Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

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

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

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.

I have been traveling in North Dakota a recently and had the good fortune to run across one of my favorite weather phenomena — hoarfrost. Hoarfrost is a heavy coating of ice that is typically deposited on vegetation leading to a winter wonderland appearance.  As the temperature of moist air drops its ability to hold moisture is reduced. When the air temperature is above freezing, dew forms. At temperatures fall below freezing the moisture in saturated air may condense directly to ice (hoarfrost).  Here are some photos of hoarfrost in North Dakota.



Trip to 4Bears - December 04, 2014 - 0023-Edit

Trip to 4Bears - December 04, 2014 - 0013-Edit

I was recently in North Dakota visiting my father-in-law who lives in Minot. The major winter chill has hit there just as hard as it has hit most of the rest of the country although the area has avoided much of the heavy snow. The cold (temperatures often in the low single digits) has been only part of the story in the area. The wind has persistently been over 25 miles per hour with gusts between 30-50 miles per hour. The resulting wind chill has often resulted in temperatures in the teens and twenties below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

My first photo is of a horse as it tries to get some food from a frozen field. It isn’t snowing heavily, but the snow is blowing around causing near white out conditions.

Along County Hwy 3 (Snow Day) - November 17, 2014 - 158-2

In this photo, the wind has died down for a bit. I simply liked the composition.

Along County Hwy 3 - November 17, 2014 - 001-2

After the harvest (in what appeared to be a relatively rare corn field), the cattle go through the field to eat what they can find.  Again, there was not much snow, but it was bitterly cold with the wind chill.

Along Hwy 2 - November 17, 2014 - 0019-Edit

Finally, some rays of hope — the forecast indicates warmer weather within the next week.

Along Hwy 2 - November 17, 2014 - 0067-Edit

What a wonderful challenge idea Cee.

Here is my story of water – from droplet to ocean and back again. I hope you enjoy the rather lengthy journey.

The first stop is two drops of water that are held by bits of moss.

Raindrops on moss

Raindrops on moss

While much of this water will sink back into the earth to replenish aquifers or run off to do duty elsewhere, some will evaporate. Evaporated these two water drops band together with millions of billions of others to form clouds that can be jaw-droppingly beautiful.

Rural Railroad Crossing - July 19, 2013 - 73

However, those same water drops can become nightmarishly dangerous if you are driving on a rural highway in the blinding rain.

Traveling America - Downpour on Highway 2-2

Of course these water drop can also fall in the form of snow …

In the Cascades - April 17, 2013 - 43

or may become ice and form gigantic glaciers or the most delicate of structures.


The gathering of water is among the most common sights on earth given that more than 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water.

Water readily forms puddles …

Circlepalooza - April 19, 2013

and ponds.

Spring at Army Ammunition Plant - May 05, 2014 - 068

Left to its own devices  it will gather into cleansing wetlands.

Cherokee Marsh in the Fog - September 26, 2013 - 53

Water is the great way station and play station for a myriad of wildlife from Canadian Geese

Goose Prepares for Flight - October 02, 2013 - 68-E

to bald eagles (here an immature bald eagle)

Immature Bald Eagle - January 10, 2014 - 15

to Sandhill cranes.

Sandhill Cranes1

When the drops of water do not sink into the ground, they gather together first into streams …

Columbia River Gorge  - April 21, 2013 - 0038

that lead to great lakes like Lake Michigan

Sunset on Lake Michigan

and mighty rivers like the Columbia River

Columbia River Gorge  - April 21, 2013 - 0416

… all inexorably making their way to the oceans.

Here we see two surfers in the Pacific near Cannon  Beach in Oregon,

Surfers near Cannon Beach. OR

while the view of the Pacific in Monterey is much more peaceful.

There is a House Back There

It is in the oceans that the water, heated by the sun, drives the climate. Eventually that water freshened by evaporation raises itself again and ultimately gathers itself into the weather systems we watch for and when the rain falls we see in it our own renewal.


Word of Warning: For those who are unusually squeamish the third photo in my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes might be a little much.

I have been spending time with the bald eagles that are wintering along the Wisconsin River near Prairie du Sac. The bald eagles’ days encompass a variety of cycles. One of these is the feeding cycle — hunting, catching and eating enough to keep them alive. The eagles’ prey is generally fish. The three shots that follow show a bald eagle as it captures a fish from the Wisconsin River, brings the fish back to a safe place in a tree along the river and eats it.

The Capture

Bald Eagles - January 10, 2014 - 68-Edit-Edit-Edit-Edit

The Return

Bald Eagle Returns to Tree With Fish - January 10, 2014 - 43

The dinner

Bald Eagle Feeding - 43