Going to town is a big undertaking for a remote ranch wife.
It’s often a 100-plus mile journey that involves driving through herds of various domestic livestock and wildlife species; fording flooded creeks without a bridge; or getting a flat tire on the freshly graveled county road. Perhaps the most terrifying part is trying to keep up with the flow of interstate traffic when you haven’t driven faster than 45 mph in over two weeks.
Regardless of your exact route, the first thing you should do before you go to town is cross off half your list. This is the only realistic approach when you drive 120 miles one way to buy groceries accompanied by three children under the age of 9. Here are a few other tips.
Get a good early start, preferably before first light
It’s a good idea to make PB&J sandwiches for all members of the traveling party so you can eat breakfast on the way. Fresh, hot fried egg sandwiches would be even better, but who has time for that when they leave home in the dark with kids? Either way, there isn’t any place to stop and buy a snack for the first 85 miles, so plan accordingly.
Resist the urge to bring portable screens
I don’t let my kids watch videos or play games on phones or tablets during the long drive to town and back. Instead, they look out the window and draw or read. I also listen to them chat, sing, argue, yell, and screech. It’s like the 1990s all over again. Now I know why my mom seemed so cranky on the way home from running errands with me and my sister.
Eat fast food
No need to feel guilty about eating a Big Mac when you only have the opportunity twice a month. Be sure to hit that drive through and get some greasy fries and a large Dr. Pepper to go with your cheeseburger. Chances are good that your homemade PB&J wore off a long time ago, anyway.
Bring an ice chest
Always throw a cooler in the bed of the pickup before you head to town. Milk, cheese, and whole fryer chickens spoil more quickly than you’d think in moderate temperatures and really can’t handle warm weather. The only time I don’t worry about bringing an ice chest is in the middle of winter in Elko County, Nevada, because it’s so cold that when I throw cold food in the bed of the pickup, it’s actually more frozen by the time I get home.
Don’t mention that you live 120 miles away from town unless you are prepared to completely derail the conversation you’re currently in
I’ve discovered this is a conversation stopper and typically has one of two possible effects.
1) People’s jaws drop, their eyes bug out, and they say, “Wow!” This means they comprehend the enormity of the undertaking that is standard grocery shopping in your world.
2) Their facial expression doesn’t change and they mumble, “Hunh,” then look back down at whatever they were scrolling through on their phone. These people truly can’t imagine a life in modern-day America where people live two hours from the nearest Walmart.