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.


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.



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



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.



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.

Apparently we really could use around $35 million right now…

commish_thanksFeeling spunky from ramming through the FiveSouth project, the City Commission (with Commissioner Marquardt dissenting) is starting to talk about another sales tax. According to the Bismarck Tribune reported that the commission is examining the idea of taxing us even more to pay for road improvements.

If we need money for roads so badly, why were we throwing $35 million into a TIF district for the pet project of the Commission and their downtown cronies?

When that issue was brought up, Mayor Seminary (who I like personally, even though his policies drive me bat-scat crazy) simply said, “they were separate issues” (according to the Tribune).

Really?  If I tell my wife that I’m going to spend $1000 on a new big screen TV instead of replacing a leaky house roof or an ailing vehicle, do you think she’s going to consider them “separate issues” as the Mayor said?  Heck, no…and she’d be right (as usual).

Perhaps by “separate issues” Mayor Seminary means “we’ll just dip into the pockets of the citizens for the additional money”.  That’s something you and I can’t do; if we have financial responsibilities, we own up to them before recklessly spending money on foolish luxuries.  This is a concept that has completely eluded Mayor Seminary and the Commission.

If the City doesn’t have money to repair the roads it has, then it certainly doesn’t have the money to make some cronies’ pie-in-the-sky pet project a reality.

The lone voice of sanity, Commissioner Marquardt, can’t quell the stupidity on his own.  We need to get him some company on the City Commission.  Our city needs some responsible leadership from a Commission that will obey the will of the people and act in a fiscally responsible manner on our behalf.

South Unit overlook

wind_canyon_35576_hdrI got to cross one more location off my photography wish list, sort of, as I took my family to the Medora Musical a couple of weekends ago.  One place I wanted to scout for a future “dark-to-dark” photography day was the Wind Canyon Overlook at the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  It was everything I expected, but even more challenging to photograph.


wind_canyon_ip_7025Click for larger image

I took a quick panorma with my mobile device and scouted out some other potential locations for the future.  I’d like to catch this location at pre-dawn, sunrise, sunset, and at night.  A friend and I are scheming to make that happen yet this fall…we’ll see how that actually works out.

I’ll never run out of things to photograph in Bismarck-Mandan, or North Dakota in general.  Time, however, is another issue.  But I had little boys who loved to grab one of my spare cameras and photograph prairie dogs and bison with a 300mm lens, so I intend to make more trips as soon as we get more settled into our new house.


parhelion_60d_0813Here’s one cool side effect of the bitter cold today!  There were plenty of ice crystals in the air today, and the sun didn’t disappoint.  Brrrr.  Thanks to my friend Zach for the tip, or I’d have missed this.

Smile! It’s time for a new week

smile_ip_3160Thanks to the skywriters who gave me this smile a few weekends ago.  I thought I’d share it as we begin a blustery new week.  I have so much to be thankful for, even in the midst of such challenging times for our family.  Temps are expected to hit the 80s again later this week, I’ve got some very exciting irons in the fire, and I have God and my family.  It’s already a great week.

Bismarck Tribune article shows racism, bigotry, hatred, hostility, and abusiveness

bistrib_20140504_1I love North Dakota history, and the truly fascinating stories of many North Dakotans remain untold or in danger of disappearing into total obscurity.  That’s why I’m such a big fan of columns by Curt Eriksmoen for the Bismarck Tribune.  But today’s column about Hilaire du Berrier treads on dangerous ground with its Hostile and Abusive™ content.

As you can read in the text of the above graphic, Curt makes a couple of racist, bigoted, hateful, hostile, and abusive comments about the neighboring Native American people:

  • He calls them Sioux;
  • He accuses them of bravery;
  • He asserts that they accepted dangerous challenges.

What, you say?  Why the offense?  Exactly.  These are the very same things that have been targeted and banished by the NCAA with regard to the UND Fighting Sioux logo and nickname.

I haven’t been to a UND hockey game since the banishment of the logo and nickname, but before a video used to play prior to the games.  It described the brave heritage of the Sioux warriors and the admired characteristics that were inspiration for the UND Fighting Sioux moniker.  I can’t forget the quote by Archie Fool Bear of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: “We went to a hockey game, and they talked about the courage and integrity of the Sioux people. We looked at each other like, ‘Wow, we don’t even honor our Sioux warriors or veterans like this on the reservation.’ ”

It’s unfortunate that I have to drag Curt Eriksmoen into this, but it shows the hypocrisy of the NCAA and opponents of the Fighting Sioux name.  One could say that he obviously didn’t mean anything offensive or controversial by his generalizations about the local Native American population, and I agree – but neither did the proponents of the UND Fighting Sioux.  For our beliefs we were branded as Racists™ and other typical epithets used by the “politically correct” enforcement goons.  Hopefully the same doesn’t happen to Curt or the Bismarck Tribune.