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

Archive for December, 2011

Fear or Procreation! What Might the Monster Rock Snake Represent?

posted: December 30th, 2011 | by:Bert

BorregoRockSnake-13

Pacing off size

©Bert Gildart: Five-hundred years from now – after man has rebounded from a devastating decline in population associated with much tragic and social unrest — archaeologists will reemerge to wonder about those who lived in the distant past. (Come on, play along for a minute.)

They begin by excavating, and because deserts are always so productive, lo and behold, they begin in Anza Borrego. Here, they find a rock or two whose juxtaposition appears to have been created intentionally.

“Eureka!” someone exclaims! And then they begin the tedious process of uncovering the entire structure.

Months later, a form will appear, and scientists will conclude that it was the recreation of a huge snake.

In fact, with its triangular shaped head and segmented tail (all created with the artistic arrangement of rocks) it appears to be a rattlesnake.


120 Foot-Long Serpent

Measurements will determine the sinuous form of the snake stretches about 40 feet but that if uncoiled, it would measure 120-feet long.

Much time must have to have been devoted to the project, perhaps, scholars will conclude, four or five hours.  But, then, to perfect the structure, these people had to return over a period of several days, perhaps even weeks. And because so much time was involved our future scientist will have to wonder if Homo sapiens of the period deified the snake?

Searching for answers scholars will dig into books created by the ancients of the year 2012, and they will learn  that Native Americans of the mid-18th Century (as an example)  created images of the creatures that were important to them at the time.  In this place still called Anza Borrego they created symbols of the sun and of the anthropomorphs.

They created graphic images of the genitalia of men and woman perhaps as a means of increasing fertility.  And in other areas still preserved in lands yet known (we can hope) as National Parks, they learned Native ancients created images of sheep, possibly because sheep (Zion NP)had died out. They hoped that through the creation of their images that they would generate the magic needed to bring sheep back, and so push back hunger. (Other petroglyph sites I’ve visited: Earth Mother, V-Bar-V)

In other words, they carved out pictographs and petroglyphs for all sorts of reasons, generally for reasons that seemed important at the time.


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Which brings us to our snake.

Worship of Snakes

Serpents have long been worshiped, because they shed their skins and are symbolically “reborn.” In fact, classes of the Hindu and Buddhist have worshipped (and still worship) snakes – and very large ones at that.  And, so, it is probably safe to extend the feeling of awe for snakes to Homo sapiens at large. And because of recent events, so it is here at Pegleg. Just the other day someone saw a large rattler in the hills just behind us.

BorregoRockSnake-10

Through the eons, many have worshipped snakes

 



I honestly have no idea who created the huge serpent, but the reasons could be associated with some of the above. Perhaps it was an infertile couple desirous of procreation; a group hoping for immunity from a bite.  Or perhaps as scientist say, no one really knows why the ancients created the thousands of pictographs and petroglyphs that cover the American Southwest. “Maybe,” our scholars say, “they were simply doodling, trying to pass the time on a warm winter day.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THREE YEARS AGO:

*Airstreaming Along the Blue Ridge Parkway


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Oatman, Arizona Promotes its “Classy Asses”

posted: December 26th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Family has kept us busy here in Bullhead City with some wonderful tours to local attractions, the little mining town of Oatman being the highlight.


BullheadCity-1 BullheadCity-3 Oatman-5


L To R: “Classy asses” roam streets of Oatman, abandoned years ago by miners; Christmas decorations adorn trees on fringe of Oatman; Biblical use of the other word for burrows adds to this old mining town’s colorful  ambiance.


The town harkens back to a mining era and is located in the Black Mountains of Mohave County, Arizona.  The drive from Bullhead City requires about half an hour and the road ascends to a height of 2,710 feet.  Christmas decorations grace the many juniper trees as we approach, imparting a festive atmosphere to an already interesting history.

Route 66

Oatman is particularly proud of its Route 66 heritage and replicas of 66’s black-on-white US highway shield are posted all over the town. Route 66 souvenirs abound and many tourists have pasted autographed one-dollar bills on the walls and ceiling of the Oatman Hotel’s bar and restaurant.

BullheadCity-2

Granddaughter Halle with "miner" and grandmother Pat

 



Signs posted around the town explain that Oatman began as a tent camp soon after two prospectors struck a $10 million gold find in 1915.  Though the area had been already settled for a number of years, Oatman’s population grew to more than 3,500 in the course of a year.

Classy Asses

Stores of various types graced the town’s streets, and a “gunman” walking the town’s streets imparts a Wild West atmosphere, but the chief attraction were the burros, (signs everywhere remind us they are “Classy asses”) which roam the streets.  Though normally gentle, the burros are in fact wild and signs posted throughout Oatman advise visitors to exercise caution. The burros are descended from pack animals turned loose by early prospectors, and are protected.


Oatman-1

The town is full of burrows descended from ones prospectors abandoned years ago.

 


Granddaughter Halle enjoyed feeding the burrows and also enjoyed the opportunity to pan for gold.  Janie and I both enjoyed the trip and the opportunity to experience a slice of history from Arizona’s past.  With all the entertainment family has provided, we feel as though we’ve been treated like honored guests.

 

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THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:


*Creative Use of PhotoShop

 

 

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Merry Christmas from Bullhead City

posted: December 24th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Merry Christmas from Silver View RV Resort, where Janie and I are now parked in our Airstream.

Our back window where the bed is located faces the Colorado River and the night time views of Bullhead City are dramatic.


BullheadCity-1


We still classify ourselves as Pegleggers but my daughter’s in-laws winter in Bullhead, so we made the four-hour drive to be with them all at Christmas.  By everyone I mean Bill, Pat, Will, Angie, and, of course, my granddaughter Halle Mae.  We consider ourselves lucky to have family so near and have many fun plans planned for the next few days.

Bullhead is essentially a retirement community, and gambling is king.  The area seems to offer a great deal for the winter retiree, to include golfing, riverboat trips, excursions to old mining towns, and fishing.



It’s also a nice spot for a photographer, and last night I stood on the bluff of our “Premium Plus RV lot” and watched as the traffic chugged by and the lights from the casinos blazed.  I also took a few shots of the extent to which some occupants have gone to create a Christmas atmosphere.

Everyone seems to be in a Christmas mood, and complete strangers holler out Merry Christmas.


BullheadCity-3

View from our Airstream on Christmas Eve

 


We’d like to extend those same wishes to all of you.


 

MERRY CHRISTMAS

With love, Janie and Bert

 


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THIS TIME FIVE YEARS AGO:

*Christmas in Tampa Florida

 

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THE CENTURY PLANT — A SPECIES FOR ALL SEASONS

posted: December 19th, 2011 | by:Bert

Agave-1©Bert Gildart: Several days ago on a hike through Moonlight Canyon, I thought I saw the last species to flower for the season, the fuchsia.  It was a surprise, then, to walk the nature trail at the Visitor Center of the Anza Borrego Desert Nature Center and see one of this region’s most conspicuous of plants; one of this region’s most written about species – in full bloom. At this time of year!

Towering about 30 feet overhead and back dropped by the San Jacinto Mountains, the agave – also known as century plant – beamed down on us with its yellow inflorescence.  Several years ago I accompanied retired superintendent Mark Jorgensen on a guided hike, and recall him saying that the agave was one of the most important species in the park, contributing to the creation by Native Americans in this park of over 5,000 roasting pits. On other hikes, we’d seen several.

It was a March hike, and at that time the species was putting forth blossoms, so several volunteers at the Visitor Center and I concluded that the flowering of the plant now in bloom was most likely due to much TLC bestowed by yet other volunteers.

AGAVE TO TEQUILA? YES INDEED

But no matter, the flowers were impressive and I recalled that Natives used virtually all parts of the species to include the flowers, which they made into a beverage.  Indians also used the plant’s fibers to make cloth, bowstrings and rope.  And the use I like best: In Mexico the species is fermented to make a drink called pulque, which might then be distilled to make tequila.

Its other name, century plant, is derived from the fact that 30, 40, perhaps even 100 years may pass before it blossoms. Apparently, the plant then dies.

Because that was most likely the case here I went to some lengths to obtain a pleasing composition.  Erecting my tripod I mounted a 600mm lens for the detailed image (because it was so far off the ground)  and a 200 mm lens for the more distant appearing picture.  In both cases I used a slow shutter speed complemented by a narrow aperture to increased depth of field.


Agave-2

Detail of century plant required 600mm lens, because of distance from ground


 


Though it all took time, little matter, for the agave is a significant park plant, and its blossoms may soon be gone.  If it ever blooms again, “a century” may pass.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS FOUR YEARS AGO:

*Ranger Do Not Want Guns in Our National Parks


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Surviving In a Land Where Everything Either Sticks, Stings or Bites

posted: December 18th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: In a land where everything either sticks, stings or bites,  Bill (see previous post) and I decided we would return to the Moonlight Canyon trail and see if we could learn more about what — and how — sheep eat. Can they actually digest thorns?


MoonLight Canyon-4

Surviving in a land where everything sticks, stings or bites

 

Essentially because this area in Anza Borrego Desert State Park  is so rugged, it is, in fact, ideal sheep country, and that morning we’d watched as a band of about five desert bighorn sheep – all young rams – had munched on surrounding vegetation.  Food they consumed grew close to the ground and from our vantage we could not see what it was.  Everything here seemed covered with thorns, and we wondered how they managed.

A DIET OF CACTI?

The sheep had moved on so Bill and I decided to climb to the prominence on which they’d been watching the world around them. Here, we found much cholla, and every single one contained extraordinarily sharp thorns.


MoonLight Canyon-6 MoonLight Canyon-9

Sheep munch away the sharp thorns to exposure the underlying fruit of the cholla. Apparently, it is all palatable.


Mind you, these were brutally sharp thorns, and as we had climbed, several had lodged in the soft fabric of my jeans and then penetrated to jab me in a particularly painfully manner.  This was the food of our sheep, and as we examined the plants, we found no discarded thorns.  Apparently, they had consumed not only the fruit of the cacti, but also the thorns.

MICRO CLIMATES

Bill and I returned to the trail and his attention turned to the various micro-climates contained along the Moonlight Canyon trail. He asked me if I’d noted the various rock pockets where temperatures fluctuated, and it was true.  Here in this twist-y canyon where the aspect changed markedly, we found not only pockets of cold, but also pockets of relative warmth. Apparently, the warm pockets provided conditions appropriate for the season’s last brave flowering species.


MoonLight Canyon-7 MoonLight Canyon-8


Bill said he believed the flower was a fuchsia. With its long red sepals and petals and very conspicuous stamen it was a colorful plant, necessary perhaps to attract insects for late season pollination.  It was a perfect photographic specimen so I attached a 105mm macro lens, set up a tripod, and then illuminated it with two strobes manually  (250sec, f32)  set to overwhelm ambient light, so producing the black background.

Janie and I left Agua Calienta late in the day, commenting over and over that we’d had a marvelous day, filled with good friends, flowers, birds, and wildlife. How could it get any better?



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THIS TIME THREE YEARS AGO:

Channel Islands


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Christmas at Bill & Larry’s

posted: December 15th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Snow covered the Vallecito Mountains as we made our drive to Agua Calienta to see our friends Bill and Larry.


VallecitoMountains

Vallecito Mountains, December 14th. That's snow up there folks!

 


Janie and I meet the two men about four years ago and discovered that we shared similar interests and an interest in acquiring skills we all admired.  Larry is a gourmet cook, Bill a photographer and an interpreter of history at a park center in San Diego.  Perhaps not too coincidentally, we all share a love of Airstream travel. What’s more Bill and I share a fascination with one of Anza Borrego’s most historic of all characters,  Marshall South.

KINDEST OF PEOPLE

I also want to say that Bill and Larry are two of the kindest men we’ve ever met. When we arrived, we saw that Larry had laid out a Christmas table onto which he later served a gourmet pork stew. Larry had also made several Christmas decorations that he wanted Janie to have.

Bill&Larry-4

Christmas at Bill and Larry's

 


Once, both men were professional care givers, but are now retired.  Larry was an occupational therapist while Bill was master-level nurse.  The two have been together now for 40 years and certainly that was one of the many things we discussed.

COMMON INTERESTS

But most of our time was spent talking about the area’s natural history.  Agua Calienta was one of the places Marshall South described, and over the years, Bill and I have made many hikes to learn more about this fascinating man who is often described as the forerunner of the hippies.

We talked about Moonlight Canyon and the hike Janie, Bill and I had just completed and all the sheep we saw, something I will describe in my next posting.  We talked about the quail we’d all seen during our desert hike.


Pennisular Bighorn-3 Quail-4


Later the park ranger dropped by and Larry showed him a book I had written several years ago on big horn sheep.  That set the stage for an hour long discussion about the Peninsular Bighorn and it’s struggle to survive. Mark, the ranger said he would try and help us find the “really big guy,” if we came back.

Certainly we will come back.  In fact sometime next month most likely you’ll be reading a post specifically about Aqua Calienta.  In the meantime Janie and I want to take a moment to thank both Bill and Larry for the excellent food, good company, gifts, and for introducing us to this part of Anza Borrego.


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THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:

*Pure Photography In Many Glacier Valley

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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




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Slot Canyons—Anza Borrego is a Park of Much Diversity

posted: December 13th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Anza Borrego Desert Park provides wonderful examples of erosion but little is more dramatic than the park’s slot canyons.  Fortunately for us here at Peg Leg, trailheads are within a short drive.

My companions were Don and Nancy Dennison, and we share a love not only of traveling in Airstreams (they just purchased a new Classic), and like us, they also love hiking and exploring areas that require a bit of an effort.

GEOLOGICAL PUZZLES

Don and Nancy also enjoy trying to solve geological puzzles, particularly as it pertains to our interest of the day, specifically the slot canyons.  Don and I both believe we can I.D. rocks and we concluded that most was of a sedimentary nature.


SlotCanyon-3 SlotCanyon-2 SlotCanyon-1


L to R:  Traverlers Peak; slot canyon, trail to Quartzite Mine

 

Our contention is based on the immense layering of most of the visible rocks, But there also seems to be many granitic type rocks, meaning this land was not only exposed to vast inland seas, but also to violent upheavals below the earth’s crust.  That accounts for all the scattered rocks in the foreground of my image of Travelers Peak.

GRAIN BY GRAIN

The last chapter in our story is, of course, the one of erosion, and in this case erosion which occurred over a period of thousands of years.  Grain by grain, wind and water craved out some of the softer rock in the sedimentary layers to gouge  out  this incredible defile.

Though our day topped out at about 70 degrees, this is where I’d want to be on a hot summer day. From previous excursions here, we know temperatures in the recesses of these slot canyons  may be 10 to 15 degrees cooler.

Indeed, Anza Borrego is a park full of wonderful diversity, and this is just one example.


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THIS TIME THREE  YEARS AGO:

*Snowy Owls Are Ghosts of the North


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Moon Rise and the Beauty of Night Skies

posted: December 11th, 2011 | by:Bert

A-Borrego-3©Bert Gildart: Last night as I was returning from my chore of loading up our four, six gallon water jugs to replenish part of the 40 gallons of water we seem to use each week, the moon began to rise.

Before I had gone far palm trees began to border the moon, reminding us that the desert can indeed provide stunning vistas, particularly in the evening and then even more dramatically, at night.

Out here in wide open spaces, one of our pleasures is, in fact, the night skies, and Janie and I contend that the deserts offer some of the best in viewing opportunities.

Our contention begs this question:

How many places are left in the United States where night skies are clear enough to study – much less – see the various constellations?  Or even the moon?  Anza Borrego now prides itself as being on a national  register of areas still processing “Dark Skies.”

As time goes by there are fewer and fewer areas in the U.S. that qualify.  A few other places include Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and various places in Montana such as the Big Hole Battlefield (teepees). There are, of course, others, but these are some of our favorites.

Night photography can celebrate these places, as shown in photos included.  One of course is the moon rise (above), the other is also a moon rise image taken two years ago on New Year’s Eve.  This image is particularly special as it shows us toasting to the New Years but also to the Blue Moon behind us.


DeathValley BlueMoon2 ChiefJoseph


L to R:  Death Valley, toasting the New Year and the rare Blue Moon, star trails at Big Hole Battlefield.


Night Skies are precious and it is a shame that they are dwindling throughout our country.


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THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:

*Transforming Photography Into Art

 

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Borrego Springs Farmer’s Market

posted: December 10th, 2011 | by:Bert

A-Borrego-2©Bert Gildart: Friday in Borrego Springs, California, is highlighted with local farmers setting up dozens of stands at Christmas Circle, the center of this small town named after the Spanish word for sheep, Los Borregos.

Yesterday, of course, was Friday, and as anticipated farmers from many surrounding farms made their weekly pilgrimage to this small town of several thousand.  Like others Janie and I also made a pilgrimage but in our case it was but seven miles from Peg Leg  to visit this local Farmer’s Market.


Choices of vegetable were numerous and included stands of grapefruits, lemons and limes and oranges.  But it also included such delectables  as persimmons, artichokes, cucumbers, zucchini, avocado, and cherry tomatoes.

Most of the farmers were Mexican, and they all seemed to take great pride in their work.  They offered samples of various juices, and we had to admit that some may have been the very best we’d ever tasted.

Fruits were modestly priced and were a bargain, but when we were told the bottle of fresh orange juice to which we’d committed was $7.00 we both tried not to swallow.

A-Borrego-1


But it was excellent, and the farmer had spent much time explaining his techniques for raising vegetables – and oranges.


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THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:

*Chaco Canyon

 

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Though but an Infant, I Remember Pearl Harbor

posted: December 7th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Exactly 70 years ago  I was at Pearl Harbor and though I was only a year old and obviously have but little memory of the events that unfolded that horrible day in Hawaii, I have heard the story from my parents who certainly do remember the horrors.

It was a Sunday, and my dad and mom had placed me outside in a baby carriage, when they heard what sounded like thunder. It was, of course, the Japanese, and they were attacking America, “A day of infamy,” as President Franklin Roosevelt would soon say.

At the time my dad was a captain, four years out of West Point, and after securing my mom and me, he quickly reported to his post at Schofield Barracks…


To read the rest of this account, click the following highlight, which will take you to a blog which I posted two years ago. (Remembering Pearl Harbor) Part of my account also includes the writings of one of my parent’s good friends (Rosalie Folda), who has written extensively about December 7th, 1941.


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Devoted to Tradition we EXPECT to find PEGLEG’S GOLD

posted: December 7th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Not far from where we’re camped there’s a marker stipulating that if we are here hoping to find Pegleg’s gold mine then we must add ten rocks to a designated pile.  Because we believe in legends, by now we’ve most likely added several dozen rocks to the ever growing heap.


pegleg-3

Let those who seek Pegleg's gold add ten rock to this pile.

 

Folks like us who search for Pegleg’s gold are actually searching for a mine said to have been discovered by Thomas Smith. It is written that the man “salted” the desert with a peg leg as he searched for gold. In other words,  Smith  once searched this area for gold, walking on one leg that was good and one leg (a pegged leg)  that was bad.  Legend has it that he did indeed find gold but died before he heralded his discovery to the world..

Smith searched the area for gold that now bears his name around 1866. He lived near the Pegleg campground, so his gold mine really could be within a few miles of our Airstream.  Because we believe the story, we hike the hills almost daily.



pegleg-4

Devoted to tradition, Janie adds one of the 10 mandated rocks




What that means, of course, is that Janie and I and the companions with whom we are now camped may well be on the verge of the discovery of  gold.  Every day we search improbable areas, but most  importantly, we add more stones to this ever growing monument of rock.  Surely adherence to tradition will soon be paying dividends.

However, I’m not sure we’ll tell anyone what finally happens.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS  SIX YEARS AGO:

*Sunshine Skyway Bridge (Tampa, Florida)

 

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





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Understanding Solar Energy — As Exciting As The Wink In a Young Girl’s Eye

posted: December 5th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: We’ve been at Peg Leg now for almost one full week, and not once have we had to turn on our generator to satisfy our electrical needs.  So far solar energy — transformed into electrical energy through our six solar panels — has provided everything we need. Now this is exciting stuff, so exciting that I’m constantly getting up from my work table to gawk at the panel with the solar controller to visually observe — and appreciate — all of this heavenly largess.

It’s fascinating despite weather conditions, and during the past week we’ve had several days of overcast skies and nights when temperature dipped into the 30s, meaning the drain on our four batteries has at times been great.  Change, in fact,  is great, as my Zamp Solar Charge Controler tells me, and it changes further in accordance with the devices we are using at the moment. The list is long.


pegleg-5

Computers, TV, printers, showers, all powered by the sun

 

We convert stored energy into usable electrical energy using two inverters. In turn, the inverters simultaneously provide juice for our two computers. As well, the inverters can charge up batteries in our cameras, cell phones, our electric toothbrushes, our i-Pod, etc.  We try and do this during the day when the sun is out and when the sun almost instantly replaces all Airstream battery drainage. For the same reason we try and take showers when the sun is shining for the drain created be water pump is substantial.

NOT MUCH DAYLIGHT

But we certainly use electricity at night and that’s when the depth of our four batteries comes into play.  The sun sets here about 4:30 and until we go to bed we burn all the lights we want, play the i-Pod, and may watch one of the many movies we’ve brought along.  We also operate the furnace, which is probably the biggest drain on our batteries. In the morning when we awaken, our voltage normally reads 12.9, but this morning it read 12.7. Presumable that was because we ran our furnace. After all, it was cold.

Nights are very long right now so we go to bed about 9 but I’ve been getting up about 5, at which time I work on the computer.  That means I need battery power for the computer until the sun comes up about 6:45, at which time the panels seem to kick right in. As the sun rises I start with a reading of 0.2 on my solar controller, but by 11 everything seems to be fully charged, regardless of whether or not the sun is obscured by clouds.  By 10 o’clock voltage on the solar monitor is reading over 14 and if the sun is shining, the monitor tells me that over 10 solar amps are pouring into our Airstream each hour.  Wow!

EXCITING STUFF

To some, this may not mean a darn thing, and until recently, it didn’t mean much to me, and to tell the truth, there’s much I still don’t understand.  But it is satisfying to know all the research is paying off and that I can monitor all these transformations as they actually take place. That’s so exciting, and many of you may be able to relate.

Just think back to that glorious moment when your junior high science teacher told you that energy could neither be created nor destroyed, only converted.  Wasn’t that one of the greatest – one of the most exciting — moments of your life?

Now you know how I feel — and yes, I’ve listened to Bruce Springsteen crooning about “the wink in a young girl’s eye.”


*NOTE: I’ve just learned that Wikipedia has picked up my blog  Night of the Grizzly, calling it “extra reading.” The Video, Night of the Grizzly, produced by Montana Public TV, has also been released.  It’s a thorough and informative documentary and pulls together the many people involved with the tragic and fatal maulings back in 1967.  The documentary also reviews the life history of grizzly bears.  Many were interviewed, including me.  What’s more almost half of the still images in the documentary were mine — and I’m very proud of that.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS SIX YEARS AGO:

*Kayaking Tampa Bay

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Tarantulas & Anal Sphincters at Peg Leg? Sometimes

posted: December 1st, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Though I am working on a book about Montana, the door to our Airstream is wide open allowing me to peer through the screen and maintain a vigil for migrating tarantulas.  Late November and early December is their mating season, so the prospect could be good. I have never seen one in the wild, but that could be because we’ve never been here so early.  Mind you, not everyone around me is enthusiastic about this prospect, but as a bonafied desert rat, such an event will be even more satisfying than knowing that the Steelers are playing in the Super bowl.

SOLAR POWERED

At the moment, Janie and I are housed in our Airstream in a barren spot of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park known as Peg Leg. Once again, this may not be a satisfying experience for everyone, and I hesitate to say anything good about the area for fear more people will show up.

pegleg-1

At Peg Leg solar panels are a must


For us, Peg Leg has come to symbolize peace, some freedom and a place where people seem to live and let live.  We’ll be here for several months and because of some breakdown (that’s what it has to be!) in the economic system, camping here is free, but to enjoy the area and to not piss off one’s neighbors, one must have solar panels. We have six, two that are portable, and four on top of our Airstream.  As well, we have four batteries in our trailer.


KEEPING BUSY – NO PROBLEM

Other than work, Janie and I find much to occupy ourselves. We read and watch old movies powered by our inverter.  As well we hike, ride our bicycles and explore a multitude of features left by the historic people who preceded us (Peg Leg is one).  We also enjoy evening get-togethers ‘round a fire and then socializing with people whom we have known over the years.

pegleg-2

Most surrounding us are now gone, but we're here for the long term

 


We were delighted to see that Ted and Carol of British Columbia were back and are looking forward to Don and Nancy of Vermont showing up. Mike the Mechanic is here, too, and several years ago he helped to demystify a life with solar panels.

THE ANAL SPHINCTER

As well, we watch for tarantulas and scorpions and publicize such creatures whenever we find one.  We hope their presence will keep the neer-do-wells away. Though we don’t see many showing up here, we do get ‘em.  One such man ran his humongous generator non-stop  ’round the clock, flew his model airplane (against all rules), and built a fire directly on the ground, which is also against the rules.  Before leaving, the man informed me that I was a “poopy kind of person.”  In turn, I informed him that he was a “First Class Anal Sphincter.”

That’s the kind of person I hope will be intimidated by the prospect of seeing a tarantula.


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THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*Bosque del Apache

 

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