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

Song of the Cactus Wren

©Bert Gildart: Here in Arizona at the Sonoran Desert Museum, the sound of spring is in the air.  All around the state bird is creating a familiar sound that some say resembles the churn of a battery that won’t start.  Others say the song contains a “clattering roll” and consists of “a series of quick beats without melody.” Whatever description fits the bill it is one now being heard virtually everywhere: from the tops of the mighty saguaro, from the thickets of the dense chain cholla, from the spiny top of the prickly pear…


Song of the cactus wren


The sound is associated with the cactus wren, a colorful species in which the male and female work together to build nests.  Nests are huge and built so that the top is closed.  When completed the nest will look like a football oriented vertically.  But unlike many species, access to the nest is from the side; and that’s for a very good reason. It’s an evolutionary thing that helps obscure the wren from predators flying overhead.  Those that were exposed, perished, and with time, only cactus wrens that created nest with holes in the sides survived.

Eventually, nests built by the pair may number several, perhaps even three or four.  But after our bird couple has completed the nest, which one calls the shots?  Who decides which nest will serve to raise their young?

CactusWren-24 CactusWren-31 CactusWren-22

L to R:  Nests, which may number as many as four, are constructed together by both males and female.  Nests could be prickly pear, in saguaro cactus, or deep in a thorn-filled cholla.  Nests are constructed from a variety of materials.

Apparently it’s like newlyweds shopping for their first home. Final selection of the “nest” devolves to the female; she calls the shots!

As I say, it’s spring down here but what does that mean? It means that the high today approached 80.  But tomorrow, if it rains (as is predicted), temperatures may not even reach into the 70s.  Nevertheless, I’ve been told that despite such frigid temperatures, nest building will continue, and we can still expect to hear the song of the cactus wren.

We’re grateful to be surrounded by nature.




*Fascinated by Ocotillo

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

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