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Montana

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 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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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.


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.


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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