Stanley, ID: Sawtooth Mountains, Hatchery, and Redfish Lake

Salmon River and the back of the cabin area

I got home from Europe and had two days to get ready for our “real” vacation. This was the vacation that was a little more planned for the two of us, rather than a quick, last-minute solo trip. Although don’t get me wrong, I love both types of trips!

Originally, we were going to take a road trip up the CA and into Oregon. During the planning process, this morphed to an Idaho/Wyoming/Montana trip that included the Sawtooth Mountains, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Glacier National Parks. I didn’t really communicate this well to SMS so while he was excited for the trip, he was also a little disappointed that the Oregon idea had vanished. So, I need to do better next time. The good news is now that we live together again, I can tell him all of my ideas in real time!

Sawtooth Mountains, Galena Summit Overlook

We stayed in an AirBnB that was no-frills meets “Is this a slasher cabin in the woods that he inherited from his Grandma?” As some of the lodging later in the trip was expensive, I tried to go cheap in Stanley. While we got what we paid for, it was totally fine and the point is to be outside so NBD.

Although we had planned to be outside, it was hot while we were there which curtailed our hiking plans. Our first day, I had bought tickets for two events at the Sun Valley Writer’s festival. The first artist group was Freestyle Love Supreme, an improvisational comedy freestyle hip-hop group. They were amazing. My favorite part was there they picked an audience member’s story featuring a past regret. Then, they told the story as it happened and as it would have happened if a re-do was allowed via the Freestyle Love time machine. Well, the woman regretted eating the baby Jesus from a manger crèche, but her main regret was that it wasn’t even very tasty. Well, this morphed into a story that involved little baby Jesus that if I told it here, would not really work well so I’m going to skip it but it.was.amazing. The funniest thing is that the keyboardist was dying at how ridiculously awesome her castmates were.

I would strongly recommend seeing FLS if you get a chance. It looks like they are having a Vegas residency this Winter so… They are also famous for having Lin-Manuel Miranda involved in the group, but at this point, I think he does drop-ins only on occasion. The reason I bring him up is that there are clearly themes and aspects rehearsed beforehand that mirror themes of “In the Heights,” but everything is really well done and of course, even improv needs to be somewhat rehearsed and planned for a strong foundation.

We also saw Arthur Brooks, who wrote “From Strength to Strength.” I really enjoyed the book and thought it was a good read as I enter what is (hopefully) the second half of my life. I didn’t love him as a speaker that much, mostly because it felt super-slick and TED-talky and I thought his book was a little deeper than that. But it was a good distillation of the book for people who hadn’t read it. SMS liked it, but I think I somewhat spoiled it by making fun of the author for saying that credentials don’t matter but then name-dropping the fact that he teaches at Harvard Business School about six times (conservative estimate). But at the same time, if he didn’t have those credentials, would anyone listen? Deep thoughts. Maybe I should sit by the Salmon River and think about it!

The next day, we went to the Sawtooth Hatchery. This had been recommend by the rental car counter guy and, since long hikes were out due to the heat, we went there. It was pretty cool! We learned about conservation measures to counteract the effects of different dams along the river system. Interestingly, the fish (salmon and trout) aren’t protected species despite all the work that goes into upping the numbers. So people can still fish. Some have markings that they request get reported in for tracking purposes, but that is a voluntary system.

We also went to Redfish Lake, where we rented a double kayak. This was not the smoothest couple activity we have ever done, mostly because we disagreed on how to sync/not sync our paddling. Spoiler alert: the engineer knew better than the Navy doctor how to make a boat go forward. I guess being a sailor doesn’t translate very well into self-propelled watercraft. But it was still fun, especially swimming in a gorgeous lake.

We also went to the Stanley Museum. While it may sound like we were really trying to find things to do, it was pretty cool. We learned about what it was like to be a ranger in such a large area that, in the Winter, is very harsh. I enjoyed seeing the medical supplies as well.

On the day we left, we grabbed coffee at Peaks & Perks, which was a small stand with nearby tables and benches. We had a really nice time and I think it would have been a beautiful place to hike in non-90 degree weather. So, I recommend! It was fun to hang out in Idaho, a State I had never been to before.

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