Heading east on highway 5, you can see this giant concrete cube (with a slanted north side) from the road long before you're near it. Then the road drops down a hill and you can't see this thing at all, since the Cavalier Air Station (at times named Cavalier Air Force Station) is surrounded by trees. I found out the hard way that this site is very much active and there's a young man with a firearm at the front gate. I wasn't getting in for pictures here. That's okay...as you can tell by the awful light in this shot, sunlight was scarce anyway and it was time to set up the campsite.
After a beautiful stay in lovely Icelandic State Park overnight, we managed to get some really nice light in order to feature the PAR array. I'm told that this thing can spot an object the size of a basketball coming over the North Pole! Wild.
This PAR system is also part of the larger Stanley Mickelson Safeguard Complex, which included the now abandoned Nekoma facility I posted about earlier. It had its missiles removed long ago, but this giant array still watches the northern skies. I could tell you more about this site, but probably not without ripping off David Novak's site, www.srmsc.org. He's got all kinds of links and photos of these facilities and how they served. Please visit this site!
I haven't exhausted the Cold War Mancation photo series yet...stay tuned.
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I chose to cap my last vacation day with a sunset photo, something I didn't think I'd get today. After yesterday's soaker I figured we were in for more of the same, and I was okay with that. I spent much of Labor Day inside the Garage Majal working on motorcycles and motorcycle related tasks, organizing, cleaning tools, and that sort of thing. Since today was a beautiful day, I spent it working in the yard, and then set off in search of a great sunset vantage point.
This is the view from a minimum-maintenance road east of Crown Butte. There's a pond in the little valley on this road. It's a fantastic place to chill and happens to be a perfect sunset viewing spot in the middle of summer. Well, we're not in the middle of summer anymore. I had to venture down the road a little further since the sun sets further south nowadays. Yesterday brought a lot of rain, so the road was composed of gooey mud in spots.
The mud and swelled pond, which actually covered the road in one spot, didn't stop me from finding my photo. I made good use of my 31 inch tires, four wheel drive, and wiper blades! It was worth it.
In order to have photos free of power lines, I did have to do some hiking to keep them out of the camera's view. While waiting for the sunset to progress, I looked up and took some interesting angles of the power lines and towers. It's always creepy when standing under high voltage lines and hearing them crackle overhead.
The clouds' shadows were busy in the east, making for some interesting shadows toward Mandan. Since they cover so much sky, they appear to converge on the horizon. That makes them look almost like rays of darkness emanating from a single point on the horizon, but that's an illusion caused by perspective.
Then it was over. I'd positioned myself so that the sun met the horizon in this crook of the butte's silhouette. I was fortunate enough to have some dramatic clouds in just the right place, and I fine tuned the shot by positioning myself in relation to the butte. I could actually make a very big difference just by walking away from the truck in one direction or the other. The sky turned gold, the clouds turned dark, and then the show began to fade. Before it got too dark I whipped around and braved the mud and water one last time, then pointed the truck homeward once I was back on firm, dry ground.
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Career politician Earl Pomeroy makes a big deal out of Rick Berg's "26 YEARS" as part-time state legislator
I'm on vacation and got too long a nap, so I was up late with some spare time. I thought I'd put some observations on the hapless Pomeroy campaign into video for y'all. Enjoy. If you don't see playback controls above, move your cursor over the image and they'll appear at the bottom.
It's been a rough week for Earl Pomeroy. First his campaign gets caught trying to have an NDSU College Republicans display removed, which they have to hastily deny.
Then it comes out that Pomeroy's campaign has a stalker following Berg around and videotaping him. It's turned out to be pretty fun in that people can talk into the camera and finally feel as if they're getting a chance to talk to Earl Pomeroy, who isn't showing his face in public at all.
Really. Check it out, go to Pomeroy's site and click Upcoming Events. It says, "There is nothing I enjoy more about campaigning than getting around North Dakota to meet with the folks that I represent." Well, it's turning out to be a repeat of last year's August without a single open meeting between Earl Pomeroy and his constituents.
Pomeroy's been losing in the polls for months, consecutively, and all he has left is to get the labor unions and national Democrat donors to start running ads to scare the elderly and farmers. You can always expect the Democrats to pull out the decades-old ploy of how the Republican will take away their Social Security. What's hilarious is that Pomeroy's trying to imply that someone who's been in political office for a shorter time is the career politician. Really, Earl? Keep 'em coming.
(Is it any wonder that the New York Times says his campaign needs "political triage" at this point?)
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If you were unable to attend the Memorial Day services at the Veterans' Memorial Cemetery this year, you missed the stirring words of C. Emerson Murry, former Major General of the ND National Guard. He was the keynote speaker of the event, and a very memorable one at that.
The words that struck me the most from his keynote address are best paraphrased as follows: "To be born free is an accident. To live free is a responsibility. To die free is an absolute obligation." That made me set my camera in the grass and hastily type it into my phone so I wouldn't forget it. Maj Gen Murry fulfilled that obligation, and it's due to such men and women of our armed forces that we enjoy the freedoms we take for granted.
You ought to take the time to read about the life of this remarkable man by clicking here.
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Actually the second stop on what we later termed "the Cold War Mancation™" was here: NCTAMS LANT DET LaMoure. Leave it to the military to throw more acronyms at something than you can shake a 1,200 foot stick at. This is that 1,200 foot stick, by the way.
As this sign indicates, the alphabet soup above stands for Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area, Master Station Atlantic...DETachment LaMoure. This is as close as you'll probably ever get to it, too. It's surrounded by signage typical of a national security site, and a guy on duty here assured me that civilians are definitely NOT allowed access.
This tower used to be part of the OMEGA Radionavigation system. This was a worldwide navigation system for aircraft which was begun in the 1960s and 1970s. It operated at a very low frequency, around 14kHz. Compare that with the beginning of your AM radio dial, which starts at 530kHz, and you'll see how low that is. One of the first things you may notice about this tower is the odd attachments on the guy wires. They look like insulators, and I think I know why...more on that in a second.
One other feature is the "top hat" of guy wires attached to the top of the tower. I believe some of the guy wires on this "umbrella type" tower become part of the array. I think that has a lot to do with the additional care to insulate the wires. If they're not insulated, they can affect the capacitative load of the tower, making it very hard to tune. This may be even more difficult with VLF (very low frequency) signals, I'm not sure.
Depending on who you ask, there were only eight or nine OMEGA towers functioning around the world when GPS stuck a fork in it. The only other one in the USA was/is in Hawaii. These towers were no longer needed for navigation, since GPS assumed that responsibility. Instead of the Coast Guard operating this facility, the Navy now runs operations here.
So what does this tower do now? It still sends VLF frequencies, but it's used to guide submarines now at I think 150kHz. Some of the other former Omega towers were destroyed when we started switching to GPS, this one was fortunate enough to survive and serve our nation's submarine fleet.
In a way, it's sad that this facility has been retasked. The Omega Inn in LaMoure? Renamed. Omega Cafe? Couldn't find it. There is an Omega Cinema in the mall, however, and a listing for an "Omega room" on the mall directory board. Since the term "Omega" no longer applies, I suppose that's to be expected.
Here's some background information about NCTAMS. (Link)
I've also added this place to my Google Maps, too. Click here for an aerial view. (This has been fixed.)
Never fear, there's more Cold War Mancation™ coming soon!
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