Archive for December, 2014

My father-in-law, Ray Bibow, passed away on December 16 at 91 years of age. He was a great guy and had a good life. The day of the funeral was unusually warm for Minot, North Dakota where he had lived for most of his life. The warm air over the snow resulted in a dense fog that coated the trees with ice. I expected the ice to melt by the time we got to the cemetery, which was well after noon, but since the sun did not come out the ice remained. In a beautiful coincidence the sun finally broke through just as the minister finished the ceremony at the cemetery.


Ray Bibow Funeral

I live in the state of Wisconsin in the U.S. The capitol building of the state, in Madison,Wisconsin, is one of the most beautiful in the country. It features the only granite dome in the U.S. – a dome that soars to a height of over 200 feet (just slight lower than the dome of the U.S. Capitol). At the top of the dome is the mural “Resources of Wisconsin” a work by Edwin Blashfield that spans over 27 feet. He completed the work in 1917 and the work is the splash of color in the Monochrome Madness photo of the dome interior shown below.

Monochrome Madness - Spalsh of Color (Blashfield Mural)

Not too long ago I published a color version of a photo closely related to the photo below.

Both photos are of Hiddenwood Lake, which is part of a an easement refuge – Hiddenwood National Wildlife Refuge – in North Dakota.

I have been pondering whether this photo would work better in color or in black & white. Here is the black & white photo, which (for several reasons) is the one I prefer:

Hiddenwood Lake - December 05, 2014 - 160_1_2-2












For comparison purposes, he is the color photo of the same subject that I posted recently.

Hiddenwood Lake 2 - December 05, 2014 - 0125_6pmatrix



In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Gone, But Not Forgotten.”

I call this combine, which appears to be abandoned, the “Row Warrior” in honor of its long years of work in the wintry fields of North Dakota. Looking like a tank, it seems to be defending the rows it has harvested. From what? Who knows? The Row Warrior is gone from the fields, but not forgotten

Row Warrior

According to my father-in law these small wooden grain elevators used to be commonplace structures in North Dakota. Today they are rarely seen. This one is located on an unpaved rural road in McLean County.

Grain Elevator - December 05, 2014 - 0037_8_9


This is the stereotypical view of North Dakota – flat, farmed and cold. Like any stereotype, it is a generalization and misses the diverse landscapes in the state (shown in many of my past photos). That said, this is one of my favorite landscapes photos of the state.

North Dakota Landscape

During my stay in North Dakota my wife’s nephew Rob stopped by to visit his grandfather (where we saw him). While everyone chatted Rob happened to mention that he and his wife had seen numerous moose in the area of North Dakota where they live.  I thought it might be interesting to see some moose so I traveled to the area where they live. It is not too far from Parshall, North Dakota. Despite my reasonably diligent efforts, I saw no moose but I did see more of the North Dakota landscape that I have come to appreciate over the past several years.

One of the places I happened across was the Hiddenwood National Wildlife Refuge.  Hiddenwood National Wildlife Refuge is a little odd. First, it isn’t the easiest place to find. While it appeared on MapQuest (which is the only reason I knew it existed), the roads in very rural areas parts of North Dakota (and the rest of the country)  aren’t always the same as what appears on maps. Also somewhat confusingly, street sign placement in very rural areas can be pretty haphazard so at times I was in the middle of a corn field uncertain as to whether I was on a local highway or inadvertently trespassing on a path for farm equipment.

My first attempt at getting to the refuge ended at the location shown below when I decided not to take this unmarked and rather uncertain looking road. (The road was supposed to be 373rd Avenue, S.W., which I take as a sign of the optimism of people in the past.)

Road to Hiddenwood Nat'l Wildlife Refuge  - December 05, 2014 - 0058

I think that my decision concerning the road not taken was a wise one:-)

Proceeding on a less direct route I eventually came upon a sign for Hiddenwood Lake (per the sign) National Wildlife Refuge where, not surprisingly, I discovered a lake. More of a surprise was the lack of any appreciable number of trees. I reflected that perhaps they were just more carefully hidden than I had expected.

Hiddenwoods Lake

It turns out that Hiddenwood Natioanl Wildlife Refuge is a very tiny national wildlife refuge. Spanning just 568 acres (2.3 sq. km) it is slightly less than a square mile (640 acres). It is also a special kind of wildlife refuge called an easement refuge. Such refuges are entirely on privately owned land and exist as a result of a conservation easement between the property owner (and all future owners since the easement runs with the land) and the applicable unit of government. An easement doesn’t change ownership of property but instead grants another party some kind of interest in one’s property. In the case of conservation easements, they are used to limit the use of the land subject to the easement in a way intended to protect its use for certain conservation purposes (for example, a lake may be subject to an easement to protect it from development since it is a major migratory bird rest stop).  North Dakota has 63 National Wildlife Refuges, more than any other state. Of these about 48 are easement refuges, which appears to be many more than any other state. I am unaware of the explanation for the disproportionate number of easement refuges in North Dakota.

Whatever the purpose, the day I visited the only thing on the lake was an ice shanty with a couple of trucks pulled up next to it so whoever was fishing inside need not be unduly exposed to the elements while ice fishing. Aside from that, it was a pretty if somewhat barren view.

Trip to Parshall and Area - December 05, 2014 - 0125_6pmatrix

I was able to locate a few trees, but they seemed more lonely than hidden so I’m not sure how exactly they fit in with the whole “Hiddenwood” lake thing.

Trip to Parshall and Area - December 05, 2014 - 0118_19_20pmatrix

Other than the sign, the lake and the few trees I spotted, the only other things of note were a very large parking lot and a church-like building at the end of the lot (below). The building did not appear to be in current use (as a church or otherwise) since the snow immediately around the building was undisturbed.

Trip to Parshall and Area - December 05, 2014 - 0103-Edit-Edit

On its face there wasn’t much to Hiddenwood [Lake] National Wildlife Refuge.  I am going to try to find out a bit more about it and if I do, I’ll post what I learn.