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

Organ Pipe National Monument Has Reopened

©Bert Gildart:  Out of concern for visitor safety, much of Organ Pipe National Monument has been closed for about 12 years. (See link to my posting about the murder of Ranger Kris Eggle.) But in February of 2014 the park service brought in Superintendent Brent Range and instructed him to apply his background in law enforcement and try to reopen closed areas.

SenitaBasin (3 of 10) SenitaBasin (7 of 10) SenitaBasin (4 of 10)

L to R:  Pleats of the Senita are more boxy and project fewer spines; Janie hiking through Senita Basin; Senita “tree.”



For starters Superintendent Range increased the ranger staff from about seven permanent rangers to about 20, increased the border patrol from about 100 to about 300, and installed better surveillance equipment. Though we suspect there is more to come, Range opened all closed park areas in September 2014.

For increased visitor enjoyment, the “new” park also began offering van shuttles to wonderful hiking areas, such as the Senita Basin. Our van was full and following an hour drive along a rugged backcountry road to a trailhead, Janie and I struck out on a five mile hike.

The hike enabled us to familiarize ourselves with a most interesting member of the cactus family, the senita. Though the organ pipe is sensitive to cold, senita is even more so, and this monument represents the specie’s most northern extension from Mexico. To cope with the cold the tops of senita are covered with hair-like structures. Structurally, the pleats are more “boxy” in appearance and are more widely separated.

Quitobaquito (1 of 10) Quitobaquito (8 of 10) Quitobaquito (9 of 10)

L to RTo prevent drug runners from plowing across international border in their vehicles, park has erected steel fences.  Road and trail to Quitobaquito are now open and no longer require an ARMED ESCORT, which we joined several years ago.  You’ll still see black water bottles , but they (hopefully) are “artifacts” of a hard core drug era rather than reflective of the times.   But note, as the park service certainly points out, illegal crossings still occur.

We plan to remain in Organ Pipe for at least another week and will be posting more images about this forgotten park. Once it had the reputation of being the nation’s most dangerous park, but we believe that designation is now changing.

Here are a few images of our hike, the senita and “artifacts” from along the road.   You’ll be seeing more posts from Organ Pipe.


Organ Pipe Recollections From Many Visits Over the YearsAirstream Camper Tips from Organ Pipe, and Organ Pipe’s World Class Cactus Forest

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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