By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Highway 95

”I’ve forgotten how to pack!”  Those were the words I muttered as I prepared for our first long vacation in over two years.  While my husband concerned himself with his clothes and golf equipment, I fretted over snacks for the trip, food and bedding for Dash the Wonder Dog, some staples for our stay at the condo, my clothes, knitting projects and, last but not least, golf equipment.  It’s little wonder he thought prepping for the trip was a snap.  But it was all for a good cause, our first trip back to Sun Valley in three years.  We have been visiting there almost every year since 1988, and although we’d heard that the pandemic has changed its small-town feel, we were excited to go back.  Getting there, however, was part of the challenge.  I am all for taking interstates.  Call my crazy but I like a plethora of eating options, bathrooms, and good cell service.  My husband, who insists on doing all the driving, loves the solitude of the smaller highways.  Since prerogative goes to the driver, we drove up to Idaho on Nevada’s Highway 95.  You would be hard pressed to find a more desolate road in the United States.  It is two lanes the whole way, with only four passing lanes in over 400 miles.  Which means everyone is going about 100 miles per hour and passing with great frequency.  As an added attraction, there are hundreds of miles where there is no cell service. I had visions of our car breaking down and the bleached bones of our bodies being found weeks later.  But we made it to our stopover for the night, Ely, Nevada, which is smack dab in the middle of … nothing.  Here’s how remote it is: there is no Starbucks in Ely.

The following morning, having safely survived the trek through Nevada (and no coffee) we made our way up to Sun Valley.  It felt like coming home, a place so familiar that we both breathed a sigh of relief that we were finally back in our “happy place”.   Not everything was perfect.  Normally after Labor Day you can shoot a cannon down  Main Street and not hit anyone.  This year, there was traffic and people everywhere.  We had heard that both bicyclists and drivers were out of control and sure enough, on our first day we witnessed a bicyclist being hauled off in an ambulance.  On the walking path to town the city has painted on the sidewalk,  “If you’re on a bike and you want to wave, make sure you use all your fingers”.  One of our friends, who has lived in Sun Valley for over 30 years, says the vibe has changed in the past year.  “Everyone is more on edge.  People feel entitled and gripe about everything,” she told us.  Still, the mountain and the trees are magnificent, so we chose to look at nature rather than rude people from California and Seattle.  This time of year the trees are beginning to turn and there is nothing more magnificent than quaking Aspen trees, with their full complement of fall colors, framed against the dark green pines.

So we spent the first few days taking in the beautiful views, playing some golf, and drinking Guinness.  And the our first weekend something wonderful happened – it snowed!  It wasn’t much but it contributed to a perfect Sunday – 48 degrees at the peak of the day, a roaring fire, and football on TV.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  As a bonus, the cold weather seemed to weed out the faint of heart.  On Monday morning, as we ventured into town, we noticed that it had cleared out.  Sun Valley was as we’d always remembered it in late September – quiet. Just the way we like it.

Next time: we venture further north and then wend our way home – on the interstate.


  1. Made this driving trip many times with kids, dogs and one time by myself (only once)
    Hope your visit is as wonderful as it has been in the past.

    • The drive is the worst part of the trip – especially when you worry about breaking down in that stretch of road. SV is different from what we all remember – much more crowded. We may have made our last trip – we’ll see.

  2. Reading your story, all I could say was – wow they were only about a mile from my house, just as US 95 hits Fallon from the south side you would have to have made a left, but alas I kept reading and realized you were on US 93, the giveaway was the rousing description of Ely – hard to believe but even Fallon does have a little more than Ely (not much, but it does have a Starbucks, but then it’s somewhat of a Navy town).

    As with Bob’s stories, I truly enjoy reading the “Adventures of the Sparrows”.

    • Thanks, John. Of course, when I read your comment I realized that I put the wrong highway number in – I always get 93 and 95 confused! We have been up 95 from Mammoth Lakes to Boise years ago – beautiful country.

  3. All in all, it sounds like a wonderful trip!
    You didn’t mention Dash – did he enjoy it?
    We are in limo en route to Milwaukee airport — will switch plans in Minneapolis and fly to Phx. Ryder Cup was a blast and a win!

    • Hi! What a wonderful Ryder Cup you witnessed! But assume, like us, you’re glad to be back in Az with our glorious weather. Best time of the year!!

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