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

In Zortman, Montana, Some Are Still Finding Gold


John Kalal finds a "picker."

©Bert Gildart:  Because the Little Rockies in eastern Montana produced gold and silver several settlements sprang up, but only Zortman remains. Surrounded by beautiful cliffs, the settlement’s dirt streets are flanked by the Miners Bar, an old jail, the Buckhorn Store, several RV parks, and a prominent Catholic Church which reposed atop a small hill. A number of cabins and mobile homes accommodate approximately 90 permanent residents, several of whom we came to greatly admire.

John and Candy Kalal have families from the area that go back for several generations, and the couple has established strong roots. They’ve raised both biological and foster children in Zortman and have contributed in many ways to the progress of the small community.


But I admired John in other ways as well. He served in Vietnam as a Marine where he was badly wounded, though one would not suspect as much.  Despite the fusion of several vertebrae, he scurries everywhere and has found answers to all of life’s questions through a strong personal faith.

John and Candy are both outgoing and operate a small museum. They can accommodate visitors in their small motel or in their RV park. They have a fascination with Montana history and have helped publish several books on local subjects.  As well John offers a guide service for those who want to pan for gold.


I told John that folks in Zortman should be thankful he’s a resident, a comment he answered with a shrug of his shoulders. John then said that he wanted to make miners out of us, and moments later we were bouncing over a boulder-strewn road in his old truck. Twenty minutes later, we stopped along Alder Creek, hefted a pick and shovel from the bed of his pickup, dug up some gravel which we loaded into a sluice box. After examining those rocks, we then turned to the art of panning for gold.

Zortman LittleRockies-10 LittleRockies-3

“Often we find some pretty good ‘pickers,’” laughed John lifting his pan from the stream.  And indeed we did. John also plucked a nugget from the rocks, then laughed when he saw our eyes widen.  He said he’d sneaked it in to create drama, adding that we sometimes do find one. “Which is the reason,” he said, “that this can be so much fun.”

We returned to Zortman several hours later, and John pointed me to a trail that would take me to the top of one of the cliffs now  flanked  with autumn leaves. I was developing a strong attachment for Zortman and the Little Rockies, and understood why Captain Lewis — who described them year ago  — had described these mountain in such glowing terms.




*Antietam National Battlefield


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