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Old Buildings

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 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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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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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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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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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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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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The Blarney Experience

Today I was reflecting back (day dreaming :-)) on my recent trip to Ireland. That trip was one of those trips that when I am day dreaming every now and then I will reflect back on. The town of Blarney and the castle property specifically was truly a magical experience. Everything from the weather to the castle, blarney house, the lake to Lunch was memorable. The weather could not have been more perfect. It was about 65F with just a breath of wind and the billowy clouds just seem to float across from one horizon to the other (perfect for Pictures). It is a little bit of a hike to the castle but when you come in the gate the direction to go is obvious. The castle stands proud above everything around for miles. When I was standing at the base of the castle I was lucky enough to catch the sun peeking through a window at the top (this turned out to be an amazing photograph). Looking at the rays of light peeking through the window they remind me of the Celtic cross. Inside the castle it is a maze of rooms and stair cases to get to the top where the famous Blarney Stone is located. Looking down from the top you can see where the three floors below used to be. When looking around the country side from the top you can see for miles. One of the best features is the Blarney house. The Blarney House is a beautiful Scottish Baronial style mansion that was built in 1874. As you take the walk to the lake that is in the front yard of the Blarney House you are taken back in time. There are horse pastures, off buildings and ruins scattered about the property. As I stood at the base of the castle and walked the estate I felt a true connection to history. These are buildings that were conquered by kingdoms and taken back by another. We are looking at going back some day sooner than later. Ireland is still on my “Bucket list”.

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Saturday Drive

The weather in central Montana has had me pinned down for the last few days. We went from the 70’s on Wednesday, to the 30’s Friday and back to the 50’s today. I went South of Great Falls today for my weekly “Saturday Drive” in an attempt to capture that “Magic Image”. The drastic changes in temperature and weather pattern make for great Photo opportunities and sometimes challenging drives. I started my drive on a road that connects Eden Road to Milligan Road. This road was muddy and some parts four-wheel drive only. I didn’t see too much out of the ordinary until I got to the end of the road where it comes out above the Smith River. From the top of the bench I could see Square Butte and behind it the Rocky Mountains (What a view).  It is amazing that on a semi clear day you can see over 70 miles as a bird flies to the Rocky Mountains from the middle of the prairie. Once I got back on pavement again, I took it out of Four-wheel drive and followed Milligan Road back around where it joins back up to Eden Road at the old homestead town (now abandoned) of Eden. On this road I was able to capture several cool images of the little belts, and a few other landmarks along the way. All and all it was not a bad day to be out.

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Torc Falls

Along our adventure in Ireland we went thru Killarney into the Ring of Kerry. We Drove up to Molls Gap where there is a quaint little gift shop, and we made a few stops along the way that will always stick with me. The first stop was a little mountain church that sits by its self on the side of the mountain road. I tried to look up information on this church but have had no luck. It sits at the intersection of the N71 and the Torc Mountain trail head. When looking at this church you can see the history and craftsmanship that was put into this little building. Then as I look at it, I wonder what would make them build in such a location.  I wish I could find more information. Just adjacent to the church was this old bridge that you can tell has as much history and great craftsmanship to it as well. From the Church we went up to the top of Moll’s Gap and down again. On our way down we stopped by the Torc Falls. From the parking lot it is a small jaunt up to the base of the falls. If you choose to go on the trail will take you all the way back up to the old church previously mentioned. You may want to allow for a good day to make your way all the way to the church. The Falls seem to be an Oasis in the middle of the Irish Winter. It is amazing how everything can be so green with moss growing on the trees and rocks. My home is at about 47deg North Latitude and it was strange to me to see so much green so much further north at 51deg North Latitude. However I did notice the leaves on some of the trees have fallen off. I am sure that Ireland in the fall is completely amazing. I guess the long of the short of things are that I am going to have to go back at least two more times to catch the summer Green and the Fall Foliage.


Largent School the pillars of Health and Education

Like most Montana towns the older downtown buildings give the town it’s character and Great Falls is no different. The old Largent School is one of the coolest buildings in Great Falls with the most character of all the buildings in the downtown area. It was built in 1913 and opened as a school in 1917.  I have a few personal ties to this building. when I was a kid I remember hanging out with my dad as he worked to get his GED when it was a alliterative education center. Then in 2004 the company I work for remodeled it and turned it into the Golden Triangle Mental Health and I was the  project superintendent. When we remodeled it the owners insisted that we keep the historic look and feel of the building. We went to great lengths to do so. For example  we changed out the windows with a custom high performance window that looked identical to the old windows. When I looked up the building the only way I could see which windows were changed was by looking for the stickers that were still on the new windows. There was also an upgrade to the fire safety system and when we were in the “Crawlspace” we found news papers that dated back to 1918 (see other photos). It is amazing to look at that paper and be able to look back in time. What a cool project!