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

Flathead Smoke Greeted Us Weary Airplane Travelers

©Bert Gildart: And so after two full hurried weeks back East, we are back in Montana. To say the weeks were hurried is, for me an understatement, and here is an example. This past Saturday, I drove from New Jersey to Washington D.C. to visit my Godmother. Sunday I returned to New Jersey, and that night Janie and I packed for our return flight. Next morning we arose at 3:30 so Janie’s daughter Katie could drive us to Newark. The drive took slightly over an hour and despite the early hour traffic was bumper to bumper.

Flathead Valley Smoke as seen from our back porch

Flathead Valley Smoke as seen from our back porch

What that means is that in the three- and sometimes four-lane highway, we were engulfed front, rear and on either side by huge semis, trying to make time to increase their revenue. Though you might be traveling the speed limit of 75 (there’s a five mile fudge factor that seems to be universally accepted) trucks will still bear down on you until they are within feet of your bumper. And there they’ll remain until you get the hell out of their way.

At Newark, we waited about half an hour to obtain boarding passes, then almost an hour to be searched and OK-ed to board. Then, once aboard, the captain spoke saying there was engine trouble. Whatever the trouble was mechanics cleared about an hour and a half later enabling us to take off for Salt Lake City. We arrived over an hour late, but our flight to Kalispell, Montana (home), had been held, meaning we touched ground at 1:30 instead of 12:05, as scheduled. By the time we picked up baggage and actually stepped through our door it was 3:30. We were exhausted. Janie soon fell asleep and slept over 12 hours. I wasn’t far behind.


While in flight from Salt Lake City and over Idaho we saw smoke kicking up from several national forests, and apparently that is part of the source of all the smoke the Flathead is once again experiencing. That combined with the extremely high temperatures (slightly over 100), and we wish we could have delayed our return, for the smoke has both Janie and me with our heads stopped up. Certainly freedom to come and go is one of the benefits of traveling by RV, but if we had changed our flights, Delta would have charged us each $100.


Previously, we have always traveled in our Airstream, but Janie had not seen her children and grandchildren for two years. I wanted to see them, too, for in the 17 years Janie and I have been married, they have come to treat me like family. Last year we had some unexpected health issues, but all have been resolved, meaning we can hike, kayak, bike-and travel extensively to our heart’s content. That means we won’t wait another two years to return east.

In the meantime, expect to see more postings on Glacier and in another week or so, some postings from Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada. We have assignments there and as soon as the smoke settles and we recoup, we’ll be heading out.

POPULAR POST FROM THE PAST: Another posting of mine that has received considerable comment is one from last summer entitled Night of the Grizzly . The post describes my involvement as a ranger in Glacier the night when two girls were fatally mauled. Though many of the notes to me were through e-mail, not all were. Several were posted this past week as comments to the blog and are interesting. As I say, that post continues to pop up when people run searches on bears and particularly on bears in Glacier National park. Once I wrote a story for Smithsonian magazine about these, the park’s first fatal maulings. Since that time there have been about a dozen more.

More Bear Posts:

*Benefits of Bear Spray

*Training People To Watch Bears

One Response to “Flathead Smoke Greeted Us Weary Airplane Travelers”

  1. Kimmy Says:

    Hello again Bert! Oh I’ve missed so many post. I have a lot to catch up on. Sounds like you’ve had a wonderful trip visiting family. I detest traffic like that. I can’t imagine traveling through a big city and being wedged between cars and trucks for so long.
    Looking forward to your post on Banff and Jasper!

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