Bismarck-Mandan area has the best autumn colors (Part 1)

Sadly, this autumn has been brief, cold, and gray…and I’ve been way too busy to get out.  But last year was perhaps the best photo fall I’ve ever had.  Worth reposting.  Six posts in all, I believe.  Here’s the first.

I took Monday off and roamed around a little bit with a shot list I’d been working on for a few days prior, and I must say I had a very fruitful time. While many of the shots I got have some lovely fall foliage in them, I haven’t taken the time to process those yet. I’ve got quite a backlog of photo and video work projects that I need to get done, so personal stuff is going to have to hold off for a bit. But I did manage to stop for some shots of trees along the way…

 

I love the gold and green here. Could have used a little red, but that’s going to be in Part Two of this little series.

 

I nabbed a couple angles of this shot, one being behind this one a little way and illustrating the curve of the road differently. But I ultimately chose this one. I might have to take another look at the other shot for Part Two as well.

 

This had lots of green and lots of gold…but the setting sun made the green a little hard to pick out.

I have a few more coming, so stay tuned!

More than one Berlin wall has fallen

A friend of mine from Jamestown stopped in my studio a couple of weeks ago and told me about a really neat old church he’d passed on a road trip for work.  I didn’t know there was a church where he described it, and none of my resources showed it there, so I had to go check it out last weekend.  Here’s what’s left of it: Berlin Baptist Church.

 

My urgency was because, once we located the spot on Google Earth, I could tell that the roof had been stripped and all the rafters were visible.  It wasn’t the kind of random thing that weather or time would do; this church was being dismantled.  To be honest, I didn’t even expect it to still be here.

 

It looks to me like someone just plain ran out of time last year, and had to stop working on the structure.  The foundation and its windows are intact.  The floor is mostly intact as well.  The roof and walls have been removed up to the front portion of the church, where the balcony and steeple remain…for now.

 

This was an amazing building…and wow, what a spot!  The cemetery is on the left of this photo, in the background to the north.  To the south is a large frozen lake.  I can only imagine what this place was like in its heyday.

 

The frozen lake helped convey to me the bleak future for this old church.  It’s sad to see them go.  It isn’t that people quit going to church or abandoned their faith, but that so many small communities are fading away and smaller families mean fewer butts in the seats.  After a while, there aren’t enough people to keep even a small church going when you’re out on the prairie.

 

This was a soundly built church building.  I don’t normally crawl around or in old buildings I find, but I had to make an exception here.  Besides, it hadn’t reached this condition through deterioration.  It was still solid, just waiting to be parted out.

 

It got dark really fast while I was gaping in awe at this breathtaking find, so I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of the sign until I was on my way out.  The church celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1988, meaning it was here before the Dakotas achieved statehood.

I imagine I’ll have to check in on this magnificent church’s remains this spring before they vanish for good.  So many of my favorite prairie places are disappearing, so I’m always glad to know that I got photos of them before they faded into history.  I didn’t get to see this one before it was almost completely gone, but in its current state I think it tells a moving story.

Nestled

If you let yourself get distracted by that wonderful butte in the distance, or the view of the Missouri River valley past it, you might not even notice the little Fallen Farm tucked away in the trees on the lower left.

 

I haven’t asked for permission to enter this property yet, but it looks quite promising!  This is in a rather picturesque part of the county, where a guy with a camera could roam for a few days and not run out of ideas.  Although I may wish to wait until the snow melts next year before venturing off this way, even with my truck’s nigh invulnerability.

Wind River storms

The last time I was in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, I watched (and felt) a storm roll in while standing atop the Wind River Overlook.  I had trekked into the park before sunrise, getting one of my favorite sunrise photos EVER after slogging up the Little Missouri on foot for a ways, and was using my early-bird status to mosey around the park before the tourists arrived.

 

This area, while far different from the Rocky Mountains I enjoyed as a kid, makes me homesick for them nonetheless.  It seems that even in North Dakota the skies get bigger the further west you go.  I’d love to take a week or two and simply work the park, going back to Medora only for some shut-eye at night and fresh bacon in the morning!  Let’s put that on the bucket list.

Some of my favorite windmill photos ever, and that’s saying a lot

After getting way too deep into a maintenance project on my ATV and successfully reassembling it with no leftover parts, I decided to bolt up to a friend’s farm and try to catch a sunset.  The sky the evening before had been awash in beautiful purples and reds, which I witnessed while riding one of the motorcycles around the outskirts of town.  I figured there was a decent chance of some nice colors on this night, too.  I wasn’t disappointed.

 

The reasonI chose to dash to this farm was the fact that the head of the windmill looked to have sustained some damage, and I wanted to photograph it before it got worse.  I’d had this farm in my GPS literally for years, but never actually asked if I could stop by some time.  I’m glad I picked this week to do it!

 

I got a little closer for this shot, but the wind was starting to pick up and cause all kinds of turbulence near the head of the windmill.  Things were starting to get rowdy up there, so I decided to play it safe and not fly any closer.

This was a fantastic photo trip!  The timing was right, I got to reconnect with a guy who I haven’t been able to chat with in a long time, the skies were good, and the windmill subject has unique character.  It will be repaired in the near future, too.  That’sgoodnews  ; too many of these old windmills that I’ve photograhed over the years are now gone.  I’m glad someone else sees their value and wants to preserve (and photograph) them!

The day the Globemaster arrived

c17_44791-3_hdrTwo weeks ago the Bismarck-Mandan area got a visitor.  A large visitor, namely a C-17 Globemaster.  This is an enormous military cargo aircraft, and it made quite an impression.  Thankfully I had arranged an opportunity to climb around on it!

c17_44600As soon as it arrived, the trucks lined up.  These are vehicles belonging to the 81st Civil Support Team (CST), a special National Guard unit which was heading to Alaska for a week of training.

 

c17_44666While the Executive Air trucks began pumping fuel, the guardsmen began assembling the ramps needed to get their trucks up the steep ramp.  Being able to transport like this is one of the capabilities they need to maintain, so they have their own ramps and train on getting their equipment mobilized.

 

c17_44818-20_hdrLet’s get back to the airplane a little bit.  She’s a big girl, and I don’t think she minds me saying so.  The cockpit is so high up that they can’t even see obstacles within around 45 feet of the nose.

 

c17_44736-8_hdrThose are some big wheels!  Three deep.  They have to be able to hold a load of over 170,000 pounds according to Wikipedia.

 

c17_44646-bI don’t like heights, so when I caught myself wondering what the view would be like from atop that tail I quickly found something else to ponder, something less dizzying.

 

c17_44724-6_hdr“Does this make my butt look big?  GOOD.”  I don’t think it’s possible to properly convey how big this thing is, especially since it’s gotta be able to hit 500mph and 45,000 feet.

 

c17_44688As you can see from the tail, this aircraft came to us from Mississippi.  They got to hang out in Alaska with the North Dakota folks, so I hope they brought jackets. 🙂

 

c17_44851-3_hdriPads…is there anything they can’t do?  The crew use these instead of the checklists of old.  The loadmaster was busy making sure the load was distributed properly, then putting his calculations into the aircraft’s computer.  That computer will then provide the pilot and copilot with information regarding their takeoff and their flight.  They don’t just floor it and hope they don’t run out of runway.

 

c17_44893-5_hdrLoad shift in the air is unacceptable, so this equipment is arranged and secured very carefully.  Look how high up the ceiling is in there!

 

c17_44983-5_hdrBy the way, the North Dakota CST has the coolest logo in the entire nation.  Just sayin’.

 

c17_44995-7_hdrCan’t forget everybody’s luggage!  It would stink to ship out for a week long training and forget your toothbrush.  Between the flags is a porthole for the crew to look in on the cargo area.  Behind that wall are a couple of bunkbeds for the crew, too…this aircraft is capable of long flights, especially with mid-air refueling.

 

c17_44806-11_hdrReady to roll. At this point I bolted to one end of the runway, based upon my conversation with the copilot. The wind seemed to be in such a fashion that they’d take off toward the northwest. But the wind can change…

 

c17_45034Kinda makes that passenger jet in the foreground look like a little cigar tube by comparison, doesn’t it?  And they aren’t even side by side, so the airliner looks artificially large.

I’d love to say I got great photos and/or video of it taking off, but the wind shifted and they needed to take off in the direction opposite I’d expected based on an earlier conversation with the copilot.  Darn.  I was all set to catch them flying overhead, but instead got to watch them take off away from the camera.   And a light pole was in the way, to boot.  But here’s the video I did get (I was there primarily for photos):
 

 

What the? The barn indicator appears to be malfunctioning

barn_indicator_36741So……….apparently this happened quite a while ago, but as you may know I’ve had a year or two with very few photo jaunts.  This tilted weather vane sits along North 26th Street and used to point to a large, red barn.  For some reason, that barn appears to have been razed.

 

This is how it looked back in 2008 when I first noticed the perfect alignment of the weather vane to the adjacent structure.  I thought I was pretty clever when I deemed it a Barn Indicator.  Here’s the post.

I swung by again a few years later, and yes…it was still functioning normally.

So…wha hoppen?  I have no idea.  I looked through Google Earth to discover that it seemed to vanish in late 2013.  The structure looks sound, so who know why it suddenly disappeared.  Maybe it was damaged in some way and deemed too costly to repair.  I think I’d recall hearing about a fire if that caused its demise.  Strange.

Well…dang.

Drove the Chevy to Double Ditch, but Double Ditch was dry

doubleditch_pano_0513Click for full-size image

I ran up to Double Ditch today to have a look around and get some fresh air, and I was stunned at the low river level.  I’ve been so busy moving this year – moving into our new home, moving our church, moving my office and studio – that I haven’t really gotten out much.  So maybe this isn’t news to many of you…but I was blown away.  It looks like the geese were enjoying it, though!

More on this trip later.

Cell phone photo stream part 6

The best camera is the one you have with you, and thankfully cell phone cameras have gotten a lot better lately.  I want to continue to share a few things I’ve grabbed since the last time I posted under the “Cell Phone” category.

ipod_photostream_6391I saw this bumper sticker at an paramedic/EMT event this summer.  Very cool.  Since then I saw a guy who had it tattooed on his forearm.

 

ipod_photostream_5833 That “Crazy Russian Hacker” dude wasn’t kidding.  This works like a charm.

 

ipod_photostream_5794

Photographing the Gray House in Sims, ND after taking off work early.

 

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The cockpit of a King Air 200.  It actually wasn’t too hard to push into the hangar – as long as you have enough guys. We used the hangar as a venue to watch the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight on Pay-Per-View.

 

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Shooting some video of picturesque Powers Lake, North Dakota. Moments later I found a wood tick on my leg.  Ew.

 

I’ll post a bunch more in the next few days.  I have a pretty good batch collected, but I don’t want to dump them all in one gargantuan post.