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.

Some assembly required

old_truck_42105-7_hdrActually, you might be shy a few parts too.  This truck cab  and fenders are nestled into a hillside along the river, where they enjoy a fantastic view for their retirement.  No sign of the rest of it.  I bet it was pretty fancy in the day – that yellow is still brilliant after what appears to be a decades-long abandonment!

Waitin’ around pays off

bethel_church_43477-9_hdrI camped out by this former church in Morton County to allow the sunset to do its thing.  A row of storms had just moved through, and I had correctly guessed that the clouds tagging along the tail end of those storms would provide a lot of color to the sunset.  I was correct.  But I wasn’t done just then…


bethel_church_43550Waiting for the sun to go down and the moon to come up gave me the opportunity to capture some different clouds, albeit with stars sprinkled in as well.   To top it all off, my friend Zach and I headed out to a different prairie church, the one I wrote about a couple of days ago.

Starlight steeple

starlight_church_43558I don’t even remember how I located this old church, but it had to do with Google Earth and Garmin Mapsource.  This little church is in the middle of nowhere, not on a main road, surrounded by trees, and absolutely wonderful.  I had another old church to explore at sunset, so this one became a twilight target.


starlight_church_43555It’s a remarkable little building…while not fenced or posted, it looks privately owned.  I didn’t even consider going inside, although looking through the windows showed an intact structure with a choir loft, pews, and everything.  How fortunate the owner must feel!


starlight_steeple_43563After some long exposure shots it was time to head home.  I had a flat tire in my near future, a blowout actually, but I didn’t know it.  Thankfully that waited until I was in city limits, although still on I-94.  That made for a later night than planned, but I’m sure glad I was able to explore this awesome find!

Over the years…the Wilton barn

wilton_barn_4085This barn north of Wilton has been a favorite for photographers as long as I can remember.  Its location is prime for sunrise and sunset photos, it’s not on posted land, it’s easy to get to, and incredibly photogenic.  It’s also on its last legs.  I took this photo in July 2010 as I awaited the sunset.


wilton_barn_4077As you can see from another perspective, this is a beautiful old barn from any angle.  The signs of age were already there, however…note the lean.  This does not bode well.  There was actually a large timber bracing it at this point.


wilton_barn_21173Two years later, in August 2012, the stone had already collapsed and the body of the barn had settled into the ground.  On this dreary, rainy day it looked as if it had given a grand sigh and slumped into place, resigned to its fate.


wilton_barn_30182Almost exactly four years after my original photo, in July 2014, it shows signs of the wood weakening further.  Parts of the wall are falling away and sunlight streams through from one end to the other.


wilton_barn_43404-12_hdrLast weekend, August 2016.  Much of this barn could be best described as “skeletal remains”.  The roof remains intact, but the walls are failing.  The floor looks pretty good, but it no longer has much shelter from the elements.  This may be the swan song for my favorite barn…I fear if I wait another two years, there won’t be much left to compare to that original photo from 2010.

If you’re like me, one of the local photography hobbyists who has fond memories of this old barn, I urge you to head north soon.  Sadly, I don’t think we have much time left with it…but from a photographic standpoint, it’s served us well.


My new favorite Fallen Farm

fallen_farm_43426-8_hdrSo there I was, blazing down a county road in the new truck, trying out the dynamic stability control from time to time (cool!), trying to reach the first of two abandoned prairie churches I wanted to investigate and photograph that evening.  As I dove through a valley I noticed this beautiful old farmstead nestled in the trees along a hill to the east.  Wow!  I just had to stop and shoot a quick shot from the road (I mark them in my hiking GPS for future reference).

As you can see in the background, the sunset was already starting to develop, splashing color across the sky.  I didn’t have time to do this site justice, so I filed it for later and moved on…but I will definitely be taking another look at it in the future.  This breathtaking site has loads of potential!

Oh yes, the photos of the two churches turned out quite nicely.  You’ll see those soon.