How our ISP serves the community anywhere anytime.
The more time I spend in Dubois, the less remote it feels.
The other day I asked my friend Chris how his son Caleb is doing. Caleb is in Spain for a semester abroad.
Chris told me he heard from Caleb last Friday while he was at the high school watching the Lady Rams, the girls’ volleyball team.
“I’m looking at Mom,” Caleb texted.
“How are you looking at your mother?” Chris asked.
“I’m watching the game on the Internet,” Caleb replied. His mother, who was there as a line judge, was distantly visible on the screen.
Chris passed a message to the announcer, Bill Guthrie of DTE, who was live-streaming the game up in the projection booth. Bill gave a shout-out to Caleb, and later took a closeup of Caleb’s Mom, who smiled and waved. The news about Caleb spread back through the stands.
“Right away I texted my brother in Australia about it,” Chris told me. “Just think about it. Spain, Australia and Wyoming. It’s amazing how the world has changed.”
I watched the footage for a long time, but I didn’t hear the shout-out or see Paula wave. However I did catch the screaming and foot-stamping, the leaps and the dives, and all the raw excitement of high school varsity sports.
DTE (Dubois Telephone) has been live-streaming high school games for several years, not just volleyball but also basketball and football. Caleb is hardly the first long-distance viewer, Bill told me.
Jeff was watching football games while he was serving in Iraq, he said. Someone else’s Dad has been watching from an oil rig in the Bering Sea.
The service is also handy for parents supporting a visiting team if they can’t get to Dubois to catch the game, Bill said.
The games are archived and can be watched on a YouStream subchannel on Roku.
Bistro, steakhouse, cafe, barbecue. How much more do we need?
I sat at the Nostalgia Bistro one recent evening, waxing nostalgic about our wonderful trip to Sicily. I was remembering another restaurant, in the ancient city of Siracusa. We had been celebrating our 40th anniversary.
Travel-weary, happy, and a little tipsy that memorable evening a few years ago, I sat idly enjoying how the wait-staff danced around each other, pirouetting with huge heavy-laden trays or scurrying past to take an order. They never came close to colliding. They made me think of a finely tuned machine or a well-planned military maneuver.
Same here, I thought while sitting at the Bistro. The service there is equally adept and seemingly effortless, however busy the night. But they remind me more of a busy family.
Unlike that night in Sicily, at the Bistro I always recognize the person who’s “going to be my server tonight,” and they recognize me. I can joke with Bigi or talk with Norman about something that has happened recently in town. They’re friends.
Back when we lived in Brooklyn, we enjoyed an embarrassment of riches when it came to fine restaurants. Deciding where to go out for dinner usually entailed a rather long conversation.
But after spending some time in Dubois, we realized that in Brooklyn we would almost always wind up at one of 4 or 5 favorite restaurants nearby. We seldom traveled more than a few blocks to have dinner out. So being in Dubois isn’t all that different, in fact.
The Bistro is our go-to place when we want to eat out after Happy Hour, to dine with friends, or just not to cook for ourselves that night. It has an inventive fusion menu, with a mix of comfort food like saucy ribs, delicate light fare such as tender fresh fish, and variations on international kinds of cuisine. (Shannon obviously knows what he’s doing.)
My husband has observed that Dubois is missing a Thai restaurant. But I like the Thai steak salad at the Bistro so much that I have to resist defaulting to that order every time.
The restaurant would probably succeed in the culinary battleground of our former neighborhood in Brooklyn. But it’s not our only option here, by any means.
For a change of pace, we can choose the steakhouse next to the Rustic Pine Tavern.
Is it Wednesday? My husband has to decide whether to resist the lure of going a few minutes up-mountain for the weekly prime rib special at the Wilderness Boundary Restaurant. I’m not usually a red meat eater, so I prefer their little thin-crust pizzas and their hearty soups du jour.
Football Saturday? We’re going to want the barbecue from the place near the KOA and the wings from El Jarro.
In a hurry or want take-out? It took us quite a while to discover that the kitchen at Taylor Creek Exxon west of town prepares a variety of really good meals. You’d never go to the gas station for food in Brooklyn but, hey, this is Wyoming.
For a larger variety of choices or a more exotic option, we can always travel to Jackson or Lander, which takes about an hour – not that much longer than a trip into midtown Manhattan from our former home in Brooklyn. But there’s no reason to travel all the way to Jackson to spoil ourselves. The new restaurant at Turpin Meadows Lodge, closer than the entrance to Grand Teton National Park, served up the best meals we’ve ever had on that side of Togwotee Pass.
All of these are only counterpoints to the classic option, the Cowboy Café. It’s the obvious choice for a hearty breakfast. Later in the day, I like their sourdough sandwich with pesto and chicken breast. But when I’m feeling really peckish I go for the elk sausage and home fries.
One benefit of spending all year in Dubois is that we can easily get a table off-season.
We generally stay out of each other’s way, but not last week.
We never kept any horses, even though our daughter fell seriously in love with them at the Lazy L&B Ranch here, many years ago. You simply can’t keep a horse in the tiny back garden of a Brooklyn townhouse.
Plenty of people in Dubois do keep horses, however. Some of them are my neighbors. Therefore, luckily, some of my neighbors are now horses.
It’s always a treat to look out our window and see the four horses that graze in the meadow across the fence. It’s even more of a treat when they all decide to run. I get to follow their trails through the aspen grove and to see where they have slept. They have a pretty nice life back there.
We generally stay out of each other’s way, but not last week.
I was outside planting iris bulbs when the phone in my pocket rang. It was a friend from Philadelphia.
“Well, look at that,” I said (although of course she couldn’t). “There are cowboys rounding up cattle into the corral, not 100 yards from our back fence.”
“Real cowboy, yes. On horseback.”
“That’s amazing,” she said. “I’m seeing exactly the same thing out my window.” That Cindy. She always was a joker.
Later, I walked over to the fence to take a picture of the corral in the valley, to text on over to my Philadelphia friend. One of my neighbors trotted up and poked her nose at me over the fence.
I almost dropped the phone. They’ve never come that close before.
The black one quickly loped up alongside her. I guess they wanted their picture taken too. Happy to oblige.
That same evening, I took the dog for a walk on the back road across the highway. He wandered over to sniff at something near Billy’s barn door, and leaped aside when it began to open.
Billy walked out with a harness and lead draped over his arm.
“My three horses got out,” he said with a resigned smile. “Don’t know how they did that. Now I gotta go find them.”
So he and his dogs joined me and mine and we walked over the little bridge. There they were, all three of his horses, grazing on someone else’s lawn.
A few deer stood watching nearby. They didn’t seem at all bothered about these domestic animals on their turf.
“If I get this one, the others will follow,” Billy said, walking toward one of the three.
She ran him in a small circle first, but he soon got the harness on and turned her around.
The other two lifted their heads and came along.
One of them kept nipping at my ears as he clopped up behind.
“Just clip him on the nose if he gets fresh,” Billy said.
Uplifting results with good “bones” and a facelift.
Probably the best sight to greet folks downtown these days is the rank of strong steel girders rising on our main street. This is the site of the great Mercantile fire of New Year’s 2015.
At last, something uplifting has replaced the chain-link fence and the empty lot between the Rustic Pine Tavern and the hardware store parking lot.
The new structure looks reassuringly solid, like a resounding answer to the midwinter devastation and the crumbling relic it destroyed.
Project manager Reg Phillips says he expects work to continue steadily this month, and we should shortly begin seeing a new facade. He hopes the front side will be looking good by the end of the month. The facade will be a mix of materials: wood, tin, and faux stone.
The object, as with all new construction here, is to have the exterior completed before heavy winter sets in (although we rarely get enough snow in town to make a buck-and-rail sag, let alone dent a roof). Here’s what the view across the street from the Rustic should look like, more or less, by the second anniversary of the fire.
Insurance money wouldn’t pay for a two-story structure, as originally planned. I think this looks more old-town western (and less like Jackson) anyway.
Who’s going to fill all those shop windows? I’ll update when I know anything.
Meanwhile, another sweet facade has appeared in town, just west of the SuperFoods. It’s a face-lift on the boring old brown box that used to be the Visitor Center (which has relocated to the Headwaters).
It’s amazing what some stained planks and a front porch can do to a place! According to my sources, it’s going to become an ice cream and snack shop that also sells souvenirs.
(Anybody want to create some beautiful new Dubois branded T-shirts?)
These events in Dubois aren’t extraordinary. They’re typical.
It was a good evening, that pig roast last Friday at the Rustic Pine. People were in a great mood.
That woman who got so angry when I touched her bumper while parking gave me a hug and a big smile and forgave me. A couple we haven’t seen in ages caught us up with their news, and I met someone new who’s just moved to town.
But above all, we helped Reggie with his medical bills.
I don’t believe I’ve ever met Reggie. But we had heard about his shocking injury. Maybe lots of other people who were there also don’t actually know him. That’s the point.
If I’ve learned one thing about Dubois, it’s this: If someone is in crisis, we’re supposed to do something about it.
The announcement in the tavern said “benefit,” but it also said “celebration party.” And it lived up to its billing.
The side room at the tavern was packed with townsfolk an hour after Happy Hour ended, and the mood was fairly giddy. A long food line formed behind the roasted pig. The high rafters echoed with chatter.
As we finished our meals, auctioneer Jim began his patter. Our good friend John barked out and pointed at the bidders raising their hands. My husband snared a fishing rod. I won a therapeutic massage.
Some items went for fairly ridiculous prices, considering their actual worth. Someone bid on and won a backpack, and then turned it back to be auctioned all over again. Bidders paid well above retail value for pecan pie and brownies from Julie’s bakery.
People laughed and whooped as the prices reached well into 3 figures for a framed wildlife photograph or a necklace. It was way too crowded and noisy to know who was winning what. But we hoped for the bids to rise and rise, driving down the burden of debt for Reggie and his family.
Suddenly I flashed back to a private-school benefit auction I attended once in a hotel ballroom in Manhattan, as a favor for someone. The room was hushed as bids rose to 5 figures for a stay in someone’s country home, say, or a private backstage tour. The competition, all too obviously, was not for the items themselves but for the claim to the fattest wallet.
Years ago, before we bought our house in Dubois, we spent a few days here evaluating the town as a place to settle in rather than just visit over and over. That weekend, I saw posters for a fund-raiser to help a young mother who needed a transplant. This wasn’t an appeal to pay her medical costs, but to allow her family to stay nearby during the far-away operation and recovery.
I saw that as a sign of the town’s character, and it was. These cheery, spontaneous charity events in Dubois aren’t even very remarkable. They’re typical.