Some of my favorite windmill photos ever, and that’s saying a lot

After getting way too deep into a maintenance project on my ATV and successfully reassembling it with no leftover parts, I decided to bolt up to a friend’s farm and try to catch a sunset.  The sky the evening before had been awash in beautiful purples and reds, which I witnessed while riding one of the motorcycles around the outskirts of town.  I figured there was a decent chance of some nice colors on this night, too.  I wasn’t disappointed.

 

The reasonI chose to dash to this farm was the fact that the head of the windmill looked to have sustained some damage, and I wanted to photograph it before it got worse.  I’d had this farm in my GPS literally for years, but never actually asked if I could stop by some time.  I’m glad I picked this week to do it!

 

I got a little closer for this shot, but the wind was starting to pick up and cause all kinds of turbulence near the head of the windmill.  Things were starting to get rowdy up there, so I decided to play it safe and not fly any closer.

This was a fantastic photo trip!  The timing was right, I got to reconnect with a guy who I haven’t been able to chat with in a long time, the skies were good, and the windmill subject has unique character.  It will be repaired in the near future, too.  That’sgoodnews  ; too many of these old windmills that I’ve photograhed over the years are now gone.  I’m glad someone else sees their value and wants to preserve (and photograph) them!

Some settling may occur

I’ve been wanting a photo of this old barn along Highway 36 for quite some time, and last weekend I was able to take the opportunity.  I was buzzing around in the area and came upon this site, and had just enough time to take a few photos before jetting to the next location according to my timetable.

I had spent some time in Wilton but, due to my schedule, I did not check on a more famous falling barn: the one northwest of town along Highway 83.  I’ll get back to that one another time.

“Some days, it’s better to be lucky than good”

So I’d taken my youngest kiddo out for ice cream as a reward for a job well done, and didn’t want him to come home still eating it or I’d have some jealousy on the home front.  So we went for a short drive.  I ended up out of town just a bit and noticed the developing sunset.  I quickly whipped into an approach on the side of the road, stepped out, and nabbed this shot.  I hadn’t put any planning into it, just had my camera handy and thought I’d give it a whirl.  I didn’t see the purple flowers when I pulled over, they were a pleasant surprise when I stepped down out of the truck.  Everything just fell into place.

One of our former producers I worked with on various TV sports crews (NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, OLN, Shotime, I’ve worked for ’em all at one point) used to have a saying, the very one that comprises the title of this post.  Sometimes you just luck out in a way that could be mistaken for talent, preparation, or both, and you just roll with it.  Check this out:

That wasn’t one of our shows, but it would definitely evoke a “lucky than good” reference.  In the case of tonight’s photo, God made the sunset and I happened to stumble upon it with my boy at just the right time, in just the right place.  You know, maybe it wasn’t luck at all.

That house on the hill

If you’re trying to figure out a music-lyric reference for the title of this post, I have to admit it exists.  The phrase jumped into my subconscious from Fleetwood Mac’s “Big Love”.  Wow.  That one was buried deep.

 

This little farm sits on a hill overlooking a pretty darn rural vista.  No power lines.  None of those horrible subsidy-sucking wind turbines. Even the road is a long, long ways away.  Perfect, as far as I’m concerned.  And what a beautiful sunny day for a photo!

Blast from North Dakota’s stereoscopic past

It all started when I started going through a box of old toys and things that my mom dropped off at the house.  Most of it was old stuff that was in disrepair or otherwise unusable (such as an old Commodore 64 that I can emulate on my PC), and ended up being discarded.  The two items above, however, caught my eye.  Both eyes, actually.

One of them had a disc in it (they were called “reels”), but I didn’t find any other reels.  One of my favorites as a little kid was one about dinosaurs, and I’d sure love to find that one again for old time’s sake.  But I started thinking about this vintage technology and couldn’t help but wonder…are there any North Dakota-related View-Master reels?

It didn’t take long on eBay before I discovered a set of reels from 1956, and of course I had to have them.

 

This arrived shortly after I fervently clicked Buy It Now – a new, unopened 1956 set of three View-Master slides portraying North Dakota tourist attractions!

 

The pack contained three reels, an insert describing the the photos portrayed, and a couple of order forms for other Sawyer products.  Sawyer invented the View-Master, and is no longer in business.  The company’s View-Master division has traded hands a few times.

 

These are the three reels in their protective sleeves.  Even though the paper package has never been opened, the film slides in the reels have a slight bubbling to them.  I’m guessing they’re some sort of acetate film medium that does this sort of thing after sixty years.

 

The reels are in pretty good shape, although they do have some dust and that sort of thing.  Parts of the reels are slightly bubbled as if they have pimples, and there was some powder in the sleeves, but otherwise they’re totally fine.

Naturally we threw them into a film scanner, although it took some rigging.  Want to see some of my favorites?

 

Here’s the capitol building, long before the Judicial Wing was constructed (or probably even conceived).  I like the water tower on the east side.  Who knew there were trees on the mall, my favorite frisbee spot?

 

Here’s an entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  I may try to find this monument and take a current photo.  A friend of mine recently did that with the tree at the nearby entrance to the campground west of Medora, a tree which appeared in a family photo from his childhood.

 

Here’s a dam photo.  I was just up at the tail race with my kids a week or so ago, and the water was nowhere near this high.  I just looked at the photos from that day and I guess it was closer than I thought, but this is still a high level.  Remember, the dam was only officially completed in the early 1950s and didn’t begin its work as a hydroelectric power plant until 1956 or even 1960, depending on which source you consult.

 

Back to the capitol.  The Pioneer Family monument no longer has the fence around it, and the marble posts are long gone.  I have a postcard of this somewhere as well.  Again, I love the water tower.

 

It wouldn’t be North Dakota without a farming photo or two.  The harvesting equipment of today is significantly larger, and of course there’s the GPS and air conditioning.

 

Here’s another example of things being bigger now: lignite coal mining equipment.  The draglines I’ve done video and photo work on north of here weigh in at up to thirteen million pounds (13,000,000)!  The coal haulers have a 160 ton or greater capacity, too.

 

Here’s the front of the insert.   Click on the photo for a full size (ie, legible) version.

 

And, of course, the back.  Click for the readable size image.

 

And, because I can’t change who I am, I spotted a typo.  I think maybe someone had Fargo on the brain when they wrote the section about “Tiago”.  Hey, at least they didn’t call us South Dakota!

 

I may post some additional images from these reels down the road, we’ll see.  We only scanned one of each image, it might be interesting to take a crack at scanning both.  What am I talking about?  Well, the View-Master is stereoscopic, meaning that the creators of these reels took photos with two cameras spaced slightly apart.  For each image you see, there’s a left one and a right one.  So you get 3D depth perception as you do in real life.  It’s wonderful.  But I currently lack the ambition to scan both perspectives of each of these images and don’t really have a plan for how I’d combine them into a 3D-viewable digital image anyway.

Certainly some of you have enjoyed View-Master reels?  Feel nostalgic yet?

Mangled

This windmill caught my attention while I was out roaming recently, and – unlike many of the windmills I encounter – it was actually near the road so I could quickly get a nice photo of it.  It seems these things are vanishing at a quickening pace; even ol’ standbys are falling to the ravages of time and North Dakota weather.

 

This one actually sits in a yard along with an old farmstead.  There are cattle on the land, which is probably why the lawn appears to be mowed.  It’s sad to see another casualty of time here, but fascinating nonetheless.

Reflections at church

This was my destination last Friday as I meandered through the countryside, one of two destinations I’d planned to visit after taking off work a little early.  My wife teased me, saying that I would be home much later than the “just a couple of hours” that I estimated.  She was right…I got into position and, seeing the sky to the west developing in a way that was sure to provide a colorful splash at sunset, I couldn’t resist.  I put out my camping chair, got my gear ready, and waited.  I was not disappointed.  I even got the right angle to catch the sunset reflecting off the windows!

 

As for the other angle, you can see that it was a great sunset all around.  I was going for the color in the east rather than the blazing sunset in the west, but they both have their appeal.  I couldn’t help but try to catch the sun through the steeple.

 

As far as that “just a couple of hours” thing – well, this image says it all.  I’m thankful to have a gracious and patient wife.  Being married to me should make her eligible for some sort of lifetime achievement award!

One for the road – okay, two

seeding_46669I got some GOOD photos on Friday, taking off work a little early and going roaming in the countryside. More on those later. But on my way home, having thankfully programmed an escape route into my GPS, I came upon these guys and had to stop and grab a quick shot of one of the operators.

 

seeding_46682I’m not a fan of wind turbines, either as a heavily subsidized energy source or as the nemeses of the landscape photographer…but in this case, I thought they added a little je ne sais quoi to the shot.  I snapped a few and then proceeded to I-94 to jet home.

And the sound of air horns was heard by all

touch-a-truck_46115-7Last weekend Main Street in Mandan was home to Touch a Truck, put on by the Mandan Progress Association.  If you were coming into Mandan from the east and didn’t know what the heck the DOT sign flashing “TOUCH TRUCKS AHEAD” meant, your confusion probably only lasted a moment until you saw all the crane booms up ahead.

 

touch-a-truck_45992-4There were all kinds of trucks and various other equipment, with the cranes being the most prominent.  There were road striping trucks, sanitation trucks, bucket trucks, the works.

 

touch-a-truck_45759Of course, one doesn’t have to be a piece of heavy equipment or possess hydraulics with super powers to be an awesome truck.  The Bookmobile was there, too.  And it looked like it was getting a lot of attention from the kids.

 

_MG_45749See the giant crane?  Well, each of the four hydraulic cylinders holding it in the air is fed by a trio of the tiny little metal elbows you can see me pointing at on the left.  Crazy.

 

touch-a-truck_46049My favorite thing about the cranes, how they hoist Old Glory.  The colors were on display and waving in the breeze.

 

touch-a-truck_45971-3Tractors and other big equipment was present as well.  They may not have air horns like some of the other trucks, but they have plenty of stuff to climb on and buttons to push.

 

touch-a-truck_45980-2  Then there were the mini excavators, which were a hit.  I think there was a line to see them at one point.

 

touch-a-truck_45968-70This is only a drill. There, I did it.  You can’t stop me.  My kids don’t think I’m funny either.

 

touch-a-truck_45997Balloon animals were available, or in the case of my kids balloon swords.  Guess how long those lasted before popping in battle.  En garde!

 

_MG_45784Another attraction that amounts to playing in the box the toy came in:  These sections of conduit were a hit with the kids, who climbed in and promptly insisted their parents roll them around on the grass.  Yes, I did it too…rolling, not climbing inside.

 

touch-a-truck_46069-71These guys are heroes every time I place an order with B&H or Amazon.com.  Note the flag in the background.

 

touch-a-truck_46075-7I never get tired of shots like this.  The weather was perfect, the skies cleared enough to give me a sunburn by the end of the day, and the breeze kept everything comfortable and the flags waving.

 

touch-a-truck_45818-20One time my kids saw me running camera for a monster truck show, getting closeups of giant trucks doing wheelies and burnouts.  The next day my wife took them to watch me on a rooftop, shooting video and stills of a helicopter doing touch-n-go’s on a helipad.  When I was tucking them in, I asked if they thought their Daddy had a pretty cool job.  “Yeah,” was the reply, “But did you know that Uncle [my brother-in-law] is a mailman?”  He’d subbed in our neighborhood and let them walk his route with him for a bit, totally stealing my thunder.

 

touch-a-truck_45947-9It’s a small crane, but the kids got to operate it…lifting and moving a small load using the tethered controller.

 

touch-a-truck_45824-6This gives a whole new meaning to the term “Boom town”, doesn’t it?  I just made that up right now as I’m typing.  Seriously.

 

touch-a-truck_45959-61I bet I could set off these scales nowadays…I need to bike more and shovel less food into my head.  But when I keep coming up with things like blueberry ice cream float recipes, that isn’t very easy.  Actually, these scales did weigh my kids, so they don’t just work for heavy things.

 

touch-a-truck_45863-5This was a fantastic event, with lots of fun for kids and big kids.  I sure hope they do this again next year!  I may bring ear plugs next time, though, because they let the kids tug the air horns in the trucks.  It was a wonderful cacophony, don’t get me wrong, but they get pretty loud!