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 March, 2016

One Thousand Different Species

posted: March 19th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Between wind-swept Dante’s View and the torrid salt flats dramatized by the Devil’s Golf course – located thousands of feet below — Death Valley supports over 1000 species of plants. Realizing that the area in between consists of materials such as iron, aluminum, titanium, hematite and some green chlorite, the tally really should be impressive.


 

Dante'sView


Badwater, as seen from Dante’s View. 
In between these two extreme landscapes, the terrain hosts about 1,000 different species of plants.


What’s more, weather is not always conducive to plant growth, a condition that can overlap, for several days ago we struggled for balance as I created the two panoramic images included here. Wind was howling at the Devil’s Golf Course, and a storm was already blowing hard. Off in the distance, Janie and I could see huge clouds of sand swirling about 30 miles in the distance near Stove Pipe Wells. It did not seem like a good day for flowers, nevertheless, right now you cannot travel far in this desert park without seeing huge fields of flowers, and their radiance and breadth draws gasps!


 

DevilsGolfCourse2

That’s not snow, it’s salt…  And it represents the harsh conditions in which Death Valley plants have evolved. 
Look closely and you’ll see our truck, here a blue dot.  Panoramas create much altered perspectives as in this case. 
Actually, I’m about 50 feet away from the truck, but then this is a 180 degree sweep.


Because my two panoramas  cover a 180 degree expanse, our truck may be overlooked, but examine the image closely and you’ll see a blue speck. Actually the truck was only 30 feet from the point at which I’m standing. I was trying to PAN with the camera in my cell phone while balanced atop a chuck of salt. Meanwhile, the winds huffed and they puffed requiring that I make several attempts to satisfactorily cover the entire sweep of salt. Though plants don’t grow in this, the Badwater area, they do survive along the edges. Amazing!


Booth'sPrimRose2 DesertChicory ArtistPalette-60


L to R:  Booth’s Primrose; Desert Chicory; Artist’s Palette.

Over the next few days we’re hoping to find a few plants with interesting histories, such as the Desert-Lavender. According to one of our flower books, data from fossilized pack rat middens provides evidence this species advance into what is now Death Valley during a warming trend. And that trend is ancient, dating back 10,000, which is recognized by geologists as the Holocene.

As you can see we’ve had  having fun learning about adaptations some of Death Valley’s one-thousand plants have made.


== == == ==

 

NOTE: I’m posting this blog three days after departing Death Valley.  To create the few entries I made back in Death Valley, it was necessary to get up at 2 a.m. when pressure on the internet was not so great.  However, all that I’ve written above is still applicable.  Flowers are still blooming, and it is expected they will continue to do so for at least a few more weeks.  Essentially, seeds from flowers higher up and a bit further north are the ones now producing flowers.  If you have time, it’s worth the effort, and the bonus is that visitation should be slacking off.

 

===

THIS TIME ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO:

The Park That Made A President

 

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 »

What Happens to the Amargosa?

posted: March 18th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:   Included here are several images, and two of them show a river flowing near Shoshone, Nevada, just outside of Death Valley. Before reading any further, try and imagine what happens — eventually — to this, the Amargosa River?

I think the fate of the river is amazing, and have tried on numerous occasions to photograph it, but it has either been traveling below ground or there simply hasn’t been enough water to reveal it as a river. But two days ago, such was not the case.


AmaragosaDrive-4 AmaragosaDrive-3


The Amargosa River flows
almost 200 miles then enters Death Valley National Park.  What Happens to it Then?


In short the Amargosa begins northwest of Las Vegas, where it flows generally south for about 185 miles sometimes above ground sometimes below. It passes through Beatty, and Tecopa California, continues flowing in a near parallel course adjacent to Route 127. It flows by the Dumont Dunes then shortly thereafter turns west and enters Death Valley where it turns northwest and flows to Badwater which is 282 feet below level. Here, some of the river disappears into the ground, feeding an aquifer that is the remnant of prehistoric Lake Manly.

But not all: much of the Amargosa River simply evaporates, leaving behind the huge mineralized body of white.

Wonder what all those crystals consist of? Kneel down, touch the white stuff and then give it the taste test. It’s salt, and virtually all came from the Amargosa River, a river that can at times flood and create chaos in small settlements.


43728 43722


In Death Valley, at Badwater,
which is 282 feet below sea level, the river disappears.  Just another of the bizarre aspect of this incredible national park.


The phenomena of the Amargosa has always intrigued me and when I first learned these facts, I was blown away. What do you think?

I think the Amargosa is another of the crazy features that makes the valley just as interesting as the amazing flower bloom Death Valley has recently enjoyed.

 

=  === ====


THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

El Pinacate — The Place Of All Creation


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 »

Barking Dogs Not Compatible with Organ Pipe’s Sounds of Silence

posted: March 11th, 2016 | by:Bert

organ pipe cactus

Organ Pipe Cactus frame the Moon

©Bert Gildart: Despite the wonderful time Janie and I had in Organ Pipe, we departed following an ugly event that was accompanied by several F bombs being levied at me.

The event was precipitated by a confrontation I had with two sets of campers parked adjacent to us who had barking dogs. Barking was not confined to just a yip, rather it was sustained, and it occurred randomly throughout the day and into the evening. Finally, after almost two weeks of being awakened in the morning and having several dogs owned by our campground neighbors drowning out the desert’s “SOUNDS OF SILENCE” (see accompanying photo), I went outside and asked the neighbors to please get their dogs quiet. Moments later the campground host and hostess walked up and we discussed barking dogs. They’d heard the commotion and agreed with my thoughts about uncontrolled dogs, for that afternoon, two rangers confronted the people in the sites adjacent to us. I have no idea what transpired, but whatever they said seemed to help – for a while.

EVIL LADY

Two mornings later their dogs commenced barking – again awakening me. I was fed up and went outside and asked them to PLEASE get their dogs quiet. About that time, another campground hostess showed up and I detailed just how exasperated I was. Then I returned to my camper. Later, we noticed that the people with one set of dogs had moved to another site, far away. But the “evil” lady (her husband did not join her) in site 135 marched over and launched into me using every imaginable word she could muster up. She said her dog didn’t bark and that I was a so-and-so liar. I told her to leave and when she turned I told her to have a good day. She turned around and again started dropping her F bombs. Then she stomped off yelling that I was a F—— Nazi.

Because of the lady’s hostility I felt I should file a complaint, which I did on one of the park’s comment form. I suggest that when people enter the campground, Kiosk rangers should ask if they have pets. If so, they should be provided a hand out explaining that dogs must be under control and if not, owners will be fined – or asked to leave. They should be told that dogs must be on leashes at all times (not so for my neighbors ), and that non-stop dog barking will not be tolerated. They should be told that campers should be limited to two dogs, and not to FOUR as another group of campers recently had.

WONDERFUL KOA

I wrote more in my report, but I think this expresses my feelings for my blog readers. Right now we’re heading to Death Valley, and we’re over-nighting in a KOA, a campground. But, still, I have just got say that I have suddenly started to revere the KOA here in Needles, California. They say in their Rule and Regulations that all dogs must be on leashes and that barking dogs will not be tolerated. If your dogs continue to bark, says the KOA handout, owners will be “asked to leave” and money “will not be refunded.” I absolutely love this campground.

In summary, I should note that for a number of years Janie and I traveled with a Malmut, which we trained not to bark, so it can be done! I should also note that about 50% of campers at Organ Pipe were traveling with dogs, but they, too, had apparently trained their dogs, for most pets did not engage in that horrible nonstop yip, yip, yip.

OK, that’s now in the past. Today, we hope to make it to Death Valley and enjoy the “Super Bloom.”


== == == ==

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Magnificence of Birds In Flight

 

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 | 5 Comments »

Ripe Mexican Marijuana Crop Now A Concern at Organ Pipe

posted: March 5th, 2016 | by:Bert


©Bert Gildart: Several days ago Janie and I attended a presentation in Organ Pipe provided by two U.S. Border Patrol agents.  It was an excellent talk, and we took away much information.   One thought, however, that sticks with us is that the marijuana crop is now ripe and drug dealers are now attempting to smuggle tons of it across the border that Organ Pipe shares with Mexico.

One of the agents said if we see people with huge backpacks most likely they’re smugglers and they may well be carrying guns.  “Leave the area immediately,” he urged, “and notify us.”  The agent went on to say smugglers don’t want to see visitors any more than we want to see them.  He said smugglers have scouts posted on hills with commanding views, and when they see Border Patrol agents they have signals that warn “the mules” to scurry back to Mexico.”  The two men also spoke about the skills members of their unit possess to track smugglers.



Dos Lomitas-5 BlackBottles SenitaLoop-6

Jane Gildart, who says that here she could jump across the border.  (The waist-high fence is for stopping cars.)
Dave Vedder with pair of black water bottles.  Black is used by most undocumented immigrants
because they don’t reflect sunlight; three hikers, which the landscape can easily swallow.

 

Securing the American border has a long history that can best be appreciated by hiking some of the park’s trails.  About a week ago friends from Tucson (Rich, Emma and Eleanor Luhr) joined us and we hiked to the Milton Mine.  The mine was named after Jefferson David Milton who was of the first people to patrol the area, doing so in 1887.  Davis rode horseback between Yuma and Tucson.

As we explored the area once patrolled by this now historic man, we found a few discarded water bottles and several worn out shoes.  We found carpet material, used by smugglers.  When placed over their boots fibers in the carpet obscure tracks.  One of the presenters noted, however, that some of their trackers have become so talented they can follow fibers through the brush.  Indeed, Janie and I were impressed by the described capabilities of men and women now attempting to protect the wonderful resources so unique to Organ Pipe.  For one month, now, Janie and I have been enjoying those resources.  Sadly, we may soon have to get on to other business.


HouseFinch CactusWren (1 of 1) GhostFlower


An infinitesimal representation of the plethora of life to be found in Organ Pipe, an International Biosphere Preserve. 
L to R: House finch helping to pollinate ocotillo, cactus wren, hibiscus.

 

While visiting this 330,688 acre preserve, we’ve ridden bikes and hiked trails.  We’ve enjoyed evening presentation and the clear night skies, and we have taken advantage of park shuttles, one of which took us to the Milton Mine trailhead.  Here, while hiking to the mine, sharp-eyed Emma (now 15) spotted a Cristata at the tip of an Organ Pipe.  Previously I thought the strange growth was confined to the saguaro.

As well, we’ve marveled at the various species of birds that have adapted to a life in thorns, most notably the cactus wren.


A-Mt-Bike2 EmaRichElanor AjoMtDrive-15


Organ Pipe provides magnificent biking opportunities; a day of hiking to both Milton and Baker Mine
where we observed artifacts discarded by illegal intruders;
Valentine Day celebrated with drive of the beautiful Ajo Mountain Drive.

Certainly the monument enjoys these natural resource features in part because over 90 percent of Organ Pipe has been designated wilderness.  Obviously that presents an immense management dilemma, especially now because the marijuana crop has matured necessitating an increase in surveillance.  Some of the patrol work is conducted on horse, but often, to insure visitor safety, they must respond urgently, and that means they must also use 4-wheelers.

“What do you prefer,” they ask pointedly, “thousands of illegals denuding the landscape, or us trying to ensure visitor safety and reduce environmental impact?”  The answer should be obvious for last year Organ Pipe was able to reopen the 60% of lands that had been closed.  But there is still work to be done.  Last year agents seized 100,000 pounds of pot, while in 2005, they seized but 17,000 pounds.  But hopefully these losses to smugglers will continue to benefit the successful program the Park Service has been implementing.


= == == ==

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

(Over the years I’ve written a number of magazine stories about OP and posted about a dozen blogs. 
Here are five examples.)

Organ Pipe1, Organ Pipe 2,
Star Light– Star Bright,

Natural History of Organ Pipe,

Airstream Camper Tips from Organ Pipe

OUR RECENT BOOKS

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 »

Airstream Photo Blind Relaxes Birds

posted: March 2nd, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: IMPROVISED BLIND: With the help of an improvised photo blind I’ve managed to capture images of the cactus wren from the camping space alloted to us here in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. We’ve been here now for almost three weeks and in the course of our stay have biked, hiked  and taken advantage of the van trips provided by the park. I’ll report on those later because right now I’m excited about the images I made yesterday.



Photography-1 CactusWren (1 of 1) CactusWren-5


My “photo blind” consists of my Zip Dee awning, backdropped by Rich Luhr’s Airstream.  With it I’ve also managed to capture an image of a house finch pollinating an ocotillo.


HouseFinch CactusWren-4 CactusWren-3


I’m always amazed by the coordinated flight maneuvers birds have developed to avoid cactus spines…


Heat is building and we may start heading north, hoping Death Valley is not so overwhelmed with visitors that the pleasure of viewing is spoiled.


==  ==  ==  ==

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

El Pinacata — The Place of All Creation

 

OUR RECENT BOOKS

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 »