I see you hiding behind that post

old_equipment_38661-3_hdrI spotted this attachment along the road near Fish Creek Dam last weekend and had to stop for a shot.  My hope was to catch the butte in the background along with the beautiful blue sky, and I did accomplish that.  Not really sure what I think about the fence posts, though.  I scooted back and forth and couldn’t quite get things to line up the way I wanted.  If I moved so the front post wasn’t in front of the attachment, I lost the butte.  If I moved back, I lost the perspective.  So I decided to just center the post on the equipment and shoot it this way.  I think it turned out pretty well considering it wasn’t my original vision.

Thursday night thunderhead

clouds_ip_8571We were treated to quite a show here in Bismarck-Mandan tonight.  I was on the east end of Bismarck when I spotted this building cloud to the west.  The sun had just moved behind it, making that “silver lining” glow like a bolt of lightning.  And oh, the rays!


clouds_ip_8564My little boy thought it looked like God was playing hide and seek behind the cloud, and I couldn’t argue that assessment.


cloud_38620-2_fusedBefore long it was in full bloom and moving overhead, so I grabbed my camera from the back of the truck (the previous photos were from my iPod) and snapped one more shot before the cloud dissipated even more.

Wow, what a beautiful sky tonight, eh?

Another reason to like A&B Pizza

planes-n-pancakes_ip_1888Click for larger version.

Here’s a panoramic photo of Planes and Pancakes, the aerial version of Buggies ‘n’ Blues.  If you follow my blog’s Facebook page you saw a pinned post with a copy of their poster listing all the various attractions during the day.  One of the highlights of this event for me, though, is the breakfast.  The breakfast consists of scrambled eggs, country style sausage, and fresh pancakes.  Yum.  It’s free with a request for donation, which I think benefits the local EAA club.

What’s cool about this is that Dave from A&B Pizza, an aviator himself, puts on the breakfast as a way of supporting the aircraft organization and helping assure the event’s success.  I wanted to issue a public “thank you” last year and never got around to it, but this year I’m giving props where they’re deserved.

Cold War Mancation, Part Seven: Mission completed

cavalier_38305-7_hdrThis weekend I finished the last thing on my list as far as my Cold War Mancation series.  I’d visited many military and historic sites around North Dakota, but one was missing: Cavalier Air Force Station.  I’d actually had one opportunity to visit, four years ago, then one of my kids took a tumble and had to go in for a possible concussion.  I was twenty miles down the road when my wife called, and I had to do an abrupt u-turn and abort the trip.  No such interruption this weekend.


cavalier_PAR_38284-6_hdrCavalier AFS had an open house with a bunch of cool stuff and activities, but I didn’t take many photos of that.  I arrived later than I’d hoped but with plenty of time to look around.  The point of the trip:  tour the building above.  It’s an enormous Phased Array Radar (PAR), the most powerful space radar in the nation’s arsenal and capable of spotting a softball or smaller object (depending on who you ask) coming over the North Pole.

No electronics are allowed in the building, so naturally photography was out of the question.  In fact, that’s kind of the point.  I had lots of egghead questions for the various people who presented on what they do, and it was absolute geek heaven.  Everything I’d hoped it would be.


nekoma_38333-5_hdrOf course I had to stop in by the giant pyramid in Nekoma, part of a decommissioned system that worked with the PAR during its original configuration to launch and guide nuclear-tipped missiles to intercept ICBMs inbound from the north.

There is so much fascinating history about these two sites that my head starts spinning when I begin to think about regurgitating what I’ve learned about them. Instead I think I’ll simply but emphatically suggest that you do your own research.  They are very fascinating places, and the Cavalier Air Force Station site still performs extremely valuable service to our nation.

This should get you started: www.srmsc.org. Have fun!

Horsing around

horses_37832I had an equine audience for a second as I roamed my favorite area of rural Morton County – let’s face it, most of it is rural – last weekend with a friend who was in town from Philly.  I only had a second or two to try to get this shot, because they obviously figured I had food.  Right after I took this photo they began working their way down the long hill toward the truck, obviously hoping for some goodies.  Maybe I’ll have to take a bag of apples with me next time!

Outstanding in his field

fallen_farm_37829-31_hdrThis critter stands next to an interesting feature, a mangled windmill on a farmstead just west of Harmon Lake.  In its heyday I bet this was an amazing homestead; it looks out over a beautiful valley to the north and gets a beautiful view of the eastern and western horizons at sunrise and sunset.  Now it’s just the cattle that get to appreciate the view.


mangled_windmill_37820This windmill took a real beating.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one this mangled, which of course made it immediately catch my eye.  It looks as though it caught some interference while spinning.  I had a similar experience when working at the ski resort in Big Sky one year.  The winds at 10,000 feet can be pretty nasty, as Monty Python would say, and one of the chairs on the Challenger lift swung outside the safety cage on the big pulley at the top of the lift.  Naturally things started getting all mangly as the lift wheel turned, and we were without our double black diamond run for a little while.

Sadly, I don’t think anyone’s coming out to fix this windmill any time soon.

Post in color

post_37959-61_hdrAs you probably know, I have a soft spot for rural North Dakota, particularly around Bismarck-Mandan.  I love roaming the back roads and section lines, trying to find picturesque views and document remnants from the pioneer past (which, in many areas, isn’t all that long ago).  I’m a “city kid” who actually spent his childhood in the Rocky Mountains despite being a native NoDak, so I feel like somewhat an interloper in that regard…but I love the natural beauty of North Dakota and the spirit of the people here.

That’s one reason why I love taking photos like this one from Saturday.  There is no other side of this gate; the adjacent quarter is open where this approach enters.  The open fields of brilliant green were offset by a lovely morning blue sky, devoid of clouds for a change.  The drab, colorless post was a perfect contrast to the beautiful natural hues in the background.

I discovered something which I feel is very sad nearby…but I have to get ready for work now, so that’s going to have to be in another post in a day or two.

Need a place to faceplant in Mandan? Look no further

faceplant_zone_ip_1764This sign has since been fixed, but as I stopped near the Trolley Bridge on my motorcycle a while ago I noticed it and thought it was slightly funny.  Opinions may vary.  It looks like the sign is indicating a Faceplant Zone, newly paved for your comfort!


faceplant_zone_ip_1761What happens in Mandan stays in Mandan…

Folks are known to faceplant in Mandan, after all…why not have a zone just for them?  The only problem is the traffic.  Maybe that’s why they reconsidered and fixed the sign. 🙂


Studebaker sunset

whitmore_car_37711-3_hdrI’ve been meaning to get a shot of this old car for quite some time.  It sits on my friend’s land, gazing over the prairie.  It looks like some bushes have taken root and called it home.  I’ve often wished it was facing north so I could do some sort of drive-in theater looking shot when the Northern Lights appear, but a sunset this weekend showed me that it’s in a perfect spot already.

One other good thing about this photo: no ticks, despite wading through the tall grass!