Love tractor

I couldn’t resist a nod in the title to one of my favorite bands from the Athens era. This tractor caught my eye from a distance, and I had to go check it out. It really stood out against such a beautiful blue sky!

As colorful as it is, this thing’s really broken down. Wheel’s off. Cylinder head missing. I don’t think it’s going anywhere for a while. That’s okay…it’s really photogenic right where it’s at.

The Wreck of the Abner O’Neil (No Gordon Lightfoot parodies forthcoming)

Recently a group of local kayakers made for a viral sensation when they posted photos of the wreckage of the Abner O’Neal, a steamboat from the 1890s. The river’s low levels have allowed the wreck to begin poking out of the water, and anyone coasting downstream from the Steckel boat landing is likely to encounter it. Thus the sensation.

I finally got out there myself. I’d been eagerly awaiting a time like this ever since the State Historical Society posted about it a while back, which allowed me to figure out its exact location. As a certified SCUBA diver, I’d heard about this site but never discerned where to look for it.

I actually went out to it multiple times, which explains the different lighting in some of the photos I’m posting here. Once was in the afternoon, and once was toward sunset with really calm water. Incredibly cool.

The most popular feature you’re going to see online is this part of the hull, which sticks out most prominently.

I admit, this is one of the most photogenic parts of the craft. Only the hull remains; when the Abner sank in 8-10 feet of water here, everything which was salvageable was indeed removed.

As you can see the planks of the hull are still intact, remarkable for something that has been here since 1892. I think this is my favorite angle, actually. Maybe it’s the evening light.

I was blessed with some pretty amazing skies when I went out. One time it was windy, the other time the river was like glass and I didn’t get bounced around so much.

I wish I knew enough about steamboats to know what part of the hull this is, but sadly I’m a total landlubber. Not too surprising, for a kid who grew up in the mountains and lives in a landlocked state near the geographical center of our continent.

Here’s another view of the wreckage in its entirety. The bottom left corner is the downstream end.

I made a short video of some of my favorite angles of the riverboat wreck. I hope you enjoy!

Here’s where I must point out a couple of things. First of all, the shoreline adjacent to this shipwreck is private property. Don’t get any crazy ideas about walking downriver from the boat landing: that’s trespassing. Second, you can’t see anything from the shore anyway. Your best bet is to see it from the air or from a kayak. The water’s too shallow for a boat. Third, this is a historic site; if you do manage to get to it, please don’t disturb it in any way. That means wading around and tracking up the river bottom, taking anything from the site, or generally leaving any trace that you were ever there.

This is a pretty awesome piece of North Dakota history, and the fact that we can experience right now is a silver lining to the drought conditions and general 2020-2021 malaise that’s struck so many. I’m sure glad I can share it with you!

Sentimental startup

I wasn’t able to see the warbirds which stopped in Bismarck this week (aside from a glimpse of them circling town), but I have been able to see them on previous visits. This is a video I shot with my boy back in 2013, as the B-17 “Sentimental Journey” started its engines and began to taxi out for a flight around the capital city.

Weekend at Brady’s

I made it to Mandan briefly this weekend for a family affair, and accomplished something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time: take a photo of the Brady’s Used Auto Parts building. It’s still shocking to see it in this state, as Brady’s has been a landmark for so many decades. Gee, I feel old.

The land is posted, so I had to take these photos through the fence. Thankfully I had some nice conditions to work with, and my hands fit through the rectangles in the fence just enough to work my phone camera!

One last pano to fit it all in. End of an era…

My fondest memory of Brady’s was when I pancaked the two driver’s-side rims on the $25 car I was driving at the time (long story) and he helped me pick out two replacements for ten bucks a piece. That seems like a lifetime ago, too. Man, I gotta knock off this reminiscing!

Hoodie

One of these trucks has gone full-blown Mater, with no hood at all. The other one has its beak wide-open. Thankfully, I had a nice telephoto lens with me; they’re a short distance from the road, and on the day when I took this photo the ground was getting pretty soft (and muddy) already!

Cab in the field

I was roaming around and spotted the remnants of this old car immersed in the snow. I got to tread through some pretty deep snow to get to it. The funny thing is, I think I saw the remnants of some windblown footprints on a path almost identical to mine!

Yeah, I’m gonna get it running someday

I’ve been by this car a couple of times, but before long it might be hard to even determine that it’s there! It used to be red. Now it’s obscu-red by the bushes which have overtaken it.

If I remember correctly, there’s a tractor or other implement in a similar condition nearby. I’ll have to look through my photo library and see if I can find that one as well.

The prettiest truck you’ll ever see

Is it surprising that my wife spotted this while we were bolting down a rural road and I didn’t? I actually had to throw it in reverse to get this shot. That’s quite a load of flowers they’ve got there! It’s certainly a photogenic way to repurpose that old 4×4 in the yard!

Thunderbirds and God’s chicken

We got to spend a little time with some of the Thunderbirds last Friday, the day before the big Fargo Airsho, and it was absolutely fantastic. I’m not a huge fan of being in an airplane myself, but I can watch them fly all day. Then when the opportunity to see a fighter jet in action, well…I’m THERE.

Being fifty feet away from one of these when it spools up and taxis away is incredibly cool. The passenger in this photo was nominated in Fargo to receive a forty minute honor flight. Remember when I said I’m not a huge fan of being in an airplane? In this case, I’d make an exception. I did shoot some video, but I’ll post that another time.

Nice tail, huh? Since there are no weapons on these fighters, I guess one could call this the business end. I just love saying the word: afterburner. (No, not the ZZ Top album.)

One thing that’s kinda neat is seeing rather mundane tools being used to service these jets. They get a lot of attention. The crew that keeps these in tip-top condition is enormous. The support package for the Thunderbirds is large, and with the level of precision they require it has to be.

After hanging out for an hour or so, it was time to visit the Fargo Air Museum. That may have to be another post, as there was a lot of cool stuff there.

Oh, one other notable event on this trip: I tried Chik-Fil-A for the first time. Oh my goodness. Now I see what all the fuss is about. I can’t stop thinking about that Spicy Chicken Deluxe. We need to have one of those here, ASAP.

Mercury on a hill

If you travel down I-94 past the exits to Hebron, and are looking circumspectly instead of daydreaming or cautiously eyeing your phone, you might notice this car perched atop a hill north of the highway. It’s somewhat distant, but easy to pick out once you’ve noticed it before. Ever the curious type, I had to investigate.

There she is, a 1958 or 1959 Mercury Monterey. It’s a unique looking car, and I’m sure there’s a unique explanation for how it got up here.

I must admit I’m not into old cars much at all; however, when they’re as photogenic as this one, I’ll definitely take my time appreciating them. I’d flown up here just as the sky was getting some nice color.

Then, as it does nightly, the sun darted over the horizon. Well, it was cool while it lasted. Something tells me that this Mercury isn’t going anywhere, at least not any time soon. Meanwhile it has a fantastic view of the valley below.