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Last month I took a road trip with my kids Elijah and Beatrice, my sister Constance and her daughter Jane.

All roads lead to Grand Teton National Park, or they ought to.

We’d heard that Teton Pass might be closed due to wintry weather, and that temperatures were dropping below zero at night.  We decided to try and squeak in a quick visit before winter arrived, and were so glad we did.

The National Parks are among this country’s greatest treasures, but Grand Teton is the jewel in the crown.

It teems with history…

…and more history.


…and more wildlife.

And beauty.

So much beauty.

Like my four sisters before me, I studied geology in Jackson Hole at the University of Michigan’s Rocky Mountain Field Station. I became a dedicated pedestrian, and spent a season hiking the trails in the park while waiting on tables in Colter Bay.  For more than fifty years it has been a place of pilgrimage for our celebrations and family reunions, as it has surely been for others.

Some things never change.

The town of Jackson has mushroomed, with strip malls and box stores everywhere.  Its old-fashioned drug store soda fountain has been turned into an overpriced rug store.  But Grand Teton National Park is as pristine as ever.

Every day, as we drove to a new trailhead, we popped a CD into the player and sang along, practicing our yodeling with Roy Rogers, Bill Staines, and Ranger Doug.  Every night after dinner, out came a bottle of wine and the musical instruments, usually in that order.  Back in the Saddle, Don’t Fence Me In, and My Sweet Wyoming Home were at the top of our playlist.  When we sang about a home where the buffalo roam…

…and the deer and the antelope play…

…we were really feeling it.

It had been years since the cousins had met up.  They were a little shy at first, but there’s nothing like making music to break the ice.

Music, for many of us, has come to mean the pre-recorded tracks on CD, iTunes, or the radio.  We experienced the joy of playing music, however imperfect, and being part of a creative endeavor larger than just ourselves.  It helped us tune into the soundscape all around us, ever changing and shifting…

…yet timeless.


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









  1. What a wonderful trip. I did that trip when I was a kid with my parents. Time to do it again.

    1. Hi Carol, I hope you get to go soon. Springtime and fall are the best seasons, with lovely fall colors, fewer tourists, and no mosquitoes! Thanks for the visit!

      1. Thanks for the tips. Spring would be nice. A friend did a Winter trip to Yellowstone. It seemed grand.

  2. Meg says:

    Love to do that trip. I’m sure it’s full of gasps, ‘Oooohs!’ and ‘Aaaahs.’ I lol at the trousers hanging out the back of the car. Majestic landscapes. Thanks, Naomi.

    1. Dear Meg,
      Bea’s in those trousers, and she was a very cooperative model! I would love to take you there–maybe on your next trip to the US. There is nowhere quite like it. Thinking of you, sending lots of love. Naomi

  3. Carol says:

    It’s been years since I’ve been to the Tetons, but their majesty always awakens something deep inside. A welcome reprieve from our reality show world.

    1. Yes, it was a great escape. The Canadian Rockies are beautiful, but there is something so spectacular about this self-contained little mountain range abruptly rising up from the valley. It is one of my favorite places in the world.

  4. ShimonZ says:

    Loved this account of your travels, and the get together with family. Reminded me of many trips when I I was younger… even if the vistas we saw were less impressive. Music that we make ourselves has a different measuring stick. It can be perfect with its flaws. Thank you so much.

    1. Dear Shimon,
      It’s so good to hear from you–I think of you, and wonder how you are doing. I know you made some extensive travels in the Western United States. People sometimes bypass them and go directly to Yellowstone to see Old Faithful, but the Tetons took hold of my heart and keeps pulling me back. I love what you said about music, and a different measuring stick. I remember being surprised when the mother of my daughter’s classmate refused to let her daughter take up the trumpet, because she couldn’t bear the thought of her rehearsing in the house. At our house, any homemade music was welcome–like the sound of laughter or light, it fills a home with warmth. Our little cabin-band was never going to go on any road-tours, but we had so much fun, and were grateful to Cousin Jane, who is incredibly talented musically, for helping to make us sound better than we really had any right to!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Chris! Love your photo, by the way!

  5. Tish Farrell says:

    The mesh of glorious landscape and the family gathering, and the making of music – all so very life-enhancing, Naomi. And you hugged us in too. Thank you.

    1. Hi Tish,
      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your response.
      Hugs and more hugs,

  6. Fabulous! Lucky you. Our National Parks are jewels that have to be preserved. We all have to advocate for them.

    1. Hi Lisa, So true! We are so fortunate to have them, but we can no longer take them for granted if there is a buck to be made by selling out our public lands to oil companies, frackers, and anyone else who is in the pocket of this administration and GOP congress.

  7. prior.. says:

    what a nice trip… and the photos are wonderful –

    1. It was a great trip–thanks for coming along for the ride! It is always good to hear from you.

  8. Thank you naomibaltuck
    Fantastic blog
    Good luck to you
    My blog:

  9. Mary Dessein says:

    Beauuuuutiful, Naomi. Thank you.

    1. Hi Mary,
      Thanks so much for the visit, and for your kind response.

  10. Just glorious, Naomi. Glad I could sneak along with you. I do love Wyoming, although I haven’t been to the Tetons in many years. I’d love to go back again and I’m glad to read that the park is still so good, even if Jackson isn’t.


    1. Hi Janet,

      That is the best thing about our National Park System. Whatever happens outside the park boundaries, the parklands themselves remain undeveloped. I do hope you get to go back before too long. So good to hear from you! Thanks for stopping by.


      1. I got one of the Senior Passes before they went up to $80. I actually got two, because the first one took so long I thought it wasn’t coming and I got another one on the last day (which came faster than the first one.) We can have one for each vehicle. 🙂 Best bargain around.

  11. This sounds like a really special time in a really special place. Nothing like getting family together and heading to the hills!

    1. So true! I enjoyed reading your post about settling in for a bit. I love travel, but I love having a place to come home to as well. Best wishes to you and Don!

  12. Judith Black says:

    Naomi, Me thinks that Scott Pruitt needs to read this blog… many times. Thank-you for sharing family, and what is left of our miraculous natural world.

  13. Roy McCarthy says:

    That is so good Naomi, appreciating good company and the magnificence of the world about us. So many people just live to get through the day when there is so much more. And I’m always in awe at your eye for a quality shot.

    1. Hi Roy,
      You are so kind! Thanks so much for the visit, and for your generous response. Between you and me (and the rest of my blogging buddies), I often have to take a dozen ho-hum shots for every one that I post, and in Grand Teton National Park, I could wear a blindfold and still get a glorious shot.

  14. scillagrace says:

    So delightful to see a fresh, new story from you in my inbox! Just returned from 8 days in the North Woods – no internet, recorded music, or showers in all that time. I didn’t bring any instrument but my voice and hummed snatches of music into the silence occasionally. Learning violin and ukulele and going to choir practice and sight-singing class got rather hectic. Meditating on the quiet music of loon calls and red squirrel scolding instead was deeply satisfying.

    1. Hi Priscilla, That sounds lovely, and perfect! I have enjoyed the photos and stories of your trip.

      1. scillagrace says:

        I’m glad! 🙂

  15. I would love to visit that area–I have seen very little of our land west of the Mississippi. When we do travel that way, it is always to see family and they don’t live in interesting, beautiful places like that! Shame on them!

    Lovely pics!

    1. If you drive, maybe you can take the long way around. My Michigander mom could find ways to justify a trip to the Tetons on her way to visit relatives in Florida! Thanks for reading and sharing your response, Kate. Sending good thoughts back your way.

  16. Leonore B Carlson says:

    Love it all and especially the family music-making. Wish i could have joined you. Shall I bring my violin at Thanksgiving?

    1. Hi Lee,

      It was so fun! Wish you could have been there.

      I’m sure we’ll be making music at our Thanksgiving gathering. Be a and Con will have their violins–Con leaves on here so she will always have one when she visits–but you should have one too. We have ukuleles too, so you could play one of those if you don’t want to carry an instrument on the plane.

      Can’t wait to see you!

  17. Dhara says:

    Beautiful post and lovely photos. We have visited once and really really enjoyed Grand Teton. Would love to go back!

    1. It is one of my favorite places in the world!

  18. Beautiful. I love this tradition of yours. It’s been ages since I sang along a live instrument in this familiar way. As well as since I climbed a mountain… To many more repeats!

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