The Lope

Monday, July 13, 2015

Reno County, KS, (North of Hutchinson) Tornado, July 13, 2015

It looked so innocent this afternoon between Wichita and Hutchinson.

When I saw this, I thought, "Hey, one could jump to the conclusion that that's a funnel cloud."

Another glance and there it was.

Just because there's a tornado doesn't mean you should stop shooting people pics.

It becomes a rope tornado, as seen at top.

Just before it broke up.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Aurora Borealis over Nebraska, June 23, 2015

Honest, I only planned to go to Salina, KS, to map cicada species ranges - just an ordinary night.

Then, two different friends let me know there were stories online the aurora might be visible. I'd fallen for this before - driven north like a bat out of hell only to see another city's light pollution. I checked a reliable source,, and the Kp rating (a measure of geomagnetic activity) was 8. That was high enough to send me zooming out from under Kansas' cloud cover and into Nebraska, where I eventually stopped a bit north of I-80 just before astronomical twilight at 4:05 a.m.

It's important to note that I couldn't see this very well. The cone cells in our eyes are not so whippy at picking up color in low light. But the sensor picked it up. I think I exclaimed something when I looked at the back of the camera. The foregrounds aren't so much aesthetic choices as they are better evils since I didn't have much time. The bush in one photo hides what would have been an unfortunate light source. The horizontal striations are clouds, I think.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Postcard from Kansas

I was going for a linen postcard look when the text occurred to me. This is west of Derby, KS, last night.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015


The beads of ice on the flakes above and below are called rime. This happens when snowflakes collide with tiny water droplets as they fall.

This is a clump of snow.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

The Big Mac Bridge

October, 2014 - While at a conference in Cincinnati, I had a chance to improve on my previous picture of the Daniel Carter Beard Bridge, nicknamed the "Big Mac Bridge." The bridge enables I-471 to cross the Ohio River and connects Ohio and Kentucky. This was shot from the Kentucky side.

I discovered the Hilton Cincinnati in Netherland Plaza has an observation deck on the 49-story Carew Tower. I seem to remember it costing a couple or so dollars and you'll be asked to leave all bags in the little office where you pay, but the 360° view was worth it. For pictures of other Cincinnati bridges see Bridging the Ohio in Style from 2006.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Raven in the Painted Desert

Today is the 170th anniversary of the publication of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" in the New York Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845. I just worked on these August, 2005, JPGs to see how I could improve them by using Photoshop Elements 12 and opening them in RAW even though they are not RAW files. The "clarity" slider did wonders as far as improving shadow detail.

The bird (raven, I think, judging from the size of the beak) didn't budge from the Agate Bridge sign even though I got within 20 feet of it.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Norm's restaurant, La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles

See update at bottom (January 15, 2015)

(2005 photos)

Another vintage Googie architecture gem is at risk. The new owner of Norm's restaurant on La Cienega Blvd. in Los Angeles, opened in 1957 and designed by coffee shop architecture pioneers Armet and Davis, applied for and was granted a demolition permit earlier this month.

The Los Angeles Conservancy had already filed paperwork with the L.A. Cultural Heritage Commission  to nominate the Norm's building for historic status, which if successful would offer the building some protection. The commission will hear that case today, January 15, 2015. I'll update this post with the result.

The original neon sign for Norm's is still in place. When I was there in 2005, each letter lit individually and the trapezoid-shaped sections lit in a wave pattern with individual vertical neon tubes.

"Googie" architecture refers to a style that evolved primarily in California in the 1950s and 60s because of car culture. It was influenced by that era's preoccupation with the Space Race and the Atomic Age. The name "Googie" comes from a now-defunct coffee shop in L.A. The more common current term for the style is "Mid-Century Modern."

An example of Googie influence in Kansas would be Donald's Servateria in Pratt.

UPDATE (January 15, 2015): According to The L.A. Conservancy, The L.A. Cultural Heritage Commission agreed today to consider landmark status for Norm's on La Cienega Blvd. (link)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Comet Lovejoy

This is Comet Lovejoy as seen from Reno County, Kansas, USA, on January 11, 2015, at 36 minutes after midnight. (Canon 70D, 55-250 mm STM lens at 250mm, ISO 6400, f:5.6, 4 seconds, noise cleaned up in Photoshop Elements 12, black levels lowered to compensate for light pollution)

Friday, January 02, 2015

Christmas Lights of Webb City, Missouri

Here are some of the Christmas lights of Webb City; most pictures were shot in 2014. The displays shown here are fairly perennial so they'll probably be up in 2015 as well.

Webb City's 144 acre King Jack Park becomes a huge drive-through attraction in the Christmas season with many animated light displays.

The metal walking bridge in the park is decked out in lights, as are surrounding trees. From the Webb City website: "At one time the Georgia City Bridge was the oldest extant all-metal vehicular bridge in the state of Missouri. Built in 1871, it is a one span, bowstring arch truss bridge."

There is no music synced to this, but the deeply saturated colors against all that space just don't need it.

This residence is at the NW corner of the park.

The Webb City high school mascot is a cardinal, as seen in this flock of samethat has been in place downtown for at least the last five Christmas seasons. Webb City uses wreaths with electric candles downtown on its lamp posts and alternates the colors of red and green.

While not strictly speaking a Christmas attraction, the Route 66 Movie Theatre is often decked out for the holiday and shows Christmas movies.

The Burpo chiropractic office at 26 South Main tends to feature skeletons in the window display dressed for various holidays. Christmas is no exception.

Mrs. Claus is not left out.

Barely in Webb City and just across from the SW corner of the Joplin airport are two homes with novel decorations. This one at 25 Colonial Drive outlines its architecture, uses dripping lights in vertical windows and a Gemmy Industries life-size Santa.

Just north of the above home on S Colonial Drive, their neighbors place shooting stars in the trees which are visible from a distance to the west on hwy 171.

The most elaborately decorated Webb City homes I found in 2014 is this one at 329 S. Oronogo on the NE corner of W. 4th and S. Oronogo. They've used this style for several years and sometimes their immediate neighbors decorate as well.

In recent years Webb City has run a restored street car on track within King Jack Park as their "Polar Bear Express." In 2014 a restored trolley (on tires) seemed to serve this function. See more of the #60 street car here.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas!

I shot this last night in Radiator Springs...or was it in front of Cars on the Route in Galena, KS? Well, it was one of those two places.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Charles Phoenix and the Astro-Weenie Christmas Tree (donut version)

Some people see odd things in old pictures and leave well enough alone, but not entertainer and mid-century aficionado Charles Phoenix. Some years ago he happened across a photographic slide from the 50s or 60s that showed a foil-covered cone with Hors d'oeuvres stuck in. He dubbed it the Astro-Weenie Christmas Tree and set about making them, even showing them on talk shows. At the 2014 Denver Modernism Show I ran into Charles for the fifth or so time and he had a pastry version of the tree with him. As to his pose, there were go-go girls in the vicinity, so, ya know...

Here's a closer look at that tree.

And what could be a better topper than a plastic cocktail monkey?

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Hutchinson, KS, Christmas Lights and Sights, 2014

Hutchinson, Kansas, has a lot to offer in Christmas lights and displays. This was a guide of such for 2014, composed primarily of pictures from that year. Some of these pictures were taken prior to this year but I have checked to see that any I used from previous years are pretty much accurate for 2014. I'm in the process of rearranging this post into areas of town so it's more user-friendly. As more people put up lights and as I discover more, I'll be adding to this post so if you have anything to suggest, please comment.

North of 30th Avenue

This is the only section of town for which I'll offer route suggestions; it lends itself to it.


Starting at 30th Avenue where North Main Street ends and Countryside begins, drive the gentle curve north to northwest on Countryside and come to the magnum opus of Hutchinson's Christmas stuff at 25 Countryside Drive. The lawn of "Grandma's House" is densely populated with the automations of Dale Hankins. Each mechanical grandchild is on its way to Hankins' house via a different mode of transportation.

Here's a video I shot last year as it snowed on the display. Dale, a retired nuclear scientist, adds new pieces most years to the amusement of his very real kids and grandkids. For background information see our posts from 2007 and 20082009, 20102011 and 2012. Caddy-cornered from Grandma's House you'll see Dale's daughter's fine display of lights.

Proceed to the NE corner of Carlton Road and Curtis Drive where you'll find this vintage red truck being driven by Santa.

The house on the NW corner of Adams Street and 30th Avenue used to  feature Christmas attire on its metal lawn bison. So far in 2014 this is not the case.

Going west to 30th and Monroe St. you'll also find this highly color saturated home at 3001 North Monroe. In addition to lots of LED lights, they've chosen to use their house as a canvas for colored floodlights and have "Glory to God" and "Peace on Earth" signs." There's also a manger scene that faces 30th Avenue.

Go north up Monroe to continue your tour.

As you pass Monterey Place on the west side of Monroe, you'll see that the Wesley Towers  retirement complex down the street at  700 Monterey Place features stars facing four directions, horizontal architectural lights and a pole tree. This is also a small theme neighborhood at some homes in the vicinity have smaller pole trees.

Now go north on Monroe.

First Church of the Nazarene, 4290 N Monroe, has a set of four singing Christmas trees with music at 90.7 FM as seen in this video from 2012. As of December 23, 2014, it was operating. This year the building is surrounded with green pole trees as well.

After getting your fill of this, head north on Monroe.

The northernmost attraction I am listing is Santa's Workshop at 6420 North Monroe, where a U-shaped driveway furnishes some lights and this humble workshop. Here's a video and another view.

After seeing this, you might turn around and go back south on Monroe and turn east at 43rd, then take a slight detour south down Plum to 41st.

Wooden reindeer, Santa and sleigh traverse the yard at 501 East 41st Avenue. These flat and sometimes jointed wood shapes, finished with paint or decals, were a precursor to plastic blow mold decorations.

Now, go back north to 43rd and turn east if you want to continue my path.

A neighborhood composed of a small network of streets north of 43th, beginning with Pagoda and ending with Sequoia, features large wooden Christmas cards, though sadly the tradition is fading and I've seen only three so far in 2014.

Go back to 43rd and head east.

To the south of 43rd, visible behind a house and through some trees, you'll see an outlined barn and windmill with a snowflake on the vanes. It's pretty cool but somewhat hard to see. The address is 1703 East 43rd and the farm is between Lorraine and Panorama. Here's another view.

Proceed on west to Halstead and turn south...unless you see something cool that I didn't note here, then by all means ignore me and go for it. As a matter of fact you might want to detour a block east on 42nd to see that house with all the green lights in the tree before you go back to Halstead and continue south.

A home at 3810 Halstead Street features a backlit poinsettia graphic.

Proceed south to 30th Avenue and turn east. You'll go quite a way, crossing K61 and heading toward the neighborhood known as the Spyglass addition, where well-off folks live near the Prairie Dunes country club. Most decorate their house with tasteful but restrained white lights, but every once in a while someone goes the extra mile so once you're in the neighborhood you might want to set your radio to 103.3 FM.

And so we have a light and music synchronized display in an otherwise quiet neighborhood on the south side of  Prairie Hills Drive. I couldn't see the address but you can't miss the huge "MERRY CHRISTMAS" and pole trees flashing to music broadcast at 103 FM.

When you're done with that proceed back to 30th and turn west to Hutchinson. This concludes the loosely guided tour of the area north of 30th Avenue, The displays in Hutchinson are pretty evenly distributed and don't lend themselves to a tour.

Theme Neighborhoods

Aside from its impressive luminaria (past for this year), the Hyde Park area has some wonderfully decorated homes. This resident at 201 West 20th Ave. displays a collection of blow mold Santas.

The largest season-long area of Christmas lights is a half-mile square area of perimeter lights that covers most lawns from East 17th to 23rd Avenues and Meadowlark Lane to North Lorraine St. The tradition started a number of years ago on East 22nd Avenue and typically begins Thanksgiving weekend and lasts til New Years.


The house at 62 Meadowlark Lane is a sort of cornerstone of this neighborhood and is often the most decorated. It looked particularly good last year after this snow.

This one on Meadowlark Lane near 23rd Avenue displays the same pole trees in 2014 that I shot in this 2013 snow.

Within this area, part of East 20th Avenue displays blow mold candy canes though there are fewer this year. Blow mold candy canes, like most other blow molds are not easy to obtain anymore.

An oval of streets consisting of Brookwood Drive, Wesbrook Drive and Linda Lane displays mail boxes decorated with red and green lights.

Just across Hendricks Street from the red and green mailbox neighborhood, Seville Court displays light poles wrapped in red lights.

The most prominent Yuletide feature of the Antique District of South Main Street is this this light frame helicopter atop the Anchor Inn at Main Street and Avenue B. Here's a wider view.

Returning for 2014 after being absent last year is this animated light frame train atop Anchor Away between Avenue A and Avenue B on South Adams.

In 2014, new LED lights were added to downtown from about Avenue C to 3rd Street. I couldn't resist shooting when convenient snowstorm occurred.

All colors of the stoplight are seen since this is a time exposure.

The Antique district displays lighted pole decorations featuring nostalgic graphics. These are used from Avenue A to about Avenue D along South Main Street.

This style of wreath with bells is used along Main and a little bit of some side streets from Avenue A to the BNSF railroad tracks at about 3rd Avenue. In 2013 the incandescent lights in the wreaths seen above were replaced with cool white LED lights. For more pictures of Hutchinson's street pole decorations under lots of weather conditions, see my 2010 Hutchinson Christmas light guide.

The window of Johnson Music at 5th and Main features a snowman made of drums. Here's a night view.

Something entirely new in 2014: artist Brady Scott painted many of Main Street's business windows this year from about 3rd through 7th streets.

Jillian's Italian Grill at 216 N Main Street displays a motorized store display Santa inside. For the last few years they have felt he needs sunglasses.

Reger Rental at 615 North Main Street displays a motorized store window Santa.

The Kumorowski & Kumorowski attorney office at at 523 North Main displays an older Santa in the window.

The Cabinet Store next door at 521 North Main has a smaller vintage Santa.

Harley's Bicycles at 629 North Main has displayed a vintage Santa inside for the past several years.

Necessities at 622 South Main has displayed a vintage Santa, reindeer, seal and puppy in their window for the past several years.

Light and Sound Synchronized Displays

There are at least two synchronized music and light shows in Hutchinson. I have listed the FM radio frequency you'll need so you can already be tuned in as you approach.

1004 College Lane, home of Jason Rose, sometimes features a live Santa. Set your radio to 106.7 FM. The heavily decorated backyard of this home is visible from 14th Avenue. Additional pictures here and here.

A projection screen on a porch at 201 East 14th Ave shows a religious message. Set your radio to 89.7 FM.

2014 marks the second year of the Carson family display at 810 East 2nd Ave. Set your radio to 106.7 FM.

More Yuletide Houses

18 West Avenue G displays artwork of the time the Pumpkin King thought to take over Christmas.

"David's Display" at 804 Newport Road features a flat screen TV placed against a window with a DVD of Santa within the room and occasionally looking out.

Pierce Street, near Roy's Barbecue has a few good houses. This is 817 Pierce. (Thanks to Tabatha for the tip)

This 1975 Kenworth truck on the south side of K61/US50 just west of the Ken Kennedy Freeway exit and where 61/50 crosses the Arkansas River.

The Keasts and the Cranes wish you a Merry Christmas with this fire truck on the south side of 3rd Ave. just east of Severance. Apparently stuffed bears can get drivers licenses in Hutch as this is being driven by one.

The Johnsons at 400 East 12th Avenue have added new decorations every year for decades.

This house on the NW corner of East 6th Avenue and North Maple Street has a long tradition of being thoroughly decked out for the holidays.

107 East 9th, by request.

The Houston Whiteside Historical District has a number of decorated homes. This one, at Plum Street and First Avenue, features a talking, singing automated Santa  (a weather resistant version of a Gemmy Industries Santa). The district is roughly bordered by the BNSF railroad tracks on the North, Avenue B on the South, Elm Street to the West and Pershing Street to the East.

Other Sites of Note

Cargill's grain elevator near 3rd Ave and K-61 features a decades-old star. See more in this blog post. I remember in the 1970s one could see stars atop grain elevators in the distance all over the place. This is not the case anymore.

Hutchinson Community College has a Merry Christmas sign and star atop Lockman Hall, visible along the east side of North Plum Street just north of East 11th Ave. If you're lucky enough to have snow, you can have some fun photographing this as there's an electronic message sign just out of frame that lends various colors to the snow. I opted for a moment with deep blue.

Trinity United Methodist Church, 1602 North Main Street, displays a life-size Nativity set that was passed on to it from the now-defunct Peques Department store, downtown.

The First Presbyterian Church at 201 East Sherman has star patterns made of lights atop its tower. Here's a wider view.

The Medicine Shop at 1401 North Main Street, a wonderful bit of local architecture, is outlined with red lights again this year.

South Hutchinson

The Barretts at 204 South Walnut in South Hutchinson have illuminated their home in a fashion that draws attention from hwy 96. There is also a speaker on the lawn playing Christmas music from a local radio station. A sign in the yard this year indicates that Santa has fit them into his 2014 schedule and will be there on December 20, 6-8pm and that there will be candy canes for kids.

The tall apartment building behind Alco has a star atop.

The City Building of South Hutchinson at 7 South Main Street has erected a sort of pole tree on its roof.


A residence at 455 Justice has the same great display in 2014 as pictured here, last year.

Moving north up the same block of Justice is a span of four houses extends to 431 Justice.


The Fox Theatre will show It's a Wonderful Life on Christmas day at 7:30 p.m.

(publicity photo)

The Talon Theatre at 11 West Avenue B in a Hutchinson, a very small (16 seats) art theatre that specializes in classics, will show a Christmas night double feature of  The Great Rupert - A Christmas Wish (starring Jimmy Durante and Rupert the squirrel) and Santa Claus vs. the Martians (featuring Pia Zadora) starting at 6:30. There will also be classic Christmas cartoon shorts sprinkled before, after and in between. Wassail and popcorn will be available along with "whatever else you want to bring." RSVPs for The Talon are a must, see their Facebook page to do so. (PR photo)

(publicity photo)

According to its website, the Kansas Cosmosphere will show The Polar Express in its digital dome theatre on December 12-14, December 19-23 and December 26-January 1 at 7 p.m. It's best to call 800 397-0330, extension 312 for confirmation and details.

Recurrent events that are past for this year

The Hutchinson Christmas parade happened November 22, but you can still see it, 'cause I recorded it. For some past Christmas parade adventures, see these tales of a dinosaur and a muffler man head. In 2007 I looked at signs along the parade route and in 2008 I looked at people.

The Hyde Park luminaria was held the night of December 20. The annual event started in 1983 and now spreads over 36 blocks - east to west from Main to Monroe and north to south from 23rd to 18th. If all holds as usual, it will be held on December 19 in 2015. For more info and pictures see Hyde Park Luminaria in Hutchinson and The Hyde Park Luminaria, 2012.

Ace Jackalope (for whom this blog was started) and I wish you a Merry Christmas. I'll be adding to this post regularly. If you have any suggestions for events or displays that should be noted here, please comment or write me at