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 September, 2012

The Grand Canyon & Theodore Roosevelt

posted: September 29th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: After overnighting  at a marginally acceptable Navajo-managed campground, fixing a flat tire on our trailer, studying a sign that seems to epitomizes the effects that shunning (see immediate right photo)  might have — but then having a delightful and classy meal at the Cameron Trading Post, where this reservation-managed post has created an incredible historical retrospective — we have finally drifted on and now find ourselves in the Grand Canyon, a park revered by Theodore Roosevelt. (We’ll get to him in a minute!)


GrandCanyon (1 of 7) CameronTradingPost (10 of 1)


L TO R:  Shunning makes a powerful statement and sometimes it works; Historic Cameron Trading Post, well operated by Navajo Tribe.


As my sister says, “Bert, you seem to know where you’re going only after you’ve spent a couple of days there.”

But now we’re here, and after a couple of days, we know what we’re going to do at least for the next few days.  We’re going to explore Grand Canyon National Park, a place Roosevelt revered.

BRYCE INTIMATE BUT GRAND CANYON ALOOF

But if Bryce was intimate, the Grand Canyon is aloof, so overwhelming that it is hard to know what to do – and where to begin.  Still if anyone is expecting that we will report, saying that our sour economy has affected area fascination that will not be the case.

Grand Canyon attracts five million visitors annually, and it seems as though three of them are here right now.


THEODORE ROOSEVELT

What we hoping to do is arrive at some kind of statement which we can use for a comparison between today and the base-line statement Theodore Roosevelt made so long ago.

“In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.”


GrandCanyon (6 of 7)

View from along Rim Trail, near Mather Point

 


Looking out over the canyon, this man’s eloquence seems to summarize it all.  Despite what my sister says we know we’ll be here several days more, and will report our conclusions.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THIS TIME LAST YEAR

*Billings, Montana’s Trailhead


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(You can order our new books (shown below ) from Amazon — or you can order them directly from the Gildarts. Bert will knock a dollar off the list price of $16.95, but he must add the cost of book-rate mailing and the mailer, which are $2.25. The grand total then is $18.20. Please send checks to Bert Gildart at 1676 Riverside Road, Bigfork, MT 59911.)

 

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Bryce & The Ancient Bristlecone Pine

posted: September 28th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  In addition to world-class scenery, Bryce Canyon National Park has other dramatic features that may not be so well known.  For one, antelope roam the open meadows of this lofty park, and they are a delight to watch as they zip from one location to another.


Antelope

Wildlife in Bryce is diverse and includes antelope

 


But Bryce also hosts one of the world’s most interesting of vegetation species, the bristlecone pine. The tree is the oldest of tree-like organism and dendrochronology — or tree dating — places individuals near 5,000 years of age.

In Bryce, park literature says they grow only along the rim and the oldest here are but a mere 1,600 years old.  Research also says that that many resource managers are reluctant to reveal the location of the trees.  “Unfortunately,” they say, “the selfish tradition of collecting anything unique has caused many agencies who protect Bristlecone Pines to keep secret the age and location of their older trees.”


BristleCone3 BristleCone2 BristleCone4


L TO R:  Though most species rot after death not bristlecone pines, which only seem to grow more bizarre as they weather, like stone.  Bristlecone pine cone; more bizarre formations.


To some degree that seems to be the case in Bryce, though park literature details a few locations, so my images are not revealing anything new.  For instance, literature says you can see them from along the Peekaboo Trail, the trail which Janie and I hiked several days ago.

By virtue of age the tree is inspiring, but the species has practical applications.  Tree rings of known ages are compared against environmental conditions enabling botanists to evaluate environmental conditions that may have existed long ago. They do so by measuring the relative size of growth rings, and by knowing that certain favorable climatic conditions create greater space between the growth rings.  Years ago I learned much of this in college botany courses.


BristleCone

Bristlecone pines backdropped by Bryce Hoodoos.

 


In part the tree’s longevity is due to the wood’s extreme durability. While other species of trees that grow nearby suffer rot, even after death bare bristlecone pines can endure, standing on their roots for many centuries. Such exposure as they begin to die back creates unusual forms, which certainly added to the timelessness that seems so inherent in Bryce.

Though bristlecone pines grow in many other areas, my search for them has not been as successful as it has been in Bryce.  And now, we’re off to the Grand Canyon, which is linked geologically to Bryce.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS ONE YEAR AGO:

*Cowgirl Poet Gwen Petersen


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(You can order our new books (shown below ) from Amazon — or you can order them directly from the Gildarts. Bert will knock a dollar off the list price of $16.95, but he must add the cost of book-rate mailing and the mailer, which are $2.25. The grand total then is $18.20. Please send checks to Bert Gildart at 1676 Riverside Road, Bigfork, MT 59911.)

 

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Unique Forces Created Bryce Hoodoos

posted: September 26th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: According to the several geology books I have been reading and to the naturalists with whom I’ve spoken, Bryce Canyon National Park contains the world’s most spectacular formations of “Hoodoos.”  Obviously, then, the conditions that exist here must be unique, and as we’ve poked around, essentially hiking some of the trails, we’re starting to realize that all this hyperbola really is true.


Peekaboo (20 of 14)

Descending trail linking with Peekaboo

 


Yesterday, Janie and I hiked from a trailhead at Bryce Overlook along a spur that connected a loop trail known as the Peekaboo Trail.  In all of our years of exploring the nation’s national parks, we both agreed that this trail exposed some of the nation’s most unusual formations: towering spires, pinnacles, huge knife-like extensions of rocks; castles, arches, tunnels and more. And not just isolated but spreading over an area of miles.  The three-mile long Peekaboo trail provides little more than an introduction to the vastness of all these “Hoodoos,” for they extend over acres and acres.

How did they come to exist? And how all the unusual shapes and vast sizes?


Peekaboo (21 of 14) Peekaboo (25 of 14) Peekaboo (22 of 14)


L TO R: Descending from Bryce Point, spires along Hoodoo Trail, Janie about to enter tunnel descending to Bryce Canyon and continuation of 5-mile hike.
(CLICK TO ENJOY AS AN ENLARGED IMAGE)


According to interpreters, there are several reasons, and all are unique – found no where else in the world.

PRECISE FORCES

Millions of years ago, two forces began to act on what was then bedrock.  One of these forces exerting pressure upward but in a northwesterly fashion while the other force exerted its pressures in a northeasterly fashion.  These forces acted independent of one another, but the end result is that in concert they created vertical fracture, and if acted upon would assume elongated configurations. In other words, all of these lines of weakness were adequate for the next chapter in the saga of Hoodoo formation.

LOFTY ELEVATION

Bryce is situated at elevations that range between 7,000 and 9,500 feet, rendering it highly susceptible to continuous freezing and thawing. The area also receives a fair amount of precipitation, and all these conditions render the area ripe from erosion.  Add to that the differential sedimentation created when vast inland seas and huge lakes covered the area and now there is some understanding explaining why some rocks might erode more quickly than others.  These later conditions account for the numerous pinnacles that are more massive on top than on the bottom.


Peekaboo (24 of 14)

Hoodoo detail as only really appreciated by hiking trails in Bryce, such as Peekaboo.

 


The total story is a bit more complex and actually begins with thoughts about continental drift, a theory that takes what is now Utah to what is now the equator where colorful minerals were added long ago.  Today these incredible colors comprise the park’s Hoodoos, making them even more inspiring – and photogenic.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS LAST YEAR:

*Elk and CM Russell Wildlife Refuge

 

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(You can order our new books (shown below ) from Amazon — or you can order them directly from the Gildarts. Bert will knock a dollar off the list price of $16.95, but he must add the cost of book-rate mailing and the mailer, which are $2.25. The grand total then is $18.20. Please send checks to Bert Gildart at 1676 Riverside Road, Bigfork, MT 59911.)

 

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Bryce Canyon National Park – Far From the Maddening Crowd?

posted: September 25th, 2012 | by:Bert


©Bert Gildart: Saturday night all campgrounds in Bryce Canyon were full, meaning that we had to find a campground outside the park.  Fortunately, Dixie National Forest is contiguous with the park, and it provides a campground that may actually be more scenic than are those in Bryce National Park.


Bryce (20 of 4)

Just outside of Bryce National Park, Red Canyon in the contiguous Dixie Forest offers a site far from the maddening Crowd. And beauty, too!

 


Campgrounds in Bryce are engulfed by forest, but Red Canyon Campground in the Dixie Forest offers an incredible backdrop for our Airstream.  As well, the actual sites offer more space.  That means if we want to explore Bryce (which we certainly do) then we must make an eight-mile, ten minute drive to the park entrance; but that’s no big deal.

We’re actually finding we prefer our location, as we like being as far from the madding crowd as possible.  All this is possible with a short drive, followed by hikes which start at the rim overlooking Bryce Canyon and then descend abruptly – leaving virtually every one behind.  (See yesterday’s post of the trail hikers.)

Fall, as we’ve just discovered, is the time when busloads engorged with thousands of tourists descend on the park.  Most saunter along the rim, which takes in some of the park’s best vistas, but certainly not all.  And that’s where the park’s well laid out trails come in.


Bryce (21 of 4) Bryce (22 of 4) Bryce (23 of 4)


L TO R: Geology in Bryce spans millions of years, with erosion writing the last chapter.  Views from the rim reinforce the notion that trails below still offer some degree of solitude, something for which parks were originally established.  Fall attracts the multitudes, most of whom saunter along the rim trail.

 

Yesterday, I hiked a trail which departed from Sunset Point and then descended to Queen’s Garden.  Tomorrow, Janie and I will depart from Bryce Point meeting up with a trail known as Peekaboo, a 5.5 mile loop.  From the rim we can see the trail below us, and it is comforting that the park still offers places that are far from the maddening crowds.

Though the park campground has cleared out following a busy weekend, Janie and I both agree that we’ll keep our Airstream parked right where it is.



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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*Airstream Travels to Montana’s Bear Paw Battlefield



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(You can order our new books (shown below ) from Amazon — or you can order them directly from the Gildarts. Bert will knock a dollar off the list price of $16.95, but he must add the cost of book-rate mailing and the mailer, which are $2.25. The grand total then is $18.20. Please send checks to Bert Gildart at 1676 Riverside Road, Bigfork, MT 59911.)

 

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Bryce Canyon — Casting A Spell

posted: September 24th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  We are camped now in a place where the deer and antelope roam – in a land full of such bizarre rocks that Native Americans named them “The Hoodoos.” They said that coyote, the trickster, created them from the “Legend People.” Hoodoos, then, according a park brochure, “are pillars of rock, usually of fantastic shape that cast a spell.”

Many will recognize the rocks in the pictures as being those found in Bryce Canyon National Park, and we intend to spend a little time learning (relearning) about the geology of this magnificent place, hike some of the trails, particularly one or two that take us to ancient bristle cone pines, said to be some of the most ancient of all vegetative species.


Bryce (12 of 22)

Descending trail from Sunset Point



So far we ventured down a trail taking us to the Queen’s Garden, and I am reacquainting myself with one of the nation’s premier parks. It’s one I reported on about 25 years ago in several chapters in a Sierra Club Guide to National Parks of the Southwest.

Once I knew this park well, and a flood of memories are returning, but with that length of time since the last visit, much of what I’m seeing is like seeing it for the first time.  Janie believes Bryce contains some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and is anxious to see them more intimately, for they are already casting a spell.



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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*Havre Underground

 

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(You can order our new books (shown below ) from Amazon — or you can order them directly from the Gildarts. Bert will knock a dollar off the list price of $16.95, but he must add the cost of book-rate mailing and the mailer, which are $2.25. The grand total then is $18.20. Please send checks to Bert Gildart at 1676 Riverside Road, Bigfork, MT 59911.)

 

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Beauty & Beast

posted: September 21st, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Janie and I left Bigfork, Montana, several days ago and are just a little north now of Salt Lake City.  The distance approaches 600 miles and during the entire time we have been engulfed by smoke created by forest fires in both Montana and in Idaho.  If we saw these conditions in L.A., everyone would be jumping up and down and saying we’ve got to do something about all this pollution.


Fire&Sun

Smoke from forest fires creates a beauty and beast contradiction. The smoke has engulfed us now for almost 500 miles, as shown here in Dillon, Montana, which is in the southwestern part of the state.

 



Smoke, of course, is pollution, and global scientists have predicted that as the earth’s temperature rises, the occurrence of forest fires will increase.  Well, folks, it seems as though that is just what is starting to happen, and for many it is not pleasant at all.  Nasal passages clog up, membranes dry and nose bleeds increase.  The consolation is that smoke dramatizes images of sunrise and sunsets, and from the looks of things, it appears we’ll be seeing much more of this type of beauty, because the 5% of those who do not endorse global warming scientists (such as Montana’s Congressman Denny Rehberg) seem to be getting their way.  By that I mean that a willing society could reduce global warming and its effects, but we must listen to scientists and not politicians.


Monida (1 of 3) Monida (3 of 3)


L TO R: In the first picture of the barn, mountains in the distance are completely obscured by smoke, which has engulfed us for almost 500 miles.  In the next image, the mountains are much closer but still muted by smoke.

At any rate, the  smoke was even intense at Monida Pass, and at times the area is intriguing.  Adjacent is the old town of Mondia at which Janie and I stop every time we pass through.  While in Dillon, Montana, we over-nighted at the home of friends and Chuck (who is a premier fishing guide) on the Bighole (and others) said the old barn has finally started to collapse.  Links to pictures of the past show the effect of wind, rain and snow.

Yesterday, it and the little town of Mondia contrasted with the smoke enveloped mountains in the background, which at times were completely obscured.

We’re hoping that as we drive south into the deserts of the Southwest that the smoke will dissipate.



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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THIS TIME LAST YEAR

*Successful Airstream Dealership (George Sutton)


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(You can order our new books (shown below ) from Amazon — or you can order them directly from the Gildarts. Bert will knock a dollar off the list price of $16.95, but he must add the cost of book-rate mailing and the mailer, which are $2.25. The grand total then is $18.20. Please send checks to Bert Gildart at 1676 Riverside Road, Bigfork, MT 59911.)

 

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“The Ride From Hell”

posted: September 17th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: One of the best mountain bike rides in the valley proceeds from the base of Big Mountain (the bottom of the chairlift) and proceeds about 8 miles uphill to the summit.  Some people take the chairlift to the top, then zoom back down a trail, returning to the base.

But my son-in-law, Will Friedner, considered ourselves lucky because we didn’t have that choice.


Big Mountain (1 of 5)

Ride to the top of Big Mountain provides inspiring scenery

 


Our timing was perfect, for chairlifts had closed for the summer season just a few days earlier, meaning that if we wanted to take in the spectacular view, we’d have to ride.

HANDICAP NEEDED?

Something that I didn’t share with Will as he began to lag behind is that I have a relatively new mountain bike with exceptionally low gearing.  It’s also lighter.

“But shouldn’t I, Will, be entitled to some kind of age-related handicap?  After all I am almost 40 years your senior.”

That was my mantra, and all day long  I played it like a broken record.

Big Mountain (3 of 5)

Located about midway up our mountain bike trail.

Over the past year I’d also been riding almost every day, hoping to participate in a 100-mile-long ride in Moab, Utah. I wanted to join a group called TNT (Team In Training) that makes endurance rides around the country attempting to raise money for cancer. The cause is exceptional and because I’ve recently worked up to the point where I was making comparable rides here in the Flathead, I was disappointed when work piled up I felt I should withdraw and try another time.

Janie and I were to have rendezvoused with friends (Hi Debbie!) from the Washington D.C. area, and that added to the disappointment.

CONTROVERSIAL STATUE

As we rode, we passed a controversial statue of Jesus.  The statue stands about 12-feet high, and has generated acrimony.  The statue had been erected on public land, and some want it torn down, believing it infringes on the philosophy of the  separation of church and state.  This faction continues, saying that enough is enough; that everywhere you turn in the Flathead  Valley groups have posted Ten Commandment signs.  And that observation is certainly true.

But others say that because the statue was erected by soldiers returning during WWII, that it should be left in place.

The lines are drawn, and as with all issues in this highly charged political season, no one is “turning their check.”


NO DOWNHILL CRAZIES

At any rate, Will and I had an enjoyable day and because there was no chair taking people to the top, we didn’t have to worry about crashing with downhill riders who tend to go hell-bent for leather. Whitefish Lake was gorgeous and I knew Will had enjoyed the outing as he later summarized our 16 mile trip for my daughter, calling it the “Ride From Hell.”


RETURN TO THE DESERT

Today, Janie and I are leaving for an extended trip to the desert.  Previously, we’ve tried to photograph tarantulas migrating across the desert in search of a mate, and we’re told that October could be a good month.

Big Mountain (5 of 5)

Our ride was backdropped by such beautiful features as Whitefish Lake.

 


We’ll be staying in Borrego Springs, and because temperatures are near 100, we will be  checking in to a commercial campground for the electricity needed to run our air conditioner.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*CMR Host Annual Elk Spectacle

YET MORE AIRSTREAM TRAVELS

*This is the anniversary of the battle at Antietam, and several years ago  we were there

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(You can order our new books (shown below ) from Amazon — or you can order them directly from the Gildarts. Bert will knock a dollar off the list price of $16.95, but he must add the cost of book-rate mailing and the mailer, which are $2.25. The grand total then is $18.20. Please send checks to Bert Gildart at 1676 Riverside Road, Bigfork, MT 59911.)

 

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Mitt Romney and The Economics of Global Warming

posted: September 4th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  At the Republican Convention this past week, Mitt Romney closed his acceptance speech by saying he intended to correct our sluggish economy by reversing a promise Obama made four years ago.  “Obama promised to lower the rising of the oceans,” said Mr. Romney, who then concluded by saying that his promise was to put money in the pockets of the struggling middle class.  Elaborating, he said he would do so by “developing our oil, gas and coal resources.”


DanFagreMap 10349 kuparuk


L TO R:  Dr. Dan Fagre pointing out the almost complete recession of Grinnell Glacier in GNP; “Caribou is our Life,” say these three young ladies from Arctic Village; ravages of oil development as revealed at Prudhoe Bay, a place where caribou “have benefited,” or at least so say the developers. 

 

Helping correct our sluggish economy in a responsible way is certainly laudable, but I guess I need help understanding economics.  Virtually all scientists now say aspects of global warming are man caused, and that continued warming could have devastating results.

CURRENT DEVASTATION

We’re already starting to suffer from some of these effects.  Right now forest fires are raging in the West, the Southeast is drought stricken with corn crops suffering, pine beetle infestation is killing off our forests, several foreign countries suffered from severe floods, and people are dying from the hottest temperatures on record.

Aesthetically, the appearance of America is changing. Massive ice fields in places such as Mount Rainier and Glacier National Park have been substantially reduced, and though it is true some have melted before, never in recorded history have they done so at such an accelerated rate.  Glaciers, of course, store water, and many of these storage units are almost gone.

DEVELOPMENT IS ALTERING LIFE STYLES

Oil development will also alter life styles and perhaps none more drastically then the lives of the Gwich’in, who live adjacent to the Arctic Refuge.  And unlike many nay sayers, Janie and I have actually hiked the refuge – from top to bottom.  And look at Prudhoe Bay, a spider web of pipes, which has suffered repeatedly from oil spills.  In the past I’ve reported on all these concerns in many of our leading conservation magazines, such as National Wildlife and Christian Science Monitor.


10232 Rainier2 MountRainier-DB


L to R:  Unlike most detractors who have never seen the Arctic Refuge, Janie and I have hiked the entire length;  camp site during climb of Mount Rainier where ice fields have been drastically reduced; Dr. David Bristol, my  Rainier climbing partner and life-long friend.

 

Romney’s developmental mind set was discussed this past Sunday on Meet the Press, and David Gregory’s Round Table discussion included both Democrats and Republicans (Newt Gingrich).  Thomas Friedman, NY Times columnist and a Pulitzer Prize winning author, said that if  oil, gas and coal resources were tapped that it would “burn up the planet” in ways never anticipated by even Al Gore.

None of the other participants disagreed, and now I’m wondering just how we’re going to resolve the economic woes created by rising temperatures.  In the long run it seems the Romney plan will actually exacerbate our economic woes.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS LAST YEAR:

*Montana’s Bear Paw Battlefiield

 

ADS FROM AMAZON AND GOOGLE AUGMENT OUR TRAVELS:


(You can order our new books (shown below ) from Amazon — or you can order them directly from the Gildarts. Bert will knock a dollar off the list price of $16.95, but he must add the cost of book-rate mailing and the mailer, which are $2.25. The grand total then is $18.20. Please send checks to Bert Gildart at 1676 Riverside Road, Bigfork, MT 59911.)

 

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