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Summer Post IV: 55 Bell-Air

When you bump into someone as you roll through the pinball table of life you never know when, if you will bump into them again or even why for that matter. In an earlier post titled “Hanging Out at the Skate Park…”  I wrote about the experience that I had that morning and 3 guys I bumped into while I was shooting photos. I got some truly awesome photos of Rob (dad of the two boys) on his board and killer Images of some of the eye lines with the addition of colorful graffiti in the background. Later I photographed Adam (older son) for senior photos at the skate park and let me tell you they turned out better than I ever thought they would. I typically don’t use names in my blogs this post is a little different let me tell you why. What I learned while I was taking his senior photos is that Adam is due for a kidney transplant. He had received a transplant from his dad when he was four years old. What an awesome story this is to hear firsthand. After meeting the family and group of friends it is humbling to see how they have come together for support and to raise the funds to pay for the next transplant. So you have to be asking yourself… What does the 55 Bell Air have to do whit this??? Well Adam’s grandparents own this car and have donated it to the fundraiser. The tickets are going for $25/ea. and they are only selling a 1,000 of them. Last count they were almost there and expecting to sell out soon. I got the opportunity to spend some time with Larry (the gentleman taking care of the car) taking photos of the car in different areas around town. It was cool the way we were able to catch the right amount of sun at the right angle to capture these images. We did a shoot on the river above the historic 10th street bridge. I loved capturing the reflection of the bridge in the car. One image was captured in front of the Milwaukee depot with the fall colors highlighting the yellow of the car. The last stop that day was at the Historic Fords Drive in on the west side of town. All of them were great shots. A few days later the car was at Taylor’s Auto Max for an event with the sun hitting the west side of the building making the car glow! They have shown this car at venue’s all over central Montana. On top of their daily lives it is inspirational to see how hard this team works for Adam and his family.

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Summer Post III: Hanging out in Eastern Montana

The state of Montana is just under 600 miles from where the sun rises to where the sun sets. From end to end and top to bottom there is about 150,000 square miles of mountains, planes, badlands, Rivers and lakes with just a few people in between. A person does not really appreciate the size of Montana until you take a trip to eastern Montana. Heading East from Grass Range you are hours from the nearest gas station and farm houses are far and few between. Until you reach the Yellowstone River valley the roads are narrow over rolling hills and there are horizons that never end.  A trip down the Yellowstone Valley can take you back in time. Nowhere is this truer than just outside of Glendive in Makoshika State Park. This place is amazing! I started my day out by driving the roads and scouting the trails in the park. The goal that day was to catch a memorable sunset and unforgettable full moon rise. I made my rounds on all of the roads and trails in the park before I stopped for a nap. I have always wanted to take a nap on the hood of my truck overlooking the badlands with just the sound of the wind and the eagles that were circling in the sky (it was a real picturesque moment). This ended up being the best 45 min of sleep I have had in quite some time. I woke up fully rested and ready to eat lunch and walk the trails. I met my family down at one of the camp grounds and ate a quick lunch. While we were down there we found a rattle snake den just under the campground. If you look closely at the picture you can see a skin that was shed and hung up on the rocks. Long story short I ended up climbing out on a hill that seems to be in the middle by its self. I set my camera tripod up on what looks to me to be a fossil of a leg bone of some kind. I could see the socket on one side and the darker marrow where it was broken (How cool is that!!?) So now that I have found the perfect spot all that is left is to hang out and wait for the sun to set. I used an app on my phone to calculate the location of the full moon rise on the horizon. I ended up getting block by a wall of clouds that had settled in after the sun went down, none the less the wait was worth it. The fires that were burning on the western side of the state made the sun a deep read while maintaining a blue sky in the east making the photos stunning. If you are ever looking for a trip back in time head to the Yellowstone valley and stop by Makoshika. Don’t be scared to venture off of the trail so see what fossils you can find.   

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Summer Post II: Seattle Night

I head to the coast about once a month and these trips are fast. It is critical that I plan my trip and what I want to capture. The meetings I am going over for are located in Lakewood at JBLM and the sites in the area are endless. This last trip I wanted to make sure I made it up to Seattle. Seattle is an amazing city with so much going on. My first stop when I got into town was the Space Needle. I parked in the parking lot just adjacent to the park. Walking past the Experience Music Project building in just amazement I could have spent the day photographing this one building. I continued on into downtown Seattle towards the water. I found myself in Myrtle Edwards Park. This park is between the water and the train tracks that run down the coast. I followed the 2 mile long trail where people were exercising, talking business, holding hands, riding bikes, reading or just staring into the magical waters of the sound as the sun set. I found myself at peace with world around me as I wondered down the path hiding amongst the people around me. Form there I wondered back around through residential and business districts along West Mercer St. The next adventure took me to Pikes Place Market. By the time I got to the market it was closed of course. This didn’t seem to stop the people in Victor Steinbruek Park from playing music and enjoying the sunset on the sound. I headed into the market and into downtown Seattle. As I walked taking photos I wondered into the World’s First Starbucks. One of my treasured indulgent in life is my evening coffee and how lucky am I to literally wonder into the World’s First Starbucks. I ordered a Café Vanilla Frappuccino with an extra shot and hands down the best one I have ever had. After my day came to an end, back on the I-5 I went back to get ready for my morning flight back home. Our project has wrapped up there but another one is just around the corner. I look forward to seeing our team out there and the endless landscape captures in the area.

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Summer Post I: Rivers Edge Trail by Bike

Due to my busy schedule this summer it has been a while sense I have made any post to my blog. This summer has been a roller coaster of events and adventures. Over the next eight posts I am going to cover my summer where I left off in July to current time. When I was not working or traveling I was on the bike hitting the trail. The Rivers Edge Trail has over 45 miles of trail and I covered every mile (Check out http://thetrail.org/). With a record fire season in Montana the colors were fantastic to photograph. There was always a stunning sunset, or a once in a life time sunrise to capture. One memorable trip I took was the trip out to Ryan dam from the Rainbow dam overlooks and this trail is aggressive at best. Following the river banks of the Missouri heading North East the trail takes you up and down the fingers that reach from the prairie into the water  that sit about 50′ to a 100’ above the water. Mid way between Rainbow dam and Ryan dam sits Cochrane dam. You can’t drive to it due the fact the road is private so the only way to see it is to take the trail. In the 35 years I have lived in Great Falls I had never seen the Cochrane dam. The dam a modest structure that sticks out of the water with just one power plant. Just above the dam are the remnants of infrastructure that was once used to carry irrigation water out to the grassland. It is now used by guys like me that are resting at the midpoint between Great Falls and Ryan dam. To the north side of the river the old Rainbow dam power plant building has been replaced by the smaller building in the background. Just the week before I took my trip down the trail a grass fire surrounded this facility stripping all of the vegetation away. Now fall has come and gone, winter is here and the bikes are put away. Over the months to come I will be out and about capturing a Missouri winter and planning my shots for next summer.

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Out and about in Great Falls

While it is nice enough to ride my bike I am out and about nightly and every night I pick a new place to go. It might be downtown, or on some part of the Rivers Edge Trail. Usually I hit the trail because of the ever changing scenery.

Last week I got ambitious and took the trail up to the top of Warden Park. There is quite the elevation change in a short distance for a bike. It ended up being great exerciser on top of the Images I was able to get were excellent. As a photographer I am always looking for the “Image” and I am never let down on any given night I get out and hit the Rivers Edge Trail. I would say that over all the Rivers Edge Trail is the single best feature of Great Falls but also the best kept secret.

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Hanging out in the Tacoma Narrows

This last week I was out in Tacoma for my monthly visit. As usual it was a pleasure to visit and I found myself in new territory. This time I was able to get out and see the Point Defiance Park and head down the Puget Sound cost line back to Lakewood where I was staying. With the sun roof back and the windows down and a light breeze flowing through the car I was able to find true inter peace that is seldom reached.

As I was driving through, at the fort in the middle they were having a car show with cars out of the 30’s and 40’s era. the down side for me was that the trees were so thick that the light was too low to get good shots. as I went through the park I hit all of the overlooks onto the sound. I was able to catch the boats sailing up and down and some great shots of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge that sands tall where Galloping Gertie once stood. I was amazed by the amount of walk paths and the fact that they have a zoo in the middle of the park. Next time I go I would like to venture through there when I have a little more daylight.

From the park I went down to another park called Titlo Park. The park part it’s self it under construction however there is some kind of boating club tucked back on the water side. You have to park and walk a ways back; however it is well worth it. I was able to get out on the beach and get some great shots not to mention the one of the bridge with the sun setting behind the trees. Over all that was a great way to finish the day!

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Wedding Bells in Helena

After my week in Coeur d’ Alene, next on the summer schedule was my cousin and his beautiful brides wedding. They planned over a year for the perfect wedding and I would say they got “got r done”. They planned a western style wedding with all of the finishing touches right down to the pine cone bouquet and pistol salute during the kiss. The setting was outside of Helena at the “little red school house”. This school house was the first school house in the Helena valley that was built in 1888. Not having been there I was curious as to why they would have picked this location. They could have not pick a better location for a western style with the mountains in the background and the trees to provide just the right amount of shade for the large crowd that had come to witness the event.

The reception was held at the fairgrounds. When we got there to set up, it was amazing the level of organization and thought that went into this event. Everybody had their card of instructions and when the vehicles showed up the contents were unloaded and put in place. It had the layout of a well-run construction project :-).  At the bachelor party weeks before my cousin was telling me about the brisket and food they had started to prepare. Well I am here to report that the food was amazing! The truth be told that there are two kinds of weddings. The first are the stressful ones that no one including the wedding party has any fun at. Then there are those that are a day of magic. It is not often we get together as a family anymore but I think it was my aunt Gen who summed it up best… “It was just like the good old day with all of us together!”


Thompson Falls Cut Across

After my week in Coeur d’Alene I decided that it was time to scratch one off of my “Bucket List”. I have wanted to take the Thompson Falls cut across to Missoula from Sandpoint Idaho for years now. Without regret I made the trip :-). Sandpoint is just a quick jaunt north of Coeur d’ Alene that is a trip all in its self. We spent a few hours in Sandpoint hanging out at the beach and eating breakfast at the Beach House Lounge. Breakfast was great! After a few minutes on the beach it was time to get on the road. We stopped along the way several times to take in the scenery and enjoy the small towns along the way. If you are ever in that area I highly suggest you make the  turn because the Thompson Falls cut across is amazing to say the least. My next trip back from that side of the rocks will take me through Libby and Glacier National Park.


Celebrating the 4th in Coeur d’Alene

I am running a little behind on my blogs for the month… The up side is that over the last three weeks I have rounded up plenty of blog material. Over the 4th of July I spent the week in the beautiful town of Coeur d’ Alene. I try to make it there at least twice a year and every time coming home gets harder and harder. I enjoy the scenery, the people, and the general ambiance.

I have covered a good deal of the globe and Coeur d‘ Alene is one of the few places I have been that I have felt instantly at home. The experiences are always memorable. One Memory that I don’t think I will forget any time soon was the afternoon I came back after swimming on the south side of Tubs hill. I had just realized that I left my wallet back at the house and didn’t have the $3 I would need to pay for parking by the resort. I was just commenting to my wife that I didn’t have any cash on me and what happened next just left me in bewilderment. As I was pondering how i was going to get the cash a younger gentleman overheard our conversation and approached me with “Excuse me SIR”… I then turned and he asked me if I needed cash for parking and in his hand is $3. Completely dumbfounded I asked him to repeat himself with an “Excuse me”?  (Now understand that this does not happen where I am from) I reluctantly took the money with a cautious “Thank You”. To this day I can’t believe that a bystander over heard my conversation with my wife and stepped in to help. After sharing my story with my brother and sister who live over there, apparently this kind of thing happens all of the time.

We spent the morning of the 4th at the parade. The “Small town feel” of patriotism at that parade was emotional to say the least. As I came in with my family folks moved to the side with a smile to allow for my kids to squeeze in with their kids. The parade comprised of the local schools, fire departments, soldiers and just about everything you would see at a small town parade. That night we found a great spot next to the resort to watch fireworks. The colors were brilliant reflecting off of the lake, and the sounds reverberated off of the surrounding mountains. I consider this to be a “Perfect” 4th of July celebration.

The last night i was there we took a walk as a family down along the lake while the sunset over the Tubs hill. Not a breath of wind and nothing but the sounds of the lake next to the trail. Unlike other adventures, I never get home sick when I am in Coeur d‘ Alene because I already feel at home.


Relaxing weekends are far and few between!

I don’t know about for you but July has been NUTS! I have had one weekend to relax and hit the Rivers Edge Trail. This is commonly something I do 3 to 4 times a week and every Saturday and Sunday in the mornings. The weekend before last was my one weekend of the month to do this. The Rivers Edge Trail takes you all the way to Ryan Dam east of Great Falls. It is a little bit of a “jaunt” to say the least but well worth it (keep an eye for upcoming blogs). The Great thing about the trail is the constant changing scenery. A few weeks ago I was on the trail one evening and I see they are building a Sun Dial just off of the 10th street bridge. The timing was perfect for a great image. I rode by once and got to the Black Eagle Dam before I realized that the sunset that was evolving was lining up right behind it, so I raced back to grab the picture. Luckily the gentleman that was working on it was still welding away. Another night I was out and about on the west side of the river and was able to catch the sun bouncing off of the BNSF train yard shop building. I have found that Great photos are made by being at the right place at the right time. I find myself pretty lucky to be able to go out on the trail any night of the week or any weekend and catch images that stand out.


Flying High in Tacoma

These trips always go so fast with so much to pack into a short amount of time. When we arrive at SeaTac the race is on. It is off of the plane, onto Tacoma, and rush to the first meeting within a half hour. It is great to meet with the project management staff and catch up on a months’ worth of progress. The day is spent in meetings, site walks, and working on any issues that may be going. After a Dinner at the RAM bar and grill it is hard not to go back to the hotel and crash for the night. This last week I was out there I resisted the temptation and headed out to Steliacoom to grab a few shots. To my surprise when I arrived there was a Jazz band playing in the park that sits on the hill side above the sound. The intensity of the music was awesome to say the least. The music filled the town and the bay below with the sounds of Jazz. Just as the sun is setting the ferries from Anderson Island come back and forth making their final run for the night with the sun setting behind the Cascades. I sat there until the sun set and took it all in; what a great night!

The next morning we were up with the sun and grabbed breakfast at Denny’s in Lakewood WA. The goal was to be on McChord before the job site opened. At 5:30am we rolled out by the end of the tarmac where there is a museum with planes posed ready for flight. Behind the planes mount Rainier stands tall and proud with the sun rising behind it. I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to visit the places I visit and even more lucky having the gift to capture them in an image to share. Needless to say that once the day started the peace and tranquility of the morning was over and the race was back on. I arrived back in Great Falls that Afternoon in disbelief of the amazing things I was able to see and the Images I hoped I had captured.


Hanging out at the Skate Park…

It was a great ride this morning… Not a breath of wind and temps perfect for recreation. I took the Rivers Edge Trail to Giant Springs and back through downtown. I am still working through my photos I got this morning but wanted to get a few out. On my way down the trail I stopped by the City of Great Falls Skate Park. I have wanted to stop and grab photos of the structures and maybe a few action shots however by the time I get done working the park is a little too busy to stop. This morning was the perfect opportunity. After scoping the area there was a guy with his two boys just finished cleaning the entire park. I was not too sure what was going on so I continued to take photos while keeping to myself. As usual it didn’t take to long for someone to start asking questions about what it is I am taking photos of. After talking to the dad and his two boys I was completely blown away. He brings his boys down on Saturday for the same reason I chose to stop this morning. They clean the entire park from the ill-mannered folks from the previous days so they can enjoy the park the way it was meant to be enjoyed. His older boy (17yrs) Proceeds to explain to me that it is a privilege to have the park to use. Good people and a great dad getting his boys off to a good start. As sad as it is to see people take advantage of our parks and recreation structures the true silver lining is to know that there are people that are taking care of it.

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Good Times in the Bitterroot!

Last weekend was the bachelor party of bachelor parties. The original location for the party was going to be Helena. We had planned to float the Missouri river for the day. After the float trip we planned to get into your typical bachelor party adventure on the party bus that evening. As plans often times do they changed. It was decided by the bachelor party committee that we would have it at Lolo Hot springs.  I had never been to Lolo Hot Springs however I have always heard how beautiful it was. As it turns out Lolo Hot springs is in the center of everywhere for bachelor parties. By the time we arrived in Lolo that Friday one of the members of the party had lost his pants along the way and was down to his chonies. He was intoxicated enough that he politely asked bystander for a pair of shorts to borrow… and the adventure had begun. The first adventure to be undertaken was the 30min drive back into Missoula. A bachelor party wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a strip joint and this one was no exception. We started the establishment on the west side of Missoula out by the truck stop. The “environment” was “okay” but not appealing to our group. From there we took the party to the Fox Club downtown. Let me tell you things were looking up! The “environment” was just right for having a good time. After an S&M beating for the soon to be groom by two beautiful women and more liquor then the human body is supposed to take we headed back to Lolo. I would also like to add that during this little adventure we had two Designated Drivers to get us around; they drank pop and water all night. It was cool how easy it was to find someone in the group willing to stay sober all night to take care of his buddies…. On with the adventure! In Lolo there is a nice little bar and grill that serves not too bad of a breakfast and dinner. After a night like that we are going to need some breakfast!

The Mountains around Lolo and on the Idaho border are amazing to say the least. We found hours of entertainment back in the sticks. Starting with panning for gold, we found ourselves back a few miles behind the resort. I can’t tell you the thrill of seeing flakes in the bottom of your pan. Needless to say that between the three of us with pans in our hand we came a long way from making wages. After lunch and target practice we decided to head over the pass into Idaho. The Locsha river drainage is something to put on your “Bucket List” for sure. There are amazing vistas, warm mountain springs, raging rapids and trails that don’t stop. We ended up going on the Warm springs Creek Trail to the Jerry Johns Hot Springs. Honestly they were more of a mud puddle however for the price of a small walk there are not to many other places in the lower 48 that you can see people openly walking around stark-naked. Just to add culture to your life makes it worth the walk :-). Over all it was an awesome weekend with a great group of guys.


Evening Cruse

When I am not on my bike I throw the dog in the back of the truck and chase the sun. the last few nights I have been lucky. just out of Great Falls there are some great photo opportunities. From the Ulm Pishkun to the Eden Road. Photos of Square Butte, pictures of Great Falls from the Pishkun, to Belt Creek as it winds through the canyon out of the Little Belts to the Missouri. As I am wrapping this blog up I am getting ready for a trip to the Bitterroot Valley. I am looking forward to hanging out in the Bitterroot and capturing Western Montana. In the meantime I am capturing Central Montana for you!

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I Can See it All From My Bike

After a long day at the office or on the job site there is nothing better than coming home and hopping on my bike. Just a few short block from my house and I am on the Rivers Edge Trail. This trail runs the entire distance of the Missouri River within the Great Falls city limits and beyond. I am amazed by the different scenery that I see every time I go out and I try to make it out at least every other day. On those days I am never without new breathtaking images to capture. I recently took off on a Saturday afternoon down the east side of the river to Giant Springs (watch for upcoming blogs) and back across the West side. I try to get lucky enough to catch days where there is no wind and the Missouri and Sun Rivers are smooth as Glass. This is something that rarely happens due to the constant wind that blows in the Great Falls area. In the summer time Great Falls has such a unique landscape and feel and the best place to capture this is on the Rivers Edge Trail. On the north end of the trail there are statues of Lewis and Clark with Sacajawea. From a distance these actually look like real people standing on the hill side looking over the River. On the West side of the River there are great views of the downtown area being reflected on the Glass smooth river. This makes for an awesome way to start and/or Finish a day.

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Just a Few Images from Great Falls

There are some iconic images of Great Falls that anyone who has lived in Great Falls says home. Just adjacent to the historic downtown area and center of the history of great falls is the Milwaukee depot. Built in 1915 as a train station by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad who went bankrupt in the mid 60’s. Sense then this building has been transformed into a beautiful office building and is still a landmark that says “Home”. The Stack from the Old Great Falls Select Beer that was founded in 1933 and then closed in 1968 can be seen for Miles. Being a “west side” kid as long as I can remember that building has been in my memories. The 3D sign is another Great Falls Icon. I recently posted this photo on my Facebook page and I had huge response from fellow classmates that moved away. It is the sign of a restaurant that is actually in Black Eagle overlooking the Missouri River. The new images for generations to come are currently being constructed. The Rivers Edge Trail and the Westbank Park area of Great Falls is in the process of transformation. In the last few years The Staybridge Suites has opened with more business close behind. It is great to see the development of the river front. Great Falls recently made the list of America’s “greatest riverfront towns” by Budget Travel magazine and its website, budgettravel.com. As time allows I will continue to capture the Images of Great Falls and post them for your enjoyment.

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Scheduled Trip to Tacoma

CPM (Critical Path Management) scheduling is one of my talents that keep me on the move. On a monthly basis I head over to McChord AFB to discuss construction scheduling and invoicing with the CORPS of Engineers. I am not going to bore you with these details, so let’s get on to the cool stuff! After a long afternoon of meetings and negotiations I had the pleasure of boating on the sound there in Tracy WA with the Project superintendent and his family. We got out on the water I was surprised how Glass smooth the water was. On top of the smooth water Mount Rainier was clear with the exception of the light cloud cover at the top that added to the ambiance. I ended up with about 300 images that night however I selected a few of my favorites to share with you. Montana has a beauty that is second to none but I do have to admit I was taken aback by the beauty of the Tacoma area and Mount Rainier. I am looking forward to future trips to the Tacoma area.

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Don’t miss the Great Falls Farmers Market

Summer time in Great Falls means it is time for the Farmers Market! The Farmers market is held in downtown Great Falls south of the Civic Center. In this area they squeeze in dozens of vendors and hundreds of potential costumers. If you are in the area you can smell the BBQ pork for blocks (I make sure I never miss out :-). This weekend’s event was a real treat with the live Jazz band Fizzy Watuh. The music seems to bring a great atmosphere that gave that small town festival Feeling. If you didn’t know better you would be looking around for the small carnival rides. In its place there are small pony rides that add to the “Small town” feeling.  Walking around and taking in the scenery and the great music really brings out the essence of downtown. After my morning bike ride this was a great way to start out the weekend. While I was down there I grabbed some shots for your enjoyment.

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My New Favorite Place

Just south of Great Falls there is a road that runs parallel to the Little Belts with the Highwood Mountains at your back. This road weaves back and forth across the Smith River with several places to park and fish. After a stressful day I can throw my Golden Retriever in the back of the truck, hop in and head out on Eden Road. From this road I can access the back side of small towns such as Cascade, Ulm, Stocket, Monarch and a good percentage of Central Montana. In the spring the storms blow over the mountains giving the Photographer endless landscape masterpieces. In the mornings the sun rises over the Little Belt Mountains giving once in a life time sunrises every single day. In the evenings the sun sets on the Rockies closing the day leaving you at piece with yourself with a feeling of how lucky you are to live in the Bigsky Country.

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Biking on the Trail

After work I can’t think of a better way to burn off some stress than hitting the Rivers Edge Trail on the bikes. I can burn down a few residential blocks and hop on the trail without crossing any major streets. From there I can reach the entire length of the Missouri that passes through Great Falls with one street crossing. This crossing is located just north of the Milwaukee Depot adjacent to the skate park. There is Just one note on this crossing that I wanted to share. It can be a dangerous crossing due to the signage provided. For the trail traffic there is a stop sign provided that tells the pedestrians and bikers that they need to stop and wait until it is safe to cross. The vehicular traffic is also provided a sign that says there is a pedestrian crossing ahead. However there is no communication on who has the right away. The danger comes when a vehicle stops giving up his or her right away leading the trail traffic into a false sense of security. The vehicular traffic traveling the opposite direction may not be paying attention or willing to give up their right away. If you have a longer train there may be some miscommunication on whether or not it is safe to cross. I watched this last week almost turn into a tragic accident. Myself I let the courteous drivers that stop to allow me cross keep their “right away”. It is only until it is clear that I attempt to cross (OK! On with the rest of my blog). This is about the third of fourth time I have blogged about the Rivers Edge Trail and I can Promise it won’t be my last. Every time I am on the trail the scenic view is different than the day before.


Snowed in on Memorial Day Weekend

After a typical Memorial Day in Montana not all was lost. It was a great weekend at the cabin in spite of the 6” of snow that fell from Friday to Sunday. Our original plan was to take the four-wheelers up over the pass in to Hughesville and west on the Stanford road up into Villars Creek. Instead we spent the weekend relaxing inside and hanging out around the fire. Between hanging out around the fire and a few hikes I was able to get a few cool photographs.

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Back to the Trail

I am on my way out the door for a bike ride. My daughter has her warm clothes on and my wife is patiently waiting for me to finish this blog :-). When you look at the map of the Rivers Edge Trail you can see that there is an access point “just down the street” from just about everywhere in Great Falls. It is amazing what the trail started from compared to what it is today. There are so many awesome views of the Missouri River and sites around Great Falls. Starting at Flag Hill just below Warden Park on the southernmost part of the trail is the best place to start your journey. From this vantage point you get a great view of Great Falls and the path of the Missouri as it cuts through Great Falls. At the Top of Warden Park there are two high powered spotting scopes that you can use to glass Great Falls and beyond. I was surprised at the quality of the glass and scopes (highly recommend). In addition to the spotting scopes there is a Folf course that works its way through the park. I took photograph of the Flag with Great Falls in the back drop from this location (called “Flying Proud”). This print is being auctioned off at the Dirty Martini’s for Clean Water on the 12th of May; this is a fundraiser for the Rivers Edge Trail. The trail on this side of the river goes all the way out to Morony Dam.  On the west side of the river starting at Bay Drive there is a nice little park that gets less traffic than other parks, however it is a great place to put in for Fishing or just relaxing next to the River. It is right on the river with park benches scattered about.  I took an awesome photograph of the flag and the gazebo at the top of Warden Park with a brilliant rainbow behind it (Flying Colors). You can get on the trail and take it along Bay Drive, under Central Ave West Bridge. When you get to the other side you can take the West Bank park trail where businesses are developing the river front. This side goes all the way to the island below Black Eagle dam. On the tip of that Island is a great place to grab shots of birds flying up the river. When they pass by they are flying low. They like to fly up below the dam and float back down to Giant Springs. The second option when you get to the other side of the bridge you can take the Wiseman Bridge to the east side of the river. From there you can take a right to get back up to Warden Park or take a left and head to Morony Dam, Giant Springs, Gibson Park, and Great Falls Skate Park or practically anywhere in Great Falls.

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Cruising The Drag in Great Falls

While I was out and about this weekend I stopped by the annual “Cruising the Drag” in downtown Great Falls, Montana. Great Falls downtown area is the heart of Great Falls and one of our best kept secrets. When I was a Teenager, when my parents were teenagers, and their parents were teenagers central Avenue was the place to hang out and socialize. Somewhere between here and there that has changed a little and the kids no longer “Cruz the drag”. On an annual basis you can take a walk back in time. From all corners of the state collectors bring their classics and line them up and down Central. On my walk down Central I was able to take in the sights and sounds of classic Great falls and enjoy the cars. Do you know those classic cars that when they drive by everything in the world stops while you admire them? Or the ones that make you almost run into the car in front of you while you are driving because you are too busy eyeing that classic machine next to you? Well Cruising the Drag is seven city blocks (both sides) of those cars. This was a photographer’s Dream, I walked away with 256 photographs and I picked a few and posted them to my blog here. Being the small community that Great Falls is you see just about every one you know as you make your way down the street. It seems that about every third car we would run into an old friend that is in town for the weekend or family that was out and about. One of the more interesting people we ran into was gubernatorial candidate Jim O’Hara. I enjoyed our conversation and admired his ability hang out with the people and not try to be one of the attractions. In addition to following his positions and political point of view, in a conversation with him I can tell that he is not too different than any of us. When you attend these events in Great Falls you just never know who you are going to run into, but one way or the other taking in the culture of Great Falls is an experience all by itself.

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Charlie’s Butte

In the Painting “Charles M. Russell and His Friends” the Square Butte just out of Cascade Montana is the back drop for this awesome painting. The reading I have done about Charlie Russell and his prints I found that this formation was one of his favorite backdrops. I have photographed this formation from every angle and have thousands of images of it and yet it never gets old. The area around the butte seems to be a portal back in time. The first area I hit is the road that heads north from Ulm Montana towards Pishkun State Park (First People’s State Park). After a stressful day I can take about a 20min drive and be out on roads that few travel. I have a few pull outs that I hit along the way that I can park my truck and sit. While I am waiting for the sun to set or the clouds to fall into the right location I watch the deer and antelope graze and listen to the breeze blow through the cab of my truck. After about an hour of therapy I am back to neutral and ready for another day. My second favorite place to photograph Square Butte is from “Afar” for sure. Out above the Smith River on Swede bench off of the Pleasant View Road I catch the perfect view of Crown Butte and Square Butte together. In addition there are some old abandoned buildings that fit perfectly into most Images. Like Charlie Russell Square Butte catches my eye and when I am traveling and far away from home, the Butte is what I see when I think about home.

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