Wednesday, December 31, 2014

SE Iowa Barn Charm With No Snow for the Moment

This barn sits on the way to Wildcat Den State Park in SE Iowa near Muscatine. It is located a few hundred yards from the Mississippi River with this exposure facing the river to the east. While we have escaped snow so far this season, except for November, it sounds like the accumulation will be a possibility this weekend. It was nice while it lasted.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Early Fall Loon

A trip to Leech Lake, Minnesota at the end of September into the first few days of October experienced both summer- and winter-like conditions. While the fishing on sunny days was slow, the chance to snap a photo of wildlife was quite good. This is a adolescent loon swimming along the shore of Bear Island looking for minnows - something the walleyes failed to do.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Visit to a 1937 American Airlines DC-3

Ok one more photo from the 1937 DC-3 at the Iowa City airport last August. The shiny aluminum skin with the vintage American Airlines logo help give the almost 80 year old plane a modern look with a retro twist. If the aircraft makes a stop near you, go see it and experience something from another era but as cool as anything flying today. (The object above the aircraft, seen above the M in American, is the airport's spotlight in the background.)

Aft View of a Vintage DC-3

Another shot of the vintage DC-3 at the Iowa City Airport in August. The tail section has been replaced with more modern materials but it doesn't take away from the plane's beauty. Somehow my photo doesn't compare to Iowa City photographer, Juan Carlos Herrera's view of the same aft section. See his version at this link.

Vintage 1937 DC-3 Lands at Iowa City

On August 19, 2014 the restored Flagship Detroit DC-3 landed at the Iowa City airport. The 21-passenger plane was restored to its original 1937 flying condition and American Airlines color scheme after an extensive two year period.

With the setting sun's rays bathing the plane in golden light, the sight through the viewfinder was unbelievable. The plane looked unreal, like a shiny toy against a fake background. It didn't belong here - in our modern world. It took some adjustment to believe what was before me.

The Flagship Detroit is based at an American Airlines hanger in Tulsa. The plane makes appearances at many airshows throughout the year including the one at Greeley, Colorado, the destination following Iowa City. 

The crew had just left the plane for the evening before I arrived. Earlier in the day for a person could join the plane's foundation for $150 and receive a ride. While that sounded tempting, the airport manager said that the plane would be flying to Greeley directly the next morning. Read about the plane here from the Gazette.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Day Barn Charm East of Amana

A ride down the river road from Main Amana, Iowa to just south of Swisher led past these two barns during Thanksgiving day. The air temp was frigid partly because of the cloudless skies. And this being two thirds into Fall it also meant most of the leaves are gone from the trees. These conditions produce striking looks at the area's main industry - farming.

A few miles east of the first two barns on the river road is this old beauty. The farm property has a large circle P logo on it. No sign of livestock on this trip.

Spring Thinking Near the End of Fall

Here along the mid-northern latitudes, the race from Fall to Winter is in full gear. To lessen the impact of warm temperatures sliding back into winter's grasp, here is a icon image from late May 2014 to help ward off any polar vortex - maybe.

Rusty at Thanksgiving

Rusty, our family dog, loved to play in the leaves. He also was a very photogenic Irish Setter and liked to pose for me. This leaf pile photo was taken on Thanksgiving 1976.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Partial Solar Eclipse Seen From Wickiup Hill

October 23, 2014 will be remembered for a spectacular late day solar eclipse around Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The first contact time (the time when the moon initially started its journey across the sun) of roughly 4:33 pm was completely obscured by a thick cloud deck. Later, about 5:15 pm the clouds began to part but did not totally disappear. Acting as a filter, the clouds allowed glimpses of the sun-moon-earth dance.

Look closely at the image of the sun. Those two dots near the solar disc center are actually solar sunspots, extremely large solar storms often larger than the earth. The cloud deck not only acted as a natural filter but also added a dramatic effect to these images.

Finally near 6:02 pm the sun neared the western horizon and shone through a thick atmosphere, turning visibly redder. These scenes were taken from the nature area called Wickiup Hill located north of Cedar Rapids, near the Cedar River.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Message in the Bottles

At the Labor Day flea market in Marquette, Iowa there are many vendors situated near the Iowa-Wisconsin bridge. Vendors sell anything and everything. On this day there was a selection of old time medicine or tonic bottles for sale, many for $3 a piece. While there were no rolled-up bits of paper in the bottles, a few contained something in them - dead bugs. That's the message.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Czech & Slovak Museum's Rails Have Witnessed Much

These concrete railings are part of clock tower stage at the National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Back in 1995 Presidents Bill Clinton, Vaclav Havel and Michal Kovac stood near this spot to dedicate the museum. Having survived that attention these railing were flooded in 2008 when the Cedar River reached a historic 500 year high mark. Today the area looks much improved and awaits the next event.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cherries or Miniature Red Apples?

I don't know what kind of cherries these are. They are about pea size and are growing on small trees in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Maybe these are an apple variety - who knows? Nice to see them before we receive serious frost.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Purple Buzz on a Noxious Weed

A bee gathers pollen from a flowering Canada thistle today in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The thistle is regarded as a pesky noxious weed in these parts but can be quite beautiful if not on your property. Fortunately this purple flowered weed is located on an empty lot in the 2008 flood zone close to the Newbo area of Cedar Rapids. Someday some commercial venture will once again occupy this space but until then...a bee is happy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Leading Edge Orange

Close up of a restored DC-3 prop. A pitted and bug soaked leading edge on the right. More DC-3 photos to come.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fuel Pit Stop for St. Lukes Helicopter

So, I'm on the Iowa City airport tarmac taking photos of a vintage DC-3 a couple of weeks ago when out of nowhere a helicopter shows up. The copter lands, fuels and then leaves in a hurry. It is based in Cedar Rapids but must have needed fuel now rather than topping the tanks at the Cedar Rapids airport.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Marquette, Iowa Flea Market Stare

A stare from a native American bust/statue/figure head at the Marquette, Iowa flea market looks over the Mississippi River from underneath the Iowa-Wisconsin bridge today. The colorful plaster was listed at $25. The flea market continues into day 3 of the Labor Day weekend event in Marquette, located just across the river from Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Iowa Interstate #509 Moves Out of Maintenance Works

Iowa Interstate Railway locomotives are kept in tip-top condition at the new maintenance works near South Amana, Iowa. The facility opened in 2012 and employs up to forty workers. This west bound train consisted of four locomotives pulling ethanol tankers somewhere. Iowa Interstate operates 600 miles of track between Chicago and Council Bluffs.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Goose in Evening Light

Evening light can be dramatic. Golden rays of the low sun angle flooded the lily pond area of Amana, Iowa yesterday. This Canada goose was in a pack of a half dozen birds who allowed me to get fairly close for a decent zoom lens shot. With so many geese like these around (and their litter) its hard to remember a time nearly forty years ago when it was rare to see them outside of migration time. Open water and more food sources available within city limits have created a situation of year round presence for the stately bird.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Ready for a Painting

Those 19th century impressionists were always seeking the perfect light and clouds for their works of art. Well look no farther than your friendly Midwestern sky. This summer's sky has offered spectacular views of billowing clouds made just for capturing on canvas or in pixels.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sunset on CID

Another beautiful sunset over the control tower and hangers at the Eastern Iowa Airport (CID,KCID) near Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


A warning sign expresses either an opinion or a warning near the low head dam at Palisades State Park near Mount Vernon, Iowa.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Supermoon - Crappy Focus

This was my best shot of terra luna last Saturday as it became Supermoon, skimming some 37,000 miles closer to us than normal. Despite the revealing dust and smudges on the telephoto lens I continue to not be able to find infinity focus, and that's trying both the manual and auto-zoom settings. If anyone has a tip to nail crisp focus of the moon and stars please let me know.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Not a Good Day for Sailors on Lake Macbride

Two days ago the weather was perfect with low temperatures and steady breezes along Lake Macbride in eastern Iowa. What wasn't perfect were the sailing skills of at least two sailors. Within a span of an hour two rented sailboats tipped over while making hard turns into the stiff wind.

Fortunately in both cases the crew was able to right the sailboat and climb back without too many injuries. Several close-by boats maneuvered to help but in both cases the downed crews said they were okay. I suppose if someone watched the rented boats leave the harbor and tac on the lake they would see this same sight repeated every weekend during the summer. Inexperienced sailors learned the hard way how to ride the waves. Crews from both boats wore life vests which probably saved them but not their electronics.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Despite the Fall Colors Autumn is Not Here Yet.

It can't be autumn yet at Lake Macbride in eastern Iowa. I'm going with a diseased or damaged tree has turned a rusty color in early August. Hopefully the turning leaves are months away rather than just around the corner. On the other hand its been a cool and wet summer following an impossible winter. Enjoy the warmth while we can.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sunshine on My Shoulder

Boating on Iowa's Lake Macbride is a popular activity. This no-wake lake makes it ideal for cloth sailors, pontooners and kayakers to wonder about without worry of faster craft making waves. Today the sky was blue, the wind was perfect for sailing and sunshine was on the shoulder.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Alburnett, Iowa Cattle Watch Who is Photographing Them

A field full of these cattle types munched on lots of green grass thanks to generous rains this season. These are extremely curious cattle and very watchful of stray photographers wandering around their world.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Treadwear Traction and Temperature

The three Ts of tire selection and performance; treadwear, traction and temperature. Looks like there's some good thread left on this farm equipment related tire but a closer look shows deep cracks. Maybe this would make a better swing seat.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rural Granary Along Abandoned Track

North of Vinton, Iowa is this old granary or mill. While its exterior is kept clean and painted, the structure is no more than a relic of the past. The trail to the right is on the site of a former railroad line. Rail cars stopped at the granary to be loaded with local produced grains.

These tall structures were probably more common throughout the Midwest grain producing areas.

While this structure still stands, modern replacements are either cylinder shaped grain bins located on individual farm property or most likely, the local towering grain elevators that dot small towns throughout corn and soybean producing states.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Puppy's Stare

It was a cool, breezy day. The window of the locked pickup was down enough for a puppy to pop his head out and greet auction goers. His owner checked on him every 15 minutes but he really wanted to be outside and be part of the auction.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Iowa's Beautiful Corn

Healthy rains this spring helped to create outstanding crop stands this season. While much of Iowa has been two weeks without wide spread rain the record amounts earlier this spring and summer have combined for perfect soil moisture in most areas.

In this particular field just southeast of Alburnett, Iowa, the end rows of corn show a bit smaller stand and are lighter green in color - perhaps indicating a wet area or depleted fertilizer content. Interior rows show a healthy dark green and of uniformed height. Superb moisture at pollination time means the corn ears will be large and filled out. If an early frost doesn't upset the growing time, the 2014 crop is expected to be the largest in history. Its an impressive scene to see miles and miles of healthy corn around the Hawkeye state.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

TMA-3 in Cedar Rapids? The Gate Appears to Be Open

A two dimensional TMA object appears to be present in Cedar Rapids. Obviously the depth component is missing and I'm not sure the final dimensions are quite proportional. Perhaps Bowman knows.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Price of Freedom - Orian G. Owens

During World War II Orian G. Owens' B-17F was shot down over Holland on a return bombing raid to Germany on January 11, 1944. He and other crewmates parachuted out and were recovered by resistance fighters. In April German SS found the crew, interrogated the Americans and shot them in what is now known as the massacre of St. Remy. After the war, Orian's body was returned to his family for burial in the Lisbon Cemetery. Read my article about him here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Marion Fly-In 2014 Part 2

Watching small planes land and take-off never gets old at the Marion Fly-in in Marion, Iowa.

To get the full look at the Marion airport you can ride the hayrack around the grounds.

Nothing like a hayrack ride and a thumb to calm the nerves.

Always a crowd pleaser - a local hospital patient copter.

One of the hospital copter's healthcare professionals explains the medical features of the mobile unit.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Marion Fly-In 2014 Part 1

One of the opening activities for Freedom Festival is the Marion Fly-In in Marion, Iowa. Today the cloud ceiling was low and therefore no fly-ins participated. However several local small planes gave $10 a person rides throughout the morning.

A skeptical boy hangs on to his mother as they approach a small plane for a ride. 

Air traffic is brisk during mid morning but the crews did a good job in getting people on and off the planes.

A trio of guys get their photo taken after completing a successful flight.

Vehicle traffic was routed slightly differently than in years' past. A volunteer directs traffic away from the old entrance. Note the relative height of the corn in the background. Its been a wet spring.