I’ve been to Yellowstone, Hawaii, New York, Washington D.C., Mexico, and L.A., but the one unexpected vacation that was truly wonderful was to Sun Valley, Idaho. When people think of a vacation destination, I doubt Idaho is the first place in anyone’s mind—the only reason we were going was because my brother qualified for the USA Cycling’s mountain bike National Championship. I was not too excited for this trip because, what is there to do in Idaho? Surprisingly, a lot.
We drove into the town, and I was surprised at how clean and quaint everything was: there was one Starbucks, and everything else was privately owned stores, art galleries, and ice cream shops. We continued on toward the ski resort that had been converted into the cross-country racetrack, and I was in awe. The tall evergreen covered mountains, with green grasses and ski lifts that reached thousands of feet, were beautiful. Everything was lush and green and the weather was perfect.
Thousands of people gathered at sponsor booths with bikes at their sides and I was immediately pulled aside and asked to spin a wheel for a prize. Of course I couldn’t resist so I spun the wheel, crossed my fingers, and hoped I wouldn’t win something dorky like a pencil or a sticker. My finger-crossing worked because I won two tickets to a figure skating show that was being held at the famous Sun Valley Lodge! My mom and I left my dad and brother to wander through all of the vendors at the race while we went to the Ski Lodge, which was almost another town in itself, with a golf course, ponds, the ice rink, and retail stores. With time to spare before the show, my mom and I walked through the stores and eventually made our way to a pond—and, for the first time, I gazed upon two of the most beautiful, snow-white swans, swimming side-by-side. It was just like the movies where they floated on the water, and everything was majestic and peaceful (I probably took about 50 pictures).
Before we went out to the ice rink, we walked to the Lodge to admire all of the photographs lined on the walls of the celebrities who have stayed there, like the Kennedys, Ernest Hemingway, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. We eventually went outside to the rink, the lights dimmed and the crowd quieted as the Olympic medallists and world-class figure skaters entered the ice. The show was amazing and varied from a funny South Park routine, an Irish folk dance, classical partner routines, and flips and tricks. I had always wanted to see an ice show, and by simply spinning a wheel at a vendor table, I experienced the show of a lifetime that I will never forget. After the show, the skaters made their bows, but there was one un-planned portion of the night—a streaker! Luckily I only saw the back of the man, but stark naked, he ran across the ice and security had to chase him all the way across the resort. Although I never hoped to see a streaker, it sure made the show unforgettable!
Idaho was an amazing experience—seeing the Hemingway memorial, riding mountain bikes through beautiful trails, meeting the friendliest people, and watching an ice show sure proved me wrong. There are fun and interesting things to do in Idaho, and this vacation taught me to not make assumptions about places I’ve never been. From now on, I will travel with an open mind and expect the unexpected.
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