Something missing in Minot

With great anticipation I awaited the announcement of another Northern Neighbors’ Day at Minot Air Force Base.  The last one I attended was 2009, and I don’t think there had been one since.  So when Summer 2016 brought the return of this awesome event, I was all over it.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one, as traffic was backed up all the way into Minot for hours, even after the show had begun.  Once I got there with my kids we had a nice time, and I’m sure I’ll comb thru the photos and share them later.  But there was one thing that stood out to me right away as we reached the tarmac:

mafb_sign_missing_42788This sign on the side of one of the hangars had been removed.  The photo doesn’t really do it justice as far as its size; this is an enormous sign.  And it’s gone.  I was actually looking forward to seeing it again.  Why?


mafb_nnd_43619This is what it said last time I was on the base.  I’m extremely proud of the mission the Air Force carries on from our beloved state, and I’m equally proud of the global presence the United States maintains as a force of stability in the world.  Sadly, those things aren’t in vogue right now with the people in charge of our armed forces.


mafb_nnd_43605It seems everything is political today, but the aggressors set the rules – and there are people in power these days that turn everything into a political issue.  That’s why plenty of people at the show even back in 2009 were referring to this little guy as “Obama’s new fighter prototype”.  It’s disheartening, actually.


I hope that we can continue to elect leaders that will strengthen and equip our nation’s armed forces to do what they’ve always done: protect the United States and its allies in an ever more dangerous world.  North Dakota has played a significant role in that mission, and I hope it continues to do so with well deserved pride and satisfaction.


Dramatic clouds east of Bismarck-Mandan

clouds_44287-9_fusedA couple of nights ago I saw these really wild clouds east of town, and had to snap a photo once I got home.  They remind me of jellyfish in a way…tendrils hanging down and all that.  Or perhaps something from a science fiction feature?


clouds_44317-9_fusedThese reminded me of birds, perhaps blue jays.  I got home just in time to catch some golden light reflecting off the clouds, so they looked even more dramatic.

Work and stuff is so chaotic right now that I haven’t had much time to chase any sunrises or sunsets, so to catch these clouds at such an opportune time was a really nice break!

Why North Dakota can’t afford to vote Democrat, not even for dog catcher

north_dakota_wayIt’s that time again, when Democrats don folksy apparel and adopt phrases like “The North Dakota Way” and “working with both parties”. Don’t fall for it. Don’t vote Democrat, not even for dog catcher.

Even Senators Conrad and Dorgan (now retired after decades of damage) started small. Decades later they were North Dakotans on paper only, maintaining shoebox apartments in Bismarck to stay eligible for reelection. Their final legacy: casting deciding votes for Obamacare, legislation wildly unpopular with North Dakota voters, then retiring to multimillion dollar East Coast homes near their lobbyist cronies. Was that the “North Dakota Way”?

Then we elected the “Independent Voice™” for North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp, who has since voted with her Democrat Party puppet masters 97% of the time according to Congressional Quarterly. We should have seen that one coming.

Democrats never actually campaign on what they stand for. Where are the campaign ads saying they support Obamacare, amnesty for illegals, the right to abortion, or gun control legislation? The ads promising to punish big corporations and advance the homosexual/transgender agenda? Conspicuously absent, but Democrats are beholden to people who want these things because their votes are guaranteed. Deception and feel-good rhetoric are required to get yours. Guess who they’ll serve.

The deal-breaker issue for me will always be religious liberty.  The candidates at the top of the Democrat ticket are hostile toward people of non-Muslim faith, no matter what they say.  At best, they claim to support your “right to worship”, which slyly confines religious liberty to your church building or (for now) your home.

Find an issue that’s popular in North Dakota, and Democrats are on the wrong side of it. Compare their campaign marketing to their behavior once elected. A Democrat elected to local office this year could cast the deciding vote for disastrous federal regulation in twenty years. We can’t afford to advance their dangerous ideology based on platitudes and deception.

Not only did we actually have an autumn this year, but I actually photographed it

fall_barn_43937-9_hdrIn several years past the leaves have fallen from the trees so quickly that there hasn’t been much opportunity for photography.  2016 will not count as one of those years.  While I’ve been beyond busy lately, I did manage to take a couple of trips roaming around and pointing my cameras at some of the fall colors.


fall_barn_43907-9_hdrAnyone know a good roofer?  I’ve found some gaps.


fall_bridge_44099-101_hdrIt wouldn’t be fall without a walk down the trolley tracks.  There were a few portrait photographers utilizing the bridges that morning.


fall_trolley_tracks_43961-3_hdrI used to play on these tracks and bridges as a kid.  That’s why I had Poison Ivy so many times.  These days I just get one little spot, and that’s it.  I guess I built up a tolerance.


churchtown_43836-8_hdrNaturally I had to chase down one of my favorite former country churches.  This one still receives plenty of TLC.


churchtown_43943-5_hdrThe first day was cloudy, so I went back for some blue sky.  I can’t decide which I like better.

I have some other fall photos too, but it’s a busy morning – so I’ll have to stop there for now.

I’d say it was a couple of bucks but it’s actually a load of bull

elk_41665I’m no hunter, so I had to use Google to verify that a male elk is a bull and not a buck.  Don’t ask me why.  All I know is that these guys and a few of their friends hung out near me for a little while after I arrived at the part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park where they were grazing at sunrise.

badlands_sunrise_41752-7_hdrI’m glad they sauntered off when they did, because if they hadn’t I’d have missed this shot…my favorite of the summer!

Fleeting fall

fall_barn_43937-9_hdrAutumn can be pretty short in central North Dakota, but we have had a nice period where the trees are still adorned with various colors of leaves.  Unlike the last few years, I’ve actually been able to get out and capture some of them!  Hopefully I’ll have a few more shots like this one to share.

Journey to Aylmer

aylmer_42318-20_hdrI had the opportunity to stop into a former North Dakota town, Aylmer.  I suppose that’s how Southerners like my wife say “Elmer”.  Anyway, there isn’t much to indicate that the town used to be there except for an old metal sign at the railroad crossing and a few deteriorating buildings.


aylmer_42438-40_hdrI remember reading somewhere that this was a combination general store, blacksmith, and something else at one time.  I’ve seen photos of it with the roof intact, but sadly those days are long gone.  Here you can see a piece of it which the wind has carried quite a ways from the structure.


aylmer_42336-8_hdrIt looks like, and I think what I read backs this up, things were added onto this building as needed.  It’s a shame that it’s crumbling now.


aylmer_42472-4_hdrThere are also a couple of other buildings within a stone’s throw, such as this house with a barn that still has patches of a brilliant blue paint.  It too is suffering from a rooftop deficiency.


This was a fantastic trip.  I had picked up my kids from camp in my new-used truck, which absolutely loves the back roads.  For the weekend I’d clocked around 950 miles, and this was the cherry on top.  At some point, although I’m busy as heck at work and with freelance stuff, I’ll have to show more from that weekend.  I still have a few more photo targets I hope to visit while we still have some nice weather!

Gonna try not to be a part of the scheme


I’m trying to refrain from posting any further comments on the tantrum south of town. Why?

Although they’re engaged in illegal activity down there and the whole thing seems to be pressure-cooking toward violence, it is presently a war being waged primarily on social media (this weekend’s violence notwithstanding). I’m not going to feed the drama.

I try to avoid friends who treat social media like their diary and act out their own personal online soap opera. Likewise with this situation.

Meanwhile, this nonsense has very real consequences. My law enforcement family and friends are subject to very real threats, stoked by online hyperbole and lies. They and their families have had to change their names on social media due to stalking and threats from the “peaceful protesters”. I’ve seen Photoshopped imagery and reckless, incendiary online accusations against authorities which even Snopes has discredited with a mocking tone. As a result of this online campaign, the possibility of further and greater violence continues to increase.

I’m convinced that this whole thing is being orchestrated by professionals who know exactly what they’re doing, and I’m not going to be a tool for it by hurling things back and forth in this arena.