To Shorten the Road

There is an old Irish folk tale about a father and a son who set out on a long journey.

“Shorten the road, my son,” said the father.  His son walked faster, to cut short their time on the road.  But the father rolled his eyes and went home.  The next day, they set out again.

“Shorten the road, my son,” said the father.  The same thing happened, and his father turned back.  On the third day, the lad’s mother whispered, “Tell your Da a story he has never heard, and you’ll no be back again soon.”   She was right.

My family and I have just returned from a journey of our own, but we already knew how to shorten the road.  In fact the North Central Library System hired The Baltuck/Garrard Family Storytellers to come tell stories on the dry side of the mountains.

Along the way we discovered more than one way to shorten the road…

It’s amazing, the fun you can have with one little bag of Space Adventure Goldfish Crackers.

That’s  probably not what the Irish storytellers had in mind, but there were also plenty of stories told to shorten the road, and the miles flew by.  On our storytelling tour we visited ten libraries in ten towns.   Each town and each library was different.  I loved the bleachers at the Brewster Library, especially when it was filled to the ceiling with kids who had come to hear us tell “Stories that Go Bump in the Night.”

Jennifer, one of the librarians at the Chelan Library, even made us a campfire!  Over a hundred people came to enjoy it with us.

Between performances, we explored.  On the wet side of the mountains, we sometimes forget how beautiful it is on the other side of the Cascades.

The Methow Valley is not just for skiers…

There was wildlife…

…right outside our door.

Sunsets were breathtaking, from Winthrop…

…to the streets of Chelan.

Everywhere we went, we found stories to shorten the road.  Many were true stories of Washington pioneers, as featured in this mural in Omak.

At the historical museum in Chelan, we learned about the First People of the land too, and then played ‘dress up’…

After our show in Manson, we ate at Blueberry Hill, a restaurant steeped with stories and decorated with a lifetime of memories from Grandpa’s shed.  It gives me hope–and ideas–about what to do with my own overcrowded storage room.

We sat outside on the deck overlooking their own blueberry fields…

The blueberries were as big as grapes…

…and the food was great…

…but the stories were what made this place really special.

In Twisp, every grocery run is memorable if you shop at Hank’s.  Hank and his son share their passion for big game hunting by lining the walls and topping their shelves with displays of their hunting trophies. It is an odd, but personal touch that piqued my curiosity about them. Perhaps next time I will learn more of that story.

After performing in Winthrop and Twisp…

..we dined at the Twisp Pub with our friend Carol. She stays with us in Seattle every May during the Northwest Folklife Festival, and at Christmas. It was a special treat to sneak in an extra visit to catch up on personal stories while sipping local cider and raspberry soda.

On our way to the Bridgeport Library the next day, we watched another story unfold as firefighters fought to control a brushfire. On our recent trip to Colorado, we steered clear of the fires, but the road to Bridgeport took us right past this one.  These folks are of sturdy pioneer stock, and they seemed to take it in stride, keeping one eye on the fire and the other on the tasks at hand.

It is nearing the harvest season, and there is much to be done. Central Washington is farm country.

Apple orchards everywhere have stacks of wooden boxes ready to receive this year’s harvest.

On our way to Ephrata and Moses Lake, we saw acres upon acres, miles upon miles of wheat ripening in the fields, reclaimed from the desert…

…while the wind farms were busy harvesting nature’s energy.

Little towns and farms were carved out of the desert…

…and every road tells another story.

We passed through Dry Falls, a stark and dramatic landscape, reminiscent of the Badlands…

Before we knew it we were heading back over the mountains toward the ocean, the Space Needle, Mt. Rainier, and Lake Washington.

But we had filled up our story banks…

…on the roads of Washington, a land of stunning beauty, stark contrasts, good people, and rich history.  A well storied land.

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: The Road Taken.


  1. waoo, seems long driving, poor! but can visit other places would be worth

  2. Wow, Naomi. When you said you were going local on a holiday with your kids while they were still young enough to want to be with you, I had no idea you had this in store for them. What an adventure – I’m full of admiration and a deal of awe. 🙂

    1. Thank you! We do travel just for fun, but this is a really bonding experience too. They work really hard, and are very professional, but they also take great satisfaction in a job well done.

      1. And will be the trips they remember, and cherish, all their lives … 🙂

      2. I’m sure you’re right. Thanks so much for your lovely thoughts and comments.

  3. kizzylee says:

    that was brilliant thank you naomi for taking me on that adventure i really enjoyed it , have a super day xx

    1. Thank you, Kizzylee, for coming along for the ride!

  4. footsy2 says:

    How amazing. Thank you for taking us with you. (I’ve never encountered a hyena in a grocery store!)

    1. Oh my gosh! There is also a lion tackling a wild boar to greet incoming customers! Thanks for stopping by.

  5. What a marvelous travelogue & how generous of your entire family to bring such joy to others. Isn’t it wonderful how if we give abundantly we receive 7 times as much in return? God bless all of you 🙂

    1. Thank you! It all comes back to us in so many good ways!

  6. adinparadise says:

    What a great adventure for you all. I’m sure your children have learned so much from this trip, and the sharing they were able to do. YOu really saw some awesome sights, and I can’t get that delicious-looking berry and cream dessert out of my mind. 😀 Thanks for sharing your photos and heartwarming story.

    1. Thank you so much! We are all very compatible travelers, and we all love learning as we go. Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your thoughtful comments, ad.

  7. TheOthers1 says:

    I’d love to travel with you. It would be so fascinating. You see so many great things.

    1. Hi C.C. I wouldn’t have minded hitching a ride in your suitcase on your trip to Japan! Are you settling back in? Thanks for your visit.

  8. Top notch photos. Nice travelling with you. This post has made an interesting start to my day. Colourful and informative post. Thanks.

    1. Thank you! I appreciate your visit.

  9. How beautiful! This land was made for you and me!

    1. Yes! I had been to forty-nine states when I graduated, and I had known since I was twelve that this was the one I wanted to live in.

  10. mj monaghan says:

    What an absolutely marvelous time you had, Naomi. Looks like a blast. Your pictures and words are so captivating. Just love what you do on your blog.

    1. Hi mj. Thanks so much for your really sweet comments. We do have a blast when we travel, and it is a marvel to me that people will pay us to sing for our supper. We just got back from a jaunt to the Olympic Peninsula and I am about 500 messages behind, but I did get to read your last blog, and I thought it was great. Really funny, but also a vivid picture of your childhood. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. L. Palmer says:

    Looks like an amazing trip. I’ve spent many, many hours riding in the car with my family, and “shortening the road.” Sometimes it was stories, sometimes games, always ridiculous and entertaining.
    It’s great to travel and go on journey to see amazing things. Thanks for sharing.

    1. So you know what I’m talking about. We LOVE road trips! Magic happens in the car, even between stops. Thanks for stopping by, and for sharing your thoughts.

  12. alicematilda says:

    Thanks for sharing yet another great adventure! Love your photos!

    1. Dear Alicematilda, thanks for stopping by, and for taking the time to comment. It is always nice to hear from you.

  13. Carol says:

    So many different vistas on this trip. I didn’t realize you were in Oregon – we are on the east side of the Cascades. What a great thing for the family to share.

    1. Hi Carol,
      We are in the Seattle area, in Washington State. Are you an Oregonian? (I somehow thought you were WAY back east.)

      It has been such a kick telling stories with the whole family. Now that the kids are seasoned performers, they have a lot of good ideas to contribute too. Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Thanks for bringing us on your adventures.
    On one trip to Oregon, the friend who was driving was terrified of bridges, so when we had to cross one, she’d say, “Tell me a story to distract me,” and of course, I did!

    1. She couldn’t have picked a better traveling companion!

  15. silverlining09 says:

    Thank you for sharing this post. Your family sure knows how to shorten the road. 🙂

    1. That’s for sure! Thanks for stopping by, and making me smile.

  16. pattisj says:

    What an interesting story of your travels and story times. And good food. I’ve never heard of the dry/wet side of the mountains. Guess that’s what I get for living on the east coast. Thanks for sharing.

    1. The Cacade Mountain block the ocean’s moisture from passing over, and so it is quite dry over there. Thank you for stopping by, Patti.

  17. It’s amazing how creativity, humor , stories , even songs can shorten the road. When we are having a great and fun time, hours seems to turn into minutes. Love your family’s journey. So much adventure and breathtaking sceneries. Oh, cool vampire fangs! Thanks…

    1. Thank you so much! I will pass your comment on to my son, who will appreciate that too.

  18. Madhu says:

    What a wonderful way to ‘shorten the road’ 🙂 Enjoyed all the stories in between and the snapshots of your beautiful land!

  19. i mayfly says:

    Majestic – the state tourism council should pay you a commission. I’ll get right on that 😉 I love the way you so seamlessly weave into your stories the themes of traditional folktales. The common sense insight of them has always appealed to me. This one brought to mind the Scottish “Always Room for One More.”
    Wishing a fair wind at your back, my lady. -Nikki

    1. I LOVE that story, NIkki! As always, it is a pleasure to hear from you. Just coming back from the road trip, I am WAY behind in my blogging, but I am eager to catch up. Thanks so much for stopping by. I always love to hear from you.

  20. Aside having a beautiful family and a great eye, you have a great writing and it really makes me wanna read more and more of your stories!

    Have a great weekend Naomi!

    1. Dear Pablo, you are such a dear! Wishing you a great weekend, too. Thanks for the sweet words.

  21. niasunset says:

    Beautiful story, beautiful written piece and amazing photographs. Thank you dear Naomi, love, nia

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Nia. It is always so good to hear from you. With love, Naomi

  22. I want you to adopt me. Your family creates the most phenomenal experiences. I am taking notes for my own future endeavors with my daughter.

    1. Oh, Sabrina, your daughter is already a very lucky girl, because she has you for a mommy! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  23. metan says:

    I love a road trip, our kids do too and we never hear “are we there yet?” Shorten the road 🙂 I like that.

    1. Just found this message from you and wanted to thank you for your visit, and for leaving a comment that made me smile. Best wishes for the New Year!

  24. t2van says:

    Catching up on my reading and find I’m back travelling again through your wonderful photos and post – thank you! What a gift to your children to instill and encourage the storyteller within – and a gift to the world to share the storyteller without. I would love to be sitting on the floor listening….


    1. Dear Terri,
      Just found your message, and wanted to thank you for your really sweet and generous comment. I wish you the very best for the New Year!

  25. Jessica says:

    Oh, how I do love reading about your travels. You always inspire me!

    1. Dear Jessica, you are so sweet! I have been on the road, and am entertaining my little old auntie right now, but I hope to catch up with my blogs this week, and I look forward to reading yours–they are always thoughtful and interesting.

  26. Beautiful pics and journies! We have always “shortened the road” ~ but now I know the term for it! I won’t tell you what we;ve been calling it all these years 🙂 Thanks for sharing your travels!!!! ♥

    1. Hi Paula, You don’t strike me as someone who would have trouble entertaining herself, especially if your sister is along for the ride. But now you’ve got me curious–if you don’t call it “shortening the road,” I wonder what you do call it. (Whisper it into my ear).

      Thanks for visiting. Always good to hear from you!

      1. In OK we simply call it B.S. And it flies frequently! 🙂

      2. Hah! You made me laugh aloud!

      3. 🙂 I cleaned it up for you, too!

  27. Touch2Touch says:

    Having traveled America, the real place, so far and so well, do you have stories to shorten our road as we trudge toward the election?
    Stories of hope, and not of disunion and savagery?
    Have you met hopeful people, and is the America I grew up believing I knew as a little girl still there?

    1. I would hope that the intolerant and divisive Americans we read about are the exceptions, extremists in and outside of the government. Unfortunately, when you read about the obstructionists and lack of civility, statesmanship, and cooperation, it is hard to feel hopeful. I have been to all fifty states, and I can tell you there are good and kind people everywhere. Let us hope the ones who voted into office next November are the ones who care about the welfare of every American, rich or poor. That is the America I believe in.

  28. Siobhan says:

    I love the story, and the photos
    from an Irish Admirer 😉

    1. Thank you so much! I am an admirer of Ireland. You might be interested in a short post I did about your country. I appreciate your visit.

  29. Debra Kristi says:

    I love a good road trip and your pictures are always amazing. Thank you for the ride along! Fabulous!!! That is so neat that you all stopped at so many libraries to tell stories. You should have come here! 😀

    1. Thanks, Deb, for your sweet words, and for stopping by. I have been watching your blog to see where you end up going on your holiday.

  30. eof737 says:

    These are great photos… Lots of action and fun. 😉

    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. We love a good road trip! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  31. ShimonZ says:

    This is a very beautiful tale of something like a voyage on dry land, through the real life scenery and culture of America. And your lovely pictures are very enjoyable. What a great way to travel.

    1. Thank you, Shimon. I enjoy flying to cover distance, but sometimes the actual journey is as interesting as the destination. We saw so many new and interesting things, and they were right in our own back yard. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  32. Great photos! Looks like a wonderful trip! I want one of those blueberries!!!!

  33. I never did see such huge blueberries! Thank you so much for your visit.

  34. interesting bushfire photo!

    1. Thank you. It gives you a real respect for the power and unpredictability of nature.

  35. trishworth says:

    You’re a great storyteller, Naomi. I enjoyed reading this.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by. I appreciate your taking the time to share your comments.

      1. Hi Trish, I have a sister who lives in Canberra.

  36. gkm2011 says:

    I enjoyed your story. Now that I’ve lived out of the US for nearly 5 years there are many more places to visit on my list there. Someday I will be able to spin such stories as well.

    1. Thanks for your visit. I would love to hear you spin some stories about your life as an ex-pat. Where are you living these days? I look forward to hearing more about you.

      1. gkm2011 says:

        Thanks for the follow – I’m based in Shanghai, China. It’s a fascinating and exhausting place. Cheers!

  37. nutsfortreasure says:

    Well I must say with the trips I take and the places I have been I always worried when I started blogging about adding too many to tell a story. You have rid me of my fears! I loved your family trip and of course the photos!

    We are both well traveled souls it is what I miss about trucking the most the stories from the road

    Thanks for sharing


    1. Dear Eunice,
      I would love to see more of your photos and hear some of your road stories! Thanks so much for your visit, and taking the time to share your thoughts.

      1. nutsfortreasure says:

        Thanks so much to. Even after my wreck and injuries I try to remain with the living 🙂 I have lots of stories that get me thrrough each day. Loved yours which is why I made sure to leave a comment 🙂

  38. Kourtney Heintz says:

    Gorgeous pictures! Love how much fun you had in the car, shortening the road. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Kourtney!

  39. Cathy G says:

    What a great adventure! Thanks for sharing the journey with us! …amazing how we all pick up and share stories wherever we are…sometimes we don’t even realize that we are doing this!

    1. Hi Cathy, thanks for dropping by. Yes, I believe that we are hard-wired to see the world and frame our lives in terms of story. I love that you do that with your family history.

      1. Cathy G says:

        Thanks, Naomi! Over time I’ve come to realize that stories don’t have to be long or complicated. A simple story or vignette can also capture the imagination. Thanks again!

  40. That’s true, Cathy. Sometimes it’s the seed of a story that stays with us, like a thumbnail sketch or a snapshot or the refrain of a song that we never forget.

  41. THANKS for visiting my “pun-ny” photoblog and leaving a “like.” Since it’s an old post you must have seen the link at Jake’s “Sunday Post” site. I feel fortunate that during this return visit to your blog I was able to catch this wonderfully illustrated and entertainingly narrated travelogue. Thanks for taking us along for the ride!

    –John R.:

    1. Hi John, I think I did find you through Jake’s Sunday post. I enjoyed your my visit to your blog, and was really glad you could come along on our road trip! thanks for the visit.

  42. Just beautiful pictures! makes me want to go there – Oregon?

    1. Thank you for the visit. This was a tour that took us all over North Central Washington, but the scenery in Eastern Oregon can sometimes be very similar. My kids came home from that trip with a great new appreciation for Washington State.

  43. restlessjo says:

    Awesome writing, photos and enterprise, Naomi. I love that you did this. I love your son and his moustache. I love the hillside with the rusty tint. I love this post!

    1. Thank you, Jo. So good of you to drop by and share your thoughts.

  44. danajoward says:

    I enjoyed the adventure very much. Wonderfully written and beautiful photo. Thank you for sharing and Thank you for following my blog 🙂

    1. My pleasure. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  45. Awesome stories! And the photos were spectacular. I so want to visit that part of the country. I haven’t been to too many places other than central USA. I am new to your blog, but I gather the storytelling business is a family affair?
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Darla, thank you for your generous response! As it happened with my Aunt Loena, it is never too late to start traveling, and sometimes you don’t have to go all that far to enter into a totally different world, climate, ecosystem, etc.

      I do tell stories on my own as a solo performer (, but I really love telling with the whole family even more.

  46. Reblogged this on Through The Lens and commented:
    I loved this special road trip and wanted to share it with my readers seeing as I don’t get out much.

    1. Hi Darla,
      Thank you so much for sharing my post with your readers!

  47. tchistorygal says:

    What a great adventure. Your family must have loads of fun together. We will be in your fair state for the National Council for the Social Studies Conference in mid November. Looking forward to it. Thanks for posting such a great story.

    1. We do have fun together. History is a shared passion for this family! Several of the storytelling programs we do are about the pioneer days of Washington (and Oregon). I hope you have a wonderful time at the convention. Will it be held east or west of the Cascades?

      Thank you so much for visiting, and leaving such fun and interesting comments.

      1. tchistorygal says:

        The National Council for the Social Studies will meet in Seattle. Where are you going to be around Nov. 17th? If you’re in the neighborhood, you might let NCSS know, so they can refer people to come see you, or you might enjoy going to the conference.

  48. themofman says:

    You have great adventures.

    1. Just found this message, and wanted to thank you for the visit, and for taking the time to leave a comment. I wish you the very best for the New Year!

  49. faccenreconsglyp1979 says:

    Reblogged this on Jamie Naple Blog.

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