We spent a couple days with our friends Gregg and Shaney not too far from Sun Valley ID. Our original plan had us arrive to their place on Saturday, however due to much of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons being closed and the fact that we woke up with our tent covered in snow on Friday morning, they were kind enough to take us in a day early. The drive out toward Ketchum is mostly lava rock and has an erie resemblance to the moon. There was a thin dusting of snow blowing around the endless fields of lava and it was a perfect scene for the next Hollywood blockbuster about the end of the world.
We arrived in Ketchum just after dark, which is only about 5:30pm this time of year. We stopped by the local grocery store and picked up some dinner provisions and called Gregg to let him know that we arrived in town. He made his way down to show us how to get to his house as providing directions would be an exercise in frustration for both parties. We made our way back to Gregg’s place and started preparing some manicotti for dinner and talking too much, as a result we didn’t end up eating until almost 10pm.
On Saturday Gregg and Shaney took us to the Shoshone Ice Caves. These ice caves are giant lava tubes with an odd pressure system that create the lowest elevation Ice Caves in the world. The tour guide explained to us that they had been mining ice from these caves from the late 1800s to around 1940. This fact put Shoshone (the nearest town) on the map in the late 1800s as the only place in the west where you could get an ice cold beer in the middle of summer. Our other favorite story from the tour guide was about of a group of teenage kids who broke into the ice caves to go ice skating on Acid.
Following the Ice Caves we made a quick stop at Bear Creek Trading Post. This place is infamous among some of my friends as the place where Stick Face came from. Stick Face is a carved tiki stick that Gregg gave us as a travel gift during the Great American Beer Swap last year. While I am not superstitious, I could have gone the rest of my days without encountering Stick Face again. Bear Creek had approximately 20 Stick Face’s on hand. I didn’t spend much time in that half of the store. Other trinkets you may acquire from Beer Creek include jewelry, small animal skulls such as beaver, otter or rock chuck or a bull skull with your choice of designs painted on them. We opted for a few bottles of water and headed on our way.
Next we went to the town of Shoshone which boasts the “widest Main St in America.” This is more of a bi-product of the town being built around the railroad than a goal of the founders. There is an extra wide set of train tracks running through the median of Main Street. Due to a general lack of timber, the buildings are masoned lava rock with traditional western fronts. There are a few antique shops, an auto parts store, a bank, a theatre, a bar and 4 churches. In the late 1800s there were suppose to be 3 brothels and 21 bars on this block, it is fun to squint and imagine what this would have been like back in those times. We stopped by a decently large antique shop. Not unlike most of the shops that we have visited on this trip, if I had a truck and an unlimited budget I would have purchased approximately 1/3 of the store. Deja acquired another antique bottle or two and Shaney scored an amazing leather poncho and we flee before we acquire anything else that we cannot live without.
Deja has a list of the best honky tonks in the USA that she found on the internet. There is a bar in Ketchum called Whiskey Jaques that made this list and we decided to check it out on Sat night. There was a band out of Portland that was playing a style somewhere between jam band and boogie rock. The music was decent, the crowd was eclectic and the dance floor was comedy. I am glad we checked it out however two things are certain, Whiskey Jaques is not a honky tonk, and we will not be going to any more of the honky tonks on that list from the internet. That list was written by someone with a completely different definition of honky tonk than us. Whisky Jaques is a fine place to find music, it is an exceptional place to people watch and I am glad we stopped by. Now I want to be able to converse with my friends so I asked Gregg if there are any dive bars in the area, he takes us across the street to the “Casino Bar”. I have no idea why it is called the casino bar, I forgot to ask. There are no slot machines, or roulette tables, however it is a perfect dive bar. We spend the remainder of the evening chatting and meeting locals including the only male stripper in Ketchum and a couple of inebriated guys that introduce themselves as “Nudy”. One guys name is Neil or Nells or something with a “N” and the other guys name is Rudy. Because they were currently siamese twins joined at the shoulder in an effort to hold each other up, for the evening they are known as Nudy.
Gregg and Shaney are amazing hosts and I feel as though I have lived a week in only a couple days. Deja and I are well rested from to the nice bed and warm room that they provided. After checking the car to ensure Gregg didn’t sneak Stick Face in their anywhere, we are ready to start moving south in an attempt to outrun the snow. This may be the first time in my life that I am running from the snow rather than running towards it…