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Hemingway Adventure

Ketchum, Idaho (first day)

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Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureWe leave the Hargrave Ranch with some regrets. Ellen and Leo are remarkable hosts, independent-minded and full of strong opinions; they seem truly happy here doing things their way, caring a lot for the land and not a fig for convention. They laugh a great deal, tell good stories and seem able to charm the most up-tight urbanite. For what it’s worth I think Hemingway would have liked them. Who knows, they might even have persuaded him to join in with a verse of ‘Happy Trails’ after a good day’s bear-shooting.

Sun Valley lies nearly four hundred miles due south of the Hargrave Ranch, where the big skies of Montana give way to the steeper valleys of Idaho, the potato state. Hemingway’s accommodation at the Sun Valley Lodge, Parlor Suite 206, can be obtained for $389. All mod cons and handy for the tennis courts where, as the Second World War broke out in Europe, he and his soon-to-be third wife Martha Gellhorn took on Mr and Mrs Gary Cooper.

I’m more interested in the later years when, for a short while, Hemingway made Idaho his permanent home. So I drive on past the tennis courts and the expensive cabins and into the nearby town of Ketchum.

Along the side of the road runs the old railway track that brought tourist prosperity to this small mining town. Now it’s tarmacked. Today’s car-bound tourists jog and cycle along it. A few of its elegantly curved steel bridges survive, and in the town itself remnants of the old red-brick, heavily corniced main street architecture can be found scattered amongst the new shopping malls and the park-and-ride schemes. Hemingway’s old haunts, like the Casino Bar and Christiania’s Restaurant (where he ate the night before his death) co-exist alongside boutiques like ‘Shabby Chic Fabrics’ and ‘Expressions In Gold,’ which would have had him turning in his grave.
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  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Ketchum, Idaho (first day)
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Ketchum, Idaho
  • Book page no: 247

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