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 February, 2013

Brave New World In a Desert Heartland

posted: February 26th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: In 1932, on top of a remote mountain, deep in the heart of a wilderness desert, Marshal and Tanya South built an adobe home which they occupied for 17 years.  They called their home Yaquitepec and there, in this austere setting of southeastern  California, though they had no artificial light, no conventional fuel for staving off the cold winter weather, Tanya gave birth to three children.


M-South-HDR

The land absorbs Marshall South's homestead. Colors -- and detail in shadows and highlights -- enhanced with HDR.



The family endured what we call hardships today, but it was that unconventional lifestyle that provided them with the independence to pursue their respective forms of art.  From atop Ghost Mountain, this “savage wilderness of rock,” as Marshall called their homestead, Tanya painted, while Marshall wrote novels — and contributed hundreds of stories to some of the nation’s leading magazines of the time.  Certainly their lifestyle represented the creation of a Brave New World.

Though Janie and I have hiked often to Yaquitepec, we never tire of the mile-long uphill grind, especially when we can examine with others the results of the couple’s occupancy. About 1948 the land was designated as Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and the hike always provides an opportunity to examine what remains of their old homestead.


FontPoint FontPoint6 MarshalSouth-5

 

L to R:  Watching as last rays of sunlight cast glow over Borrego Badlands; Borrego Badlands; Susan, Greg and Janie descend from Ghost Mountain.

 


This past weekend Greg and Susan, Janie’s brother and her sister in-in-law, were our hiking companions, and together we attempted to evaluate the struggles the South’s endured each time they left and then returned to their home. As well, we examined the degree to which the old homestead has endured the ravages of time.  Finally, as a last minute thought, just prior to returning to our Airstream now parked in the Springs of Borrego, we took a quick trip to Font’s Point, which offers one of the nation’s best examples of Badlands formation.

At the end of our hike to Yaquitepec, we concluded that the old homestead might be on its last legs.  Cholla, ocotillo and mesquite are slowly rooting out the metal frame of the old bed as well as the arch that once provided egress to their small home.  The adobe forming the old cistern from which the family scooped up water is beginning to crumble, and the sun dial seems to have lost its “face.”


FontPoint2

View From Font's Point

 


Of course the Badlands (shown above) have also changed, but they are a reflection of the erosional forces present here in this premier desert state park.  Looking at it from another point of view, one could also conclude that the associated badlands epitomize the extreme challenges of coping with desert life.  Nevertheless, for a time, the South’s rose to the occasion, and for a while, created a life few others could have managed – had they wanted.  Certainly, it was a Brave New World.


NOTE:  Clicking on above links will provide thoughts and descriptions about previous journeys to Ghost Mountain and the Borrego Badlands.


———————————————

THIS TIME FOUR YEARS AGO:

*The Slabs (Partially an account of Leonard Knight who befriended Christopher “Supertramp,” the young man described by Jon Krakauer in his book Into the Wild.)



———————————————-

 

 

 

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. 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




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Organ Pipe’s Ajo Mountain Loop – Recalling the Sounds of Silence

posted: February 19th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Two days ago I rode my bicycle along Organ Pipe’s National Monuments Ajo Mountain loop road.  It is a 21-mile long gravel road, and though vehicular traffic is permitted, at this time of year it is sparse.  During my entire ride I saw less than a dozen cars.

Ajo Mountain-1

Ajo Mountain

 

 

But the point is that the silence was intense, and there are few other places Janie and I have visited where we could stop and say, “Listen!  What do you hear?”  The answer was nothing.  Absolutely nothing; and that is an observation we’ve been able to make in but few other settings.

Glacier National Park is one, and so is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  But there was yet more about this isolated area of the park that thrilled me:  It is the heart of the Sonoran Desert, and though Janie has seen it before, we decided yesterday that we’d travel it again, but this time with lots of camera gear.  As a result, I am now able to post these images, and with them some thoughts about why I took them.


OrganPipe-5 OrganPipe-8 OrganPipe-12


L TO R:  All images show organ pipe, but the last two in this row show a bizarre structure biologists call a “cristates.”


Appropriately, the first picture summarizes the drive.  It is, after all, the Ajo Mountain Drive so the top image portrays Ajo Mountain.  Just beyond the mountain is the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, and once members of the tribe made a living from the lands setting up ramadas near water sources, such as seen in another image.  The park interprets their tenure in the park with the construction of a ramada set up on a bank overlooking Diablo Wash.  Nearby, lands are ideal for the growth of both the saguaro and the organ pipe, both of which the O’odham harvested.  Using the woody ribs of dead saguaros to create a tool they called a kupit, the tribe plucked fruit from the spiny columns and arms of the Sonoran’s two most conspicuous species those being, of course, the organ pipe and the saguaro.

Though the two trees share a similar environment, they begin life differently.  Saguaro begins in the shade of a palo verde — or in the shade of one of the other “bean plants” that grows here, such as the mesquite.  But not so the organ pipe, which requires more heat, and sometimes that comes from an association with volcanic rock.

Also of interest is the fact the organ pipe (and the saguaro) sometimes produces a bizarre formation called a crest, and on the day of my bike ride a group of Canadians pointed out the structure to me.  In turn, I wanted Janie to see it, and I needed her to hold one of the strobe lights necessary to eliminate harsh shadows.  I wanted her “to hear” the silence.


OrganPipe-6 OrganPipe-18 OrganPipe-15


L to R:  Ramada overlooking Diablo Wash; new (the yellow) arms emerging from organ pipe; close up of cristates.

 

Cristates is another name used to describe the unusual growth patterns and though the shape is common, scientists are at a loss to explain their existence.  Some, according to a park brochure, say the growth results from genetics.  Others believe it could be frost while yet others say the pattern results from imbalance in growth hormones.  Though there is much to be said for understanding, there’s also much to be said for aesthetics, and the organ pipe with all of its shapes and peculiarities satisfies the complex issue of simple beauty.

My last images show the beginning of new arms on an organ pipe.  Again, these structures add to the paragon of the Sonoran, and that status along with the silence Janie and I experienced on this my second tour has elevated Organ Pipe to a place of simple quiet beauty that should not be missed.


———————————-

THIS TIME SIX  YEARS AGO:

*Airstream Camper Tips from Organ Pipe



————–

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. 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




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Departing Sonora Desert Museum With Regrets

posted: February 16th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Just want to share a few of the last images I took before leaving Gilbert Ray Campground, which we used as a base for yet more visits to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.

As one fascinated with natural history, the museum provided some of the best opportunities for photographs I’ve recently enjoyed.  Live demonstrations provided by the docents were informative and in some cases, were intended to squelch misconceptions about certain forms of wildlife, such as the tarantula. According to Barbara Witthaus, who has been working as a docent there for several years, Tarantulas are basically harmless and if handled gently are absolutely non aggressive. She says it’s actually quite  “sweet” and wished more people realized that there is nothing evil about them.  Helping visitors understand nature is her job and is the underlying philosophy of this world renowned museum.


Tarantula-1

"Tarantulas are not aggressive if they are not abused."

 


Those whom have followed my blog know I’m fascinated by the species and devoted a considerable amount of time in Grand Canyon and Borrego Springs trying to locate a specimen to photograph.  All I had to do, I guess, is visit the Sonora Museum.

Tarantula-5 Sonoran-11 Sonoran-16


Barbara Witthaus and Barbara Bickel describe their fascination with some of North America’s most interesting life forms, hoping their
enthusiasm about tarantulas and owls will be absorbed by visitors.


Helping people understand nature is also the challenge that confronts Barbara Bickel who provides talks on owls.  Talks at the museum are many and help acquaint visitors with the role of raptors, the area’s geology, and with all other forms of life that inhabit the Sonoran.  The Sonoran is the museum’s theme and it has succeeded to such an extent that the New York Times has called it the “the most distinctive zoo in the United States.” It features over 900 species of plants that inhabit the  Sonoran and exhibits and interprets 200 species of live animals.  The museum can brag of a 24,000 members and if the tally doesn’t include us, then membership is now 24,002.  We departed the Tucson area with much regret.

Yesterday, we moved on from Gilbert Ray and are now back in Organ Pipe.  It’s another of my favorite areas and I expect to catch up on a bit of bicycle riding that I have not been able to do while in Tucson.


——-

 

THIS TIME FOUR YEARS AGO:

*The Ocotillo


——————————————————————————

 

 

 

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. 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




Read Comments | 2 Comments »

Antsy McClain — With Songs and Stories His Humor Unites Everyone

posted: February 12th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Well, there we were, a  bunch of mature Airstreamers laughing, hollering and waving our arms with all the energy of teenagers.  But the response to Antsy McClain’s music, his jokes and stories – all of his antics – were genuine.

McClains’s performance had been scheduled for the last night of our week-long Alumafiesta and though some of us were starting to “socialize out,” McClains’ creations were just the tonic we needed to revive ourselves.  As his bio states, he writes about what he knows, and that writing is a distillation of his experiences growing up in little Kentucky trailer park called Pine View Heights.


AmtsyMcClain-5

Antsy McClain's music and stories packed the auditorium with arm-waving Aistreamers

 


He was reared by a truck-driving father and an Avon selling mother and some of his music is basic. A summary of songs played throughtout the night include: I Was Just Flipped Off By A Silver Haired Old Lady; Joan of Arkansas; KOA Refugee; and Prozac Made Me Stay.  As his bio states, he (Antsy) “has infused his albums with the rootsy, muscular blend of rock and roll that has become his trademark.”

His work may derive in part from friendships and collaboration with some of the most talented musicians in the world. Mentors include Waylon Jennings, Tommy Smothers, guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel and cowboy poet Baxter Black. In short, his work unites those from all walks of life.

McClain played for well over two hours and about midway through Antsy  called Johnny Be Good to the stage for some musical accompaniment. Johnny, though one of the Airstream group, is a talent harmonica player and brought us Airstreamers to our feet.

By coincidence, Antsy sat next to me at the dinner table and I had a chance to learn more about the man’s humor and long road to success.  I swapped one of my books for one of his albums, and though I am not going to diminish my work by saying that I got the better deal I will say that since leaving Alumafiesta we’ve been playing his music over and over — allowing our sound system to fill our Airstream with songs like “I Married Up,” and “Prosaic Made Me Stay.”  Sometime Janie and I even wave our arms back and forth.


AmtsyMcClain-10 JohnnyBeGood-10 AmtsyMcClain-2


L to R:  Antsy McClain, perhaps the new poet of the common person; McClain and Johnny Be Good; Antsy and his infectious antics includes some laughs and some pathos.


Antsy’s music provided a wonderful conclusion to a great week in Tucson at Alumafiesta.

And now we’re back to work on projects of our own.  We’re covering the desert and once again we’ve concluded that the Desert Museum here in Tucson provides one of the Sonora’s best jumping off plays.  We’ve moved to the Gilbert Ray Campground, and last night the surrounding mountains were covered with snow.



—————–

THIS TIME THREE YEARS AGO:

*Salvation Mountain



—————————————

 

 

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




 

 


Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Alumafiesta — A Must For Airstream Enthusiasts

posted: February 9th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  My how time flies, and already Alumafiesta is drawing to a close and my obligations are now fulfilled.

About 200 people attended this gathering, held in Tucson at Lazy Days RV Park, and they have been very charitable.  So many have expressed appreciation for my slide presentation, and for leading the two photo groups to Saguaro National Park – and I want to thank them.  Attendees have come from all over the United States, suggesting the enthusiasm Airstream owners have for the product.


AlumaFiesta (14 of 7)


Here is a group photo from one of my tours.  The image is back dropped by some of the mountains comprising Saguaro National Park. Now isn’t this a handsome group!

Prior to visiting Saguaro I provided a handout with a list of suggestions, and though I’m willing to bet many came up with ideas that exceeded what I’m posting here, nevertheless I’m offering these images for the sake of comparison.


Saguaro (1 of 2) Saguaro (2 of 2)


Subjects suggested include the Visitor Center, other photographers, close ups of the saguaro, images of the saguaro as part of the landscape, and an image of the park’s “touch table.”


AlumaFiesta (13 of 7) TouchTable (10 of 1) AlumaFiesta (12 of 7)

L to R:  Photo suggestions on my handout also included the Saguaro Visitor Center, the “Touch Table,” and a image of one of the group’s photographers.

 

The gathering ends tomorrow and I’ll most likely post a few other images of the fiesta.  I have not had time to take too many other images as we’ve had lots of other business obligations to take care of, such as filling out a report explaining why I cannot fulfill jury obligations back home in Montana.  As well, we run a stock photo business and I’ve had to fulfill a few requests.

We’ve made a number of new Airstream friends here in Tucson and Janie and I hope to see you along the road.. I bet we do.


———————————————————————————

THIS TIME THREE YEARS AGO:

*Was Marshall South America’s First Hippie?



———————————————————————————-

 

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 | Post a Comment »

AlumaFiesta and the Sonora Desert Museum

posted: February 3rd, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Let’s call this brief posting “Nature News Notes” realizing that they symbolize the incredible programs offered at the Sonora Desert Museum located just outside of Tucson, Arizona.


Harriss'sHawk (10 of 1)

Harris's Hawk as presented at Sonora Desert Museum during "Freeflight" Program



I don’t mind touting the museum as about four years ago, herpetologists helped me with information and with photo ops for a story I was writing on Gila Monsters for National Wildlife Magazine. Biologists spent hours explaining to Janie and me the complicated biology of America’s only poisonous lizard.

So that explains why I’m more than happy to focus on the museum, but it doesn’t say why we are here in Tucson, and that is to provide an Airstream gathering called AlumaFiesta with a program on photography.  The program will recall my interest in Airstream Travel and my years as a photographer.  Back dropping my photo presentation will be our interest in national parks all of which began in Glacier National Park.


SonoranDesert (4 of 9) SonoranDesert (1 of 9) SonoranDesert (2 of 9)


L to R:  Barn owl, Raptor Free Flight enthusiasts gather to watch flights of hawks and owls, barn owl, showing that sometimes subject must be made part of overall scene.


Putting the program together has required much time, which means that something must give and that has been my blog writing, which also helps draw attention to my two recent books, detailed below.

We’re looking forward to AlumaFiesta and also to a few more visits to the Sonora Desert Museum, which provides a host of learning experiences that no one here should overlook.  One of those is the Raptor Free Flight Program and hopefully the images included here will justify my enthusiasm.  All of these images were MADE during our visit to the museum less than a week ago! The birds and the program are still there and various programs, such as the Raptor Free Flight demonstration, are offered daily.



————-

 

 

THIS TIME THREE  YEARS AGO:

*Slot Canyons

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 | 2 Comments »