Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #206 – Treasures

Sunrise on the Outer Banks, North Carolina.

This week features Aletta’s challenge, the first of July’s month of guest hosts for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. She writes, “This week’s topic is Treasures, with can be wealth or riches like precious metals, money, jewels, or anything that a  person greatly values.”

This week, we invite you to share what you treasure.” You can read Aletta’s entire challenge post here.

Having just returned home from our annual family reunion, (on hiatus for the last two years due to the pandemic), I know my greatest treasure is our family. So as not to dive into a history of family photos, as I write this post on Independence Day in the United States, I decided instead to focus on the treasures I have captured in traveling around these great United States.

From sea to shining sea… I start with the Atlantic Ocean in my opening photo. Sunrise on the Outer Banks of North Carolina leads this post which will feature images captured from each of seven regions of our great country. North Carolina is in the Middle Atlantic region.

Nashville Rain
A rainy night in Nashville, Tennessee.

Moving south into the southeastern region, Music City is the nickname of Nashville, Tennessee. In 2016, our visit to Music Row was interrupted by a short but intense rain shower. I stood under the cover of a large overhang of a Nashville Bar and captured one of my favorite night images.

C130 and MQ-9 Reaper
Aviation progress in Syracuse, New York.

Regular readers of my blog know of my interest in Aviation and that I treasure my 25-year membership in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Moving to the Northeastern region at Syracuse, New York, a few years ago, I was working with CAP and the U.S. Air Force on a project focusing on the safe flight of unmanned aerial systems (drones) in public air space. As the flight crew prepared the MQ-9 Reaper drone for departure, An Air Force C-130 cargo plane departed on a training flight. The C-130 Hercules was built as a troop and cargo transport, the first flight took place in August 1954. As a result of the work of the many Civil Air Patrol volunteers in concert with the FAA and the military in this project, military drones can safely transit public airspace without risk to general and commercial aviation.

Dignity at Chamberlain, South Dakota.

Moving to the North Central Region, a 50-foot (15 m) statue made of stainless steel is a tribute to the women of Native American heritage. We discovered this beautiful treasure at the rest area on I-90 near Chamberlain, South Dakota.

Walking across the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca, Minnesota.

Summer in Minnesota is a treasure after those harsh northern Minnesota winters. At Lake Itasca State Park, the lake’s outflow is the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River. I know of no other place where you can cross the Mississippi River and keep yourself relatively dry without the assistance of a bridge.

The International Peace Garden at Dunseith, North Dakota.

I have lived in the state of North Dakota for 44 years, more if you count the two years I lived here just after I was born. I could do an entire post on the treasures in North Dakota, but for this post, I will share an image of the International Peace Garden. Located in both Canada and North Dakota, this treasure is a joint project between the state of North Dakota and the province of Manitoba. This image was taken while I was looking west, left foot in the United States, right foot in Canada. That line bisecting the photo vertically is the U.S.-Canada border.

Fargo at Dusk-1
Downtown Fargo North Dakota at dusk.

For the last 33 years of my professional career and the entire term of my retirement, I have lived and worked in the Fargo area. I treasure our community and enjoy those warm summer nights in downtown Fargo. It’s no coincidence that this image includes the landmark Fargo Theater. For 96 years, the restored theater continues to feature first-run films and live entertainment. This week’s bill features Elvis and Top Gun Maverick. When it opened in 1926, the Mighty Wurlitzer organ accompanied the silent movies of the day. It’s the largest theatre organ between Minneapolis and Seattle.

The Alamo at San Antonio, Texas.

Moving to the Southwest Region, one of the most well-known historical sites is the mission at the Alamo in San Antonio. Though the area of the grounds has been reduced due to the encroaching city, The Alamo and its remaining buildings still feature a glimpse of the history before that fateful battle that took the lives of several great Americans.

Durango RR Excursion-9
Steam engines on the Durango-Silverton Rail Excursion.

In the Rocky Mountain Region, Colorado has a love affair with the history of steam railroads. Steam trains out of Antonito and the Colorado Railroad Museum are examples. Probably the most well-known is the Durango-Silverton Railroad. On this day, there were so many people on the train that two steam engines were required to pull the train up the steepest sections of the journey.

Buckeye Sunset - 2
Arizona Sunset.

For the first ten years of our retirement, my wife and I spent our winters in Arizona. I literally have almost 2,000 finished images of this beautiful state. It was hard for me to pick a favorite image, but I chose a representative of the many Arizona sunsets that I captured over the years we wintered there. This shot was captured in Buckeye at the southern edge of the White Tank Mountains.

Point Loma, California
Fort Rosecrans at Point Loma in California.

Moving on to the Pacific Region, on this July Fourth, I treasure the sacrifices made of our heroic men and women who served their country in whatever capacity. The veterans buried in this cemetery include my brother Gerald who is interred with his wife here.

Coldwater Lake-1
Coldwater Lake in Mount Saint Helens National Park, Washington.

In the last couple of years, we explored much of Washington and Oregon. I found it fascinating that this lake was born with the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in 1980. Debris from the volcano blocked part of Coldwater Creek and within a few hours, a new lake was created.

Norwegian Jewel-1
The Norwegian Jewel in Alaska.

Before the end of the month, we are scheduled to make our second trip to Alaska, partly for a land tour of Denali and on July 30, we again board a cruise ship to cruise the Inner Passage featuring scenic views of the Alaskan coastline.

Ultralight Flight-3
Ultralight flight over Waimea Canyon on Kauai, Hawaii.

As a licensed pilot, I treasure my time in the air, especially when I can include flights of fancy in our travel plans. During a short stay on Kauai, I took a flight lesson in an ultralight aircraft. The camera was mounted under the fabric wing and captured an image every 30 seconds. That’s me in the back fully in control of the aircraft while the instructor in front, hands on his lap, supervised my flight lesson. In the background is the vast Pacific Ocean and directly below us, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, the beautiful Waimea Canyon.

This concludes my Independence Day look at the treasures of travel in the United States. Thanks, Aletta, for the opportunity to share some photos of my home country as she shared some of hers in her guest post. For those interested in checking out the technical details on these photos, they are all posted in an album in HD on my Flickr site here.

Next week’s guest host is Jez Braithwaite. If you want to join in the challenge but aren’t sure where to begin, check out this page here.

John Steiner


  1. What a terrific way to approach the challenge John, especially since our responses were during July 4th week. I loved all of your images and really appreciated their variety. The night images are among my favorites this week. BTW, don’t know if we’ve talked about it before but the C-130s are HQ’d here at the Charleston airport and we see them all the time. They are, quite simply, monstrous. On July 4th each year they do a flyover along the coastline of SC. They’re really something to see!

  2. Great idea to share the treasures of each region of your country. I’d love to see Dignity if we’re in that region, so that’s somewhere for the wish-list (Alaska is already on it!) I’m a big fan of the Pacific North West and that shot of Coldwater Lake is a stunner! I love your night shots too 🙂

  3. What a lovely post to showcase your country John! Your photos are stunning. I especially like A rainy night in Nashville, Tennessee and the statue! Thank you so much for joining me in this challenge!

  4. Beautiful treasures John. We took 3 months for our cross country trip. I needed 6. We are such a diverse nation. Thanks for taking me back through your wonderful images.

  5. Thanks for sharing so many treasures form your vast photographic collection. Always interesting.

  6. Such wonderful treasures, John – and I didn’t expect anything less. Love all your images, but maybe my favourites are the night photos.

  7. I like the peaceful scene in your first picture of the beach. I also liked your Alamo picture, nicely shown in monochrome. So my favorites were scenes of peace and [past] war.

  8. Beautiful pictures, John! I especially like seeing a sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, night time lights downtown after a rain storm when everything is bright and shiny and, of course, the steam locomotives!

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