Now's the time of year when carloads of Bismarck-Mandan residents get together and troll around our fair cities in search of eye-catching Christmas displays. It's even so popular that local limousine services offer their services to drive you around to the more popular neighborhoods!
Obviously neighborhoods like Northview Lane come immediately to mind, but one house you might not know about really beats 'em all. I'm talking about Paul Schaff's house, in the far southwest corner of Mandan.
I know about this house because it's within spittin' distance of my parents' house, on a hill overlooking Fort Lincoln school. This is the view of the house from behind...yeah, that's right: these folks are serious! I took this picture from the schoolyard below.
In years past I remember there even being a musical ornament of some sort, so we'd have to turn down the sounds of Charlie Brown Christmas and roll our windows down as well. I didn't hear anything like that last night as Stacy and I took a drive past the house.
To get to this house, you need only find West View Lane in southwest Mandan. Let me make it easy: Head south on Highway 1806. Cross the bridge and keep going, as if you were going to Fort Lincoln State Park. At the top of the first big hill is an intersection with 19th Street. Take a right on 19th and follow it until you come to a 4-way stop sign at 8th Avenue SE. Take a left and pass Fort Lincoln School, and you can't miss the house. From there it's just a matter of taking a couple of right-hand turns to find them at the end of the road.
This is my absolute favorite time of the year. Sure, I can't go out on the motorcycles without spiked tires (which I've done) and it's a lot colder to go walkabout with my camera... but driving around snowy roads with Vince Gauraldi playing in my truck is the absolute best feeling I get in Bismarck-Mandan all year long. With that in mind, I'll be posting more Christmas sights here. They're even better when shared.
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If you ever find yourself coming home from Fort Lincoln at night, you may have looked up at the hill behind Beck's Museum and seen this thing lit up at the top of the hill. It appears to be on private property, and I have no idea as to its significance. If you have any information on this particular monument, please post a comment. For once I'm stumped.
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Sometimes I get a picture that's blurry, grainy, or otherwise imperfect, yet is so COOL that I just have to hang on to it. This is one of those nights. These clouds were so neat that I had to pull over, lean out the window of the truck, and snap the picture before the clouds advanced in front of the moon.
I had the camera set to 3200 ISO, which (if I do my math correctly) is about 8x more sensitive than your typical digital camera will go. That would hopefully allow me to capture the moment, which it did. It was still a little blurry because I am not very steady while protruding from a truck window. But I took it in order to show other people what the clouds looked like last night...so it works.
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This was a unique sight on Saturday: a rainbow on each side of the sun! It's a parhelion, or sundog. It's formed by rays of light refracting through ice crystals, just like they do with water droplets to form a rainbow.
I saw this as a bunch of low clouds rolled past. The remnants of the clouds caused this phenomenon to occur, and it disappeared when the skies cleared completely.
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Lorie Line played the Bismarck Civic Center once again with a show on Saturday Night. As you can tell from the photo, Stacy and I had really good seats: just four rows back, with a great view of Lorie's keyboard. That lady sure can play! I don't know how many of you are fans of Christmas at the Minneapolis Dayton's from years past, but she used to play there back in the '80s. I never made the connection until the first time I attended the show here in Bismarck.
I've been a Lorie Line fan since my wife and I started dating. She's extremely talented, her husband does a great job as the emcee, and the production is always top notch. This year's show was really good...but it was nowhere near the high standard they've set in years past.
One downside to the show is that gospel singer Robert Robinson is no longer touring with the group. That man's voice could draw tears from the hardest of hearts! Hearing him sing carols like "Oh Holy Night" "What Child is This" is enough to make your knees weak. I wish him well in whatever his current endeavors may be. The bright side is that his replacement, soprano Kelly Smith. She's definitely a worthy successor to Mr. Robertson.
Another element missing from this year's performance is a trademark Lorie Line feature. She comes out with a legal pad and asks the crowd to belt out requests. She then sits down at the piano and makes an impromptu medley of the list! It seems that someone always yells "Spongebob Squarepants" but there are also requests like "Inna Godda Da Vida and other challenging tunes. We kept waiting for this part of the show, but it never came.
I don't get it...this show's theme was supposed to be "The Traditions of Christmas" but I didn't really feel the Christmas spirit by the time the show was over. It was certainly a great performance by everyone, yet really didn't capture the fun and sparkle that one normally gets at a Lorie Line concert. My favorite show of hers happened to be themed, "My Favorite Things." This one, however, didn't really seem to have a theme. Hopefully things will be back up to that sky-high standard next year.
One neat thing they did this year was during the part of the show every year when the kids come up on stage and sing. They have a photographer that takes a hi-resolution picture, which they post on the Lorie Line website for people to download the next day. They also had the whole crowd sing "Silent Night" along with the orchestra. They record it at each performance and make it available online as well, for 99 cents. That's a good way to get people to go to your website! I wonder what I could post here...
If you have an opportunity to see Lorie Line this Christmas season, don't pass it up. Don't let my comments about not living up to last year's show stop you: I doubt anything could match it. I do hope, however, that Lorie brings her legal pad with her the next time she comes to Bismarck.
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