Ketchum and ‘Antique Alley’

The first weekend in May we drove over to Ketchum, Idaho – David, Megan and I with my brother Eric. It’s about a 3-hour drive straight west from Idaho Falls. We invite Eric, you know, for his general entertainment value (he can’t help it) and plus he’s an absolute nature maniac – he’ll lead us on a hike or something …

We always make really good time with David at the wheel. Here we are flying past the Big Southern Butte about 45 minutes into the drive:

Big Southern Butte

Big Southern Butte

We stop at the Craters of the Moon National Monument along the way, you know, to hike. To the top of Big Cinder Butte. Admittedly, not the most scenic hike you’ll ever do.

Where's the spring foliage?

Where’s the spring foliage?

The top of the butte is out of view – goes well beyond what you see from the bottom. I learned this the one time I hiked up. David likes to jog up in a t-shirt in cold weather, exerting himself four times as much as your average sane man. He got Eric to go along this time, while Megan and I went up far enough for me to capture this photo of the Lost River Range in the distance:

Lost River Range as seen from Big Cinder Butte

Lost River Range as seen from Big Cinder Butte

I zoom in to take a photo of David and Eric coming down


… while listening to every word of their conversation, for real. From way up there I could hear every word that came out of their mouths, like they were talking in an echo chamber – I wanted to alert them lest I become privy to some sordid illicit tale, or something… But no worry.

We’ve arrived! In Ketchum. It’s “shoulder” season. What? Our favorite restaurant, The Pioneer Saloon, is closed for remodeling?

Where's all the tourists?

Where’s all the tourists?

The town’s dead. No worry. Eric suggests we visit an antique store, owned by a friend of his, one block off the main drag:

'Antique Alley, open for business!'

‘Antique Alley, open for business!’

Whoopee! The shelves are crammed with crazy retro collectibles and odd stuff. I face off eye-to-eye with a 15-inch sized Homer Simpson, set on a shelf, his chubby legs dangling over the edge. I could buy it for our son, Aaron! No. (You immediately start thinking of every person you could buy something for in a place like this.) Oh! I’ll buy this wooden duck pull toy (!!) – for our new grandson, Franklin! (Aaron’s son). The precious wooden pull toy quacks and waddles when you pull it!

Too adorable!

Too adorable!

I did buy it. (Do today’s toddlers get off their i-pads long enough to play with such novel and precious toys? No?? ) It’s made in Germany.

I could spend hours in this shop!

“Megan and I will take a walk around town while you shop,” David says.

“That’s fine.” (Doesn’t deter Eric and me one bit.) I spot this retro 60’s record player.


Hey, I had one just like this! Back in grade school! Like, 1964 or something? (Ouch) “Eric! Let’s plug it in and see if it works!” Eric fiddles with it and gets it going. It works!

I’ll buy it!

Eric decides to be helpful by taking the record player off the shelf and over to the counter by the register. He has to move stuff out of the way to close the lid on the player.

“Oops! Dammit! I knocked over Mother Mary and broke her!”


“This Mother Mary candelabra – it’s top heavy and it fell off the shelf, hit the floor, and broke! – oh, jeepers – and it’s $39.00!”

Eric’s friend, the shop owner, of course, is not around. Her substitute sales clerk is now alternating her stare, first at us and then down at the busted Mother Mary sitting on the counter. “This is the first time I’ve run this shop, Eric, and I don’t know what to do about this Mother Mary candelabra you broke.”

Jeez, (I’m thinking…) Eric, if you had to break something, did it have to be Mother Mary? … “I’ll just pay for it – no big deal,” I say. “Hey Eric, come through this door into this other room and take a look at this thing hanging in here.” We check it out…

Meanwhile, I get a text from David:

Got to pee. Time to go.

To which I reply:

We’re buying a cow. We need you. Come in.

I wait for David to enter the store. Which, he doesn’t.

I go out to the curb. There he is in the truck, hands on the wheel, with the engine running. Megan is in the back, all strapped in and ready to go.

“Honey, please read my last text message!”

He lifts his phone and looks at the message.


“Yes, I am buying a cow and I need your help with it …”

More on that later…. suffice it to say I bought several things and just had the rattled clerk add the 39 bucks to my tab for the busted Mother Mary candelabra. We gathered her up, pieces and all, placed her inside a plastic grocery bag, tied it all up and shoved her into the back of David’s truck. ‘We’ll deal with her when we get home.’

Eric did lead us on a hike the next day. Up Corral Creek. I’ve no idea where the trail head is. Not much of a drive from Ketchum. We had not gone far when Eric discovered some elk antlers. One antler. And of course, where there is one antler, there is another antler, so he he was scouting around for the other antler. And had us scouting around the area too. It was literally like finding a needle in a haystack, but try to convince Eric of this. I finally found what I thought was a perfectly great facsimile to the other antler. Here Eric, try them on!!

Good enough Eric, now give it a rest!

Good enough Eric, now give it a rest!

Although, admittedly, the cat on Eric’s shirt appears unimpressed with Eric’s set of antlers.

Hiking back now. I snapped a photo of David and Megan ahead of me,


with Pioneer Mountain peaks as a backdrop.

Then we took a drive toward the snow peaked Boulder Mountains sprawled out in front of us:

Boulder Mountains

Boulder Mountains

Eric then convinces us to go morel mushroom hunting – he knows of a spot near Bellevue, along the the Big Wood River. We drive several miles, hang a right, another right, then a left, circle through a residential area … “There it is!” says Eric, pointing to the parking area by the trail head. He leads us on our morel mushroom hunt – “I’ll look on this side, you branch out to the left …”

Eric, in a state of ecstasy, hunting for morels

Eric, in a state of ecstasy, hunting for morels

Megan and David head back to the truck. None of us find morels. Not a one. Eric and I hear this ‘peck-peck-pecking.’ and spot a gargantuan red-headed woodpecker, if, indeed, it is a woodpecker, since it’s the size of a crow. We watch it for a couple of minutes and I zoom in and capture a photo:

Pileated woodpecker

Pileated woodpecker

Sure enough, it is called a Pileated woodpecker – a large woodpecker native to North America – the largest woodpecker in the US. It normally inhabits deciduous forests in eastern North America, the Great Lakes, and the boreal forests of Canada. Check out this Wiki-link! A map shows the areas of North America where these birds inhabit – and this part of Idaho is barely included!

I took a couple photos of the river:

the Big Wood River

the Big Wood River


Well, we’re back on the highway headed for home now – with views of the magnificent Lemhi Mountain Range carved against the crystal blue sky.


Saddle Mountain is the far left peak:


Home now. Time to unpack the car, unload the treasures I purchased at Antique Alley! The 60’s record player. The wooden, quacking, waddling duck. The cow. The cow? You know … the cow, the one where David had to turn off his truck, come back into the shop, and help me with? A flying cow, to be exact, tethered to the ceiling in Antique Alley. I wanted to buy it along with all the other stuff, but we couldn’t reach the hook to get it down. David was the only person around tall enough, standing on a stool, to untether the cow from the ceiling so I could buy it.

Hey, it goes great in our downstairs bathroom.

Yes, that's a flying cow

Yes, that’s a flying cow

You can pull on it when you’re sitting on the throne. Entertainment while you pee. Here, I took a video:

A suitable companion to another precious member of our family, a large gull with a 40-inch wing span, that flies over the washer and dryer in our back entry:

As for the bulging plastic tied up grocery bag that’s been sitting by the the back door since we got home …


Today I gingerly carried the bag into the kitchen, untied it, lifted out the busted Mother Mary and her missing pieces for close examination. Nope. There’s no fixing her. Here, I took a photo:


Strange. Those lights are eerie. It’s almost as if she’s still holding two lit candles.

What to do with her? I can’t just throw her in the trash bin. I just can’t do that to Mother Mary. Shove her upright in the garden deep enough so she looks whole? What’s she even doing at our house? Eric’s the one who knocked her off in the first place and busted her. He even treated our whole family to breakfast to compensate us for buying her.

Think I’ll just wrap her up and gift her back to Eric for his birthday.

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3 Responses to “Ketchum and ‘Antique Alley’”

  1. Karen Says:

    Loved this one, Jody. The cow was a little odd and I didn’t understand it at all until I saw the gull and fell in love. I’m in absolute awe of that gull. I had no idea flying cows and gulls were a thing. As soon as I hit “enter” I’m going to google until I learn all about these miraculous entities. I may never enter another antique or consignment shop again without nursing the forlorn hope that one day I’ll have one of my own. I’m usually pretty much of a minimalist, but that gull, Jody, that gull!

    • Jody Caraher Says:

      That gull has quite a history. It was gifted to us by our dear Swedish friend, Lotta, 30 years ago when we lived in Sweden. It was made in Gothenburg, Sweden. When we bought our current home here in Idaho Falls I just could not find a suitable corner for it in our living area, given its 40 – inch wing span. For the past 15 1/2 years it has been hanging from a rafter in our unfinished basement area – out of harm’s way but also out of sight. When I spotted the cow, I realized how incredibly special the gull was and I vowed upon leaving the antique store that I would find a place to hang that gull somewhere upstairs in our living area. I certainly could not hang the cow down in the basement with the gull and I couldn’t hang the cow upstairs and leave the gull in the basement! I measured every possible space I could find upstairs and voila! That area above the washer and dryer works just fine. Plus, it’s so much more fun to do laundry now. As for the cow – I tried it everywhere too. And the only place she would go was in the bathroom. She flies about every time I pee. She flies when Megan uses the toilet too. Men don’t possess the same opportunity here, per their plumbing and position in regards to relieving themselves, so that makes us women feel ever so much more special. So you could say it was the cow who saved the gull. However, you have a good eye for craftsmanship – as the gull is a very elegant handcrafted work of art handmade in Sweden, whereas the cow? Uh, I’m thinking assembly line in Indonesia? The shop’s owner talked to Eric on the phone and said she had also displayed and sold a flying dog. For some reason, flying cows feel more believable to me than flying dogs. Maybe it’s those Chick-fil-a commercials. In any case, now you have the whole scoop on this. Oh, except that I also bought a life-sized pig from this antique store, but that’s a whole other story. (Another blog???…..)

  2. iowachick Says:

    Loved the flying cow. Can hardly wait to visit the bathroom!!!
    Just read the Snow blog. I really enjoy your blogs. Makes my week ends!!!

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