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Hemingway Adventure

Ketchum, Idaho (first day)

Ketchum, Idaho, USA 
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Hemingway's last home, in Ketchum, Idaho. Clouds rise high over the Sawtooth Mountains to the north.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureDespite the amiable prettiness of Ketchum this is a melancholy place for the Hemingway follower, inextricably caught up with his final years, when, forced to leave Cuba by ill-health and political change, he came to live with Mary in an isolated house at the north end of town. I search for the house, down Warm Springs Road and right on East Canyon Run, without really wanting to find it. Throughout this journey Iíve driven up Hemingway driveways and knocked on Hemingway doors with a certain spring in my step, as if some of the manís energy and buoyancy were keeping me going. Now Iím at the simple pine-bark arch which marks the edge of his last property, lifting the chain thatís slung across the road, knowing that I can no longer pretend that my travelling companion is immortal.

The man who lived here at 400 East Canyon Run was prematurely old, forgetful, paranoid and often desperately unhappy. At the end he believed FBI agents were tailing him (he thought he saw two of them sitting in Christianiaís restaurant the night before he died). He attempted suicide with almost comical persistence, grabbing at shot-guns whenever the opportunity arose. He was anxious about money and pathetically dependent on his wife Mary. This house is not a place where the tragedy of his life can be avoided or glossed over. Which makes it, in a way, more important than any of the others.

It is practical rather than beautiful, tucked into a gentle hillside overlooking the stony course of the Big Wood River. Across the river and through the trees is the highway that runs north to the dramatically rising peaks of the Sawtooth range. Itís known as the Topping House (ironically) after the architect of the Sun Valley Lodge, who designed this in the same style, with walls of concrete poured into wood moulds, giving a first impression of a superior log cabin, but in fact being something much stronger. It was built in the 1930s, Ďabove the flood-plain, unlike those new ones across the riverí, remarks our guide, Trish, pointedly.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Ketchum, Idaho (first day)
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Ketchum, Idaho
  • Book page no: 248

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