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Rivers Edge Trail

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 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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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.


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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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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