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

Montana’s Mermaids

©Bert Gildart: Photographing mermaids?  Yes, it is possible in Great Falls, Montana, at a lively tavern called the Sip & Dip.  Normally an end-of-the-week attraction, the manager asked the young ladies to make a special appearance, to help with one of my assignments.  Graciously two mermaids appeared and then performed, swimming in a huge glass tank in outfits that looked like the top of a bikini and the bottom of an actual mermaid.


Lung power of Montana mermaids is immense, enabling the young women to remain submerged for long periods.


As they swam past me, they undulated in ways intended to propel themselves forward.  Other movements were choreographed so that they performed backward somersaults, and if one followed their flow, their arch swept in such a way so that I was reminded of Salome and her Dance of the Seven Veils.


To maintain my status as a dedicated professional photographer, immense powers of concentration were required, as some might  imagine.  As the young ladies swam by, they threw me kisses, and though I was tempted to return those gestures, I remained steadfast, trying for selective focus, making sure my strobe was angled in such a way that it did not reflect off the glass. It was a tough job.

My interests, of course, were empirical.  I was concerned with the functional, and my thoughts were thusly channeled.  I was obsessed with the way in which the designer had tailored the lower part of the costume so that it would provide easy access for the young women but simultaneously permit the fluidity of motion necessary for swimming.


With powerful thrusts of arms and "flippers" mermaids descend. I remain concerned for integrity of bodices.


But I was also concerned with the bodices, because sometimes the loop inscribed by the young women consisted of a powerful downward thrust, and at times such as this, tension was applied to the bodices.  Could the materials withstand such vigorous pressure.  I was concerned – and hoped for the best.


Fortunately, patrons — all behind me — could not observe the challenges to which I was confronted and that must have registered in my countenance.  The manager had allowed me to stand behind the bar so that I was immediately adjacent to the glass. That placed me so my back was facing other patrons, and in that way I did not have to concern myself with questioning looks.


Departing with a kiss


Though I thought I heard some heckling, at such times furrows in my brow must have registered confusion as I was simply a camera artist trying to capture that which seemed most important to their performance. Sometimes the young women passed within inches of my camera and I fervently believe that helped with my various endeavors.

Unfortunately, I have not yet processed all the images, so am presenting the first of those which I have processed. I expect to be spending many hours in Photoshop, hoping to tease out artistic nuances that I may have overlooked on my first pass.




*Where Does Fall Begin?


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy

Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy

What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy

2 Responses to “Montana’s Mermaids”

  1. Rich Luhr Says:

    Bert, I’m glad you are documenting the challenges of being a photographer. People don’t understand the burdens we carry when on assignment. Your coolness and professional detachment, even under threat of rapid-fire kisses, undulating bodies, and strained bodices, is an inspiration to me. I may have to drive down to Florida’s Weeki-Wachee Springs to face the same challenge someday.

  2. Tom & Sandi Palesch Says:

    Ahhhhh, a new hobby, underwater photography. Seems to be worth looking into! In Montana no less.

    Be careful in Photohop.

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