Thursday, October 31, 2013

Standing on History - Split Rock

I almost missed it. Along State Highway 287 in central Wyoming (near Riverton) is a very small sign directing you to stop and gaze upon this broad valley. Near the parking area, three information signs tell the story. This is Split Rock, a natural gap between stone mountains that anchor a broad plain containing a freshwater river and green grasses.

Why is it famous? In the 1800s some half million pioneers traveled west through this valley while on the Oregon Trail and Mormon Pioneer Trail. Both routes converged through this passage. Even the short lived Pony Express ran through this valley. Descriptions of this vista and its history are on display near where the photo was taken. 

Highway 287 to Lander parallels much of the Oregon trail for several miles in this region - sometimes just a few yards from the paved highway. Had I known this historic fact I would have been treated to seeing the actual ruts of metal wagon wheels made by pioneers over one hundred and fifty years ago. Do your trip research ahead of time is the lesson.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lighting Iron and Stone

Light and shadow make enormous contributions to classical forms of iron and stone. Late afternoon fall sunlight washes over these fence and gate components at Riverside Cemetery in McMinnville, Tennessee (some seven degrees south of 42N.) 

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Look at the Hotel Pawnee and White Horse

Last month I stopped at Grand Platte, Nebraska on the way West. Near what was formerly the train depot area of downtown is an impressive building called the Hotel Pawnee and the nearby Fox Theater. While the theater looks open for business, the Pawnee was closed - as in no longer in business. The following day a restaurant worker told me that the building closed recently as a home for mental patients. More history of the Pawnee can be found here.

Located a few blocks from the train depot, the Pawnee has great architecture including the White Horse business on the corner of the hotel. Sure looks like a restaurant facade that has been closed for some time.

If doors could talk. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Amana General Store - Working It

A favorite location for my photography is Amana, Iowa. One of the centerpieces of Main Amana is the general store. In the golden rays of sunset, light illuminates the store's peak and compliments the native sandstone exterior. The store offers many Amana-related products such as food, books, souvenirs and such. But you can also just sit outside and watch people walk along the main street. On this particular evening no one was around so I concentrated on photographing the peak. Maybe next time a live model will be present at the general store's main entrance.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bull Snake Bite at Lake Macbride

Earlier this summer a bit of nature vs. man drama unfolded at a local lake. In eastern Iowa we have two side-by-side man made lakes; Lake Macbride and the Coralville Reservoir. At the Macbride dam several people spotted a bull snake which had made its way up the rock face to wait for food from flowing spillway water. These people went to investigate and to take a few photos, I did too.

One of their friends tried picking up the snake with a small stick. He succeeded in grabbing the long serpent by the end of its tail. 

However, snakes do what they do. Our purple shirt friend received a bite from the bull snake and bled. After releasing the snake (unharmed) he showed the effects of the bite. We offered medical attention but he declined saying that he often receives snake bites. He assured us that a bull snake is not poisonous and that he would be okay. The snake made its way down the slope and entered the waters of the Coralville Reservoir. Our purple shirt friend went back to his family's BBQ at the picnic area to show off the bite.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall Harvest Color on the Volga River

Tons of ice leveled ground during the last glaciation period over most of Iowa. Fortunately the northeast part of the state was spared from these ice mountains, leaving some of the most scenic lands around. And of course, at this time of year, colors from tree-lined valleys are always spectacular.

This is the Volga River which runs near the small,unincorporated town of Littleport, Iowa. Spring fed flows become even more clear in the fall since most water-borne algae have died away. Now, colorful fallen leaves dot the water from below the surface before yielding to sediment coverage.

In 1999 the Volga flooded to a historic level. Most people abandoned the town once the water receded, leaving only a few structures. Some people still live in the area and get to enjoy this scene daily.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Harvest Time in Iowa

Harvest 2013 is well underway in Iowa. This past weekend the scene repeated most often involved soybean harvest. Combines are often accompanied by support vehicles, grain bin trucks and wagons. Caravans of these vehicles move slowly on the local roads from fields to storage bins. 

Hay also is harvested on this northeast Iowa farm. Once the forage source is mowed and bundled, the tractor spears the rolled stack for transportation and storage.

Iowa's dry fall has contributed to a smooth harvest. Corn is being combined too but no sightings of active harvests were made today. Clouds of silage rise from fields and resemble fires. Semi trucks rolling along gravel roads send dust up and make the sky look like a field wide fire is underway. Just some of the oddities of grain harvest in the hawkeye state.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Marion Fly-In 2013 Part 3

Marion, Iowa's annual fly-in and breakfast is held the Sunday prior to July 4th. This year's event expanded with demonstrations from the fire department. Firefighter Phil High supervises the construction set up, fire demonstration and clean-up.

The fire department constructed apartment-like cubicles and positioned couches, tables, etc in the units, then set them on fire. One apartment had a smoke detector and other alarm instruments. The demonstration reinforced how fast fires can start and spread. A crowd watched the firefighters douse the flames.

Kennedy High School (Cougars) annually demonstrate electric car design, construction and racing at the fly-in. They compete with other clubs in the midwest. Several KHS seniors go on to automotive or engineering courses in college and vocational schools.  

At various times during the fly-in, students take the car on the grounds for firsthand demonstrations of driving. The team answers questions about how the car works and what it takes to get involved.

Getting around the fly-in is easy. Perfect weather and lots of planes made for another great fly-in. See you in 2014. 

Marion Fly-in 2013 photos here: Part 1, Part 2.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Marion Fly-In 2013 Part 2

More photos from the Marion Fly-in 2013 on Sunday, June 30, 2013. This annual event features private aircraft either on display or giving short rides around the Cedar Rapids-Marion, Iowa area.

The US military was represented by Army and Marine recruiters this year at the fly-in. Sometimes a Navy recruiter and trainer plane make the event. These Marines were waiting for someone to call who was suppose to meet them.

Civil Air Patrol cadets help a pilot move his plane into a parking position. Each year, cadets work hard to make the entire event a success.

A characteristic of the event is an active flight line. Planes taxi, depart and arrive. The public can stand close to the action where it is not possible at larger commercial airports.

Several smaller planes have their own characteristic paint. This one resembles an eagle. Kids love it.

Local air care made an appearance at the fly-in. This helicopter's arrival is a head turner, as it approaches the crowd, rotates into position and lands. People love looking into the cockpit and talking to the crew.

Marion Fly-in 2013 photos here: Part 1, Part 3.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Wyoming Coal Headed East on Union Pacific Rails

Union Pacific's 6784 locomotive idles near downtown Grand Mound, Iowa. I noticed a video camera near the center support of the windshield pointed in the direction of the engine's movement. As far as the eye can see the entire train consisted of coal filled cars. Photographically an impressive point is how the train drapes over the small rise to the west, exposing the car's contents. In Omaha, corporate UP is considering adding a third line. For now the shiny rails haul freight.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Marion Fly-In 2013 Part 1

[Getting back to blogging.] On Sunday June 30, 2013, the Marion, Iowa airport stages a fly-in for pilots and the general public. Each year the event grows with more participating aircraft, some for static display and some to give rides for $10 a person. The short flights circle the Marion-Cedar Rapids area and typically last for about 15 minutes. This year the weather was prefect as people enjoyed the lead up to the Independance Day celebrations in the area known as Freedomfest.

Airplane rides are offered in a variety of private aircraft. The Iowa corn crop looked pretty darn good in the background. It would be nearly two months later when substantial rains returned.

This girl wanted her photo taken as she peered out of a Humvee. I suspect that her dad was the driver.

The local Civil Air Patrol manages the flight line and parking for aircraft and cars. The older kids help the younger ones learn what to do while the adult members oversee the entire event. The commander (with his back turned to the camera) generally signaled the planes to park nearby while maintaining high levels of safety. He made sure his troop knew exactly what to do, when to do it and where to do it.

A line of planes wait for passengers to load and unload. As you can imagine the need for safety around these fast moving propellers and taxiing planes are major priorities.

Marion Fly-in photos can be seen here: Part 2, Part 3.