Missed out on Bentley

I wanted to find the old church in the ghost town of Bentley, North Dakota this summer, and I found it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really what I had in mind. In fact, once I got there it was hard to find it even though I knew it was there.

The road to the church was even gone, so if it wasn’t for the fact that I’d marked a GPS waypoint I would have been totally lost. So I took to the skies and located it that way. It had been laid completely flat.

Granted, it’s still pretty photogenic in this state…but it’s sad to see a church permanently gone like this.

There are a lot of other sites I’ve actually photographed which are no longer there, reinforcing the notion that it’s important to get out and capture these things while we still can.

Lean forward

I spotted this barn on a recent photo trip, on my way to an entirely different objective. I’m glad I noticed it; in fact, the farmstead upon which it sits was a photographic gold mine. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

The barn itself has settled, the walls long gone, but the roof is hanging in there pretty well. I liked the angle of it pitching forward. I wish I could have seen it before it fell, but it still felt pretty grand on this sunny Friday afternoon.

Seems like a reasonable settlement with the government – so guess who’s unhappy

I woke up this morning to find this newly posted Bismarck Tribune article and began to take interest in the situation. I think I recall hearing something about this before, but the resolution is what stood out to me this time.

The article is a little light on a couple of key facts. First, while the description of the land “managed by the BLM” is accurate, it should state that the land consists of a couple of thin strips of land sandwiched directly between the two parcels owned by the private landowner. Not a huge deal, but it does paint a better picture.

The green shaded area is actually two slices of land. Well, the access road and pond cross it. Fair enough. I think the arrangement described in the article is actually reasonable; the idea of locking horns with the BLM is not an experience one would normally desire, yet this outcome seems the most practical and even fair. And it seems prudent that the landowner could be given the option to purchase the land in the future.

So, naturally, someone is unhappy.

The article references “Blogger Jim Fuglie, a frequent visitor to the Badlands” as the one who made a big stink about this in the first place. He thinks that this decision is wrong, and that the landowner should be forced to remove this bridge and build a new one (certainly at great expense). It doesn’t matter that this would – and the BLM agrees about this – create entirely new impacts to this and an additional area of the Little Missouri River and surrounding Badlands.

So that makes sense: here we have a project that had minimal impact, was done carefully, and is actually helping cut down on lots of traffic, and wouldn’t even be an issue except for that little strip of land (the Army Corps of Engineers even granted a permit for the bridge). Riiiiiiiiiiight. Let’s cause more impact, just so we could punish some sinister rich guy. Because, let’s face it, who among us can afford to build his own bridge?

Naturally, the person who comes to such a brilliant conclusion is a prominent Democrat, the second fact that this article stays far from disclosing.

Jim Fuglie has been a director of the Dem-NPL party twice over the years, and he’s a political blogger as far as I recall. If my buddy Rob Port had been quoted in this article, you can bet he’d have been described as “Political Blogger Rob Port” for his Say Anything blog. But Jim Fuglie is just described as some well-meaning wanderer, blogging about who-knows-what, who uncovered this huge injustice with the help of a pixel-peeping friend. I’m not buying it.

Naturally, since there are prominent Democrats involved, there’s hypocrisy. A heaping helping of it.

Fuglie is quoted as saying, “There’s really no reason anyone should be allowed to get away with breaking the law that flagrantly and not pay the price for it.” Okay, I think we can all agree on that. And the landowner is being punished with triple rent and that sort of thing, as both sides work out the details of this infraction.

But what if the landowner was someone who, say, violated the border of the United States, entering our country illegally, also involving a river and federal law? Shouldn’t that person be punished? Not according to the political party which the aggrieved Fuglie has represented for decades. In fact, I’m probably going to be called a Racist™ for even pointing this out. Nay, that person should be greeted with open arms, granted public benefits at the expense of American citizens, and instructed on how to vote Democrat.

This is no surprise, since the Democrat Party epitomizes the “Some are more equal than others” mantra from Orwell’s famous book Animal Farm. And that’s how their ideology works: there is one set of rules for them and the people they favor, and another set for the rest of you idiots who have either the audacity or idiocy to disagree with their enlightened views.

So my takeaway from this article is that we have an example of the federal government actually working with a landowner to resolve a unique issue. Meanwhile, a prominent Democrat operative gets to look like a quasi-hero by doing what liberals do, without his ideology or political interests being identified, and with total hypocrisy when it comes to the rule of law.

The first takeaway is unique and encouraging, while the other is business as usual.

Just chillin’

My boy actually spotted this hawk as we zipped by at highway speed. As he described what he saw, I decided to turn around at the next opportunity and drive past again, this time slowly since there was no traffic around. He seemed to be favoring his wing, as though injured.

I don’t know…I’ve photographed injured hawks before, and this one just didn’t have the same posture. So I decided to take a closer look and try to determine what was up with this unusual (for a hawk) pose.

It was then, as is common for all raptors in the presence of my camera, that he hopped right up in a manner all too spry for a bird with a serious injury, then took flight as if everything was completely normal.

I don’t know why he was hanging out that way, but it certainly was weird. Maybe he’d seen so many farmers go by with their arm out the window, and thought he’d try it out for himself? I guess I’ll never know.

The Greg trifecta

One of my many long-standing traditions is to name the bunny on our property, even when I lived downtown, Greg. This is an homage to the irreverent yet hilarious Greg the Bunny, the main character on a short-lived FOX television show. Well, I discovered a new bunny last night, in an unlikely place in front of our house, and therefore dubbed him Greg. I snapped his photo from the front door before Greg, as bunnies often do, bolted around to the back of the house.

Later in the evening, I went around back and discovered that I now had two Gregs in the backyard, as another one crept out of the cattails along the water behind our property. Two for the price of one.

Later still, I saw even a third Greg munching on my lawn. How do I know these are all unique Gregs? Good question. They were all three in the yard at the same time. I wish they’d mow it for me, instead of just chewing on it a little at a time! Well, they only gave me a brief moment for some photos before all three scampered into the cattails and vanished. Presumably not into the water, but along the dry stretch to wherever it is they must be burrowing.

One more for the road

I ran out of time on a recent photo trip, losing my race with the sun toward my last objective. I had a spot in western North Dakota I would have liked to reach at sunset, but I found so much good stuff along the way that I simply ran out of time. No worries…this is one of the unexpected stops I made along the way, and it ended up being my last photo location of the day. You can see how low the sun is already.

I tried to make it as far west as I could anyway, since I needed to fuel in Bowman for the trip home, but as I scrubbed the bugs off my windshield and listened to the gas pump churning away I made the decision to call it a day and head back to base. With all the opportunities I had to wield my cameras and drone that day, I was quite satisfied.

Oh my goodness, those clouds

I was on my way up Highway 3 on Saturday, and couldn’t believe the wild, wispy clouds before me. As luck would have it, I was about to zip past an old one-room schoolhouse owned by a dear friend of mine. Instead I pulled in and set about trying to capture the amazing sky.

The clouds looked like wraiths darting across the northern sky, and I’m thrilled to say I was in the right place at the right time. I wish I’d had a lens wide enough to capture it all, although I doubt such a lens even exists.

There is panorama mode, however, and even though it isn’t perfect it will certainly do in a pinch. Even vertically, as it turns out.

As I ventured further north, I continued to run into dramatic skies to accentuate some of my favorite summer North Dakota landscapes. I’ve photographed much of the scenery along and around Highway 3, and it never disappoints.

I was on a mission, though, and a firm timetable, so I had to continue blazing northward. The wispy clouds didn’t last the entire time, but for the best part of them I was right where I needed to be. Thanking the Lord for showing me such an amazing sight, I ventured on and arrived at my destination precisely as scheduled.

Thunderbirds and God’s chicken

We got to spend a little time with some of the Thunderbirds last Friday, the day before the big Fargo Airsho, and it was absolutely fantastic. I’m not a huge fan of being in an airplane myself, but I can watch them fly all day. Then when the opportunity to see a fighter jet in action, well…I’m THERE.

Being fifty feet away from one of these when it spools up and taxis away is incredibly cool. The passenger in this photo was nominated in Fargo to receive a forty minute honor flight. Remember when I said I’m not a huge fan of being in an airplane? In this case, I’d make an exception. I did shoot some video, but I’ll post that another time.

Nice tail, huh? Since there are no weapons on these fighters, I guess one could call this the business end. I just love saying the word: afterburner. (No, not the ZZ Top album.)

One thing that’s kinda neat is seeing rather mundane tools being used to service these jets. They get a lot of attention. The crew that keeps these in tip-top condition is enormous. The support package for the Thunderbirds is large, and with the level of precision they require it has to be.

After hanging out for an hour or so, it was time to visit the Fargo Air Museum. That may have to be another post, as there was a lot of cool stuff there.

Oh, one other notable event on this trip: I tried Chik-Fil-A for the first time. Oh my goodness. Now I see what all the fuss is about. I can’t stop thinking about that Spicy Chicken Deluxe. We need to have one of those here, ASAP.

Mercury on a hill

If you travel down I-94 past the exits to Hebron, and are looking circumspectly instead of daydreaming or cautiously eyeing your phone, you might notice this car perched atop a hill north of the highway. It’s somewhat distant, but easy to pick out once you’ve noticed it before. Ever the curious type, I had to investigate.

There she is, a 1958 or 1959 Mercury Monterey. It’s a unique looking car, and I’m sure there’s a unique explanation for how it got up here.

I must admit I’m not into old cars much at all; however, when they’re as photogenic as this one, I’ll definitely take my time appreciating them. I’d flown up here just as the sky was getting some nice color.

Then, as it does nightly, the sun darted over the horizon. Well, it was cool while it lasted. Something tells me that this Mercury isn’t going anywhere, at least not any time soon. Meanwhile it has a fantastic view of the valley below.