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!”


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…


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.


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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Sawtooth Scenic Byway and Stanley, Idaho – Picturesque!

Stanley Lake Idaho

Stanley Lake

Stanley Lake Idaho

Creek near Stanley Lake

Stanley Lake Idaho

Stanley Lake

Stanley Idaho camping Stanley Idaho campground

Camping at Stanley Lake

Stanley Idaho

Scenery near Stanley.

Stanley Idaho

Sawtooth Mountains.

Stanley Idaho

Sawtooth Luce's.

Stanley Idaho

Homes perched on the hills in Stanley

Redfish Lake Idaho beach

Redfish Lake

Redfish Lake Idaho beach

Redfish Lake

Redfish Lake Idaho kayaking

Beach at Redfish Lodge

Redfish Lake Idaho kayaking

Ghosting along on Redfish Lake

Redfish Lake Idaho kayaking Redfish Lake Idaho kayaking

Private boat-in campsite on Redfish Lake

Redfish Lake Idaho kayaking Stanley Idaho Salmon Festival

Salmon Festival in Stanley

Stanley Idaho Salmon Festival

Namesake for Redfish Lake

Sawtooth Mountains

Cattle enjoy a nice view.

Sawtooth Mountains Sawtooth Mountains

Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley.

Sawtooth Mountains Stanley Lake Idaho

"Ahhh" moment as we walk towards Stanley Lake.

Stanley Lake Idaho Stanley Lake Idaho

Sunrise on our final morning

Salmon River Idaho

Salmon River

Salmon River Idaho

Drive along the Salmon River

Stanley, Idaho

Late August, 2009 - We drove

north from Ketchum/Sun

Valley to Stanley Idaho along

the Sawtooth Scenic Highway.

As with Indiana's Amish

Heritage Trail that we had

recently driven, we discovered

the tourism folks of central

Idaho have created a series of

CDs to accompany the

beautiful scenic drives through

their state.  Complete with mile

marker indicators, music and

driving instructions, the

recording was expertly made and we enjoyed having a tour guide right there in the truck with

us.  We learned tidbits about the mining history, Indian history and geology of the area, and

the CD recommended some excellent stops at scenic viewpoint along the way.

Stanley is a tiny hamlet with just 40 year-round residents, although the population soars to

300 each summer.  It is frequently the coldest place in the continental US in the wintertime, but in summer the days are hot.  We

rode our bikes to Stanley Lake and found crystal clear water sleepily lapping the shores of towering mountains.

We returned with the kayak and spent a blissful morning drifting across

the mirrored reflections of the rugged peaks.  As we floated into the cool

shade under the thick pines on the far side of the lake, we felt intoxicated

by their heady, pungent scent.  We laid back and lazily watched the

rainbow trout jumping for moths.  Each foolish bug would flirt with the

water's surface until his wings got wet, and then he'd start a spinning

death spiral that ended with the gulp of a fish.

There is a


and several

hiking trails

around Stanley

Lake as well.

We made a few trips to the lake

over the next week, each time

enjoying that burst of "ahhh" as

the trees parted and the lake

came into view.

It seemed like a perfect spot to

bring the family for a week of

camping.  The sites are

perched right on the water's

edge and there are endless

activities to keep kids amused

along the shore.

The early mornings were cold

and quiet, but as each day

wore on and the sun flooded

the shore, the sounds of kids

voices carried across the


The Sawtooth Mountains line the horizon like the cutting edge of

a saw blade, and everywhere we turned their snowcapped tops

formed a backdrop.  Stanley sits at the intersection of three of

Idaho's official "scenic highways," and there are viewpoint pullouts

and photo-op spots all over town.

One afternoon we got a pizza at Sawtooth Luce's.  This little log cabin

eaterie has been in the same family for several generations, and our

waiter proudly announced that three weeks earlier the owners had just

given Stanley its first locally born baby in 30 years.

We took the kayak to Redfish Lake, another

expanse of clear, turquoise water set against a

wide mural of the Rockies.  The water was

cool, but so inviting, with every rock and fallen

log clearly visible many feet below the surface.

There were several beaches, some accessible

by car and others, we later learned, accessible

only by boat.  The sand on every beach was

wonderfully white.

We cast about for a while to find a good launching spot and settled

on the beach by Redfish Lodge.  This is a fun and busy place.

There are cabins, a lodge, a camp store, boat rentals, a marina

with slips and moorings for powerboats and sailboats alike, and a

white sand beach loaded with families.  It is an ideal swimming

area, as the water is shallow for a long distance, keeping it

somewhat warm.  We quickly inflated the kayak and cast off.

It didn't take long for the playful voices from the beach to fade into

the distance as we pedaled our way along one shore.  There was

a point in the distance that lured us, tantalizing us with images of

what might lie beyond.  The crests of a few jagged peaks poked

above the nearby trees, promising a dramatic view once we

rounded the point.  It seemed like we would never get there, but

suddenly the point swung wide, like a door opening to another

land, and we found ourselves in an emerald green pool of

shallows at the feet of two majestic mountains.

Many evergreen

trees along the

shore were red.

They were going

through their

death throes as

beetles invaded

the tender flesh under their bark.  This made for interesting colors among the

trees, but was disconcerting in a forest that should be solid deep green.  From a

distance much of the forest high up on the ridge was grey, as many trees had

already succumbed to the armies of invading pests.  In places it seemed just one

in ten trees was wearing its intended green hue.

We found a perfect spot to land for a shore-side snack.  It was actually a boat-in campsite,

complete with a fire ring, a wood pile left by a previous camper, and a table.  A tiny beach

stretched along the shore,

and a large rock sat out a

ways in the lake.  Mark was

tempted to go swimming,

but he didn't want to be

soggy wet and cold for the

return trip.  So he settled

for wading out towards the

big rock, carefully hiking his

shorts up higher and higher

as he went.  He stepped

gingerly from one submerged rock to another, leap-frogging

towards the big boulder.  Just as it looked like he'd made it to the rock

island, his foot slipped on some algae and he doused himself thoroughly.

Oh well, so much for staying dry.

After kayaking a little further we turned around, leaving the dramatic

rocky horizon behind us.  Before long, the sounds of kids playing in

the water at Redfish Lodge pierced our little oasis of silence, and

we paddled our way back into the hustle and bustle of a hot

summer day at the beach.  Kids licking ice cream cones, parents sipping cold beer, and sunbathing teens changing from white to

pink greeted us as we deflated the kayak and folded it back into its bag.

That weekend the town of Stanley hosted the Salmon Festival, a fair

celebrating the local salmon.  We knew nothing about salmon when we got

there, other than how to grill it, but by the end of the day we had learned

many amazing things about the life cycle of these intrepid fish.  We were

astonished to learn that when 3-year-old salmon make their way from

Stanley down the Salmon River to the Snake River to the Columbia River to

the ocean some 900 miles away, they make a mental note of the smells

along the way so they can sniff their way back home a year or two later,

never making a wrong turn up a wrong tributary.  Once home, they flirt with

each other and the females choose their mates.  The males quiver

alongside their females, waiting impatiently for them to lay their eggs so

they can be fertilized.  Once the seeds for the next generation have been

sown, the parents die.

We had known that salmon fishing

had deteriorated badly in recent

years, but were shocked to learn

that in the decade of the 1990's

only 10 local salmon made it

back to Stanley to spawn, putting

them on the endangered species

list.  This year 750 or so are

expected to return, a recovery

attributed to the removal of many

dams along the rivers and

meticulous breeding in

hatcheries.  We had known that

river dams impeded salmon

migration, but were stunned to

find out the trouble is during

their trip down to the ocean, not during their return up river to spawn years later.  Young

salmon approaching a dam as they swim towards the ocean are guided out of the river to

be loaded onto trucks and barges so they can be taken around the dam and then returned

to the river on the other side where they continue their swim to the ocean.  For Stanley

area salmon this happens at four dams on the Snake River and four on the Columbia.

That's a lot of corralling, loading and unloading for a six inch fish that is designed just to

swim with the current to the ocean.  Most don't make it.  The young are tagged with

microchips before they leave the hatchery so they can be identified upon their return from

the ocean, at which point they have grown to recognizable salmon size.  The

microchip tags aid in isolating a few fish for hatchery breeding when they return,

keeping the hatchery DNA pool as wide as possible.

This was a lot to take in and gave us a far greater appreciation for the wild caught

filets we buy at the supermarket.  Mulling it all over, we wandered about the town

of Stanley, taking several bike rides along the scenic highways.  The views

everywhere were breathtaking.

We went to a lecture at the Stanley

Museum given by a man who had

kayaked the same route that the salmon

take: the Salmon River to the Snake River

to the Columbia River to the ocean.  He covered the

distance in 52 days in 2001, experiencing some of the

same hassles the fish do at the dams as he took his

kayak through the lock systems.

Stanley also has a mining history, but we didn't stay long

enough to delve into it too deeply.  There are some

intriguing mining relics and ghost towns in the area that

we decided to save for a return trip another year.

We took one last hike out to the far end of Stanley

Lake and breathed in the moist pine scent.

On our final day in the area

the sun cast an orange

glow on the rocky peaks for

a few moments as it rose in

the sky.

Then we started a two-day

trip down the road along the Salmon River, thinking of the salmon and of the kayaker as

we drove.  The river was our constant companion as we descended northwards towards

Stevensville, Montana.
































































































Sun Valley Idaho – Music, History & Celebrities

RV blog post - We loved Sun Valley with its cozy Lodge and cool summer outdoor ice skating rink, free outdoor symphony concerts & miles of bike paths.

Ketchum Farmer's Market

Sun Valley Lodge skating rink

Sun Valley outdoor skating rink.

Sun Valley Lodge skating rink

Outdoor restaurant overlooking the skating rink.

Sun Valley Lodge skating rink

A young skater gets some coaching.

Sun Valley Lodge Idaho

Quaint buildings around the Sun Valley resort.

Sun Valley Lodge Idaho

Swans greet visitors to the Sun Valley Lodge

Sun Valley Lodge Idaho

Welcome to Sun Valley


Sun Valley Lodge Idaho

A bright fire crackled in the Lodge's fireplace.

Sun Valley Lodge Idaho

Upstairs brunch was being served.

Sun Valley Lodge Idaho celebrity photos

Arnold in the Austrian Alps of the west.

Sun Valley Lodge Idaho celebrity photos

Figure skating legends Dorothy Hamill and

Charlie Tickner.

Sun Valley Lodge Idaho celebrity photos

Peggy Fleming.

Ketchum Idaho Ore Wagons

Ore wagon for shuttling ore

and supplies between mining


Ketchum Idaho Ore Wagons

One of the Ketchum Fast

Freight ore wagons.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Fog drifts between the mountains.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Rolling mountains surround the town.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area

What a spot for a summer cabin.

Paved bike path near Elkhorn Idaho

The paved bike path near Elkhorn.

Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra

Pre-performance talk at the Sun Valley Pavilion.

Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra Pavilion

Listeners picnic on the lawn outside.

Sun Valley Pavilion

The Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra.

Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra free concerts

A young concert-goer blows bubbles.

Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra free concerts

Fairy princesses show us the Wolf.

Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra free concerts


Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra free concerts

...and curtsies.

Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra free concerts

The instrument "petting zoo."

Ketchum welcomes all visitors

whether funky or fancy.

Funny statues are everywhere.

Both big kids and little kids paused by

this stuffed bear for a quick hug.

Our stay in Ketchum will always be a highlight among our

travel memories.

Ketchum & Sun Valley, Idaho

August, 2009 - We had been in Ketchum / Sun Valley for several

weeks, but we were enjoying ourselves so much we didn't want to

leave.  The town was bustling with activity, and there was always

something going on.  We arrived in time for the Farmer's Market one

afternoon, and after eyeing up the beautiful produce, we made our way

over to the Sun Valley Lodge.

I had heard about the summer figure skating at Sun Valley when I was

growing up, and it was a thrill to see the outdoor rink.  It is shaded from

the hot sun by a mesh canopy, and it sits across from an open air

outdoor restaurant at the Lodge.

On Saturday nights in summertime there is a full-fledged ice show, and

diners can enjoy a gourmet meal at the cafe's tables while watching

World and Olympic champions perform.

While we were there it was an open public skating session.  Kids and

adults of all ages were playing, practicing and having fun.  We watched

a few young skaters diligently training with their coaches.

The Sun Valley Lodge complex is spread out over a large area and

includes not just the outdoor ice rink but an indoor one as well.  There

are extensive walking paths that wander between quaint buildings and

little shops, taking guests to the Opera House and the Sun Valley

Pavilion where the symphony orchestra performs outdoors every night in

August.  We got lost quite a few times and found ourselves going in


There is a little pond that is home to

several swans.  The Lodge itself is a

grand old structure with an elegant


Inside the Lodge we found a cozy fire

burning brightly in an inviting living room

just inside the lobby.  Upstairs there is a

huge library that overlooks the outdoor

skating rink, as well as an elegant

dining room.

Along the walls there are dozens of

photographs of all the celebrities that

have visited Sun Valley.  Averell

Harriman, Sun Valley's founder in 1936,

invited everybody who was Somebody

to be a guest

at his resort.


legends were regulars, and he encouraged artists and writers like Ernest

Hemingway to make this new resort area their home.  Many presidents

and their families were photographed out on the slopes.

I was naturally

drawn to the

figure skating

heroines of my

youth:  Dorothy

Hamill and Peggy

Fleming.  We also

visited the Ski &

Heritage Museum where there are skis of every imaginable type, many

hand-made by miners and ranchers to get around in winter.  The museum

showed video clips of 1956 Olympic champions Dick Button and Tenley

Albright at their winning moments.  Every famous winter athlete has spent

time in Sun Valley.

Over at the Ore

Wagon museum we

learned that fifty years before Sun Valley was created, Ketchum was a

hotbed of mining activity.  "Galena," a

silver-lead ore, was found throughout the

mountains in the area, and the ore was

carried by wagons down to the railroad

trains and smelters in Ketchum.

The Ketchum Fast Freight Line consisted

of many teams of horses, mules and

oxen that pulled these wagons on a 160

mile loop through the rugged mountains,

stopping at the mining camps to deliver

goods and pick up loads of ore.  Thirty

wagons were on the road at any one time, and the grades these teams of 14-20

animals climbed were as steep as 12-15%.  Once the mining faded, Ketchum

became home to Peruvian sheep herders, and in 1920 was second only to Sydney,

Australia in sheep production.

Today the peaceful valley boasts multi-million dollar celebrity homes on every hillside.

A quick scan of the real estate page lists eye-popping prices that make you wonder

where the regular folks live.  Chatting with a caterer and a former maid, I learned that

most ordinary people live in the outlying towns of Hailey and Bellevue.  However, the

pretty, light fog that drifts between the mountains around Ketchum/Sun Valley each

morning doesn't know the difference between miners, sheep herders and VIPs.

We took the paved bike path through the Elkhorn area southeast of town and stopped

at Hemingway's memorial, a humble little statue under a tree.

The views all around town are spectacular, and it is easy to imagine an artist finding

his muse in this setting.  A group of artists were coming to town to set up easels

outdoors and paint, but our visit had drawn to a close before they arrived.

We did watch Clint Eastwood's movie Pale Rider while we

were in the area, however.  The movie was set in the Boulder

Mountains just north of town where

we camped, and we learned that the

movie people built an entire town

back in the hills, shot the movie and

then removed the town once they

were done.  It was a classic Clint flick,

where his stone-faced, gritty, lonely

character took on the gang of local

bullies by himself, liberating the

defenseless, harrassed miners who

had been the bullies' easy prey.

It is hard to imagine the size, sounds and smells of the mine and smelter

that dominated the Ketchum landscape in the 1880's.  Today there is a

brand new $5 million symphony concert hall, the Sun Valley Pavilion,

where the prestigious Sun Valley Symphony is in residence all summer,

treating the locals and visitors to beautiful (and free) music almost every


We sat outside on the grass with the locals on opening night while

the sponsors of the summer's series got wined and dined inside

the hall with a private concert.  The music is piped outside all

around the hall so listeners can picnic in the grass during each

concert if they wish.  Humming along to Rodgers and Hammerstein's

best songs, we were hooked.  We returned for three more concerts

when the seats inside were free and the music soared.

They offered a Brahms night, and I was torn between that and the

group bike ride up the long climb to Galena Lodge.  Why do the best

things always happen at the same time?  Brahms won, as I love his'

dark and brooding music, and wanted to hear it live.  Mark wasn't

sure about going until I pointed out that one of the pieces they were

performing, the Academic Festival Overture, sets the stage in one of

his all-time favorite movies:  Animal House.

One Saturday was Family Day.  It

started with a doll parade in the

morning, where every little girl in town

dressed up as a fairy princess, and it

ended with a symphony concert

geared towards kids.  We watched

the many fairy princesses prance

around the lawn outside the Pavilion

during the concert.

Some little girls nearby acted out all

the scenes in Peter and the Wolf.

They showed us the cat, the little bird in the tree, the duck

quacking in the pond and, of course, the wolf.

We were treated to some

pirouettes and fancy moves, and

finally a curtsy.  The symphony

orchestra had an instrument

"petting zoo" that day where you

could check out the instruments up

close.  There was a festive, easy-

going air to everything the

symphony orchestra did.

Before the concerts, you could

attend the final rehearsals for that

evening's performance and listen to

a short lecture about the music to be played that

night.  Afterwards, the players and audience

descended on the town.  All the stores stayed open

late, and the coffee shops, bistros and even the

grocery store were suddenly flooded with ruffled white

tuxedo shirts, black dress pants and shiny shoes as

the orchestra players mingled with family and friends.

We enjoyed every minute of

our stay in this area.  For all

the high-brow music and

fancy homes, there was also a playful side to this town.  Sitting

outside a coffee shop one morning, we watched a roller-blader

doing laps around the center of town.  He kept a smile on our

faces as he ducked and dodged and swerved in and out of


The funny dog statue near the ice cream shop was watching him

too.  Even the silly stuffed bear that waited patiently outside the

chocolate shop kept an eye on him.

We had passed a pretty flower-lined fence every day on our way

in and out of town, and it was with a wistful sigh that we got a

final photograph, packed up, and drove north out of town for the

last time, on our way to new sights in Stanley, Idaho.






























































































Related Post about Figure Skating:

A Unique Encounter with Figure Skating Legend Toller Cranston 01/28/15

Related posts from our RV travels to the Sun Valley area:

Sun Valley Idaho – RV Camping, Car Racing & Skating Legends

Sawtooth National Recreation Area moose sighting

We discovered moose are rare here.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area moose sighting

Our welcoming committee.

Harriman trail to Galena Lodge

The Harriman Trail.

Boulder Range Ketchum Idaho

Soaring mountain views.

Boulder Mountains Ketchum ID

We never tired of the view, and it changed constantly.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping

A storm covered the mountains in a blanket with a

black lining.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping

The sun shone a spotlight on us for a moment as the

storm gathered steam.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping Sawtooth National Recreation Area Idaho camping Sawtooth National Recreation Area Idaho camping Sawtooth National Recreation Area Idaho camping Sawtooth National Recreation Area Idaho camping

The worst of the storm passed us by in the end.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area Idaho camping

We awoke to clouds embracing the mountains. When they

cleared the peaks were white.

Sun Valley Idaho Road Rally

Sheriff's speedtrap at the Sun Valley Road Rally.

Sun Valley Idaho Road Rally

Family Porsche - mom-181, daughter-183, son-188, and dear old dad-186 mph.

Sun Valley Idaho Road Rally

Ford GT - Ties for the day's honors at 188 mph.

Sun Valley Idaho Road Rally

Young hot racer drove the

crowd wild at 183 mph.

Sun Valley Opera House

The movie theater shows "Sun Valley Serenade"

every afternoon for free.

Sun Valley Serenade Sonia Henie

The young Norwegian refugee arrives.

Sun Valley Serenade Sonia Henie

Sonya Henie, a charming, flirtatious pixie.

Sun Valley Serenade Sonia Henie and Milton Berle

Milton Berle and Sonya Henie.

Sun Valley Serenade Glen Miller

Glenn Miller leads his band in "In the Mood."

Sun Valley Serenade Sonia Henie

Trapped in a ski lodge, and falling in love...

Sun Valley Serenade horse drawn sleds

Sun Valley guests were escorted by horse-drawn sleigh from

the train station to the resort.

Sun Valley Serenade Sonia Henie

Sonya Henie's elegance is mirrored on the ice.

Sun Valley Serenade Sonia Henie

This was a special skating show and movie that doesn't

have a parallel today.

Ketchum / Sun Valley, Idaho (2)

July / August, 2009 - Still camped in the national forest outside Ketchum,

Idaho, we left our dream campsite along the creek and moved to another

one with a spectacular mountain view.  The welcoming committee here

was a moose.  He came two nights in a row and quietly munched the

grasses down by the river.

A fisherman and his

son came by one

morning and said they

had been fishing this

river for 25 years and

had never seen a

moose.  We suggested

they come by at dusk,

as the moose seemed to like visiting at twilight.  Our new friends came by at the

appointed hour, but the moose was on a different schedule that night.  He must

have had something else going on earlier, because he didn't make his

appearance until an hour after our friends had left.

We were in a stunning setting with the Harriman Trail running behind

us on one side and the most amazing mountain view soaring into the

sky on the other side.

We rode the trail up to Easley Hot Springs where a swimming pool

and hot tub have been built to take advantage of the springs.

Further on, the trail winds through the forest and meadow.  I wanted

to ride it the remaining 10 miles up to Galena Lodge, but the weather

had other ideas.

A magnificent storm swept in during the afternoon and

blanketed the whole valley with black clouds.  I was way up the

trail somewhere on my bike, hoping to outpace the downpour coming

back.  I made it back just in time, but Mark had gotten nervous that I'd

be caught out somewhere, so he had climbed onto the roof of the buggy

to see where I had disappeared to.

When I got back the sky darkened even more.  The sun peeked

through the clouds for a moment and gave us the most unusual

lighting all around the trailer.

We were both enchanted.  What a magical moment.  As the

lightning started in the distance and the rain began to fall on

the horizon, we were overcome with a delicious, eerie

feeling.  We could see Ketchum getting pelted by rain in the

distance, but our little oasis had a tiny spotlight of sun.

The worst of the storm

passed to the north of us,

but it affected the weather

for the next week.

We woke up the next

morning to find the

mountains embraced by clouds and covered

in ice and snow.  The warm daytime

temperatures had vanished.  We would get a

few hours of cloudless skies and bright

sunshine each morning, but by noon an echo

of that storm would begin to well up in the

mountain peaks.  By mid-afternoon each day

we would be engulfed in overcast skies.

Ketchum / Sun Valley is a town for the Rich

and Famous, and we stopped noticing

Porsche Carerra 4's after the umpteenth

sighting on our first day in town.  Fortunately, for the wealthy car enthusiasts in

town, the Sheriff has a great affection for raw power.  One morning we found

ourselves in the midst of the unusual Sun Valley Road Rally.  The Sheriff had

agreed to shut down a few miles of Route 75, the Sawtooth Scenic Highway

heading north out of town, so the townsfolk could race their cars.

This was a

charity event, and

entrants paid $1,500

a run to drive their

cars as fast as they

could past the

Sheriff's speed trap.

He then wrote up a

fake ticket showing

the speed they were

going when they

passed the radar

gun.  For three

hours the cars went

off at five minute intervals.

Twice each hour for 15 minutes the road was temporarily opened to regular traffic.

Mark had a field day watching the Ford GT's, Vipers and Porsches parade past the spectators to

the starting point beyond the top of the hill.  We would hear each car in the distance first, and he

would try to guess what it was by its whine.  Then the car would crest the hill and start its descent

towards the radar gun.  An announcer would tell us the type of car and the speed it was going,

and we had fun guessing the speeds before they were announced.  The Toyota Prius was a big

surprise at 107 mph, and the vintage (1956) Ferrari with its equally vintage driver was cute at

117 mph.  A Bentley and souped up truck joined the fun.

However, the big surprise came when a middle-aged mom with

long dark hair stepped out of a Porsche after it was clocked

going 181 mph.  She got a round of applause, but left us all even

more shocked when she handed the keys over to a young

blonde, gave her a hug and sent her off to the starting line.

When the Porsche showed up again, the radar read 183 mph.

The crowd went wild, and the young girl emerged.  We

discovered that she was the mom's 22-year-old daughter, and that the boy she was handing the

keys to was her 23-year-old brother.  When he came roaring by at 188 the crowd went ballistic.

Finally, dad got a turn at the wheel.  We were hoping he would show us all how it is done, but he

didn't quite match his son, coming in at just 186 mph.  The young boy in that Porsche shared the

crown for the day with a Ford GT that also reached 188 mph.

All that fast-paced excitement had

to be countered with something a little lower key.  We went in to

Sun Valley to watch the 1941 movie, "Sun Valley Serenade,"

starring Sonya Henie.  There is a free showing every afternoon.

The movie theater is the Sun Valley Opera House, a cute building

in the middle of the Sun Valley Resort complex.

This movie was originally made, in part, to promote Sun Valley

as a winter destination.  Who better to be the star than the

utterly charming 3-time Olympic figure skating champion of the

day, Sonya Henie.

The producers put together a first-

rate show, with Milton Berle and

Glenn Miller's band taking

supporting roles.  The story tells of a

young Norwegian refugee who

beguiles her unsuspecting sponsor

into falling in love with her.

As you listen to "In the Mood" and

"Chattanooga Choo Choo"

performed by the master himself,

the movie unfolds with scenes of

Sun Valley, appearing as it did when

it first opened.

Trains brought visitors into town from far away places, and horse-drawn sleighs took them to the

resort from the train station.  Sun Valley was a bright light of pure fun and fantasy at the end of

the Great Depression, and its promotional movie is bewitching.

Besides Henie's dazzling

performance as a piquant

and mischievous flirt, some of

the most intriguing scenes

are on the ice where she

performs with a partner and

supporting cast on a sheet of

ice covered in a thin layer of

water.  The scenes were shot

at night, and as the skaters

glide across the ice, their

reflections make them seem

to be dancing on water.

We left that movie with smiles on

our faces, caught up in the charm of

Sun Valley as it once was.  We had

gotten the idea to see the movie

from the Visitor Center's list of "50

Fun Free Things To Do in

Ketchum / SunValley," and when we

checked the list that night there

were still quite a few to go.  No

need to leave Ketchum/Sun Valley

just yet.





















































































Related Post about Figure Skating:

A Unique Encounter with Figure Skating Legend Toller Cranston 01/28/15

Related posts from our RV travels to the Sun Valley area:

Sun Valley & Ketchum ID – Beauty & Fun in the Mountains!

Twin Falls, ID Perrine Bridge

Lots of folks jump from the 480 foot tall Perrine Bridge

in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Snake River overlook Twin Falls ID

Pretty bike bath along the Snake River.

Twin Falls ID valley

The first settler built his farm in this valley.

Mule deer at campsite Ketchum Idaho

The welcome committee greets us outside Ketchum.

Mule deer at campsite Ketchum Idaho

A mule deer stopped by our campsite every night.

Paved bike path Ketchum Idaho

The paved rails-to-trails bike path runs for 30 miles.

Averell Harriman Sun Valley Idaho

Averell Harriman wanted a world class

ski resort destination on his railroad line.

Harriman Trail Sun Valley ID

The Harriman Trail runs 20 miles north from Ketchum.

Mountain biking Harriman Trail Sun Valley ID

It is a great place for mountain biking.

Harriman Trail Sun Valley ID

We saw lots of riders on the trail everyday.

Elephant perch bike ride Ketchum ID

Lance Armstrong's quest for gold in the

Tour de France inspires cyclists even in

this remote outpost.

Elephant perch bike ride Ketchum ID

The Elephant Perch bike shop has a weekly group ride

into the postcard-like scenery.

Sun Valley sculptures

This laid back town is full of whimsy.

Sun Valley arts

Even the huge chair is wearing

cowboy boots.

Ketchum Idaho cafes

The whole town lives outside for the summer months.

Ketchum Idaho

In this upscale town the free samples are gourmet

meats and imported cheeses.

Ketchum Idaho

Flowers and mountains frame the town.

The town rallied support for Pfc.

Bowe Bergdahl who had recently

been captured in Afghanistan.

Cafes and bistros in Ketchum Idaho Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping

We found the ideal campsite.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping

...but the views and serenity were worth the white

knuckles and scuff marks.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping

Perched on the edge of a glittering creek, we had to

go to great lengths to shoehorn our rig down a trail

into this paradise...

Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping

The sun always disappeared as soon as Mark

stepped into the ice cold water.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping

This place is ideal for rest and


Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping

Ketchum / Sun Valley, Idaho

Early July, 2009 - After landing in Burbank, California, following our

seven week sojourn in Michigan, we collected our trailer and made a

circuitous route to Idaho in search of some R&R.  We had fallen in love

with the small town of Kellogg, outside of Coeur d'Alene, two years

earlier, and everything we had heard about Idaho from other travelers

was outstanding.  One six-year full-timing veteran we met in Pioche, NV

last year told us, "I just came from a boondocking spot in Stanley,

Idaho, and it was exactly what I've been looking for all these years:

gorgeous mountain views, meadows filled with wildflowers, clear

streams, and lots of wildlife."  This image had been in the back of our

minds ever since.

After a long

slog across

the Nevada

desert, we aimed for Twin Falls, Idaho.  We had thought we'd blow right

through town, but instead we got a blowout on one of the trailer tires

about 60 miles from town.  We limped into Twin Falls on the spare tire

with eyes only for Les Schwab Tires.  Once a new tire was in place, we

opened our eyes a little more and began to look around.  What a neat


It is legal to

jump off the

huge bridge

spanning the Snake River with a parachute, and we watched for quite a

while as people suited up with all kinds of lines and parachute gear,

walked to the middle of the bridge, climbed over the railing, and jumped

off.  In the distance we could see the spot where Evel Knievel tried to

jump the Snake River with his motorcycle back in 1974 (his parachute

opened too early and he landed on the water's edge just below his

launch site).

There is a pretty bike path that goes along the edge of the Snake River,

offering fantastic views into the canyon and river below.  The first settler

had put his farm on the river's edge smack in the middle of the canyon.

Today the same area is home to a beautiful pair of golf courses.  As I gathered tourist material at the visitor's center, I wanted to

stay longer, but this was a hot time of year to be here, and the mountains were calling up ahead.  I had emailed the head of the

Escapees' Boondockers club, asking where the best boondocking

spot might be in the Sawtooth Mountains, and got the response,

"There are MANY beautiful spots."  I was a little bemused by this

vague answer, but when I arrived at the Sawtooth National

Recreation Area I discovered that she was right:  there are

gorgeous spots all over the place, no planning needed.

Our welcome committee the first night was a young mule deer.

He walked through our campsite, totally unconcerned about our

presence. One special patch of grass kept him occupied for over

an hour.  The second night, in a new site, another mule deer

stopped by to say "hello."  We were quickly feeling all the cares of

the world slip away.

There is a wonderful rails-to-trails paved bike path that goes between

Bellevue, to the south, and Ketchum, to the north.  Thirty miles or so

in overall length, it does several loops in and around the Ketchum/

Sun Valley area as well.  We rode it into town regularly, although the

wide shoulder on Route 75 makes for great cycling too.  Riding these

paths and roads, I kept feeling as though I was riding through a

bicycle touring catalog's best photos.

The town of Ketchum has its deepest roots in silver mining, but it also

has the distinction of being home to a world class ski resort.  Averell

Harriman, a railroad baron, wanted a prime winter tourist destination

somewhere on his line.  He hired an Austrian count to scour the

countryside along the railroad in order to find the best location.  After

several months of searching, almost ready to call it quits, the count

made one last trip -- to Ketchum -- and decided this was the spot.

The Sun Valley resort opened to

great fanfare in 1936.  It was such a

celebrated wonderland of ice and

snow and the rich and famous that far

far away in New York City my mom

grew up in the 1940's fantasizing

about visiting someday (and she did,

in 2003).

We first heard of Mr. Harriman

because of the mountain bike trail that bears his name.  It runs from Ketchum north for 20 miles

to Galena Lodge, winding along the Big Wood River.  Between that trail to the north and the

paved bike path to the south, we were very happy campers, getting out on our bikes every day.

Brilliant deep blue skies greeted us every morning during our first week,

giving way to puffy clouds every afternoon.  It was paradise.

Our first stop in town was the bike shop, of course.  There are many

bike shops in Ketchum, but the one in the center of town -- and the

one broadcasting the Tour de France every day -- was the Elephant

Perch.  Lance Armstrong was in the hunt when we arrived, and there

were high hopes he'd pull off one of his famous maneuvers to win.

The Elephant's Perch has a group bike ride every Wednesday night,

and they were relying on Lance for inspiration to tackle the

mountains around town.

We saw some of the faster riders out on the road and vowed to join

them the following Wednesday.  Unfortunately, ten miles into the ride

(just as I was wondering how I was going to fare on the big hill up

ahead) the heavens opened up, and it poured.  Mark and I took that as our cue to exit and dashed back to the trailer as fast as we

could go.  The ride leader, Nappy, had told us that the group never misses a date at The Roosevelt, a restaurant in town where

they reserve a private room to imbibe a bit after the ride.  We didn't realize just how serious these post-ride dates were until later:

the whole group had turned back when the downpour began, but they went straight to the bar!

This happy-go-lucky spirit pervades the whole town.  Whimsical statues

grace the main drag, from huge cowboy booted

flamingos to huge cowboy booted rocking chairs to

fun and crazy animals and other sculptures.

The summer is short here, so

everyone spends a lot of time

outside.  There are a zillion cute

bistros, with cafe tables all over

the place, and there are events

going on every day.

If it isn't a musician strumming his

guitar in the middle of town, it's the

gourmet meat and cheese vendor

giving away samples (even pure

angus beef "sliders").  Every day

we came into town we were swept

up into something fun.

On a more serious note, the town was trimmed head to

toe in yellow ribbons, with plaintive signs stating, "Bring

Bowe Home."  Beloved local boy, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, a

Hailey, Idaho native, had recently been captured in Afghanistan, and a video tape of him had

just been released by his Al Queda captors.  The community had rallied around his family, and

there were offerings of support everywhere.

Grateful to everyone, past and present, who has gifted

us with freedom, we enjoyed many strolls around town.

There were flowers everywhere, pretty mountains in the

distance (with ski runs plain to see), and it was a big

enough town that it took several strolls on different days

to see all of it.

We had been out of our home and away from our

lifestyle for so long that these kinds of easy days in a

friendly town were exactly what we needed.  Stanley,

which we had assumed would be our destination, was

still 60 miles up the road, but we couldn't tear ourselves

away from Ketchum.

We even got library cards at the local library so we

could take out some CDs and DVDs to enjoy in the

trailer (there was little radio and no TV reception in the

national forest).

We scouted out many boondocking areas by bike, and

happened on the ideal spot 3 miles down a very bad dirt road.  It was too tempting not to try, but

in hindsight it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I stood on the roof of the trailer and trimmed

branches for quite some time before we shoe-horned ourselves into the spot.  Only after we'd

gotten in did we think about getting out.  Yikes.  On the day we pulled out there was thunder and

lightning in the distance and big, fat threatening raindrops falling all around us.  Our patch of dirt

quickly turned into a mudhole.  But Mark managed to do a 30-point turn with the trailer, dodging

two large boulders and three trees, and got us turned around.

In the end, however, the white

knuckles and scuffs were all worth it:

the many days between our arrival

and our departure were pure

storybook fantasy.

We were camped on the edge of a creek with a

cascade of mountains rising behind us.  The mule

deer came by every evening, except on the

weekends when the forest had too many human


The sun shone so warmly that we ran around in

shorts and tank tops, that is, until Mark decided to

sponge off in the water.  Then the sun always

went behind a huge cloud and stayed there, leaving him in shade while he hooped and hollered and

thundered like an ornery bull, splashing ice water all over himself.  It was all very impressive, but I preferred

taking a hot shower in the rig.  Of course, by that time the warm sun would be out again.

We spent our days walking and riding along the dirt road,

reading and listening to things we'd gotten from the library,

tidying up the many loose ends that had been frayed with our

hasty departure in May, and generally getting back to our old

selves.  It felt so good to unwind in our own home.

Our return to the rig had been a little rockier than we would

have liked.  We dashed first to San Diego and then to San

Francisco in pursuit of one final sailboat deal before giving up for

the season.  We had learned over the course of the preceding

months that the sailboat brokerage business is not one for the faint

of heart.  It is a cut-throat, dog-eat-dog world of ruthless

backstabbers.  One broker told us how another had robbed him of

a deal at a boat show and then gloated openly for days afterwards.

Another lamented that his employer had stolen a deal from him at

the last minute and refused to pay his commission after he had

invested weeks of effort in the transaction.  He later found out the

employer owed other employees tens of thousands of dollars in

commissions too.  Apparently honesty isn't a policy in that industry.

So it was no surprise when the boat that we had been assured had

air conditioning ("I saw the compressor myself") turned out not to.  However, it was a very big surprise when on

the same day, in the same town (tony Sausalito), a pair of well respected brokers who had been selling one of

the highest end European brands of yachts for years got hauled off to jail for embezzling several hundred

thousand dollars from their clients.  How reassuring (though depressing) to discover that our assessment of the

California boat business was right on the mark.

We were able to laugh about all that now, in the shade of a tall pine with the water glistening on the rocks in

front of us.  Our dream had sent us on a wild goose chase, including a whirlwind tour of Michigan.  We hadn't

ended up where we expected, but all had turned out well.  These woods, this town, our trailer -- all wonderful.

We were living a dream right now, and, as life has taught us over the years, dreams can

be very flirtatious and hard to capture.  Sometimes they make us feel like toddlers,

running around on stubby legs, waving our arms, chasing butterflies.  The best moments

in life are gifted to us like jewels from leprechauns, unexpectedly, as if by magic.

Thank goodness for our beautiful national forests.  As we hung around Ketchum for a

month, we were able to take our "summer cottage" from one priceless creek-side

campsite to another stunning mountain-view campsite, and enjoy exquisite scenery all

around us every day.

We had partied long and hard with friends and family all winter, and then we had eaten

our way around Michigan for almost two months.  Who can pass up fresh raspberry pie

made by the Amish?  Or hot-out-of-the-oven pastries and cookies at a cute Canadian

farm stand overlooking Lake Erie?  Not us!  But now our clothes told the rest of the story,

as everything we owned was too tight.  It was time to get fit and healthy again.  We

started doing daily runs and bike rides, and we got our hand weights out of their hiding spot way under

the back seat of the truck.

But man, were we sore.  A little exercise sent us

straight to bed for an afternoon nap each day.

What's more, the sun didn't crest the mountains

until after 9:00 in the morning, so why get out of

bed before that?  For a while I think all we did

was sleep, exercise and nibble a little here and

there.  We had driven 4,000 miles around

Michigan, and done another 1,600 to get here

from California.  It felt really good just to stop.

And what a place to do it: Ketchum and Sun

Valley are worthy of a really long visit.
















































































































Related posts from our RV travels to the Sun Valley area:

Northern Idaho – Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

The Trail passes lakes, streams, farmland and cute towns.

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is 72 miles of paved

cycling bliss.

Rails-to-trails Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

The Trail crosses old train bridges.

We started getting into cycling when we

arrived in Idaho.

Kellogg Idaho

Kellogg, Idaho is a special town that has an eclectic feeling.

St. George is popular in Kellogg, ID.

One of Kellogg's chalet homes.

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

It winds through the woods.

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

Plaques describe the ecology and history of the area.

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

Portions of the Trail flank a wide lake.

Moose tracks on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

Muddy moose tracks!

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes bike trail Idaho

Beautifully maintained by Union Pacific, there are rest areas

and restrooms along the trail.

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes bicycle path Idaho

The scenery is stunning.

Riverview along the bike path Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

The water is blue-green because of the high mineral


Bicycle trail Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Idaho

We will be back.

Northern Idaho

August 26-September 2, 2007 - Leaving the North Cascades, we visited Coeur

d'Alene briefly and headed east towards Montana.  In the town of Smelterville, 30

miles east of Coeur d'Alene we stopped overnight at Walmart.  We noticed a paved

bike path next to the

parking lot and took out

our bikes to explore.

We soon discovered

that we were in the

middle of the charming

72-mile-long Trail of the

Coeur d'Alenes rails-to-trails bike path.  We found a campground and

stayed a week so we could explore the bike path more fully.  Each day

we drove the truck to a trailhead, unloaded the bikes and rode a ten

mile segment, out and back.

The valley area 30 miles east of Coeur d'Alene is one of the

richest mineral deposits in the world, and the town of Kellogg is

the heart of this area.  In the 1940's it was poisoned by the toxic

silver mining process.  In the 1980's the mine closed, the

railroad shut down and everyone lost their jobs.  As one woman

put it, it looked like an atom bomb had gone off. A fellow who

grew up here in the 1940's said you could taste the sulphur

dioxide in your mouth all the time and the air was always hazy

blue from the smoke stacks and smelters. Rather than flee

when their world crashed in the 1980's, many townspeople

stayed.  Declared an EPA superfund site, Union Pacific cleaned

up their mess by burying their toxic waste along the tracks and creating the 72-mile long paved bike path.  The high school

students planted a million trees on the barren hills surrounding town in the 1980's, and today those hills are lush, the air is clear,

and the town is optimistic.

There is an artsy

flair to the town.

Someone in town

loves St. George

and the dragon: we

found them in a

sculpture and a

mural.  Several

homes had an

alpine look to them,

and nearby there is

a ski area complete

with gondola and chair lifts.  There is something upbeat and

offbeat about Kellogg that really appealed to us.

The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is a gem.  There are

trailheads along its length, each with display maps showing

the highlights.  It passes through the historic town of Wallace,

the simple mobile home town of Osburn, the former mining

towns of Smelterville and Kellogg, and through the lakeside

town of Harrison.  Some parts of the trail are busy and others

are very quiet.  Mostly alone on the trail, there were times

when we shared it with cyclists, dog walkers, and inline

skaters, but there was never any congestion.

In one lonely area, far from civilization, we discovered

some moose tracks.  I had been reading a book that talked

about how moose like to eat the roots of lilies, and this part

of the Trail passed a large lily pond.  Some workers

painting a train trestle further down told us a moose had

been in the area for several weeks.

After a week in this

charming part of the world

we ventured on eastwards

to northern Montana and

the stunning Glacier

National Park.