Visiting History in Siouxland, Adams House Museum, Ponca, NE

5 Dec
A look at an earlier century of living at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Through one of the photography classes I teach at a local community college I look for destinations for the class to visit near and far within Siouxland. Besides possibly introducing the students to places locally they might not have visited before, it also puts their photographic skills to test from composition to using ISO and white balance settings to possibly trying slow shutter speeds or dragging the shutter. My reasoning is that if they are on vacation someplace, they shouldn’t be afraid of pulling out the camera and using it to document their trip or to make awe inspiring imagery to share later with family and friends.

Volunteer Ken Johnson talks about the history of the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A look at an earlier century of living at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Adams House Museum is a brick home built in the early 1880’s by a local druggist named E.D. Ayers according to a printed handout presented by the museum. Volunteer Ken Johnson gave the class a quick history lesson about the house and some of the furnishings, not all of which are original but mostly period pieces to the early family that lived there.

In the early 1900’s a local farmer and his wife, Sam and Della Adams, purchased the home, and it was noted in the information handed out that only wealthier folk in those days could afford to build or purchase a brick home.

A stairwell leads to the upstairs while a doorway at left goes into a sitting parlor at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A look at an earlier century of a formal sitting parlor at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Remnants of history on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always interesting to walk through a home museum. To see what appliances and other types of utensils were used during a particular time period one to two centuries ago. Various photographs about the museum showed snippets of history about the area and what it looked like before really being settled. Photographs showing the early days of a community are so totally different than what one sees today. Which is only natural, considering there are so many more folk living these days, and living longer.

A number of items within the museum were donated by area families, passed down through the generations are now on display for others to consider its place in history and a bit of reminder that actual people inhabited this house and others in the area helping create what it has become.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A look at an earlier century of living at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A small hallway seen at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on display at the Adams House museum of an earlier period in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on display at the Adams House museum of an earlier period in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photo of the Ponca Chiefs delegation on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photograph on display at the Adams House museum of an earlier period in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A historical document signed in 1896 on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A historical document signed in 1896 on display at the Adams House museum in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Adams House Museum, a historical place documenting life in an earlier century seen in Ponca, NE Saturday Oct. 23, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Backyard Birds in Siouxland, Sioux City

3 Dec
A white-breasted nuthatch flicks its tongue as it eats a snack at a feeder in the backyard of a residence Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa.

With the changing seasons, now fall into winter, I am not certain which little guys will stick around for the winter visiting feeders in the neighborhood. As I traveled about Siouxland this year I sometimes found myself enjoying watching winged creatures closer to home than at some nature preserves. It was also nice to just be able to sit on a deck and drink coffee and watch the antics provided by these small neighbors. And slowly, very slowly, I am learning a bit about the different species. In particular, I have learned there are more than a dozen local sparrow species and sometimes telling them apart is not easy. So I am finding my learning curve a bit long in the tooth.

A downy woodpecker eats a grub it found in a dead branch on a tree in the backyard of a residence Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa.

Summer and fall is winding down for some backyard visitors, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer and fall is winding down for some backyard visitors, in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have learned it takes a bit of patience to sit quietly watching these skittish creatures come eat and fly off, some species like the white-breasted nuthatch and black capped chickadee barely landing before flying away with a meal to eat elsewhere and then returning some more and repeating this pattern continuously. Other birds, like the sparrows will sit and munch a while before leaving.

A sparrow grabs a snack as summer and fall winds down for some backyard visitors, in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer and fall is winding down for some backyard visitors, like this sparrow in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer and fall is winding down for some backyard visitors, like this house finch in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I would guess I have taken in excess a few thousand images of birds in my neighborhood, trying to improve on the photographs of the ones previously taken. Tweaking the technique and then hoping for that extra second or two before the little creature bolts to “safety”, although learning when they may come back for more and figuring out time of day for feeding habit. Surprisingly I found that mid-afternoon seems to be a feeding time as opposed to early morning and early evening, both of which I have found the birds feeding. But education in any form is always good and am already looking forward to next year when the weather warms up a tad and the birds are once again active.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A backyard visiting sparrow makes his presence known, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Possibly a female cardinal snacks a snack in a backyard, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A house finch chews on a seed in a backyard, in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Common house sparrows snack at a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Wayne, NE

1 Dec
While known for the Wayne Chicken Show, this sculpted art piece is not connected to that venture, seen downtown in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when it’s doable, I just like to get in my vehicle and drive about Siouxland. Earlier this year I made a short day trip into Nebraska and stopped at a few small towns along the way. One of these places was Wayne, NE. It has a population a little over 5,500 via some 2019 online information.

Downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Agriculture still plays an important part in small communities like Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many times when I come upon a place it is without research as I am mostly looking for photographic opportunities plus just seeing what is in the Siouxland region. And many times I find that I will venture back in the future to explore something specific about a particular community just as a historical museum or former residence and maybe even utilize a trip to it for a class I teach through a local community college. And it’s just fun to see what is there, knowing well in advance that my day trip will probably not coincide with any festival or event that might take place in a community as I arrive mid-week, an unlikely time period for places to host community celebrations of any kind.

Buildings dating to another century in downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Art decorating a building and the downtown sidewalk in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is though a particular summer time event I have never attended in Wayne and want to at some point which is the Chicken Show. It began in the early 1980’s as part of a push by the local arts community to draw attention to itself and the community as a whole. Online information says chickens as a theme was utilized for the possible endless kinds of humor that might evolve, the rural location of Wayne, and the fact that there might also be endless art opportunities involving the chicken.

And from what I hear the show continues today in as strong a fashion as ever to delight of those residents of that community.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A former railroad depot now a pizza joint in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Main street in downtown Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A View from Above, Under Watchful Eyes in Siouxland, rural Nebraska, South Dakota

29 Nov
A Turkey Vulture flies over a field and a copse of trees seen Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I see raptors and other large bird species flying or hovering overhead in Siouxland it gives new meaning to “flying the friendly skies” as these creatures look for their next meal. But it is fun to watch them soar, swoop and soar some more as they gracefully glide on the air stream looking for their next snack.

Approximately 25-30 Turkey Vultures fly over a field seen Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A red-tailed hawk sits perches on a branch looking or a snack at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday Oct. 22, 2021.

A turkey vulture perches in a tree top at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

These birds contrasted with waterfowl as they make their way on a twice yearly migration and looking for stops in between to take a break from their trip. Seemingly never crossing paths and yet reaching whatever destination they are attempting.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Canada geese fly over a field and a pond seen Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer’s Past in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

27 Nov
A rabbit sits quietly watching someone approach on a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Tuesday, August 3, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Now as fall begins to wane and the prairie winds pushes temperatures into a more wintry feel in Siouxland, I just sigh and think about walking about the region in warmer temperatures and realize it will again be a few months. Even though recently air temp has stayed in the 40’s with a couple days even approaching high 50’s, that prairie wind creates a wind chill affect negating whatever warmth the sun appears to be sharing.

A male cardinal perches on a bird feeder near the welcome center at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Tuesday, August 3, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A red-headed woodpecker searches for a meal on a tree at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Tuesday, August 3, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So I try to adjust my thinking and pull out heavier coats to continue taking walks in nature, weather permitting, as well as driving conditions, and enjoy the moment at hand. Wishful thinking is that, until the reality of the day interrupts serene thoughts and life presents itself in the moment.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A rabbit looks about watching someone approach on a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Tuesday, August 3, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Uehling, NE

25 Nov
Crossroads in downtown Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This past spring and summer I took some time to visit a few small communities in Siouxland that I had not stopped in before to just check them out and see what was there. My trips generally take place during the week and never seem to coincide with any events, which generally happen on weekends or evenings. Uehling, NE was one of the places I came across on a day trip. Like so many others its population is a little over 200 people but has some nice buildings maintained with a few flourishes about town for its appearance.

A wall mount dedicated to the anniversary of the community’s founding on a downtown store in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wall mural heading into empty space seen in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Founded in the early 1900’s it was also a short-lived railroad destination as train tracks headed west expanding the reach of a young nation. And like so many of those smaller communities it seemed to prosper early on then settled in as the train route continued west and larger communities were founded in other places that also because seats of local county and state government.

But even in passing it’s fun to see a small community still holding its own over 100 years later. A place people call home and visitors can only wonder about its part in creating history as they pass through.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A visitor might assume the community was named after Theodore Uehling seen in in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A country road heads off into the distance leaving Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Cool Misty Morning in Siouxland, rural Nebraska, Winnebago, NE

23 Nov
A misty fall morning in rural Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Monday Oct. 25, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some times the prospect of waking up early to get somewhere before the sun actually peeks over the horizon seems a difficult task. It’s not always a long drive to reach someplace in Siouxland, but I find jump starting my “get off my ass and go” engine takes a bit of effort. But when I get somewhere, I am most certainly glad I got up and explored the destination, enjoying the light play that an early morning sun will sometimes create.

A misty fall morning in rural Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Monday Oct. 25, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A misty fall morning in rural Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Monday Oct. 25, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Add a little cool overnight temperatures and as the sun warms up the earth magical things happen as the light plays with the mist that is created. I don’t always avail myself of every opportunity I might have in photographing light play. And sometimes I know I am just being lazy. But these days I don’t mind. I will enjoy what I see and the moment and only hope there may be more sometime down the road.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A misty fall morning in rural Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Monday Oct. 25, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A misty fall morning in rural Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Monday Oct. 25, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Preparing for the holidays, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, Iowa

21 Nov
Holiday decoration begins appearing at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve as it prepares for the Homestead Holidays weekends beginning Thursday, Dec. 2 in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The Homestead holidays will span every weekend in December, Thursday through Sunday except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Volunteers carry Christmas decorations as the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve prepares for the Homestead Holidays weekends beginning Thursday, Dec. 2 in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The Homestead holidays will span every weekend in December, Thursday through Sunday except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Besides enjoying the cooler temperatures and colorful leaves that fall brings, I do enjoy the festive feel when homes and other places begin putting up lights for the holiday season in Siouxland. While not looking forward to cooler temperatures, I like just enjoying the moment, making thinking of childhood memories or other good times that Christmas helps me remember, besides the obvious, that a very special child was born on a very special night. Although I think the jury is still out, and will be, for when that night actually occurred.

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve began a tradition last year during the pandemic to entice people to at least come outside, where it is relatively safer from catching the virus and enjoying some holiday cheer. And again this year the park manager, Jody Moats, and her crew of staff and volunteers are once again decorating the Homestead in preparation for the Christmas season.

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve park manager Jody Moats attaches Christmas lights to a tree with the help of a volunteer for the Homestead Holidays weekends beginning Thursday, Dec. 2 in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The Homestead holidays will span every weekend in December, Thursday through Sunday except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve volunteers are putting up lights for the Homestead Holidays weekends beginning Thursday, Dec. 2 in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The Homestead holidays will span every weekend in December, Thursday through Sunday except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s fun to wander about the park and enjoy hearing the giggles and excited talk of little ones attending with their parents in anticipation of Old St. Nick visiting their home, hopefully, during the holiday season. At least for a short time period one might be able to put on hold all the other problems that seem to continually occur and maybe truly wish a happy and merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve volunteers are putting up lights for the Homestead Holidays weekends beginning Thursday, Dec. 2 in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The Homestead holidays will span every weekend in December, Thursday through Sunday except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve park manager Jody Moats gives directions to a volunteer as they put up lights for the Homestead Holidays weekends beginning Thursday, Dec. 2 in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The Homestead holidays will span every weekend in December, Thursday through Sunday except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve volunteers are putting up lights for the Homestead Holidays weekends beginning Thursday, Dec. 2 in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The Homestead holidays will span every weekend in December, Thursday through Sunday except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Flying Escort in Siouxland, rural Thurston County, Nebraska

19 Nov
Two Canada geese get an escort from a bevy of Red Wing blackbirds as they fly along the Missouri River on an early Nebraska morning near Winnebago, NE Sunday Oct. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the last year I have spent more time visiting nature places in Siouxland with a concerted effort to hopefully photograph birds and other animals than in previous years. Shooting wildlife is not as easy as it seems. The critters are quite fast, but because of the pandemic I spent a good portion of my time traipsing through various nature preserves in the area, near and far. And enjoyed it. Shutting out so much “white noise” that has occurred because of people’s views on staying healthy, or not.

While walking a trail near the Missouri River not far from Winnebago, NE I saw some geese fly overhead with apparently an escort by some a flock of red-wing blackbirds. It made me think of those WWII war movies where B-51 bombers flew to Europe escorted by fighter plans to run interference during their mission. While I don’t believe the smaller birds were escorting the larger birds, it did give me pause, and a chance to marvel at nature and possible quirks I never noticed.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Hanging out in Siouxland, Hillview Recreation Area, Hinton

17 Nov
A turkey vulture makes some noise after noticing a someone on a trail as it sits perched in a tree at the Hillview Recreation Area near Hinton, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I go out to walk about or travel to some place in Siouxland I never know what to expect or what I might find. And that to me is a joy in and of itself. There are days I might feel as though what I had anticipated didn’t happen and feel I missed out on something. But one can never know what might be around a bend or over a hilltop when exploring.

A turkey vulture sits perched in a tree at the Hillview Recreation Area near Hinton, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A turkey vulture prepares to leave its perch in a tree at the Hillview Recreation Area near Hinton, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wile taking a short hike through the Hillview Recreation Area I came upon a few turkey vultures sitting in treetops and sadly disturbed a couple feeding on something in a field. As I appeared the ones on the ground lifted off. I felt bad disturbing their meal and was mad at myself for not being ready in photographing them as they lifted off the ground. They really are large birds as one get a bit closer to seeing them. I slowed down on the trail and tried to use some foliage to limit their view of me as I made my way to where I could take some photographs. But they are sharp-eyed creatures and I could only get so close before they left and found a higher perch to watch their surroundings, maybe also lamenting the fact that their lunch was still laying in a field.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A turkey vulture leaves its perch as another one flies by at the Hillview Recreation Area near Hinton, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Turkey vultures leave their tree perch to relocate onto a hi-line power pole at a walker passes by on a trail at the Hillview Recreation Area near Hinton, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Turkey vultures relocated to a hi-line power pole after seeing a walker on a trail at the Hillview Recreation Area near Hinton, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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