It was long overdue, but I'm not complaining. This weekend we finally got enough snow to frolic in, and that's exactly what the truck, the camera, and I did yesterday. A few guys from church meet the last Saturday morning of each month for breakfast, so I met them at 6:45, and after that came several hours of driving and hiking in the white stuff! My first stop was the cross country ski trail on the northeast corner of Mandan. My footsteps there were not the first.
Next I decided to poke around along the Missouri River. The geese apparently had the same idea, because an enormous flock of them was tucked into the rocks along the shore. They didn't care for a guy with a big backpack and monopod poking around (or was it the NDSU Bison hat?) so they swam outward and upstream. Thankfully I managed to avoid falling in.
There are a lot of wild turkeys in the Bismarck-Mandan area, and this is a portion of one of them. They were hanging out in a residential neighborhood in north Mandan, and even came toward me as I crouched to take their photo! The snow was coming down fast enough to accumulate on their backs, and they fluffed up to stay warm and shake the snow off every now and then.
With a fresh tank of gas, it was time to drive Around the World and see what kind of nice rural snow scenes awaited. It actually began to snow so heavily that the view was obscured. That didn't stop me from taking a picture of this friendly scarecrow before moving on.
While out south of Fort Lincoln, I paused to capture this bridge and the high waters of the Missouri River on the other side. When I started to leave, the window on my truck wouldn't roll up! The passenger side window worked, so I knew the fuse was good. I pounded on the door a bit, tugged on the window...nothing worked. I resigned myself to a cold, damp drive into town, but when I got back on the highway...it worked! The trip wasn't over yet.
This bridge was sold to the Fort Lincoln Trolley folks many years ago, so it doesn't see any traffic during the winter. It ought to. This was a very picturesque scene, although they'd have to bring hot chocolate along for the ride.
I took lots more photos, but it's been such a busy weekend that I'm just posting the highlights. It's time to wax the sleds for more frolicking!
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Last week I got the opportunity to talk briefly with William "Jack" Jackson, the author of several books about North Dakota. I picked up a copy of his latest book, the 2007-2008 edition of his Almanac of North Dakota Mysteries and Oddities. It was a fun read, especially for one who loves local history.
North Dakota has got plenty of interesting, humorous, and just plain outrageous tales in its history. For instance, it was a North Dakotan who coined the term "Flying Saucer" as he spotted a group of them near his airplane above Mount Rainier. A North Dakotan sentenced to death in New York turned out to be a German Shepherd. In Hankinson, a young boy survived with only a bruise on his nose after being run over by over 60 rail cars back in 1908. There's plenty more where this came from!
You can find out fun stories like the Burleigh farmer who walked 28 miles to catch a train to a checkers tournament, or sad stories like the great flue epidemic of the early 1900s, which killed thousands of North Dakotans. The stories vary, and there's something in this book for everyone.
If you're a fan of North Dakota history, you owe it to yourself to talk to Mr. Jackson. Unfortunately he does not have a kiosk set up at Gateway Mall now that the holiday season is winding down, but his work is available at Barnes & Noble. He's got eight books out, the majority of them about North Dakota.
The next book of his I want to investigate more closely is Unbelievable Dakota People - the Good, Bad, Bold & Ugly. It'll be interesting to see who falls into the last category!
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Buckstop Junction is pretty much the only part of the Missouri Valley Fairgrounds that enjoyed any measure of success. Since more and more of our historic buildings in this area are being demolished, it's nice to see them preserved and even seeing some use in a nostalgic fashion.
The Glen Schmidt Family played here last year, and I went out to see what the whole Buckstop Junction experience is all about. It was a blast. I got some great pictures and just generally enjoyed poking around the old buildings. What can I say, I'm a sucker for history!
The buildings are outfitted with "props" from the past, and it was fun to try to simulate an old photo look on some of them. The grocery store was particularly cool, although it was too crowded for a picture. This is from the bank building.
I doubt there's anything going on out at the Junction over winter, but it's something to consider next summer. It's an especially nice place for a music festival, so I'll let you know when the next one approaches. I'll probably have to title it "Function at the Junction" or something else appropriately punny.
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Earlier this month I stumbled upon this painted rock northeast of Bismarck with a patriotic message on it. Thanks to Mike G. for emailing me to let me know that this was likely inspired by another well-known painted rock near Greenfield, Iowa.
This rock is painted annually with a different patriotic theme by a young man named Ray "Bubba" Sorenson. More pictures of the rock and a brief description are given here.
In my opinion, both rocks are inspiring. It doesn't matter if one resembles another, and I doubt Bubba would be offended. The bigger picture is that people are taking the time to put their patriotism out there for all to see and remind the rest of us as well.
"Bubba" has a website promoting his artwork at www.bubbazartwork.com if you're interested. It doesn't feature the rock as prominently as the other site, but it does showcase other work he does.
If anyone's interested, I can post directions to the rock I found here in Bismarck. That is, if I can find it again. I don't remember which road it's on exactly, but its GPS coordinates are 46 degrees, 52.023 minutes north by 100 degrees, 42.242 minutes west.
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I've been in a mild funk due to the lack of snow this Christmas, but there's one sure fire cure for that situation: get out and ride! Actually, that's the cure for just about any state of bummitude. Besides, it's a unique photo opportunity; it's not often that I can take a picture in front of the Christmas capitol!
Having successfully performed an attitude adjustment, I burned tires back to the house, grabbed the family, and went out to look at Christmas lights. We were able to ignore the absence of snow, as were many others. Northview Lane was absolutely packed with constant traffic, as were other Christmas display hot spots. Bismarck-Mandan residents, including newly reminded ones like myself, don't allow Christmas to be determined by precipitation totals; rather, by their good cheer.
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