Scott’s Big Adventure, Day Fourteen: Boise to Sun Valley

I spent the morning sleeping in and, after waking up, being bummed about the Vespa and considering canceling the rest of the trip. I had had engine trouble with the Vespa twice before, and I was beginning to think that it was a lemon. It happens. I was in a really depressed mood.

Late in the morning, I called the shop which was looking at the scooter to find out if I was going to be staying in Boise for a few more days. But they had good news: The problem was fixed and the bike was ready to pick up. Hurray! It turns out that the vibrations from the long trip had caused a bunch of screws to work loose, including the spark plug. They said that typically came from the factory with the screws not tight enough for our road conditions out west.

Easily fixed. They went over the entire scooter and tightened everything they found. I did lose a few other bits and pieces–one reflector is gone, another is hanging by a thread, a small piece of body molding, and a handful of missing screws–but the Vespa is not back in good health. Now I have something else to add to my routine pre-ride checklist: make sure the spark plug is secure; and check the other nuts and screws for good measure. Probably don’t need to do that every day, but every few days for sure.

By the time I had gotten packed and over to the shop and gotten changed and loaded up and had run a couple of errands, it was getting to be about 2:30 in the afternoon…another late start. Since there was no way I was going to get all the way to the western entrance to Yellowstone today, I decide to split the trip into two days. And based on several recommendations, the rest of this afternoon would be a ride around the Sawtooth Mountains and down into Sun Valley.

There’s not much to tell about this leg of the trip expect that it was spectacular yet again. The Sawtooths are a ridge of very rugged peaks that looks like, well, saw teeth. Coming in from Boise from the SW, you don’t see them for quite a while. They’re hidden by the foothills. The highway takes you to the NE around the northern end of the ridge, and into the Salmon River valley. (Not sure if that’s its actual name.) Then you catch your first real glimpse of the mountains, and it just takes your breath away.

The highway continues on SSE through the valley, with the Sawtooths on your right, looking close enough to touch. The elevation in the valley is about 7000 ft. I stopped at Redfish Lake, so named for the spawning salmon that used to congregate there. I say “used to” because I remember a news report from several years ago that said that with the decimation of the salmon runs further downstream–these fish come up the Columbia from the ocean–there were only a handful of “red fish” making it back to Redfish Lake. Sad.

After the lake, the road continues roughly south in a straight line to the head of the valley, then climbs up over a pass and down into the head of the valley which houses Sun Valley. It was–once again–dark when I got into Ketchum. I’m staying at the Tamarack Lodge on the road to Sun Valley. The town of Ketchum is a typical tourist town. Lots of shops with overpriced merchandise. No franchise businesses such as Denny’s or McDonalds. Everything is expensive. For example, my room at the Tamarack was about $100, but the $60 room at the Comfort Inn was nicer. And these are off-season prices!

The plan for tomorrow, Day Five, is to descend to the Snake River Plain, then head for West Yellowstone for the night. I want to be in Yellowstone park all day Thursday. The weather report says that a storm from is coming and is expected to arrive by the weekend. Need to beat the snow.

One thought on “Scott’s Big Adventure, Day Fourteen: Boise to Sun Valley

  1. Glad to hear the Vespa troubles weren’t major. Get to riding, you don’t want to get stuck in a storm on that thing.
    Safe travels, Scott.

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