Normally those really big power line towers, the ones that resemble stick figures to a degree, are an adversary to a North Dakota photographer like myself. I've always been fascinated with them, just not when they're in the way of a landscape photo or sunset or something like that. In this case, I ran around a little bit to see them twisted into contorted shapes that convey the force wielded by that ice and snow.
These towers were down from Crown Butte westward for at least a mile or two. I can't imagine how much fun it was to replace them on soggy ground. The metal was so fatigued and twisted that they simply had to be replaced. Only the concrete footings looked salvageable to an untrained observer like me. Even the insulators were damaged on many of them.
Of course, in the process of satisfying my curiosity regarding these giant steel behemoths and their untimely demise, I have to get all artsy about it with my camera. Would you expect any less?
I saw a lot of crews working and a lot of utility trucks driving today as I poked around the outskirts of town. These crews were the heroes of the day as they gradually restored power to more and more customers.
Highway 83 was closed due to a downed power line crossing the highway. Crews there had a very big job ahead of them, as the towers holding these power lines were in very bad shape...and not terribly accessible, either. We went from sunny 70s earlier in the week to blustery blizzard conditions, dumping more precipitation over the course of a single day than we usually get in the entire month of April! Of course, heavy slush and snow like that put an incredible strain on suspended power and phone lines.
I imagine a tower like this was very difficult to repair, since the metal structure was torn and mangled. I counted about a half dozen of these damaged towers between Highway 83 and Baldwin.
There were some smaller lines running along the road into Baldwin that were down as well, with five or more poles laying in the ditch. Others, like this one, were merely broken.
This looks like an easy fix compared to the rest of the damage I saw! At least the pole was intact.
Here's the beginning of the fallen poles, which were laying in the frozen ditch. The slush had frozen so hard that I was able to walk on top of it. For some shots I took throughout the morning, I walked an eighth mile or so down a section line road, and didn't even get my tennis shoes wet. Local residents had parked along the road and hiked down their driveways.
One of five poles laying in the ditch. Some poles were either broken or ripped out of the ground but the wires looked intact.
I wondered how the Regan wind farm fared through all this and, from this vantage point, everything looked intact. Naturally none of the turbines were turning. Wind power is the most expensive power you can attempt to generate except perhaps solar, and it's very unpredictable. Plus it puts rabid environmentalists in a quandary, since the blades are now rumored to kill birds.
Of course I had to get a windmill in there somewhere! This is pretty much in someone's back yard. All of the metal towers I saw that were down were in the middle of a field or other location far from the roads. When I arrived a crew was using tracked skidsteers to clear a path to the towers. I stayed for a little while, which accounts for the change in sky color between some of these shots.
Here the crews were preparing to work on the first tower east of Highway 83. I think they had already made repairs to a tower on the west side, but I'm not positive on that. Once this one was fixed, I think they were able to open the highway.
I didn't stay to see any of the repair work, since I'm busy and it was likely to be a slow process. I left about the same time as the KX News van, except I got in the southbound lane to go back to Bismarck. They drove down the northbound lane, straight into oncoming traffic, before catching their mistake and doing a quick u-turn. Oops!
These guys were heroes to the people out of town who were relying on them to restore the power. They worked their tails off to accomplish the task, too! Can you imagine standing on top of these towers and cranking power lines into place? Yikes!
There were still some wooden poles down, but I passed a lot of brand new ones and the crew which was replacing them. They'd obviously accomplished a lot in the area northwest of Mandan.
By the way, when one of those huge metal towers folds, there isn't much you can do with it. The metal has been fatigued, so it's time to replace the entire structure (aside from the pilings anchoring it to the ground). Once it's dismantled and placed in a pile, it becomes obvious that there really isn't a lot of metal in these things!
Imagine the force it took to twist and bend metal like this. Some of the damage was obviously due to the storm, the rest from cutting it into sections. Wow.
The landscape looked a bit different out there after the storm, as there are some places where the big metal towers were absetnt for a time. I poked around a bit west of Mandan to get my truck muddy and see what I could see, and there were crews working diligently to make sure that the lights come back on...one tower at a time.
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On a day when America is celebrating the fact that Osama bin Laden has achieved room temperature, I thought I'd re-post some photos of one of my favorite local patriotic landmarks. This enormous rock, about five feet tall and parked in a very remote location outside of Bismarck, has more patriotism than the American left. The owner of the land on which it sits, I presume, has adorned it with an American flag, the names of some North Dakota soldiers killed in the global war on terrorism, and the following quote from our President:
"We will not waver; we will not falter; and we will not fail.
Peace and freedom will prevail." President George W Bush
It's just a shame that very few people will ever see this rock; I stumbled upon it by accident while out getting the truck dirty. Can you imagine the heartfelt pride in our soldiers the artist must have felt as they painted this tribute to their sacrifice? It's very moving and I had to tell you about it. At the bottom of this post I'll give you directions on how to find it; it's not that hard, really.
To visit this rock, something that might be especially appropriate this Memorial Day, simply take Expressway north from where it intersects with Century Avenue. When you reach 57th Avenue, take a right and head east. It's at the end of the road a short while later with a little cul de sac where you can park and/or turn around. Here's a little map I put together:
View Bismarck-Mandan Blog in a larger map
Today is a day of great pride in our nation and its armed forces, but we shouldn't let that pride wane on any other day. Landmarks like this one are a great reminder of that. Pay it a visit!
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Anybody else gettin' tired of waiting for it to get nice out and stay that way? My cameras and I are.
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Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn;
and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? -Luke 12;24
This counsel from Jesus was a good starting point for Luke Graner as he performed at the Belle Mehus a while back. You may remember my photos from the event. Being a Bible lover myself, I caught on pretty quickly to the opening tune.
Luke uses a very interesting method to construct his music, using a Boomerang looping device to build his songs in layers as we watch and listen. Many times he'll have multiple instances of his own voice accompanying him. Thus, for the first song, Luke sang with Luke from the Gospel of Luke. Fantastic.
Wanna see and here it? Dakota Media Access has posted it here (Windows Media format).
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During one of my frequent photography outings around the outskirts of town, I came upon a little bit of flooding out in the Apple Creek area. This portion of Apple Creek Road at the intersection with 106th Street normally has water on both sides, but the water has overtaken the road for the time being.
For a pretty good stretch of this road, the water is not very deep; it's simply over the surface of the road. I parked the truck well back from the barricades and hiked in for a little while to get some cool photos.
This shows the sign at the intersection with 106th as well as the point where the road emerges once again from the water. Those barricades you see in the distance are not the first ones blocking the road; it'd be a pretty bad experience to come over that hill from the west and only then find out that the road is closed (and under water!)
Hopefully we've all seen the last of spring flooding for now, and that things will get back to normal. We're long overdue for some beautiful spring weather...just ask my kids, my cameras, and my motorcycles!
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