Horribly overdue: Driven by Faith car show

car_show_35024A few weeks ago my little guys and I dropped by the Driven by Faith car show in the north lot of BHS, an annual event held for the 11th time by First Lutheran Church.  While cars aren’t really my thing (performance motorcycles are), there were a couple of beauties that caught my eye.


car_show_35027Naturally, one of them is a Corvette.  What’s really cool about this emblem is that it’s actually domed glass with a “bowl” behind it.  Very cool.


car_show_35040Then there’s this Studebaker.  Looks like something out of a Pixar movie, eh?  And purple…VERY purple.

So I’ve sat on these photos long enough.  Now…if I can only get around to my Independence Day parade photos…

Oh, yeah…I forgot. There’s a car down there

dd_car_ip_4620Over a month ago I was poking around with my camera at Double Ditch and forgot to mention that there’s a car at the bottom of the hill.  You don’t see that everyday.


dd_car_ip_4622Chevy Cavaliers normally don’t sit like this.  Looks pretty serene, covered in newly fallen snow, doesn’t it?


dd_car_ip_4621What do you do if you’re an idiot and you find something on the sandbar by the river?  Well, you light it on fire, of course…which is apparently what happened to this vehicle either when it met its untimely demise or when someone with a lighter found it.


dd_car_ip_4628Naturally there’s nothing left of the interior.  What wasn’t stolen before the fire is gone now.


dd_car_ip_4636Naturally I called to report this as soon as I found it.  I’m sure someone had already done so, but I wanted to make sure.  As if a flaming Cavalier (well, more flaming than usual) wouldn’t have attracted attention long, long ago…


double_ditch_car_18465I’m accustomed to finding decades-old cars, or remnants thereof, at the bottom of these cliffs, but I never expected to find a modern day econobox car.  I haven’t been back since that November day, so I don’t know if anything’s been done about it.  I just wish people would treat the area with more respect.

Fighting Falcon

f-16_44794While looking for a photo of a B-2 Stealth Bomber in my collection last night, I came across this really cool F-16 Fighting Falcon photo that I’d totally forgotten. I couldn’t help but process it and share it right away.  One of my little guys loves F-16s; he has a toy one and thinks they’re really fast and cool.  He’s right.  I have a surprise for him.

mafb_nnd_44370That B-2 photo I was looking for?  Here it is.  Still one of my favorite photos ever, because I’m so fortunate to have seen one up close.  By the way, most of the time when it’s approaching or departing it’s almost invisible to the naked eye.  When banking, it looks like a goofy, jagged sliver.  Stealth, indeed.

Hot rods and memories at the BK

hotrod_iphone_2996I drove past the Burger King in Mandan with my family tonight, and my youngest little guy (a big car fan, even at his age) spotted the classic cars and wanted to take a look.

Since my surgeries and my wife’s surgery, along with all the other stuff we’ve gone through, the little boys have been great.  They’ve been cooped up a lot when Mommy and Daddy can’t take ’em places, although we have friends that have stepped in.  But to have actual family time on a summer night like tonight…well, that’s long overdue.  It’s also taught me a sense of perspective.  We were on our way to a specific destination, but I’ve learned to make time for whatever little thing is important to my children.  So we stopped.

The best part about my evening was one of the first: my little guy grabbed my hand, led me around the parking lot, and talked up a storm about all the shiny hot rods on display.  He had a blast, I was on cloud nine, and before long we were all back in the truck and continuing on with our evening.

I often quote one of my favorite songs by Grasshopper Takeover: You can never get it back; you can only let it go.  Well, tonight I didn’t have to let anything go.

A couple of milestones reached

3000_iphone_2462In case you don’t know the story: I’ve been trying to get to the 3,000 mile mark on my mountain bike for the longest time.  Technically speaking, I’m several hundred miles past it…but due to various speedometer failures over the years I’ve never seen it indicated, and therefore I’ve never considered it “official”.  That is, until today.

With my various medical things going on lately, I really didn’t expect to be out on a bike this weekend.  I did ride, though, without anything unusual, and spent part of the trip pulling over at a park to play catch with my oldest little boy (I had mitts, a baseball, and water bottles in my backpack).   I didn’t do anything aggro, no wheelies or endos, and chose to take it easy. The last time I threw caution to the wind on a mountain bike while still recovering from surgery, I tore my kneecap in half and nicked an artery with one of the pieces.  Serious stuff I’d rather not repeat.


3000_iphone_2495I managed to get out on two of my motorcycles tonight, too, and while giving my youngest little boy a ride I noticed that I was about to reach the same milestone on that particular machine.  A few blocks from home the odometer ticked over to 3000.0, and we pulled over for a quick snapshot of photographic proof.  Awesome.

This “new normal” we’re going through right now seems a lot more normal now that I’ve been able to spend some time on two wheels.  Maybe there will be some camera time ahead, too!

One good crane deserves another

st_alexius_crane_29075Two days in a row I was treated to views of people lifting very, very heavy things with machines that look right out of my boyhood Matchbox collection.  This time around was actually a crane lifting a crane, as the sections of a big tower crane were assembled for some ongoing work at St. Alexius.


st_alexius_crane_29089By the time I’d taken the first picture in this post, they had already attached the main part of the crane to the tower.  That just left this 200-foot boom to attach.  It was assembled in pieces on a set of stands, which had to be detached, and then carefully lifted without getting snagged on the tree (right), hitting the stoplight (left), or getting hooked on the streetlight (center).


st_alexius_crane_29135That’s not distortion in my lens, apparently.  I could see the boom of the yellow crane bow visibly under the weight of its payload at that extension.  I pointed it out to one of the crew and he saw it too, so either we’re both nuts or it actually bowed a bit.


st_alexius_crane_29150This is an enormous undertaking, but I’m told that this tower crane will have plenty of work to keep it busy this summer.  In order to even erect this crane, footings had to be prepared for it to be mounted.  It’s self-supporting with no guy wires or anything, so its stability has to come from deep underground.

I actually have some more really neat crane footage that I shot years ago that I may have to re-share here.  I’ve got a lot of respect for these operators, mostly because I could never be patient enough to do their job.  It obviously takes a cool head and a lot of focus to be in control of these cranes, because one mistake could be very expensive and possibly fatal.

So there ya have it…after a long dry spell, I got the camera out of the bag two days in a row!  Not a bad way to round out the week.

An uplifting night, for me and the boat


As part of another First Day of the Rest of My Life, it was a blessing to have a date night with my sweetie as our boys went out with their grandma.  After a satisfying Italian dinner we went for a little cruise and saw that the riverboat was about to be hoisted into the Big Muddy.


riverboat_crane_28950The gigantic crane from CJ (I like those initials, obviously) was already in place, and the conditions appeared to be perfect.  It suddenly occurred to me that, even though I’ve been unable to wield it in a while, I had my camera in the truck.  Since my wife is among the most gracious of women, she agreed that it’d be fun if we stopped to watch and take a few photos.


riverboat_crane_29063Nothing happens quickly with a crane; when heavy things start moving quickly, damage occurs.  After all, mass x velocity = FORCE.  That’s the last thing one needs when balancing a load high above the ground.  Slowly but surely the crew eased the big ol’ boat into the river and held it in place until the pilot could get all systems up and running and power it out into the channel.

You may notice a gap in the sequence of my photos.  That’s because, as a video guy, I felt the urge to actually shoot some video clips of the event.  A time lapse would have been nice, but the dock’s undulating movement from passing watercraft made that more hassle than I’d prefer.  So here are a few video clips I slapped together this morning:

You can view it in high definition on YouTube.  I also saw something else from the dock that was pretty cool, but I’ll be posting that later.

It’s even the perfect color!

lambo_iphone_2124Anyone who knows me knows that I love that Kawasaki Green.  I’ve been a diehard Kawasaki fan for decades and have owned many green bikes over the years, including two of my bikes now.   I have lots of lime green possessions as well, many of which have little or nothing to do with motorcycles.

That’s one reason why I spotted this car from a LONG distance yesterday.  I’m sure many of you saw it making the rounds, or parked at Hu Hot, or wherever else it was cruising around.  Awesome. Lamborghinis have been among my favorite cars since junior high school (I’m sure most boys agree), but they’re a rarity around here.  Maybe the Bakken boom has something to do with their appearance.  Out of respect for the privacy of the owner, I obscured the license plate – but I will say that it was a North Dakota plate.

I heard an unconfirmed report of an orange one in town too, but I’m not sure if that one is very credible.  In any case, they sure do add to the scenery here in Bismarck-Mandan!

Five years ago and twelve degrees colder – and I was out with my cameras

January 26th, 2010 was a great day. The fact that it was even colder than today’s bitter winter Monday didn’t dampen my spirits, as I was on site for the move of the Falkirk Mine’s dragline “Chief Ironsides” from the west side of Highway 83 to the east side.  I was being paid to document the occasion, as it happens very infrequently.  I’m glad I dressed in layers; while Sunday’s low in the area was -7 with a mean temp of 12, the low that day was -4 with a mean temp of -2.  I’m using the mean temperature for the title of this post.

In order for Tuesday’s dragline walk, enormous preparations had to be made. For instance, a gap in the power lines running parallel to Highway 83 had to be made. The machines are simply too tall to go under. The railroad tracks had to be covered as well.

Next, a compacted dirt road several feet thick had to be constructed. This served the purpose of protecting the paved road as well as creating a level deck for the scoop and draglines to traverse.

Crews worked from each side of Highway 83, meeting in the middle. Enormous excavators filled dump trucks, which deposited their dirt at the end of the constructed road on their side. Big dozers pushed it into place, and the biggest grader I’ve ever seen did the grooming.

A bed of shredded straw was placed on the highway prior to the dirt work, presumably to aid in the cleanup. This way the dirt wasn’t plastered onto the roadway below. I got to stand really close to where these guys were doing their dirt work, but at a safe distance. Of course I brought my hard hat, vest, and safety glasses with, and I had an escort the whole time to make sure I wasn’t in danger.

With the road complete, it was time to get the “small” stuff across. The two machines in this shot are on tracks, simply driving across instead of the meticulous “walking” of the big dragline.

This equipment is electric, running with giant extension cords that lead back to the power plant. When they need to take a trek like this, the smaller ones are powered by a generator on a trailer. The truck follows dutifully behind or beside this scoop shovel as it tracks across.

For bigger equipment such as this tracked dragline or the big Chief Ironsides, they operate tethered to their usual power source. There’s a new power cable waiting for them on the other side.

This “little” tractor isn’t so little. Its sole purpose in life is to guide the electrical cable supplying power to the big dragline. It’s got a hoop-shaped guide on the back that is used to push the cable around to where it needs to be.

Weather delayed things a bit, but we finally got going just before sunset. That made for some challenges with shooting video. Stills are one thing in low light, but HD video is another. The main shot I was set up for was a time lapse of the roadway crossing, and the light was changing on me very quickly.

It was quite dark by the time the thirteen million pound behemoth, controlled by a woman named Melody, crossed the road. There was a thick dirt road constructed across Highway 83 just for this purpose, since the dragline needs a level deck for moving. It also protected the highway from the immense weight of the machine.

There was a dedicated crew for this task; the rest of the mine’s operations didn’t skip a beat. Talk about a daunting task: close the highway, build a new road capable of handing a thirteen million pound load, get the equipment across, then remove that road…all within 24 hours. Great job, gang! That’s an impressive day’s work.

I froze myself silly, but I got the shots. I had one HD camera, tucked in the Suburban parked sideways in the median due to wind, doing the 1080p time lapse while I ran around getting other angles and video footage with a second HD camera. Of course I kept my trusty still camera bag with me at all times.  Thankfully I dressed really warm, and had a real blast!