The other day I hopped on one of my motorcycles for a short ride, and I happened upon the area near the Grant Marsh Bridge. There were a few photogenic things to capture in the area, and a motorcycle doesn't take up much space, so I was able to pull over briefly without interrupting traffic on River Road or crossing any barricades.
This keelboat seems to have been built in just the right spot for a 500-year flood event. The water comes right up to it, but even at such record levels it doesn't actually flood out the boat. It's almost as if it was designed for a day like today.
Even the walkway is dry, despite flooded land all around. Too bad the area is blocked off, this would actually be a nice little tourist-y spot for all the gapers that have been driving 20 miles an hour up and down River Road for the past few weeks!
Here's a good vantage point for the flood, if you've got waders on...or perhaps clothing and shoes you don't mind getting wet. Which reminds me, my buddy and former coworker Mark Armstrong got the same idea I did, because I saw him there just after I went north to Pioneer Park and turned around to head back south into town. He was busy with his camcorder, so I didn't stop to interrupt. Here's the video he was shooting:
Great minds think alike...and so do ours!
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One of the most dramatic and accessible (sorta) sites for local residents to gauge the impact of the Missouri River flooding has got to be Pioneer Park. It's easy to get a point of reference as far as how high the water is, it's right along the road, and it's a feature that most residents have probably seen quite often before and since the flooding began.
Picnic tables have been relocated as they've become somewhat bouyant, getting hung up on other park features. The volleyball nets look more like tennis nets right now, and who knows what the sand in the courts will look like when the water recedes?
Don't forget to call and make your reservation! Actually, I think the mosquitoes have this place booked solid for the next couple of months. It's actually a CLOUD of bugs down there right now, and I've got the bites to prove it. In addition to water damage, Bismarck-Mandan is going to have a lot of insect control to perform with all this water. Those plans have already begun.
The state Water Commission has released a recent river profile and it has some very interesting results. Some areas have been dug deeper, some have been filled in, and overall the river is, as I've heard it described, "active." Just what the Missouri River looks like, including the channel, banks, and sandbars (or lack thereof), will be very interesting once the waters recede. I don't know of anyone making any solid predictions on that right now.
Let's just hope we get through this without further loss of property and that we can begin the recovery process. Minot has it even worse than we do, but one remarkable statistic throughout all of this North Dakota flooding is that we have not lost one single life to the disaster. That's got to be the best news so far.
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One a little photo trip last weekend I stopped near Heskett Station, our local power plant. There's a little fishing area nearby and, while I don't fish, I do have an interest in the river right now. I thought I'd take a peek and see what the Big Muddy looked like from "the other side of the river." I caught an interesting sight.
These metal steps normally take one down to the river bank. Some industrious soul painted numbers on the steps here, presumably before the river level began to rise so dramatically. At the time I visited this point last Saturday morning, the first step visible above water was number nine, and just barely at that. Since the releases had been throttled up a bit the day before, it's entirely possible that the water later covered up #9.
Releases from Garrison Dam have been throttled back to 145,000cfs as of yesterday afternoon. With that in mind, and barring any unforeseen circumstances requiring an increase, we may have already seen the water at its highest. Let's hope so, eh? While the photos are more dramatic when the water is high, I'm more concerned about the people whose homes and businesses are in the water right now. Hopefully they can start to get their lives and property back to normal as soon as possible.
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I had an amazing photo trip to Lake Sakakawea with my little boys this weekend, and on the way back a nice rainstorm blew through. It hit while we were enjoying some fantastic burgers at Burger Stop in Riverdale. As it slowly worked its way east it provided us with a nice double rainbow which was visible almost all the way home. It also revealed an interesting secret about North Dakota's energy industry.
Here's where the rainbows are mined, along Highway 200 east of Underwood. Chief Ironsides, the twelve million pound dragline, scrapes away the overburden to reveal the magical colors. Free to escape, they soar into the sky, ready to arc down to the next step in North Dakota's energy production.
Coal Creek Station, pictured here, catches the rainbows upon arrival and uses them to generate electricity for thousands of homes and businesses. The rainbows are focused through a magic prism that recombines the colors in two boilers, each large enough to fit the state capitol building inside, and generate steam. That steam is forced through a pair of turbines that spin and generate electricity.
Come to think of it, that all reminds me of this fun little political ad that came out a year or two ago. It too makes light of "rainbow energy". The sound effect at the end is cute.
Back to our little photo trip. Naturally, when you drive a couple of hours with toddlers in the truck, someone's going to have to pee. Yep...that time came as we were about to roll into Wilton. We stopped for the potty break, got back in the truck, and were about to head home when I hopped back out to grab this one last shot facing north. Then it was time to go home for good.
Of course, halfway back to the Bizzo someone suddenly announced that they had to poop, but that's a story for another time.
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"You mean the feather, Daddy?" PJ replied when I asked if he saw the cloud. Yep, the feather. I was pleased to hear his perception of its wispy shape. I've been working a lot of extra hours lately with the flood response going on around the state, so the opportunity to take a few minutes and haul my boys around for a sunset viewing in the truck was a real treat. Even more so is hearing how they perceive the world around them and watching them try to capture it on their little toy cameras.
When one goes out to look at the sky, sunrise, and sunset, one often does just what we did: find a high place. At one point my four year old asked me if we could go see the place where Daddy goes on his motorcycle to pray. He heard me talk about a hill I like to frequent when I'm out riding at night where I can just stop and pray, and my boys wanted to see it. So up we went. As we were nearing the crest of the hill, he said, "Maybe we can stop up there and pray for the floods to go away." Excellent idea. And so we did. He also prayed for all the roads that are closed, and the people whose houses are in the water. That's my boy.
The Bible doesn't have much good to say about high places, but in context it's because of the way they were used: idolatry. The people of Israel used their high places to offer worship to false gods they picked up from people around them. Long before I started reading my Bible I enjoyed going to a high, remote place to pray, so maybe it's something we're all inclined to do. But when your prayer or praise is properly directed, it's not a bad thing. The prophet Habakkuk wrote this, paraphrasing a portion of Psalm 18:
"The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places." (Habakkuk 3:19)
I'm pleased to be able to find a high place with my little boys, our cameras, and our prayers...properly directed on behalf of all who are impacted by the flooding.
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