Monday, January 20, 2020
Nils Ribi Takes Sun Valley Readers Beyond Our Backyard
Portage Creek, Alaska
Wednesday, January 1, 2020



Nils Ribi has taken scads of photographs around Sun Valley, often on behalf of organizations like the Sun Valley Music Festival.

But he’s also had the opportunity to train his lens on interesting, often out-of-the-way, subjects around the country when he accompanies his wife Patti on her rounds as the soon-to-be-president of the national P.E.O. organization.

Snowville’s Zebra

Given that, he decided to treat readers of Eye on Sun Valley to a few of those photographs, rather than photos shot in our backyard, for his annual New Year’s Day photo splash.

  • The still pond along Portage Creek in Alaska created a nice reflection of the windy mountains above for his first photograph. Want to visit? You’d boost the population more than you can imagine. The Native village near Anchorage claimed a population of two in the 2010 Census—down from 36 ten years earlier.

    Portage Creek itself is an easy, flatwater float that lasts between one and two hours.

  • Who would have thought there are zebras in Snowville, Utah?! Nils and Patti stopped in Snowville for lunch during a photo trip through southeastern Idaho in early April 2019. And, lo and behold, they found a surprising photo at the northern end of town, when they saw this zebra emerging from a red barn. Later, a second appeared.
  • Nils found a bountiful bouquet on a giant saguaro cactus when he visited Arizona in May. “Our timing could not have been better as the giant saguaro were flowering when we visited Saguaro National Park. What a beautiful park!” he said.

    Saguaro Bloom

    The 92,000-acre park on the edge of Tucson boasts 165 miles of hiking trails, a drive through the cactus and a couple visitor centers. The saguaro cactus does not grow naturally anywhere else. It can live as many as 200 years—it’s first arm does not appear until the cactus is between 50 and 70 years old. The plant can grow up to 60 feet tall and weigh as many as 4,800 pounds when fully hydrated.

  • Nils spotted this beautiful black bear at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Portage Valley on Milepost 79 of the Seward Highway during a trip to Alaska in April. The center, opened in 1993, has reintroduced elk and wood bison to Alaska. Oher animals at the center include timber wolves, Grizzly bears, Alaskan moose, muskoxen, Sitka black-tailed deer, Porcupine caribou, Canadian lynxes and bald eagles.

    “Only once in my life did a black bear get closer to me than this one,” said Nils. “That’s when Patti and I were camping at Altura Lake near Sun Valley about 20 years ago and one decided to inspect our campsite in the middle of the night. It was a little unnerving as it grunted and snorted about two feet from the edge of our tent.”

  • Nils was glad he took his camera with him in September when he accompanied Patti to Iowa for her International Convention of P.E.O. While exploring parts of Iowa, he found some beautiful old barns, including this working farm near State Center, a town of 1,468 people near the geographic center of Iowa that’s known as the Rose Capital of Iowa.

Black Bear in Alaska

Iowa actually offers a barn tour around the state every September. The two-day, free, self-guided event attracts visitors from around the country to see barns that have received an Award of Distinction from the Iowan Barn Foundation.

State Center, Iowa, Barn

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