By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
Before I begin my tale about the second half of our visit to Sun Valley, I have to acknowledge our sharp-eyed subscriber (and childhood neighbor), John Thomas, for pointing out that in my description of our drive up to Sun Valley I said we traveled on Highway 95. I don’t’ know why I was confused, we’ve made that trek at least 20 times. Anyway, it was Highway 93 that took us through the lovely town of Ely, Nevada. 93, 95…I never was any good at math.
When I left off last time the snow had begun to fall in Idaho, dusting the mountain tops and causing the trees to begin turning luscious shades of gold and orange. We decided to venture a bit north, up to Redfish Lake, which is always a serene place in which to observe nature. Redfish is 60 miles north of Sun Valley and you would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful drive in the United States. The first landmark one encounters is less than 10 miles north of town – the North Fork Store. That may not sound too exciting, until you learn it is where Marilyn Monroe filmed “Bus Stop” in 1956. It is still a going concern, with a café and gas station, and remains popular with film aficionados.
Half-way through our journey north is another spectacular spot, Galena Summit. If you stop at the overlook turn-out you can see views of the Sawtooth range to the northwest and the headwaters of the Salmon River. At a whopping height of 8,701 feet, the view is simply unbeatable. The Sawtooth Valley below is approximately 15 miles wide and 30 miles long…and you can see all of it from the overlook. It’s hard to imagine as you spot the headwaters of the Salmon that after the river leaves the Sawtooth Valley it will then travel 900 miles to reach the Pacific Ocean.
Finally, we reach our destination, Redfish Lake, and it does not disappoint. Somehow all our ridiculous little problems melt away in the presence of such spectacular scenery. We were surprised by how many people were there, although given how crowded Sun Valley had been we should have expected it. There is a lodge and small restaurant, along with an outdoor grill and they all seemed to be at capacity. Still…as we walked the trail that wends around the lake we were reminded of why we keep coming back every year. I love Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes in California, but there is nothing like the serenity that comes from viewing Redfish.
After our visit to Redfish we ventured back to Sun Valley for a few more days before heading home. We decided to drive the interstates most of the way. That was my bright idea and as much as I hate to admit it, I was wrong. It wasn’t a drive home, it was a death march. First, we drove down to Twin Falls, Idaho, just 90 minutes from Sun Valley, to get a jump start on the long stretch ahead of us the following day. That required an additional night in a hotel, with all the joys that go along with uncomfortable pillows and people banging doors at midnight. What was I thinking? The next day we drove from Twin Falls, through Salt Lake City, down to Kanab, Utah. Kanab is a beautiful little town, but after TEN hours in a car, I couldn’t really appreciate anything except terra firma. Finally, on the third day of our trek home, Dash the Wonder Dog decided to make life interesting by getting sick. We took him to the vet when we got home and turns out he picked up a bacterial infection, plus the vet said that she sees some dogs get very stressed out from very long car rides.
Well, guess what? I also get stressed out from long car rides. I told my husband when we arrived home that he could not use the words “car” or “ride”, especially if they were in the same sentence. I’ve already started looking for places to visit next year that are less than five hours from home. So we may have seen Sun Valley for the last time, but who knows what next year will bring. One thing I’ve learned from the COVID pandemic – don’t plan too far ahead.