Waiting by a roadside near you! There's a reason why I usually drive extra cautiously, with one foot on the brake, north of Bismarck on River Road. This particular afternoon I got a look at dozens of the deer which line the route to my favorite stargazing place...and they are many!
Apparently they weren't too put out by a truck approaching them, since this is their stompin' grounds. If you're heading up River Road or Highway 1804, watch out for these deer! Their numbers are very great this year, at least in the meadows northwest of town.
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If you grew up in Mandan, you're likely no stranger to what the kids have affectionately termed "Thrill Hill." I have no idea how long it's been named such, but it already sported that moniker over twenty years ago when I first got my license. Whoa. I just realized I've been driving for over two decades! That must mean I'm................old.
Okay, I'm back. This innocent looking street holds a real "whee" at the end, so it's no surprise that people discovered it and treat it like an amusement ride. It'll put your heart in your throat right quick! This street is a long upward slope, but it drops off pretty good on the other side.
Photographs simply cannot do the backside of this hill justice. Believe me, I tried several angles. The crest of the hill is really nothing remarkable...if you're not sure you're on the real Thrill Hill, you'll think you missed it! Just as that thought crosses your mind, the road drops out from under you. Whee.
The bottom of this photo has snow on the roadway, otherwise you'd see hundreds of scrapes as cars hit the dip at the end of the block. Whether it's for drainage or speed control I don't know; but apparently people are still hitting it with some gusto. Just as the road falling away will bring your heart into your stomach, piling into this dip will drop it back into place!
This post is kinda for the "insiders" who know where Thrill Hill is. You see, I'm not going to tell you...that would be encouraging you to try it, and quite frankly it's dangerous. While it's fun even at legal speeds, for some reason no mere mortal can resist going much faster. I like my readers, I'm certainly not going to send them to their doom! I need you folks.
Before I got my license, I was a passenger in a car that flew (quite literally) over this hill at speeds that would probably have cost the driver his license. Later on in life, my friend Tony and I explored it on our motorcycles and scared ourselves silly - there's not much keeping motorcycles from going airborne, we discovered - and I haven't done anything reckless on it in many, many years. I guess now I think like an adult, a dad, and a homeowner.
So if you want to find it, you're on your own. If you've got your own Thrill Hill stories, I'd love to hear about them.
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The sun caught the exhaust from the Heskett Station power plant just right as I was driving by the other day. They were offline for quite a while last year for updates and maintenance, but they appear to be chugging away as usual nowadays!
With plants like the power station and the refinery downstream pushing warm water into the Missouri River, it's no surprise that parts of the river don't even freeze over. In fact, there are flocks of geese that simply don't migrate; they just stay near the refinery and enjoy the open water year-round. I'm sure that's why the big Tesoro sign at the entry to the refinery has a goose on it.
Power plants are really cool. I've seen the inside of a few, but not Heskett. Time to make some inquiries...
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Do you ever try to picture our city through the eyes of a first time visitor? I do, because it really helps pick out features that we see every day but somehow fail to notice.
It should be obvious from the nature of my photography that I'm big on landscapes and other such features. That's why I was actually startled at the view from State Street and Divide Avenue yesterday. While sitting at a stoplight wondering why the punk in the Civic next to me thought I was interested in a race, I glanced out over the south horizon. We've got hills dotted with snow, the sky was red with the waning sunset...it almost had a southwestern feel to it! Yet there I was, right in the middle of my home town, facing a view of it that I'd never given much consideration.
This area of North Dakota is hardly the smooth expanse of endless prairie that it's thought to be; we have hills, rocks, valleys, and other features that somehow seem to escape mention. I've found a few such places recently and have had a ton of fun poking around therein. It just goes to show that there's plenty about our home that we don't know, it's only a matter of changing your perspective.
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After a breakfast meeting with some of the guys from church, I saw the sun starting to poke up over the horizon. What the heck, I might as well head east a bit and see what it does! This morning it had to blaze through a layer of clouds and lots of blowing snow, but that made it possible to spot a really bright sundog to the north. The cloud cover made it impossible to spot a corresponding parhelion to the south.
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