping there is the true small town experience:

The owner knew who I was, knew what kind of Strategy Mel usually gets, put my purchase on the ranch account and then told me I could go to the storage facility alone to pick up what I needed. No supervision! There is a lot of trust in a small town. Here is the storage building:

The bags of feed:

And last but not least, the best old dog on earth:

Any trip to town is fun with Gupta by your side!