Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Challenged In Death Valley By Old and New Friends

Eric Hansen photographer

Eric Hansen, photographer

©Bert Gildart: Several days ago I met Donald Nelson, another Airstream owner, who explained to me that I needed to clean my solar panels on an almost weekly basis. Fact of the matter is that I haven’t done so in about a month, thinking some of the rain we’ve had would take care of that chore for me. “Clean them now,” said Don, “and I’ll bet your output doubles.”


Apparently the retired electronics consultant knows what he’s talking about, for although only a small layer of dust covered my two 50-watt panels, wiping them clean raised the output from 3.1 amps per hour to almost 5.5 amps per hour. Because all this energy is free, I now stand by the gauge watching it stream in by the hour. Meanwhile I charge camera batteries, computer batteries, turn on lights–and am amazed the register bounces right back up to 100 percent.

Before any more time elapses, I want to mention again the thought that teaming up with another photographer stimulates creativity. While Eric and Sue Hansen were here, we explored many aspects of this premier desert park, possibly egging each on to work harder as photographers.

It also worked a bit with Sue, too, who called my bluff, saying sure, she’d descend to the bottom of Ubehebe Crater–and then climb back out. The name tells a little about the challenge. Ubehebe derives from a Native American word, “Tem-pin-tta-Wo’sah”, meaning Coyote’s Basket or Basket in the Rock.


The “basket’s walls” are, indeed, steep, dropping 600 feet. The crater is 3,000 years old and is one of the most recent of a series of “marr volcanoes” to have occurred in this land now comprising Death Valley. Marr volcanoes occur when magma rises from the depths to suddenly come into contact with ground water. The sudden contact creates a flash of steam, which then expands. When the pressure on the surrounding rocks becomes too great, they explode.

Janie and I are familiar with this history from a book we once worked on about Death Valley. We had fun explaining what little we do know about the area to Sue and Eric who have never been here, but most of all, we had fun during our actual explorations, not the least of which was running to be the bottom of the crater-and then crawling back out.

Descending Ubehebe Crater

Descending Ubehebe Crater

We’ll be in Death Valley for a few more days and then we’re heading for Mojave National Preserve, another park service managed area.

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