Something strange happened last night. It was as if the Pavilion was caught in a time warp. It started out in 2012, with the regular crowd of Sun Valley visitors and residents sitting sedately in their seats at the pavillion, seemingly ready for the symphony to perform or for a San Francisco ballet reprise. Instead, however, they were waiting for the debut of Creedence Clearwater Revisited in Sun Valley. As Roger the roadie surveyed the crowds with an expression of amused disbelief across his wide, friendly face. I asked him if this was a different type of crowd for the band. He replied, “Not different. Just more so.”
As the band comprised of American Rock icons Stu Cook and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford took the stage, the crowd politely clapped, emitting the occasional cheer. After a couple songs the cheering grew louder, and by the time lead singer John Tristao belted out Susie Q the Pavilion was transported back to 1970s. The crowd was out of their seats, dancing wildly in the aisles, and not a single muttering along the lines of “That young chap needs to sit down as its awfully rude,” was heard. This was a rock concert.
Out of nowhere, dusted-off leather jackets and tight trousers accessorized with studded belts appeared, legs clad in cut off jean-shorts and more denim than you could shake a stick at were suddenly up and bopping along to the music. Sun Valley was rocking.
As CCR rolled out hit after hit after hit, the crowd couldn’t take it anymore and by Bad Moon Rising there was barely a bottom on a seat and an honest-to-goodness mosh pit had formed up front. Now that is not something you see at the symphony. When Stu Cook belted out “Are you ready to rock Sun Valley, Idaho?!” we really were.
As regular readers of this blog will know, I hail from the old country, where if you told someone they were going to be staying in a cottage they would expect a quaint, cozy abode complete with a chimney, gabled windows, and maybe a picturesque thatched roof. If they were planning on staying in Sun Valley Resort’s Symphony Cottage however, they might need to change those expectations.
For our fourth installment in the Rooms from the Resort series (where I take a peek inside the accommodations on offer at Sun Valley Resort, providing you with a traveller’s-eye-view of your Sun Valley vacation), we are pushing the word “room” to its limit.
A 7 bedroom mansion, the Symphony Cottage is pretty awesome. From a hot tub to a sauna, marble bathrooms to a wet bar, English country cottages would quake in their foundations at the sight of this palace.
At least one part of its name is apt however, the “cottage” sits right next to the Sun Valley Pavilion, making it the perfect accommodation for (a large group of) symphony-goers or any party looking to enjoy the summer’s many performances in the state-of-the-art facility, just steps from their front door.
Here are some pictures I snapped from inside the grandest accommodation on offer at Sun Valley Resort:
If you are planning on staying here, drop me a line, I’d love to come hang out!
Details: Priced from $1,000 – $2,200 a night (price varies based on season and weekend versus weeknights), the cottage is newly renovated and offers seven bedrooms, lake view and hot tub, and a sunken living room complete with a wet bar. The 7 bedrooms include 3 King, 2 Queen, 2 Doubles and 1 couch bed. For more details click here or call 1.800.786.8259.
It’s been a long, hot summer by Wood River Valley standards, and if your vegetable garden is anything like mine, it’s hitting its peak right now, producing lots of beautiful colors and juicy treats. However, as all mountain gardeners know, we don’t have much time until the first frost, so best use up that sumptuous bounty quick smart. And the fifth dish in my Recipe from the Resort series, a delicious summer vegetable pasta from Bald Mountain Pizza & Pasta chef Dennis Pittsley, is the perfect vehicle.
Dennis’s dish is a unique twist on a traditional vegetable pasta, he incorporates spinach into his pesto and adds corn to the veggie mix, providing a surprising sweetness and delightful crunch. This is a simple, sweet and very healthy dish, and the pure pleasure of eating freshly picked veggies from your garden makes it manna from heaven.
Summer Farfalle Pasta
Prep time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 15 minutes
2 cups zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 cups yellow squash, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup fresh white corn, cut off the cob
1/2 cup red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup of fresh seeded diced tomato
a handful of chopped sun dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 oz of dry farfalle pasta
2 cups of fresh basil
4 cups of fresh spinach
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
for the pesto
Blanch the spinach and the basil, then cool down in ice water to maintain the green color.. drain and squeeze as much water out as possible. roast the pine nuts in the oven at 350F. Combine greens and pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan in a food processor and blend until it reaches a smooth consistency.
for the Pasta
In a large pot, bring salted water to a steady boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. while the pasta is cooking sauté the vegetables (excluding the tomatoes) and garlic for 2 minutes in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the drained pasta to the pan, remove from heat, stir in the fresh and sun dried tomatoes. Toss in the pesto and serve immediately.
If your garden hasn’t been kind enough to provide you with the ingredients needed, head down to Bald Mountain Pizza & Pasta and let Dennis whip up his specialty for you. The pizza is darn tasty too, and it’s a great restaurant for the kids. If you time it right you can enjoy dinner and then take the tykes to Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days at the Opera House for free (courtesy of the resort’s dinner and a movie special), or leave the kids at home and catch The Dark Knight, both starting this Friday.
On my first trip back to London after moving out to Idaho, I took my husband on a bus tour. How silly, I thought to myself, being a tourist in my own hometown. But that tour showed me a side of my city I had never seen before. It opened my eyes to just what an exceptional place I had grown up in. In a similar fashion, the Wheels & Wine Tour on offer at Sun Valley is a real eye-opener. Just as the bus tour was for my husband, this bike tour is a great orientation for any new visitor to Sun Valley, but it is also a perfect peek into the history and wide-variety of activities on offer here at the resort for anyone with an interest. So, whether you’re a longtime local, a Sun Valley sophomore or a first-time flyer, the Wheels & Wine Tour is a great pit-stop during your time in Sun Valley.
Last Thursday, Mr. Sun and I ditched the little ones to head out on the tour and get a taste of Sun Valley history, as well as a decent look at a few bottles of Northwest wines (this was in fact the motivating factor for our outing, and an ideal carrot to dangle in front of any reluctant party.)
First off, a disclaimer, this is not a strenuous bike ride, no headers down Baldy here, it is all flat, gentle riding around the resort and along some of the paved bike path to take in the outer-lying reaches of Sun Valley.
The tour began in front of Pete Lane’s Mountain Sports in the Sun Valley Village with an introduction from Mark Blaubach, who was to be our guide. Mark developed the tour, which is in its second season. An impressive figure, Mark was clearly built for serious bike riding, so it’s a little comical to see him puttering gently around the resort on a town bike stocked with wine bottles and a checkered picnic basket.
Mark and his wife, Faye, who also works at Pete Lanes, found Sun Valley a few years ago, after they had quit their high-powered executive jobs and sold everything to travel around the country in an RV. They happened upon the Wood River Valley and quickly figured out a way to stay here all summer long.
Once assembled, our little group – Mr. Sun and myself, plus the delightful Elissa from California – then proceeded to the first stop on the tour, The Sun Valley Lodge.
I won’t go into all the history and anecdotes Mark shares on the hour-and-a-half trip, you’ll have to get out and experience it for yourself. Being something of a connoisseur of Sun Valley’s history (I’ve written a few articles on it, including this one on the building of the resort and this one on Count Felix Shaffgotsch, who discovered Sun Valley), I was familiar with most of his stories, but the revelation that the famous Sun Valley Lodge swans share their home with The Pioneer Piranhas was news to me. Apparently, the pond is chock full of what Mark describes as “the most obese rainbow trout in the world,” courtesy of their high-carb diet, which consists of copious amounts of leftover bread from The Konditorei Cafe. Mark demonstrated how they will eat straight out of your hand (the fish that is – don’t try this with the swans!). Lots of fun for the little ones.
The tour also takes in the Opera House, Inn, ice rink, pavilion, White Clouds trails, club house, Trail Creek Cabin, gun club, Hemingway memorial, the world’s first chairlift and of course, Bald Mountain. At each stop Mark offers up tidbits of history as well as highlighting the different activities at the resort, a handy thing as, honestly, despite living here for 9 years I only discovered the Olympic pool and tennis courts this summer!
Following the obligatory snapshot in front of (a smoke-obscured) Baldy Mountain, which Mark dutifully posted to Pete Lanes’ Facebook page, we headed in to the Lodge’s Duchin Room to meet Paul Johnson, the resort’s assistant beverage director. Here we were greeted with a generous tasting of five Northwest wines from the resort’s cellars, accompanied by detailed tasting notes courtesy of the very knowledgable Paul.
All in all, a lovely afternoon’s activity.
Details: The tour is $29, including bike rental, and wine tasting. Head over the Pete Lanes’ Facebook page for pictures of previous tour groups. Wheels and Wine runs every Thursday at 4 p.m., throughout the summer, ending Labor Day. If you fancy something a little more low-key, the resort also offers a free hour-long, guided hike, leaving from Pete Lane’s every Friday at 10 a.m. This covers similar topics, such as local history and activities and places to go during your stay. Call 208.622.2279 or email email@example.com for more details.
Van Gordon Sauter is a man with a view, many views in fact. And he’s not one to mince words. So when I heard that this “respected journalist, distinguished television executive, and renowned raconteur” was going to be talking at the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference about his new book The Sun Valley Story, I pulled every string I could to secure myself a spot (not an easy task, as any journalist who has tried to infiltrate the hallowed halls of the conference without publishing their own book will tell you). The fact I have known and worked with Van for the last five years, and that I contributed (in a very small way) to the book he was talking about, undoubtedly weighed in my favor.
The Wood River Valley is very lucky to call Van one of its own. He has had a second home here for many years, and he takes an active interest in the community, beyond just how it will impact his own property. A broadcast journalist and author with a storied career, he is one of the original founders of the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference, and has shared his love of this valley by writing numerous articles on it for the local press (including the Sun Valley Guide, of which I’m editor). Of his many areas of interest, history ranks the highest, so it seemed a natural fit for him to bring his engaging writing style to the entertaining story of the birth of Sun Valley Resort.
The Sun Valley Story is the result of a collaboration between Sun Valley Resort and Mandala Media. Published last year in honor of the resort’s 75th anniversary, the book is described by Van as “an anecdotal history,” one that captures the individual stories and events of Sun Valley’s singular history with his signature flair.
And if anyone can recount a good anecdote it’s Van. His “Break-out session” at the conference on Saturday was full of fascinating tidbits, both from the book and his own experiences in the valley. Including the one time he tried to buy a bar in Hailey that turned out to be insulated by miners clothing, or the story from Peter Duchin’s childhood in the Harriman mansion in New York, where – because his room was so far from the breakfast parlor – he had to hop on a bicycle every morning just to get his cereal. To get them all you’ll have to pick up the book, or corner Van at Cristina’s Restaurant any summer morning, but here are a few choice morsels about the major characters of the book that he divulged at the conference:
Van on Averell Harriman [the founder of Sun Valley]
“In 1935, when Harriman said ‘I want a ski resort in the West,’ that put into motion a project that by today’s standards is incomprehensible. This was and is, if you’ve tried to fly into here recently, one of the most unreachable places in America. At that point nothing came here expect the little train primarily used for hauling sheep. But Harriman said ‘I want it up and I want it up now,’ and low and behold, Union Pacific (and it’s hard to imagine a corporation of that capability today) put up this resort in 11 months. There was no zoning, no politicians, no litigation over environment, they just put it up. From bowling balls to beds to bourbon, the railroad got it here. And 11 months after he made that decision, the front doors open and the customers came.
Van on Eastwood [Clint Eastwood wrote the introduction to The Sun Valley Story]
“Clint Eastwood produced and directed and starred in a movie called Pale Rider, which was shot just north of here in the Boulder Mountains. It was for him a marvelous experience because he could go shoot on location for most of the day and then drive home – he’s had a home here forever – and play golf in the late afternoon. It was just the epitome of an ideal movie-making experience for him, and it was a heck of a good movie.”
Van on Ernest Hemingway
“Hemingway came and stayed in room 206 of the Sun Valley Lodge, a great place to spend the night, a lovely, small suite. It was there he finished his book For Whom The Bell Tolls. He loved it here, his times here were good and he developed an incredibly strong relationship with Gary Cooper. Many of his good times involved being in this town. But ultimately, it ended tragically.”
Van on Ernest Hemingway’s Ketchum home
“[After his suicide in Ketchum] the home he and Mary had bought here was given to The Nature Conservancy, which has been both a good landlord and a useless landlord (it’s currently in one of its good phases). The house is in pretty good shape. A lot of the Hemingway material that was left behind has been pilfered, the best of Hemingway in the house was given to the Kennedy Library at Harvard. At one time, I headed an ill-advised committee, of which I was the premier ill advising person, and we worked with The Nature Conservancy to try and open the house for limited public access. The neighbors, and I can understand their motivation, said no, we don’t want outsiders traipsing through here. So the house is marooned and fundamentally inaccessible to the public.”
Van on Bill Janss [Sun Valley Resort's second owner]
“Bill Janss was a marvelous human being. He was generous, he was kind. He was an Olympic skier, who was unable to compete in the Olympics due to the war, and he really got that mountain into remarkable shape. He turned it into the best ski mountain in the country. Unfortunately, he never could learn how to rent rooms, sell food, run retail establishments or sell condos, he had none of those skills.”
Van on Earl and Carol Holding [Current owners of the resort]
“The Holdings have been generous caring owners of this facility, the improvements they have made, from the snow-making to that gorgeous pavilion, have been remarkable. They made it work. Now we have a good valley, we have a great business here, and we need new hotels. The Holding family want to put a big hotel out at River Run, a ‘ski in, ski out’ establishment. But they can’t do that without a better airport. If any of you have tried to fly in here recently you’ll understand. This city, this valley is at a point now where it has to determine whether it has the courage and the capacity to fix the airport or move the airport, so that there can be direct flights from around the country to bring people in here. The Holdings are very old, no one knows what their children want to do, but their children are highly regarded – fundamentally the jury’s out on where all of this will go.”
Van on the future of Sun Valley [in response to the question "Where do you see the valley in 10 years time?"]
“I would say it’s all up to the airport. It’s a double edged sword. If we get the airport so it works here and the airline starts to have direct flights from Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles wherever, we’ll see a dramatic influx of tourists. On the one hand that’s good, but it’s going to change the ambiance of where we live. There’s no doubt about it. My bottom line is, this is a beautiful place even tourists can’t destroy it, and it will be a better and better place if we do make it easier to get here. It’s impossible to get here now, it’s impossible to sell it to a large swath of the public because it’s so hard to get here.”
Van on the airport [in response to a question on the politics of the airport]
“I have been cautioned never to raise politics at this event… . There is a division in the community. Those who want an airport are trying to find ways to either change the airport runway or to move the airport down beyond highways 20 and 75. But their first choice has frigging grouse on it. Here’s a community of 25,000 people, desperately needs an airport and there’s mating grouse there. Can’t these grouse mate somewhere else? Whatever, that site is a long way from the resort, the construction expense would have been enormous. But without an airport that accommodates small commercial jets, this valley will wither and become non-competitive.”
(aka Mrs. Sun)
Details: Sun Valley Story, written by Van Gordon Sauter, with a foreword by Clint Eastwood, this glamorous coffee table book contains previously unpublished vintage images, as well as lavish four-color photographs from the last decade, including the Castle Rock Fire, the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference, Allen & Co. Conference and the personalities that define Sun Valley today. See some excerpts from the book here, and buy a copy here.
Transworld Snow Conference
March 12 – 15, 2013
It’s official, the TransWorld Snow Conference is returning to Sun Valley for another round, focusing on speakers and discussions revolving around the topic: “What’s Next?”
Visit snowconference.com for more information
Janss Cup – Warm Springs
April 5 – 6, 2013
SVSEF Ski Race
U-14 Intermountain Division Championships – Bald Mountain
March 21 – 24, 2013
USSA Intermountain Alpine Championships at Warm Springs
Rev Tour – Bald Mountain & Dollar Mountain
March 17 – 22
An international tour stop for skier-x, half-pipe and slope style events
In its 9th season, the U.S. Revolution Tour is a three stop tour consisting of halfpipe, slopestyle, and cross, for both Freeskiing and Snowboarding. The tour is designed to serve as a stepping stone for athletes making the transition from competing at the grassroots level to the elite level. The series pre-qualifies a portion of its field and then opens registration to any athlete, but is focused towards riders 13-19 years old (Cross 15-19) and will award the top juniors an invite to be part of the U.S. Grand Prix, Junior Worlds, the U.S. Open, USASA Nationals, and participate in Project Gold camps. Competition formats may vary slightly at each stop, but athletes will always compete as an open class.
*Schedules subject to change
**Click on the event location for detailed schedule
2012-2013 Tour Info
Date Location Discipline
Mar. 17-22, 2013 Sun Valley, ID Slopestyle, Halfpipe, Cross