Sun Valley Idaho – An RV Traveler’s Delight in Ketchum, ID!

August 2016 – Idaho is a gorgeous state that’s great for RV travel, and the National Forests offer up some stunning scenery. The folks that live in the beautiful communities of Sun Valley and Ketchum are very fortunate to have a playground of alpine glory right out their back door in the Sawtooth Mountains. We have been routing our summer travels to go through Sun Valley as often as possible since we started our full-time travels in our RV nine years ago.

00 721 RV camping in Sawtooth Mountains Idaho

Nature gave us summer peaches and blueberries in the sky.

In the summertime, the communities of Ketchum and Sun Valley spill out onto the sidewalks. Sun Valley, Idaho, is most famous for its ski resort, which gave the area its name, and it is loved for the fabled winter recreation that goes on in the surrounding mountains. But Sun Valley also thrives under the warm summer sun, and every eatery in town has tables with umbrellas out front.

Eating outside in Sun Valley Idaho

Sun Valley and the town of Ketchum are full of places to catch a bite under an umbrella in the sun!

Sun Valley is a relaxed community where life is lived at an easy pace. Yet what sets it apart from most small towns across the country is that it is a hideaway for the ultra rich and ultra famous. From Arnold Schwartzenegger to Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, lots of A-list celebrities have homes here, and they visit their alpine estates for a little down time.

Happy dog in Sun Valley Idaho

Sun Valley is a place where people (and dogs) come to relax.

For the rest of us, there’s no end of recreation opportunities around Sun Valley, even for those on a budget. Back when we first discovered Sun Valley for ourselves seven years ago, the Visitors Center published a booklet called 50 Fun Free Things To Do in Sun Valley. They were actually able to list 50 different things! We tried to tick them all off, and we made a good dent in the list, but there are still many things we haven’t yet done in the area!

Trail rides Sun Valley Idaho

There are loads of fun activities around town and in the mountains — and we haven’t exhausted them yet!!

From a trip to the historic Ore Wagon Museum to drinks at the stunning Sun Valley Resort to visiting Hemingway’s memorial to summer outdoor ice skating shows to enjoying the weekly Art Walk (with free wine offered at every gallery…watch your step!), it is impossible to get bored in this town. And when it’s time to slip away for some peace and quiet in the stunning Rocky Mountains out back, there are many wonderful ways to do that too…

Horseback riding in Sun Valley Idaho

Peace.

Because of the many celebrities who love this town, there is a lot of money floating around and lots of rich living going on. But somehow there is an inclusive grace to it that lets everyone share in the spoils.

Sure, it’s common to see a Porsche on the streets, or even a Bugatti Veyron when the Sun Valley Road Rally takes place in July, and it’s not like we ordinary folks can tap on the window and say, “Hey, can I have a ride?”

Ferarri in Sun Valley Idaho

My other car is…. a Ferarri.

But there are a few second hand stores in town that benefit the fabulous town library, and the cast-offs from the resident billionaires can make for some very interesting shopping!!

Sign at second hand store in Sun Valley Idhao

I loved this sign over the register in one of the second hand stores.

Perhaps the most wonderful thing that the very wealthy have given to Sun Valley and its summer tourists is the Sun Valley Symphony concert series that takes place each August.

Besides building an award winning performance Pavilion that is constructed of special travertine stone that was quarried from the same area in Italy as the stone used to build the Roman Colosseum, each summer for the last 32 years the wealthy of Sun Valley have funded a top notch symphony orchestra made up of musicians that are on summer break from the major orchestras across the country.

Best of all, the Sun Valley Symphony puts on a free concert almost every night for a few weeks each August.

Talk about a gift to the community!!

Sun Valley Symphony Summer Concert Idaho

From Pops to Classical, the Sun Valley Symphony keeps the music flowing for free almost every night in August.

The cool thing about these concerts is that you can grab any open seat in the Pavilion if you want to watch the performance in a traditional setting. Or you can bring a picnic and sit out on the enormous, lush, grassy lawn where rows of loudspeakers broadcast the music and a massive video screen shows close-ups of the musicians playing.

Sun Valley Symphony Free Concert

Outdoor summer concerts are a blast anywhere, but in Sun Valley they’ve been refined and perfected, thanks to the local gazillionaires.

We’ve enjoyed plenty of performances in the theater seats of the Pavilion over the years, but in reality, sitting out on the lawn is where the real action is!! For an hour or more before each concert begins, people show up with picnic blankets and get set up with their beverages of choice while the kids all run around on the grass.

Picnic at Sun Valley Symphony Summer Concert

Here’s how to unwind after a day of work on a Tuesday…

Although some of the picnic dinners are humble affairs in Tupperware, an awful lot of people go all out and bring a deluxe spread that makes the neighbors at the next blanket quite envious.

Picnic Basket at Sun Valley Symphony summer concert on the lawn

Cheddar cheese and Triscuits in Tupperware are fine for some, but others bring an elaborate spread in an elegant picnic basket.

Dog and picnic basket for Sun Valley Summer Symphony Concert

“Hmmm…. what are you having over there???”

The Sun Valley Symphony concerts are a very social affair, and friends enjoy each other’s company while the music plays in the background.

Kids playing on the lawn at Sun Valley Symphony Summer Concert

For the locals, these concerts are all about socializing.

While the dress code for these concerts is decidedly casual, some people prefer to dress up for the occasion, and there are lots of party dresses to be seen.

Little girl in party dress for Sun Valley Symphony summer concert on the lawn

For a night at The Symphony, some ladies wear their best gown and sparkly shoes!

Others just enjoy catching up with friends.

Kids playing at Sun Valley Symphony summer concert Idaho

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Still others take a load off on their nifty Thousand Trails picnic blanket and read the Symphony’s program notes that are published in a beautiful — and free — glossy book!!

Sun Valley Summer Symphony Concert on the lawn at the Pavilion Idaho

I would be doing cartwheels too, but the program notes were pretty interesting!

Throughout it all, the the orchestra’s melodies float across the lawn on the late afternoon breezes.

Sun Valley Symphony Summer Concert Series Idaho

The musicians hail from all the major orchestras and they love making music together in Idaho.

These nearly nightly concerts in August are enough to get our hearts singing, and when we were debating which way to head after we traveled down Idaho’s panhandle and basked on the beach in McCall, there was no doubt in our minds where to go: Sun Valley.

Unfortunately, despite wanting to stay in Sun Valley for a few weeks or more, with dreams of going mountain biking and hiking every afternoon, and sipping coffee on balmy summer mornings at the jaw-dropping Starbucks / visitors center in town, Nature had other plans.

Throughout our stay in northwestern Montana and Idaho this year, a wildfire called the Pioneer Fire had been burning near the town of Idaho City about 60 miles from Sun Valley as the eagle flies. It had started on July 18th and had been growing rapidly throughout July and August and proving difficult to tame.

While there was no risk of flames coming anywhere near us, the smoke blew in and out of Sun Valley and the Sawtooth Mountains on a regular basis, burning our eyes and making outdoor activities less than healthy.

Sunset through wildfire smoke

Sun sets through the smoke.

For those who don’t live or travel out west, the concept of wildfires can seem distant and unreal. But they are an integral part of every summer in the dry western states.

When we traveled to the eastern states last summer, we were amazed that we heard nothing in the news of any fires out west. Hadn’t there been any? Well, when we caught up with friends once we got back out west, we discovered it had been just as tough a fire season as any.

This year, as we dealt with smoke drifting into the valley so thickly that visibility was almost completely obscured at times, we followed the fire season’s progress on Inciweb. This government website tracks the hundreds of wildfires that are burning at any moment all summer long in the western states. Here’s a map of major fires that was on Inciweb in mid-August:

Map of wildfires burning in the US

It is alarming to see a map of America’s biggest active wildfires in mid-August.

Of course, particulates in the sky are the very fabric of stunning sunrises and sunsets, and we enjoyed a few during our stay.

Sunset Sawtooth Mountains Idaho

The smoke in the air created some beautiful sunrises and sunsets,
and this photo of Mark’s won “Photo of the Day” on Steve’s Digicam.

RV camping at sunset Sawtooth Mountains Idaho

Fire in the sky!!

But when the smoke rolled in and we could taste it on our tongues, we decided it was time to leave. Sigh.

Pioneer Wildfire Smoke Sun Valley Idaho

Heavy smoke rolled in and out of the valley every day, and we finally decided enough was enough.

Wildfires are reported in the news in terms of acres, and dividing by 640 yields the fire size in square miles (i.e., a fire that is 100,000 acres is 156 square miles).

The Pioneer Fire which made us flee Sun Valley this year was 42 square miles when we left in mid-August. As I write this blog post four weeks later in mid-September, that same fire is now 290 square miles and is 56% contained, although there are hopes it will be fully contained by September 15th. It is not known yet what caused the fire, and it will keep burning and smoldering right up until it is buried by snow this winter.

We did get our Sun Valley fix this year, but we didn’t have a chance to explore any new grounds. However, we will definitely be back, as it is a town that totally enchants us every time we visit.

I mean, who can’t love a town so classy that the man hole covers in the streets are stamped with artwork featuring a musical G-clef?!!

Classy Sun Valley Man Hole Cover

Sun Valley is a class act from head to toe.
Even their man hole covers are decorated with beautiful art work!!

We have enjoyed Sun Valley in the past so much that we have written articles about it for Trailer Life Magazine, Highways Magazine and the now defunct RV Journal! We hope you love it too, and to help with making plans for an RV trip there, we’ve got a few links below.

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More info about Sun Valley, Idaho:

Our blog posts from our RV travels to Sun Valley:

All of our RV travels in Idaho can be read by clicking HERE!

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!

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McCall, Idaho – Summer Beach Fun on Pretty Payette Lake

July-August 2016 – McCall, Idaho, is perched right on the edge of beautiful Payette Lake, and in the summertime it is a wonderful waterfront beach town if there ever was one. What a great destination for an RV trip!

Payette Lake shore near Legacy Park McCall Idaho

McCall, Idaho, is a fantastic beach town!!

Even though McCall sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet, the temps in August were toasty warm and everyone was enjoying cooling off at the waterfront beach parks. What a beautiful setting!

Jet skis on the beach McCall Idaho

A rainbow of jet skis ready for action.

Beach umbrellas McCall Idaho Payette Lake

A nice spot to unwind for a while!

Kids were everywhere, and they were just loving the town beach. Two little boys were standing in the water blowing bubbles and two little girls up on the beach were trying to catch them.

Beach at Legacy Park McCall Idaho Payette Lake

Kids blow bubbles on the beach.

A little ways down the beach a little girl was playing with a wagon.

Playing on the beach McCall Idaho

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Boats were lined up at the docks, and there was a steady stream of boaters heading out onto the lake.

Payette Lake Sports and Marina McCall Idaho

Bikes and boats – what could be more fun?!

The main street of McCall is very cute with historic buildings wedged together cheek-by-jowel. For those that want to cool off without going swimming, we found a skating rink just a few doors down with sessions that are open to the public.

Historic buildings downtown McCall Idaho

The main drag, just in from the beach, has some classic old buildings.

We made our way to Mountain Java on many mornings, sipping a tasty cuppa joe while sitting in the colorful Adirondack chairs that fill the lawn in front of the Mountain Monkey Business store and look out onto Payette Lake.

This was a wonderful way to start the morning, and we met both locals and tourists alike while kicking back and savoring the view and a brew.

Mountain Monkey Business and Mountain Java McCall Idaho

These colorful chairs on a lawn overlooking the lake became our morning hangout!

By a stroke of very good luck, we happened to be in town during the Antique and Classic Boat Show at the elegant Shore Lodge on the edge of Payette Lake. What a fabulous display of lovingly varnished boats from yesteryear!

Antique wooden boat show Shore Lodge McCall Idaho Payette Lake

What good fortune to be in town on the weekend of the Antique and Classic Boat Show!

These gorgeous boats were known as “lakers” in their day, because they were specifically designed for happy boating days on fresh water lakes. Their meticulously varnished and gleaming woodwork wouldn’t hold up to the salt water of the ocean.

Cockpit of classic wooden boat Payette Lake McCall Idaho

I could handle a day on the lake in a classy boat like this!!

I can just imagine spending a day on the water in one of these, complete with lunch at anchor in some secluded cove on the lake.

Antique and classic boat show Shore Lodge Payette Lake McCall Idaho

Let’s go for a ride!!

These boats have a lot of get-up-and-go too, and many of them have been upgraded with modern engines that have even more zip. The owners of these classic boats just love them and love talking about them too.

Antique and classic boat show Payette Lake Shore Lodge McCall Idaho

This boat won Best in Show. No wonder the owner is grinning!!

Whenever one fired up its engine, a little crowd would form around the boat to listen to the engine purr and to find out where the owner had purchased the boat, what its history was, and what he had done to refurbish it to its former glory.

There’s nothing like a classic yacht, and last year during our travels in Maine, we took a fabulous factory tour of Hinckley Yachts, a boat builder that has morphed from producing stunning sailing yachts to zippy, luxurious powerboats.

Antique and Classic Boat Show Shore Lodge Payette Lake McCall Idaho

Some of the boats went out for a spin while small crowds watched from the dock.

The boats here in McCall, Idaho, were a lot smaller than the Hinckleys in Maine, but their owners got just as much pleasure from taking them out for a spin. Every time someone began untying the dock lines and shoved off into water, there was a murmur of oohs and aahs from the rest of us watching in envy from the dock.

The setting for this fabulous boat show was the equally fabulous Shore Lodge, a high end resort hotel that presides over one end of McCall’s lakefront.

Welcome to the Shore Lodge McCall Idaho

Welcome to the Shore Lodge… Come on in!!

We wandered through the elegant Shore Lodge and explored its many nooks and crannies. It dates back to 1948 and has many refined touches of an earlier age.

Shore Lodge dining room etched glass sign McCall idaho

The historic Shore Lodge is a very elegant hotel right on Payette Lake.

The dining room has a breathtaking view of the docks below and all of Payette Lake and the distant mountains too. For those that needed a break from walking between the antique wooden boats, this was a great place for a bite to eat with a bird’s eye view of the goings-on.

Waterfront dining Shore Lodge McCall Idaho

Enjoy a fine meal while watching the boat show out on the docks!

McCall, Idaho, has a lot more to offer than just beach and boating fun, though. We found some fantastic mountain biking trails west of town near Brundage Mountain, and we enjoyed a beautiful bike ride through Ponderosa State Park which is located on a peninsula that juts out into Payette Lake on the east side of town.

Mountain Biking Brundage Mountain McCall Idaho

We found lots of mountain biking trails and dirt roads on both sides of town.

Flowers

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One day we took a drive down Highway 55 to do some exploring south of McCall. We came across the historic town of Roseberry which was settled by a few Finnish families in the 1800’s.

Roseberry Idaho historic Finnish settlement

Roseberry, Idaho, was settled by Finns and is an interesting townsite today.

The whole area is now a museum that honors those rugged settlers and offers a peek into their lives.

Antique cabin Finnish settlement Roseberry Idaho

Finns had unique log cabin construction techniques that they brought to the New World.

There are some old log cabins that the families lived in as well as a fun town site with a general store, church, school, barn and other neat buildings.

Inside a cabin Roseberry Idaho Finnish historic settlement

And we think RV living is simple!

The town of Roseberry had its hey day in the early 1900’s, boasting a hotel, two black smith shops , a butcher shop, logging mill, creamery and restaurant. However, ten years later, the Pacific, Idaho and Northern Railroad line came through about 2 miles west of town, and Roseberry wilted while the bustling town of Donnelly right on the railroad tracks thrived.

Amazingly, lots of Roseberry people moved their homes and shops over to Donnelly to take advantage of the boom there, transporting their buildings by wagon! It’s hard to imagine that kind of boom and exodus today, especially given the easily driven luxury homes we RVers get to live in.

Historic Roseberry Idaho

Wandering around Roseberry, Idaho, made for an enjoyable afternoon.

Down at Lake Cascade, next to the town of Cascade, we found several campgrounds along the shoreline. RVers, boaters and fishermen were enjoying these lakeside campsites. We didn’t stay, but what a great spot to camp!

Truck camper and boat at Lake Cascade Idaho

Payette Lake isn’t the only game in town.Lake Cascade a few miles south is very beautiful and quiet too!

Back in McCall, we enjoyed some moonless nights, and one evening Mark snuck out with his new 12 mm fish eye lens to catch the Milky Way straight up overhead. This made a very cool effect!

Milky Way above the trees McCall Idaho

The Milky Way crosses the heavens high above us while a shooting star zips by.

If you are looking for a wonderful area for an RV trip in the heat of the summer, McCall, Idsho, is a very fun beach town. There are more links to help you plan your travels below.

RV camping in McCall Idaho

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Here’s a little more info about McCall, Payette Lake, Roseberry, etc:

Some related posts from our Idaho and the NW Montana / Idaho Panhandle RV travels:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
    New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!

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    An Idaho Panhandle RV Trip on US-95: Sandpoint, Moscow & McCall

    July 2016 – After a truly stunning few weeks in northern Montana — from adventures on the east side of Glacier National Park to learning about the unique history of Libby, Montana, and photographing the special wildlife and unique giant trees nearby — we took our RV on Idaho’s scenic back roads in the panhandle southbound from Sandpoint through Moscow to McCall.

    RV on a river in Idaho

    On the back roads of Idaho

    The summer was really heating up in northern Idaho, and when we arrived in Sandpoint, on the shores of beautiful Lake Pend Oreille, we were delighted to find that the small town of Sandpoint transforms into a beach town when the temps climb over 80 degrees.

    Sandpoint City Beach Park in Idaho

    Sandpoint City Beach Park on Lake Pend Oreille

    The small town hugs the shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille, and people were taking full advantage of the summer sun to get out on the lake in anything that floated, from boats to kayaks to stand-up paddleboards.

    Standup paddle boards Sandpoint Idaho

    Sandpoint idaho has lots of summertime action on the lake.

    We discovered the wonderful Pend Oreille Bay Trail that runs along the water’s edge. This biking and hiking path offers both brief glimpses of the lake through the trees and open sweeping views.

    Pend Oreille Bay Trail Sandpoint Idaho

    Pend Oreille Bay Trail

    The trail is wonderfully shaded for much of its length and is a joy to walk, run or ride at any time of day.

    Pend Oreille Bay Trail bike path and running trail Sandpoint Idaho

    This shaded path goes right along the shoreline.

    There are paved bike paths all around Sandpoint City Beach Park too, and we rode everywhere.

    Riding the bicycle path in Sandpoint Idaho

    Sandpoint has bike paths all over the place.

    Sandpoint, Idaho, is such a bike friendly town, we even found a colorful sculpture celebrating two wheeled transport.

    Bike sculpture Sandpoint Idaho

    Sandpoint is a two-wheeler town!

    One day we spotted a van with bicycles on the roof. It turned out to be the famous PAC Tour, a challenging cross-country bicycle tour that puts even the hardiest cyclists to the test.

    Pac Tour cross-country bicycle tour in Sandpoint Idaho

    We bumped into the PAC Tour in Sandpoint!

    Their route travels from west to east and takes a little over 30 days. The cyclists were still fresh, as it was only Day 5. They had barely hit the big western mountains and were still a week away from the daylong 130 mile slogs across the flatter plains states. Kudos to all of them for taking on this huge athletic challenge!

    PAC Tour cross-country bicycle tour route for 2016

    These energetic cyclists had just started and had a long ways to go…

    The town of Sandpoint is very cute, and we enjoyed walking around the historic district. At one end of town we found the Libation District which has both brewpubs and a winery on both sides of the street. No shortage of fun there!!

    At the other end of town we found Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters where we got a peak at all of their coffee roasting equipment. For lovers of dark, rich coffee, their Guatemalan roast is really yummy. We took home a bag!!

    Evans Brothers Coffee Raosters Sandpoint Idaho

    Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters makes delicious coffee!

    We later discovered that they won 3rd place in the America’s Best Coffeehouse competition at the 2015 Coffee Fest Portland!!

    Just a few blocks away, we were very surprised to find the Litehouse Bleu Cheese factory where the popular salad dressing is made.

    Litehouse Bleu Cheese Factory Sandpoint Idaho

    Litehouse Bleu Cheese salad dressing is made here!

    But Lake Pend Oreille was the real focal point of our time in Sandpoint. One day we decided to get a view of it from high above. Locals suggested we take a drive up Schweitzer Mountain, a nearby ski resort.

    Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort Sandpoint Idaho

    Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort is on a nearby mountain overlooking the lake.

    The view from up there was wonderful!

    Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort view of Lake Pend Oreille Sandpoint Idaho

    What a view — Sandpoint tucked up against Lake Pend Oreille!

    After a week in Sandpoint we meandered south a little further and bumped into the cute town of Moscow. Instead of finding the grand turrets of Red Square, we discovered a lovely shaded main street that is lined with all kinds of boutiques and tempting eateries.

    Downtown Moscow Idaho streets

    Tiny Moscow, Idaho, has a cute downtown area.

    A fun paved bike path passes through Moscow, and we jumped on the Latah Trail to ride through the farmlands out to the village of Troy about 11 miles east.

    Latah Bike Path from Moscow Idaho to Troy Idaho

    Lovely rolling farmland on the Latah Trail from Moscow to Troy, Idaho.

    Much of this pretty trail goes through open land with views across rolling hills covered with pastures and farm fields.

    Latah Trail from Moscow to Troy Idaho

    The Latah Trail goes through pretty farmland.

    After a few hours of riding on the bike path, we returned to Moscow and stopped in at Bucer’s Coffeehouse and Pub. We got there shortly after the noon hour, perfect timing for a brew…either coffee or beer!!

    Bucer's Coffeehouse and Pub in Moscow Idaho

    We stopped for brews at Bucer’s Coffeehouse and Pub — coffee for me and beer for Mark!

    Continuing our journey south along Idaho’s pretty US-95, we passed lots more farmland with hay bales spread across the fields and farmhouses looking very quaint in the summer sun.

    Farmland in western Idaho panhandle

    The drive on US-95 was as lovely as the small towns along the way.

    Motorhome among hay bales in Idaho

    We passed some beautiful rural scenery.

    The Little Salmon River accompanied us on our drive, and we had to stop a few times to get photos as we passed through a wonderful canyon.

    Idaho scenery Little Salmon River

    The Little Salmon River ran alongside us the whole way.

    We had never thought of Idaho as being home to vibrant beach towns, but when we arrived in McCall, we discovered that, just like Sandpoint, the whole town was out in force soaking up the rays at the town beach.

    Sunbathers were lying on beach towels, and people were swimming and playing in the water, eating ice cream cones while strolling the paths by the water’s edge, and fooling around on boats and jet skis on pretty Payette Lake.

    We loved the vibe of McCall so much that we stuck around for two weeks!!

    Legacy Park on the beach in McCall Idaho

    What a great surprise to find another sweet little Idaho beach town in McCall!

    If you are taking your RV on a north-south route through Idaho, Route 95 makes for a very scenic and enjoyable drive. There are some links with more info below.

    Subscribe
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    Info about Sandpoint, Moscow and McCall, Idaho:

    Other blog posts from our RV travels in NW Montana and Idaho’s Panhandle:

    Scenic Drives for RV Touring in Idaho:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
    New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!

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    An RV Cruise Along Idaho’s Salmon River on US-93

    April 2016 – Idaho is loaded with magnificent scenic drives that are wonderful for RV travelers. One of the most lovely is US-93 which runs south-north between Arco (outside Craters of the Moon National Monument) and the Bitterroot Valley in Montana.

    Scenic drive for RV travel on the Salmon River Idaho

    The views never quit on the scenic drive along US-93 in Idaho

    Leaving the cute village of Mackay behind us, the snowcapped mountains hovered alongside us as we drove, framing each image out the windows.

    Scenic drive for RV travel on the Salmon River Idaho

    This is a peaceful road that makes for enjoyable driving.

    At one point we spotted some old log cabins just off the road. Living in our lux-mobile that gives us hot and cold running water at all times, heat, air conditioning and instant access to friends worldwide, it is hard to imagine the rustic and rough life that was lived in these remote parts long ago. I had to get a shot of the “old” and the “new.”

    Log cabin and fifth wheel trailer RV

    A log cabin and our fifth wheel trailer meet at a crossroads between two very different centuries

    The scenery was lovely, and I sat on the edge of my seat the whole time, eager to see what was around the next bend.

    RV view on Idaho roadtrip colorful tree Idaho landscape

    Pretty colors…

    Like the scenic drive we had just done through farm lands and valleys from northern Utah into southeastern Idaho, this route is wonderful for leisurely paced RV travel where you aren’t in too much of a rush to get somewhere. Small towns and villages and scenic pullouts dotted the drive.

    RV camping on the Salmon River Idaho

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    As we drove through the town of Challis, we suddenly noticed we’d passed by a sign that said “Brewing Company.” Mark doesn’t turn our buggy around for too many things, but this definitely warranted a U-turn and a second look.

    Sure enough, the River of No Return Brewing Company was located in what appeared to be a former house. The place had been open just a few months, but when we tasted their delicious House Brown Ale, we decided a second one was in order. Their beer is good!!

    Despite being the only people at the small bar when we first walked in, within a short time the place was full of regulars sampling the latest brew. Then a young gal showed up with a ukelele and began to perform. What a fun place!

    The bartender whipped up a yummy organic beef burger for us at the stove behind the bar. As he worked away, we began chatting with him and discovered he’s a full-time RVer who has been living and working in his 1959 Airstream trailer for five and a half years, boondocking and living on solar power the whole time. How cool is that?!

    River of No Return Brewery Challis Idaho

    That House Brown Ale sure is tasty!

    Once we resumed our travels on US-93, we noticed that the very scenic Salmon River had joined us. A look at the map showed it was going to flow alongside us all the way to Salmon, Idaho, and a little beyond that too.

    RV roadtrip on the Salmon River Idaho

    The Salmon River accompanied us for much of the drive.

    This route goes past lots of open pastures where cattle were grazing. It was spring and this year’s crop of baby calves had just been born. They romped around in the fields and butted heads playfully.

    Idaho ranching scene - calves butt heads

    Baby calves played together in the fields

    Sometimes they’d stop to get a drink of milk or a snuggle from mom.

    Camping sighting of calf licking mom Salmon River Idaho

    A mom and her calf.

    Birds were getting ready to raise their broods too, and at one stop we spotted an osprey sitting on his nest. These guys like to have a penthouse view, and they just love the tall poles with platforms that folks put out for them to nest on.

    We RVers like to call conventional houses that are built on foundations “stick built homes,” but that description applies just as well to osprey nests!

    Seen while camping Osprey in nest Salmon Idaho

    An osprey keeps an eye on the world from his stick built house

    We weren’t sure if there were eggs or chicks in the nest, but there were two very busy parents flying in and out of their stick-built home.

    Osprey landing in its nest Salmon Idaho

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    Osprey are great fishermen, and we loved watching how ospreys and other birds go about fishing while we cruised the Pacific coast of Mexico in our sailboat. Unlike some sea birds like pelicans and boobies, ospreys fish feet first!

    Osprey feet and talons Salmon Idaho

    I wouldn’t want to be a fish looking up at this!

    After many pretty ups and downs and scenic twists and turns, US-93 delivered us into Salmon, Idaho. We took a walk along the Salmon River and were startled by the beauty of the bridge that spans the river in town as it stood against a backdrop of snowcapped mountains.

    RV roadtrip bridge over Salmon River in Salmon Idaho

    The bridge over the Salmon River in Salmon, Idaho

    As I was staring at it, suddenly a truck towing a travel trailer went over it. That completed the scene just right!

    RV travel trailer on bridge Salmon Idaho

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    Then a kid jumped up on the railing and walked the length of the bridge. Ahh…the fearlessness that kids have!!

    Kid on Salmon Idaho bridge

    A kid’s way to cross a bridge!

    It was a perfect spring day, and as we strolled along the riverside path, a family walking their dogs approached. Their little chihuahua puppy came bounding over to see us. He was just eight weeks old, and he bounced along with such joy that his feet didn’t even touch the ground.

    Chihuahua puppy running in Salmon Idaho

    A happy puppy!

    Spring was in the air everywhere, and flowering trees opened their blossoms to the sun.

    Spring flower blossoms in Salmon Idaho

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    Spring flowers Salmon Idaho

    Spring is here!!

    Salmon, Idaho, and the salmon river owe their names to the well traveled fish we love to find on our dinner plate.

    Years ago we went to the Salmon Festival that takes place upriver in Stanley, Idaho, every summer. We learned there that salmon come into this world far inland, way upstream, and then, three years later, find their way to the Pacific ocean 900 miles downstream.

    Oddly, nowadays, they have to be loaded into trucks and barges and shuttled around the eight Salmon River and Snake River dams that they can’t get through by swimming!

    After living in the Pacific Ocean for a year or two, they swim back upstream, navigating by smell to reach their birthplace. Then they create the next generation of fish and perish. What a life!!

    Of course, people and osprey aren’t the only ones that think salmon make a tasty meal. A beautiful sculpture in town shows a bear catching his dinner in the river.

    RV roadtrip views Salmon Idaho

    A sculpture of a bear fishing for salmon is surrounded by colorful flowers.

    This part of Idaho is very beautiful, and a drive along US-93 is well worth doing.

    RV camping in Idaho

    .

    For us, driving scenic roads like this is one of the best aspects of the RV lifestyle. The next leg of our trip would take us further along US-93 into Montana’s Bitterroot Valley.

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    A Backcountry RV Roadtrip in SE Idaho – Quiet Splendor!

    April 2016 – In our RV travels we prefer to take small back roads from town to town instead of zipping past everything on the interstates. As we left the Moab area in Utah to head north into Idaho, we scoured the map to find some skinny roads through the farmlands that would take us through the valleys between the mountain ranges.

    RV roadtrip past snowcapped mountains of northern Utah

    Wow! We left the red rock canyons of Utah behind and headed into northern Utah.

    Our minds were still reeling with the incredible and world renowned landscapes we’d enjoyed at Canyonlands National Park (North and South), Arches National Park, Dead Horse State Park and even the roadside stop of Newspaper Rock after coming up through the (appropriately named) Valley of the Gods. But we were astonished by the beauty of our surroundings in this lesser known area as we looked out our truck’s windows.

    RV roadtrip through Farmland and mountasin of northern Utah

    We knew the farmland around in Logan, Utah, was gorgeous, but this was incredible!

    Route 89 heading out of Ogden, Utah, was a little fast paced for our tastes, so we snaked our way through the farmlands on Route 23 and then on Route 36. The views in every direction around us were breathtaking.

    Farm and mountain scenery southeastern Idaho

    It’s scenery like this that gets us off the highways and onto the backroads of America.

    This is farm and ranching country. Horses grazed in the pastures and cows dotted the fields all the way to the mountains in the distance. It was early spring, and newborn calves bounded behind their mothers.

    Views from the RV southeastern Idaho mountains

    Horses and cattle didn’t seem to notice the views — all they saw was breakfast!

    We had traveled through this part of the country several times before, spending time at Bear Lake and Logan Pass in Utah and driving north through Afton Wyoming on our way to and from the Tetons. Despite two visits to the Tetons, there are places there we still haven’t seen. However, we decided to stay on the Idaho side of that stunning mountain range on this trip.

    RV camping by southeastern Idaho lake

    The lakes were as beautiful as the mountains.

    And the scenery we were seeing was plenty glorious enough, and the roads were very peaceful!

    RV roadtrip through southeastern Idaho mountains

    Not a bad spot to live!

    The skies, however, were not peaceful at all, and rumbling in the heavens got our attention.

    RV camping southeastern Idaho

    The skies began to look a little threatening.

    A stormy day that had been promising rain all day long suddenly ended with a spectacular sunset that had us running out of the buggy and down to the shore to take photos.

    Southern Idaho sunset on lake

    Cloudy skies sometimes bring awesome sunsets. This one was exceptional, especially after a gray day!!

    As we were busily snapping away at the sky, I heard a loud splash and looked down at my feet to see a beaver swimming right past me.

    What luck!

    I managed to catch him surrounded by the sun’s vivid magenta reflection in the water before he dived out of sight.

    Camping sunset beaver in Idaho lake

    A beaver swam right by me!!

    We were doing this little backroad RV roadtrip in a season that fell somewhere between winter and spring, which gave us lots of unpredictable weather. Nasty weather makes for great photography, however, and we continued on our farm road journey on Route 38 under pretty clouds at dawn.

    Malad City Idaho sunrise

    Reflections at dawn.

    Later in the day, however, those clouds got angry once again. We watched a massive black cloud forming in the distance as we drove. Suddenly the cloud was upon us. Fortunately, just at that moment, we saw a huge roadside pullout with a big red sign that said “Stop!” And stop we did!!

    RV travel southeastern Idaho_

    Yikes! A huge black storm cloud made us pull over and stop!

    No sooner had we run back into the trailer and closed the door than the heavens opened up. It rained buckets. It rained so hard the raindrops seemed to be bouncing off the ground. Thank goodness we had our house with us!

    We made lunch, and afterwards we soon got drowsy from listening to the rain pelting our roof. So, we crawled under the covers for a nap! When we awoke, the skies had lightened and Nature gave us the “all clear” and go ahead to continue our journey on Route 37.

    2016 Dodge Ram 3500 Dually_

    Four hours later, after a good nap, the skies began to clear.

    We continued north, and after all this time on the backcountry roads of northern Utah and southeastern Idaho, when we arrived in the town of American Falls, we felt like we’d landed at an enormous city.

    We watched long trains crossing the train bridge in town. One was so long it had three engines on the front and two on the back!!

    Train crossing bridge in American Falls Idaho

    In American Falls we saw a long train with five engines!!

    The storm clouds continued to threaten and were moving very fast above us. I’d gotten a kick out of setting up a timelapse video of the clouds moving across the canyon walls of Dead Horse Point State Park a few weeks earlier, and this seemed like a perfect chance to try that technique again:

    From American Falls, our journey took us north along Route 39 to Route 26 and through Atomic City which we had enjoyed on an earlier trip to the otherworldly Craters of the Moon National Monument. But instead of seeking out moonscapes, on this trip we had snowcapped mountains in mind and on our agenda.

    RV views on Salmon River Idaho roadtrip - nowcapped mountains

    Snowcapped mountains were what we were after.

    We hooked up with Route 93 and followed it northwest to the village of Mackay. What a sweet town! Mackay, Idaho, is flanked by two gorgeous mountain ranges, and we walked around town with our heads tipped back to take in the beautiful views.

    Mackay Idaho main street

    Downtown Mackay, Idaho.

    Our RV roadtrip had brought us through some remote and quiet lands. To give you a sense of size and scale, the town of Mackay, which was a major landmark on our trip, has a population of 494!

    No wonder the local cinema can offer happy birthday wishes to a resident!!

    Main Street Cinema Mackay Idaho

    In a small town, your birthday can put your name on the marquee at the cinema! How fun!!

    Makcay, Idaho, is on the opposite side of the mountains from the much more well known, busy and trendy community of Sun Valley to the west, and it is “opposite” in spirit as well.

    “We like having a mountain range between us and Sun Valley!” One local said to me, laughing.

    We meandered the few streets, and admired the rustic, crusty and aging barns and buildings tucked between some of the homes.

    Crumbling Barn in Mackay Idaho

    .

    Old barn Mackay Idaho RV roadtrip

    .

    This part of Idaho is wonderful for RVing, and it has been popular with RVers ever since RVs were first built!

    Antique travel trailer RV

    We saw a cute antique trailer in a yard. Cool!

    Discovering special places that don’t get top billing in the tourist literature is one of our favorite things about this full-time RVing lifestyle. International tourists flock to the major cities and the National Parks. And why not, they’re spectacular! But the roots of America are in the small towns across the country.

    Old store front Mackay Idaho

    Get your stretchy suspenders here!!

    We were so glad we had chosen a route that we had never taken before through this familiar region. Every sight along the way was new and exciting!

    RV camping Salmon River Idaho

    Getting off the beaten path is our favorite aspect of RVing.

    If you are have an RV road trip planned between northern Utah and southern Idaho, consider getting off the interstate and exploring the smaller roads. It’s a very beautiful part of the country!! More info below…

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    More info and more stories from our RV travels in this area:

    Our route through the Northern Utah and Southern Idaho farms and valleys

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    The Artsy Side of Sun Valley, ID

    Camping in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area Ketchum Idaho

    Pretty as a picture…or a painting!

    August, 2014 – Sun Valley, Idaho, the “ski resort town,” has an artsy soul, and this is especially evident in the summertime.

    While happily camped in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, we got on our mountain bikes one morning and began roaming around the dirt roads through the woods.

    All of a sudden we came across an artist set up with oil paints and a palette, creating a painting on an easel.

    Sun Valley Plein Air Artist Bart Walker paints in the Sawtooth Mountains

    Bart Walker brings the landscape alive on his canvas.

    What a great place to paint!

    The artist introduced himself as Bart Walker, and we watched him quickly bringing the bucolic scenery around us to life on his canvas.

    It turned out that he was making paintings for the upcoming “Plein Air” art exhibition held at the Kneeland Gallery in town in a few weeks.

    Blurred water with trees at the Big Wood River in Ketchum Idaho

    We were inspired to get artsy with our
    cameras too!

    Even though he is from Wyoming’s Teton Mountains area, he knows the Sawtooths well, and he suggested we go to a spot down on the Big Wood River where we might get some good photos.

    Beautiful flowers in Sun Valley Idaho

    We promptly followed his suggestion and had loads of fun on the riverbanks getting artsy shots with creamy water.

    When the appointed weekend for the art exhibition came, we found ourselves surrounded by plein air artists in the woods recreating the stunning landscapes of the Sawtooth mountains.

    We wandered from one easel to the next, intrigued by how differently each artist interpreted their natural surroundings.

    Artist Lori McNee paints in oils "Plein Air" in Sun Valley Idaho

    We loved being surrounded by these artists out in nature.

    We discovered later that the 10 or so artists that are invited to show their work at the Kneeland Gallery’s Plein Air art exhibition each summer are all very accomplished and well known artists.

    We were watching true pros painting around us in the woods, folks who make their living from their art!

    A whole group of knowledgeable admirers were also roaming from one canvas to the next, and we fell right in step with them, getting the low down, in whispers, on who was who and who did what kind of art.

    Sawtooth National Recreation Area plein air artist paints on canvas

    Some of the artists were staying in their campers.

    Robert Moore creates colorful paintings in the national forest of Idaho

    Robert Moore’s unique style of painting is almost performance art!

    “That’s Robert Moore over there,” a fellow told me in a low voice. “He’s one of the best.”

    I looked aver at a guy with a huge palette of paints and a canvas spread out on the tailgate of a pickup truck.

    “He’s color blind,” the guy went on.

    What?!  I had to learn more.

    Robert was extremely friendly and unassuming, and as we talked, he painted in brisk strokes with two brushes, one held in each hand.

     

    Robert Moore shows off his unfinished painting

    Robert shows me his unfinished painting.

    He even dipped his rubber gloved fingers in the paints and squished them around on the canvas, like a kid finger painting!

    “I can’t distinguish between greens and oranges,” he explained to me, gesturing to those colors on the palette.

    “My assistant, Silas, helps me by arranging the colors on the palette so I know where each one is.” He worked very fast and with great self-assurance.

    At the beginning, when the canvas was blank, he had started by squeezing paint from the tubes directly on the canvas.

    Robert Moore Murdoch Creek Oil Painting

    Finished, framed, and on the wall at Kneeland Gallery in Ketchum.

    The lines of paint were still there, and as his brushes reached them, they blended the colors. Yet each brush stroke visibly retained all the colors that were in the mixture.

    Miraculously, a beautiful painting of a stream was emerging.

    “You can play Beethoven with one finger on the piano,” he explained to me quietly, “but it sounds so much richer if you play with all the fingers of both hands. That’s the way my painting is. You can see all the colors in every brushstroke. That’s how light is in real life.”

    He held the painting up for me. Wow!

    RV boondocking in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area Ketchum Idaho

    Audience on the lawn at the Sun Valley Pavilion

    Families picnic and listen to beautiful music.

    The next evening we went to the gallery open house. Little did we know that every Friday night in Sun Valley there is an Art Walk where all the galleries (and there are lots of them) open their doors and pour generous glasses of free wine for visitors.

    With an increasingly wobbly gate, patrons and admirers of the arts wander from gallery to gallery, taking in beautiful works of modern impressionism, fine art photography, modern art, sculpture and more. After a few glasses of wine, even the most stark modern art makes total sense!

    Sun Valley is also famous for its outstanding free summer symphony concert series.

    Sun Valley Symphony free summer concert series

    The Sun Valley Pavilion is a beautiful home for the symphony orchestra.

    For three and a half weeks, the Sun Valley Pavilion comes alive almost every night with music played by the top notch Sun Valley Symphony.

     

    Sun Valley Symphony plays Brahms' 2nd Symphone - ahh!

    We are treated to a night of Brahms — sheer joy for me!

    Outside the Pavilion, families and friends enjoy picnics on the lawn where the music is played over mammoth speakers. Inside, there is loads of free theater seating that is all first come first serve.

    The Pavilion is a tens-of-millions-of-dollars architectural marvel and was a gift to the community from the owner of Sun Valley Resort. While waiting for Mark to get a beer, I happened to rest my hip on a low interior stone wall.

    An usher came over to me and said politely that I shouldn’t sit on the wall.

    Sun Valley Pavilion was built with stone from the same quarry as the Roman Colosseum

    Don’t sit on the walls…this rock is special!

    Slightly affronted, because I had been leaning on the wall, not sitting on it, I decided to joke a bit with him.

    “Is there something special about this rock wall?” I asked, laughing.

    “Well, as a matter of fact there is. The stones came from the same quarry in Italy as the stones that were used to build the Roman Colosseum.”

    A young violinist plays her own concert in Sun Valley ID

    A young violinist gives an impromptu
    concert of her own.

    Are you kidding?!!

    I sprang away from the wall and then gingerly reached back and touched it in amazement.

    After the concert was over, a little girl stood up amid her family’s picnic blanket and chairs and began an impromptu violin concert of her own, singing and playing some country tunes.

    A small crowd gathered around her, and her smile got bigger and bigger as she performed for a rapt audience.

    And that’s the way life is in Sun Valley, Idaho, where mega wealth and majestic natural beauty come together to make a playground for everyone that is full of fine art, exquisite music and outdoor fun. Best of all, most of it can be enjoyed for free!

    Boondocking in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area Ketchum Idaho

    A sunrise worth leaping out of bed for!

    Here are some links with more info for you about the Sun Valley, Idaho, area:

    For more from our RV travels to Sun Valley, ID, both past and present, see these links:

     

     

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    Ice Queens of Sun Valley, ID

    August, 2014 – The magic of Sun Valley, Idaho, is that it combines the stunning scenery of the Sawtooth mountains and Big Wood River with the more cosmopolitan pleasures of the fine arts, all in a chic small town atmosphere. Everyone who visits is captivated by its charm, and we were quickly seduced too.

    Boondocking in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area Idaho

    Sun Valley is worthy of many return visits!

    Read More…

    Sun Valley Road Rally – Go Granny Go!

    Bugatti Veyron

    At the Sun Vally Road Rally you can see more than just the back end
    of a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse!

    July, 2014 – We found out that the Bugatti race cars had come to Sun Valley, Idaho for a reason.

    We had arrived in the town of Ketchum just in time for the annual Sun Valley Road Rally, a car race we had seen in its second edition back in 2009.

    This very cool “see how fast you can go” road race benefits The Drug Coalition of Blaine County.

    For the race, the local cops clear Route 75 north of Ketchum, and participants pay $2,000 per run to drive any car they wish for two miles at top speed.

    At the finish line, each car’s speed is recorded on radar.  And for once, the fastest car through the speed trap wins!

    Future car racer at Sun Valley Road Rally in Idaho

    A future car racer checks out a slick Camaro.

    Five years ago, when we last saw the Sun Valley Road Rally, it was dominated by a mom, dad, son and daughter who passed the key to their family Porsche Carrera from one to the next as each took a turn in the driver’s seat.

    The mom hit 181, the daughter reached 183 mph and the dad got to 186 mph, but the son topped them all at 188 and won the race.

    Cars entering the Sun Valley Road Rally car race in Idaho

    Cool cars and ski mountains — that’s Sun Valley for you!

    Things have changed a LOT since then.  This year a fleet of six Bugatti Veyrons showed up.

    These quad turbo charged cars sell for $2.7 million, have an exclusive “W-16” cylinder design (not a “V-8”), and 188 mph is an easy jog for them.  They go from 0 to 62 mph in 2.6 seconds.

    Ferrari and other cars at the car show in Sun Valley Idaho

    A Ferarri 458 cuddles with two companions at the car show

    McClaren Can-Am Race Car Sun Valley Road Ralley Idaho

    It’s the Bat Mobile! Wait…no…it’s a vintage McClaren Can-Am car!!

    Spirits were high the night before the race when a parade of fantastic cars zipped through town before the kick-off car show.

    This race is open to everyone, and we saw all kinds of fun cars.

    An old bright red bathtub Porsche convertible went by.  It had a pair of skis tied to the back and an antique suitcase lashed to the trunk.

    “He’s going to race like that?”  I wondered out loud.  The guy next to me nodded.  This race is all about having a good time.

    Crowds watch the Sun Valley Road Rally

    The crowds filled the fields on the Sawtooth Scenic Byway

    “Hey look, it’s the Bat Mobile!” I nudged Mark as a bizarre blue machine roared past.

    We later found out it was a 1980’s era McClaren Can-Am car, and it had a bouquet of velocity stacks towering in back.

    The next day, out on the race track (well, the highway), the crowd gathered, bussed up from town in school buses.

     

    Bugatti Veyrons ready to race in Sun Valley Idaho

    The cars line up before the race.

    The Bugattis got lined up at the start while the first car of the day, a Porsche, flew past the crowd at a whopping 219 mph.

    Wow.  The race was off to an incredible start!

    A few more cars limped by in the 180’s and then all our heads turned at once as a blue car flew past at a blinding speed.

    “238!” The announcer cried.  “From a Nissan GTR!”

    I heard some low whistles around me.  Then the announcer dropped his voice:  “And the Bugattis aren’t happy…”

    Bugattis line up for the Sun Valley Road Rally

    The Bugattis huddle together upon hearing news of an ultra fast Nissan.

    The gauntlet had been thrown.  We watched some Ferarris, Lamborghinis, Audi R8’s and a Ford 500 GT and a few other cars to do their runs.  Nothing touched the Nissan.  And then the first Bugatti ran. It sounded awesome. It looked really fast…

    “229!” The announcer yelled

    He sounded almost apologetic! We all stared at each other in surprise.  Could a Nissan take the day at 238 mph??!!

    Bugatti race car crosses the finish line at Sun Valley Road Rally

    The first Bugatti crosses the line…a little too slowly!

    One by one, the Bugattis rocketed past us. They were painted in gorgeous colors — two-toned blue, light silver, dark silver and orange.  As each one passed, we all held our breath, waiting to hear the speed. And with every single one we all let out a disappointed sigh:  “229….229….230…”

    These Bugatti Veyrons just weren’t cutting it!

    I heard murmurs around me.  Would a lowly Nissan that sells for a meager $250k beat a car ten times the price??  Not possible!! Then we all watched in awe as a white dot on the horizon came down the notorious Phantom Hill at lightning speed. I swear, if he went any faster he would have been airborne.

    Bugatti sets record at Sun Valley Road Rally

    Did you see THAT?? This Bugatti Veyron was booking!

    Benjamin Chen with his winning Bugatti at Sun Valley Road Ralley in Idaho

    Proud owner and driver Benjamin Chen with his awesome car.

    “244!”  The announcer boomed.  “244!  A Bugatti”

    OMG.  Who WAS this guy?

    At the break between heats we rushed down to the finish line to mingle with the cars and drivers and watch them prepare for their next run.

    Benjamin Chen, the owner and driver of this white and gold dream machine, was beaming.

    He is a massively successful equity manager, but you’d never guess it looking at his boyish grin and blue jeans as he gave us the thumbs up.

    Josh Ramsey ready to race a Nissan GTR in Sun Valley

    Young driver Josh Ramsey with his incredible Nissan GTR. The green tape was to help with wind flow and to keep the hood from opening at 200+ mph.

    A few cars down from him we met up with Josh Ramsey who would be driving the upstart Nissan GTR for its second run in the next heat.

    Just 23 years old, and a self-made race car driver who got his start by sweeping floors in the car owner’s shop for nothing, he was excited and nervous, wanting so badly to beat the Bugattis at their own game.

    But the tension and rivalry between these top cars was just a small part of the day.  There was lots of action in the lower ranks too.

     

     

    1957 Corvett convertible at Sun Valley Road Rally in Idaho

    Mike donned vintage glasses and his wife wore a scarf on their run,
    going 110 mph in this 1957 Corvette!

    A husband and wife went on a very fast date together, driving their 1957 Corvette convertible at 110 mph.

    He wore antique goggles and she wore a fashionable scarf.

    A 1950’s open wheel hot rod that had turned heads in the parade crossed the line at 98 mph.

    Then another heat of 12 cars lined up and left the staging area to drive to the start line and set up to race.

     

    hot rod racing in Sun Valley Road Rally in Idaho

    What’s a car race without a hot rod, especially one that can go 98 mph!

    “Did you see that driver in the yellow Corvette?” Mark suddenly said to me.  “She’s the little old lady from Pasadena!”

    Huh?  I didn’t know what he was talking about until a little while later when the yellow Corvette flew across the finish line and pulled over to park near me.

    A grandma climbed out of the driver’s seat, took off her helmet and brushed her hand through her hair.

    Car racer Shirley Veine age 81 in Sun Valley Road Rally in Idaho

    81 year old Shirley Veine stole the show at 166 mph in her bright yellow Corvette

    “Wow!”  She gushed, looking up at me.  “That was fun!”

    “You hit 166,” a young woman yelled as she rushed over to give her a hug.

    “How old are you?” I asked, astonished.

    “81” She grinned.

    Go Granny Go Shirley Veine races her Corvette in Sun Vally Idaho

    The Little Old Lady from Pasadena says she LOVES to go fast!!

    “You know, I’ve been 120 mph before,” she said mischievously. “Out on those roads where nobody cares. But I’ve never raced before!”

    Really!

    When she turned around to pump her fist in the air for her fans, her T-shirt said, “Go Granny, Go!(That link goes to the song on YouTube for you, LOL!)

     

    Josh Ramsey races a Nissan GTR in Sun Valley Idaho

    The Nissan GTR had laid down the gauntlet and had hopes for the high 240’s, but a mechanical failure got in the way.

    Meanwhile the race was heating up between the Bugattis and the Nissan.

    Benjamin had taken his white and gold Bugatti across the line at 246 mph on his second run, and another Bugatti had matched the Nissan’s 238 mph.

    The heat was on.

    In the end, though, very unfortunately, the Nissan had a mechanical failure

    Our hearts sank its young driver Josh limped back in after his run, wreathed in disappointment.

     

    Benjamin Chen wins in a Bugatti Veyron at Sun Valley Road Rally

    Victorious Benjamin Chen hit 246 mph on the golden spoked wheels
    of his Bugatti Veyron.

    However, even if he hadn’t won the day, at least his team had given those Bugattis a run for their money.

    Over at the leaderboard, champ Benjamin’s grin went from ear to ear as he showed us his winning speed.

    He told us the magic key on his necklace puts the car in a special “top speed mode,” dropping the spoiler, closing the air diffusers, and lowering the ground clearance.

    Oh, to be a multi-millionaire with a super cool race car and a brilliant a sunny day to play with it out on the open road, especially smack in the middle of the Sawtooth Scenic Byway!

    National Sawtooth Scenic Byway

    The driver’s view (minus the cars) down Phantom Hill on the Sawtooth Scenic Byway
    where, for once, the fastest car in the speed trap wins!

    See the following links for the Sun Valley Road Rally and the Sawtooth Scenic Byway in Idaho. There’s also a fantastic article about the Koenigsegg race car trouncing the Bugatti Veyron’s speed record in Nevada here.

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    Movin’ On Up to Sun Valley, ID

    July, 2014 – Our stay in eastern Oregon had been truly blissful but, as had been predicted due to the ultra dry conditions, this summer was proving to be a terrible one for wildfires in both Oregon and Washington. A wildfire in central Washington had grown to 400 square miles. That’s 20 miles by 20 miles, or 80 miles if you drive around the outer edge of the fire. Holy smokes!

    Shoshone Idaho mural

    Welcome to Shoshone, Idaho!

    Shoshone Idaho train tracks and depot

    The Shoshone, Idaho, railroad depot.

    Whole communities had been leveled, and even though the firefighters were getting the upper hand, we knew it would smolder for months.

    Oregon was facing similar challenges, and we could smell the smoke in the air, so we decided to put a little distance between us and the fires.

    Leaving Hell’s Canyon behind us, we did a daylong drive east towards Sun Valley, Idaho, and the Sawtooth Mountains where we had spent a glorious month five years ago.

    On our way there, we passed through a tiny town that had the most inviting lineup of colored western style buildings on the main street.

     

    Colorful buildings in Shoshone Idaho

    The colorful buildings made us hop out of the buggy to look around.

    This was Shoshone, Idaho (with a silent “e”), an old railroad depot town.

    We just had to stop the buggy and get out to roam around a bit!

    At one time Shoshone was the only railroad depot in Idaho, even though it’s been a town of just 1,100 to 1,400 people for the last century.

    The railroad tracks here are still active, and Union Pacific and Amtrak trains still pass through.

    Just north of town are some ice caves where the winter ice lasts all summer, and the old joke was that Shoshone was the only place around to get a cold beer in summertime!

    Shoshone Idaho is a train depot town

    Amtrak and Union Pacific still use these tracks.

    We didn’t see the ice caves but enjoyed walking this quiet town.

    Shoshone Idaho depot doorway

    The old train depot was very authentic and original looking on the outside, but peeking in the windows we saw ordinary modern day offices inside.

    Iron Horse Cafe in Shoshone Idaho

    Nowadays you can get a cold beer here!

    Pansies in a garden in Sun Valley Idaho

    Hopping back in the truck, we made our way north towards Bellevue and Hailey, small towns leading to Ketchum, the town that plays host to the Sun Valley resort.

    Flowers in the garden

    From the workaday simplicity of Shoshone, everything around us got progressively fancier as we drove through these towns.

    Sun Valley has been home to the rich and famous since 1936 when the resort first opened, and it is still a celebrity hangout.

    Demi Moore and Bruce Willis Movie Theater Hailey Idaho

    Demi Moore and Bruce Willis own this art deco movie theater in Hailey.

    Bicycle statue in Hailey Idaho

    Biking is popular here — there are miles and miles of paved and dirt trails.

    A lady walking her dog in Bellevue said that the farmer who owned the land next to the Hailey airport had sold some of his land to the airport to make the runway longer, and now the jets could come in.

    Big Wood River Sun Valley Idaho

    The Big Wood River winds through the area.

    Sure enough, in a two hour period that evening, five private jets passed directly overhead going to and from the airport.

    Stopping in Hailey to find out a little about the mountain biking in the area, we got into a lively discussion with some folks at the store about their celeb sightings.

    Boondocking in the Sawtooth Mountain National Recreation Area

    Along with all the mega mansions there are normal folks too!

    Bill and Melinda Gates had helped a fallen mountain biker on the trail. Warren Buffet had opened his cab door to offer a shared ride to a local.

    And, of course, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore bought a few of Hailey’s downtown buildings in the early 1990’s to help the town through financial straights, and then raised their kids in Hailey for a few years.

    Our heads began to spin.

    What a change from the relaxed and unassuming environment of Baker City and the charmingly remote outpost of Joseph, Oregon.

     

    Mountain biking in Sun Valley Idaho

    The Corvettes and Porsches passing us on Route 75 got boring when a series of AC Cobras flew by.

    Welcome to Sun Valley!

    But this isn’t just a money place. Somehow, despite the vast wealth that surrounds the town, ordinary folks still flock here to get a nature fix.

    And we began to get ours out on the trails that wander through the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and along the lively Big Wood River that romps through the edge of town.

    Heading into Ketchum one afternoon, we did a double-take when we saw an antique car drive by towing an antique trailer.

    1950 Chevy and 1947 trailer

    Hey, look at that!!

    Bougatti race car

    Is that a Bugatti??!!

    Luckily, the driver parked it nearby. I ran over to chat with him.

    “It’s a 1950 Chevy and a 1947 trailer,” he told me proudly. He was in a rush, though, and couldn’t stick around to tell me more.

    While I was admiring this fun rig, Mark glanced over at some parked cars and did a double-take of his own.

    “Em, I think that’s a Bugatti,” he said, running towards it.

    Lamborghini race car at Sun Valley Lodge

    Now there’s a fun car for the valets to park!

    “I’ve only seen those in pictures!” He yelled over his shoulder.

    When I finally caught up to him, he was deep in conversation with the driver who turned out to be a Bugatti employee.

    The car was here for the Sun Valley Road Rally on Saturday, and this guy not only got to drive it but got to stand next to it and guard it while it’s owner went grocery shopping.

    A car body guard? Yup! These cars sell for $2.7 million.

    Around the corner at the Sun Valley Lodge we saw a Lamborghini waiting to be valet parked. Wow.

    Years ago we’d been lucky enough to stumble into second edition of the Sun Valley Road Rally just steps from our camping spot.

    Now we couldn’t wait to see what this little local and family oriented town event had grown up to become…

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    Click the following links for more about Sun Valley and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

     

     

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    Mesa Falls Scenic Byway, ID – Pretty Waterfalls

    The Tetons!

    Mid-July, 2012 – We left the corner of Wyoming near Afton and journeyed north into Idaho.  We were doing our route planning to take in as many official “scenic byways” as possible, so now we followed Idaho’s Teton Scenic Byway.

    We had been to Grand Teton National Park at the beginning of our travels in 2007 and had been awe-struck by the jagged beauty and majesty of the mountain peaks.  The national park is on the eastern side of the mountains in Wyoming, and its roads wind right along the base of the mountains.

    The Teton Scenic Byway in Idaho is on the western side and the road is much further distant from the mountains, running right through the rich valley farmlands.  The views were lovely, but unfortunately the sky and lighting didn’t cooperate with us on that particular day, and the smoke from nearby wildfires made the mountains hazy at best.

    Spuds!

    But a real highlight was to drive through fields and fields of perfectly spaced, rolling rows of green plants.  “What do you think that is?” I asked Mark.  “Hmmm….” He mused.  “This is Idaho… which is spud country… Idaho potatoes maybe??”   Yup!  We soon saw a sign saying that this was “seed potato” country.  It explained that many farmers in the area are third and fourth generation seed potato farmers and that after storing the potatoes through the winter in cool cellars many are cut into 2″ cubes in the spring to create the next season’s crop.

    Upper Mesa Falls

    Where the Teton Scenic Byway leaves off the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway begins, and we made the turn onto that road.  Two beautiful waterfalls give this scenic byway its name.  The Lower Falls is very pretty, but the Upper Falls is a stunner.  We were glad to have our National Park Pass because these falls are one of those “federal lands” area with an entrance fee that is covered by the pass.

    Waterfall Mist

    The afternoon light lit up the mist that foamed off of the falls, and we wandered up and down the enormous walkways and stairways that cascade along the edge of the falls for tourists.

    As we were leaving we noticed three fellows carrying kayaks up the stairs.  It turned out they were had just kayaked 8 miles down the river, and apparently that stretch of river is excellent white water and rapids.  Fortunately they had stopped short of the falls!!  Mark wanted to get a picture of me with them — and when one of them playfully put his arm around me for the shot I discovered he was sopping wet from head to toe!  That got me laughing.

    Crazy wet kayakers!

    The Upper Falls are known for the rainbow that forms in the mist in the mornings, and we set the alarm to make sure we caught the rainbow at its peak according to what a ranger told us.  Out of laziness we hadn’t changed the clocks in the trailer since leaving Arizona two months earlier, but we we knew we were off by an hour.  Well, we were off by an hour the other way!  So we got to the falls in the freezing cold semi-darkness and were just about frozen to the bone by the time the little rainbow finally made its first showing.

    The falls create a rainbow each morning.

    The Upper Falls is also home to the Big Falls Inn, a cool old log cabin built in 1915 by Snake River Electric Light & Power Co. as an office/residence for workers.

    Big Falls Inn – from the Power Company!

    Over the years it has been used in many ways — as a way station for travelers on Yellowstone Highway,

    Baby robins

    as a dance hall, and as a corporate retreat.  In 1986 the Forest Service acquired it through a land exchange.

    We had simpler accommodations in our buggy nearby, but outside our window a little robin’s nest was full of open-mouthed chicks!

    Continuing our journey north, our road wandered out of Idaho and into the Bitteroot Valley of Montana.

     

     

     

     

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