Rancher Parties and the Social Scene (Idaho Road Trip) (Purdy Picture)

There is no cell phone, Internet or cable service here.  It is hard not to become socially isolated.  I am thankful for Buster, my companion.

Sometimes it feels like I am at the bottom of the food chain– at the bottom of the hill-(I guess it is more of a valley).  On the K bar K ranch my neighbors are ranch hands-mostly Mexican.  When I first got here one of them was stalking me. This guy was always outside my door in the morning and when I returned in the evening.  He mentioned that his Mexican wife is also an artist and that he misses her but can’t see her because of papers. Most of the men are nice, but I don’t think they know what to make of me.  I fear it is such a machismo culture they can’t imagine a single woman not looking for a man and choosing to be alone to get work done. It is too late to sport a wedding band. The best I could do was tell the stalker my boyfriend was coming to visit which has sort of helped.

The grocery store down here in the desert (in Carey) often only has Wonder bread and the only produce being potatoes or onions.  There is only one color and size of Gatoraide on the shelf. The hardware store doubles as a ranching supply store. There is a small library with a couple computers.  In Picabo, the general store serves as a Post Office and I can get hamburgers, tamales and burritos there.

I go up the hill to buy amenities, find good produce (which is weird since all the farms are down the hill), or visit a library with books and activities.  Up the hill, all four towns are wireless.  Hardware stores carry ornamental doorknobs. There are four-star restaurants, skate-board parks, galleries, bike paths, coffeehouses, wine bars, little theaters, lounges that serve as concert halls, antique stores, microbreweries, hot springs, orthopedic surgeons and botanical gardens.  They even have little free buildings called Sun Clubs (One in Hailey and one in Ketchum) where one can go sit and read 12 Step literature on a comfy sofa at any given hour. I think one can even cook, watch TV or do laundry inside them.  When I get really starved for human interaction I go to the grocery store, or a Sun Club meeting.  (It doesn’t even matter which 12 Step meeting.)  Pedestrians up the hill are all athletes, temporarily-not-working-fishing, hunting or rafting guides, and super rich white people.  I met one woman from Westchester with so much money she was going to several therapists at once for past life reincarnations because she felt she couldn’t move forward with her life until her other ones were fixed first.  One also runs into people with new breeds of dogs and people that work for non-profits. In Ketchum/Sun Valley the sidewalks are covered with flowers and very brightly painted sculptures. There are signs that say Hemmingway was here everywhere. It is very cheerful.  So cheerful, that it is as if they needed the reminder of depressed Hemmingway up here to balance it out.

Hemmingway actually hung out down in Picabo/Silver Creek where I am.  Bud, the owner of this ranch, was his best friend. There are photos of them together all over the general store.  The Purdy’s own a couple ranches. They invited me to a pig roast on the double R, with white table cloths, centerpieces, on the banks of Silver Creek with a wine bar and a desert buffet as well.  The roast was held in tents next to the “club house”.  It turns out that the double R is also and exclusive fly fishing club that one has to be a member of in order to fish.  I’ve been attempting to do a painting of this property to give the owner, but every attempt I’ve made has been too windy and last time the easel (and logs that were weighing it down) blew over and rolled into the stream.  The rainy season is back.  I’m not being very productive due to the weather.

This past weekend Kim, who runs Sunday breakfast at the convenience store,  invited me to a Harvest Party in Carey on the Barton Ranch off Barton Road. The Barton family is an original ranching family.  Kim’s band, the Kim Stocking Band, was performing for the last time at this Harvest party. It turns out Kim Stocking is super talented and going off on her own.  She should because she is that talented! I was impressed with her and her band.  They made a great evening.

These ranchers really know how to party.  This party was entirely different from the Purdy’s Pig roast, and I did not see any of the Silver Creek crowd.  This ranching scene was more country.  The attire was Western. On the RR Ranch cowbpys typically wear fly fishing apparel.   Instead of having a wine bar as the RR Ranch did, the Bartonm Ranch provided whiskey and beer.  They used an entire field for parking– filled with trucks and RVs.  They invited the entire town of Carey. People came from as far as Salt Lake City.  This party is an annual event and always held on the harvest moon.  It was a real red-neck family affair.  I loved watching the old cowboys swing dance with their wives.  I tried to dance.  One of my dancing partners could hardly stand up he’d drunk so much. I was the only person wearing sandals—everyone else wore boots and cowboy hats.  My toes kept getting stepped on.  Buster stayed in my truck.  I brought him a slab of beef from the buffet and threw it through the crack of my window for him.  Later I discovered the hunk of meat had fallen between the seats and Buster couldn’t get to it, so he scratched a hole through my new truck seat upholstery-(my fault entirely, though.  I should have made sure he’d gotten it directly).

I painted a painting for the Ranch owner of the double R of his favorite fly fishing hole.  I named it the Purdy Picture after the Purdy family.


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