Where does the trail take you in 2013

The trail toward the Missouri River.

The trail toward the Missouri River.

Where does the trail in to 2013 take you this year?

I’m sure it’s too early to tell..unless you’re an anal retentive planner. Who knows what the year will throw at you.

For me, I hope to remain as physically active as I was on this, the first day of 2013.  Ahh…it’s been a long long time since I was at my best physical shape, and today shows that clearly.  But hopefully today was a good sign.  It meant heading out of town, away from the videos and photos to edit, away from the papers to write. Away from the frames to make and the photos to mat.

The road west of Wilton leads straight to the river.  This region of the state is called The Missouri Slope region and you can see why…the soft rolling hills slope down to the river.

Once to the bottom, cross over to the west side and there’s the best cross country skiing in the region.

trail along river wtrmrk

Along the Missouri River

So, there’s my first hint at where I want the trail to take me — away from the daily grind.  First a drive toward the Missouri River, then to the river itself.  This is as close to where Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery traveled the winter of 1803 — 210 years ago.  It’s the Missouri River along the Lewis and Clark trail, south of Washburn at Cross Ranch State Park.

But wait!  There’s more!

skis point to clearing horz wtrmrk

Skis to the trees

It’s not just a pretty place, it’s a place to get physical.  So, I did, on cross country skis.  It just seems to me that as long as we’re gonna have winter — and we can’t do anything about that — we might as well use it.  A bright day, light winds from the south, and fresh snow.

Mike stops on curve

The trail starts

Years ago, I skied these trails regularly, but in recent years, there’s not been enough snow.

The trail starts through the trees and a short distance from the start, a person can choose to take a long, long, LONG route south, or curve back to the north. That’s me.  Ready to take the curve back north.

So, along the river I skied for about 45 minutes.  My daughter would roll her

away from camera along river bank wtrmrk

along the trail

eyes. When she and I used to do this every week, we’d be gone for a few hours.

*pant*

*pant*

*pant*

Maybe next time.  But certainly not today.  Dang I’m outta shape.

So, the trail in to 2013, hopefully will take me back to better physical conditioning and I won’t take the turn back to the north, but will ski along the trail south of Cross Ranch.

Are you up to join me some afternoon?

.

December 26 – McLean County basks in winter sun

Last winter for McLean County Courthouse

Exiting 2010 gives everyone a chance to catch a glimpse of something they won’t see again.  Yes, a year gone by, but so will be this stately seat of local government — the McLean County Courthouse.  It’s a health hazard. It’s been standing on the hill overlooking the Missouri River for 100 years.  It’s had a couple of upgrades but now it’s in such bad shape it is will be replaced. It took two elections for voters to approve the replacement, but by December 2011, this will not be the scene.  One of the last Romanesque courthouses will be gone.

Some places in North Dakota hang on even though they’ve outlived their usefulness. That’s the story with this abandoned farm house south of Washburn.  Though it’s been empty for decades, it still resists winter’s blows and snows.

Images of days gone by, captured by camera will be  increasingly rare. As courthouses and other stately structures give way to modern buildings, I hope to capture all I can of what once was.

December 23 — Motorized sledders cruise the snow

Two Yamaha sleds

I’ve never even sat on one, but snowmobiles look like a lot of fun if you’re in to speed and thrills.  It would certainly be a good way to occupy the winter season.

The ditches along Highway 83 between Bismarck and Washburn is a designated and marked trail for snowmobiles.  Those orange diamond markers you see in the photo above are indicators where are to safely ride.

I imagine it’s a moderate amount of excitement, but not what it’s like to zoom up the trails in the Turtle Mountains, or in the woods of Minnesota or Montana.

Still, it gives a picture of life in North Dakota that I caught while driving to Bismarck —  a bit of a challenge to drive down the highway with the window open along side a slide keeping it in focus as the scenery blurs by.

Don’t tell on me.

December 19 ditches are for sleds

Ditch-running

Sharing the road, or at least the ditches.  This time of year it’s not surprising to look beside you as you travel the highways and see a snowmobile running along side of you — sometimes just as fast as you’re going.

As I headed in to Washburn along Highway 200 from the west, there beside me was a big person piloting a snowmobile with a little person hanging on.  They were only going about 35 or so.  I passed them easily.  I image later in the say, however, you could pull up to most any bar, restaurant or gas station in most any town in North Dakota and see as many snowmobiles as cars parked outside.  I’ll hafta look for that shot this winter.

November 15 McLean County courthouse destined for destruction

McLean County Courthouse — last days

For more than 100 years the McLean County Courthouse has stood in Washburn, overlooking the Missouri River several blocks below.  The county was organized in 1883 and the courthouse built in 1908.  It’ s one of three remaining old courthouses in North Dakota with the Romanesque styling.

Bats invaded the courthouse several years ago, and with the bats came the airborne health hazard of hantavirus.  Parts of the building have been closed off. Some of the county work has been moved to other buildings in town.  It took two votes before county voters agreed it’s time for progress.  Voters agreed to raze and rebuild the structure.  It’ll be gone in a couple years.

At night, it is a solid visual even in the snow. The eerie green lights give it an other-worldly appearance.  I hope to photograph it often before it’s gone.  A photo-tour inside the building I’m sure will be rewarding.

October 21 Images larger than life

Clark, Sheheke, Lewis

Here we are again, a seasonal visit to the larger-than-life images of three people who shaped the United States like no one else has done.William Clark, hired by Captain Lewis visit with Mandan Chief Sheheke.  The three represent the lost art of cultural curiosity and cultural acceptance.  Clark and Lewis stayed months with the Mandans at a campsite just under the hill from these statues.  They learned from the Mandans, and thanks to the hospitality (which still marks the Mandans today) they were able to live through the winter and carry on their expedition.

Chief Sheheke, curious about white man’s life went back to Washington DC to meet President Jefferson and to learn of this culture he did not know existed until he met the Corps of Discovery.  Sadly, it was not a good move for the Chief. When he returned to his people he was not well-received, nor were his stories of white man’s civilization readily believed nor accepted.  He lost status, leadership and eventually his life.

These statues stand at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Washburn, just above the Missouri river. See that tree in the background, it’s literally on the crest of the hill overlooking the Missouri River below.

Most travelers through North Dakota stick to the Interstate, or don’t even bother to head west to see North Dakota outside of the Red River Valley, and so they do themselves a disservice by not exposing themselves to the beauty that Lewis and Clark encountered,  a region fairly unsullied by modern life, a region where the actual trees the Corps of Discovery walked through are still standing, living and growing.  The Interpretive Center is a hidden jewel in America.

Have you been up the Missouri River to the near-wilderness areas of North Dakota? Have you been to the Interpretive Center or nearby Fort Mandan?

October 12 Wilton Miners are no more

Wilton Miners Football mascot

You will never see this again.  It does not exist.

There is no more Wilton Miners Football team.  This night was their last home game as the Wilton Miners.  From now on, the Miners’ identity is merged with that of the Washburn Cardinals to become come the Southern Mclean Roughriders.

A new identity

The students of both schools (Washburn and Wilton) voted to form the new co-op for 9-man football.

On the last night of home turf play, the Miners lined up against whom else but The Cardinals.  Here their opponent.  Next season, their teammate.

The Miners got spanked pretty hard in this game, so it appears it will be to their advantage to merge with the stronger Cardinals.  But I don’t think that will make it any easier. School pride will be eroded a bit.  Personal and school identity will be a bit more vaporized.

Both Washburn and Wilton are losing something.  Like many small North Dakota towns that lose their railroad, their businesses, their schools, this is progress of a deteriorating sort, a kind of devolution.

September 30

Last days of a golden era

Last days of a golden era

It won’t be long now and you’ll not see this site again.  The building will be gone. The McLean County Courthouse at Washburn, one of the few Romanesque courthouses in the country has stood overlooking the Missouri River for a century.  Compared to other structures of this age, it’s in good shape — not perfect, but good.  However, it’s been overrun with bats who have caused an airborne toxicity for workers.

Voters decided that indeed, it’s time to govern the county from a more modern and healthy building.

My buddy Kat is a willing model and here leans against the retaining wall at the courthouse front entrance.  In the long tall shot above, she’s posted against the front entrance railing.   She’s wearing the right colors for the building shot in the golden hour — my favorite time of day.  Shadows are long, contrasts are great and color is warm.

I hope to capture and show more of this grand historic structure in the weeks to come before it’s only a mark in history.

Have you noticed how the emphasis in years past was on local government and so courthouses were an important center of activity as well as outstanding architecture?

In your county, does your courthouse represent an era gone by, or an edifice of modern technology?

September 14

 

Sioux Pilot House

 

It stands with promise..the promise that it will get the attention it needs. It’s only a promise, little work goes on to give Washburn’s Sioux Steamboat the face lift she needs.    The Sioux Steamboat stands on the banks of the Missouri River where a vibrant steamboat trade existed until the state built a bridge over the Missouri in 1971.

 

Even now, at least one farmer has land on an island in the Missouri and has to cross back and forth to tend to his crops.  I understand that since there is no more steamboat trade, he traverses the river in the winter on the ice, shuttling supplies and harvested crops back and forth.

Below the water lies at least one wrecked steamboat, and an entire fort.  The river shifted some in the years since the early 1900’s, and more changes occurred when the Army Corps of Engineers dammed the river at several locations.

So, for now, as a reminder of what lies below, the Sioux stands above, waiting for a fresh coat of paint.

August 14

 

Captains Cabin's ride for CF

 

Every summer, Ron and Marge at the Captains Cabin in Washburn sponsor a ride to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis.  I’ve been otherwise occupied each weekend they hold the ride, but this year, I was free and caught the event.

Ron in the CF tent after the ride

It was a questionable ride from the beginning as rain was moving through the area. So the ride started about a half hour late and dodged rain most of the day.  It was cold and windy but in the end a good hardy crew raised several hundred dollars to fight Cystic Fibrosis.  That’s a good thing for me personally since I’ve had 4 cousins die from the illness.  Thanks to Ron and Marge for their support.

(I’ve got a file on my other computer of more pics and will post them here when I consolidate files.)