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For the week of May 2 through May 8, 2001

These are the good old days

"The valley must have been a lot better then, wasn’t it?"

That’s the inevitable question asked by newcomers of anyone who has been in the Wood River Valley more than 10 years.

The answer, of course, depends on what "better" is.

If better is less traffic and its related hassles—yes, it was better. If better is fewer people aimed at the same fishing hole—yes, it was better. If better is no mountain bikes—well, you decide.

Some things were the same:

The valley possessed a headstrong body politic—public hearings were as rancorous then as they can be now.

The Casino was pouring drinks and the Pioneer was open for dinner.

Finding an affordable place to live was a challenge.

Beyond that, much has changed—for the better.

Economic survival is still a challenge for working residents, but today dogs do not sleep on the warm asphalt of Ketchum’s Main Street on sunny days in May. Collecting unemployment is not the only way to make it between one busy season and the next.

The valley’s libraries are more than the dog-eared collections of castoff paperbacks and college textbooks they once were. They are storehouses of knowledge complete with soft carpets and comfortable chairs.

The abandoned rail line is home to more than trash and weeds. It is a well-loved bike path that attracts moms with strollers and kids on bikes.

There’s more than nothing to do in Hailey. It has a pool, a skate park, tennis courts—and a hand-built playground.

Movies get here fast instead of months after everyone else in the country has seen them. Every home has television—something that used to be an iffy thing in a valley with high ridges and only rabbit ears for receivers.

Baldy’s lodges are beautiful. The old lodge at Warm Springs was a shack in comparison¾ a converted house with a cafeteria line and food to match.

The valley is more interesting. Twenty years ago, a busy summer was one in which there was a single event every week or so. Now, the summer is loaded with so many high-caliber events and festivals that it’s impossible for a single person to attend all of them.

In the late 70s, the valley was art-deprived. Today, it is loaded with art galleries, music and theater. companies and gold-medal skating performances—the valley is rich with art.

The food is great. Fresh fish used to mean "just thawed." The present array of restaurants and cuisine is staggering.

To top it off, the back country still beckons, with the silence of the wilderness to be enjoyed.

Take it from some folks who’ve been here awhile: These are the good old days. Enjoy them.




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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.