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.

Padiddle

The game of Padiddle is a source of mild contention in our house, since my wife is from the south and calls it “Piccadilly.”  I’ve never heard of anyone call it that.  Apparently Wikipedia agrees with me, so Neener Neener!

Sometimes when I’m out flying around in the middle of nowhere I’ll spot a gem like this, often behind an old farmstead or something that doesn’t let on what sort of treasures lie behind it.  Then it’s time to hover and catch a few shots before moving on.

On the wagon

This wagon was an unexpected find last weekend, and one of my favorite rainy day photos.  Actually, considering I had a very short window of time in which to operate, I had a very profitable day from a photo hobbyist standpoint!

Speaking of “on the wagon”, I have been abstaining from drinking pop for eight months now.  I sleep better, and I know it’s better for me.  I’ve had an appetite spike since ditching caffeinated fizzy stuff, so I have to be careful of that.  Headaches have diminished, though, and my wife is happy. But drinking water is so boring!

Why any submarines in Bismarck-Mandan were nervous Friday

I walked out of a lunch appointment on Friday and immediately noticed a jet on a very unusual trajectory over Bismarck, far out of position compared to the track usually taken on approach to Runway 13.  It was a short leg, and they were still banking south of Main Avenue.  Even better, it was a touch-and-go.  Well, being the curious type, I had to see what was up.  That’s when I snapped this shot and realized it was a Navy plane, not some wayward bus driver or something.

 

Just doing laps, as you can see.  A few down the Runway 13 way, followed by a few down Runway 31.  Cruising Main, almost.  My flight app did give an ADS-B entry for this aircraft, but being a military plane that was all I got.  The desktop app, however, was blank. No worries, it doesn’t take long with “the Google” to narrow down that this is a P-8A Poseidon.  There’s a good chance it’s from Whidbey Island, home to those F-18s which stopped in for A&B Pizza about this time last year. AirSOC has an article about the P-8A at Whidbey Island, which you can read here.

 

This is a particularly cool aircraft (Wikipedia), even though it isn’t as exciting as a fighter jet. It’s a sub-hunter, and apparently a pretty modern one.  Just like those F-18s last year, which are actually two-seater Super Hornets loaded with all kinds of electronic warfare equipment, this plane is chock full o’ goodies.  First off, look at all the antennae on the top.  The 737-800 this is based on doesn’t have those.  It’s also capable of deploying anti-submarine weapons once it detects ’em.  Sweet.  Want to know more about some of the toys?  Click on this link.

A few more laps, and they were out of here.  I listened to a little bit of the CTAF banter on my handheld transceiver, then went on with my day.  I had put in a long week, and it was time to knock off early and play photographer for a while.

Keep on truckin’

Do I belie my 1970s upbringing with that post title?  Too bad.  My kids and I set out for this old Dodge with the intention of working the entire sunset with it as our subject.  It was a wonderful trip.  The kids are finally old enough to appreciate not only the photography aspect, but the beauty of hiking out in the middle of nowhere and exploring.

 

I have way more shots from this area than I’ve got the energy to post for now, but let it suffice to say that there was a different sunset in every direction. The first shot in this post shows the long, linear clouds that eventually blazed over Bismarck-Mandan at sunset.  This shot shows the brilliant pinks and purples that greeted us from the north; and my kiddos took plenty of shot featuring a blazing orange and gold sunset to the west (behind the camera in this shot).

Not only was this photo jaunt a success, but I have turned the corner with my kids as far as convincing them of the joys of rural photography.  Next time I head out roaming, I expect to have a couple of enthusiastic companions!  Maybe each with a camera of their own…

Studious

This “Studie” (short for Studebaker) sits on my friend’s property, waiting for me to drop by every now and then.  I keep planning on grabbing a tractor and dragging it so it faces north, so I can do a “drive-in” style photo the next time the Northern Lights make an appearance.  That may end up being next year at the soonest, now that winter weather is upon us.

An old car kind of weekend

A friend of mine had posted a picture of an old abandoned car recently that caught my eye not just because of the car body, but because of the unique landscape behind it.  He’d been roaming and had no specific idea where he took the photo, so I thought I’d go hunting.  I knew which county it was in and a general orientation, so I did some research on Google Earth and headed out.  I caught a few surprises along the way, including some vehicles – which I’ll focus on here (pun intended).

 

This is the first shot of the morning.  We had layered fog and some wild clouds, too…so the rising sun made for a pretty spectacular morning.  This is actually a drone photo, as I tend to use UAS cameras for shots even as low as 18 inches if necessary.

 

Next was this old guy, sitting next to a garage on a parcel of land I have wanted to photograph for two years.  I got the owner’s contact information in March of 2016 but was reluctant to call for permission last year because of all the NODAPL jackholes roaming Morton County last year and the increased fire danger this year.  Today was a beautiful day, I called and got permission, and the rest is history.

 

This little guy is on that same property.  I took a few different angles, but this is the one that worked out the best.  Morton County is so beautiful that I have to make sure to show some of those rolling hills in the background.

 

This truck isn’t going anywhere, at least until someone spoons some tires onto those rims.  It was fenced in with a bunch of cows anyway, and they seemed completely uninterested in the truck or me.

 

This is the vehicle I wanted to find.  See why the background caught my eye?  Very reminiscent of the Badlands.

 

One more, although you can imagine I shot tons of different angles.  The ground had begun swalowing up this car’s frame and floorboards. With such amazing terrain on all sides it was a regular smorgasbord of photo opportunities.

I had a blast working my way around south central Best Dakota, then bolted home for tacos.  What a fantastic way to spend my Saturday!

And the sound of air horns was heard by all

touch-a-truck_46115-7Last weekend Main Street in Mandan was home to Touch a Truck, put on by the Mandan Progress Association.  If you were coming into Mandan from the east and didn’t know what the heck the DOT sign flashing “TOUCH TRUCKS AHEAD” meant, your confusion probably only lasted a moment until you saw all the crane booms up ahead.

 

touch-a-truck_45992-4There were all kinds of trucks and various other equipment, with the cranes being the most prominent.  There were road striping trucks, sanitation trucks, bucket trucks, the works.

 

touch-a-truck_45759Of course, one doesn’t have to be a piece of heavy equipment or possess hydraulics with super powers to be an awesome truck.  The Bookmobile was there, too.  And it looked like it was getting a lot of attention from the kids.

 

_MG_45749See the giant crane?  Well, each of the four hydraulic cylinders holding it in the air is fed by a trio of the tiny little metal elbows you can see me pointing at on the left.  Crazy.

 

touch-a-truck_46049My favorite thing about the cranes, how they hoist Old Glory.  The colors were on display and waving in the breeze.

 

touch-a-truck_45971-3Tractors and other big equipment was present as well.  They may not have air horns like some of the other trucks, but they have plenty of stuff to climb on and buttons to push.

 

touch-a-truck_45980-2  Then there were the mini excavators, which were a hit.  I think there was a line to see them at one point.

 

touch-a-truck_45968-70This is only a drill. There, I did it.  You can’t stop me.  My kids don’t think I’m funny either.

 

touch-a-truck_45997Balloon animals were available, or in the case of my kids balloon swords.  Guess how long those lasted before popping in battle.  En garde!

 

_MG_45784Another attraction that amounts to playing in the box the toy came in:  These sections of conduit were a hit with the kids, who climbed in and promptly insisted their parents roll them around on the grass.  Yes, I did it too…rolling, not climbing inside.

 

touch-a-truck_46069-71These guys are heroes every time I place an order with B&H or Amazon.com.  Note the flag in the background.

 

touch-a-truck_46075-7I never get tired of shots like this.  The weather was perfect, the skies cleared enough to give me a sunburn by the end of the day, and the breeze kept everything comfortable and the flags waving.

 

touch-a-truck_45818-20One time my kids saw me running camera for a monster truck show, getting closeups of giant trucks doing wheelies and burnouts.  The next day my wife took them to watch me on a rooftop, shooting video and stills of a helicopter doing touch-n-go’s on a helipad.  When I was tucking them in, I asked if they thought their Daddy had a pretty cool job.  “Yeah,” was the reply, “But did you know that Uncle [my brother-in-law] is a mailman?”  He’d subbed in our neighborhood and let them walk his route with him for a bit, totally stealing my thunder.

 

touch-a-truck_45947-9It’s a small crane, but the kids got to operate it…lifting and moving a small load using the tethered controller.

 

touch-a-truck_45824-6This gives a whole new meaning to the term “Boom town”, doesn’t it?  I just made that up right now as I’m typing.  Seriously.

 

touch-a-truck_45959-61I bet I could set off these scales nowadays…I need to bike more and shovel less food into my head.  But when I keep coming up with things like blueberry ice cream float recipes, that isn’t very easy.  Actually, these scales did weigh my kids, so they don’t just work for heavy things.

 

touch-a-truck_45863-5This was a fantastic event, with lots of fun for kids and big kids.  I sure hope they do this again next year!  I may bring ear plugs next time, though, because they let the kids tug the air horns in the trucks.  It was a wonderful cacophony, don’t get me wrong, but they get pretty loud!