Valve job

I noticed something really cool while taking photos for the owner of a farmstead northwest of the Bismarck-Mandan area. Obviously it was a beautiful day, as you can tell from the green pasture and blue sky above.

This is an inventive way to block the door of the shop. The hasp doesn’t quite line up okay, but by grabbing a spare valve and dropping it into place, it’s easy to keep things closed.

I love the ingenuity of rural North Dakota.

One for the bucket list

I spotted this old farmhouse while out roaming a couple years ago, and was curious about it (naturally)…but, since there were cattle on the land, I wasn’t about to try getting any closer (including by air). I always planned on swinging by again to try getting a better look, but I had no idea when that might be.

Fast forward to Spring 2019 (Did we have a spring? I may have missed it.) – I was poking around south of Bismarck-Mandan, and figured I’d try my luck despite the wind. Thankfully, I was able to fly around a little bit during a lull in the stiff breeze.

This house sits on a hill, providing a nice angle from above. It looks like at least one addition was built at some point.

The funny thing is, due to the wide angle of the drone camera, I kinda like my original photo, shot from the road with a telephoto lens. It gets the water in there better, as well as those lovely Morton County hills.

I’m told that this house may not remain much longer, so I’m glad I was able to investigate a bit – at least enough to satisfy my curiosity. There’s a growing list of sites for which I was too late, and a comparable number of sites which have disappeared since I photographed them.

Picked clean

This windmill southwest of the Bismarck-Mandan area doesn’t have much left but a skeleton. It sure is parked in a scenic location, however!

People make such a big deal about the Badlands, but if you haven’t roamed around southern Morton County you may not know that we have landscapes every bit as beautiful right in our midst. Those colorful hills and dramatic, eroded bluffs abound right in our own backyard.

Resurrection Morning

 

 

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Romans 5:8-19)

While Christmas is such a special time, the coming of the Messiah who was to save us from our sins, Easter is where Jesus Christ’s work was done. I think this holiday, when we commemorate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior, is seldom given the importance it merits. This one particular event reconciled God and sinners…what could be greater than that?

Prior to Christ’s coming, the world was bound by God’s law. The Bible says that if a person transgresses the law in one point, he’s guilty of the whole law. Those are some pretty impossible commandments for a person to live by without breaking, aren’t they? Well, that’s kind of the point.

The people of Israel had to atone for their sins by giving blood sacrifices in the temple. They were told to sacrifice animals “without spot” or blemish by the law of Moses. That is, they had to sacrifice their best. The same thing applies to Jesus; we’re all sinners, so only a perfect sacrifice could be made on our behalf. Since there is “none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10) there was no one able to make that sacrifice…until God sent his only begotten Son to die on our behalf. As Peter wrote:

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (I Peter 1:18-21)

Now you know why they refer to Jesus as “the Lamb of God.”

This comes back to the sad mistake of people trying to work their way to heaven by doing good works or following sacraments, or hoping that their good works outweigh their bad and somehow tip some sort of spiritual balance to make them “mostly good” and earn them a place in heaven some day. Neither of those things are outlined in God’s plan for salvation. Only the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross could pay the penalty for our sins.

This one time offering on our behalf has made a way for God and each sinner to be reconciled:

By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:10-14)

Notice: doing any sort of ritualistic sacrifice can never take the place of what Jesus did, nor is there any need to perform that sacrifice again. The act performed on the cross stands not only as sufficient for all our sin, but as the only sacrifice capable of making atonement for us. No Saturday afternoon wafer required.

Things changed between God and man that day. Previously, people were not able to approach God in the temple; only a priest who had made atonement for his sins could do so. The holiest place in the temple was separated by a veil, so that not just anyone could approach God. When Jesus died, the veil of the temple was “rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38). There goes the priesthood, and the separation between God and men. An everlasting sacrifice was made by Jesus; no further sacrifice on the altar of the temple was necessary (or sufficient).

So now it’s up to each person to approach God on his/her own, in prayer. Jesus told his disciples, God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24 Rather than perform a physical ritual through a priest, it is now up to each person to address God personally, spiritually, through prayer.

Look at the people who were saved in the New Testament after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. They simply believed in Him and in his death, burial, and resurrection. The very same things we commemorate this Easter weekend. They didn’t need absolution from a man; they didn’t need membership in a particular church; and they didn’t need to do it every Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. They simply acknowledged that they were sinners and put their faith in Jesus to save them. All that is required for eternal life in Heaven is that belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and acceptance that he died and rose again to save us sinners.

I could use a lot of keywords here as they appear in gospel tracts and literature, but I choose not to. Rather, I choose to just use my own words, because this message comes straight from my heart.

If you’ve never placed your trust in the sacrifice the Lord Jesus Christ made on your behalf, I urge you to do so today. It’s not some fancy ritual; rather, it’s the act of a sinner getting his heart right with God, talking to Him one-to-one in prayer as a child to a father. It’s a beautiful thing, and you’ll see Him someday in heaven.

If you live in Bismarck-Mandan, you are very statistically likely to attend church at least semi-regularly. Even if your attendance is spotty at best, today’s likely one of the days you do attend. But how many people, churchgoing and otherwise, realize the importance of this day?

Just like anything you possess, your soul has an owner’s manual: the Bible. If you haven’t read the owner’s manual, you don’t know how to fulfill God’s plan in you. And that plan was made ready on Easter.

I grew up Catholic, taught by wonderful parents to love and respect the Lord from the very beginning. In catechism we were taught that we had to rely on good deeds, performing sacraments and that sort of thing, yet could not know how to get to Heaven. But the theme of the entire Bible is that God gives us a way to return to him, repenting of our sins and confessing our belief in the sacrifice he made for us. That’s not just a few verses plucked out here and there to suit the message Christians want to hear. It is everywhere, in the Old and New Testaments.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9)

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, ye rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
(I Timothy 2:5-6)

Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
(Luke 24:45-47)

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (I Corinthians 15: 1-5,21-22)

People everywhere are trying to earn their way to heaven and work their way there. We are unable to do this. The Bible says that there are “none righteous, no, not one.” We’re all sinners. And there is one way to true life: repentance and faith in Jesus.

What did Paul, the apostle to the non-Jews, write to the church in Rome?

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
(Romans 10:8-13)

That’s it. That’s how you are redeemed and have a new heart, a new life, and eternal life that no one can take from you. If you’re going to church and don’t believe the above, you might as well not go at all. Because if you pick and choose the parts of Christianity you want to believe, then you might as well throw the whole thing out. That’s not for you to choose.

So if you want the truth, pick up the King James Bible and read it. All of it. You’ll be surprised at the continuity of it and the things that you never knew were in there (and the things that are NOT in there!). If you don’t put your faith in the Bible, you have no reason to be part of a church that claims to profess Jesus, regardless of its denomination.

The Bible is very clear: to be a Christian means to believe by faith that you are a sinner and that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and that he died on the cross for your sins, and he rose again to fulfill the prophecies of the Bible. Ask God to apply that price that Jesus paid on your behalf. That’s it! The Bible is about faith and personal trust in God from the beginning all the way to the end.

Do the research. Find out for yourself what God’s word really means, don’t just take it for granted by hearsay or tradition. And trust in Christ this Easter day, and it truly will be a resurrection morning!

11 years before the Enchanted Highway? Geese in Flight

Articles like the one pictured above have indicated a resolution over whether or not a giant metalwork along I-94, erected in 2001, can stand and be accessible to the public. I had to include a screenshot of the article above because it pictures the atrocious misspelling of the words “temporarily” or “enchanted” – the latter being an especially important word in this case. I make my share of typographical errors as well, probably even within this post, and usually while pointing out someone else’s typos. But I feel compelled to point out that “enchanted” might be one of two words they’d really want to get right.

An astute person commenting on Facebook pointed out that an ornament like this actually appeared in the 1990 film Edward Scissorhands, so I had to look back in my collection to be sure. Yep…there it is. That made me even more curious, so I had to hit “the Google” for a minute.

A quick search for “geese sunburst wall ornament” produced a ton of results. That was a surprise. Apparently this design has been out there in various forms for a long, long time in a surprising number of permutations.

I’m not going to accuse “Geese in Flight” of being an act of plagiarism; more likely it may be an homage to such ornaments, which have apparently graced many a living room over the years. Personally, I think it’s an eyesore…but I’ve always been under the impression that it’s an original eyesore. Apparently not, since it’s been gracing living rooms since the twentieth century. One learns something new every day!

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…