Scenes from The Gathering

What better way to spend a Saturday night in September?

I am a skier in a ski town. I count the days until the mountain opens and then I count my days on the hill. When the opportunity arose to watch some of the best ski movies of the year at Sun Valley’s The Gathering film festival, I cleared my calendar, grabbed my kids and prepared for a two-hour mental vacation to some of the freshest powder and most spectacular winter scenery imaginable.

The Gathering, a weekend-long celebration of mountain lifestyle attracted a wide cross-section of people, with the common denominator of simply loving to play in the snow. When I arrived Saturday evening, the crowd gathered outside the Opera House broke down as follows: 40 percent middle and high school students (identifiable by their ubiquitous flat-brimmed caps emblazoned with trendy logos), 30 percent families (identifiable by parents and kids sitting together, enjoying the barbecue put on by Sun Valley) and 30 percent 20-somethings (identifiable by the PBR beers in their hands – there was a special, two for $5). Many of my fabulous 25-year-old babysitters were in the latter group, also identifiable by their continuous subtle scan of the crowd in search of pros and filmmakers.

The group was unified, however, in its enthusiasm for the event.  I heard the same comments again and again. People appreciated that the festival was geared toward locals, that it appealed to both skiers and snowboarders, that kids wanted to come and that is was so affordable.

Some of the fastest local kids on snow get stoked for ski season

Helping everyone look the part

Inside the theater, as the first of the night’s feature films rolled, The Gathering’s appeal to the younger generation became even more apparent. On the big screen, a snowboarding film by Burton featured in-your-face footage of athletes sliding anything but a regular run. Rails, buildings, downed branches and tunnels all served as terrain.

When the festival’s main attraction, “Sunny,” started the audience ballooned and its composition shifted. Suddenly, the crowd was comprised of about 80 percent middle and high school boys. With this influx, came noise, enthusiasm, a smattering of bad language and whole lot of energy.  Everyone was swept up in the epic feats of the athletes on the screen and mentally inserted themselves into those scenes. The brainchild of Josh Berman and Level 1 Productions, “Sunny” was cutting edge enough to please a 16-year-old boy – and his father.

Only about seven weeks remain until the arm of the detachable quads attach and whisk me up the mountain. I can’t wait. My kids can’t wait. Neither can the hundreds of others who attended The Gathering. The countdown has officially begun.

A new chapter for The Valley Sun

From Mountain Babies to Beach Babies: Mrs. Sun and the Sun family are moving on...

The summer of 2012 was one of the most fun and fulfilling I’ve spent in Sun Valley during my nine years living in this great state of Idaho. And if you don’t believe me just look back over the 40 or so posts I wrote on this blog in the last three months! But sadly, it was to be my last Sun Valley summer. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Sun family are moving on. Family and careers are taking us to another great state, South Carolina, where we will be making our home in the equally historic city of Charleston.

While this is the end of the Sun Valley story for myself and my young family, I will continue to drop in on The Valley Sun blog from time to time, posting on my favorite topic: the history of Sun Valley Resort. (Do please let me know in the comments below if there’s any particular slice of Sun Valley history you’d like to know more about).

Meanwhile, I am putting the reins of The Valley Sun in the more-than-capable hands of Robin Sias.  An excellent journalist and local freelance writer, Robin is a mother of three and a Sun Valley resident for close to three decades. I’m sure her family will enjoy showing you the ins and outs, ups and downs and general joys of being in Sun Valley as much as mine have done these past few months.

Many thanks for spending the summer with me and my family, I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. And personally, I’m excited to see what Robin and her brood get up to this winter, so be sure to stay tuned… .

Happy Trails!

Jennifer Tuohy (aka Mrs. Sun)

Want to keep up with the former Sun family on their new adventures? Follow me on Twitter or visit my personal site here.

Do you #LoveSVFood?


Wish you were here ... eating this! The winners of Sun Valley's summer Instagram contest.

Taking photos of food was once the sole purpose of social media, that and telling people what you were doing at any moment in time. While, thankfully, we’ve moved on somewhat, food is still ubiquitous online. From sharing recipies, flaunting the delicacy you’re currently enjoying or pining over the one you wish you were consuming, food porn is ubiquitous in the modern age – probably because a love for food is one thing we all have in common.

This summer, Sun Valley Resort launched its first Instagram contest (for those not familiar, Instagram is a free photo-sharing social network). The resort opened the contest in early June, inviting guests at Sun Valley to snap a creative picture of their dining experience using Instagram and tag it with #LoveSVFood. Each week through the summer, one winner was awarded Sun Valley Swag. Last week the “Best Shot” was selected from among those twelve winners and awarded the grand prize, a three night stay at Sun Valley Resort.

Local girl Kristina Poydenis snapped that grand-prize winning shot, capturing her delectable Mud Pie at Bald Mountain Pizza & Pasta. Here’s Kristina’s shot, as well as some of the weekly winners and a selection of the many entries to the contest over the last two months:

A selection of entries and winners to @SunValleyResort’s summer food instagram contest.

A selection of entries and winners to @SunValleyResort’s summer food instagram contest.

http://storify.com/jp2e/love-svfood

For more on Sun Valley’s food, check out my series of Recipes from the Resort and learn how to whip up some of these delicacies in your own kitchen.

Happy trails!

Mrs. Sun

Sun Valley Story Tour

The Ketchum/Sun Valley Historical Society, Sun Valley Magazine and Mountain Rides present ‘Sun Valley Story Tour’: a free bus tour highlighting the area’s rich heritage.

Jump on for a one hour guided tour past:

Old Union Pacific Railroad Terminal
Cemetary where Ernest Hemingway is buried
The last place Hemingway dined with his wife
Comstock-Clark Mercantile building
Horace Lewis home and the mining history
Site of the original Sun Valley rodeo
Historic Brass Ranch Barn and the Union Pacific Railroad purchase and more!!

Guided by members of the Historical Society.

Departing every Friday at 3:45pm from the Visitor Center, 491 Sun Valley Road.

Boulder Bike Tour

Join the entire bicycling community for the annual Boulder Mountain Bike Tour on Sunday, September 16th, 2012. Mountain bikers will meet at the SNRA to ride up the Harriman Trail at 9am and road bikers will meet at Ketchum Town Square at 10am to ride up to Galena Lodge. Galena Lodge will provide a discounted lunch and specials all day as well as live music. Sag wagons will be cruising the road for safety and repairs. There will be a shuttle down for those who need it. No entry fee required. Come up and celebrate another incredible summer at Galena Lodge!  This is closing day at Galena Lodge for the summer season.

Call 208-726-4010 for more information or email erin@galenalodge.com

SVSEF Fall Game Dinner & Auction

An annual favorite and a perfect autumn event, the Fall Game Dinner & Auction was established 36 years ago and has since developed into a community favorite. This gala event raises money and awareness to support the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. The evening of entertainment includes a savory game dinner, live & silent auctions, Jack Simpson’s “Dedicated Coaches Award”, mystery balloon sales and GREAT dancing.

For information please contact kate@svsef.org or go to www.svsef.org.

Baldy Hill Climb

The 34th Annual 2012 Baldy Hill Climb will include hiking and mountain biking events on Saturday, September 29th. The “Cheeso Baldy Double”, named in honor of late coach Craig “Cheeso” Kjesbo, features a mountain bike race to the top followed by a hiking race to the top!

The traditional hike to the summit will take place on the Warm Springs side of Bald Mountain with the recreational class starting at 10 a.m. and the racing class starting at 11 a.m.

The traditional children’s event – The KINDERCLIMB, for children aged 11 and younger will be held at 9:30 a.m. at Warm Springs.

Participants are encouraged to pre-register online at Spondoro.com.  Forms will also be available at local stores including Sturtevants in Ketchum and Hailey, The Elephant’s Perch and Backwoods Mountain Sports. There is NO race-day registration.

Registration may be received via fax or mail in the SVSEF offices by 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28. Our fax is 726-4129, and our P.O. Box is 203, Sun Valley, ID. 83353.

Mrs. Sun gets her shotgun

Gun Club manager J.C. Dovey had his work cut out for him teaching Mrs. Sun how to shoot a shotgun.

As the welcome chill of fall enters the air, Sun Valley Resort looks to its third season. For some, notably the area’s most famous resident Ernest Hemingway, fall is their favorite time of year in the Wood River Valley.

The opportunity to participate in one of Hemingway’s favorite fall activities is one not to be missed. And you don’t even have to kill anything. While Hemingway was an avid hunter, the Sun Valley Gun Club offers the chance for everyone from the most experienced to the novice to get their hands on a shotgun.

I headed to the historic club to see what it felt like to have a shotgun in my city-bred hands. Manager J.C. Dovey took me under his wing, but not before giving me the grand tour of the facilities.

Almost as old as the resort itself, the Gun Club was once one of the most popular non-winter activities here. Pictures along the wall of the club show hundred of shooters lined up at the original club in the shadow of Bald Mounatin during one of the many “shoots” the resort hosted over the years, stretching all the way back to 1936.

The club’s structure is still the original building that once stood across Sun Valley Lake along what is now Fairway Road. “It is actually made from the old Proctor and Ruud sandwich shacks [or day lodges as they were more grandly called],” Dovey said.

After undergoing a few re-locations (the first fifty or so years ago to what is now the White Clouds Golf Course, and then to its current home, a mile east of the Lodge down Trail Creek Road, in 2006), and the installation of marble bathrooms (“I rent them out as baptismal fonts,” joked Dovey), the Gun Club and has re-captured its former glory. This summer the shooting range was a veritable hot bed of activity. While I was waiting for my lesson the phone rang off the hook with would-be shooters. But Dovey assures me fall is the time to be here, it’s a little quieter and is when the locals move in. “About 25 percent of our guests here are locals and regulars, seasoned shooters who own their own guns,” Dovey said.

The lion’s share of the other 75 percent are once-a-year shooters or beginners like myself who have never held a shotgun before. Dovey tells me this is unique in the world of gun clubs. “We get so many people here who have never shot, but we have extensive teaching staff,” he said with obvious pride. “The only other similar club is Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, but we actually do more lessons than they do.”

Sun Valley’s Gun Club is very much a teaching facility with the price of a lesson included in the rental of equipment. “It’s rare for a gun club, we have 5 or 6 instructors,” Dovey said.

Dovey and his team pride themselves on not letting a novice leave without hitting one of those orange clay thingys. So, when I decided to join a long line of resort guests, including many Hollywood celebrities such as Anne Southern, and make the Sun Valley Gun Club my first experience with that icon of the Wild West the shotgun, Dovey had his work cut out for him.

Rudy Etchen - son of Gun Club manager Fred Etchen who was Sun Valley's first Olympic gold medal winner (winning gold for team trapshooting in the 1924 Olympics) - was considered the greatest shotgun shot that ever lived. Pictured here in 1958 with actress Anne Southern, Rudy was one of the instructors at the resort. Today J.C. Dovey and his team continue the Sun Valley tradition of excellent instructors.

Standing at the far end of the shooting range, escaping the hooting and hollering emanating from the group of Idaho Milk Processors’ indulging in something called an “Annie Oakley,” I picked up my first shotgun with trepidation. Orange earplugs firmly shoved in my ears and my shooting stance adopted, Dovey talked me through how I would shoot my first shot. Not suprisingly I missed by a mile. His words were, “I’d shoot it sooner. Try for this county, not Camas.”

I could tell there was some pride at stake here, but Dovey maintained his calm, encouraging tone and before we were through the entire box of shells I had actually hit one. The sound of my hooting and hollering even shut the milk processors up for a few minutes.

While it was a lot of fun, I had to conclude that I’m just not a gun-toting type. But I highly recommend giving it a shot, it’s something of a rite of passage for anyone that wants to call themselves an Idahoan.

Happy trails!

Mrs. Sun

The Sun Valley Gun Club offers Trap, Double Trap, Wobble Trap, Skeet, Duck Tower, 5-Stand and Sporting Clays. Open 7 days a week 10 a.m.–4 p.m. through October. For rates and more details click here. On Sept. 22 the club is hosting a “Sporting Clay Fun Shoot!” 100 targets for $50, including lunch. Prizes on offer for 1st and 2nd place shooters. Call 208.622.2111 or email recreation@sunvalley.com. A special $149 Fun-Shoot room package is available, call 1.800.786.8259.

A Wagon Days Farewell

 

A 20-draft-mule jerkline powers this Big Hitch, a collection of historic ore mining wagons. This unique sight is the traditional finale of the Wagon Days parade.

One of the common sayings around town is that you come to Sun Valley for the winters, but you stay for the summers. As Averell Harriman discovered after he opened the doors to his extravagant palace in the snow, the Wood River Valley is an ideal summer playground. Harriman quickly decided to keep those doors open and take advantage of the spectacular Sun Valley summers. Today, 76 years later, we are still enjoying the whirlwind two months between July 4th and Labor Day, when summer wraps its arms around the communities of the Wood River Valley. It may be brief, but it is a whole lot of fun; summer in Sun Valley is something not to be missed.

This Labor Day weekend marked the official end to the summer of 2012, and for over half a century the annual Wagon Days festivities have been there to send it off in style. Recognized as the largest non-motorized parade in the Pacific Northwest, the Wagon Days parade is the highlight of the weekend, featuring dozens of “museum-quality buggies, carriages, tacks, carts, buckboards and wagons of every variety in existence today.”

This year The Sun Family was offered the chance of riding in one of the antique wagons. Having been a spectator for seven of the last nine years, being able to participate in this historic parade was too good an opportunity to miss (even if 2 hours in a horse-drawn buggy had the potential to make Baby Sun a squirmy mess).

Fueling up with Mrs Fisher Cat at Papoose Club's annual Pancake breakfast

To get prepped for our Wagon Days opus, we chowed down with our parade companion, Mrs. Fisher Cat (in town visiting The Toy Store), at Papoose Club’s annual pancake breakfast (another wonderful tradition, read about it here.). Local historian Ivan Swaner was more than happy to keep Kitty company and fill her in on the story of Wagon Days.

Little Sun and Mrs Fisher Cat of the Calico Critter Family

Next we headed to the Sun Valley Horseman Center to meet our wagon and gaze in awe at the assembled parade entrants. From Ralphie the Camel to the beautiful Eh Capa bareback riders, there was a lot to take in. Little Sun and Baby Sun were thrilled to be able to get up close and personal with the wide-array of entrants, it was better than a trip to the zoo!

Little Sun and Baby Sun survey the Wagon Days Parade participants from inside a Black Surrey pulled by spotted draft horses

Next it was time to saddle up and hop on our ride for the afternoon, two beautiful spotted draft horses pulling a Black Surrey (with a fringe on top!). While there were a few white knuckle moments as horses crossed paths and wagons rolled, overall riding in the parade was one of the best experiences I’ve had during my time living in Idaho. Waving at the crowds and seeing the smiling, happy people waving back at us we felt – for a few brief moments – like Ketchum Royalty. Baby Sun was in her element (there is a stage somewhere in her future…), waving energetically the entire time (until she fell asleep mid-wave somewhere along Main Street).

The Sun family hitched a ride in Mrs. Fisher Cat's rig, proudly sponsored by Carol Knight of The Toy Store

We owe the wonderful Carol Knight a big dose of gratitude for letting us ride along with Mrs. Fisher Cat in The Toy Store sponsored Black Surrey. It was lovely to be associated with a fixture of the Ketchum shopping scene for over 30 years, all along the route pockets of Ketchum “old-timers” cheered with extra enthusiasm when they saw Carol’s distinctive logo on the side of the wagon.

The view from the Wagon: Sun Valley Road as seen from the Wagon Days Parade

Viewing Wagon Days from inside the parade gave me a lovely perspective on my hometown for close to a decade. It was especially poignant as next month The Sun Family is moving on. After a wonderful nine years living and working in the Wood River Valley we are heading East to join my family in Charleston, South Carolina. We will dearly miss this valley. It is where Brian and I began our lives together, where we welcomed our children, Owen and Rose, and where we have made many dear friends.

In particular I will miss Sun Valley Resort. It is all too easy for locals to take for granted the special place they have on their doorsteps. I for one, only really understood the value of what Averell Harriman brought to this remote corner of Idaho when I started digging into the history of the resort, which is a rich tapestry of fascinating stories and entertaining insights into how these towns became what they are today. I challenge all locals and visitors to take a few minutes of their time to walk through the grand doors of the Sun Valley Lodge into the lobby, pause for a moment and just look around. Eighty years ago, the spot where you are standing was just a barren field of sagebrush, surrounded by nothing but a struggling mining town and untamed mountains. Today a grand resort stands there, an integral part of the thriving, complicated and extraordinary community that surrounds it. Averell would be proud.

For me, riding in the Wagon Days parade was the perfect way to say goodbye to Ketchum.

 

Happy Trails…

Jennifer Tuohy (aka Mrs. Sun)

p.s. While the end of the road nears for The Sun Family, The Valley Sun blog will continue. Watch this space!