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

Open the Arctic Refuge Safely? Mendacity, Nothing but Mendacity

©Bert Gildart: Today, we are off for what may seem an activity that contradicts with my passion for preserving some of the nation’s last remaining wilderness area, specifically the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Alpine Complex, Prudhoe Bay

Alpine Complex, Prudhoe Bay

Today we’re rendezvousing with a number of other RVers, all members of the Outdoor Writer’s Association of America. We’re caravanning to Bismarck, North Dakota, to attend seminars intended to improve our writing and photography skills-and our ability to post meaningful blogs. In the past, our organization has attracted some of the nation’s best key note speakers to include William Least Heat Moon and Charles Kuralt.


Kuralt, of course, gathered his stories by traveling the outback of the United States in a motorhome, and he has always been one of my heroes. On a much more humble fashion, Janie and I are trying to do much the same. Like Kuralt, who had a passion for our national wildlife refuges, we do too, and on this trip will be visiting several.

Though Kuralt drove a motorhome, we tow an Airstream, which we believe is a relatively environmentally friendly way to be traveling. We pull our trailer with a Dodge powered with a Cummins Diesel engine and when we drive 55 to 60 our gas mileage drops but little, from about 19 to 15 mpg. When home, we drive a Chevy Geo, which gets 36 mpg. We’ve owned it for four years.


Many believe the problems we are now experiencing at the pump are because many drug their feet when it came to addressing a long-ago identified problem. Both Nixon and Carter warned of such problems, and though environmental concerns began to deteriorate with the Reagan administration, the biggest problems occurred when this current president took office, for he completely ignored all suggestions that we look to alternative fuel sources and develop more fuel-efficient vehicles. As a result, environmental detractors–sensing an opportunity–are now looking to open the Arctic Refuge. “Open the refuge,” said Bush in a recent press conference. “We can do so in an environmentally friendly manner.” Well, either this man is ignorant or he is guilty of mendacity.

In theory technology is improving and we can tap oil angling in from off shore, and so lessen the impact on the land. But humans in their haste make errors and the best example is the EXXON Valdez. Shortly after the Reagan administration, oil companies were poised to began exploratory drilling in the refuge, when the tragic oil spill occurred, killing thousands of birds and other ocean sea life such as the seals and walruses. For awhile, subsequent lawsuits were blocked by judges Reagan appointed. Still, the spill blocked the possibility of oil exploration in the refuge, at least for awhile.

Arctic Refuge fox family

Arctic Refuge fox family

Though oil companies now point to the Alaskan Pipe line as a work of efficiency, what they don’t say is that each year of the pipeline’s existence, there has been, on average, slightly over one spill a day. Certainly those spills are nothing like that resulting from the Valdez, but, nevertheless, they occur–and they can affect all forms of life in the Arctic to include these fox, photographed near the Arctic Ocean.


What’s more, Prudhoe Bay is not a paradise, rather it is a spider web of interconnecting staging stations, such as the one posted here. Oil companies almost go so far as to say such derricks benefit caribou. “Mendacity,” as Burl Ives said, playing the part of Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, “Nothing but mendacity!”

I want cheap gas as much as anyone, but I’m also inclined to believe with this catastrophic administration about to end that we may see better times. Both Obama and McCain have an environmental conscious and both seem to realize that we need to work on developing a national energy policy. What’s more, John McCain said he would no sooner drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge than in the Grand Canyon. (I also like McCain because Rush Limbaugh dislikes him.)

My hope, then, is that enough other people will be willing to wait and see what changes a new administration might implement. If the current administration had pushed alternative energy and encouraged the production of more fuel efficient vehicles eight years ago, think of where we’d be now.


And now Janie and I are off, bound for North Dakota where we will also be taking in presentations on global warming and on our energy crisis. Our itinerary while on route will include lots of photo stops to include the Custer Battlefield, Theodore Roosevelt and Badlands National Park. I’ll also be judging two OWAA Photo contests, so once again, not only do we expect our travels to return many educational opportunities, but to provide much fun as well.

And one more thing: I promise not to post blogs on politics for the next month.

One Response to “Open the Arctic Refuge Safely? Mendacity, Nothing but Mendacity”

  1. Kimmy Says:

    Bert I know I liked you for reasons other than your love for nature and photography. lol The government has piddled around too long when it comes to providing us with alternative energy. I just hope it’s too little too late.
    You and Janie have a wonderful adventure into the north.