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!

 

Global War On Terror Remembrance Wall

gwot_wall_46136-8The Global War On Terror Wall of Remembrance made its way to Bismarck last weekend, and I was able to take my kids there and give it some context.  One side features terrorist attacks on our country going back over thirty years as well as important points in history along the way.  The other side features names of those who lost their lives due to terrorism or the war against terrorism.

 

gwot_wall_46150-2I thought ND National Guard Adjutant General Al Dohrmann put it best when he said tht every name on this wall was the most important person in the world to someone.  I sat in front of this wall with my kids and did my best to impress that upon them.

 

gwot_wall_pano_0087Click on the image for a MUCH larger version

After a long day at the Touch the Trucks event, and hungry as heck, my kids did a great job of patiently listening to me trying to give context to this traveling monument.  On the way to get our Pizza Burgers Flyin’ Style at Big Boy they asked me about how I remember the attacks of September 11th, 2001, and it was good to share my memories of the day.  I hope they don’t have a similar experience in their lifetimes, although I’m not too sure what the odds are on that.

Find out more about this traveling monument here.

2017 North Dakota Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony

leo_memorial_45669I didn’t actually spend much time photographing the ceremony, but I did attend it this year.  Due to wind and threat of rain, the event was moved to the capitol’s Memorial Hall instead of outside at the monument on the east side of the J-Wing.

I did shoot some video of the rifle volley:

 
The video is in HD if you click through to watch it on YouTube.

This is a somber event, and one that I hope will get a lot more attention now that the community has gone through a major event with law enforcement and pro-LE sentiment seem to be at an all time high. Our community honors our heroes.

One of the rare times when I like that “Painterly” effect

honor_guard_45698-700_painted-(crop)(Click on the image for a larger version)

This weekend I’ll post a couple things from the peace officers’ memorial ceremony on Wednesday, but there’s no time to do so today.  I did want to share this photo, though, because it is one of the few photos I’ve taken that lends itself to a particular effect.

I love HDR (High Dynamic Range” photography, especially with drone footage.  I’m no master, but I hope to improve.  I love the way I can grab details from the lightest and darkest parts of the photo and blend them all together into a “hyper-realistic” final product, and if done with the proper restraint it can be breathtaking while still not entirely artificial looking. Sadly, so many examples of HDR imagery (especially when it first took off) are overblown, oversaturated, pasty conglomerations that reduce the technique to an eyesore.

Not this one.  I wanted a “painted” effect for the Peace Officers’ Association honor guard, and it worked.  I had the right lighting, I had the right subjects (they stood STILL), and it all came together.  I’d love your feedback on this effect.  I’ll post a couple of photos and a video sometime in the near future.

I used to take a lot more of these

capitol_sunset_45401-3This is the sunset from last Saturday night.  I was on my way home from a men’s prayer meeting and noticed the sunset as I passed the capitol building, so I whipped around for a quick photo.  By “quick” I mean I took 98 of them and ended up choosing the fourth one.

Check out the “Sunsets” category if you like this one, there are plenty more.  Or the “Sunrises” category.  Or the “Skies and Stars” category…they’re all good.

It’s a first, so you bet I was there

capitol_blue_line_45605-7_hdrIt’s past my bedtime, so I’m just going to share the photos.  I didn’t get out until after I got my kids put to bed, and I let them stay up late in the first place.  One more benefit of homeschooling.

Thanks to the legislature, this will be an annual event commemorating the men and women of law enforcement in our state.

 

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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):
 

 

For me it’s always been about one thing

some-still-call-him-pigThis poster hung on my dad’s garage wall for years.  It later hung on mine.  I haven’t decorated the garage at my new house yet, or even finished painting the drywall, but I may make a copy and hang it there, too.  I believe, while everybody’s human and there are a few exceptions, that law enforcement personnel are heroes.  Period.

The terrorism that overtook our state over the past year wasn’t a pipeline issue for me; it was a law enforcement issue, plain and simple.  The pipeline will be great for North Dakota, but that was none of my concern.  What I had a problem with was my friends having to change their online presence due to doxing and threats, their families being threatened, and residents of Morton County fearing for their safety while law enforcement tried to keep up with the influx of thousands of lawbreakers.

When protesters stood on Main Street in Mandan with a pig’s head on a stake, you bet that made my blood boil.  When they accuse my friends of atrocious crimes, yeah I take it personally.

That’s why it’s so cool to see our communities rally around our law enforcement officers.  Billboards, decals, rallies…we make it clear that we support and appreciate those who are sworn to protect and serve.  I hope we never have to endure another such event, but no matter what happens I think it’s pretty obvious that the residents of Bismarck-Mandan BACK THE BLUE.

The hail, you say

hail_2001As the old poem goes, the fog comes on little cat feet.  The hail on June 9th, 2001, however…well, that came in its own indescribable fashion.  The most noteworthy memory of this is the two underpasses on 7th and 9th Streets filling up with ice and water.  I was at a friend’s house that evening and remember walking to Thayer Avenue just east of St. Alexius to watch the city clearing chest-high piles of hail stones with a payloader and grader!

In the process of going through old motorcycle racing video tapes last week I found the footage of this event, footage I had presumed lost.  This was before I was into photography or videography, so even though I had a digital camcorder at the time I did not have a steady hand.  But shaky amateur footage is better than none, right?  Have a look:


Click on the YouTube logo to view in a larger window

it was over ninety degrees out that evening, so once all the hail fell it began to melt and give off steam.  That’s why it seems so dark and foggy, it was a sauna outside.  My camera gave multiple high humidity warnings before actually shutting down to protect itself. 12th Street was half river, half avalanche for the duration of this storm. It was unbelievable. The hail piled up in a low spot at 12th Street and Thayer Avenue, forcing the city to bring in heavy equipment and dig/plow it out.  . The clouds were incredible.  And the underpasses needed to be dug out and cleared by that same sort of heavy machinery.

Do you remember this storm?

Show of support

community-support-decalsWe North Dakotans, residents of Bismarck-Mandan in particular, love our law enforcement personnel.  The last eight months haven’t just been trying on them, but on the community as a whole, and as a result I think the bond between citizens and LEOs has been forged even stronger.  You’ve probably noticed many cars sporting the above decals, which I believe are still available at Signs and Wonders along with other places.

 

Cx_FrCLUUAAeT-3.jpg largeUnderstanding that relationship, I put together this quick meme early on in the conflict. It may seem prescient now, but I really just understand the fact that our community respects those who put it all on the line to keep our community safe and uphold the law.

 

backtheblue_flag_44573And we ain’t done yet.  Back the Blue billboards have sprung up around town, events are in the works to celebrate the law enforcement community, and there’s even legislation in the works to honor them.

 

capitol_backtheblue_mockup_44339Yes, that’s right.  Senate Concurrent Resolution 4015 (PDF) will not only designate a special day as Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor fallen law enforcement officers, but it also calls for a blue light display to adorn the capitol on an annual basis.  I made this hasty mock-up as an example of what I can envision the capitol looking like each May.  (Yeah, without the snow.  I discovered that I haven’t actually taken any night time photos of the capitol unless the windows are all lit up with something, so I had to do some heavy-handed Photoshop on the easiest shot I had available.  Cut me some slack.)

The resolution has been in the House awaiting a floor vote since March 20th.  If you feel motivated, let your legislators know how important it is that SCR 4015 gets passed.

So yeah, we support our law enforcement.  I sure hope that their tough jobs are made a little easier by knowing that they’ve got the appreciation of North Dakotans that respect them, pray for them, and acknowledge that (while nobody’s perfect) they protect our communities with dedication and professionalism.