Friday, September 5, 2008

What I did on my Summer Vacation - Pt.2

Again, I have a lull due to the joy of taking a bit of time off and visiting family... For round two of my summer break, I have recently returned from a trip to North Dakota to visit my dad. Starting in Minot, and traveling a good portion of the state over four days along with my girlfriend - and coming back with some interesting news from the 'land of which you do not speak the name Obama'... :) [all images via Landscape+Urbanism]

I mentioned this previously, but one of my favorite things about the Great Plains that I often miss is the uniterrupted distant horizon, the patterning of agriculture of irrigation and dryland, the rows of shelterbelts and the green bands surrounding potholes and rivers. And, as you can tell - it was wheat harvesting time - which is pretty cool as well.

I posted about North Dakota a bit a few months back, including the fantastic installations from the Safeguard missle defense system that was briefly in operation in Nekoma. I showed some HABS/HAER historical photos that Mr. Trevi at Pruned had posted. Having spent a good portion of my life in North Dakota, I had never seen the installations. Here's a few pics from the trip - kind of a pilgrimmage of sorts.

:: Nekoma Pyramid (Safeguard ABM array)

My father, whom was involved in working with the Nuclear (that's nu-kle-ar GW!) Warhead array throughout NoDak in the height of the Cold War, did know a bunch of interesting facts - but I will refrain from posting any of it - as he'd probably have to kill me :) Kidding... find out a great bit of info from Wikipedia on the Safeguard ABM program of which Nekoma is part. Adjacent to the Nekoma installation was a very significant wind turbine installation from the Langdon Wind Farm.

The wind generating potential of the Plains is signficant, and it was good to see more visible usage of this resource. An old resource was being exploited like never before in the plains, with a TON of new drilling happening all over the state - a product of $140 a barrel oil perhaps...

No trip to NoDak is complete with heading to the badlands and the Teddy Roosevelt National Park... in this case the North Unit. For those unfamiliar with the connection of North Dakota and it's influence on this president, here's a very poignant quote, via the NPS site: "I never would have been President if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota." Some photos and highlights.
That is actually topography in the state, a product of ancient weathering, along with being spared the land flattening of the glaciers over 11,000 years ago. One of my favorites above is the picturesque CCC overlook - with the distant Little Missouri river in the background. And the variety of wildlife spotted... including a good sized herd of Bison, a very tame grazing Mule Deer, and a tight grouping of the elusive Bighorn Sheep (which is a new one for me, as I've yet to see them in the park)...

A few more pics in this order - 1) the full on Missouri River widened by the Garrison Dam... I'm fascinated by this idea of the displacement of history, culture and ecology with the flooding of areas due to dam-building. I'm planning a post on the Lake Sakakawea phenomenon soon, so look forward to that.
The wiggly and French-named Souris (Mouse) River that cuts through the northern section of North Dakota - traveling south from Canada and back northward again.
And the more flood prone and manipulated Souris as it flows through Minot's Oak Park - one of the best bird-watching spots as well.

Oddly enough, we had the chance to zoom through the Minneapolis airport during the tail end of the Republican National Convention... the worst of which included people really thinking Sarah Palin is 'neat' as well as being subjected to Rudy Guliani speaking while awaiting a plane back to Portland. You can't really come home again - and sometimes that's a good thing.
Coming from the Center - veering comfortably back to the Left, has never felt so right. :) So stay tuned for some more posts... lots coming soon... and thanks for the comments and dialogue - keep it coming!

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