Gnarly, dude

I saw this tree along a gravel road in Morton County and had to stop and take a few shots. I had the right sky for something so twisted and nearly grotesque. What a testament to the tenacity of creation!

Clearly this tree has endured some things, but it doesn’t appear as though it’s given up. Reach for the sky!

I’m no Tim Burton, but I see an elegance, a grace, even a beauty in this tree. That’s why I jammed on the brakes as I careened down the adjacent gravel road at 45 mph, threw it in reverse (I drive a manual transmission truck, so I can “throw” it into any gear I please), and whizzed back to take a few shots of this remarkable tree.

Reflection

2021 has been as busy as 2020, unfortunately…although it has allowed some photography time. Sadly, I’m not posting them in a very timely fashion because I’m really busy. Take this photo, for instance: at the time when it was taken, there was still ice on Lake Sakakawea.

I really liked the reflection on the perfectly calm water. I’ve been doing a lot of personal reflection lately, too, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there just isn’t enough time. When I do take time off, I end up working at least as hard as when I’m on the job!

I’m working on a better work-life balance, but right now I’m still in the “as soon as I get _____ done…” phase. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll get to do some more roaming with my gear and decompress a bit. Meanwhile, if I have opportunity, I do have plenty of photos to share. Stay tuned.

Stumped again

I found this stump in a pretty remote spot within the boundaries of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park one morning. I’d slept in the back of my truck, enjoying a hot summer night, and woke up just before the sun to head into the park for one of my favorite photos ever – one which had me slogging up the Little Missouri in bare feet to capture just the right angle at just the right time. Afterwards, I went poking around the park for a little while – shoes on, once I left the water – and discovered a few gems like this one. Then it was on to the Ice Caves, which was an adventure in itself.

 

Along the way, in a spot where you’d have to be going there to get there, I found this little eroded column with a cactus adornment.

 

One thing about hardy plants like weeds and cacti, they sure are determined! This was actually almost as tall as I, and it was an unexpected discovery as I trekked across previously unexplored (by me) territory.

I did make it to the Ice Caves, and I hope to go back someday…and hopefully the trip there will be as unique as the destination.

Right place, right time

I visited Yellowstone earlier this year, and it was simply the perfect time to do so. I got this amazing shot thanks to two people: a friend who pastors a church in Cody, who told me of the vantage point far away from where all the congestion of the usual tourists, and my wife, who dialed in the best location with regard to the trees in the foreground.

When I say it was the perfect time to visit Yellowstone, I wasn’t kidding. While Yellowstone is normally intolerable because of the sheer number of people everywhere, this time was the complete opposite. There was hardly anyone there.

This is the parking lot at Old Faithful. It’s statistically empty by normal standards. We walked right up to the geyser, stood front and center while it did its thing, and hopped back into the car…all in a matter of minutes.

I hadn’t expected to even get a vacation this year, but thankfully it worked out. I’d booked everything in advance and planned it since 2019, so any cancellation would have been an enormous disappointment. But I was able to squeak it in – important items at work which I simply couldn’t work around were cancelled or moved, my schedule opened up for the entire ten days, and my boss gave his blessing. So my family and I got to enjoy some much needed rest!

Naturally I have a ton of photos from this trip, but now I’m too busy again. So it’ll be a while till I post them.

Bismarck-Mandan area has the best autumn colors (Part 6)

Sadly, this autumn has been brief, cold, and gray…and I’ve been way too busy to get out. But last year was perhaps the best photo fall I’ve ever had. Worth reposting. Six posts in all, I believe. Here’s the sixth.

Digging deep for one last blast of fall photos. This one is from the beginning of fall, when leaves were just beginning to turn. I noted the appearance of that first little patch of orange in the background.

 

This tree had green and orange bursting forth. What an amazing sight!

 

One more shot into the valley…looking toward the Square Buttes from north of Bismarck.

 

This is at the Crown Butte Dam on my way home from a long and particularly productive photo roaming day.

 

Final photo of the night and of this series. The moon was up, the sun was going down, and I revisited this old automobile camping out under a hilltop tree. It was the perfect conclusion to a very therapeutic day of roaming.

That’s it for foliage photos, but I have tons of additional North Dakota shots to share. Stay tuned!

Bismarck-Mandan area has the best autumn colors (Part 5)

Sadly, this autumn has been brief, cold, and gray…and I’ve been way too busy to get out. But last year was perhaps the best photo fall I’ve ever had. Worth reposting. Six posts in all, I believe. Here’s the fifth.

What can I say, I like old farm stuff. I don’t know if it’s due to some nascent feeling that I missed out as a city kid…more likely it’s a by-product of beginning to feel my own age.

This was a “bucket list” photo. I’ve wanted to get this shot for over ten years. FINALLY. Nice hill, nice sky, nice old cabin…and beautiful autumn leaves.

 

The tree on the left lost its leaves very early. The ones growing out of this old stone structure, however, put on a brilliant display.

Having dramatic skies to work with doesn’t hurt, either. The skies on this day alternated from unfavorable to fantastic all day long, from before sunrise until after sunset.

Gold and green on the branches, red and brown on the buttes. I love these hills, they make for a great backdrop no matter what the season.

No, I’m not done yet. This has been my most productive autumn photo season yet!

Bismarck-Mandan area has the best autumn colors (Part 4)

Sadly, this autumn has been brief, cold, and gray…and I’ve been way too busy to get out. But last year was perhaps the best photo fall I’ve ever had. Worth reposting. Six posts in all, I believe. Here’s the fourth.

This was when the fall colors were just starting to emerge, at the “abandoned” Binek mine. Yes, someone still lives at the site, although it ceased operation long, long ago.

 

Open air outhouse – if you’ve really gotta go or don’t have a thing for modesty, feel free.

 

See the capitol hanging out beneath the boughs of this tree? It sits along Apple Creek Road. Still got a little bit of green in there…

 

This row is south of Bismarck in the wildlife management area. I caught just the right skies, but getting the sun in the right position behind those branches was a challenge.

 

This is a tree I spent plenty of time photographing. I even got full of all kinds of crunchy and pokey stuff lying beneath its branches. Might be fun to revisit it later and post the results of that half-hour dalliance.

Have I exhausted my quiver of fall photos from 2017? Hardly. Even as the cruel North Dakota wind threatens to strip these trees bare, I’ve already got plenty of fun photos so far. And I’m not ruling out a few more before we’re left with nothing but sticks and bare branches for the winter!

Bismarck-Mandan area has the best autumn colors (Part 3)

Sadly, this autumn has been brief, cold, and gray…and I’ve been way too busy to get out. But last year was perhaps the best photo fall I’ve ever had. Worth reposting. Six posts in all, I believe. Here’s the third.

Still more fall colors. I’m actually astonished at how many nice autumn photos I have…in fact, this is my best year ever!

 

The river valley has been breathtaking this year. I have had friends comment that the cottonwoods haven’t given this kind of color in years, perhaps due to fungus or other issues, possibly even going back to the flood.

 

Fall in North Dakota is always a gamble; some years we get an early frost and the leaves drop while still green. Other years we get nice fall colors…for a day. This year, despite a couple of days of punishing wind, things have held on and provided lots of enjoyment.

 

An instructor once told me, while demonstrating part of the parachute rig on the standard issue Army F-4 pilot flight suit, that “if you eject and land in a tree in North Dakota, you deserve to die.” We don’t have the expansive forests some states enjoy, but the trees we do have sure put on a show this year. The skies helped, too.

 

Am I done with fall photos? I think I still have a few. I’ll share them here, and then I’ll work backwards. I’m pleased to report that, in addition to a plentiful autumn photo harvest, this has been a very fruitful summer for me in that regard as well! I’ve spent my time taking them, and will have all winter this year to steadily post new ones as I find time to process them.

Bismarck-Mandan area has the best autumn colors (Part 2)

Sadly, this autumn has been brief, cold, and gray…and I’ve been way too busy to get out. But last year was perhaps the best photo fall I’ve ever had. Worth reposting. Six posts in all, I believe. Here’s the second.

I liked this assortment of color, found at McDowell Dam on Wednesday afternoon. A little bit of everything, except one color is obscured somewhat…

…which is why you take the shot from another angle. I’m not exactly sure which of these two I like best yet. Leaning toward this second one.

Here’s a nice row of golds and reds, with very little green remaining anywhere but on the grass. I love the reds, maybe because they’re less common out where I tend to roam. They’re typically part of somebody’s landscaping.

 

Here’s the other angle of that scoria road I mentioned yesterday. I actually took the time to process this one, instead of just posting the raw of the other angle. This, too, is one of those shots where I can’t decide which angle I like best.

 

Here’s yesterday’s shot with the same color treatment. I like the tree being close and larger, but now you don’t see the hills in the background on the left. Hm…

Yes, I have more…but that’s all for now. I hope to share a few more tomorrow. 🙂