Sun Valley Slackers

Sun Valley SlackersBy David Day

The locals call it slack--those periods in the fall and spring between ski and golf seasons. �I get a lot of 'me' time,� they say. A brief rest before a deluge of tourists, for my son and me it was the perfect opportunity to head out of Boise and see Sun Valley.

The drive up was spectacular. The aspens around State Highway 68�s old Toll Gate Cafe had turned a dazzling yellow and looked like a paint brush waiting for an artist to paint the sun. With a left on Highway 75, first Bellevue, then Hailey rolled by and we caught Ketchum. img src="" The Kentwood Motel turned out to be perfect. A spacious room overlooking Main Street and Sun Valley's Warm Springs ski runs awaited us. We settled into our type of vacation: lots of R&R. No pony rides or long hikes for us. We read, slept, ate well, shopped a little and walked around the area. Sun Valley in the fall is great. Sunday night we went to a former favorite for dinner and to watch the Yankees lose. Negative reviews are not my style, so I won�t let on to where we ate.

Dad rose early to �the first snow.� Camera in hand, I roamed downtown as Ketchum awoke. The resort and mountains both came alive with the classic fall contrast of turning leaves, evergreens and new fallen snow. It was enchanting. I had a cuppa coffee at the very hip Java, then strolled by awe-inspiring photographs of Thomas Monigal at the Natures Expressions. Soon, it was back to the room to wake the kid for breakfast. Since dad had picked so poorly the night before, we needed good food. The Neadery delivered. �The decor looks like old Sun Valley and new combined,� was my son's assessment. He�s right: politically incorrect trophy animals mixed with a more trendy style of hanging antiques and boats from the ceiling. The food was hardy, served quickly with a smile. We were one for one for cuisine.

After breakfast we briefly considered taking a trail ride or renting bikes, but we decided to head back to the room for a nap and an afternoon of reading, TV and a polite political discussion. What luxury.

By late afternoon we were restless and decided to hop in the car. We headed up Trail Creek. With a light rain falling, the blacktop was a glistening ribbon winding and spinning through the ever-wilder canyons and mountains. Civilized Idaho faded to wilderness as we climbed towards the Sawtooths. Later, as we drove back towards Sun Valley, the late afternoon sun reflected from the freshly whitened ski runs, creating a cornucopia of color as the dark evergreens mixed with subtle fall browns, reds and ambers.

We needed to get a bit of shopping done, so we naturally headed for the shops that stretch between the beautiful Sun Valley Inn and the classic Sun Valley Lodge. We picked up our gifts and wandered toward the lodge. There we marveled at the stylishly updated decor. The designers have done an excellent job of blending tradition with modern luxury. Thankfully they have kept the photos that line each hallway off the lobby. From Lucille Ball and her then young children, to now Governor Schwarzenegger and America's elite athletes, politicians and stars grace the walls. Just off the lobby the now quiet Duchin Room beckoned, so we shared a drink and a discussion of Idaho history and the music of Boise native Paul Tillitson, who lights up the bar with his lively jazz piano each winter. We still hadn't found a Sun Valley print needed to brighten up the son's apartment, so it was on to Ketchum.

Patsy Cline the dog greeted us at the American West Gallery, where owners Jo and Allen Edison offer a fun kaleidoscope of shapes and colors. The posters and prints tempted our pocketbooks. A quick spin by Giacobbi Square and the Galleria center provided as much shopping as we needed.

After we checked out, we considered fancier fare for our early lunch. It was dad's turn to buy, so he convinced the kid that it wasn�t a complete trip to Sun Valley without a stop at Grumpy's. A recent feature on the Food Channel hasn�t changed the place a bit. Old signs from failed restaurants are still haphazardly displayed. Dented and stained beer cans line the walls, and an old Forest Service sign that shows the way to a ranch for Girl Scouts hangs over the grill. The two chefs were grilling, taking orders and bantering with the locals, like something out of a Saturday Night Live skit. Our food was perfectly prepared and presented on a sheet of paper that lined a classic red plastic basket. Unfortunately, deadlines loomed back home and our quick Sun Valley vacation was at an end. Hopefully we will be back with more energy for ski season�after slack.