July 17

I can only imagine what motorcycle travel was like 40 years ago, heading north along the Missouri River.

I was riding my 1978 HD superglide with that vibratory shovelhead engine, heading north up River Road, or State Hwy 1804.  Years ago, this was a good road by travel standards. A few miles to the east was federal highway 83, a more straight shot from Bismarck to Minot.

On this night, I had left a weekend-long party north of Bismarck.  It was dusk and I wasn’t real comfortable with the ability to see deer crossing the road as they do at this time of day.  My headlight on that old bike isn’t very powerful.

Still it represents some of the best riding a person could have enjoyed in the 1970’s.  It was a warm night, so I didn’t need to wear my leather jacket.  That’s it bungeed to my handlebars on the bottom of the image.  In the 70’s few bikes had windshields and a rolled up sleeping bag or jacket did a noticeable (though not “good”) job of breaking the wind and deflecting bugs up over the head of the rider.  That’s still the way I ride.

July 13

Headed west on Old 10 in Mandan

I love the traffic in Bismarck and Mandan. It is easy and peaceful, perhaps sometimes too easy and too peaceful. Some times people drive like they have no place to go.

Other times, you’ll get passed by an ’07 Road King on Memorial Highway in Mandan.  It used to be Highway 10, and before that The Old Red Highway or Old Red Trail.  After Interstate 94 came through North Dakota, the old 2-lane scenic route through the state was abandoned. 

Before you get to Mandan (provided you are headed East to West) you ride down Bismarck’s Main Street that was once a bustling traffic zone on Highway 10, or the Red Trail, or even before that some unmanned mud road in Edwinton which proceeded Bismarck.

There is almost nothing left of the old muddy road, or Highway 10 but just the four lanes of Bismarck’s Main Street.  It looks pretty much like every small town “Main Street” with pre-planned landscaping and building structure. You’ll see the same kind of look in Fargo, or Dickinson.

On the former “western edge” of Bismarck is Washington and Main. It once was a tricky dog leg through a railroad underpass, but modern design dropped the historic romance in favor of a more efficient design.

The intersection replacing the Hwy 10 dog leg under the RR tracks

In this photo, the right street in the intersection is “Front” which becomes Old Highway 10 or Memorial Highway.  It leads down the strip in Mandan as the firs photo shows.

Once you get to Mandan Old 10 becomes Main Street for that city. There you will find riders cruising “Main” on their bikes or their hot rods.  Further west and your out of the city, headed to the Scenic Highway of Old 10 across North Dakota.

On this summer evening, I drove from one city to the next and spotted cruisers on two wheels, all good to photograph.

July 5

The stereotypical view of ND

Sometimes you have to see things from another point of view to understand their perception.  Crossing North Dakota from south to North on I-29, a visitor would think that North Dakota is a flat, monotonous state with few if any features to the landscape.

This photo is what people see coming in to North Dakota from South Dakota, and yes, it appears flat and featureless.  The eastern 70 miles of North Dakota is the some of the richest farm ground in the world. It is the Red River Valley.  It once was the bed of Lake Agassiz, a prehistoric lake that sat here.  As the lake disappeared downstream on the Red (which flows to the north) the land left behind is rich and fertile.  It has the production capability that is the envy of farmers elsewhere.

However, to say that this is what North Dakota looks like is a grave mistake.  While the Red River Valley of North Dakota is a great place to live and work, it is not representative of the landscape of the Roughrider state.  I live in the hilly region along the Missouri Breaks. Some of my photos here on this blog give an idea of the landscape around me.  That’s why I had to snap this photo — it looks like a land with which I’m not familiar, but represents the mis-perceptions of North Dakota’s landscape.

June 28

Goldwing and gold wheat

Summer riding season is in full swing — a little later than usual.  The nearby grain field is turning gold as this Honda Gold Wing rolls by.  It’s been a cool wet spring, good for growing not good for going.

Even so, bikes are taking advantage of the weather.  Highway 83 which runs past Wilton gets a good amount of traffic. It’s a good road connecting Bismarck to Minot and points in between.  A late evening ride, this time of year, could be as late at 9:30 or 10:00 thanks to the tilt of the Earth on the axis toward the sun, and North Dakota’s relative position on the globe and on the time zone line.  That means even though the season is short, the days are long, and bikers take advantage of it.

It’s just about every day that I’m out for my 1-a-day pics that I see bikes on Hwy 83, but this time, the light, the fields and the evening proved to be a better than average day for photographing motorcycles.

June 21

It’s taken a lot of mistakes in order to learn how to get from this:

The bare essentials

to this:

loaded and ready to roll

When I took my first motorcycle road trip of 5 weeks, back in 1971, I had only a sleeping bag rolled up on a luggage rack behind my seat.  Times have changed. A sleeping bag in a tree row isn’t what it used to be.  Now, I go prepared, tent, cooking gear and of course tools.

tools for the highway

My first road trip had no saddlebags, and only a crescent wrench and screwdriver. Now, I carry an entire socket and wrench set plus an assortment of other tools, including a quart of oil and a siphon hose.

I got out of motorcycling during those kid years, but  once they were edging out of elementary school, I got back in to it.  I quickly learned a plastic grocery bag strung between the handlebars won’t even make it downtown.  Then, I learned that bungee cords holding a bag to the passenger seat worked a whole lot better if I installed a sissy bar to stop the bag from sliding off.

Any good road trip now, starts here…saddlebags, pack, and of course my cameras ready to record the trip.

June 18 part deux

Remember these days?

On the way back to Bismarck from the Twin Buttes Powwow, I drove through Golden Valley, North Dakota.  A remarkable family tradition of a different kind is enshrined just off  Main street. There the Lindemann’s have invested themselves in restoring and maintaining a bit of history.  This Standard Oil gas station is actually the entrance to a private Harley-Davidson Museum.  Neatly displayed inside the museum is at least one Harley-Davidson from every year of production — and each one runs, ready to be rolled out on the street of John chooses.

John Lindemann inherited his father’s love of meticulous restoration.  His father, Bill restores old Model As and Model Ts to running and operating perfection.  It wasn’t too long ago that the pair would be seen putting down some back road to a car show or motorcycle show in Canada or the West Coast to display their work and take home accolades.  Their attention to detail is evident with the effort put in to just the front door entrance to their private museum.  The gas pumps that I can barely remember from my pre-driving days.  How far back does your memory of these corner icons go?

June 7

deer by farm

I’m telling you, it is green green green out here.

Check out this deer by a farm near Washburn.  She pauses long enough to check me out as I slow down to check her out.  (Kinda like a meet or meat market bar encounter, huh?)  She had run across the road ahead of me. I marked the spot where she crossed and looked up the hill. My slowdown at that point was concern enough for her to turn to look at me before she took off.

I have that impression on people, too. Take these two riders for example. They were headed north past Wilton when I pulled over on Highway 83, a divided highway to catch their images.  They looked at me, then kept going.

And again, notice the green.  Is it this green where you are this spring?

June 4

Red Bull Energy drink anyone?  I dare ya. I dadgum dare ya to try your hand at this kind of energy drink. I don’t think you’d make it.

This red bull was not my intent nor my purpose for stopping where I did to photograph late afternoon images.  And neither  was this red fox.  I first spotted the fox trotting past the sleeping bulls on the ranch on the west side of the Missouri River west of Washburn.  I watched the fox for a while until it disappeared in the trees.  They’re not nearly as pretty as in the cartoons, but they do cut a striking image in the right natural setting.

A few minutes later when I was getting set to take the shots I had come for, I spied the fox again — well, I assume it was the same fox.  I don’t know.  This time it was on the other side of me.  I caught it just before it disappeared in the unmown grass along the edge of  Highway 200.

At about the same time, I caught the images I came for.  I shoot for a website called Kickstands Up.  It’s a biker information site for those who are riding in North Dakota.  One of the features of the website as it’s being developed is to show what various popular highways are like for bikers. 

Highway 200 is a popular highway, especially west river, as it begins or ends at the Missouri River in Washburn.  It’s a good highway and close enough to populated towns that it attracts a lot of riders. This pair coming from the west high Highway 83 at Washburn and then turned south, apparently to Bismarck.  

Other riders came from the opposite direction, headed west. That’s usually the direction I take 200, to Hazen, Beulah and Killdeer.

It’s a pleasant and very scenic highway.  I recommend it.  If you’ve ridden Highway 200 west river, how does it compare to other roads you know about?  Got tips?

May 31

Dedicated to those who are still prisoners of war or are missing in action

This year, a new twist, a dedication to the Prisoners of War and the Missing in action. The table with the flag, the vase, the lemon, the place setting, and all are part of a ceremony to remember the POW and MIA. It was part of the dedication of the Freewheelers mc clubhouse.

The annual Memorial Day ride collects bikers from all the clubs who share a common passion for the United States of America. I feel honored to ride this annual ride with other patriots, with veterans and those who love these United States.  It’s an annual ride to honor those who have served and died.

For those who are combat vets from Vietnam and other military actions, this is a day of fellowship for them, a day of closeness.  Often during the day I saw evidence of a brotherhood, a bonding between vets.

Saluting at Taps

After the ride left The Shop in Bismarck, we rode out to Veterans Cemetery for the annual service.  There, patriotism and respect was thick, shared not only by an off-duty soldier but also the young man who stopped at every grave marker to salute the dead.  The young man was very careful not to step on the gravesite of any of the dead whom he saluted.  Through the entire ceremony he worked his way through the markers, stopping at each one.

A young man's salute

Flagpoles ring the center courtyard of the cemetery, and bikers manned their station to raise the flags to full mast, then lower them to half-mast to honor the war dead.  In the last two or three years, bikers have contributed time and money to honor those who are currently serving and those who have served in the past. It’s not a new thing, but it has become recognized as an essential part of military and veteran services.  So, they are invited to ceremonies such as this, and take an active role in the ceremony.

Meanwhile, families gather to remember those whom they love and have died.  Their private grief at is off to the side of the ceremony where they can enter in to their own memories.

I get very immersed in the story of the day, paying attention to the activities, but also the atmosphere of the  setting.  I hope these photos give you a sense of the deep gratitude which we share for those who have served in the military. Without them, we’d not be who we are.

Remembering alone

May 30 deux

A dusty start

I found a new summertime entertainment — motocross.  I’ve always wanted to go to a race, and on this day decided to give it a look-see.

The course in Mandan is open and easy to view. For a photographer, the shots are more than plentiful with many good locations from which to shoot.  It was a lazy, hot day. The dust hung in the air. The sun was warm. It was a perfect day to hang out on the hill and watch the competition

The riders are mostly young boys, but there are a good number of young girls and some not-so-young men who run the course.  I’ve gotten to know some of the riders and their parents, and am lovin’ the fact that these are friends and neighbors, easily approachable and fun to be with.  My Sunday afternoons have a new event.