On Friday night, I found myself in the pages of a storybook. The fairytale featured five sweet children, a favorite aunt, a cowboy, a horse drawn sleigh and a roaring fire. The main character of this meticulously illustrated tome was the fullest, most luminous moon imaginable. Gliding across the snow at 9 p.m. on the way to Trail Creek Cabin, it cast long shadows of tree branches against a white stage and shone so brightly we could clearly see the pattern of the woolen blankets, the tree knots on the wooden benches, the fabric of everyone’s caps.
As Jess gave our two draft horses an appropriate nudge, the regular world of the brightly lit Sun Valley Inn and Village blurred behind as we trotted into a land of white. Across the unrecognizable golf course we flew, down a steep embankment and to the side of rippling Trail Creek. Here, the book does not offer any dialogue of consequence. Laughter, hushed conversation and whispers were carried into the frozen night air and dissipated among the canopy of stars. Surrounded by a sky so clear and cold it felt like it could crack, chatter was secondary to simply feeling the sleigh move over the frozen ground.
Lights in the distance began to coalesce as we hurried toward the historic Trail Creek Cabin. Discarding the warm blankets and hopping off the back of the sled, we turned the page as we entered the cheerful, warm, log building and found our table beside a huge, roaring fire. Fragrant coconut curry soup awaited our arrival, as did the scones for which the restaurant is famous. Hats, scarves and gloves were peeled off as the fire quickly warmed us. With the return of the heat and light, dialogue flared with renewed energy.
Plates of flavorful salmon and steak and prime rib emerged from the kitchen, feeding ravenous late-night appetites. An accordion player serenaded our group, ending with a rousing rendition of “It Happened in Sun Valley.” Love was in the air, as a wedding reception (brought to the cabin by sleigh) celebrated in the attached yurt and at the adjacent table, a man dropped to one knee, proposing marriage to his blushing bride-to-be. She said yes and showed her stunner-of-a-ring to the room amid cheers and applause.
We sang that favorite Glenn Miller tune from 1941 as we bundled up and made our way back into the night. It was still relevant more than 70 years later. Feel free to hum along…
“Howdy folks, let’s go for a ride. Get your favorite one to sit by your side.
Cuddle up in a sleigh, gitty up, Nellie Gray, and away we go!
While you listen to the sleigh bells ring, you’re yodeling to your baby.
You’ll feel nice and warm, no matter how cold it may be….”
We cuddled up beneath the blankets, feeling nice and warm no matter how cold it may have been. With the moon striking midnight above, we turned the last page of this tale and set off in the direction of picture-perfect Bald Mountain, enjoying an experience that could only happen in Sun Valley.