Gnarly, dude

I saw this tree along a gravel road in Morton County and had to stop and take a few shots. I had the right sky for something so twisted and nearly grotesque. What a testament to the tenacity of creation!

Clearly this tree has endured some things, but it doesn’t appear as though it’s given up. Reach for the sky!

I’m no Tim Burton, but I see an elegance, a grace, even a beauty in this tree. That’s why I jammed on the brakes as I careened down the adjacent gravel road at 45 mph, threw it in reverse (I drive a manual transmission truck, so I can “throw” it into any gear I please), and whizzed back to take a few shots of this remarkable tree.

Love tractor

I couldn’t resist a nod in the title to one of my favorite bands from the Athens era. This tractor caught my eye from a distance, and I had to go check it out. It really stood out against such a beautiful blue sky!

As colorful as it is, this thing’s really broken down. Wheel’s off. Cylinder head missing. I don’t think it’s going anywhere for a while. That’s okay…it’s really photogenic right where it’s at.

The Wreck of the Abner O’Neil (No Gordon Lightfoot parodies forthcoming)

Recently a group of local kayakers made for a viral sensation when they posted photos of the wreckage of the Abner O’Neal, a steamboat from the 1890s. The river’s low levels have allowed the wreck to begin poking out of the water, and anyone coasting downstream from the Steckel boat landing is likely to encounter it. Thus the sensation.

I finally got out there myself. I’d been eagerly awaiting a time like this ever since the State Historical Society posted about it a while back, which allowed me to figure out its exact location. As a certified SCUBA diver, I’d heard about this site but never discerned where to look for it.

I actually went out to it multiple times, which explains the different lighting in some of the photos I’m posting here. Once was in the afternoon, and once was toward sunset with really calm water. Incredibly cool.

The most popular feature you’re going to see online is this part of the hull, which sticks out most prominently.

I admit, this is one of the most photogenic parts of the craft. Only the hull remains; when the Abner sank in 8-10 feet of water here, everything which was salvageable was indeed removed.

As you can see the planks of the hull are still intact, remarkable for something that has been here since 1892. I think this is my favorite angle, actually. Maybe it’s the evening light.

I was blessed with some pretty amazing skies when I went out. One time it was windy, the other time the river was like glass and I didn’t get bounced around so much.

I wish I knew enough about steamboats to know what part of the hull this is, but sadly I’m a total landlubber. Not too surprising, for a kid who grew up in the mountains and lives in a landlocked state near the geographical center of our continent.

Here’s another view of the wreckage in its entirety. The bottom left corner is the downstream end.

I made a short video of some of my favorite angles of the riverboat wreck. I hope you enjoy!

Here’s where I must point out a couple of things. First of all, the shoreline adjacent to this shipwreck is private property. Don’t get any crazy ideas about walking downriver from the boat landing: that’s trespassing. Second, you can’t see anything from the shore anyway. Your best bet is to see it from the air or from a kayak. The water’s too shallow for a boat. Third, this is a historic site; if you do manage to get to it, please don’t disturb it in any way. That means wading around and tracking up the river bottom, taking anything from the site, or generally leaving any trace that you were ever there.

This is a pretty awesome piece of North Dakota history, and the fact that we can experience right now is a silver lining to the drought conditions and general 2020-2021 malaise that’s struck so many. I’m sure glad I can share it with you!

Here are a couple of windmills

2021 hasn’t exactly shaped up to be “the year we get it all back” after a completely nuts 2020, but I did manage to work a little less. I just didn’t get as much photography done as I’d wanted. I did, however, take a few photos, and naturally there were a couple of windmills in there.

I just got this one today, and it’s close to town. It sits right along 71st Avenue in Bismarck. Thankfully a guy can get this shot from the road, as the land is posted and I don’t violate those signs.

As the second photo demonstrates, fall colors are here! I wonder if I might be able to get a bunch of fall photos. We’ll see…

Go with the grain

I took this shot one evening when I was in kind of a hurry, and I didn’t check my camera settings. After I’d done a few shots I noticed that the ISO had been cranked up to 12,800, so I reshot a bunch of stuff, but I didn’t get this angle. Well, high ISO puts a ton of grain into the image, but I wanted the shot…so I decided to tone it for a vintage look, which plays right into the grainy look. After all, old film stock was awfully grainy anyway.

So, with the grain problem addressed, I was able to enjoy this photo…and now I get to share it. The ones I shot properly will appear in color at a later date.

Humor at the range

We recently took a group to a range in South Dakota to shoot for Marksman and Sharpshooter badges, and while we were there I spotted something I just had to share. See it yet? If so, you’ve got a good eye.

It’s cool that there’s a special lane just for those who utilize a wheelchair for mobility, but I give it extra points for the customized signage!

Ya gotta admire the job someone did at putting a semi-auto in this guy’s hand. It gave us all a chuckle, and I couldn’t wait to share this with my readers (assuming I still have some…I post so infrequently these days)!

If you’ll permit me a moment of bragging, I’d like to show you a grouping shot by my boy. I was able to cover this group with a quarter, shot with a gun he’d never even seen before. Proud Papa Moment.

So we had a great trip to the range! I got the photos and video I was looking for, my boy qualified for his badge, and I got something to share on the ol’ Blog. Trifecta.

Reflection

2021 has been as busy as 2020, unfortunately…although it has allowed some photography time. Sadly, I’m not posting them in a very timely fashion because I’m really busy. Take this photo, for instance: at the time when it was taken, there was still ice on Lake Sakakawea.

I really liked the reflection on the perfectly calm water. I’ve been doing a lot of personal reflection lately, too, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there just isn’t enough time. When I do take time off, I end up working at least as hard as when I’m on the job!

I’m working on a better work-life balance, but right now I’m still in the “as soon as I get _____ done…” phase. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll get to do some more roaming with my gear and decompress a bit. Meanwhile, if I have opportunity, I do have plenty of photos to share. Stay tuned.

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2020 was “the lost year” for our family, since I was simply working constantly through it. I declared that 2021 would be “The year we get it all back.” And it has been quite a whirlwind of a year, just like 2020 was… but for some fantastic reasons. One of those reasons is a little more photo time, even though I haven’t posted much of anything.

I couldn’t wait to post this one, however. My travels took me past the little hamlet of Heimdal (that should get the attention of you Thor fans) yesterday, and I had to do a U-turn to come back and actually enter the town. The reason: this flag. Simple yet elegant. I love small towns, especially those in North Dakota.

Not only is a flag placed upon this sign, but it’s also been dressed. It hangs perfectly I wish I’d taken a photo of the back of the sign now, because it was as perfectly placed from that angle as it was from this one. All too often I get home and think, “I should have taken one more photo!” Well, this was one of those times. I’m so glad, though, that this caught my eye as I whizzed down the highway so I could get the photos I needed to show you my discovery.

Thank you, Heimdal.

Been a while since a windmill

I spotted this as the rain was about to move in, but I knew I had some time to make a quick capture. Windmills catch my eye often, and this one didn’t disappoint. It looks like it’s got a lot of character, no doubt derived from years – generations, maybe – of service.

Since I was in Morton County, I couldn’t help but hope that it would say “Mandan” on the back. But as I got closer, I saw that wasn’t the case. This is still a grand prairie specimen…and I just just enough time to take its picture before the rain moved in and brought my photography day to a profitable end.

So many Monty Python references here

I saw this tree along a Morton County highway and immediately thought of a litany of references from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. First was the easiest: “Your arm’s off! No it isn’t!” See where I’m going here?

“It’s only a flesh wound!” and “I’ve had worse!” also come to mind. I couldn’t help but stop, snap a couple of photos, and post them to share.