A Peace of My Mind

Last September my son Eli and I went on a great road trip with my daughter Bea, to deliver her, an incoming freshman, to Stanford University.

Then all of a sudden Bea was at school…

…and Eli and I were back in the van on the long drive home to Seattle.

For our trip down, we’d booked nice hotels in advance.  It was all about our last hurrah before saying goodbye to Bea.  Maybe because we didn’t want to think about coming back without her, we forgot to plan the trip home.  We were unprepared, disorganized, and we both kept looking around for Bea.

It was after midnight when we pulled into Redding, CA.

We found a place that simple, but clean, and woke refreshed and ready to move on–from Redding, and from Stanford.  We were going to write ourselves a new story.

We explored a delightfully shabby gold rush town, browsed its antique stores, and bought some dusty old tomes.  Back on the road, Eli read aloud from  The Last of the Plainsmen, Zane Grey’s 1908 memoir of a Western adventure–about the end of an era and the start of a new one.

Perhaps inspired by Zane, Eli suggested swinging by Crater Lake National Park.  It was out of our way, and we didn’t know how far because we hadn’t brought a proper map.  We hadn’t been since the kids were young enough to earn Junior Ranger Badges.  I recalled Crater Lake as a one trick pony, with one view of a lake, gorgeous, but unaccessible.  If we couldn’t get there before dark, the trip would be pointless.

It was a gamble.

We decided to go for it.  We had a few ‘Where are we going, Carl?’ moments.  Like at a crossroads, where two roads both had signage pointing to Crater Lake. The sun was sinking, and we couldn’t afford to get lost.  I kicked myself for not stopping earlier for directions.  This was a remote wilderness, without even another car to flag down.

Do you believe in spirit helpers?   I took this handsome creature’s greeting as positive reinforcement.

Upon leaving the endless forest to begin our ascent, we decided that, whatever happened, the view on the way to the crater was worth the drive.

At last we arrived at the crater rim, with sunshine to spare, but not for long.

As the sun sank behind us, the shadows crept up the side of Wizard Island, until it looked like it was wearing a little sun hat.

While we looked down on shadow, on the far side of the crater, the sun still shone.

Our goal was to visit as many viewpoints as possible before we lost the light.

Crater Lake was not a one trick pony.  It was a Horse of a Different Color.  With the constantly changing light, the landscape changed dramatically too.

Each viewpoint highlighted different sights and inspired different insights.

Whether looking from a distance…

…or close up.

We were alone on the top of the world, awestruck by the beauty surrounding us, not just of the lake, but the valley as well.

Eli captured the color and detail of an alpine meadow in this shot….

…while I had to borrow back the camera to photograph the big picture…

Feverishly, we passed the camera back and forth.  Where one of us recognized the stark beauty of an outcrop…

…the other saw a sleeping lady, perhaps turned to stone by an evil wizard.

Eli and I discovered our new superpower…

We had learned to spin straw into gold.

Golden moments.

Golden Memories.

Peace of mind.

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck



  1. …. all this beauty and you doubt for a moment there are spirit helpers! gorgeous photos – Peace Naomi

    1. Thank you, Lesley! I had a moment when I could feel my mother’s hand in mine, though she is long gone. And when my mom was dying, she saw my father standing at the foot of the bed, waiting for her. I guess that could count as spirit helpers, couldn’t it?

  2. Worrywart says:

    Wow! Weird hotel room, but well worth the gorgeous photos. I remember how odd it was after dropping our oldest off at college. After all of the build up, I think we half expected to move in to the dorm and attend classes with him. 🙂

    1. It was actually kind of a fascinating hotel room–one of a kind! Having been through it, you know what it is like to drop a kid off at college. I think it is as hard to drop off the youngest, in a different way, because it makes it clear that the end of an era, and a very happy one, is just ahead. I love your comment about moving in with him–made me smile. Thank goodness I have Eli here, just for a few months, until he heads off to Argentina for nine months on a Fulbright. He is such a good lad, and is helping me through that transition to the Empty Nest.

      It helps to hear from you, and remember that other parents have gone through this and are doing fine. I know I will too–I have other work and friends and focuses, but still…

  3. scillagrace says:

    Beautiful story, beautifully illustrated. I have a framed photo in the living room of my son and daughter at Crater Lake. I have another one on the ‘fridge…and many stories about their year living in Oregon. Life transitions, possibilities and magic encounters.

    1. Well said, Scilla! We just keep shaking our head, unable to believe the magic all around us, catching our eye everywhere we turned. I am glad your kids have experienced that too.

  4. The emotions of that trip wow! but oh the precious memories in the photos will sustain all . thank you for sharing your beautiful family with us.

    1. Dear Len,
      Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. It is always good to hear from you. I have been swamped, and am so behind in my blogging, but you are in my thoughts every day, and I am hoping that you are feeling better.

      1. thanks and don’t worry about blogging we will all be here after the holiday madness! I am well thank you for asking! have a WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS!!!

  5. Touch2Touch says:

    What a beautiful post! And an inspiring trip, truly weaving straw into gold. Two unlikely Rumplestiltskins. And brave, to leave a beloved and continue on toward adventure.
    God’s grace with all of you!

    1. Thank you so much. You are so kind! She is coming home for winter break–we are more excited about having her back than we are about Christmas or Hanukkah!

  6. As always, love your travel journals. You got me at: ‘We had learned to spin straw into gold’. Love, love it, Naomi. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Dear Tess,
      Thank you so much for your really sweet comments. I don’t know why this post was so much harder to write. Closer to the heart, I guess. But I appreciate your sharing your thoughts.

  7. Beautiful photos and inspiring message! (your kids are awesome….just like you!)

    1. Thank you, Paula. You make me blush!

      1. 🙂 Just smile, my friend!

  8. ShimonZ says:

    a beautiful tale of ‘the other side’ of an important trip. Loved the pictures.

    1. Thank you, Shimon. Your words have made me think. I think we are always travelers, making two journeys at once, the inward and the outward. When I step out of my usual paths to travel farther afield, I am more aware of the inward journey, perhaps because I am at a distance where I can look back at my life and observe it more clearly. Perhaps because when I am in a new place, all my senses are more alert, my mind feels sharper, because I want to take it all in. Perhaps just because the outward journey makes that whole time more memorable.

      1. ShimonZ says:

        What you’re saying here is a very known phenomenon. I read it first in a philosophical treatise written 800 years ago. When we live our day to day life, we know what to expect. We imagine we know what is coming around the corner. And so, by going off for a trip, we open up the possibilities, and also remind ourselves of the uncertainties of life, and this makes us more sensitive and deeper. It is really an important experience.

      2. That is so interesting. Just one more reason to love traveling. Happy Hanukkah, Shimon.

      3. ShimonZ says:

        Thank you very much, Naomi

  9. nutsfortreasure says:

    Beautiful Post
    Loved it

    1. Dear Eunice,
      Thank you so much! I always love to hear from you.

      1. nutsfortreasure says:


        That is nice to know
        Nice to hear from you too I am on Facebook and Eunice356@gmail Pintrest too 🙂

  10. adinparadise says:

    I love your family road trip posts, Naomi. Beautiful photos and memories. 🙂

  11. carolineskanne says:

    simply stunning!!!

    1. Thank you, Caroline. I look forward to visiting your blog too.

  12. kathy says:

    What a great way to commemorate a significant change in your lives. It’s very inspiring to see how you & your family adapt and find magic wherever you go!

    1. Thank you for your visit, and your very generous comments. It is always good to hear from you, Kathy.

  13. Carol says:

    Your photos are lovely, but you must come back when you have the time to drive the entire Rim Drive. It is just amazing! Our first couple of years here, we often drove the 35 miles to take in the views. Now, we take it for granted. Bad us!

    1. Hi Carol,
      The thing to do is to invite someone from out of town to come visit. Whenever we have folks from far away, we take the ferry over to Olympic National Park and drive up to Hurricane Ridge. If they are up to it, we take a gorgeous hike at the end of the road. Seeing that world through the eyes of someone who has never been is almost like seeing the world through your children’s eyes, which makes everything fresh and new.

  14. Dear Naomi, I’ve just nominated you for the “Blog of the Year Award 2012” 🙂

    1. Dear Sarah,
      That is so kind of you! Thank you for this honor! I am going to respond to this in my next post.

      1. Dear Naomi, It’s an absolute pleasure and so well-deserved 🙂

  15. You are creating the most beautiful, fun and happy memories with your kids. The road trips are just but one of the many adventures you shared with us that inspired us to follow the same. Thank you. Happy Holidays to you and your family.

    1. Dear Island Traveler,

      Thank you so much. I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with joy.

  16. pattisj says:

    I assume you two wanderers finally made it home. 🙂 I’m glad the One Trick Pony fooled you. Beautiful photos.

    1. Hi Patti,
      Yes, we finally made it home. The time on the road was such a treat. Eli and I agree that our trip to Crater Lake was an experience worth every minute. Thanks so much for your visit, and for taking the time to share your very generous thoughts.

  17. The folk magicians have nothing over you two – spinning landscapes into true gold. Loved this!

  18. Francis says:

    The poetry of those moments weaved into wonderful story am sure you two will remember for a long time.

    1. Dear Francis,
      Thank you so much! t was a very sweet time. And very sweet to find your really lovely thoughts here. Thank you for taking the time to share them.

  19. purely GOLDEN moments and thank you for sharing them with us … Happy Holidays, Naomi!

    1. Dear Mrs. Bob,
      Thank you so much for your visit, and your very kind comments! Best wishes to you and your family for a very happy holiday and a bright new year!

  20. nutsfortreasure says:

    Hi Naomi you know what it’s AWARD SEASON and there is one over here waiting for YOU 🙂


    1. Wow! Must be Christmas time, ’cause I just got another present! Thanks so much, Eunice. I am really honored. Warmly, Naomi

      1. nutsfortreasure says:

        Awesome IT FIT!!!!! Glad you will keep it 🙂


  21. A well-documented road trip, Naomi. It was fun to ride along.

    1. Dear J.A.,
      It’s fun to have company on a road trip, and I appreciate yours. Thank you for coming along, and for taking the time to leave a very generous comment.

  22. What magical looking places. Funny how we take them for granted as being there to visit, but one day they might not be. Aren’t hugs from sons lovely!

    1. Dear Beautiful One,
      Thank you for your beautiful response to this post. You are absolutely right about magical places. As I read your response, it occurred to me that we cannot take for granted those magical places in our hearts, either. That is also the time and space we make for our loved ones in our heart, and that they make for us are the most magical places of all. I know that my kids are at that age when they are likely to go off on their life adventures and make a new place for themselves in the world, and right now I do not take for granted a moment that we have together. I treasure every hug, every bit of shared laughter, every shred of conversation.
      Thank you for your generous comment and thoughtful response.

  23. eof737 says:

    WoW!! Naomi, this was a breathtaking journey. I couldn’t believe how each shot captured a completely new terrain… It was magnificent. Poetic. Memorable… Eli is handsome too… 🙂

    1. Dear Elizabeth,
      Thank you for your visit, and for your generous response. It was one of those amazing adventures where you find a place out of time, the sun was setting, but the clock had stopped and we were absolutely living in the moment. It was definitely positive reinforcement for stepping off the beaten path and going for our adventure–it was just a little adventure, of course, but one that we will never forget. I passed on your compliment to my handsome sun, and he was quite tickled! Warm wishes for the holiday!

  24. That was quite a journey and your pictures were beautiful. If you’d like, here is a website where you can contribute a photo and 100 words about a place you’ve visited and get some publicity for your site… Check it out 🙂

    1. Hi Maggie,
      Thank you for stopping by, and for your very kind response to this post. I love discovering cool new sites, so thank you for the recommendation. I will check it out. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I love to imagine you and your family snug in your little nest, creating a warm golden space in the cold dark winter.

      1. Ah, thank you and Happy Holidays to you too Naomi.

  25. Jueseppi B. says:

    You have been awarded The Blog Of The Year Award. Click the link to pick your award up and instructions on passing the award forward, if you accept.


    1. Dear Jueseppi,
      I am honored! I don’t know if I ever told you, but you were one of my very first followers when I started blogging not quite one year ago. You nominated me for some of my very first awards, and I have always been grateful for the encouragement you gave to a Newbie way back when. Today I am home, with both of the kids bustling about wrapping presents and baking Christmas cookies. I have given myself this day to read up on The Blog of the Year Award, and to respond accordingly. Thank you again for your encouragement. Warm wishes for a Merry Christmas and another million plus views on your wonderful blog. I think they should put a new word int he dictionary just for you. I love the sound of ObamaCration! It is a skill you have definitely mastered.

      1. Jueseppi B. says:

        Ms. Naomi, your photos and the slice of your life you offer, is a welcome escape from the drudgery of politics. I look forward to your little corner of normal.

        Thank you for your post, and I thank you dearly for your kind words of support. This is what blogging is all about: sharing, love & friendship. 😉

      2. Dear JB,
        My kids would laugh to hear anyone call our life “normal.” (But it does feel just right for us.) Even as I write to you, I am realizing that MUST scan a drawing Eli made that perfectly captures his perception of our family. I will post it as a part of my response to the Blog of the Year award. Thank you again for all you do.
        Thanks for sharing the love and friendship through the blogosphere. I am sending it right back to you.

      3. Jueseppi B. says:

        Thank you dear sweet lady. I await that drawing from Eli. 😉

  26. */-)ndr¡X* says:

    Wow!!! I just simply loved your post the pictures are AWSOME what wonderful places, thanks a lot for shareing with us 😀

    You have such a nice blog! So nice I found it 🙂
    I’ll keep reading often!

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I have just been visiting your blog, and it is beautiful and informative. I look forward to following your blog as well!

    1. HI Amy,
      Thanks for the kind words. Best wishes for the New Year!

  27. More wonderful travels, images, and reminiscences. Wonderful!

    Crater Lake is a gorgeous place, one of those “you have to see it to believe it” kinda places.

    1. Thank you for the visit. I agree–there is no way a photograph can capture such a deep blue.

  28. taniamend says:

    so beautiful and full of love…. photos are incredible! those golden moments are deeply amazing!

    1. Thank you so much for your visit, and your generous thoughts!

    1. Dear Len,
      I am very touched by this nomination. Thank you, my friend!
      Sending you love and warm wishes for a Merry Christmas.

  29. Jamie Dedes says:

    Ah, we have visited there too, long ago. Magical place as I remember and you’ve captured it well.

    Handsome children, you have. You are blessed.

    1. Dear Jamie,
      Thank you so much! There is nowhere quite like it. Thank you, too, for the kind words about my kids.

  30. Wonderful that you had an adventure (and what an adventure!) to take your min off missing Bea. Super pix too, especially the sunshine and shadow shot with what looks lie the Disney castle floating just offshore – that’s sublime 🙂

    1. Thank you! It was SUCH positive reinforcement for just deciding to take a gamble and go.

  31. Kourtney Heintz says:

    Terrific shots and what a great adventure together to distract you from missing Bea. Your post totally made me smile. I have to see Crater Lake now for myself. 🙂

    1. Make sure that you are there for sunset!

  32. TBM says:

    A wonderful post and I wish all of you the best. Happy holidays!

    1. Thank you so much, and the same to you, friend!

  33. Madhu says:

    And you spin the most fabulous posts from those golden memories! You are fortunate to have Eli with you to ease you into your empty nest. And your manuscript of course 🙂

  34. HI Madhu,
    I have Eli until March, and then he is off to Argentina. In the meantime, I am savoring every moment. Thank you for your visit, and your golden words!

  35. frizztext says:

    hi Naomi: your sentence “We had learned to spin straw into gold” – take that as a metaphor for story telling: creating oasis comments using some desert words = thank you for your blogging 2012!

  36. Julia Kovach says:

    Naomi…….OUTSTANDING! You’ve captured some absolutely incredible beauty! Your pics are just off-the-chain (as today’s kids say! lol)! I can’t imagine standing before those sites in person and hearing that beautiful quietness. Your words gave me chills. This is so well written and well done. Thank you for howing me and teaching me in such a lovely way! I can’t wait to read and see more from you! Take good care, my friend. xoJulia

    1. Dear Julia,
      You are so kind! It felt like a rare out-of-time experience. I am glad that I could convey that somehow. Best wishes, my friend! Warmly, Naomi

      1. Julia Kovach says:

        It looked almost “other worldly”…..such beauty. I really must get out and see some of this beautiful country of ours. Budgetary restrictions make that difficult and a cat and obnoxious pup make it almost impossible…..but I will catch a brief glimpse of beauty and magic anywhere I can find it! So so so well done. You are such an amazing talent. Take good care. xoJulia

      2. Thank you so much! I feel the same way about every one of your posts.

  37. Reblogged this on Writing Between the Lines and commented:

    I posted this eight months ago, but I wanted to share this with my new readers, and this was a perfect response to The Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour.

  38. Jamie Dedes says:

    I remember when you frist posted this. It’s just as beautiful now as it was then … the story, the memory, your togetherness, and you both take gorgeous photographs. Lovely.

    1. Dear Jamie,
      Thank you so much!

  39. Pat says:

    This is a beautiful story and it reminds me of letting go of each of my three children – when they were moving on towards adulthood. I especially love the beautiful images of Crater Lake. We will be heading for Glacier National Park in about a month and then will be touring Washington and Oregon. We are really geeked about it as we will be camping with no set itinerary. I am refusing to be rushed as we only need to be back in time to clean up the garden and put the travel trailer in storage for the winter before we head south. See the wonderful things that come with the empty nest? 🙂

    1. Thank you, Pat. Glacier will be beautiful too. We took the kids there eight or nine years ago, and there are some lovely hikes you can take, and LOTS of scenic viewpoints for a person who seeks beauty through her lens.
      Do you know about when you will be in Washington? I hope you will see Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, and Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens. And you will find Plike Place Market very photogenic!

  40. bulldog says:

    What a tremendously wonderful trip.. and what magnificent photos… beautiful…

    1. Thank you so much. It really was golden.

  41. adinparadise says:

    I wish I could double like this post, Naomi. I remember it well, but so enjoyed it again, the second time around. 🙂

    1. Hi Sylvia,
      Thanks so much for your very kind response!

  42. Tess Kann says:

    I thought this sounded familiar, but oh so marvelous and good for a second l-o-n-g look-see. The photographs are breathtaking.

    1. Thank you, Tess, for coming around again, and sharing your thoughts.

  43. I bet you were glad to make the detour to Crater Lake. It is a special place. Beautiful photo’s as usual!

    1. Thanks, Jo. Best decision we made on that trip!

    2. Thanks, Jo. It is a very special place–SO glad we did it. Oftentimes it’s the things we don’t do that haunt us, even more than the things that we did, but wish we hadn’t.

  44. This sounds like a making lemonade out of lemons story. The saddest day of your life was in dropping your daughter off at college. And it was this day of your life in which you bonded with you son and ventured out freely without rigid parameters. I love the unfolding of this memory. A transition in every word. Fabulous post, Naomi …!!!!

    1. Hi Isadora,
      I think that’s a good way of putting it. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. It is good to hear from you.

  45. Beautiful together time! Thanks for sharing it. ❤

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Mary! So good to hear form you.

  46. gkm2011 says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing such an intimate encounter with nature.

    1. I really appreciate your visit, and your taking the time to share.

  47. kz says:

    wow,these photos are gorgeous! wizard island sounds lovely 🙂 and thanks for sharing with us these beautiful moments with nature and your family 🙂

    1. Dear KZ,
      I really appreciate your taking the time to visit, and to leave a really sweet message as well.

  48. What a great way to say goodbye

    1. Hi Dallas,
      We had a great trip, and it did take a little bit of the sting out of our parting.

  49. Awesome pictures, Naomi!

    1. Hi Ritika,
      Thanks so much for your visit, and your very kind response!

  50. Roy McCarthy says:

    Reblogged this on Back On The Rock and commented:
    If you don’t enjoy collections of beautiful, stunning photographs then look away now.

    1. Hi Roy,
      Thank you for the reblog!

  51. What a great trip and your photos…beautiful! Thanks to “Back On The Rock” for leading me to this terrific post.

    1. Hi Jill,
      I am grateful to Roy for introducing us! I appreciate your visit, and your very kind response.

  52. Kate is says:

    Goodness, this is so beautiful. Your photography is magical. I hope she is enjoying Stanford. I did my PhD there and absolutely loved it.

    1. Hi Kate,
      Thank you for your generous response! Bea loves Stanford, and welcomes the many opportunities the experience provides. I’ll pass your words on to her. so glad to hear it was a positive experience for you. Thanks so much for the visit, and for taking the time to share your story.

  53. What a great place to get ‘lost’ in with camera in tow.. Wonderful!!

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thank you for the visit. This magical place at that golden hour, with my son, and both of us in a sensitive emotional state after dropping off Bea all combined to make it one of the most memorable photo shoots of my life. Thank goodness we had, as you said it so well, a camera in tow!

  54. Kavi says:

    You have such a wonderful way of telling a story Naomi 🙂

    1. Dear Kavi,
      Thank you so much. That is one of the nicest things you could say to me!
      Best wishes,

  55. Glad you reblogged this wonderful post, Naomi, as I missed it first time around. How exhilarating to be on top of the world, literally 🙂

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Still catching up! So glad you got to see this one–I think it’s one of my favorites. The sun was setting, and we were trying to hang on to those last bits of golden light, and in doing so those few precious moments became timeless.
      Thanks so much for the visit! I hope your garden is happy. Still smiling when I think of your hearty potato!

  56. Goodness, Naomi, you and Eli struck gold. It is no wonder that Eli adores his mother. I see it in his face. What a great adventure for the two of you. I love this story and the images. The continuity, Naomi. From generation to generation. 🙂

  57. Dear George,
    I know that you understand the importance and the value of that continuity between generations from the beautiful way you write about and photograph your grandson. Thanks so much for your visit, and for your really lovely thoughts on this.

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