TEN YEARS. Still missing Wade.


I miss Gentleman Wade Westin, a man who personified the term for which he was known. Fond memories of Sunday nights at the Chinese restaurant, or ribbing him about being the world’s nicest guy, or watching him on stage in the Medora Musical. He passed away four years ago today. It was an absolute privilege to have been his friend.

I met Wade when he joined our production staff at KFYR-TV back in the 1990s; since then I’ve had many noteworthy memories, even though our opportunities to see each other grew farther and farther apart. Guys get busy, you know…that’s just how it goes. I wish it wasn’t so. A while before his passing, Wade and I met up at Taco del Mar and chatted it up about what we’ve been up to, fatherhood, and that kind of thing. We even talked about a possible project we could collaborate on, an idea I relished. That’s the last time I got to spend time with Wade.

When we worked at KFYR-TV together we did a commercial for a furniture or mattress store, one where Wade played a guy who snuggled in under the covers of a comfy new mattress. It took a while for the nickname “Snuggly” to wear off. I had a printout of that shot somewhere in my souvenir box, but in my search for it tonight I came up empty handed. Bummer.

The photo above was from the Medora Musical on my honeymoon trip with my wife. I’d booked front row center tickets of course, planning a Medora weekend on our way back from a week in the middle of nowhere back in my beloved Rocky Mountains. We drove past the turn to Wade’s home near Grenora, ND and it prompted me to call his cell phone and say hi. When he heard we were coming, he arranged the VIP treatment and a backstage tour for us, and we got to chat with him and his family briefly before he left to prepare for the night’s show. He then congratulated us during the show. That’s just the kind hearted, generous guy that Wade’s friends will all remember.

We used to hit the China Wok restaurant in Mandan on Sunday evenings, striking a friendship with the owners over time. When their visas came up for renewal, Wade took it upon himself to get his friends from the Sunday night dinners to sign testimonials to aid in their renewals.

It’s a shocker to have a friend and fellow family man snatched away so suddenly and so early. Of course one tries to make sense of it, but there’s no sense to be had. What we can do is take comfort in the message from his CaringBridge page: “Thank you for your love, support and prayers. Wade is at peace with God His Father and Jesus His Savior in the healing presence of the Holy Spirit.” The Bible talks about a peace that passes all understanding…I pray for that peace for his family and everybody who misses Gentleman Wade.

I have a copy of a TV commercial Wade did for KNDX (Channel 26) back when they first went on the air. It was a “dance contest” making fun of contestants with the numbers of other local TV channels. It features Wade being Wade. I attached a brief tribute at the end. It isn’t much, but it’s a token of my respect for a friend. The music is a portion of “In the Sweet By and By” performed by my friend Sarah.

I know there are lots of people out there who are touched by Wade’s passing as they were by his personality. Hopefully this will trigger some of your best memories as well.

No more tuning in

I don’t go in old buildings when I find them. That’s a personal rule. I’ve only ever made one exception to that, and I’m not doing it again. I do it for a couple of reasons: safety and respect. So when it comes to this photo, I can assure you that I poked my camera through a window while standing outside, and did not venture into the house itself.

This set comes from an era of small, rounded screens; tubes and dials; and only a few analog channels. It also comes from an era of plaster walls, solid wood doors, and hardwood floors. Progress comes with good and bad, I suppose.

St. Petri Ruins

These are the remnants of St. Petri Church, nestled in northern Kidder County. I never did get up there in time to see it, although I’m sure it was a fantastic little church. Google Earth imagery shows it intact in 2013, but the next pass in 2017 shows it leveled. I’m not sure what happened to it…I’ll have to ask around.

Sadly, the little church lies in a heap along a gravel road, with its cemetery nearby. I knew that the building had fallen before coming up here, but I still had to see for myself.

The walls are laid over and/or strewn about, the roof partially crushed, and there’s no more little square steeple anymore, either.

The grounds look well maintained. I didn’t have time to check the dates on any of the markers in the cemetery to see how recently anyone has been buried here.

It’s such a shame that this church had to meet such a demise. It looks like a storm of some sort probably hit it – microburst, or – dare I say it – a small tornado?

It’s strange, seeing the walls laid flat like this. It really does look like a mighty wind came along and simply toppled the structure.

Here’s one of the walls. You can see the outline of the foundation as well.

There was a little outbuilding to the west, but that hasn’t survived, either.

There are lakes all around this area, and it’s really pretty. This nice, green grass is something we won’t be seeing for a while; as I write this, there’s an arctic cold mass heading our way which is expected to last for a little while. But at least we don’t have tick or mosquito problems right now!

This isn’t the only little church I’ve missed out on; the resources I use to find these have shown me plenty of plots where a church obviously stood at one time, but now is gone. And just as I’d been told about one northeast of here last fall, I received another email to tell me that it had just burned. These landmarks are vanishing quickly, and I wish I had the gas money to roam around and find them all before it’s too late.

Running out of angles

I’ve photographed this building from all over the place, including the air, and I’ve taken photos while hanging off of its roof on multiple occasions. So I struggle with trying to find something different each year. I don’t think I’ve tried this one, so it seems like a suitable way to ring in the new year.

My top 18 of ’18

I suppose it’s time to pause and reflect on “last year”, so let’s look at some of my favorite photos from 2018. I haven’t been able to get out with my cameras lately, and it’s driven me absolutely nuts, but I did actually produce hundreds of photos I like during the year. I posted 148 of them on my blog, the rest being part of projects I’m still working on. Here we go:

My beautiful bride actually took this one with her cell phone. We love lighting up them windows on the capitol tower, and the Bison gave us a grand reason to do so!

I took this photo (and a 360 panorama of it, if you check my Facebook page) down by Hazelton. It’s gone now…razed later in the spring.

We had a brief period where there was a ton of frost each morning, so I was able to work the Bismarck-Mandan area pretty hard and grab a variety of frost photos. This is among my favorites.

Every now and then I even nab a pretty decent shot on my lunch break! This was one more from the frost collection.

This is one of Mandan’s best kept secrets. I’ve lived in the Bismarck-Mandan area on and off for forty years and didn’t know it was hiding right here!

Then there are these ice chunks, left behind by ice fishermen, on Harmon Lake. Combined with just the right North Dakota sky, of course…

I did manage to do a fair bit of flying this year, which is the best way to get shots of barns like this one. That’s quite a lean. I’ll need to revisit it and see how it looks a year later. Hopefully it still stands.

The old Berlin Baptist Church northeast of Ashley was purchased by a private party and was in the process of being dismantled when I stopped by. I don’t know if the work was completed over the summer. Too bad…this looks like it was a breathtaking building before. Right on the lake, too.

I got soaked walking out to this shot, but at least I came back without a single tick crawling on me, despite it being the peak of the season.

Hootie the owl
I had big plans for a relationship with Hootie, the young owl who took up residency in my friends’ tree. Sadly, I never saw him again after the day this was taken. They sold the house and moved away, and Hootie moved on as well.

If you’ve followed this blog at all in the past, you know that I have had a thing for windmills. Not as much in 2018, but I did get this shot. I had my oldest boy with me along with the camera I bought for him to help me on these trips.

I spotted this while flying around northeast of town. You’d never know it was there if looking from the ground. And the sun and clouds decided to play along.

I’m not sure if this church is still holding regular services, but it is being maintained. And I loved the colors in the steeple – they were a wonderful suprise.

Another product of flight. I’m not sure, but I think I was slightly closer to Montana than I was to Canada…but I was in the extreme northwestern part of our great state when I discovered this guy. I have some other wild photos from this area that I’ll post as part of another project someday.

Featured recently from a different angle, this is one of my favorite barns of 2018. I spotted it in east-central North Dakota while working my way from Harvey to Fargo using “the creative route”. I love to roam, after all.

I missed my chance to shoot this windmill west of Harmon Lake in the way I’d always wanted; neighborhoods have sprung up on all sides, and the farmstead it sits upon has been dismantled. But I did get this westward angle just after sunset, and that’ll have to do. So many of these opportunities are disappearing.

This little house – I know it looks like a barn, but it’s not – sits near Danzig Dam. I didn’t have much time to investigate, just enough to dash out there, fly around a little bit, and get home in time for some family stuff. I’m glad I found it.

This house sits northeast of town quite a ways, and was something I’d been hunting for quite a while after seeing a historical photo of it. I have many angles of it, and most feature its most distinctive feature: the overhand above the remains of the porch. This isn’t necessarily my favorite, but it demonstrates what made this house catch my eye. I’ll be going back here…I ran out of sunlight when I arrived this fall, and the sunset began shortly after I pulled up.

So that’s it: if I had to pick eighteen of my favorites, I think this is how I’d roll. I have so many more that I’d love to shoehorn in, including different angles of the ones already featured above, but I’ll try to trickle those out as future blog posts in the future. Here’s to 2019, may it be even more productive from a photography standpoint than last year! If I can wrangle more gas money, I think we’ll be set. I have big plans…

Red

I stumbled upon this barn earlier this summer, and was thrilled to find it. What a unique architecture! At least I hadn’t seen one like it. And it had a great shade of red remaining in places.

If it looks familiar, it’s because I posted this angle a while back. Both are from a flight over the area, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the find.


I haven’t been able to get out with either aircraft or camera lately, but I’m hoping to venture out soon! All my friends are posting cool stuff, and it’s driving me absolutely nuts.

Got a bit of an overbite there

I’d seen a photo of this home posted online and knew I had to find it.  A lot of Google hunting based on a description with the posted photo gave me what I needed to load up the truck and venture off to the northeast.  I marked six or seven spots that looked promising from space, then proceeded to hunt them all down.  This was the last spot on my list, and it didn’t disappoint.

 

I’m sure you spotted the same feature about this house that I did: the overhang of the upper floor, no longer supported by columns to the deck below.  I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before this collapses, but for now it has a great visage.

 

Before long, the sun departed behind me and I had to head home and pressure wash a LOT of sticky mud from my truck.  But this home holds a lot of promise, so you can be sure I plan to check in on it from time to time.

It always comes back to this

I haven’t been able to get out with my personal cameras for fun in quite a while, but I do still have plenty of photos to post.  It’s just a matter of combing through them, another activity for which I have little time to do.  But here we are.

Given my affinity for windmills, I figured this might be a good place to start.

Joe’s garage

Okay, I don’t know if the owner’s name is Joe…but I struggled to come up with a title for this post.

The big question is…what are they trying to prevent from escaping?  All the doors are barricaded from the outside. >gasp<

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!