Waitin’ around pays off

bethel_church_43465-7_hdrI camped out by this former church in Morton County to allow the sunset to do its thing.  A row of storms had just moved through, and I had correctly guessed that the clouds tagging along the tail end of those storms would provide a lot of color to the sunset.  I was correct.  But I wasn’t done just then…


bethel_church_43550Waiting for the sun to go down and the moon to come up gave me the opportunity to capture some different clouds, albeit with stars sprinkled in as well.   To top it all off, my friend Zach and I headed out to a different prairie church, the one I wrote about a couple of days ago.

Starlight steeple

starlight_church_43558I don’t even remember how I located this old church, but it had to do with Google Earth and Garmin Mapsource.  This little church is in the middle of nowhere, not on a main road, surrounded by trees, and absolutely wonderful.  I had another old church to explore at sunset, so this one became a twilight target.


starlight_church_43555It’s a remarkable little building…while not fenced or posted, it looks privately owned.  I didn’t even consider going inside, although looking through the windows showed an intact structure with a choir loft, pews, and everything.  How fortunate the owner must feel!


starlight_steeple_43563After some long exposure shots it was time to head home.  I had a flat tire in my near future, a blowout actually, but I didn’t know it.  Thankfully that waited until I was in city limits, although still on I-94.  That made for a later night than planned, but I’m sure glad I was able to explore this awesome find!

Over the years…the Wilton barn

wilton_barn_4085This barn north of Wilton has been a favorite for photographers as long as I can remember.  Its location is prime for sunrise and sunset photos, it’s not on posted land, it’s easy to get to, and incredibly photogenic.  It’s also on its last legs.  I took this photo in July 2010 as I awaited the sunset.


wilton_barn_4077As you can see from another perspective, this is a beautiful old barn from any angle.  The signs of age were already there, however…note the lean.  This does not bode well.  There was actually a large timber bracing it at this point.


wilton_barn_21173Two years later, in August 2012, the stone had already collapsed and the body of the barn had settled into the ground.  On this dreary, rainy day it looked as if it had given a grand sigh and slumped into place, resigned to its fate.


wilton_barn_30182Almost exactly four years after my original photo, in July 2014, it shows signs of the wood weakening further.  Parts of the wall are falling away and sunlight streams through from one end to the other.


wilton_barn_43404-12_hdrLast weekend, August 2016.  Much of this barn could be best described as “skeletal remains”.  The roof remains intact, but the walls are failing.  The floor looks pretty good, but it no longer has much shelter from the elements.  This may be the swan song for my favorite barn…I fear if I wait another two years, there won’t be much left to compare to that original photo from 2010.

If you’re like me, one of the local photography hobbyists who has fond memories of this old barn, I urge you to head north soon.  Sadly, I don’t think we have much time left with it…but from a photographic standpoint, it’s served us well.


My new favorite Fallen Farm

fallen_farm_43426-8_hdrSo there I was, blazing down a county road in the new truck, trying out the dynamic stability control from time to time (cool!), trying to reach the first of two abandoned prairie churches I wanted to investigate and photograph that evening.  As I dove through a valley I noticed this beautiful old farmstead nestled in the trees along a hill to the east.  Wow!  I just had to stop and shoot a quick shot from the road (I mark them in my hiking GPS for future reference).

As you can see in the background, the sunset was already starting to develop, splashing color across the sky.  I didn’t have time to do this site justice, so I filed it for later and moved on…but I will definitely be taking another look at it in the future.  This breathtaking site has loads of potential!

Oh yes, the photos of the two churches turned out quite nicely.  You’ll see those soon.

Ain’t the first time Native Americans have been tools for white liberals

suckerWith protests in full swing down at Standing Rock against addiction suicide poverty domestic abuse the Dakota Access Pipeline in full swing, I couldn’t help but notice a striking comparison to another situation in which Native Americans allowed themselves to be tools of white liberals.  These groups blow into town with their mobilization machines, get the locals fired up and nudged in a direction, all as tools of useful idiocy for leftists causes…only to be left with a giant sucking sound when those liberals leave as soon as they came once their ends are met.

Hearken back to November 7th, 2006.  South Dakota had an abortion ban on the ballot that day.  I was staying in southwestern South Dakota at a little hole-in-the-wall motel as part of a video crew that was working on a totally unrelated project on the reservation.  Every morning as we gathered for breakfast in the lobby we witnessed scores of out-of-state white liberals with computer printouts, checklists, clipboards, buses, and action plans ready for the day’s work: gathering as many Indians as they could and getting them to the polls to vote against the abortion ban.

While I saw handmade “Abortion is not the Indian way” signs posted occasionally, they were drowned out by the professionally made, slick, bold, Union-Made signs and bumper stickers brought to town by the leftists hacks.  It was apparent that the ban didn’t have a chance, at least not on the res.

I happened to be there the evening of the vote, and as a Christian conservative I had a keen interest in the abortion ban vote – especially so after having considered the well-oiled machine in place to defeat it.  Naturally, the ban was defeated – it had way too much outside influence and tampering aligned against it.  But what was more interesting was the aftermath.

The morning after the vote, those of us there for business other than corralling Native Americans and hauling them to the polls to dutifully vote Democrat still had work to do.  We gathered in the lobby as we’d done daily, but with one difference: the place was empty.  Not one single white liberal even bothered to stay overnight once they’d achieved their objective due to the cooperation of the Native American vote.  Thus the “giant sucking sound” I refer to as these liberals leave a vacuum behind them once they’ve got what they want.

Do you think these anti-abortion folks care one whit about Native Americans?  Nope.  They saw a group prime for exploitation and took advantage of it to achieve their own ends.  The same goes with “EarthJustice” or any of these other “environmental” groups.  They see an opportunity and are more than happy to seize upon it.  They’re busing in protesters, getting everybody all wound up, packing them into an area where even inciting violence is a becoming a real possibility.  But regardless of the aftermath, do you think any of these people will hang around even overnight once this situation comes to a definitive conclusion?  Think again.

Whether the pipeline is stopped or completed, as soon as there’s nothing to gain from rallying the locals and getting them all worked up these activists will be gone so fast it’ll make heads spin.  They’ll move on to the next opportunity to protest, and Standing Rock won’t even be a dot in their rear view mirrors.

If you’re in Standing Rock and you’re opposed to the pipeline, fine.  That’s your right.  I urge you to consider the thousands of miles of pipelines already in place, operating safely, even many of them upstream from your confluence.  Take a reasoned approach to this situation.  But don’t let yourself be fooled by a bunch of limousine liberals who come to town and take advantage of emotion in order to treat you like cattle, a monolithic tool for their own misplaced activism.  They don’t have your best interests in mind, and won’t give a rat’s rear about you or your sacred land once they’re done using you to accomplish what they want.

Worth sleeping in the truck, I’d say

I bought a new truck a few weeks ago.  Well, new to me – I don’t have the money to buy a brand new one, and if I did I still would hate to take that depreciation hit the minute I drive it off the lot, so I always buy cars at least a year old.  Anyway, it’s the most fun four-wheeled vehicle I’ve ever owned, and to prove it I took a 950 mile weekend photo jaunt – Thursday and Friday on my own, and Saturday on a roundabout way to pick up my kids from Bible camp.

After roaming all the way to the South Dakota border (and past it by several feet before dipping back into Best Dakota), I rolled into Medora later than I’d hoped.  It was at least 10:30 local time, and I didn’t feel like setting up a tent only to take it down a few hours later.  My plan was to wake up before sunrise and enter the South Unit of the national park, so the best option seemed to be just sleeping in the truck.  I had already folded the back seats down, so I stacked all my gear on one side, inflated my air mattress on the other (I’d reserved a campsite with electricity), plugged in a cheap little fan I’d bought at Walmart in Dickinson to combat the heat and humidity, and dozed off.

Not only am I pleased to report that I slept like a baby in the new ride, but I also woke up before sunrise without the aid of an alarm.  I let the air out of the mattress, hopped into the front, and entered the park just in time for the sun to come up.  I hiked down to the Little Missouri and got this:

badlands_sunrise_41752-7_hdrSteam on the water, rays streaming from the sun, and loads of color all around.  I couldn’t have started the day better.  Didn’t even have too many mosquitoes at that time of the morning, either!

I made the park loop, but nothing really caught my eye – except some elk you’ll see another time – so it was time to head back to the campground for a shower, into town for some bacon and eggs, then off to roam the North and South Units and the National Grasslands in between.  I’ve been tied up with multiple gigs lately that have involved 12+ hour days, so I haven’t sorted through them all yet…but I have loads of photos to share as time allows.

Over the hill

farm_hill_39989-91_hdrIt’s been a long time since I first spotted this old farmstead with the scenic hill in the background.  A while back I finally was able to get a shot of it, and I forgot to post it here.  As luck would have it, I was able to avoid most of the rain that moved through the area while still capturing some dramatic clouds!

Clouds over St. Vincent’s

st_vincents_church_40177-9_hdrI actually took this photo a month ago while roaming Morton County.  I was on my way back into town and found myself northwest of Mandan, so I decided to stop over and catch some shots of this church before bouncing down a section line.  The clouds were pretty remarkable, giving an excellent background to this place of worship.


st_vincents_church_40204-6_hdrI’d had a fruitful day with the camera, but when I had the combination of this church and this sky to play with, this was one of the most fun stops of my entire day!

And all you had up on blocks is that Pinto wagon

rail_cars_41600Do it bigger on the farm.  Instead of just having an old car on blocks in the front yard, why not have a couple of rail cars?  I spotted this along a rural road so far down in the southwest corner of the state that I actually found myself into “the other Dakota” for a few feet.  Although, to be fair, these cars are not in disrepair and appear to serve a very utilitarian purpose.

I wonder how they got there?  They look hard to move once they’re off the rails.