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Another Day in Siouxland a Different Scene Unfolds, Mulberry Bend Overlook

10 Oct

at the Mulberry Bend Overlook near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is always a good argument for revisiting places one has previously visited and photographed, even in Siouxland. Time, day, time of year, it all changes what was previously witnessed and recorded. And for lucky photographers scenes are mostly not redundant making it more enticing to stop in and take a second, third or fourth look. I previously came across Mulberry Bend Overlook on a warm, humid and sunny day.

at the Mulberry Bend Overlook near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Mulberry Bend Overlook near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I never tire of traveling about and seeing places, sharing them with friends on photo outings. One always hopes for optimal days, that is sunshine and blue sky, to photograph in, but weather and other unplanned exceptions can cause one to reevaluate how one sees and learns to adapt to situations that are not always ideal. Simple challenges are good for a photographer in broadening one’s perceptions and images captured. It also makes a hot cup of coffee taste even better on a damp, chilly day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Mulberry Bend Overlook near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Mulberry Bend Overlook near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A rainy day at the Mulberry Bend Overlook near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Solitude in Siouxland, Dordt University Prairie, Sioux Center

28 Sep

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I recently found out about a small nature preserve in Siouxland just a few steps away from Dordt University, a Christian college that strives to help students realize faith in their lives is as important as well as preparing them to succeed in life through their academic endeavors. The Prairie is only steps away from the school’s campus and is a nice walk, although probably better on a cooler day than when I visited. I has the look of an earlier century prairies and is large enough that it affords a person some solitude and quiet within its confines, providing space for a person to sit, contemplate and unwind from daily activities and schedules.

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the interior part of the prairie is a prayer garden where there are rock formations allowing a person to sit and seek spiritual guidance if one wants, or just sit and listen to the immediate surroundings be it the wind, crickets, cicadas or flies. All God’s creatures. It was a weekday morning so there wasn’t anyone else around and I wandered the grounds a bit enjoying what I came across and following a path until I came to the garden.

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Students’ lives are busy enough and I remember my days in college and at times going into the school’s quadrangle at off peak hours to sit and listen to nature. With few people around the birds came alive and there were plenty of trees landscaping the area along with specie names and such to, of course, make it educational. And the small prairie is good for residents as well who also need that occasional down time away from the “white noise” that society and modern day living provides. A neighborhood abuts the prairie and a wide path makes it easy to traverse and enjoy a quick escape before “reentering” the world and again engaging life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dordt University’s Dordt Prairie is a 20 acre area near the college and also contains a prayer garden located in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Siouxland Weather Good and Bad, Falls Park, Sioux Fall, SD

22 Sep

Some visitors get a closer look at the fast moving Big Sioux River at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I previously visited Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD, in the northern reaches of Siouxland. But I haven’t been to the park since a Photo Safari class I taught visited over a year or so ago. With this year’s frozen spring and then rain fall and heavy rains over the summer and even into the fall, the Big Sioux River which runs through the park has been working overtime filling its banks to the brim as has the James River and the Missouri River. And it seems there is no end in sight.

Visitors take a break and watch the rushing water of the Big Sioux River at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Big Sioux River runs fast over the rocks isolating some of the outcroppings at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The week day I visited there were lots of folk walking about also checking out the water levels and the “roar” of the water through the park. It’s an amazing sight but also dangerous. People can get up close and personal with the water and a slip on some of the outcroppings could prove disastrous if one is not careful. A few incidents have happened over the years where people fall in and sadly lose their lives. But seeing nature in a raw state that close is hard to pass up.

With increased water action because of the year’s rainfall locally and upstream of the Big Sioux River, a visitor from Connecticut takes photos at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Big Sioux River runs fast over the rocks at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And with more rains expected then probably snow fall over the winter, it doesn’t seem there will be any disappointment from park fans in the foreseeable future.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A visitor records the turbulent Big Sioux River flowing at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Big Sioux River runs fast over the rocks at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting Spirit Mound in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

18 Sep

Spirit Mound is seen in the background behind some sunflowers at the Spirit Mound Historic Prairie near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spirit Mound Historic Prairie is one of the place and stops taken by Lewis and Clark’s Expedition researching the Louisiana Purchase for then President Thomas Jefferson. For Native Americans at the time it represented a place of foreboding, as a website states: “Long before white men came to what is now South Dakota, the little hill known by the Sioux as Paha Wakan was held in awe by tribes for miles around. The Omaha, the Sioux, and the Otoes believe that the mound was occupied by spirits that killed any human who came near.”

The trail head at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A trail marker pinpoints a spot visited by the Lewis and Clark Expedition as it explored the “New West” for then President Thomas Jefferson seen at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The day I visited there were going to people out on the trail helping visitors to learn a little more about the Mound and other aspects of the area. But a morning rain”washed away” the volunteers as the event was postponed to the following day. But I don’t always let a little water dampen my enthusiasm or gear. And I missed the rain, and the informational pieces as I didn’t attend the following day, but enjoyed the short walk and look at Spirit Mound again as I had visited previously.

Rain puddles fill a walking trail at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Rain drops cling to a sign at Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But there are now informational plagues erected along the trail to give a visitor some background and information one would have to research later, which still wouldn’t be a bad idea to understand more about Lewis and Clark’s expedition and the Native Americans who lived in the area centuries before. History can be fascinating and sometimes it seems surreal to walk in an area visited a century or two or more by explorers and others who lived in an entirely different world.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An informational plague talks about the history of Spirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Storm clouds appear on the horizon nearSpirit Mound near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Walk Outside of Siouxland, Hennepin Canal Parkway, Rock Falls, IL

10 Sep

A walk and bike trail along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent trip I had a little time to stretch my legs after a bit of a drive and decided to check out the Hennepin Canal Parkway near where I was staying. For a later summer’s walk the temperature was not terrible or the humidity. I had checked out the Hennepin Canal Parkway a few years ago when visiting some relatives. The canal travels a bit of a distance, and for bike riders that gives them a good ride on even ground. I saw a couple headed out as I was walking back to my vehicle. And the gravel pathway, more for bicyclists than walkers was nice to get the heart rate up a bit.

The Parkway’s site states:

“Constructed from 1892 to 1907, the Hennepin Canal played an important role in U.S. history and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Hennepin was the first American canal built of concrete without stone cut facings. Although the Hennepin enjoyed limited success as a commercial and industrial waterway, its construction involved a number of engineering innovations, and its waterway, locks, aqueducts and adjoining towpath continue to provide a beautiful recreational resource.

The towpath provides 155 miles of hiking/biking fun from the Illinois River to the Rock River, with the feeder canal path to Rock Falls.  Segments of the trails are open to horseback riding and snowmobiling in season.  Fishing along the Hennepin is outstanding, and the canal is open to boating and canoeing (locks are no longer operational and must be portaged).  Campgrounds and day use areas are located all along the canal.”

I knew I wasn’t going to go any distance and kept stopping every wee bit to photograph, so maybe I didn’t get my heart rate up that much. But I really enjoyed the light play and reflection coming off the water in the canal.

Reflections in the water along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Reflections in the canal seen from a walk/bike trail path along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The part of the canal I walked is surrounded by trees and farm fields. I was lucky to have a nice sunny, blue sky kind of day as well. I am certain had I waited around, I might have gotten some nice sunset light, but water, trees, damp soil and I knew I would be mosquito bait just waiting to happen.

A meadow scene along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The afternoon early evening light though created some nice scenes and allowed me to play with light and shade. Something I can enjoy anywhere, as long as the sun cooperates.

The Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Backlit leaf along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

But as I walked along the canal the water seemed to become more active and I started seeing more light refraction that to me became more intriguing as I walked along. And while my heart rate wasn’t racing from my causal walk, I realized I needed to stop and head back, otherwise I would be in the next county, having taken hundreds of water photos of water reflections. Patience and discernment is sometimes necessary as I walk and shoot photos. On trips one can never go back again, but then again, shooting tons of photos doesn’t help the eye become better at creating a photograph one might consider a keeper, if just for oneself, as well as avoiding a half day spent editing. Being practical is important too.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Reflections in the canal seen from a walk/bike trail path along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Reflections in the canal seen from a walk/bike trail path along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

 

 

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland,Prairie Heritage Center, O’Brien County

25 Aug

The Prairie Heritage Center is off of state Hwy 10 outside of Peterson, Iowa seen Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I never tire of finding new places to visit in Siouxland. Places people tell me about, and which I then forget, only to “discover” it while driving about. I really need to write these suggestions down, someplace where I can remember I put my list.

The Prairie Heritage Center is located in O’Brien County, just outside of Peterson on a bit of a hill and stretches out toward a small river and grasslands. As one drives down the long lane you see an unusual sight, a pre-historic critter standing overlooking the valley below, giving the visitor an idea of what creatures may have roamed these hills millennia ago.

Art decorates and suggests a prehistoric past which may have roamed the area seen at the Prairie Heritage Center Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Benches are located near the Prairie Heritage Center near Peterson, Iowa for a chance to sit and enjoy nature and its surroundings seen Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The center contains information about the immediate area, history of what may have come before and helps one understand the natural habitat and why it is important. There are also tablets outside that contain relevant information about the area and what animals roamed prior to most of Iowa becoming a farming state.

A family looks over exhibits located inside the Prairie Heritage Center near Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Plaques give information about the area at the Prairie Heritage Center near Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Plaques give information about the area at the Prairie Heritage Center near Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Then there are a couple of easy walking trails that lead down into the valley area below the center although without some bushwhacking it’s not possible to reach the river stream that runs through the area. I thought that might have been nice to walk in the cool shade of the trees on a hot summer’s day, but the tall grass, fear of ticks and not wanting to trip on underlying tree limbs or logs under the grass, I stayed on the trail. But it’s a nice area to visit and return to, which I plan on in the fall. A worker at the welcome center said not all trees along the river are burr oak, whose leaves only turn brown in the fall after turning green in the spring. So depending on weather and conditions, there could be some nice fall shots waiting for a photographer traipsing out and about in October and November.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Trails lead away from the Prairie Heritage Center and allow visitors a closer look at the prairie and fauna seen Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Prairie Heritage Center near Peterson, Iowa sits on a hilltop overlooking a valley seen Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors climb the view overlook to see the valley below the Prairie Heritage Center near Peterson, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Country in Siouxland, rural Clay County

11 Aug

A meadow situated along a country road in rural Clay County, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently on my way to an event to photograph I passed through some Siouxland countryside in rural Clay County. It had been a while since I was able to just drive about on backroads in this region, many of which I have not driven reminding me that I need to do more of that. Bucolic scenes, meadows, corn and soybean fields, grazing animals and dust with heat. While a fan of most of the former part of that string of words, that latter can be overcome with water and a vehicle’s AC system. It’s just nice to get out, enjoy a little peace and solitude and be, without any expectations.

Thinking of the words to a Simon and Garfunkel song: “Slow down, you move too fast, You got to make the morning last, Just kicking down the cobblestones, Looking for fun and feeling groovy.” My fun is taking pictures and listening to some jazz as I drive about the backroads. Just enjoying without a destination, as long as I can find my way back to a main road and then home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A country road winds through rural scenes in Clay County, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Round hay bales dot a rural scene in Clay County, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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