Friday, May 11, 2007

Sun Valley, Beautiful Dud

So the husband and I went to Sun Valley, Idaho for our seventh anniversary. This may seem like a strange destination to choose, but, since we live in Boise now and have seen almost nothing of the state, it seemed like a good opportunity to go somewhere that we'd actually heard of but was a relatively short drive away.

We won't be going back any time soon. Let me first say that we are VERY thankful to Shaun's parents for watching the kids and giving us the opportunity to spend two entire nights and mornings sleeping free of the responsibility of getting up to tend to young ones. That alone was worth the price of admission. But Sun Valley in May? Creepy.

The setting is beautiful. The mountains are RIGHT THERE. But Sun Valley Resort (where we stayed at the original lodge) and the town of Ketchum were really a downer. It didn't help that we were there during the off-season. Shaun spent Sunday afternoon on a bike ride and my plan had been to look around at the superior art galleries and swanky boutiques. Alas, almost nothing was open. Much of that was due to the fact that it was Sunday. But I encountered so many hand-written "See you in 3 weeks!" signs on shop doors that I started to feel like I was experiencing August in Europe but without the ambiance and copious number of bakeries.

One would think that the fact that I grew up next to Santa Barbara (another bastion of the service/those being served economy) would have reconciled me to the dynamic of Sun Valley. But instead it creeped me out. Everyone knew everyone else. This gave me unpleasant high school flash-backs. I will admit that I have a small case of class bigotry and that perfectly groomed rich people give me the heebie-jeebies. I don't think that it's OK to make assumptions about people just because they are wealthy, but it's very hard not to do. I had supposed that Ketchum, the city to which Sun Valley Resort is appended, was a bit more of a city in its own right, but it had the soulless feel of a town that owes its entire existence to rich tourists.

I had pushed for staying at the Sun Valley Lodge because of its storied history and famous clientele. Little did I know that it has been refurbished during many unfortunate periods (late 70's/early 80's country French oak, anyone?) and that it smells bad. Any resort with shops that sell Prada should not smell funky.

Add to all this the self-loathing I experienced when I ill-advisedly wandered into an upscale (UNDERSTATEMENT) shop curated like an art gallery and fell in love with a $500 Dries Van Noten striped cotton blouse, and you can see how it wasn't the most unqualified success of a weekend I've ever had.

Thankfully we drove the route of Shaun's bike ride (up to the top of Galena pass and back) before he did it, and that was a soul cleanser. I was able to vicariously enjoy the virtues of his four-hour ride. That was the actual day of our anniversary, and we followed the ride with a nice dinner in Hailey at CK's that hit just the right note. The next day we had my favorite meal of the trip (feral fennel soup and panini with brie and smoked ham) at Cristina's. I felt like I was in Europe. In a good way.

I can see how Sun Valley in the winter would be quite magical (if still smelly), but I think our next Idaho excursion will involve a tent, a camp stove, and a more down-to-earth vibe.

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