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, 2011

Birthday Recalls Everglades Adventure of 25 Years Ago

posted: March 29th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: It’s been  25 years ago since Bruce May, then a biologist with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, and I canoed 100 miles of the Everglades Wilderness Waterway.  I’m reminded of the event as we celebrated Bruce’s birthday two days ago. As we visited we realized that this month marked the anniversary of that adventurous outing.


We reached Chickee late in the evening, after porpoise guided the way.


At the time I was gathering information about national parks for a story for the United States Information Agency (USIA), and in many ways we lucked out. Spring in the Everglades can be a horrible time because of the bugs, but shortly before we arrived there had been an unusually cold spell and it killed most of the mosquitoes and the no-see-ems. As well, we didn’t understand much about tides, and one day our timing was all wrong, and though we were heading toward the ocean, tides on this vast “river of grass” were rising, and by day’s end, we were exhausted.


Yet on another day of our outing we turned down the wrong channel and when we realized our mistake by then we’d gone several miles out of our way.  If we didn’t want to spend the night at water level with all the alligators we had to find the correct channel; and we had to find an elevated platform known as a “chickee.”

Though what I’m about to relate seems preposterous, it’s all true.

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L to R: When the tide went out channels lost water forcing us to struggle with canoe; Anhinga, one of more common bird species; in an area called the “Nightmare” alligators were everywhere.


Moments later, a dolphin swam into view, and we decided to follow it. Reversing our course, we managed to stay in sight and it soon led us to the correct channel, and then, soon, to the chickee. We erected our tent, put up a lantern, and then listened to all the night sounds, which were kind of spooky.

Next morning we arose and discovered that our canoe was hanging from the bow rope and except for the very stern was completely out of water. Thankfully, we’d removed everything the night before, else much might have drifted away.

Bruce has been a good friend most all of my adult life and it is wonderful to have friends with whom one can share past adventures. Canoeing the Everglades and its Wilderness Waterway was certainly one of the best.



*A Letter to Save the Everglades


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In Glacier, Winter Still Lingers

posted: March 28th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: For those of you wondering why no postings, essentially it is because I am about as busy with writing and photography projects as I ever need to be. Couple that with a few unexpected family obligations and perhaps you get the picture.


Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, one week ago


But now, one of my projects is about complete, a book project on Glacier National Park. Work has taken me to the Park library on several occasions these past two weeks, and judging from those visits – and side visits to areas immediately surrounding – I contend winter in the Park will be around just a little bit longer. Mountains were covered with snow and McDonald Lake was still frozen though it was starting to break up.

As well, snow remains piled high on West Glacier stores, meaning that it will be another month or so before Bob and Rob Lundgren will be able to provide visitors with much in the way of groceries, booze or restaurant accommodations.


West Glacier stores, one week ago.


Despite the appearance of winter, park officials say the bears are already out of hibernation, a good reason to drive as far as you can along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and glass the avalanche chutes. Bears search these areas in spring, hoping to find the carcass of a goat or maybe an elk.

Always something to do in this wonderful place.




*Mojave National Preserve



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Are Birds Political Creatures? You Bet!

posted: March 6th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Once again the bird feeder is capturing our attention, providing humor and sometimes creating philosophy, so easy to do on these boring winter days when winds blow and temperatures hover well below freezing.

Philosophically, we have concluded there are four different groups that gather at our feeder: the Republicans, Democrats, the Self-Assured Independents, and the Evil Ones. And  we have a rationale for each.

Doves, we’ve concluded, are the Democrats, tending to get along and allowing others of all stripes to gather along the feeding platform. At least they do so until seed on the platform begins to diminish, then realizing they may go hungry, they begin to bicker. But as long as the food lasts, they’re cooperative.


Flickers (perched atop feeder and descending tree) are the Republicans; doves the Democrats


Red-shafted flickers are the Republicans, and by their actions seem to express a belief in power of the individual.  Flickers never forget that one cold winter day the food could all be gone; and they have no compunctions about driving others away with their God-given sharp beaks, even those of their own kind. If they could speak, they might proclaim they had succeeded at the feeder because they worked harder than their competitors.

Pileated woodpeckers are the Self Assured Independents, and can be that way because of their size, strength and coordination. At our feeder, they’re the golden eagles. In the world of humans, they would be a Jack Dempsey, a Muhammad Ali, standing confident, even when the suet runs low. When it’s gone, pileated woodpeckers fly away, believing, it seems, that they will find other sources.


Pileated woodpecks feed with confidence at our feeder; they're the Independents


And now we have our occasional Evil One, the squirrels, who come to our feeder and do whatever they have to do to capitalize on what’s there. They break the windows of the feeder, scatter seed all about, even take up residence until we shoo them away. They’re the Bernie Madoffs, the Kenneth Lays who sometimes bully their way to our feeder.

But what, we ask ourselves, is going to happen should we leave or – heaven forbid – should we run out of money to buy suet and bird feed? There will be a shut down and unless our birds can find other sources, some could perish.


Red squirrels are the Bernie Madoffs at our feeder, creating havoc


So that’s how we spend boring winter days in Montana, talking about birds and their party affiliations, realizing, of course, that we need much more study to add distinction to these thoughts.

I’ll bet that Gildart blog readers are glad that winter here is starting to wind down.



*Missions of San Antonio

*And For Some Good Down Home Advice From an Old Farmer

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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