Two weeks ago, Day 3

Woke up in an utterly peaceful place. Didn’t stay there long…

The Sawtooth Mountains early in the morning weren’t quite what they’d been the evening before, mostly because I was looking at them from the wrong direction. Still beautiful, however. I ate breakfast on the same porch I’d sat on the previous evening, then packed up and headed back south again.

Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley, Idaho.
Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley, Idaho.

Stanley, Idaho, is a few miles to the right of the tip of two highways forming a sharp V shape, and a large part of the righthand section, down which I aimed to drive today, is within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, a place I suspect would have been a national park had the locals not been seriously agin’ the idea (after having watched what happened when David Rockefeller bought up most of Jackson Hole and given it to the feds for a national park).

As it is, a large chunk of the Sawtooth NRA is designated as wilderness, and the rest is much less regulated.   And beautiful. The Sawtooths are amazing, just as jagged as their namesake and still partially snow-covered even in late June.   My first stop was at Redfish Lake, the name (after the sockeye salmon which used to spawn here) of which I remembered from a trip my parents and I made here when I was somewhere between eight and ten.

Redfish Lake, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho.
Redfish Lake, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho.
Sawtooth Mountains above Redfish Lake.
Sawtooth Mountains above Redfish Lake.
Clear water at Redfish Lake.  I love this texture.
Clear water at Redfish Lake. I love this texture.

When I last spoke with my mother, her primary memories of the place involved mosquitoes the size of small helicopters, but even though I spent some time walking along the lakeshore and out onto a pier, I didn’t run across a single one.

I did, however, see some lovely wildflowers.

They're penstemons, and I can't get any more specific than that, alas.  They're much more electric blue than in the photo.
They’re penstemons, and I can’t get any more specific than that, alas. They’re much more electric blue than in the photo.
Some things are just too weird to believe without a photo -- just north of Galena Pass.
Some things are just too weird to believe without a photo — just north of Galena Summit.

After a couple of hours, I headed south, down the valley, where the mountains weren’t the only view, and up over Galena Summit.

The view from Galena Pass.
The view from Galena Summit.

It was a terrific place to admire the view, and only a few miles down the road was a lodge where I ate a delicious lamb burger for lunch.  After that, it was on down to Ketchum and Sun Valley, the world-famous ski area and home of the U.S.’s first chairlift, built back in the 1930s. Unfortunately, Sun Valley looks like someone took a chunk of Southern California and dropped it into Idaho. So about all I did was go find the Ernest Hemingway Memorial (not that I’m a huge Hemingway fan, but I was an English major), and got back out on the road.

The Ernest Hemingway Memorial, Sun Valley, Idaho.
The Ernest Hemingway Memorial, Sun Valley, Idaho.

I left the mountains behind not long after that, and had to make a decision, whether to go to Craters of the Moon National Monument, which I’ve visited twice before, or to head down into Utah to visit the Golden Spike National Historic Site, which I hadn’t. Golden Spike won out.   But that was too far for one day, so once I reached I-84 again I started looking for a motel without much success. One of the few disadvantages of not deciding where you’re going until the last minute is that you can’t make reservations. Most of the time it’s worth it. But this time I was beginning to wonder what the heck I was going to do if I didn’t find something.

At last I saw a sign off the freeway in the town of Heyburn and went to check it out. It looked reasonable enough, and the price was right, but most of the rooms were full of road construction workers, and while that didn’t bother me, the manager went to great lengths to reassure me that he and his family lived on the premises, and that the construction workers were harmless. It was all rather amusing.   And that was the end of the third day!