Solstice Pilgrimage to Ketchum


Tuesday June 16

Grades in. Half a dozen or more thank-you emails from students. Calculating the profit on the Sierra Club benefit: $10K. The agonizing move of Claire from 24A to 16B complete.  Hidden Hills Mobile Home on the market.

I complete the touch-up painting, mulch tomatoes and cukes, break down the bikes and pack for the trip. After spending the day together, Claire and Ian and Dennis and Lucas come for pizza to Albert Drive.  Jan to City Council at 6:30.  Ian and I watch Aristocats. I wake up at 3:00 A.M. and complete the article on Green Building and Joe’s spec house that he asked me to write for the Sun Valley promotional magazine. [click images to enlarge]



The holy crusade for sustainability converted into marketing strategy and composition class writing prompts.

Wednesday June 17

7:30 A.M. departure.  Ian in his sleeping bag, watching Spider Man in the back seat.  We listen to Garrison Keillor reading his new novel Liberty borrowed from the SLO Library.  Buy cherries, peaches and apricots from a farmgirl at a fruitstand on Hiway 5. This is our fourth June trip with Ian to Ketchum.  He is carsick twice, but avoids messing the car. This time, no dallying at Donner Lake or Yosemite.  Sleep at the Elko motel after a late Chinese dinner.


Thursday June 18

Stop in the lavafields on Route 75 and pick up rocks.  Arrive at the job site at noon, just as Kenton and a crew of photographers are packing up.  Everybody’s proud of the house and admiring of Joe, whose five-day growth of beard, peppered with white doesn’t mask his satisfaction. He gives us a tour; Rudy and Brad amplify the admiration.




Jan and Ian nap. I go for a bikeride in the brilliant sunshine.  The hills are greener, the flowers more florid because of the rainiest spring here in memory.  Heading for Heidelberg Hill I see two elegant chrome and leather chairs near a dumpster and a dead magpie under a tree.  I pull off its tailfeathers and wings and set them aside. Breathing hard up Heidelberg.  On the way down I stop to pick a bouquet of larkspur, gillia, penstemon and lupine.  I salvage the furniture and bird parts and drop the carcass respectfully in the weeds, then go back and poke the iridescent tail feathers into holes in a block of lava. Joe and Amy arrive with Ethan and Abel.  The three kids frolic on the thick artificially green lawn and zunga in the dramatically shifting light.  Jan is getting sick.

Friday June 19

Ian joins Ethan and the Blackburn kids at bike camp in Hailey, after saying he doesn’t want to go. Joe goes mountain biking with Brad and Kenton and others.  I get groceries and reading matter for Jan who’s not getting better, then take a bike-hike with Abel to the swollen Wood River, where we throw willow branches into the roiling water and see a golden breasted warbler up close.  The kids come back and Jessica, Ethan, Ian and I go biking”up the steep hill, past Joe’s jobsite, through the Kondo Komplex, down to the defunct tennis club and golf course, across bridges, through tunnels, led by Ethan to their old house, back to Warm Springs Creek for more flood watch. Jessica is 5, Ethan 6, Ian 7, Grandpa 67.  Biking is like flying.  Back to Laura’s house to pick up swim suits and then bike to the Y, where the kids go swimming but I back out, feeling the limits of my  energy, caused partially by altitude adjustment.  I chat with Amy, who’s just closed her first real estate deal in a year.  The kids bike back from the Y and Ian and I bike up to the condo.  His eyes are enflamed from the chlorine. We eat dinner and read the Volcano book.  It rains all night and everybody gets a long sleep.

Saturday June 20, 2009

Intermittent rain and steady cold.  Jan has an deep phlegmy cough.  Ian to Joe and Amy’s and I drive her to the clinic in Hailey to sit in the examining room a long time to get a prescription for antibiotics. We get the medicine, more groceries, books in the library.  She goes to bed. At Joe and Amy’s, Brad and Shaytan and Harkin prepare to depart for Boise and the kids tube out, recovering from the day before’s unending exertions.  The rain doesn’t stop.  Joe plans a biking excursion up Adam’s Gulch.



He carries Abel and everybody else rides.  After the first stream crossing, the rain lets up.  It’s glorious to bike through the puddles and mud, the clouds masking and unmasking the burnt and unburnt hillsides.  At a deep crossing, we park bikes and take a trail that ascends toward basalt outcrops on the north side.  Birds chorus thanks for a break in the rain.  We approach a waterfall off the outcrops never before seen.


Larkspur and lupine are swollen with wet blossoms, iridescent in the overcast light.


Two western tanagers cross the path.  The kids run up the hill jockeying for first position.  At a picnic bench overlook, we turn back and get to our bikes in the valley as the rain starts up again.


Back in the truck happy to have seized an hour and a half of outdoor recreation on this forbidding day.  I go to the condo to visit Jan and bring down groceries for dinner of spaghetti and green beans.  After dinner, I read the Volcano book surrounded by everybody, even Abel paying attention.  Then the three kids, regenerated by the carb feed, race around the house for an hour while Joe takes me on a computer tour of his new business, “Home Performance” to supplement IMB’s design and build functions during the market lull.

Sunday June 21 Fathers Day

Jan sleeping all day but not getting worse.  Ian sleeping at Ethan’s.  Sunny Sunday morning.  I bring leftover burrito to Jan for breakfast and take pictures of Broadway house.


Ian calls Dennis for Father’s Day.  Joe organizes bikeride to Hulen meadows, Ethan in bike trailer.  Clouds roll in.  We stop at a cascade, throw rocks and try to dislodge logs.


Exciting current.  Sky darkens.  Cold rain starts on the way back.  Boys suffer and cry but get over it.  Joe rescues them with truck for last little leg of the ride; they take hot baths and drink cocoa.  We read the Volcano book.  Joe goes motorcycling.  I get groceries for fish dinner cooked by Amy.  Boys join Amy and me in baking cake and preparing salad.



Three boys giggle all afternoon.  Amy reads and I do pictures and Zoobie construction with boys.  Rod and Linda arrive; Joe comes back ecstatic; takes a portion of dinner to Jan.  I bring Ian back to condo at 8:00.  Read Cave mystery and he goes night night.  Claire calls at 9:00 p.m. to say happy Fathers’ Day all is well.

Monday June 22

Jan in bed reading, comfortable but sick.  Under brilliant skies, Ethan, Ian and I get on the class-one,  downhill-sloping,  fifteen mile rails-to-trails bikepath from Ketchum to Hailey.


We stop at the old bridges and clamber down to the rushing Wood River several times,  passing luxurious subdivisions and golfcourses.  Arrive in Hailey around 1 pm for ice cream cones.  The bus doesn’t have room for all three bikes, but Amy agrees to pick us up in Joe’s truck at Kings, where a three-dollar dartgun set and target set keeps the boys enthralled.

Late afternoon swim at the Y includes waterslides for the big boys and riding the current in the simulated whirlpool and river for me and Abel.  Afterward,  while Ethan plays T ball in Hailey, I and Abel and Ian bike to Warm Springs and then to Dinga’s house to see waterfall and birds.  On the way home, we meet the fox we have seen in previous years at a distance, now upclose, admire its aquiline nose, profusely bushy tail and the streak of golden hair gracing its flanks. It stares back at us unafraid until harried off to the bushes by a flock of angry magpies.

Tuesday June 23

Abel in school, Ethan and Ian and I return to Warm Springs Creek wilderness area a quarter mile from the house with buckets for mud.  Beavers have made piles of select dark silt, washed downstream, I surmise by the color and charcoal smell, from the landslides in the burned areas.   Water too cold to swim or raft in, but the boys collect worms and I photograph birds, trying to capture darting swallows.

We return to Broadway house and make mud sculptures and enormous bubbles with the old device I brought along.  Ethan and Ian bike with me to Atkinsons to buy groceries”especially S’mores ingredients “for the campout planned that night with Joe.

He gets home from hard day at work making stairs and entryway grate, and we leave at 5:30 for Baker Lake.


The two and a half mile 900 foot ascent passes quickly with stories and song, and we arrive at campsite just in time for sunset over the saddle above the lake.


Boys find big trout in the shallow stream but we have no fishing poles.  We purify water, make fire, erect tent, cook hot dogs, popcorn and marshmallows and turn in at 9:30 dusk.



Wednesday June 24

Joe tells me more about new division of his business, “Home Performance,” which carries out energy audits and consults about green building renovations.  We break camp and hike back down the hill early so he can get back to work on the house by 10 AM .


Thursday June 25

I’m coming down with the bug.  I stay home, sleep and read about the disease and travail in Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible.

Friday June 26

Thorough Kondo Kleanup and departure after hearty breakfast at Perry’s downtown and gallery visit.  Jan feeling better. Netty pot, Afrin, chewing gum, Aleve, hot bath make it possible for me to drive.  Windshield wipers wont work during dramatic rain and hailstorm south of Jackpot. Tightened and replaced in the gas station at Wells.  Ian watches movies all day and we listen to Garrison’s thick silky voice tell the story of Cliff Bunson’s affair and Lake Wobegon’s Fourth of July celebration while cruising through the flowing expanses of the Nevada Desert.  After good Mexican dinner in Winemucca, we reach the Covered Wagon motel in Lovelock at 8:30, a 1950’s motor court masterpiece with neon sign, large trees, and custom-welded wagon-wheel benches. We explore the county courthouse, playground and backstreets in the evening cool.

Saturday June 27

To distract Ian from being carsick, Jan tells the story of the novel she’s been reading, The Sword and the Mistletoe, for two hours as we cross the Sierras and drive through Sacramento.  She invents the last half, a thrilling and hilarious tale of Queen Boadicea’s peaceful defeat as a result of a hairdresser mishap.  During the last hours of the trip we conclude Keillor’s Liberty and Ian watches Conan the Barbarian.  Back at 265 Albert, tomatos, greenbeans, cukes and spinach and cats all thrive.

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