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 April, 2011

Memory Walk (mostly) through Washington DC

posted: April 28th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Washington DC is a long way from the home Janie and I have made together now in Montana  for almost 20 years, (our anniversary is May 4th) but not so far from a life full of many histories. We’re both army brats, and once our fathers were stationed in DC, and it is here while in high school that we first met.  We’re now here to attend a memorial service for my godmother, but while in DC  it is only natural that Janie and I might tour old haunts, both those of our parents and those of our own.

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Some say the streets of Walter Reed once ran with soap; Janie’s old home at Walter Reed, now posted with keep out signs.


Janie’s father served as a doctor at Walter Reed and with little trouble we found her old home, just off Alaska Avenue.  Rumor has it that many functions of this historic old army post may be relegated to the Bethesda Naval Hospital, and from the looks of her beautiful old home, which is now empty and plastered with “Do Not Trespass” signs, perhaps the rumors are true.


The home is not far from my godmother’s, and Janie and I retraced our steps from years ago, when we would walk to her home perhaps a mile away.  At the time I attended Bullis Prep School, also an easy walk in those days from Janie’s home. Today, the old prep school has moved out of town – and I doubt I could ever sneak back up the fire escape and into the dorm room after curfew, something I did often in those days – and with ease. I doubt, too, that Janie (or maybe, Ha,  it was her friends??) could ever get away with dumping boxes of tide into the old fountain just outside the medical center.

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CLICK TO SEE LARGER IMAGES. L TO R: Roosevelt’s New Deal helped eliminate the long welfare lines, symbolic of the Depression years; Lincoln, modified into a “sepia toned” print; haunted faces as created by artist at Korean Memorial.

But as well as a walk down memory lane, we also toured many of DC’s “Capitol Parks,” most notably the Lincoln Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the Korean Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial.  In more reflective moments, all those memorials provide meaningful lessons, many of which are very personal.


But no significant revelations in this posting, and like many other posts, this one was really intended to be a photo blog, and that (mostly) is what it will now become. To add a bit of drama to the FDR and Korean War Memorial I set the camera to manual, used flash but then underexposed the daylight setting by several stops.  For drama I also converted the monochromatic statue of Lincoln to a sepia toned image. (Click the two above links for night images.)


Plane over Lincoln Memorial about to land at Dulles Airport was symbolic for Janie and me.


Perhaps the most dramatic image is the one with the plane flying overhead, and it seemed to symbolize all that has happened both good and bad since I left DC so long ago.  Life is certainly easier back in Montana, but it is always grand for army brats to explore rootless backgrounds for added perspective on both themselves and on where we’ve come as a nation. They remind, too, that at times we have all fit into this historic American tapestry, despite “patches”  that may not seem particularly significant. But that is simply not true, as the poets sometimes remind us.



*Retrospective on Glacier’s first fatal maulings


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Lesson From the Civil War

posted: April 15th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Officially, the Civil War began 150 years ago on April 12, 1861, but anyone somewhat  knowledgeable about American history knows that several earlier dates might be ascribed to its beginning.


Canon at Gettysburg


There was the infamous John Brown Rebellion, which Robert E. Lee squelched as a Union officer in 1859.  But even before that, history has taught us that our Constitution of 1776 set us up for the war, asserting as it did that “all men are created equal.” However, it welcomed into the Union states that were avowed slaves states. In fact, the Constitution of the Confederacy was based on the foundation that the Negro is not equal to the white man, “that slavery… is his natural and normal condition.”


Victors, of course, always consider themselves morally superior, nevertheless, the question that continues to assert itself in the mind of many is: what would have happened had the war not been fought, a war that resulted in the death of 620,000? Horrible (See  previous posts from Andersonville and Antietam) as it was –  was the abolition of slavery worth all those lives? Was it worth the absolute destruction of Atlanta, the devastating siege of Vicksburg,  the complete looting  of homes in Fredericksburg…

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CLICK TO SEE LARGER IMAGES: (L to R): Statue at Gettysburg; Robert E. Lee put down John Brown rebellion at Harper’s Ferry; 20,000 killed at Antietam in the course of a single day.

Many believe slavery would have died of its own accord, and some very prominent southerners had abandoned the practice, believing it morally wrong.  Among them was Robert E. Lee, who once wrote his wife saying: … “In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country.”


But men of the time were impatient, and so a war was waged. Paradoxically perhaps, but in my mind’s eye Robert E. Lee and Abraham Lincoln both emerged as heroes, but I sympathized  with Lee, believing as he did that it would have been impossible to fight and kill members of my own family.  Some historians also believe that Lee hoped his resolve might end the war and that the two sides would reunite as one; and in the beginning, it appeared as though he might succeed, for Lee and Stonewall Jackson outgeneraled their  foes at every turn, yielding only toward the end when northern masses and vast technology finally prevailed four long years later.

Lincoln on the other hand had a vision, one that might have been difficult for a young man engulfed by the vitriol of contemporaries to share. Lincoln realized that to survive as a country, we must have unity. And unity back then could not have included slavery.

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CLICK TO SEE LARGER IMAGES (L to R): Statue intended to depict horrors of the Andersonville Civil War Prison Camp; Lincoln pennies atop Gettysburg Address; Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Had Lincoln not been assassinated post war difficulties would have been more readily resolved:  “With malice toward none, with charity for all,” were words from another famous Lincoln speech.

And so the North and South engaged in a horrible war. But the war provided a legacy, and it lives on as a series of lessons found today in a number of National Park Service managed areas.  Visiting those battlefields is what Janie and I have been doing every chance we get. We hope these images serve to remind readers of the horror that can occur when men can not agree, but then, too, of the capacity to forgive though never to forget.


Note: We’ll be visiting family on the East Coast for the next two weeks, but will be returning on our round trip flight May 2.





*Natchez Trace Lures Model-T  Owner Every Year


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