Blackhole to Blue-Eyed Pop

DON’T blame it on the sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight, Blame It On The Tetons.

Not sure exactly what Modest Mouse had in mind when they attempted to pin something on the chunk of the Rocky Mountains just south of Yellowstone National Park.

But doubt they were thinking of small, furry creatures, this blog and an alphabetical journey through an iPod.


Yet glance to the top of this page and name of this site and it all owes a great amount to a few days in the Tetons (or the Tits as the early French settlers would have had it).

Sat up on top of this and all pages on this site is Norman, who has left a legacy from three days staying in the Tetons en route between its bigger, better known National Park cousins, Yosemite and Yellowstone.

Norman lived on the banks of Jenny Lake, where the group of us who were journeying across the US on the final leg of our London to New York overland adventure, headed out for the day.

While his furry buddies scurried off into the undergrowth, Norman assured his place in posterity by remaining totally nerveless as our group of three stopped on the path and pointed camera lenses in his direction, even having the decency to stop rooting for food long enough to sit up and face us.

Jenny Lake
Jenny Lake

Why Norman? Not quite sure, the moniker was given to him by one of my walking companions and it stuck, especially when his picture started popping up in the collections of pictures from three months on the road – longer for those of us who extended our times in the States.

Why he holds such an exalted role in this site is less certain.

Late one evening, the idea of transferring the initial London to New York articles from a community blogging site to this personal one was being kicked around during a stay at an old friend’s who knows something about that sort of thing.

The next morning, the same friend had got up early and greeted my bleary-eyed arrival with this newly-created website and, somewhere along the way, Norman’s tale provided the inspiration for the name and the Travel Marmot was born.*

Blame it on the Tetons indeed.

Not that Norman is the only thing which made the Tetons stick in my mind. Far from it.

We arrived having driven up from San Francisco, via a beautiful, sweltering day in the open-air cathedral formed by the peaks of Yosemite, up through Nevada and an incident-packed white water rafting trip on the Snake River at Jackson, Wyoming – complete with a downpour and calamitous capsize for our sister raf,t which left people strewn all over the place and a frantic rescue which probably seemed far more dramatic than it was from our position perched on the edge of a raft being tossed around by the maelstrom.

Snake River Lager
Snake River Lager

Our arrival at Colter Bay, our Tetons base for three nights and not initially something which leapt out of the itinerary, was met with delight as it provided the holy trinity of overland travellers – warm showers, a laundry and a bar, which served a brew called Snake River which we were far happier to swallow than its namesake.

Add in wi-fi, plug points in the toilet block near our campsite to charge our modern-day travelling needs and the most staggering, huge night sky – although the warning of bears around the site ensured we didn’t hang around in the open too much to savour it all on the second night on site.

So maybe it’s not a case of blaming the Tetons, but thanking them.

Modest Mouse’s reminder of those few days popped up as we escaped the Blackhole (kicking off this section courtesy of Beck), stumbled Blind and Blank for a while and ended up tangled up in blue, ending with Blue-Eyed Pop from the Sugarcubes – track number 999.

It’s been an eclectic bag with three versions of both indie classic Blister In The Sun by The Violent Femmes (always a welcome visitor, especially on a sunny drive home after work) and, aptly given its proximity to the death of their final remaining member Tommy, the inimitable intro and force of nature that is Blitzkrieg Bop (albeit one of them by Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros).

Blankest Year by Nada Surf dates back to my first iPod, pre-dating by a few weeks my first laptop, meaning it had to be populated by the contents of my brother-in-law’s, as indeed does Blind Willie McTell by Bob Dylan, just at the time when he was starting to make his mark in my collection.

And you can throw in entries by a couple of old faithfuls – Billy Bragg’s version of Blake’s Jerusalem and Blue Badge Abuser by Half Man Half Biscuit.

There was also two versions of Blight Takes All – one of …And They Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead’s more accessible moments – and all 17 minutes 45 seconds of Blaise Bailey Finnegan III by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a surprisingly enjoyable and intriguing blast of sound behind an interview with an American survivalist.

Possibly a neighbour of Norman’s.

*The same friend continued his role as the Patron Saint of Travel Marmot by solving an issue which had locked the whole site up before he managed to somehow force his way in. Cheers Jase


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