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 November, 2012

Indian Hill – A Journey Into the Past

posted: November 22nd, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: On the ceiling of a massive rock deep in a setting known as Indian Hill, smoke spots were everywhere.  The setting was cozy, warm and seductive, prompting Tony Feathers to comment about the romance of the area. “Imagine lying here beside a cozy fire.  It’s cold but you’re snug in your sheep skin furs.  The children are asleep, and you’re with the right lady.”

Tony and his significant other, Betty, laughed and then we wandered around, looking for further evidence of this bygone era. Both work winters in Anza Borrego Desert State Park (Tony is a musician –LISTEN) and like me, they are fascinated with bygone Native American cultures.


CaveDwelling

Judging from smoke on the ceiling of this boulder, Natives burned many fires.

 


Venturing to Indian Hill is not for everyone.  In very general terms  our journey into the past took us up Mortero Wash, then along a 4-wheel drive to a safe spot large enough to squeeze my pickup into the surrounding cholla forest.  From there we hiked several miles toward some of the the most extensive boulder fields I have ever seen.  It was here among these granite boulders that the Kumeyaay Indians made their living over a period of hundreds of years.  The evidence was everywhere and it assumed different forms.

As we wandered we counted dozens of morteros. These large rock  pockets were created over the years through the pounding of agave and other plant materials into a flower, later used for the making of bread.

In some places we also found pictographs, suggesting a spiritual connection of the group with the Great Unknown.  Though no one can say for sure what the symbols represent or which members of the tribe created them, from other sites I know experts believe the sun was a common motif and that a “Shaman,” or spiritual leader, might have created the figures.  Likely some of the pictographs here represented the sun.

We continued our wanderings finding several boulders where smoke patterns were thick.  And then we found the massive boulder pictured here. By our calculations it measured about 120 feet by 60, meaning it would have accommodated three or four Airstream trailers similar to ours.


Morteros IndianHills Pictographs


L to R: Tony Feathers at morteros, boulder fields near Indian Hill, pictographs.

 

Casting around we found several small rocks on which to sit and tried to absorb the feelings of the time.  Unlike the Kumeyaay our day was free of strife and work, and here in this place and at this moment of time we felt an immense separation from all that was secular and mundane.  We imaged a gentle sun would shine forever, that the winds would be light and warm, that hunting would be productive, and that all would remain bright and good.

Reluctantly we returned to reality, leaving behind national treasures  we hoped would continue to be valued by all visitors.



AIRSTREAM TRAVELS — AT AND AROUND THANKSGIVING:

*Thanksgiving Pardon

Museum of the Cherokee and Thanksgiving salutes

Turkeys For Thanksgiving?

Lessons From Cades Cove (Great Smokies)


Snow Falling On Cedars

 

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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. Sometimes 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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Fascinating Desert Adaptations

posted: November 17th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: With the help of Cheryl Gillott of the California Depart of Parks and Recreation, I now have a fairly good collection of some of the most interesting creepy crawlies that inhabit the desert in which we are now camped.

scorpions (1 of 1)

Giant Desert Hairy Scorpion

 


Explaining to Cheryl that I had been unable to find a scorpion (but we did at Pegleg several years ago) she said she would remove the top of their terrarium so that I might use my strobes and macro lens to photography the Giant Desert Hair Scorpion.  Cheryl is stationed at the Ocotillo Wells Visitor Center, and she said until recently she had been seeing scorpions most every night.

RETREATING TO BURROWS

Cheryl said that the cool weather had forced most scorpions deep into their winter burrows.  Conversely, she also said that the extremely hot weather of recent weeks had discouraged tarantulas from leaving their burrows, but that now they’re starting to show up.  Having seen several now in the past few days, we certainly concur.

Appreciating Cheryl’s suggestion and the natural looking habitat I used an index card to position this Arachnid (same class as the tarantula) for a few quick images.  Janie and I then visited with Cheryl where we learned a number of interesting facts.

GIANT HAIRY SCORPION FACTS

The Giant Desert Hairy Scorpion is the largest scorpion in North America, reaching lengths up to 6 inches. Its name derives from the brown hairs that cover its bodies, used to detect ground and air vibrations.


TarrantulaEyes5 DungBeetle (1 of 1) scorpions (1 of 1)


Though my image of this scorpion is also shown above, I’m including these three fascinating desert creature for comparative purposes. 

L to R:  Tarantual, Dearkling Beetle, Giant Desert Hairy Scorpion.


The tail of the Giant Hairy is long and each time I touched the creature with my card, its tail would snap back, exposing the bulb-like poison gland.  Despite such explosive capabilities, some people claim it as a pet despite the fact this species is considered aggressive and that it will sting frequently.

WILL STAND ON ITS HEAD

So now I have images of tarantulas, scorpions but also of the Darkling Beetle, which is common and easy to find.  We see the beetle daily and have noted that if we study it too closely that it will literally “stand on its head.”  This is a threat posture and when it assumes this stance it is prepared to spray out a noxious fume.  The spray, though effective, does not protect it from all predators.  The carnivorous grasshopper mouse will grab the beetle then bury its business end in the sand, then chew off its head.

The more we learn, the more fascinated we become.


AIRSTREAM TRAVELS SIX YEARS AGO:

*When it Snows in the Great Smokies



——————————————————————————————————-

 

 

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. Sometimes 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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Glacier Icons – A beautiful book of essays and photography

posted: November 15th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: In 1903 writer, editor, and naturalist George Bird Grinnell expressed his thoughts in Century Magazine about this land he had come to love, calling the area the “Crown of the Continent.” From the mountain goats who linger by the visitor’s center on Logan Pass to the crystal-clear glacier-fed lakes, from the magnificent views from the Many Glacier Hotel to the old-growth forest landscape, visitors will find much to ponder and enjoy within the pages of Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent.

 

Bird Woman Falls Glacier National Park

Bird Woman Falls, Glacier National Park


His image of and descriptive story about the magnificent glacier-carved landscape in the far reaches of Montana brought about the creation of Glacier National Park in 1910.  Grinnell’s description is apt, but it is just one of the collective descriptions that evokes iconic images of Glacier, also called the “Land of Shining Mountains: and known by millions of visitors for their own personal stories and connections to its magnificent vistas and small wonders.

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent contains fifty essays in a book measuring 7×7. It contains 102 pages all filled with thousands of facts and almost 100 color photographs of iconic people, places, events, foods, animals, traditions, and more from all part of this great national park.



SAMPLE ICON:Hard, wind blown snow comes early to the park’s high peaks. It drives the elk down into the low country, it covers the boulder-strewn home of the mouse like pika, and it sends the powerful grizzly bear scurrying to its den for a long winter’s nap. In fact, the rugged alpine country forces just about every type of creature to leave or hide. But there always remains a beautiful little one-pound animal, a bird called the ptarmigan.


ptarmigan photo Avalanche Creek Waterfall Black Bear Cub Grizzly Bear Photo Bull Elk Bugling


I met this strange bird while cross-country skiing with a ranger friend in Glacier National Park. At the time it was five below zero, and the wind was howling through the trees. Both of us were bundled in heavy down coats, warm leather mittens, and thick woolly long johns. Around us, the snowy world through which we plodded seemed a mighty deserted place. But suddenly, not more than a half dozen paces away, sat six balls of puffed-up feathers. They were pure white, as white as the snow over which we traveled, and it seemed strange that they had not taken wing. Confident in their ability to blend with the landscape, apparently fear was not part of their nature…


WHAT READERS ARE NOW STARTING TO SAY:

*We were privileged to get an advance copy of this book (because Emma is in one of the photos), and I have to say it’s really beautiful. Anyone who is a fan of Bert’s photography in Airstream Life will love this book. It certainly has inspired us to start thinking about a trip to Montana, to see the incredible beauty of Glacier again. In the meantime, Bert’s book is a wonderful peek “inside” this great national park. Rich Luhr, Editor, Airstream Life

*What a wonderful addition “Glacier Icons” is to the vast inventory of great books written about that world renowned park.  The way you put it together makes for easy reading.  I like it.  Bob Haraden, Superintendent Glacier National Park 1980 to 1986

*As a book author I’m envious; as a photographer I’m downright jealous… Hundreds of facts not many of us know about Glacier National Park, what really is the best of the Last Best Places in Big Sky Country. Trust me folks…Ol’ Bert knows. And he knows how to show it and tell it big time…If you have any idea of ever visiting or just wanting to tour Glacier seat of pants style…YOU NEED THIS BOOK…over and out…Chuck


You can buy Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent right here, from the authors. We’ll send it to you by USPS, and we’ll even autograph it for you with your choice of inscription. We use PayPal to allow us to take credit card orders. You don’t need to have a PayPal account, you can use any credit card, and the merchant (Bert and Janie) never sees your card number. And PayPal is very secure.

  • 102 pages ~ 100 photographs ~ 50 iconic locations
  • Get an autographed copy of Glacier Icons
  • $16.95 plus $2.50 shipping








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Hiking Shenandoah National Park, 4th ed.

posted: November 15th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: More than 500 miles of trails wander through Shenandoah National Park, and knowing where to start can be difficult.  Our 6×9 inch guide is intended to help you select from 59 trails based on your abilities and interests.  With a new collection of almost 90 color images our 232 page book is also intended to inspire readers to make a trip to this wonderful national park.

To some extent it seems all trails in the park either ascend or descend, but not every trail is steep or rocky, and the park offers something to suit all interests. Some trails lead to the park’s 16-plus waterfalls, while others lead to panoramic and dramatic overlooks.  The famous Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) is a major route through Shenandoah. Yet another trail ascends to the summit of Old Rag where you’ll find boulders ancient beyond belief.  Scrambling over billion year old boulders is just one of the remarkable adventures you can find in Shenandoah National Park.


Old Rag Old Rag Old Rag



As well, you’ll hike in the shadow the park’s early settlers and see their old cabins. You’ll look down on the site of a Civil War battlefield, see old waterwheels, grinding stones and beautiful stone walls built when space was cleared for farmland.

With the hopes that more visitors will want to enjoy the pleasures of exploring this premier national park we’ve now spent almost 12 months in all seasons observing park life and hiking nearly all the trails in the park.  We often found that the aesthetics of Shenandoah’s incredible natural history, as well as its human history, provide compelling reasons to hike these trails. We share the wonder of all that we have discovered in Hiking Shenandoah National Park.

Hiking Shenandoah contains 59 hikes, each of which is illustrated with a map and an elevation graph, meaning 59 maps and 59 elevation graphs. As well, there is a color photo for nearly every hike. There is a detailed index and it breaks hikes into seven categories, such as: kid friendly hikes, hikes to waterfalls and hikes with great views. Each hike has substantial text and Hiking Shenandoah provides details about the history and natural history of each trail.


Hoover Cabin Fox Hollow Rocks Old Rag


Photographic opportunities abound, and new images suggest creative opportunities.


SAMPLE CHAPTER

At 3,268 feet Old Rag is not the highest mountain in Shenandoah National Park (Hawksbill Summit, 4,015 feet, has that distinction), but it is without question the park’s most challenging and exciting mountain to climb.

For one thing the rock is ancient almost beyond belief, meaning that although you can say “over a billion year’s old,” such a time frame has little meaning. Naturalists try to add a sense of relativity by reducing such an expanse to human longevity or human history. They say that if the Blue Ridge Mountains represented an event that occurred 12 hours ago then all the time that has elapsed since the birth of Christ would be less than a tenth of a second.

Using various scientific instruments to substantiate theory geologists say rocks atop Old Rag began their formation when the continents of North America, South America, India, Australia and Antarctica collided to form a super continent called Rodinia. These collisions, which occurred over a billion years ago, created immense forces, which acted on the massive plates on which these continents float, forcing them to buckle. The huge “Grenville Mountains” formed and they equaled today’s Rockies in size and in length, spanning a distance equal to traveling from Mexico to Canada. Concurrent with the orogeny, magma formed deep within the crust, but over the eons eventually made its way to the surface, crystallizing as today’s Old Rag Granite.

But the story is not complete… 


TESTIMONIALS: This book sale with Paypal is a new for me, started 11/11/2012. However, testimonials for Shenandoah will soon be coming, or so we’ve been told.  Suffice it to say for the time being that this is the park’s featured hiking guide.





You can buy the guide book right here, from the authors. We’ll send it to you by USPS, and we’ll even autograph it for you with your choice of inscription. We use PayPal to process orders. You don’t need to have a PayPal account, you can use any credit card, and the merchant (Bert and Janie) never sees your card number. And PayPal is very secure.

We truly hope you will visit Shenandoah National Park and that you will let our book be your hiking guide.

  • 2012 Edition
  • 70 Trails ~ 90 Photographs ~ 224 Pages
  • Softcover – Perfect bound
  • Directions to trailheads
  • Difficulty Ratings
  • Trail Finder for best hikes with dogs, children, hikes with great views, etc.
  • GPS Coordinates
  • Mile by mile directions
  • Info about fees, permits, events, attractions, local restaurants, accomodations
  • Get an autographed copy of Hiking Shenandoah, 4th Ed.
  • $18.95 plus $2.50 shipping

Buy Shenandoah Hiking Guide book


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Montana Icons – a Book of Western History and Photography

posted: November 15th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  True to its name, Montana is home to miles upon miles of snow-capped mountain peaks, but the lure of this state often begins beside the meandering blue-ribbon trout streams and in the saloons, (yep, we still have ‘em) ghost towns, and hot spring that appear along countless lazy back roads.

The past is well preserved in the dinosaur digs, Western art museums, and generations-old farms and ranches that dot the landscape; and along the many cool, forested trails and the clear, quiet rivers, it just might seem like time has come to a halt.  Montana Icons: Fifty Classic Symbols of the Treasure State illustrates the quintessential symbols that make Montana so fascinating and unique with 50 stories, and 100 photographs.

Bison In Crow Country Sandhill  Cranes Garnet Ghost Town Missouri River



Profiled here are fifty classic symbols of this extraordinary western state, revealing little-known facts, longtime secrets, and historical legends.  From cowboy poetry and Native American powwows to whitewater rafting and breathtaking hikes, here’s the inside story about the very things that give Montana its character.

Did you know that the first cover photo of Life magazine was taken in Montana?  That the only existing physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is preserved in a sandstone outcropping along the Yellowstone River?  That the Treasure State has the world’s largest collection of Tyrannosaurus rex fossils? Or that one of Montana’s first territorial governors was an Irish revolutionary who fled his home country to escape a death sentence?  For Montanans and newcomers alike, Montana Icons will be a treasured keepsake of Big Sky Country. Book measures 7×7 and includes 102 pages.


MyHerosJerryJacobs ChiefP-C Young Trick Rider Chief Joseph Battlefield Stars

 

 

The book is illustrated with 50 full-page images and an equal number of smaller “spot” photographs.  The text is written in essay form and the quality has been shaped through the years that Bert has contributed to many of the country’s major magazines, including Field & Stream, Smithsonian and Travel & Leisure. Airstream Life Magazine also uses his work, and one traveler and state aficionado wrote Bert saying:


WHAT READERS ARE SAYING : *I just finished reading your latest book “MONTANA ICONS” yesterday and you outdid yourself. The photos are great (wish there were more) and the stories about the “icons” were wonderful and made us feel we were right there. Tom and Sandi Palesch (Airstream travelers and magazine contributor)


*What a great gift! When I unwrapped our copy of Montana Icons, I knew we were in for a treat – as is always the case with a Gildart book. Every traveler will appreciate the stories and photographs that capture the awesome and unique character of this state and its’ inhabitants. Every turn of the page takes you to a place where you’d rather be! Adam and Sue Maffei


 

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You can buy Montana Icons: Fifty Classic Symbols of the Treasure State right here, from the authors. We’ll send it to you by USPS, and we’ll even autograph it for you with your choice of inscription. We use PayPal to allow us to take credit card orders. You don’t need to have a PayPal account, you can use any credit card, and the merchant (Bert and Janie) never sees your card number. And PayPal is very secure.

  • 102 pages ~ 100 photographs ~ 50 Montana locations
  • Hardcover
  • Get an autographed copy of Montana Icons
  • $16.95 plus $2.50 shipping

Buy Montana Icons Photo Book


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Eyes Of A Tarantula

posted: November 12th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  I’ve been trying to learn everything I can about tarantulas, and certainly an  interesting aspects of the biology of these arachnids is their eyes.  This, then, is a continuation of my tarantula photographs, started yesterday with my first real find of a tarantula here in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  I’ve been looking for these large desert creatures for almost a month and anticipate being able to use some of these images for various projects in the future.  By keeping long range projects in mind sometimes publications bunch up as they did this past year, resulting in Hiking Shenandoah National Park, Glacier Icons, and Montana Icons.


TarrantulaEyes5

Tarantulas don't rely much on their eyes, rather on their feelers and the thousands of hairs which cover those feelers and also register vibrations.

 


But back to tarantulas… and as mentioned in my last post, tarantulas have eight eyes, and they are located a little differently from what one might expect.  Rather than being on the upper most part of their heads (where those slight knobs seem to be), they are located toward the very front and in the middle of their heads.  Here, in my pictures they almost look like dots of sand.


TarrantulaEyes6

Immediately behind what appears to be a middle projecting antennae and a beard like collection of hairs is a light tan band. And then immediately behind that is a small cluster of dots, and those are the eyes.

 


To position them find the two short antennae jutting out from the two hairy protrusions that are in reality the upper part of their fangs.  Then, immediately behind those structures, look for the tan band that forms the first solid part of this animal’s head.  Immediately behind that you’ll see a black dot that is interspersed with a number of tiny white spots.  Those form a part of the tarantula’s eight eyes, the other portion located just to the medial  right.  Unfortunately, they’re caught up in a slight shadow created by my strobe.  In other words, photographing tarantulas can be a challenge.


TarrantulaEyes7

The mouth of the tarantula is located ventrally and is highlighted by what appear to be two red lips. Here's also where the fangs are located.

 


Because sensory preceptors help the tarantula locate its food, I’ve also included here an image of this spider’s mouth, which appears to have red lips.  Here’s where the fangs are located, used very effectively on the grasshoppers and other bugs which it consumers.

Apparently all of these somewhat bizarre features work well for the tarantula, as they been using them for over a million years.  In fact, spiders are among the most successful creatures on Earth and have been around for over 300 million years.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS SIX YEARS AGO:

*Tarpon Springs, Florida

 

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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Big Beaut Of a Tarantula

posted: November 10th, 2012 | by:Bert

Tarrantulas (19 of 11)©Bert Gildart: For almost two weeks now, Janie and I have been hoping nightly to find one of the migrating tarantulas, which folks here say they see with much regularity during the month of October.  However, up until two nights ago we hadn’t seen a one, but then suddenly we saw three.  (But we saw several in the Grand Canyon.)

Two, however, had been injured on the road, but last night, Charlie Colladay, an Airstream owner, Disney Studio artist, and fanatic and very impressive bike rider — and I were peddling when suddenly, Charlie pointed, and said, “There’s one.  It’s huge and it sure is a beaut.”

Charlie agreed to stand watch while I quickly biked back to our camp, got Janie, loaded my camera in the truck, and then quickly returned to see what had happened during the 15 minutes I’d been gone.

BIG BEAUT

Charlie was there, and so was the tarantula, restrained in a big hole, almost a pit.  And, yes, it was big.  Charlie who once owned a tarantula as a pet said that locally, tarantulas usually measure about 2-4 inches, but a hurried tape placement showed this beaut to be unusually big, for its body measured slightly more than the four-inch max.

Making it appear even larger were its eight legs which projected out from the body, and each of them were matted with dark hairs.  On top of its head were eight tiny eyes looking like little more than spots of desert sand.  But these tiny spots work to locate prey and they do so in a most interesting fashion.  A pair of main eyes peers forward while the other three serve to locate prey peripherally.  In other words, they have their world pretty well covered.


Tarrantulas (13 of 11)

Tarantula departing from what appeared to be a spider hole.


NOTE: Click any of these photos for a much enlarged view.

Though tarantulas have a reputation for being docile they will bite if angered.  What’s more they can eject the tiny hairs from both their back legs and from their stomachs — all of which can create immense itching.  To avoid problems I coaxed my monster on a long stick which had been lying nearby.  I then moved it to what Charlie thought was an appropriate setting.

PHOTO DETAILS

At this point, photography became a three-way effort.  Charlie and Janie each held a strobe activated by the well thought out Nikon wireless speedlight system.  The challenge was to render the creature in focus from front leg to back leg, something strobes facilitate because they are so powerful.  As a result you can use such a narrow aperture, in this case, f-22 or even an f-32.   Settings were made on both my D-7000 and on my 105mm Nikon Macro lens.

Tarantulas are truly an amazing spider, and are placed in the Class Arachnida.  Typically, you’ll find them in grasslands, chaparrals, canyons or in desert areas.  October – and now I guess – November, too, is the time of year, males (about 6-7 years old) strike out across the desert, looking for females, warm and comfy in their webbed burrows.


Tarrantula1

Tarantula closeup, using Nikon closeup system

 


When males find one of these love nests, mating occurs, despite the fact males are sometimes injured in the process.  Occasionally a female may even devour its injured mate.

HAVE A GOOD LIFE

Janie, Charlie and I worked with our tarantula (we assume it was a wandering male) for about an hour, gently moving it from one location to another.  Elevating it, we also photographed our Arachnid’s underneath, which shows those tiny abdominal hairs that can cause such itching. We all agreed our tarantula was a “good tarantula,” and that as a group they are a fascinating animal, one which should be appreciated for all of its adaptations.

Because we found our tarantula on the road, we eventually released it to a spot well away from traffic, hoping that in this way it would have a long and productive life.



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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS SIX YEARS AGO:

*Great Smokies

 

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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Storm Clouds

posted: November 8th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Every winter Anza Borrego gets battered by an occasional storm that carries with it rain and snow and sometimes high winds.  Conditions associated with winds can create interesting photo conditions just as they did this morning right after sunrise.

At the time I took this photo winds were kicking up sand — and so the atmosphere darkened the sun — meaning that those of us camped at the Springs of Borrego were treated to some rather dramatic views.  Other campers also appreciated the sunrise and several waved as I clicked off enough images to assure myself that I had an image not blurred by camera motion, which could have resulted as the harsh winds shoved me from side to side.



Storm

Sun muted by sands kicked up by raw winds



And speaking of other campers – and on another subject altogether – I’ve been absolutely amazed to discover that although there are literally hundreds of other campers parked here, that only one person had posted a sticker on his or her vehicle that even hinted of politics.  Seems as though this group is more interested in getting along with their neighbors – and sharing a sunrise – than are those we might find back home.

And, oh, that one sticker – what did it say?  It simple said: VOTE.

Maybe politicians from both parties should forget Congressional storm clouds and embark on a long camping trip.

 

——————————————————————–


AIRSTREAM TRAVELS SIX YEARS AGO:

*Antietam


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.)

 

Read Comments | 2 Comments »

Borrego Days Dramatize Balloon-Battered Bighorns

posted: November 1st, 2012 | by:Bert


©Bert Gildart: This past weekend California’s Borrego Springs hosted its popular Borrego Days, held annually– and did so by  kicking off festivities with a spectacular airshow and a two-hour-long parade.


BorregoDays (14 of 8)

All that color fringing the bighorn is actually a collection of errant balloons, which has proven lethal to desert bighorns.

 


Everything was first-class but (and perhaps not surprising) the natural history component completely captured my attention.  It was poignant, and featured a huge model of a bighorn ram surrounded by literally thousands of balloons.  The combination presented a message about the effects of renegade balloons and their effect on wildlife, particularly on mountain sheep – and sometimes, too, on seals.  Borrego, of course, means bighorn, so the inclusion seems particularly relevant.

ALL BALLOONS COLLECTED LOCALLY

Right up front it should be noted that all balloons based on the float were ones collected from surrounding mountains.  To further dramatize the problem news reports tell about a biologist who removed enough balloons from one of the chambers of a bighorn’s stomach to fill a plastic bag. The effect of the balloons on wildlife is not pretty and is, in fact, generally lethal.

Like cows, bighorn sheep have four-chambered stomachs which serve to process food progressively.  However, ingested balloons lodge in the stomach and stop further digestions, meaning the animal soon starves.

Sadly the balloon problem is a growing one, and to help sheep the California fish and game departments is attempting to educate the public using techniques as seen at Borrego Days.  As well, the state of California has outlawed the use of party balloon in sensitive areas, and to emphasize their determination to preserve these magnificent animals the state now impose a $100 fine.


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L TO R:  Janie models hat (reflecting in mirror), which she says she must have; Lone Ranger strolls streets of Borrego; military aspects help kick off parade for this
small town’s annual festival of Borrego Days
.


However, the damage has been done creating yet another problem with which wildlife must now contend.

ALL THIS PUTS A NEGATIVE SPIN on an event that was really joyous – and so as to not to end on an unpleasant note, I’ve included a few images that show other aspects of this grand parade.  In total, the entire affair presented a small town in a good light, and not only did we learn about a local problem but we enjoyed the day as well.



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