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Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge

17 Jan

Last fall while heading to southern Siouxland I stopped in at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge which actually straddles two states, Iowa and Nebraska, and did a short hike in nice weather, but limited area because of the migratory waterfowl movement in preparation for winter. It’s a nice place to spend a day, or even half a day. it also houses historical information about river movement during the early territorial times when people and goods moved upriver to the outer reaches of the early westward expansion of the U.S.

A raptor keeping watch for lunch along an inlet from the Missouri River at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A trail map of the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

There are a few exhibits within the learning or welcome center with staff there to assist one. And local area schools visit to learn more about their area and local history and the early pioneers.

A local school group visits the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge and play games that relate to animals found near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Exhibits abound at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge welcome center near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

But the attraction really is watching migratory birds that pass through, resting on their yearly trips and exploring the area through various trails that are easily accessible.

A walking trail makes its way through the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Trails traverse wooded areas at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A view out of a window at the welcome center at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge show resting geese near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

It’s a good place to get away from the stresses of the world, commune with nature as it were and just enjoy some peace and quiet.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring Small Towns in Siouxland, Blair, NE

9 Jan

On one of my visits in southern Siouxland I stopped by to visit the nearby community of Blair, NE. A small community with a pretty downtown. It’s just down the road from the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge and is maybe 10-12 miles from Missouri Valley.

Downtown’s main street remains busy in Blair, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The Washington County seat is located in Blair and it has a rather impressive courthouse just off of the downtown area. It has a population just under 10,000 and seems to be a fairly thriving community with a lot of harvest trucks passing through the downtown area as farmers finished their fall harvests of corn and soybeans.

Washington County Courthouse in Blair, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A statue of a Union Soldier on a monument to those who served during the Civil War stands in front of the Washington County Courthouse in Blair, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I kind of figure with prediction of snow coming and colder temps my forays out may slow a bit, but I am still hopeful to do more exploration around Siouxland during the winter months. I may just not be walking as much  when I am out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying the art of Art near Siouxland, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE

5 Jan

On a visit to the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, NE south of Siouxland I spent a little time looking at facility itself and enjoying its architecture. At the same time I was also looking at color. And how it adds another dimension or feel to the museum.

Admiring art in the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Muted colors and the specially lit venue helps visitors to concentrate on the art hanging in the various galleries and not to think about anything beyond the room one is in and the joy of seeing some excellent pieces.

An entryway with a fountain adds to place and lends an elegance before you start the journey of seeing. As does the art installation of a Dale Chihuly piece that hangs in front of a large window. It’s nice to sit nearby and look and enjoy. Some days should be quiet days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Chihuly art piece hangs in the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Mosaic tile in the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Lights and Shadows in Siouxland plus effective composition, Omaha, NE

26 Nov

Sometimes when I am out and photographing I know I shoot too many images. It’s just easy to do with digital. In the film days I would shoot more judiciously because I didn’t want to process more than a couple rolls of film. Those days I primarily shot B&W. I would look a scene over and judge what I thought would give me the best result. Now, I shoot more liberally and decide when I look the pics on a large display monitor.

Fall color hangs on in Elmwood Park in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Do I like this crop, the tonality, the road veering away from the scene.

Fall colors hang on in Elmwood Park in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Or does this crop feel more intimate bringing the viewer into the image more quickly if at all. But then, I liked a third take.

Fall colors still appear in Elmwood Park in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And pretty soon I have a dozen photos or more as I make slight variations.

But there are other times when I see and know what I like, especially shooting lights and shadows. I like the ying and yang of the images and their overall feel. And it’s nice to have choices when creating images.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Afternoon sun creates a shadow in Elmwood Park in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A tree retains its fall leaves in Elmwood Park in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Visiting Old Market south of Siouxland, Omaha, NE

15 Sep

While recently visiting the riverfront in Omaha, NE and obtaining a senior’s national park pass from a park service office there, I ventured down into what is referred to as Old Market.

Parts of the “newer” downtown area can be seen beyond the Old Market area in Omaha, NE August 24, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a few communities in Siouxland trying to replicate this “urbanization” of older downtown quarters, giving facelifts and creating a revitalization of unused spaces. But Omaha is a larger community and has a regional draw and the ability to support the restaurants, breweries and “hip” shopping venues and art galleries located in Old Market. Looking at some of the construction underway and some that has been completed, one could almost believe you find yourself someplace in Brooklyn, rather than just outside the actual downtown area of Omaha.

Apartments above and shops below give a feel of area around New York City in the Old Market area in Omaha, NE August 24, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The nice attraction I found is that this area was only 8 blocks from the riverfront area I visited to get my parks’ pass and then there are a couple of museums within a few blocks of Old Market. On a sunny day with a bit of a breeze and a nice walk that gets the hunger pangs going, it was nice to venture around, check out some art and shops and then have a tough time deciding on a place to eat and maybe have a beer and just relax feeling the “aura” of a large city but enjoying more small town ambience.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Checking out the riverfront south of Siouxland, Omaha, NE

5 Sep

I made a sojourn down to Omaha, NE recently to obtain a lifetime seniors pass to national parks in the U.S. before a price increase. I didn’t even realize their is a national park office in Omaha or the fact that it is situated along the riverfront in the city.

A walkway spans the Missouri River between Nebraska and Iowa at the riverfront near the Lewis and Clark Landing in Omaha, NE August 24, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not far from there a pedestrian walkway spans the Missouri River that connects Nebraska and Iowa. Giving views from above of the river and parts of the downtown area of Omaha. The day was pleasant, while warm, had a nice breeze coming off the river. And as I began walking along this river front after obtaining my pass I found it was only a few blocks the Old Market section of the city which contains numerous restaurants and shops. But the way there is filled with its own delights.

A walkway spans the Missouri River between Nebraska and Iowa at the riverfront near the Lewis and Clark Landing in Omaha, NE August 24, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Water spouts at the Heartland of America Park in Omaha, NE August 24, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is an interesting walkway that takes one above the ground and over various governmental water front areas that is an architectural delight as well as another shade cover further up the way.

Covered bridge walkways connect the riverfront area by the Lewis and Clark Landing and the Heartland of America Park to Old Market in Omaha, NE August 24, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Shade and design are created along the riverfront at the Heartland of America Park in Omaha, NE August 24, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It made walking to the Old Market a nice way to work up an appetite and later check out some of the shops in the area.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sights outside of Siouxland, Sidney, NE

29 May

Recently on a kind of road trip in western Nebraska outside of the Siouxland area I made a pit stop at a rest area along Interstate 80. Driving in that part of Nebraska reminded me of when I lived in West Texas and on occasion visited New Mexico. The landscape also looked like sections of California inland from the coast north of Santa Barbara. Rocky outcroppings and plateaus which I wasn’t able to stop and photograph. As I drive around the Siouxland area I remind myself that sometimes I need to explore a bit further afield and look forward to those days when I can.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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