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