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Sex, Spirituality, Tetons, and Yellowstone

Fresh experience of ancient mountains evokes awareness of God, the divine, the sublime, in some of the same ways the erotic can. (Or maybe I’m just longing to post some of my vacation pictures.)


In my visit (got back last night) to Wyoming, I found in the mountains, geysers, glacier, fumaroles, bubbling “mud pots,” and steaming pools the kind of mystery that the physical can create when it seems immensely larger than the science that explains it.


Yellowstone National Park, as you may know, is in large part the center of a living volcano. It last erupted about 600,000 years ago. It’s still seething, with hundreds of spouts of steam and boiling water, not just the prosaically named Old Faithful. Here the earth seems pulsing with life so out-of-the-ordinary that the word that comes to mind is other-worldly. It takes one out of one’s self and at the same time makes it possible to feel like a faint echo of a planetary process.

And of course the physical comparisons to sex are garishly obvious. Some say that the flabbergastingly majestic Teton range just to the south was named by French explorers with a French word for breast. One of the friends we were hiking with observed that as long as those fellows had been in the woods most anything could have looked like a breast to them.


But the feeling of grand mystery evoked by the physical here is far larger than the joke-y and obvious physical similarities.

And TMI warning: I found the whole place to be an aphrodisiac, rousing and enlivening in so many ways. Or again, maybe it was just being on vacation.


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  • Cally Rogers-Witte
    October 1, 2015 at 10:49 pm Reply

    Love it, love it, love it!! So wonderful to be with you!

    • Peggy Payne
      October 1, 2015 at 10:52 pm Reply

      Delightful to see you pop up here, Cally! It was a terrific week with both of you and the whole gang.

  • October 1, 2015 at 11:25 pm Reply

    Great!! vacation & Great pix. b

    • Peggy Payne
      October 1, 2015 at 11:28 pm Reply

      Thanks, b!

  • Barney Koszalka
    October 1, 2015 at 11:36 pm Reply

    You captured the spirit of this place in your words and its beauty in the images.

    • Peggy Payne
      October 2, 2015 at 12:23 am Reply

      Thank you, Barney! And I have an idea your images are sublime!

  • October 1, 2015 at 11:42 pm Reply

    That’s an area of the country that I have longed to explore. Your post doesn’t do/say anything to dissuade that!!

    • Peggy Payne
      October 2, 2015 at 12:22 am Reply

      I heartily recommend it, kenju!

  • October 2, 2015 at 12:28 pm Reply

    Beautiful glimpses of some of my favorite natural mysteries. This grand landscape inspires such humility. I’ve been too long away!

    • Peggy Payne
      October 2, 2015 at 1:41 pm Reply

      My first time there, Kim. And probably not my last. (I find bookstores inspire more humility.)

  • Chris Forsyth
    October 2, 2015 at 12:47 pm Reply

    That last pix of trees winding up the slope is evocative of a trail of monks rising towards their monastery. Nice shot.
    Bestest, Chris

    • Peggy Payne
      October 2, 2015 at 1:41 pm Reply

      I sure hadn’t thought of that, Chris. Thanks.

  • October 2, 2015 at 1:30 pm Reply

    In just a few beautiful words and a few magnificent photos, you’ve captured a magical place. At any time while you where there did you give some thought to just staying?

    • Peggy Payne
      October 2, 2015 at 1:42 pm Reply

      Well, no, I didn’t think of staying, Jim. Did think of coming here again. Is that what happened to you in Ireland? you “just stayed”?

      • Peggy Payne
        October 2, 2015 at 1:42 pm Reply

        And, BTW, thanks, Jim.

  • October 2, 2015 at 2:14 pm Reply

    Beautiful post and beautiful pix. Not an easy thing to convey the majesty of a wild place. You did well!

    • Peggy Payne
      October 2, 2015 at 4:22 pm Reply

      Thanks, Beth. And you’ve seen quite a lot of watery wild places yourself.

  • October 6, 2015 at 2:47 pm Reply

    awesome pics Peg, looks like a wonderful trip !

    • Peggy Payne
      October 6, 2015 at 2:49 pm Reply

      Thanks, Chuck D. And you’re cool-in-Istanbul!

  • February 13, 2023 at 3:47 am Reply

    headed thata’ way again soon, tho we may not venture so far afield – the mountains’ll be strong in the backround, for sure. bob

    • Peggy Payne
      February 13, 2023 at 2:49 pm Reply

      And this was ten years ago. Thanks for reminding me, Bob!

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