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

Can Birthdays Generate Wisdom?

©Bert Gildart: Commemorating a landmark passage in age, I’ve been reviewing pictures forwarded by friends and family, using them to help me evaluate life altering choices I once made. Were they good ones?

First thoughts.  In most cases I shudder to think what might have happened if I’d followed other roads.    Why I might have become an accountant, an engineer — an officer and a gentlemen.

But that’s not what happened.  Instead, I heard other drummers, though it took much trial and error to reach my destiny, for I was attempting to veer from the military tradition created by generations of high-ranking and insistent forefathers, and sometimes rebellion got in the way.

MyBirthday-1 MyBirthday-2

L to R:  Confused and floundering young man; two, older and creatively searching

In high school and my first year of college, rather than seeking academic success, I boxed; and during those years I became the Alabama state runner up in the Golden Gloves.


Music also influenced me, and there were times when all I could hear was Hank Williams crooning “Hear That Lonesome Whistle Blow.”  And so I headed away from the sanitized environment in which I had been reared and headed west, the most significant move of my life.


Boxing took me to
many places in the South, and though I lost but one fight by a technicality, wisely I got out of the sport.

Nevertheless, I still floundered for awhile and suspect a good name for me during my early years in Montana might have been Bourbon Bert.  But simultaneously I also learned to ride a horse and even got to the point where I could stay on the back of a truly wild cayuse.  I learned to shoot well, and once I dispatched a charging bear with a .30-06.  The bear had killed a young girl.


Rogue bear was created by its
association with garbage dumps, and in1967 it killed a college girl. A ranger friend and I were assigned to find it and kill it.


I guess roving might also be called “getting your shit together,” and that’s what happened. As birthdays began to mount I returned to college in Montana.  Upon graduation I became a teacher and summer-time ranger, and then, a few birthdays later, I began working as an Outdoor Writer for a newspaper.  Simultaneously I freelanced and published in most magazines that used outdoor material to include Field & Stream, National Wildlife, and Smithsonian.  I even tried Playboy, but editors there replied that I simply had not covered the subject adequately.


All this is not to say that everything was perfect, and that I didn’t make a few mistakes.  But then that’s what birthdays are for.  They’re intended to instill wisdom, and I finally concluded that Playboy was not for me.  As well, a very good part of my past caught up to me.  I found a girl I had dated in high school.

BertPhotographer3 Pyramids IMG_8917

L To R:  Photography and writing have become not only an avocation
but a vocation; two, photography has taken me all over the globe; three, peripatetic Janie, my kindred spirit.

In 1991 I married Janie and that inaugurated a genuinely adventurous period of time.  Together, we’ve shared 25 more birthdays — highlighted by months on the Yukon, hikes through the Arctic Refuge and a very meaningful association with the Gwich’in Indians. More recently it has inaugurated explorations of North America in an Airstream trailer resulting in literally dozens of travel stories.  It also marked a period during which I’ve produced some of my best works.  Significantly Janie and I have coauthored several hiking books and I authored several celebratory books on national parks and scores of magazine stories.

Because of the sterling life I’ve led I’m anticipating that I’ll add another quarter of a century to my current tally. If that proves to be the case, I plan to spend the years with my children — and of course with all family members – helping, I hope, when I can.  Perhaps, too, I’ll come out of retirement as a Golden Gloves boxer and return to a symbolic ring to help others fight for the things that have come to mean so much to Janie and me.  In a nutshell, that would be the diminishing quality of life I firmly believe we have lost because of our vanishing wildlands.

In another quarter of a century I’ll provide a tally detailing those birthday years.  I hope you will check in, for I expect to be wise beyond my years.  Some of you already are, I know, and I hope for no less.




Raccoons At Our Feeder

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

7 Responses to “Can Birthdays Generate Wisdom?”

  1. Tom & Sandi Says:

    Great “bio” Bert, I surmised bits and pieces of your life experiences over the years, but you created a great summary. Well done from an old resume reader of too many years.

    “Your hired” for another 25 years (and I don’t usually give out long-term contracts – as a matter of fact I no longer buy green bananas as they might not ripen in what’s left of my lifetime!).

    As the cowboys say, “YOU AND JANIE ARE A PAIR TO DRAW TO.”

    Thank you for sharing your life’s experiences as you go down the trail. I’m glad you settled on photography and writing as a career choice rather than boxing. We probably wouldn’t be communicating today if you hadn’t!

  2. Bert Says:

    Tom and Sandi, I’ll be counting on an update from you in another quarter of a century, but in the meantime, I hope we can review together the various periods of growth and development I know we’ve both shared. I fear, however, that yours may have been a bit more productive than some of mine. Hope to see you all this fall or winter! Been too long.

  3. Rich Luhr Says:

    Bert, I wish for three things after reading this:

    1. I wish I could take a year off to just sit and interview you & Janie and write the definitive biography of the Gildarts. It would be a hell of a story.

    2. I wish there was a public photo-sharing site where I could put all my favorite pictures of you guys. (But maybe I should save the best ones for future blackmail purposes.)

    3. I wish you at least another 25 years of great traveling, writing, photography, and friendship!

  4. Rich Luhr Says:

    PS: I notice you failed to mention exactly which birthday you are celebrating! ;-)

  5. Bill D. Says:

    Congratulations, Bert, on your milestone, landmark passage in age!

    Thank you for your wonderful art of photographs, stories, and friendship:


    Thank you for your courage in fighting for things that are important and meaningful to you and Janie and to many of us who are concerned about our vanishing wildlands, night sky, and quality of life issues such as human rights, dignity and respecting diverse peoples and cultures:


    And finally, thank you for sharing your wisdom: “… review the hand you’ve been dealt, and then play it as best you can.”:


    Looking forward to your next tally (no need to wait a quarter of a century)!

    Best, Bill and Larry

  6. Tom & Sandi Says:

    Bert and Janie, you indeed have some good friends, Happy Birthday no matter which!

  7. Tom & Sandi Says:

    Bert, here it is Labor Day and you are still celebrating your B-Day! Any new adventures in your life: ie. Chased by a Griz, taken up flying drome cameras, going over waterfalls in a barrel? Bring us up to date.

    What’z happ’n man!