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Longing for Trips in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

21 May

A coral reef Lego exhibit by Sean Kenney that took over 500 hours and 88,000 pieces to build seen at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday evening, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I imagine it will be sometime before the opportunity will allow certain places to reopen as the coronavirus is still prevalent in so many places. I enjoy visiting the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, as well as the Henry Doorly Zoo there. Spending part of a day wandering about and enjoying the moment. And I know those moments will come again, and try to remember such adages of patience being a virtue. When these places do reopen I am certain there will be many, many folk angling to get in. But it will still be nice to revisit places to relax and enjoy and think of other things.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A sea coral reef Lego exhibit by Sean Kenney that took over 500 hours and 88,000 pieces to build rises above a wall to entice visitors to check out at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday evening, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Venturing out of Siouxland, Lee Simmons Safari Park, Ashland, NE

13 May

Venturing out to the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Venturing out of Siouxland in recent weeks has not been totally difficult as in many places around the country, but still done with a little trepidation and awareness. On a weekend, which I don’t know what possessed me as opposed doing this during the week, I took a drive out west past Omaha, NE to visit the Lee Simmons Safari Park in Ashland, an offshoot of the Henry Doorly Zoo. It was a nice weekend and many other folk had the same idea. Normally at this park folk can park and stay and watch the animals there, but because of the coronavirus the park is currently only allowing drive through visitation.

Venturing out to the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors in vehicles snake their way past a herd of bison at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On my way out of the park I asked one of the attending park personnel how many people had visited and he responded he didn’t know the total, but roughly there were 400 vehicles every hour entering. I later told friends I had not seen this kind of bumper to bumper traffic since living in the Los Angeles area in the 1990’s. But still, people were patient and gracious, giving everyone a chance to stop and watch and photograph animals as we all snaked our way through the acreage.

Pelicans relax at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Venturing out to the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a variety of animals, although not as much as at the zoo proper. And on this particular day the animals seemed to cooperate and allow a look at a large number of people adjusting to a different way of spending leisure time.

Kids stick their head out of the top of a vehicle to better see animals at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Children poke their heads out of a sunroof and door window to better see the bison at a pond at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A bald eagle in an aviary enclosure at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Parts of Nebraska are beginning a soft reopening. Time will tell how that is going. Venturing out is desirable, but staying healthy has a stronger pull to walking about and into who knows what. Maybe some road trips onto the backroads of Iowa and Nebraska, just to take a look and see what one should visit again when the coast is clear.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A pelican “waves” at visitors driving through  the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Animals roam free at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying a drive through at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Animals relax as people driver through the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Signage directs visitors to see the animals and find other places at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Thinking of Warmer days in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

1 Apr

It’s always unseasonable warm in the butterfly house at the Henry Doorly Zoo even on an unseasonably warm day in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Maybe because I like many others in Siouxland and elsewhere have been house bound a while and will continue to do so during this disruptive virus episode that I am looking forward to days ahead. Although I am never lucky enough to come across the multitude of butterflies that are in the Henry Doorly Zoo’s butterfly conservatory. At least during the day I was there it was a pleasantly warm day, 50’s thus not so terribly hot within the area the butterflies are kept as doing the summer months.

It’s always unseasonable warm in the butterfly house at the Henry Doorly Zoo even on an unseasonably warm day in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s fun to watch the graceful little creatures flit from one area to another feeding and just hanging out. I always find a challenge in photographing them without bumping into someone else as my eyes are glued to the camera’s viewfinder following the quick little creatures moving about.

It’s always unseasonable warm in the butterfly house at the Henry Doorly Zoo even on an unseasonably warm day in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Just when it seems they come to rest and will stay in one place a moment or took for the autofocus to kick in, no, they are off again following their own muse that keeps them afloat and flittering here and there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

It’s always unseasonable warm in the butterfly house at the Henry Doorly Zoo even on an unseasonably warm day in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying some sunshine and warmth in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

2 Mar

A cheetah takes a nap in the sunshine in its outdoor enclosure during an unseasonably warm day where temperatures almost reached 60 degrees at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems everyone is waiting for an early spring, and enjoying those days that bring a little extra warmth in February and sunshine to the area. All creatures like to enjoy a peaceful moment and take in the surroundings.

A cheetah suns itself on a rock in its outdoor enclosure during an unseasonably warm day where temperatures almost reached 60 degrees at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A cheetah rolls in the grass during an unseasonably warm day where temperatures almost reached 60 degrees at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While recently visiting the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE not many animals were outside their indoor enclosures. But the few who did venture out wasted no time in enjoying the sunshine and warmer temperatures. According the rodent, Phil, spring should be arriving soon. Early March maybe, but in Siouxland as elsewhere, there are always those sudden spring snow storms that might delight school children but only illicit groans from adults. Patience is a virtue, but sometimes that is in short supply.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visitors watch a sealion sun itself on a rock in its enclosure during an unseasonably warm day where temperatures almost reached 60 degrees at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A white rhino stands outside its enclosure during an unseasonably warm day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

History surrounds Siouxland, Fort Omaha, Omaha, NE

21 Feb

A former departmental headquarters of historic Fort Omaha in the late 1800’s, now the Metropolitan Community College media and library center, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Siouxland region and parts surrounding Siouxland are steeped in history. As hard as it is to remember sometimes that Iowa, Nebraska, both Dakotas and other midwest and western states were at one time open territory and prairie before the land rush that brought settlers and others who “tamed the land”. Previously populated by Native American Tribes that followed the buffalo and other seasonal practices involving roaming a large swatch of land.

A sign post with history about historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A large part of the college is still open as it was during the days the fort was in use, primarily as parade grounds or muster grounds for troops located or passing through to other outposts.

History of the Omaha barracks and parade grounds at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The parade grounds at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As warmer weather approaches it will be nice to be able to spend more time learning about area history as opposed to rushing back to a warm vehicle out of the cold. And seeing what other gems are about Siouxland.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Part of the parade grounds at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Revisiting History around Siouxland, General Crook, Omaha, NE

15 Feb

Cabin fever is working on my wanderlust to begin exploring Siouxland area again without slipping and sliding to and from a destination. Although it’s only February and already the warm weather temps that have graced the region recently will depart a short bit as a bitter winter front and some snow moves into the area again.

The Douglas County Historical Society chronicles the history of General George Crook’s home at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently visiting the Omaha area I checked out but didn’t stop into see General Crook’s museum home at Fort Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s a glimpse into a time frame in the early frontier days as the west was being”tamed” for settlers heading in that direction. General George Crook was commandant of Fort Omaha and was responsible for patrolling and keeping safe a region that included Iowa, Nebraska, parts of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. His home is a well preserved specimen and fun to look into the past and see what life was like on the prairie for a higher ranking officer. There are a number of homes along that ridge top that housed officers of the fort while the enlisted men bunked in larger housing facilities down the hill.

General George Crook was commander at historic Fort Omaha during the early frontier days, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A plague gives a history about General George Crook’s home at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

The warmer days makes it easier to get out and about again but patience for the return of some greenery will probably be a few more weeks coming as winter lingers and Mother nature teases us about the coming spring.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A garden spot now dormant behind the General George Crook home museum at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Old Glory hangs on the front porch of the General George Crook home museum at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Summer Moment during Siouxland’s Winter, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

13 Feb

A blooming plant at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday evening, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes “getting away” from the cold and thought of winter is an easy fix around Siouxland. The Laurtizen Gardens in Omaha, NE can give visitors a little break from the winter weather, although it can be challenging for a photographer.

Condensation on a window in a plant room during winter at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday evening, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Walking only a few meters within a plant enclosure looking Lego exhibits the camera lens would condense and it would take a few more minutes to wait for it to clear while visiting the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday evening, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Cod days outside can mean an enjoyable time indoors but one must take a bit of time if you want to capture any memories during a visit. During a recent visit to the gardens the temperature within the “greenhouse” changed in matter of meters which was interesting. Or if standing by a door leaving the room the change in temperature was immediate as was the condensation that followed. But still, such a small sacrifice to pay for seeing a “little bit o’ the green” and a chance to forget about the outdoors and think of what’s coming.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A steamy room keeps plants healthy in the winter months seen during a Lego Exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday evening, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

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