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, 2014

Adventures of Ballarat Bert and Panamint Jane

posted: January 30th, 2014 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  In a different life, 150 years ago, Ballarat Bert was “a single blanket jackass prospector.”  In the harsh land he wandered, those days were all about prospecting; and those of a like mind were “Shorty Harris,” Pete Aguereberry, and Seldom Seen Smith, all of whom Ballarat occasionally encountered.

His principle consort, however, was Panamint Jane, and she had become known for her brave heart, gracious ways and desert knowledge.  Granted that made for some differences, but these were complementary differences, depending, of course, on where we are.  She knew her challenges were great for Ballarat Bert had also gone by the sobriquet of Bourbon Bert and Blasphemous Bert.  Graciously, Panamint Jane stuck to interpreting nature and not the sordid implications of names.


DesertTracks-5 BlasphemousBert


L to R: In another life Panamint Jane and Ballarat Bert wandered the rugged West, searching
for gold and the hidden meaning of desert life.

Out here in the desert each morning provides new stories in the sand, and this is where Panamint likes to let her imagination run wild.  “Here’s where a kangaroo rat almost bought it,” says Ms. Panamint.  “See, it’s racing for its burrow, trying to evade the kit fox.  See this!  Here’s the tracks of a fox.  And here’s the tracks of our kangaroo rat, which just barely made it. It’s all here!”

Ballarat likes other Death Valley stories and one recalls Aguereberry Pete and Shorty Harris, both of whom Ballarat and Panamint had trailed into some of the valley’s harshest lands.

In, of course, their other lives.

At the time, say about 1880, Aguereberry had just meet Shorty Harris and the two struck out for the “fleshpots” of Ballarat, an old evolving mining town.   Ballarat Bert wanted to trail along behind Harris and Aguereberry, but Panamint Jane was insistent, saying, “No-sir-ree. Not if you want to stick with me… We’ll find places on our own, without any of the silly sashaying that goes on out there in Ballarat.”

ArtistDrive-5 DesertTracks-4 AmargosaOpreyHouse


L to R: Panamint Jane says the colors look like peppermint, strawberry and lettuce.  Tracks in the desert sands.  Amaragosa Opera House.

True to her word, our wandering turned up rocks and dirt the color of peppermint, strawberry and lettuce.  Panamint, whose knowledge seemed to embrace future knowledge, said that she bet the colors were the result of “pigments, such as iron, mica and manganese.”

HARRIS HAMMERED, PETE PISSED

Panamint’s decision to go it alone turned out to be a good one, for Shorty Harris really pissed off Aguereberry Pete.  They found gold alright, but a night or so later Harris got his-self all liquored up, and he began boasting of stuff they found in the Panamint Mountains.  This could have resulted in gun play, but as luck would have it the pair reasserted their claim.  And that’s not all: Even though these two men tested the flesh pots of Ballarat, fate still smiled kindly on the lives of the two men, for they became Death Valley legends.

Well Ballarat Bert and Panamint Jane have more to add, for their adventures have pointed them toward an old famous play house and a big, big desert known as the Mojave.  But you’ll have to return to find out what they go prospecting for next.


————–


AIRSTREAM ADVENTURES TWO YEARS AGO:

*Climbing Anza Borrego’s Coyote Peak


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 »

More on Death Valley

posted: January 23rd, 2014 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: We’re camped now in our old borax wagon (Airstream) high on a hill called Texas Spring.  Generators are not allowed here so nights are quiet.  We’re delighted to be at Texas Springs and much of our second day in Death Valley was spent exploring the Harmony Borax Works.


Borax-1

Our borax wagon, always ready to accommodate us on new adventures

 

Twelve years ago we wrote in our book, Exploring Death Valley, that Harmony Borax Works is one of the most popular stops in the park.  “The works made Death Valley famous in several ways.  Borax quickly became the ‘white gold’ of Death Valley after it’s discover on the salt pan of the desert floor in 1881…

“From Harmony Works, the mules pulled the loaded wagons 165 miles to the train depot in Mojave…  In the 1950s and 1960s, the television series Death Valley Days (hosted one season by a movie actor named Ronald Reagan) romanced the mineral, the historic period, and the people who worked the claims to extract the borax…

“By the end of the era in the late 1920s, some $30,000,000 worth of borax had been taken from the Death Valley area…”

Borax-4 90070 Borax-2

CLICK TO ENLARGE

L to R:  Wagon which once helped transport millions of dollars worth of borax to Mojave; night photo
of borax wagon; up close image of borax wagons.

To help romanticize the area Janie and I have worked hard trying to capture the spirit of the times.  We’ve photographed the wagons at night and with a variety of lenses, and hope you like the renditions.  With the exception of the night photo, all images are new.  Don Dennis helped me with the night image several years ago by venturing out well after sundown and then working with me on the lighting. Don and Nancy are a great couple and we’ll be seeing them before long.


———————-

 

OTHER AIRSTREAM TRAVELS TO DEATH VALLEY:

*HOTTEST PLACE IN THE WORLD

*DEATH VALLEY ON OUR MINDS

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 »

Death Valley At Last

posted: January 22nd, 2014 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Death Valley at last, and how wonderful this austere valley does look.  In a way it looked like home for Janie and I have spent months here exploring the park’s loftiest regions then descending to its lowest regions.

DeathValley-3

Death Valley at Last

 

In fact at -282 feet Death Valley’s Bad Water holds the record for lowest place in North America.  In part because of its elevation this national park claims to be the hottest place in the world, but it is these extremes that make it so remarkable.  About 15 year ago Janie and I spent months here producing an exploring guide for Falcon Press. The book is still on the stands, but it is one we’d like to update.

In other words, we’d like an excuse to spend more time in Death Valley.

But to catch up a bit on our travel route.  Our last stop before descending to Furnace Creek was Beatty, which we reached after leaving Jackpot, Nevada several days ago.  From there we followed 93 south to Ely, then took 6 to Tonopah, then 9 to Beatty.  From there we followed 374 into Death Valley.  By so doing we bypassed Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.  Though we have pulled our Airstream through these two cities, it is not something we particularly enjoy, especially when some of the small Nevada towns are so colorful.


DeathValley-1 DeathValley-5 DeathValley-8

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGES

L to R:  Not sure of the juxtaposition of plane and sign for brothel, other than to indicate many have crash landed here (”cribs” are just behind my vantage); Texas Spring campground; Salt Creek, home to the endangered pup fish with a story that spans the ages.

In Beatty, we stayed at a hot springs, located about a mile from a local brothel.  Proprietors have positioned a plane near the entrance, and I’m not sure what message they intend, other than to suggest that many have “crash landed” here.

Yesterday was our first real day in Death Valley and we spent most of the day on old familiar trails, most notably Salt Creek, where we looked for the Desert Pup Fish.  In winter they burrow into the banks so we didn’t see any, but their known existence adds to the host of incredible stories contained in this huge national park.

DeathValley-7

Janie examines winter waters of Salt Creek, searching for Desert Pup Fish

 

As we wrote about 12 years ago in our book:

“The park has rocks that move, sands that sing, historical characters who bamboozled their followers at every turn…”

We are going to spend the next couple of days reacquainting ourselves with as much as this desert  park as we can possible squeeze in. If you are in the vicinity you should do the same!


—————-

 

AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*Organ Pipe’s Ajo Mountain Loop (by mountain bike)

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 »

On The Road Again

posted: January 19th, 2014 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Three days ago we struck out for points south and one of our very first stops was Monida Pass.  Mon stands for Montana and ida for Idaho.

A-Stream2014-2

Airstream, Monida Pass

 

Typically the pass is shrouded in fog and at times storms rage.  We lucked out this time having to cope with just a bit of fog.  While stopped I continued with what I believe is a 20 year photo chronology of an old barn and the impact on it of some of the state’s most intense weather conditions.

A-Stream2014-1

Continued chronology of Mondia barn

 

Day two of our travels took us to Jackpot, Nevada, where we invested $10 on the slot machines.  Jackpot is a convenient place to stop and several years ago Janie won enough money to pay for a fancy meal.  We generally play with “found money,” seemingly much different from some of the other patrons.  For some it appeared as though these were desperation times and that they were investing their last nickel.

Day three took us along roads in the western portion of Nevada, and I’d forgotten just how lonely and desolate this portion of the state could be.  It is no exaggeration to say that in one area we drove for over an hour and never saw a single car.  For Janie and me, that is actually one of Nevada’s attractions.  How it contrasts with portions of Montana’s Flathead Valley, a place I used to adore.

A-Stream2014-3

Nevada Hwy 6, our vote for the nation's Loneliest Highway. But officially Nevada Highway 50 still has that distinction.

 

Implications aside, Janie and I are just traveling.  Those who follow this blog know we’ve just recently overcome a few health issues, but we’ve overcome them.  Now, we’re happy to be Back On The Road Again.  At the moment we’re in Beatty, Nevada and plan to stay here a couple of days simply to decompress.  Then, it’s on to Death Valley, which is just a short drive ahead.  Cell phone and internet connections are intermittent — at best.

—————-

 

AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*Sonora Desert Museum

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 | 1 Comment »

Mystery Solved, So Fill ‘er Up

posted: January 9th, 2014 | by:Bert

Lens-10©Bert Gildart: For the past two weeks I have been in a quandary.  Someone sent me what appeared to be a brand new 35 to 105mm zoom lens.  In real life a lens of this quality costs about $1,000, so I was astounded.  But then, but when I removed it from the very, very real looking box,  instantly I realized by the weight that it was it was a plastic lookalike.  But that was just as good, for it has turned out to be something with which I’ve been having fun.

My first victim was my sister-in-law, and on Christmas day I removed the “lens” from my camera pack and pretended I was about to attach it to my Nikon camera, but suddenly changed my mind.  The lens needed cleaning, so I tossed it to my sister-in-law, but she couldn’t field my catch — because I’d misdirected the throw.

“So sorry,” she said when it thudded to the floor.  “Hope it’s not damaged.”

“No problem,” I responded, as I headed to the sink.  “I’ll wash off in the sink.”  Which I did.  Then I filled it up with a drink, and only then did she realize something amiss.

Believe it or not, that little stunt has now worked about half a dozen times. And I bet it will work again, perhaps on one or two of my readers.  I can hope.

WHO SENT IT?

Ok.  I’ve had my fun, but who sent it?  Up until yesterday I had no idea and had called several unsavory friends, friends who live as far away as Texas, California and Massachusettes, but all denied knowledge of the lens.  But yesterday, the mystery was solved when Katie, Janie’s daughter, called and said, “Has Bert gotten Kelsey’s Christmas gift?  Tracking says it got to Kalispell.”

Sometimes I’m dense, but this time the comment triggered a thought, and I suddenly realized who the unmarked package was from.  So thank you, Kelsey.  It’s provided lots of laughs, and has allowed me to key off some family gullibility.  Remember the time, we stuffed rocks in Mary’s pack when she left it sitting idle?

What fun we had watching her struggle along the trail to Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park.  Well it was that kind of enjoyment I’ve been having with the lens.  Perhaps we can do that again this summer?!?


——–

NOTE:  With a little luck from the weather we may be able to hitch up our Airstream and begin heading south.  For us, this should make headlines.



——————–

 

AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*Biking to Font’s Point

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 | 3 Comments »