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Light and Shadow in Siouxland, Joslyn Castle, Omaha, NE

15 Sep

Visiting the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like revisiting places I have previously been to, in Siouxland and elsewhere. Different time of year gives a different look to the area or place itself, such as the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE. The grounds are very nice and the tour inside was again informative as a different docent volunteer led this tour. Because of the coronavirus fewer people gives those on the tour more of an opportunity to ask questions. And having visited previously ask questions with some knowledge about the history of the place.

Visiting the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visiting the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having been here before I looked differently at the former residence of a prominent family and because the season was more summer than winter as last time the lighting inside was also different. Lights and shadows are always fascinating, at least to me. Enjoying the play of light inside a room. Of course one has to be content with how the sun is when on a tour. Planning for optimal light is never going to happen without unfettered access, and that is not going to happen either.

Visiting the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But it’s always nice to spend a day out, hearing about an area and wondering how it looked in early pioneer days for those folk who lived there then. The castle at the time was on the western most edge of the community of Omaha with prairie beyond its borders, that is now occupied with homes, many homes. But as I listened I was looking, seeing those little things of interest to me, in my own reverie and speculating how many footsteps had passed these simple areas on how many years and if they appreciated where they were or were just busy with life around them to consider much else.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visiting the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Architecture in Siouxland, Old Market, Omaha, NE

5 Sep

A street scene in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always nice to get out and take a walk, anyway in and around Siouxland. Old Market in Omaha, NE has a nice street scene vibe with renovated buildings into businesses and apartments. It has that “big city” vibe in a still small town feel. Urban and urbane. A nice combo yet not overwhelming.

Flowers decorate a building in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A street scene reflected in a store window in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it a challenge to create images I have not done before or give those that I have a different treatment. Sometimes it works, other times it might make an image interesting or at least intriguing.

A city scape in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A street scene reflected in a window in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But it never hurts to try and see what can be done. Cooler weather is headed this way in a few days, and it will be nice to walk about without expiring from heat exhaustion and drinking copious amounts of water. Fall is a nice time of year, colors begin to change and days are a bit tempered and the light quality changes as well. Hard, but not overly so with a little more direction to it as the earth rotates on its axis and the sun shifts away creating yet again a different photographic environment.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A street scene in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Little bit of Sweden in Siouxland, Oakland, NE

20 Aug

Historically populated by immigrants from Sweden who settled the area in and around Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Everyone comes from somewhere, even the people of Siouxland. The region is a bit of a European melting pot. I haven’t spent a lot of time exploring the smaller communities of Nebraska but finding some interesting places and people need to do a little more exploration.

Graduating seniors photos are displayed in the downtown area of Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Each community has its own charm and history. But the community itself is quaint and only requires a short walk about to see it the downtown area and some of the surrounding neighborhoods.

A colorfully painted scene on a building in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A colorfully painted scene on a building in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As fall gets closer it will hopefully become a little cooler and more inducement to walk about on a bright sunny day. And maybe other aspects of life will become a little safer as well for those wanting to explore a bit.

A posted sign in a grassy area in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Older buildings are getting some makeovers in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun and nice to “see” what’s around the corner or up the road a bit. I do miss popping into small cafes for lunch or coffee, preferring these days to carry a thermos and snack, which doesn’t replace the sometimes homemade pies and other goodies one might find at a cafe and a chance to chat with the folk there and learn a bit more about their community.

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A boarding house in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Missing Friends in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

14 Aug

 

One could almost hear hear this gorilla asking if closing time is near while visitors try to get its attention at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It would probably be an understatement that during this pandemic that people miss seeing their friends, even here in Siouxland. I read a recent feature story in a Nebraska newspaper where a zoo official said that while the zoo itself has been impacted with layoffs and less revenue coming in because of it like other businesses was shut down a number of months, this zoo official also thought some of the animals had missed seeing their human friends.

Two young boys get a closer look at one of the gorillas in the gorilla valley exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An orangutan rests in its exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most people have had a pet in their life at one time or another, either as a child or later in adulthood. Or if not, certainly a friend. And while folk gov overboard at times for their pets, they each fill a space in one’s life that most people can appreciate. I would guess the same is true of animals at the zoo. Seeing hundreds, probably thousands of people pass by their exhibits. Some times when I have visited the zoo previously the gorillas seem distant or even a little annoyed at their human cousins by turning their backs to them and even hiding out of view of the windows there for people to see through. People staring, making gestures and of course trying to capture that perfect selfie.

Children check out a gorilla in the gorilla valley exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Maybe showing off a bit as this gorilla relaxes in the gorilla valley exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A gorilla checks out visitors during a family day in the gorilla valley exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This time I found most all of the gorillas interacting, as much as that is possible, with the humans passing through the exhibit. Some even showing off a bit as they lolled about in their enclosure, sometimes feigning awareness but warily watching. Although some, mothers in particular, kept trying to find someplace away from prying eyes as it fed its young, moving the little guy to different locations but not avoiding those damn tourists. And there were a number of young gorillas in and about the enclosure which also drew people’s attention as they watched them behave like any child.

A mother gives her child an close encounter with a gorilla in the gorilla valley exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

No privacy blankets for this mother trying to feed her young in the gorilla valley exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Although I did spy what I thought was an unusual addition to the exhibit as personnel did a little house cleaning. Also ignoring those prying visitors’ eyes as she went about her work.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A different species does a little house cleaning in the gorilla valley exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An entry point into the gorilla valley at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Small Town and its Swedish History in Siouxland, Oakland, NE

4 Aug

It’s fun when circumstances and happenstance combine and allows one to take a peek behind the curtain. In Siouxland I am always amazed but yet shouldn’t be surprised while finding little historical gems. Maybe not grand in the scheme of things, but this country contains many more small towns and communities than large ones, and history doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

The Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE was built in the latter part of the 1800’s and was the First Covenant Church serving this community as a focal point for many. It closed as a place of worship in 1985, eventually becoming the center with its focus on the Swedish history of the community.

The Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look into downtown and the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The center or museum’s director is Tom Watterstedt who was born and raised in the community and returned in later years and has worked to take an occasional in the community’s history and become a repository of most things Swedish. His ancestors and other local residents ancestors have items on display with some coming from immigrants who made that journey to America to begin a new life.

Museum curator Tom Watterstedt talks about the Swedish Heritage Center and his own family history associated with it seen in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Gowns which belonged to Tom Watterstedt’s ancestors on display at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Memorabilia fills the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A coat made from a former residents best horse on display at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watterstedt talked about receiving so many literature items from local residents which belonged to ancestors that he said the center was running out of storage room but was loathe to chuck them in the recycle bin. So he used he training as a florist to create artful flowers for sale to help fundraise for the center.

Artificial flowers made from Swedish books of early immigrants donated to the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Formerly a First Covenant Church, the Swedish Heritage Center is now a museum of local Swedish history of the immigrants that made the journey to America, in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Local historical items on display at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As with most places during the coronavirus pandemic, the center has been closed. But with a phone call and advance notice, Watterstedt and other community members are more than willing to share their town’s history and about a small community of immigrants that helped created this country many of us call home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Confirmation graduates of the First Convenant Church now the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Historical photographs of Oakland, NE seen at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying the Moments in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

2 Aug

A wooden figurine stands post at Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while out and about in Siouxland it occurs to me that as I visit a place the visit may be more about moments than one entire experience. While visiting the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE I enjoy my time there seeing the plants and perfect gardens that are created and the bit of exercise in fresh air as I walk about the grounds. But it’s the individual moments of different scenes I take in that sometimes strike me the most.

A light and shade scene at Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Delicate appearing flowers on a plant at Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Each one is distinct and a perfect subject in and of itself. It’s easy to wander and forget time for the moment enjoying these sights and limited sounds of mostly birds chirpingand going about their business uninterested in the humans who are visiting their domain.

A lone flower on a pond at Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Flower adding color to a landscape at Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The gardens even in summer have places that allow a visitor to linger out of the sun, and provides informational pieces to help educate us of less than cursory knowledge of garden life.

Shady paths are always a welcome sight on a hot day at the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An informational sign help visitors learn about the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And fun pieces of art are a delight to view. Attending a number of outdoor art shows and festival viewing a vast number of sculptures and other items to put in one’s yard, mine would become more a “junk piece” refuge but here on these grounds and spaced out they add a viewing interest.

Fun art pieces dot the landscape at Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Friendly suggestions for visitors who might like to create their own special place at home can be found at Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even a reflection pool gave way to some mesmerizing moments watching the light play on the rocks in the pond as a light breeze moved the water about, creating an ongoing and ever changing dapples of the light dancing, fairy-like, giving the viewer a pause. Was it Tinker Bell of Peter Pan lore or a garden sprite of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

at Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Moments to enjoy and give space during days of uncertainty, and possibly a new reality. But there will always be a moment, maybe two, to just pause and enjoy and think about tomorrow, tomorrow.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Big Wheels in Siouxland, Union Pacific Train Engines, Omaha, NE

20 Jul

A display of the Union Pacific Big Boy 4023 and Engine 6900 on a hill near the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Old trains are fascinating. The size alone bears some respect and the amount of steel in them seems somewhat unreal. South of Siouxland is a two-train exhibit near the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE. The display is dedicated to a couple of Union Pacific engines, one a Big Boy and the other a workhorse of a locomotive designed to pull tonnage across the country. When driving on I-80 through Omaha one only has to look up to see them looking down.

The Union Pacific plays a large part of the history of Omaha and a display of the Big Boy 4023 and Engine 6900 sits on a hill near the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The display of the Union Pacific Big Boy 4023 and Engine 6900 on a hill near the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center overlooks I-80 freeway in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Union Pacific has history in Omaha as well as in Council Bluffs. I would imagine thousands of rail cars pass through this area weekly. There is no telling yearly. And these two engines sit proudly on a hill top looking down as passing motorists look up, admiring their size and what stories each might tell during their years of service.

The history of Engine 6900 which sits in a display on a hill near the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The history of the Union Pacific Big Boy 4023 situated on a hill near the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A display of the Union Pacific Big Boy 4023 and Engine 6900 on a hill near the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A recurrent theme for railroad buffs must be that the trains never stop moving. Neither should the folk admiring them, although these days some added precautions are probably a good thing. And this exhibit is free and a chance to get up close and personal with history.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A display of the Union Pacific Big Boy 4023 and Engine 6900 on a hill near the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Remembering Those Serving from Siouxland, Wakefield, NE

16 Jul

A war memorial park sits just off of the downtown area in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most small communities in the Siouxland region have a small veterans memorial park dedicated to those who served in the U.S. military during one of the many conflicts that the United States has been involved in. That is true of Wakefield, NE, where a small memorial is set up just off of the downtown area.

A War Memorial Park with names on bricks of service members and when they served in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dedicated bricks to service men and women with their names donated by families for remembrance and also in support of the park. A sign post at one end notes the various places that U.S. personnel have served.

A sign post representing many theatres of war of local residents who served at the War Memorial Park in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Names on bricks of service members and when they served at a War Memorial Park in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ideally many believe the world to be a better place if there were no wars or conflicts and if people worked more in getting along. But history reminds us that many individuals don’t share that sentiment. Those persons for whatever reason relish in conflict, or the need of power and dominion over others. And no matter the psychological implications or pathologies ascribed to these people, their intentions and actions still get people killed. Those who serve to protect their country from foreign folk intent on harm, a remembrance is a small, small thank you for serving.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Vietnam-era attack helicopter on display in a War Memorial Park in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a Stroll in Siouxland, Trolls included, Oakland NE

8 Jul

A little troll acknowledges an entrance to a path near a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes it is surprising was pops up when traveling about Siouxland. A friend from the local camera club told me about this trail in the small community of Oakland, NE. The No Toll Troll Stroll itself has seen better days, but is still a fun little adventure outdoors and a chance to laugh at the short trail creation local residents created for a little amusement. A short walk through the woods and over some bridges, but no grandmother in sight. The Troll’s Stroll abuts another park that is a bit more clear cut maybe adding to the drama as one “enters” the forest. Lions, tigers and bears? No. But little people that bid one welcome.

A local park in Oakland, NE near the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A little troll and friend sits at the base of a tree along a path near a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a hot, muggy  day the short walk might feel a little overbearing, but still pleasant even if the path is a little worn over the years. I am not certain about its origins, but stopping to ask someone in town and a smile comes to their face and they immediately know what you are looking for with quick directions.

A tree-lined path way in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A little troll sits at the base of a tree along a path near a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was easy to walk past these little fellows as all are places near the base of trees, except for one at the end of the trail, which might be a good clue that the adventure is over and there is no more to the stroll.

A troll hangs from a tree along a path near a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wooden bridge crosses a small stream in a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A few additional wooden bridges will take one to another path, much less traveled these days and a bit more overgrown. But the birds were chirping and a light breeze didn’t make finding the creatures too intimidating. And just in case one might feel a little claustrophobic, one only had to look up and realize, that Oz was not too far away.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A sunny blue sky greets visitors overhead along a path near a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Outdoors in Siouxland, Decatur, NE

4 Jul

Enjoying a day of fishing in the Missouri River in Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Spending a day out on the water of the Missouri River in Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s been nice in Siouxland to be able to get out a bit and see some of the area during the spring months although there is some adjusting to the new normal for most people. On a recent trip to Decatur, NE folk were outside getting fresh air and enjoying summer activities.

A city camping park is located next to the Missouri River in Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Up close and personal camping next to the Missouri River on the iowa side across from the community of Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A city park in the community is located along the Missouri River and people can camp in the park and enjoy some modern amenities while others took the more rustic route with just a tent. Summer, when the living is easy and life is a bit slower. With the advent of the coronavirus life has indeed been much slower. But it can still be enjoyed depending on one’s approach while we all wait for some return to normalcy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A couple finds an isolated place to camp across the Missouri River from Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A bridge connects Iowa and Nebraska over the Missouri River seen from Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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