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

.

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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Our blog posts from our RV travels to Sun Valley:

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Sun Valley Idaho – in Trailer Life Magazine!

The August 2015 issue of Trailer Life Magazine is featuring our article about beautiful Sun Valley, Idaho. Entitled Under the Idaho Sun, it is the third feature article we have published in a magazine about this area since we first went there in the summer of 2009 (the others were in Highways Magazine, August 2010, and RV Journal, Summer 2011). Sun Valley is just that special!

Trailer Life Magazine Feature Sun Valley Idaho August 2015 by Emily Fagan

Trailer Life Magazine, August 2015
Article by: Emily Fagan
Photos by: Emily & Mark Fagan

Some folks think of Sun Valley as a winter destination, but it is loaded with activities and events all summer long, from outdoor pursuits like hiking and biking to cultural pursuits like free symphony concerts and art walks to unusual events like outdoor ice skating shows and figure skating competitions.

Trailer Life is on newsstands now, and they have also posted the article online at their website here: Under The Idaho Sun

One of the most unique annual gatherings is the Sun Valley Road Rally where folks with deep pockets and fast cars drive as fast as they can on a two mile stretch of the stunning Sawtooth Scenic Byway for charity. The 2016 edition of the Road Rally took place last weekend.

We saw the first edition of the race when it was won by a college age kid, along with his sister and parents, took a turn at the wheel of the family Porsche. He hit 188 mph.

Last year we watched it again when it was won by a young entrepreneur who hit 246 mph in his $3 million Bugatti Veyron. Perhaps even more impressive, though, was that a little old 81 year old granny hit 161 mph in her flashy yellow Corvette.

Stories like these develop a life of their own on the internet, and yesterday I noticed that my Sun Valley Road Rally blog post from last year was getting lots of hits from people clicking through from msn.com. Wow! When I looked into it further, I found out that the Spanish version of msn.com had posted an article about older folks doing adventurous things in their later years, and they talked about the race car driving granny, Shirley Veine, whom I had spotlighted. If you can read Spanish (and even if you can’t, because it’s a hoot), check out the MSN article here:

MSN (Spanish Edition): The Fastest Grandmother In The World!

Watching a car race on the open road is just one of the many fun things to do in Sun Valley, and we have enjoyed ourselves immensely each time we have taken our RV to the area.

Trailer Life Magazine is published by Good Sam Club, and if you join the club you get a few issues of the magazine as part of the sign-up package. You can also buy a year’s subscription to the magazine here: Subscribe to Trailer Life. It’s a good magazine that covers all aspects of living the RV lifestyle with a towable RV.

To read more from our RV travels to Sun Valley, visit these links:

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Craters of the Moon + Cataclysms from Sun Valley ID to Alpine WY

Camping in the Sawtooth Mountains

Sunset in the Sawtooths

August, 2014 – We had been enjoying a wonderful stay in Sun Valley, Idaho, spreading out in some great camping spots and taking in lots of free summertime outdoor events.

The wildfires that had nipped at our heels in Sedona, Arizona, and in Bend and eastern Oregon, were by now long forgotten, and after a few days of summer showers and thunderstorms, the air around us was crisp and clear.

We wanted to do a “signature hike” in the area when the sun finally resumed its rightful place in the sky, and a ranger suggested the hike to Baker Lake.

Starbucks insignia for Sun Valley Idaho

This had been the most popular hike in the area until it was devastated by the Beaver Creek wildfire of 2013.

Now it was a hike through a burnt forest.

“It’s still beautiful,” the ranger insisted.  “But in a different way.”

Well, we’d seen enough fires in action this year, why not see what a national forest looked like once the embers cooled a year later?

Baker Lake Road into the Sawtooth National Forest

Beautiful mountains in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

Our trail, which had once wandered between green pines, was soon passing between stands of charred trees that were stark reminders of the devastation

However, as we slowed down and took in the strange landscape around us, we soon found there was an eerie beauty to it all. A mysterious aura enveloped us.

The Beaver Creek Fire had been the result of two separate fires that had joined forces.

By the grace of God, the ranger told us, the winds had turned at the very last minute, before the flames raced down a canyon into town, sparing Ketchum from a true bath of fire.

Fire damaged trees from the Beaver Creek Fire in Idaho

The Beaver Creek fire burned 180 square miles

As we hiked, we saw large shards of blackened bark had fallen off the trunks of the trees, leaving intriguing lace-like patterns on the red-brown wood.

Bark falls off the trees from the Beaver Creek Fire in Idaho

Lace patterns on the tree trunks

Scorched logs lay scattered across the ground, each filled with the funny checkerboard patterns that develop as wood burns.

Hiking the Baker Lake Trail we see lupine blooming

A little lupine grows between the blackened tree roots

Scattered here and there between the singed roots and ravaged remains, little purple lupine flowers poked their heads through the cinders and basked in the sunshine.

A thicket of tiny purple flowers filled the spaces between a stand of black stick-like trunks, and a few yellow flowers smiled up at us from their hiding places amid the wreckage.

Life was returning.

RV Camping in the Sawtooth National Forest Idaho

Fire in the sky at sunset — flames of the gods!

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Craters of the Moon National Monument

We had been in Sun Valley for nearly a month, and we were ready to move on.  We packed up and made our way east from Ketchum, Idaho, through Craters of the Moon National Monument.  This monument is a vast sea of lava flows that is the result of a series of violent volcanic eruptions between Idaho and Wyoming.

Driving alongside this moonscape for many miles, there was nothing but black lava rock as far as we could see into the distance.

Ironically, here we were facing another cataclysm, one much bigger than a forest fire and dating from a much more distant time thousands of years ago.

Most of the hiking trails wound through crooked trees and craggy lava rock, but the best one climbed straight up along the lava cinders to the top of a cinder pile.

The more we explored the park, the more we felt its air of haunting melancholy.

Tree at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho

Craters of the Moon has some wonderful landscapes

Placards along the trails told how, decades ago, in a misguided attempt to beautify the park, the National Park Service had poisoned all the trees that were afflicted with an ugly parasitic vine.

Only after all the parasitic vines had been successfully exterminated did the Park Service discover the delicate symbiosis between the vines and the now dead trees, one that is critical to the survival of the remaining trees.

Ancient volcanos in northern Idaho

An old volcano on the horizon in central idaho

We left the park pondering the immense forces of nature and the wisdom of tampering with their balance.  Can human knowledge control nature without disastrous consequences, or mastermind its energies without paying a price? An old volcano decorated with cell phone and radio towers slipped quietly past the car window.

High school class years on the hill in Arco Idaho

The hillside in Arco is covered with enormous white numbers.

Arco Idaho first atomic city in the world

Arco holds a unique distinction.

We arrived in the town of Arco, Idaho, and were immediately struck by the strange numbers that covered the hillside on the edge of town.  What the heck was that all about? Were there mines up there?

Looking a little closer, we soon realized these numbers were years — 2000, 89, 95 — and, asking around, we found out there’s been a long-standing tradition for the high school seniors to sneak up on the mountain and paint their school year on the rock.

That’s no small feat, as the numbers appeared to be 30′ or so tall!  Unfortunately, the Bureau of Land Management put an end to this practice about a decade ago.

 

ERB-1 Nuclear Power Plant control room_

The EBR-1 control room is right out of Star Trek.

We also learned that Craters of the Moon and the other vast barren landscapes in this region of the country are remote enough to have become the site of lots of weapons testing and nuclear power development over the years.

The little town of Arco stands out in history as the first city in the world to be lit by atomic power, and the nuclear power plant responsible, named EBR-1, is just down the road.

We took a tour, marveling at the 1950’s switches and dials in the control room. They seemed to come right out of Star Trek!

Storm clouds swirl above our RV

A fast moving storm swirls above our buggy.

RV parked under storm clouds

Storm clouds threaten…

Leaving Arco and EBR-1 behind, we traveled on to the shores of beautiful Palisades Reservoir. Just as we pulled the rig around to set up, nature unleashed her fury with a cataclysmic thunder and lightning storm.  I was so taken by the sky, as I “helped” Mark get the rig parked, that I began snapping photos of it with the buggy in the foreground.

Mud and rain out our window

It poured pitchforks for four days!

Mark, of course, was struggling to get the rig parked and set up before the deluge hit while I leaped around singing, “Wow, this is AMAZING, it’s so BEAUTIFUL!” as I took more photos.

Just in the nick of time, I got the camera put away and we got our little home set up.  For the next four days we hunkered down as the rain fell in relentless torrents.

Muddy tracks outside our door

Will we ever be able to leave?

At one point, a knock on our door summoned us to the aid of four teenage boys whose muddy joyride in their Rubicon had left them stranded, hubcap deep, in lakeside muck.

Luckily, the Mighty Dodge (with the help of Mark’s skillful driving and four eager boys pushing) was able to pull the Rubicon back to solid ground.

Sunrise over our RV in Idaho

A beautiful sunrise heralds the (temporary) end of the storms…

At long last we awoke to a glorious sunrise, and the puddles around us soon began to dry. We looked around for Noah’s raven and dove to send out as scouts, but his little winged messengers were nowhere to be found. We had to don our boots and go outside for a look ourselves! After a day of drying out, we deemed it safe to hitch up and leave, and we slowly rolled on to Grand Teton National Park.

 

 

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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!

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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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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

Lodge.

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

camps.

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

Pirouettes...

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

circles.

There is a little pond that is home to

several swans.  The Lodge itself is a

grand old structure with an elegant

entrance.

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.

Hollywood

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

night.

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

traffic.

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

relaxation.

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

town.

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

visitors.

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: