heritage_center_35462My friend Zach and I decided to head out the other night after a church function and chase a particular photo that he’d had in mind for some time: the atrium of the newly remodeled Heritage Center / State Museum with the capitol behind it.  He took the near approach, and I took the far, actually hiking across State Street to the hillside adjacent to the former Baptist home.

I wanted to get the geometry just right, where the size of the Atrium lined up closely with the apparent size of the capitol.  This choice allowed a shot where the capitol appears to sprout from the glass of the foreground building.  I only wanted them close enough to provide the needed effect – I didn’t want them exactly the same, otherwise that effect would be blown.

Zach’s idea of waiting for blue light in the sky behind was brilliant.  Particularly cool was the variety of light we had on the horizon due to the waning sunset and various things in the atmosphere.  I juiced the color a little bit, but not much.  Then, with dozens of fresh mosquito bites, it was time to head home for more “new homeowner” stuff.

Satisfying sunset

riverboat_35390My precious, sweet wife and I recently celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary. The timing wasn’t right for an elaborate vacation, but we did one better: we took our little guys on the Fort Lincoln Trolley and the Lewis & Clark Riverboat, with a picnic in between.  One thing that made it more special is that, aside from the riverboat cruise, I left my camera out of the picture (pun intended).

Getting the shot so often detracts from enjoying an event, something I know all too well due to the nature of my work.  For instance, I can’t count how many time I came home from running Instant Replay or directing a live sporting event show, unable to tell my wife who won.  It’s the nature of making things look good for others.

I’ve got plenty of photos and video from on board the Trolley anyway.  We did take a photo of our picnic, because it was at the location where I initially proposed to my then-girlfriend.  I was free to enjoy the afternoon and the evening.  I even brought a little Bluetooth speaker so I could dance with my wife on the Riverboat while Captain Jeff Bathiany, the coolest riverboat captain around, allowed my boys to join him and his dog in the cabin and pilot the boat.

There was one shot, however, that I really wanted to have.  Thankfully the two-up seat at the front of the boat was available, and as the boat chugged its way home I was able to quickly set up my tripod, frame up my shot, and let the light and the bridge come to me.  I also took a nice photo of my sweetie, too, but I don’t post photos of my family online.  The shot above, though, I’m eager to share.

Heavy duty floppy

I had the opportunity to take my little fellas to the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Historic Site recently, a site which I’ve visited multiple times.  I wrote a magazine article about this site when it first opened, and for that article I was able to spend the entire day below ground in the capsules taking photos.  I’ve been back since from time to time, but this was the first opportunity I had to bring my kids with me.  This time I spotted a couple of things I hadn’t looked at closely before.

lcm_floppy_35157Yes, it’s a heavy duty floppy drive.  There are actually two in this rack, mounted side by side.  I must admit I’m actually impressed that it looks like a 5 1/4″ drive, not the old 8″ drives that I would have expected.


lcm_modem_35156And how about this?  A modem!  Another term that most people don’t hear often, unless they’re cable internet subscribers.  Even then, we’re talking about baud versus megabit these days.  I remember 300baud or bps in my freshman year of college…that was painful.  Compare that with the 70+ megabit service that I enjoy in my home office now, and it makes it seem like I was computing via telegraph!

It just goes to show that there’s always an opportunity to encounter, and be fascinated by, something you’ve previously missed.  If you’d like to look at many more photos from this intriguing historic site, click here for the photos from my first trip to the newly-opened site.

Even more horribly overdue: Independence Day Parade 2015

Okay, they’re a month overdue.  So let me unload.

parade2015_34846Here’s what it’s all about:  the American soldier.  After all, we’re talking about fighting for liberty.


parade2015_34844I think this must be Plasma man or something?   Or is it Prostate Cancer Awareness Week? Hepatitis Bob?


parade2015_34842Pony tow.


parade2015_34859Before and after.  I love Kawasaki Green or anything approximating it.


parade2015_34862Of course, in North Dakota even July 4th has a Zamboni.  Duh.


parade2015_34868OSHA approved?  Maybe just for parade duty.  This is the company that was listing cntree.com in their TV commercials on KFYR…the only problem is that it was an Indonesian site selling counterfeit shoes.  Oops.


parade2015_34869Love a progression of matching tractors!


parade2015_34898Becks promoting their Fort Lincoln Trolley.  Shoot, I haven’t ridden it yet this summer!  Okay, it’s on the list.  One noteworthy thing about this fire truck:


parade2015_34900It’s apparently a Bismarck original!


parade2015_34905Well, some are more festive than others.  ‘MERICA.


parade2015_34850Kawasaki Green and Suzuki Blue?  Bartlet & West knows how to get themselves featured on this website.


parade2015_34906Butcher Block always does cool floats.  But the animated Mater wasn’t the thing that I liked the most about this year’s iteration:


parade2015_34910This is why I liked it so much.


parade2015_34917Again…a stark reminder of what freedom costs.


parade2015_34918Infuriating that any of our own would be left behind.


parade2015_34923Over $20 million PLUS staffing and operating costs?  A “thank you” is the least that Mandan voters should receive.


parade2015_34929Color guard.




parade2015_34958Lawrence Welk made North Dakota the home of the bubble machine.  This spa keeps the tradition alive.


parade2015_34961Seriously, folks.  This is what it’s all about.


parade2015_34972It’s pink, but it can lift more than you can.


parade2015_34968Unless you’re this guy.


parade2015_34856A whole range of John Deere tractors in procession, in order by model number.


parade2015_34976I’d say the kid knows how to race.


parade2015_34979A reminder to MOVE OVER when you see a law enforcement officer with someone pulled over.  It’s for everyone’s safety.


parade2015_34980As you can see from this side, they’re serious.


parade2015_34984Now that is colorful.


parade2015_34992And of course, there’s an opportunity to shoot a couple of free throws.

I’m glad the parade didn’t get rained out this year.  I miss the days, however, when everyone actually made floats.  Yeah, trucks and tractors and military vehicles are cool…but what about the creativity?  The most memorable participants in this year’s parade were the ones who made their own floats.   Of those, the ones who showed respect for the death and/or imprisonment of those fighting for our freedom were the ones which left lasting impressions on me.  Hopefully in future parades we’ll see that creativity return.

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…

A visit to my favorite local 2,063 footer

kvly_tower_35148On the way home from Fargo last weekend I decided to show my boys the fourth tallest man-made object in the world: KVLY’s tower near Blanchard.  It was weird stopping by there as a former employee of NBC in North Dakota, but I still take pride in this structure.  It’s a biggun, as they say.  The massive structure above is just one set of guy wires and anchor holding it in place.


kvly_tower_35119This tower is enormous, and for quite some time was the tallest man-made object in the world.  It has since been dethroned, but aside from the Burj Khalifa its competition edges it out by fewer than ten feet.  There’s phone booth sized elevator that goes up the center of this tower…scary.  Rumor has it that the former chief engineer would ride up on top of the elevator so that  second person could ride inside to go up the tower.  I never asked him.


kvly_tower_35126I haven’t been inside this building for a while.  Structures near towers like this have heavily reinforced roofs, as enormous chunks of ice come crashing down over the winter and spring months.  In fact, I’m pretty sure one has to make a mad dash for the building if going out there in the winter!  Facilities built early enough, like this one, have living quarters inside…a throwback to the days when an engineer actually remained on site during all hours of transmitter operation.


kvly_tower_35135Silhouette.  Can you imagine how long a shadow this tower casts on a winter day?  Its counterpart, by the way, is nearby… a short little 2,060 footer.  That tower, belonging to fellow Valley News Live station KXJB, fell twice: once after being struck by a helicopter, and a second time during the storms of 1997.

I’m so accustomed to dropping by this tower when in the neighborhood, hoping the engineers might be there servicing the transmitter, that I didn’t even stop to check if they’ve posted the access road.  If you go out this way, check that out.  I’m just used to the old days of being able to approach, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been “in the neighborhood”.  But something this big has to be seen.  If you want more information, Wikipedia is probably your best bet.  I don’t think the Valley News Live page has the same tower information page that the old KVLY site did.

Why these Fargo Airsho tickets never got used

airsho_ticketsI was so enthusiastic about the Fargo Airsho that I bought tickets for both Saturday’s and Sunday’s shows.  After all, the Airsho was cancelled in 2013 because of the Blue Angels’ cancellation due to politically motivated budget cuts.  This time I was all set to have a blast with my best friend and my two little boys.

The Blue Angels were AWESOME.  The fact that we entered through the Fargo Air Museum and were able to browse around there was an added bonus.  The F-M Ambulance gang had brought a neat contraption: an EZ-Up canopy rigged with PVC pipe that misted people if they walked underneath, a sure necessity in the scorching heat of the weekend.  The static displays and exhibits were really cool.  I saw the largest UAV I’d ever seen, my boys got to peek into a Harrier cockpit, and my youngest even caught a frog (He does that everywhere.  Seriously.).

So why didn’t we go back Sunday?  Frankly, because of the view.  Or shall I say, the lack thereof.

  • Nearly the entire show line was lined with VIP canopy tents.  There were two little corners where the little people could try to angle for a little bit of space with a view of the runway.  Of course, most of the action on or just above the runway took place in a spot that we couldn’t even see.  To make matters worse, my little kids could see even less due to their height.
  • They were excited when they saw bouncy houses, and thought they could at least do that…but that was actually part of another HUGE corporate area that took up an enormous slot of space near the south end of the runway.  What’s sad is that the inflatables appeared to go mostly unused throughout the day, although we saw other kids walking around the orange fence trying to find a way in.
  • Apparently there was a rocket-powered bus and stuff.  I heard it.  For a second I actually caught a brief glimpse of it between two VIP canopies.  My kids were out of luck.
  • The aerobatics were really neat, and I guess they did some nice low passes along the runway.  Never saw them.
  • One of the pilots landed his airplane on a moving truck as it sped down the runway.  Didn’t catch that either.  I heard it on the PA system.

We braved the heat and had a good time, fortunately being at the south end of the runway when the Blue Angels started.  Thankfully they did most of their maneuvers down on our end, so our day actually culminated in being able to actually see what was going on in the show.

When we woke up in the hotel room Sunday morning and began to review our plans for the day, the heat was a factor.  I was ready to brave the heat and try to get their even earlier than before, to stake out the best spot I could manage despite all the Reserved areas.  I left my camera behind on Saturday to scope things out for Sunday and enjoy the show with my children.  But when we considered the fact that we couldn’t see much of the show anyway, we decided to just bag the entire thing out of frustration.

I was going to drive up to the airport and give my tickets to someone waiting in line, but we’d had such a poor experience with the lack of traffic management the morning before (shutting the road on us within sight of the FargoDome, even though we were there 45 minutes before show time) that we decided to just write it off and find something else to do.

So, if you’re considering going to the Fargo Airsho again in two years, you might want to do one of two things: make connections to get a corporate tent to sit under so you can actually see, or hold off on buying tickets until the Saturday show has commenced, so you can get a report on whether or not all the good viewing is out of your reach.  If so, you can either stay home or park along a side street and get the same view for free and save $25 per ticket.

The reason I got rained on

I’m sad to say I haven’t been doing much with my cameras lately.  I’m happy to say it’s no longer because of medical issues, surgeries, travel, or recovery, but because we’ve moved into a brand new house and I have plenty to do. I am, however, starting to get out on my motorcycles more, and tonight I took one to church..

After church I grabbed an ice cold Dewski from B&J along with a bag of BBQ chips, then sat on the steps of the Capitol to ponder Psalm 51 with the Bible I keep on board my Kawasaki.  As I was wrapping up, I saw lightning to the west and some ominous looking clouds.  Then the wind came up, and I figured it might be high time to skedaddle before I got drenched.  But on my way home I saw some amazing clouds, and had to stop along the way to take a couple of shots:

stormy_skies_ip_6525This one’s pretty wild…the photo just doesn’t do it justice.  The rays streaking out from that window in the clouds were bold and strong.  It didn’t take long for that window to close, either…so I’m glad I was able to get the shot by pulling over to the side of the road and scrambling for a camera.  This was facing west.  To the east of me was an equally impressive show.


stormy_skies_ip_6507This one’s my favorite of the two.  The combination of the sweeping lines leading to the towering head of the cloud, the ceiling of dark clouds advancing overhead, and the column of heavy rain spewing out the bottom of the cloud in the center of the photo made for a great roadside capture.

At this point I was getting a little nervous, as I’d felt a few sprinkles here and there.  I bolted home in hopes of beating the rain.  I could tell that precipitation was spotty, as I drove across sections of road that had obviously seen rain…but was myself dry right up until I turned on my street.  That’s when the skies opened as I bolted the last block to my garage.  I didn’t get soaked to the bone, but I did feel some pretty heavy drops smack my helmet as I scrambled down the home stretch, feeling the sting through the lightweight Nike shirt I’d worn due to the oppressive afternoon heat.

Let’s see…a good church service, a snack and some Bible meditation, a little bit of motorcycle riding, and two cool photos?  I’d call that a Sunday Evening Success.