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 January, 2013

Biking to Font’s Point, How to Overpower A Sandy Challenge

posted: January 18th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Here are some images from a bike trip Adam Maffei and I made to Font’s Point several days ago.  The destination in Anza Borrego Desert State Park  provides incredible views, but the struggle of biking there was a challenge, one which we could have simplified if only we’d been familiar with the techniques for peddling through deep desert sand.

Adam and I drove to Peg Leg, parked the truck, unloaded our bikes and then peddled three miles along the highway linking to a dirt road that then twists over sand and gravel for four miles to the famous overlook.  We were flanked by  desert cacti such as ocotillo, catclaw, and cholla.


FontsPoint (3 of 4)

View From Font's Point

 


We rode mountain bikes and at 70 psi our tires were properly inflated for road travel, but not for sand travel.  What we should have done was to reduce the psi to about 25 pounds, thereby increasing surface area. When you return to the pavement you can re-inflate your tires using a CO2 cartridge or — with prolonged effort — a small hand pump.  And because you will be riding through an area flanked by cactus thorns, which are sometimes difficult to avoid, you should change out your normal tubes for “slime” tubes.

SandyBike (1 of 1)

Box (shown at top) showing "slime tube," tire removal prongs, two tire pumps and four CO2 cartridges.

 


Down here (remember, we’re from Montana), everyone knows what they are, but simply said, the tubes contain a slim that immediately fills in the type of puncture created by a desert thorn.

Despite a certain amount of naivety, we made it through, but there were several deep sandy spots over which we had to walk our bikes, for tires ground deep into the sand.  But the payoff was extraordinary.

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

Not only is the view from Font’s point mind boggling, but it is also historic and is important from the paleontological perspective.  In 1775 Pedro Font was the chaplain and navigator on Spain’s second expedition from Tubac, Mexico to Mission San Gabriel in California. The expedition was led by Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza, for whom this park was named.


FontsPoint (4 of 4) FontsPoint (10 of 1) FontsPoint (1 of 4)

Anza Borrego contains so many wonderful sand roads that it behooves bikers to learn the few techniques necessary for facilitating desert riding.  Often you have the roads to yourself, but sometimes, as shown by looking closely in the middle image, you’ll see that you must contend with occasional vehicular traffic.  No big deal, MOST drivers slow down, wave,  smile, and go on by.  But there’s always one…  so sorry gentle reader but there may come when it is absolutely incumbent on  oneself  to express pent up inner feeling by “flinging out  a wave.”  


As well these incredible badlands harbor the remains of many prehistoric animals to include the ground sloth, short-faced bear, dire wolf, sabertooth cat, mastodon, mammoth, giant zebra, half-ass, camel, yesterday’s camel, llama, giant camel, pronghorn, elk, deer, shrub oxen, and the Bautista horse.

In other words, a trip to Font’s Point may well offer a little something for everyone. Next time, however, we’ll take along a tire pump, deflate the tires and then inflate them back to road pressures when we return to the road (Road bikes).

I’ve also change my regular tires out for slime tube tires, doing so right away because I had a flat.  I was lucky because the flat was created by a slow leak. The culprit was a tiny ocotillo thorn and I didn’t notice the flat until next day.  I was lucky, but I won’t be trusting to luck again.  I’m now prepared.

 

xxxxxxxxx

 

(NOTE: My posting several years ago on Night of the Grizzly continues to generate comments.  The Public TV documentary about Glacier’s first fatal maulings has recently gone national.)



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THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*Mysterious Rock Art


—–


BOOKS FOR SALE:


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




Read Comments | 1 Comment »

Biking Through Desert History

posted: January 14th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: On December 20, 1775, Juan Bautista de Anza led 240 Sonoran colonists through the same valley that Don Dennis, Adam Maffei and I toured several days ago by mountain bike. Because the valley remains under the control of California’s Anza Borrego State Park, little about the area has changed.

Although you can drive a high clearance vehicle along the rutted road, the valley can best be accessed by biking.  Thick sand, of course, presents its challenges and at times we had to dismount to walk our bikes.  But the rewards (Biking Fanatic) were substantial, for our explorations provided great insights into the struggles de Anza confronted.


Coyote1

Back dropped by Coyote Mountain, we cycled through streams

 


The valley is cut by Coyote Creek and flanked to the east by the Coyote Mountains and to the west by the San Ysidro Mountains. Last year Don and I (after two tries, one, two) climbed Coyote Mountain, so the prominent peak grabbed our attention and made for much reminiscing.

But it was the valley floor that sustained our attention.  We came to a trailhead sign pointing to Alcoholic Pass, named according to a guide book for the switchback-ish nature of the trail.

Next, we came to an area our map referred to as the Desert Gardens. We spent a few minutes hiking around–taking photographs–not only because of the garden’s beauty but because it had once been the home to a group of Native Americans known as Cahuilla.

CANYON CALLED HOME


“A Canyon Called Home,” began an interpretive panel. “People,” the sign continued, “raised families in Coyote Canyon… With sheltered canyons and year around running streams, Coyote Canyon was the perfect place to call home.”


Coyote2 Coyote4 Coyote3


From the gardens we rode another mile, stopping shortly after crossing a stream near another interpretive panel. This one further described the hardships of de Anza’s expedition, explaining that Gertrudis Rivas Linares gave birth to a son, Salvador, on Christmas day. “Next day she mounted a horse for the journey north.”

Don, Adam and I cycled yet about another mile, eventually reaching a point at which the road became quite rocky.  Here, we turned around and retraced our route, taking about another hour to return to our camp.  Our odometers said we had ridden about 12 miles and over half of those miles were through sand.  We concluded that our day of biking with history had been challenging, but that it had also been extremely satisfying.

We vowed that someday soon we’d repeat our ride.


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THIS TIME LAST YEAR

*Year of the Dragon


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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




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Airstream Photo Seminars

posted: January 12th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert  Gildart:  In about a month (February 5 to February 10), Janie and I will be camped at Lazy Days RV Resort in Tucson, AZ, where I will be giving presentations on photography at an Airstream gathering.  At the moment we’re in Anza Borrego.


GrandCanyon1

Grand Canyon

 


During the gathering I’ll provide an hour-long digital slide show and that will be followed on subsequent days with several instructional photo walks.

My slide show will attempt to inspire the photo talents of those with Airstreams, using some of my best photography.  Subscribers to Airstream Life have seen many of these images in stories which I’ve been providing since the magazine’s inception.  Other images in the program have appeared in National Geographic books, Time/Life, Native Peoples Magazine, Field & Stream as well as many others.


Kayak10 N-Photo1 Desert View


L to R:  Greeting the day at Apostle Islands NP; start trails at Chief Joseph; HDR image from Grand Canyon’s Desert View.


Most recently I have authored three books to include ones on Glacier, Montana and Shenandoah.

LIGHTING & COMPOSITION

In addition to promoting national parks as ideal settings for photography, my talk will discuss lighting, composition and some brief discussions on manipulating photos using both Lightroom and PhotoShop.  The intent here is simply to show the possibilities now made possible with digital photography.  We’ll discuss depth of field, shutter speeds and the use of increased ISO’s (like 100 to 3,000) for action, wildlife and even for some night time photography.

The two photo walks will encourage participants to actively engage in the taking of photographs, and the setting will most likely be beautiful Saguaro National Park. I’m considering the idea of creating an “assignment list,” and then seeing what we might come up with.

Bryce2 BigBend18 OrganPipe9

 

L to R:  Trails into the Hoodoos, Bryce Canyon NP; illegal immigrants crossing the Rio Grande this past December; cactus, Organ Pipe National Monument, showing close-up photo techniques.


Yes, I’ll carry a camera and tripod, and thought I may take a few photographs of willing participants, essentially I’ll be helping participants by holding reflectors and by offering suggestions for improving composition.

HOPE TO HAVE GOOD TIME

The overall intent is to have a good time and to learn more about the art of photography by the mutual sharing of ideas.  I’m hoping my 40-plus years of photo experience will work to the benefit of Airstream participants.



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This Time Three Years Ago:


*Grand Transitions, Zion NP



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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




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Multiple Use at CA’s Imperial Sand Dunes? How Can That Be?

posted: January 11th, 2013 | by:Bert

ImperialDunes (5 of 5)©Bert Gildart: We seldom drive by California’s Imperial Sand Dunes but the other day we had no choice – and were stunned to see that visitation of this beautiful area was confined to off-roaders.  Absolutely no other user groups were present.  Just  off-roaders.

I didn’t understand!  I’d always thought BLM lands (Bureau of Land Management) were supposed to be available to all Americans, but the number of off-roaders makes use of this incredible ecosystem by anyone else  absolutely impossible.

First there was the noise, loud even from where we watched from a rest stop along Interstate 8 in the southeastern corner of California.  Then there was the sight of dozens of vehicles spinning their wheels, sand flying.

Many had American flags hoisted high from the rear of their vehicles, and it seemed they were attempting to convince Interstate drivers that their activities made them the most patriotic of all Americans.

OFF-ROAD USE THREATENS ENDANGERED PLANT

BLM lands are supposed to be accessible for all Americans.  What’s more I thought BLM lands at least considered the requirement of other agencies.  I learned from the Internet that the activities of off-roaders at the Imperial Sand Dunes have threatened the recovery of an endangered plant species – the Peirson’s milk-vetch.

But even if that were not the case, off-road vehicular use at the Imperial Sand Dunes ruins the natural beauty of these massive dunes and renders them un-useable for hikers, bikers –  or any other other outdoor American group who might simply want to sit and soak up the beauty inherent in this  unique desert landscape.

But there’s more, and anyone not acquainted with off-road vehicular use might be shocked to find that just a littler further east there is an entire state park devoted to off-road use.

OFF-ROAD USE CREATES CLOUDS OF UNHEALTHY DUST

The park is known as Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area, and when the area is in use, off roaders generate so much dust that it can literally choke residents in the nearby settlement of Borrego Springs.  It’s been reported that some with allergies are absolutely miserable from the dust, and literally believe they are sick.

Nevertheless, some merchants tolerate the noise and dust because it generates some income, but then they lose business because it drives away others who can’t stand the noise and the dust storms off-roaders create.


ImperialDunes (3 of 5) ImperialDunes (2 of 5)


Off road vehicular use renders beautiful landscapes like the Imperial Sand Dunes unusable by any other group.  The practice kills everything natural and it requires an immense amount of gas to sustain.  Dust flares the allergies of some, sometimes making life miserable. Many fly an American flag apparently believing it shrouds them in some kind of a divine majesty. 



Guess I need some clarification of policies, but in the meantime, I’m at a loss to understand how this sport improves the life of the average American traveler.  And, incidentally, I greatly respect the American flag, but question the implication that flying Old Glory creates an American who is so admirable that he has carte blanche to destroy a unique desert setting.



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THIS TIME THREE YEARS AGO:

*Anza Borrego’s Endangered Desert Bighorn

 

 

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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




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

West Texas Towns Remain Magnets – And Not Just For Hollywood

posted: January 2nd, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Because of an overwhelming amount of work and other obligations I have gotten way behind on my normal blog postings.  That’s to my detriment as postings later serve to trigger my thoughts when I write magazine stories.  In the past few years, blogs have also helped with the creation of books.


JamesDean (3 of 7)

Janie Gildart admires cutout of movie icon James Dean, celebrated in the Paisano Hotel in the west Texas town of Marfa

 


Despite my negligence, Janie and I have recently visited some fascinating areas in American, areas certainly worthy of comment.  Specifically these include the small dusty towns of Alpine, Fort Davis – and, now, Marfa – all located in the high plains of west Texas. Once these settings were Hollywood magnets.

MOVIE ICONS

Marfa is, according to Internet research,  “…a tiny town in West Texas with just 2,000 residents, about 60 miles from the Mexican border and nearly three hours by car from El Paso. But it’s been the backdrop for some of Hollywood’s most notable movies.”  It was, according to signs posted throughout the town, a site for production of the 1956 epic Giant, which starred James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson.  As well, the town more recently served as the setting for Oscar winners, No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood.  Over the years I’ve seen all these movies and was delighted I could tour the town with friends mentioned in my next-to-last posting.


JamesDean (7 of 7) JamesDean (5 of 7) JamesDean (2 of 7)


L to R:  Lee, Janie and Marie; Janie standing in archway of Hotel Paisano, the hotel which served as summer residence during filming of movie “Giant”; Janie examines poster
recalling postage stamp that commemorated famed actor James Dean.

 

In the summer of 1955, production of the movie Giant consumed Marfa, and vestiges of Hollywood’s presence remain. The Hotel Paisano, where the cast and crew stayed, has a room off the lobby with Giant memorabilia and a DVD of the film on a continuous loop. To further commemorate the presence of Dean, Taylor, and Hudson the Paisano renamed the rooms after the stars.  The hotel continues to retain a décor reminiscent of those times.  The hotel also provides background information on James Dean, who was an icon for many of us back in the ‘60s.

DEAN’S ENDURING FAME

Dean, as many may recall, personified the image of teenage disillusionment, as expressed in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause.  He also stared in East of Eden, the John Steinbeck novel which focused on Cal Trask, a troubled loner.  Dean’s enduring fame and popularity rests on his leading performances in just these three films. His premature death in a car crash cemented his legendary status

West Texas has always been a Hollywood magnet, and the question, of course, is why?  Critics respond by saying that Texas is a land of limitless desolation and possibilities…  “onto which they [the directors] can project greed, lust and violence.]” And that is exactly what they did, in ways that have endured in these epic films.

David and Lee, Brian and Marie, Janie and I have enjoyed the backdrop of these west Texas towns as we continued to recall memories which we’ve shared over the years. In fact, we’ve enjoyed it so much that we all agree West Texas would work well for another reunion.



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THIS TIME FOUR YEARS AGO:

*Ranger Overboard

——————————————————————————-

 

 

 

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




Read Comments | 3 Comments »