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Seeing Wood and Stone in Siouxland, Iowa Lakes Laboratory, Milford

24 Sep

A look inside a lab building at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Milford, Iowa Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many times I like revisiting places I have been to previously in Siouxland. Something is always different whether it’s the time of year, the lighting, etc. And sometimes I see the same subject matter but it also strikes me differently upon another visit. The Iowa Lakes Laboratory is a research facility and classroom in the lakes region of Iowa. Near Okoboji and Arnolds Park, where the amusement park is located.

This visit the sun was pretty strong, yet diffused, no doubt because of the wildfires happening out west. But it made for better images in my humble opinion when shooting in B&W, which I don’t often do, but probably should do more, of course depending on the subject matter.

One of the research buildings at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Milford, Iowa Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An entrance to a building at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Milford, Iowa Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The buildings were constructed during the 1930’s during the CCC (Civilin Conservation Corps) when many out of work Americans during the depression years were put to work constructing buildings throughout various areas of the United States. A number of state parks in Iowa have such buildings constructed during that era. A wikipedia account states: “….a major construction program took place in the mid 1930s, when the Civilian Conservation Corps built five stone laboratories, four student cabins, a bathhouse, and other amenities.”

I always believe that revisiting places and trying to see them differently is always a good challenge and helps keep one active photographically speaking. Not relying on what was previously photographed, to if so, how might a different approach affect the look of an image.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Milford, Iowa Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hobnobbing with Fellow Wizards (photographers) from around Siouxland, Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha, NE

20 Sep

A water pool and art installation seen during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Instructors and photo enthusiasts enjoy a night out photographing during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As much as I like to get out and travel to various points in and around Siouxland, and points outside of the Siouxland region during solo trips, it is also fun to sometimes hang out with fellow photography enthusiasts, chatting and learning from others.

A recent outing in Omaha, NE at the Gene Leahy Mall, brought together a collection of photographers through a photo walkabout sponsored by the Rockbrook Camera photo club. Everyone’s mission was to make an interesting photo within the confines of the mall, which has recently been redone by the city, and those were later shared amongst the participants. A couple of instructors from Rockbrook were on hand to answer questions and guide the group through the 2-hour session.

Photo enthusiasts enjoy a night out photographing during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Downtown Omaha in the background during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Contrasting shapes seen during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The friendly group wandered about checking out various angles and designs provided by surrounding buildings and artwork within the mall area. When a collection of photographers assemble in the same setting I am always amazed at the various subjects of interest and different interpretations achieved by different individuals. When I previously taught a Photo Safari class at a local community college the most fun was seeing all the images at the end of the 6-week session and listening to those in the class amazed at how people saw the same situations and subjects, but created varying images that represented the individuals interpretations.

A scene during the Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Jerred Zegelis of Rockbrook Camera, one of two instructors for a photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A little girl enjoyed a water pool and photo enthusiasts took advantage of her getting wet as her mom watched during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I would always tell students when out shooting with them on the Safari photo trips that I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a day than making photographs. It’s still true, and the Siouxland and surrounding region still provide much material to explore and share.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Downtown Omaha is seen in the background during a photo walkabout outing by Rockbrook Camera at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some ducks know a good thing as they are fed in a small lagoon area seen during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking in the View in Siouxland, Mulberry Bend, Newcastle, NE

18 Sep

Looking at the South Dakota side of the Missouri River seen from the Mulberry Bend Overlook in Nebraska along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For being part of the Midwest and flyover country, the Siouxland area has some nice rolling hills and hilltops that make for nice viewing or the surrounding countryside. The Mulberry Bend Overlook, part of the Missouri National Recreational River corridor gives one such a view. Recently a make over was done to the park and so it’s been closed for about a year. To me it doesn’t seem to have changed much, although I believe some changes were done to make it more accessible to those physically challenged. The views though are still impressive.

American While Pelicans hang out on a sandbar in the Missouri River seen from the Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A view of the Missrouri River seen from a trail at the Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An overlook from a trail at the Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a couple of trails out from the overlook allowing a different view of the Missouri River and a pleasant walk for the most part, plus some seating to sit and enjoy, as long as the bugs are not too intrusive at the time one chooses to visit. Hot, humid and very muggy days are not ideal. But it’s a nice place to get away, and hopefully fall will provide some nice scenic looks as the leaves change color before falling as the winter months approach.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A platform viewing area over looking the Missouri River that is also disabled accessible at the Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

New signs along trails help hikers know where they are at at Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A second overlook off of a trail at the Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A ridge trail leading back to the parking lot for Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

at Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Morning’s Drive in Siouxland, rural Thurston County, Nebraska

16 Sep

Two bison soak in some morning sun near Winnebago, NE Monday, August 29, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some mornings when I wake up early, which seems to be most days, I feel I need to get out and do a little exploring or at least driving around the Siouxland area. Because the vast majority of the region is rural and farmland or open acreage, there are choices available to explore, which makes it all the better and the opportunity to actually get lucky and find some wildlife.

A deer peers out from tall grass near Winnebago, NE Monday, August 29, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A doe and its young eat grass in a yard at a home in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The light that time of day is also much nicer, a little more direct and slanting and will become more so as the season gets into fall. It also means not having to get up as early to beat the sunrise in getting out as the days start a little later.

Morning light in a pond in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Steam rises off a pond in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And it’s always pleasant to drive about country roads with the windows down in the cool morning air knowing the heat of the day won’t be scorching and force one to run the AC the entire time. Of course, if there is other traffic on the road one needs to be conscious of the ensuing dust storm as some like to fly down those gravel roads. But that’s another story.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer on a hill top watches a visitor on a country road in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bison graze in a field near Winnebago, NE Monday, August 29, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Buzzing About on a Summer’s Eve in Siouxland, Spirit Mound, Vermillion, SD

14 Sep

A bee buzzes around a backlit sunflower plant at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent trip to South Dakota and a visit to Spirit Mound, I liked the lighting that was occurring around some sunflower plants. Early enough in the morning for some directional light before the light turns flat when it reaches its zenith in the sky around noon. Plus the heat and humidity didn’t kick in until later as well.

Backlit plants at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A backlit sunflower plant at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy the light when it creates a better photographic image and gives a photo a bit more “personality”. And during summer months, early morning and late afternoon, early evening are generally the better times to be out photographing. But sometimes the ideal time might not be a good time depending on one’s schedule.

The bonus this time though was finding an apis mellifera flying about and securing a bit more substance before summer is gone. Although I must admit, I didn’t see the creature until editing images later when looking on a larger screen than the camera’s viewfinder.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bee buzzes around a backlit sunflower plant at Spirit Mound Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Vermillion, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating 25 years in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve North Sioux City, SD

12 Sep

Working with quill ink pens is not as easy as it looks seen at the one-room school house during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently a local park in Siouxland celebrated 25 years as a park, or nature preserve, and previously was a working farm. The park consists of roughly 1,500 acres and was donated by the granddaughters of the original homesteader, Stephen Adams. Mary and Maude Adams donated the land in 1984 for people to have a place to go for inner renewal. Part of the park is located along the Missouri River and contains a cottonwood grove and other forested areas as well as prairie meadows both of which are teeming with nature and critters.

A threshing bee demonstration during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Threshing demonstration during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Meeting some of the farm animals during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The park has certainly evolved over this quarter of a century from the homestead , farming and “wild” acreage to a more managed park-like area that still fits the original idea of the granddaughters, but makes it more manageable for park personnel and those that enjoy their time there.

There are now many more manicured walking trails and prairie areas that have been added for the enjoyment of those who venture beyond the homestead. Many bicyclists and runners do, as do some hardy hikers.

Two deer cautiously watch a walker during early morning hours at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Turkeys on parade at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

What might be a chipping sparrow sits on a log in water looking for insects at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of people attended the day’s celebration to support the park and enjoy a nice day. Although predicted to be hot and muggy, clouds moved in and the humidity tamped down making it a more pleasant day. One sometimes can’t ask for more than that.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Hayrack rides during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Kid crafts during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Kids learn candle making during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mom helps out during a kid’s craft session during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A rope making demonstration during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Park manager Jody Moats and Dave Blaeser during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing History Re-enacted in Siouxland, Canton Civil War Days, Canton, SD

8 Sep

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently I attended a Civil War battle re-enactment in Siouxland of the Champion Hill battle that took place outside of Vicksburg, MS in 1863. Interestingly enough the family that hosted this event had a great grandfather or great, great grandfather who actually fought in this particular battle and was part of an Illinois regiment that fought for the North during the Civil War. Sometimes listening to speakers and commentators speaking through a loud system one does not always hear correctly. And this was the first year this event was held.

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

From news accounts I read, a local from the area of Canton had become interested in Civil War re-enactments and attended some in the past out of state. But with the last couple of years or so being skewed by the Covid pandemic and possibly not wanting to travel so far, this individual began investigating whether or not such a re-enactment of an actual event could take place in Canton. There were some accounts about this being possibly controversial, only because at the time of the Civil War, the Dakota Territory was still just that, a territory and not yet divided into two individual states.

Re-enactors portraying Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas discuss issues of the day during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An audience listens as re-enactors portraying Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas discuss issues of the day during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This re-enactor from Missouri talks about his interest in the Civil War history when in 2005 wasinvited to participate in a staged battle and has stayed involved participating in many staged events throughout the county, the latest at the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Confederate Army encampment seen during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the re-enactment two “gentlemen” dressed in period attire spoke about the war and added many factoids and bits and pieces of the war between the states. I am not certain where these gents haled from or their background, but they were knowledgeable. Nor did they sugar coat or try “rewriting” history but said through all written declarations about the South and its secession it was all about the slavery. And the ability of the southern land owners to continue reaping benefits and profits from enforced slavery to plant and harvest crops. The men also talked about the toll of the war on communities and the men who fought. They recited facts and figures of desertions from men for the South and the North who became disenfranchised with the fighting that dragged on for years which was much different than what many were told at the outset. That the war would be over in a short time. Much like the bravado evidenced in the movie “Gone with the Wind”. But reality was much different and much crueler.

A Union Army encampment seen during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An audience takes a seat along a farm field road to watch the staged Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John (seen in blue tee shirt) and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A smoke ring created after firing a canon as Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I found the running commentary helpful in putting facts and fiction and other accounts into perspective. One can always take what is said with a grain of salt. And today, so many “learned” folk try to rewrite history to serve their own purpose. Many politicians of all stripes and parties. Shameless. It seems sometimes that ethics and honor doesn’t really matter anymore. But it was an interesting glimpse into the past of this country and in talking with a few of those participating in the battle, all have a genuine interest in the history and portraying it honestly, traveling from eight different states to attend. History never changes, it’s just the interpretation.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Documenting the Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Documenting the Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Civil War re-enactors from eight states stage the Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An audience takes a seat along a farm field road to watch the staged Champion Hill battle of May 16, 1863 during the Canton Civil War Days in Canton, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. The Civil War Days take place on the property of John and Lori Lems, whose great grandfather, or great, great grandfather fought for the North in an Illinois regiment in the actual Champion Hill battle that took place in Mississippi. It was a pivotal battle in the Vicksburg campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursuing the Confederate States Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a Closer Look in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

6 Sep

An insect clings to a dew covered grass stem at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. This week temperatures are regularly going to hit triple digits with high humidity creating tough conditions in the Siouxland region of Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I will be the first to admit that sometimes while out traversing Siouxland I am too focused on a specific place or subject I want to photograph. Many times while visiting the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve I am looking for birds and deer or other “larger” creatures. But sometimes, slowing down and really taking a look can prove fruitful. One such encounter this summer on a kind of foggy, dewey morning had me a take a second look while walking in a meadow at the preserve.

Morning dew clings to grass stems in a meadow at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. This week temperatures are regularly going to hit triple digits with high humidity creating tough conditions in the Siouxland region of Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Morning dew clings to grass stems in a meadow at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. This week temperatures are regularly going to hit triple digits with high humidity creating tough conditions in the Siouxland region of Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I do not own any macro lenses. Never have. When I worked for newspapers and needed to do closeup shots of certain subjects I used a “normal” lens and added a lens extension tube. This cheap man’s version of macro. And it worked effectively enough to give me images I needed without buying yet another lens I might use only occasionally. And I could use the extension tube on different lenses thus changing my focal length as needed.

An insect clings to a dew covered grass stem at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. This week temperatures are regularly going to hit triple digits with high humidity creating tough conditions in the Siouxland region of Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Morning dew clings to grass stems in a meadow at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. This week temperatures are regularly going to hit triple digits with high humidity creating tough conditions in the Siouxland region of Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

If I remember I believe I spent maybe 30 or minutes trying to take these photos. I was using an extremely long telephoto lens on a monopod. I had slowed my walk to a standstill and enjoyed it immensely, not realizing so much time had passed as I tried capturing dew drops and other nature looks with the lens I had at the time.

It’s easy to overlook things sometimes. Just wish I had my cup of coffee with me.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Morning dew clings to grass stems in a meadow at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. This week temperatures are regularly going to hit triple digits with high humidity creating tough conditions in the Siouxland region of Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Shhhhhh! Don’t Wake the Babies in Siouxland, Sioux City

4 Sep

Baby house sparrows call out from a bird house for food from their parents in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I’ve noticed some noisy neighbors recently in the area and it has been a bit fun to watch and mostly listen to the little guys/gals as mom or dad flies to and fro feeding them. But I can’t figure out how all three of the baby sparrows plus an adult fit into the birdhouse.

An adult house sparrow has a mouth full of food for its nestlings in a bird house in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An adult house sparrow has a mouth full of food for its nestlings in a bird house in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Baby house sparrows go quiet calling out from a bird house for food from their parents in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I imagine at some point the little dears will be ready to fly off and just hope they make it on their life’s journey. Other neighbors, furry ones, hear the cries of “feed me” and watch longingly from afar, possibly thinking of their own meal.

Nature is what it is. But one hopes like with all living beings they get a chance, but sometimes it sees chance can be a good or bad encounter.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Baby house sparrows call out from a bird house for food from their parents in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An adult house sparrow looks about before flying to a feeder for another batch of baby food for its nestlings in a bird house in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting Nature in Siouxland, Frost Wilderness Wildlife Area, Vermillion, SD

2 Sep

A Cedar Waxwing sits on a branch at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like visiting new areas outdoors that I haven’t been to or seen yet. Although I have been to Frost Wilderness wildlife management area previously, I just didn’t know it. When previously visiting, there wasn’t any signage and this time I also found another entry that lets a visitor get a bit closer to the Missouri River that separates South Dakota and Nebraska. Plus I got to photograph a bird I have seen fleetingly but never long enough to make an image. Those Cedar Waxwings can be quick little birds, and prefer staying within the shelter of their surrounding trees. This time though one of them made me feel at home while other species also checked me out.

A Cedar Waxwing eyes a visitor from a branch at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A juvenile bald eagle takes another pass overhead looking at a visitor and if it would be of any interest to it at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An Orchard Oriole sits atop a tree at Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two Orchard Orioles sit atop a tree at Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular wildlife area has mowed pathways which made walking much easier. And as one near the border between the two states another turnout with a pass through gate makes it easy to access the river and surrounding area. One thing though, the area appears managed more for the avid hunter than it does for the hiker and bird enthusiast. Signs are posted about the hunting availability and I would be shy to go walking early morning in the area looking for species as a visit a year or two ago I heard a very loud shot not more than 100-200 yards away. It wasn’t a shotgun, but a more robust type of rifle. Myself and some students with me made a quick beeline to our parked cars. Bullets have a way of traveling where not directed and sometimes folk don’t look beyond their target to see what lies beyond as the intent of bring down an animal occupies the senses.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An Eastern Kingbird looks about a meadow at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

American White Pelicans sit on a sandbar across the Missouri River at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Informational signage about the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Trail markings signage at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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