Mighty Mississippi and Red Wing, MN

The surrounding area of beautiful Red Wing, MN entices you with its rolling hills, river valleys, quaint trout streams, green pastures, bountiful farmland, and plenty of wildlife.  Enough so, Dan and I could set out daily to photograph its wonder.

A plethora of activities await you year round in the Minnesota bluff country.  Skiing or snowshoeing in the Winter, and hiking, biking , or water sports that fill the rest of the year.  The trails are plentiful and will guarantee a peaceful outdoor experience.   One of my favorite hiking areas is Barns Bluff.  When the top is reached, you have a breathtaking view of Red Wing and the surrounding area.

It is always a site to see the riverboats come to town.  The particular images found in this post are images of the majestic American Queen.  Built in 1995, The American Queen is said to be the largest river steamboat ever built.  To watch her move upon the mighty Mississippi is awe-inspiring.

If ever in the area, take time to stroll through these small river towns that reside along the Mississippi banks of Southeastern Minnesota/Southwestern Wisconsin; you will be pleasantly surprised and quite taken aback by their beauty.

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Within the clouds

Fog:

A collection of liquid water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth’s surface. While fog is a type of stratus cloud, the term “fog” is typically distinguished from the more generic term “cloud” in that fog is low-lying, and the moisture in the fog is often generated locally.  Fog is distinguished from mist only by its density, as expressed in the resulting decrease in visibility.  Fog reduces visibility to below 1 km (5/8 statue mile), whereas mist reduces visibility to no less than 1 km.

Wikipedia

The sensation that fog or any condensation adds to photography is one of mystery, one of magic.  The eeriness that those little water droplets can add to a scene may bring forth visions of fantasy.  What lies within the clouds?  The way that light intertwines with moisture in the air adds to the atmosphere of the landscape. Not only are you mystified by what lies behind the curtain, the mist can add the feeling of surprise, fear and admiration.

We had a few days when the fog stayed with us until the late afternoon- a rarity in our parts. We were lucky to be out in countryside on these days traveling the back-roads of Southeastern Minnesota lucky that we could share this abnormality together.  Next time the fog rolls into your area, grab your camera, and capture the light that dances gracefully with the water droplets.  Be quick though, the fog can form and then dissipate just as fast.

A State of Existing, North Dakota

“Ghost towns stud North Dakota, and this empty house is just one bone in a giant skeleton of abandoned human desire.”

A quote from a perfectly written article for National Geographic about North Dakota titled,
The Emptied Prairie” By Charles Bowden

I remember, as a little child, walking hand in hand with my father across fields of long prairie grass.  I was amazed by the dance created by the wind as it touched each blade of grass.  To this day, I can close my eyes and visualize the sight seen as we walked closer to an abandoned farmstead and the excitement noticed in my father’s eyes and heard in his voice. I learned from him that these abandoned properties are not a place of destruction, but a story of endless outcomes.

The trip to North Dakota was an incredible journey, one that I am happy to say, was shared with an amazing man.  Dan and I enjoyed the migrating birds that this pothole region attracts and the vibrant colors a North Dakota landscape can provide.  Visit North Dakota as seen in some of my previous posts:

North Dakota Ghosts- The old school in Forbes, North Dakota
Abandoned Outside Forbes, ND
Following the rails of North Dakota
North Dakota Shines

This trip included some of my favorite abandoned properties to date. As I am writing this post, I can still see the texture of the peeling paint on the rickety walls or see the layers of personal material left behind on the floor.  Two different properties that told two different stories.  The old farmhouse with the herd of cattle watching us explore was full of color and texture – a feast for a photographers eyes.  I could only imagine the grandeur of this home when she was alive with activity.  The other property included in this post was just as incredible, but for a different reason. My grandfather was a talented violin maker and carpenter.  Watching him play the instrument as a child, taught me the wonders of music.  Violin, piano, and cello are three of my favorite instruments that can send a shiver right through me whenever heard.  Now imagine mixing the two…  an abandoned property with musical ties- WOWZA!  The music sheets were strewn throughout the home, and a shell of a guitar was left behind in an empty room.  I can almost hear the music that played within those walls.

This concludes the series on North Dakota.  Where will our next journey take us?  For now, take a walk with Dan and I as we tour some of the most intriguing abandoned farmstead that we have had the privilege to photograph.

When you wish upon a star

You never know what you may find while wishing on a shooting star.

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My dearest love,

The choices we make in life are made with reason and one should never regret; I truly believe that.  Those choices mold you into who you are today.  Keep your eyes and heart open- Be not afraid to realize when something good walks into your life and take that chance.

As you inched your way into my heart, I knew… I knew that there was something special happening.  The way you supported me, the way you made me smile, and best yet… the way that I could be myself with you, my true self.

The full moon with that shooting star, the cold night walk was scary and excitable all at the same time.  I knew I had to let you know how I felt.  As I took one small step, then another, then another, closer to you and you didn’t pull away- well that was amazing.  Our first kiss was like fireworks and the way you turned me around and held me so tight was something I will never forget.

I found what I have been looking for, I found my other half, I found the person I was meant to be with.  Fate is a funny thing; I never really believed in it before. If you think about it, of all of the circumstances that brought us together- now that is fate.  You continue to open my eyes to the wonders and beauty of the world, the wonders of true and complete love.

Our story is just beginning my love; this is our fairytale, our dream come true. I will be with you through it all and ride the ocean waves with you. I promise to stand by you, to support you, to laugh with you, and to make you smile.  I promise, I promise I will give all that I am, all that I have.  This feeling I have for us, for you, is like nothing else.

I Love you with all my heart and soul and look so forward to our future together.

Dan and I were married November 18, 2013 on Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.  A delightful sunny day surrounded by beauty and love (I’m glad my Mother, Sister, and Aunt could share this day with us).  We said “I Do”.  Two people who found each other that share a passion…  The passion of photography.  That is our thing- we travel, we capture, we laugh, we explore, we keep our eyes open and see the beauty in areas that we may otherwise overlook.

*Thank you to “Marry Me in Colorado” an elopement service Dan found that fit us perfectly.  Visit their website if you would like to have a stress free wedding!  Thanks Linda and Kevin!  We would also like to thank the photographer-Mark.  His work can be seen at –www.MarryMeInColorado.SmugMug.com this is where all of the photo galleries – including ours will be found!!

Following the Rails of North Dakota

The Dakota Territory was settled sparsely until the late 19th century, when the railroads entered the region and vigorously marketed the land. 

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According to Wikipedia:

“The success of the Northern Pacific Railroad and the Great Northern Railroad was based on the abundant crops and rapidly increasing settlement in the Red River Valley along the Minnesota border between 1871 and 1890.”

“The railroad was the engine of settlement for the state. The Northern Pacific Railroad was given land grants by the federal government so that it could borrow money to build its system.  The federal government kept every other section of land and gave it away to homesteaders. Meanwhile, the Great Northern Railroad energetically promoted settlement along its lines in the northern portion of the state.  The Great Northern Railroad bought its lands from the federal government, as it received no land grants, and resold the land to farmers one by one. It operated agencies in Germany and Scandinavia that promoted its lands and brought families over at low cost.”

“The battle between The Great northern Railway and Soo line Railroad to control access across northern North Dakota resulted in 500 miles of new track and more than 50 new town sites just in one year.  Many of the towns sites were never settled and were abandoned”

Towns began to dot the countryside as growth followed the rails.  As the population of North Dakota declined, the buildings were left under the care of Mother Nature.  Follow the old railway lines and you may just find yourself in the presence of a ghost town yourself.  Many of these abandoned towns and the land that these debilitated buildings reside on, are now privately owned.  Stories of the old inhabitants that once lived in these homes or worked in the buildings flowed though my mind as we drove through the empty streets.

The back roads of North Dakota were unlike any other that we have encountered.  Some roads would end in a marshland full of migrating birds others would just end…  Road Closed.

Abandoned outside of Forbes, North Dakota

The only song we heard walking through fields of tall grass as we approached this abandoned farmstead, was the North Dakota wind as it howled through the branches of the old Maple trees.  The excitement grew as we came closer to the house.  The wonder of what you may find as the old rickety door is pushed open, is like reading the first pages of a novel.  Sometimes it grabs you and pulls you in, other times it just holds your attention.  There wasn’t much left as the plaster of the walls started disintegrating long, long ago.  The trusty Hoover is still waiting to clean up the mess time has left behind.

Each of these properties hide a plot line (with or without clues) and the fun part for me is to create the characters and scenario played out in times past.

North Dakota Ghosts- The old school in Forbes, North Dakota

Dan and I were on a mission to find abandoned properties near Fargo, North Dakota as we were heading north on a business trip last year.  My father grew up north of Fargo in the small town of Crookston, MN and I still have family living in Moorhead, MN.  What a great way to mix business with pleasure and take some extra time to explore this area and visit some family.

Stumbling upon ghostsofnorthdakota.com (take some time to stop by their website), we were surprised to see just how many towns, excuse me,  ghost towns, North Dakota actually has.  The decline of the small town in North Dakota and how they have captured these sites before they disappear off the land forever was inspiring to both Dan and I.  The trip sounded interesting, exciting, and educational all at the same time.  We grabbed the Gazetteer and planned our route of the road less traveled.

Northeast North Dakota, although flat, has its own beauty.  There may not be majestic mountains, enormous river gorges, or the sounds and tranquility of the ocean waves in this part of the world.  However, the flat land makes its own palette as shades of the blue sky, and the green, yellow, and gold in the fields combine to make art.  The sound you hear, is the song of the tall grass as it sways in the wind, or the flutter of wings of the migrating birds.  Perhaps it is the silence… at least that is what we encountered in the northeast portion of the State.

Our plan was to see some of these ghost towns that ghostsofnorthdakota.com speak of and to capture a piece of these sites before nature takes over and slowly deteriorates the walls that provide strength to a structure.  Follow the abandoned rails, and you will see what was left behind.  Oh, the stories that these small towns can tell.

For the next few posts, I will share the sites we encountered.

Forbes, ND

Welcome to Forbes, North Dakota.  Founded in 1905, the population at the 2010 Census was 53.  

According to a former student, the school closed its doors in 1987 and is now left to decay.  Walking through the halls, you can almost hear the laughter of the children and the wisdom of the teachers as they guide their students through the coursework.  The grass on the playground is tall and the chains have now succumbed rust.  The ceilings crumble, the paint is peeling, and the moss grows rampant.  Soon, she will be gone.