Just chillin’

My boy actually spotted this hawk as we zipped by at highway speed. As he described what he saw, I decided to turn around at the next opportunity and drive past again, this time slowly since there was no traffic around. He seemed to be favoring his wing, as though injured.

I don’t know…I’ve photographed injured hawks before, and this one just didn’t have the same posture. So I decided to take a closer look and try to determine what was up with this unusual (for a hawk) pose.

It was then, as is common for all raptors in the presence of my camera, that he hopped right up in a manner all too spry for a bird with a serious injury, then took flight as if everything was completely normal.

I don’t know why he was hanging out that way, but it certainly was weird. Maybe he’d seen so many farmers go by with their arm out the window, and thought he’d try it out for himself? I guess I’ll never know.

The Greg trifecta

One of my many long-standing traditions is to name the bunny on our property, even when I lived downtown, Greg. This is an homage to the irreverent yet hilarious Greg the Bunny, the main character on a short-lived FOX television show. Well, I discovered a new bunny last night, in an unlikely place in front of our house, and therefore dubbed him Greg. I snapped his photo from the front door before Greg, as bunnies often do, bolted around to the back of the house.

Later in the evening, I went around back and discovered that I now had two Gregs in the backyard, as another one crept out of the cattails along the water behind our property. Two for the price of one.

Later still, I saw even a third Greg munching on my lawn. How do I know these are all unique Gregs? Good question. They were all three in the yard at the same time. I wish they’d mow it for me, instead of just chewing on it a little at a time! Well, they only gave me a brief moment for some photos before all three scampered into the cattails and vanished. Presumably not into the water, but along the dry stretch to wherever it is they must be burrowing.

One more for the road

I ran out of time on a recent photo trip, losing my race with the sun toward my last objective. I had a spot in western North Dakota I would have liked to reach at sunset, but I found so much good stuff along the way that I simply ran out of time. No worries…this is one of the unexpected stops I made along the way, and it ended up being my last photo location of the day. You can see how low the sun is already.

I tried to make it as far west as I could anyway, since I needed to fuel in Bowman for the trip home, but as I scrubbed the bugs off my windshield and listened to the gas pump churning away I made the decision to call it a day and head back to base. With all the opportunities I had to wield my cameras and drone that day, I was quite satisfied.

Oh my goodness, those clouds

I was on my way up Highway 3 on Saturday, and couldn’t believe the wild, wispy clouds before me. As luck would have it, I was about to zip past an old one-room schoolhouse owned by a dear friend of mine. Instead I pulled in and set about trying to capture the amazing sky.

The clouds looked like wraiths darting across the northern sky, and I’m thrilled to say I was in the right place at the right time. I wish I’d had a lens wide enough to capture it all, although I doubt such a lens even exists.

There is panorama mode, however, and even though it isn’t perfect it will certainly do in a pinch. Even vertically, as it turns out.

As I ventured further north, I continued to run into dramatic skies to accentuate some of my favorite summer North Dakota landscapes. I’ve photographed much of the scenery along and around Highway 3, and it never disappoints.

I was on a mission, though, and a firm timetable, so I had to continue blazing northward. The wispy clouds didn’t last the entire time, but for the best part of them I was right where I needed to be. Thanking the Lord for showing me such an amazing sight, I ventured on and arrived at my destination precisely as scheduled.

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.

Back on its haunches

A friend from Pensacola and I recently took a trip up to Arena to check on the old church which has been the anchor of the town’s remains. While it still stands, technically, I think a more accurate term would be that it sits.

The concrete floor has finally given way, and the wooden braces have punched through. That allowed the entire building to shift backwards, which I believe is the only reason it’s still precariously upright.

As you can see here, the fact that the church pivoted back and onto the dirt behind the back wall is what has kept it upright after the failure of its supports.

Sadly, that’s also what is tearing this building in half. The front part of the church is separating due to the shift in the building and the lack of support beneath the area where the two parts join.

The front of the church is still being propped up by what’s left of the cinder block wall, but that isn’t going to last much longer.

The front of the church has also pulled away from the steps.

The steps themselves have begun to pull apart as well.

The back of the church looks okay at first glance, but you can see the extent of the damage at the front as the two parts of the structure are separated even further on the east side.

Naturally the chimney was an early causalty. I took this photo a long time ago.

So, sunset is on the way for this old church. It’s one of my favorite local photo spots, and it’s sad to see it go. Often when a building gets to this state of disrepair and instability, responsible parties destroy it before time does the inevitable. After all, it is unsafe. I’ve tried to stop by periodically to chronicle the demise of this beautiful little church, and I don’t care to imagine the day when it no longer remains.

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.