Read this post about red posts

Did you know that one thing North Dakota and South Dakota have in common also separates them? It’s the string of quartzite marking posts which dot the border shared between the two states. In fact, the Dakotas are the only states which have such a feature.

These markers were placed along the border as it was surveyed in the late 19th Century. There were originally 720 of them, cut from the red quartzite stone near Sioux Falls, placed along the established border.

Oh, if it were only that simple. Naturally there was a lot of politics going on behind the scenes. Here we had two new states established from the Dakota Territory, thousands of acres of previously unsurveyed land, competing interests, and other complications. These are all documented in the book “The Quartzite Border” – which my wife was kind enough to order from me, directly from the author. He even signed the book and included a nice note to us. At the time, this was a very rare find…but as I type this, Amazon claims to have two copies. The North Dakota State Library has a copy.

Many of these markers have disappeared for a variety of reasons: theft, erosion, cattle trampling them, or construction. I-29 took out one of them. But this one, which I’ve visited numerous times on my way to a glorious old abandoned prairie church, stands firm. Recently I checked it out on the way back from Other Dakota and snapped these two photos. It’s cool to know some of the stories behind these unique stone markers, even as so few Dakotans know they even exist.

Right place, right time

I visited Yellowstone earlier this year, and it was simply the perfect time to do so. I got this amazing shot thanks to two people: a friend who pastors a church in Cody, who told me of the vantage point far away from where all the congestion of the usual tourists, and my wife, who dialed in the best location with regard to the trees in the foreground.

When I say it was the perfect time to visit Yellowstone, I wasn’t kidding. While Yellowstone is normally intolerable because of the sheer number of people everywhere, this time was the complete opposite. There was hardly anyone there.

This is the parking lot at Old Faithful. It’s statistically empty by normal standards. We walked right up to the geyser, stood front and center while it did its thing, and hopped back into the car…all in a matter of minutes.

I hadn’t expected to even get a vacation this year, but thankfully it worked out. I’d booked everything in advance and planned it since 2019, so any cancellation would have been an enormous disappointment. But I was able to squeak it in – important items at work which I simply couldn’t work around were cancelled or moved, my schedule opened up for the entire ten days, and my boss gave his blessing. So my family and I got to enjoy some much needed rest!

Naturally I have a ton of photos from this trip, but now I’m too busy again. So it’ll be a while till I post them.

Lakefront resort

Out on this peninsula sits one of the coolest old homes that I’ve ever found. Accessible only by air, it has a fantastic view of a lake on three sides.

Meticulously built from a wide variety of stone, this home sits in a spot that used to have a road long ago…but that road sits well underwater these days. I drove as close to it as I could but I was still a long distance away.

Incredibly scenic, but sadly just too far away from…well…anything. Near what some would call a ghost town, I suppose…but otherwise isolated, this stone house is one of my all-time favorites.

Not as happy to be a barn

Not too long after I’d found the happy barn (which I posted about last week), I came upon this one. I’ve photographed it before, and it doesn’t look as if it’s fallen any more than it had the last time I’d stopped by, but it is definitely not in the same condition as the smiley-face one.

Sadly, this barn has been collapsing for some time. Fortunately, it’s still likely to be striking a photogenic pose for a while yet.

Naturally, if there is an opportunity for a windmill or a well, I’m gonna take it. Thankfully, there was this this fantastic specimen standing nearby.

Oh yeah – there’s this building right next to the barn. Isn’t it glorious? That brick. The roof that used to be there. The row of windows. And a fortunate sky. Some days it’s better to be lucky than good!

I’ll have to keep an eye on this old farmstead the next time I’m in the area. Of course, you’ll see the results here.

Happy to be a barn

I spotted this cheerful red barn on a trip southwest of town. It brought a smile to my face, even as I caught a fleeting glimpse through a row of trees and made haste to turn around for a quick photo.

The shape of the face reminded me of one of my favorite children’s books: The Little Red Caboose, which was a Little Golden Book:

The idea of a building with a smile, however, reminded me of another favorite from my childhood: The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton:

Either way, I’m glad I spotted this, and I’m glad someone took the time to add a friendly smile to their barn for passers-by to enjoy.

School’s out for summer

This schoolhouse sits in the town of Griffin, which some would label as a ghost town. I don’t know about that, but I didn’t take the time to find out. This was a surprise discovery I saw from the road as I was bolting further west for a couple of photo targets.

This is the Langberg School, located in the far southwest corner of the state. The storms which had clouded the skies just a short while earlier had moved on, giving me a nice, sunny summer backdrop for this photo.

It’s sad to see these old schools in such disrepair, just like the churches and farmsteads. But they’re incredibly photogenic, and fun to hunt down (and discover along the way).

Sentimental startup

I wasn’t able to see the warbirds which stopped in Bismarck this week (aside from a glimpse of them circling town), but I have been able to see them on previous visits. This is a video I shot with my boy back in 2013, as the B-17 “Sentimental Journey” started its engines and began to taxi out for a flight around the capital city.

Fox on the lawn

This little guy decided to poke his head in the window at our vacation condo while we were having supper. My wife’s cooking smelled REALLY good, and he took notice.

We don’t feed wildlife, but he decided to put on quite a show for us. Apparently he figured we’d be more likely to toss him some chow if he looked as adorable as possible.

Thankfully I had my camera handy, so I was able to capture some nice shots from his display of cuteness. That didn’t help his chances of getting any grub, but he didn’t know that.

I have to hand it to him, he’s quite photogenic. I’m pretty sure he’s well practiced in this routine. It wasn’t working on me, though.

On that note, he took off along the shore to find someone else more likely to indulge him. Thankfully the eight little baby Mallards who had been hanging out along the shore were nowhere in sight, because I’m quite sure a couple of them would have become a meal.

I’m glad our guest decided to stop in, but I’m adamant that feeding wildlife is not in their best interest. It was a good lesson to teach my kiddos, while getting some great photos at the same time.

Finally

I’ve passed this old farmhouse on Highway 83 innumerable times. I’d marked it in my GPS as a place worth investigation years ago. I finally seized an opportunity to check it out one evening (as you can tell by the long shadow), and it did not disappoint.