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Winter Wonderland in Siouxland, Stone State Park

27 Jan

Siouxland has yet to get hit by a big snowstorm although the area has been threatened with such the last few weeks. But inevitably it will happen. But recently the area had a light dusting of snow, enough to give some shape and form and contrast plus fairly mild temperatures in the 30’s which is always pleasant to photograph in, especially when hiking in Stone State Park.

Walking through fresh snow at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Tree sentries scattered throughout at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And it was nice to see I was not the only intrepid individual out to enjoy the day.

Tracks in the snow of another hiker at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Stone State Park has a lot to offer any time of year, but in winter it becomes a bit more navigable if there is a good amount of snow on the ground which makes it easier to bushwhack through the park, although with a light snow fall trails were just slick enough to enable sliding down them a bit tricky. But the quiet, fresh air and stark landscape make it an escape from the daily routine and the other noise that occurs all too often.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

Learning History in Siouxland, about The Bertrand, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge

20 Dec

This fall I made my first visit to the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge in Siouxland near Missouri Valley which actually straddles two states, Iowa and Nebraska, on either side of the Missouri River.

Besides information and space dedicated to wildlife and migrating birds, the refuge also had an exhibit about an excavated sternwheeler boat, The Bertrand.

Information about the steamboat Bertrand and its history and recovery at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A replica of the steamboat Bertrand on display with recovered artifacts at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

According to information on site The Bertrand was just an ordinary boat hauling supplies northward up the Missouri River from St. Louis to the Montana territory during the mid-1860’s, got stuck in the river and sank. No one was killed. And many boats wrecked in the river during the 1800’s as they carried supplies north into new territory. Much later in the 1980’s two Nebraskans decided to find the ship and excavate items on board at the time of the ship’s sinking, which was basically everyday items people in the 1800’s were using as they went about their everyday chores.

Recovered artifacts from the steamboat Bertrand which sank in the Missouri River in the 1800’s at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Recovered artifacts from the steamboat Bertrand, a supply boat with passengers, which sank in the Missouri River in the 1800’s at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

It’s a fascinating exhibit and gives a really good look into life at that point in history. I always find int refreshing when I can learn something new about an area I am living in or near, and understand more about what earlier settlers’ lives entailed.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Enjoying Fall’s Light in Siouxland, Gull Point State Park

6 Dec

I love the play of light when I am out photographing in Siouxland and elsewhere. I don’t always capture what I see, but it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the effects of light and shadow play or the interaction of color say between water and foliage. And then I try to amuse myself taking a self-portrait via a reflection and getting results that might be questionable but still fun nonetheless.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Woodlands near Gull Point State Park in Milford, Iowa Wednesday Oct.11, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A short pier at Gull Point State Park in Milford, Iowa Wednesday Oct.11, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Self-portrait at Gull Point State Park in Milford, Iowa Wednesday Oct.11, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Holiday Celebrations, Christmas too, in Siouxland, Adams Homestead

4 Dec

As the Christmas celebrations get geared up for surrounding communities and organizations it’s always fun to visit and see what if anything has changed from year to year. And it’s a nice break from the relentless political news that fortunately deserves to be covered but a break from is always good too.

The Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve is always fun to attend as its outbuildings are open to explore and their are carolers and activities for kids and adults to enjoy.

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I personally like Christmas. The holiday and its sentimental depiction. When I lived in northern California and got the chance I would go into San Francisco to enjoy the ostentatious window displays that the large stores would put up. These days I enjoy a simpler look at Christmas decorations.

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And of course no Christmas celebration is complete for kids without a visit with a jolly old elf and a chance to drop a line asking for those soon to be opened gifts.

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And it’s a time for friends to get together and family to celebrate and create memories.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Motion in Siouxland and sometimes it works, Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD

5 Oct

Having a background in news photography I always try to be prepared for the unexpected. During a normal day’s routine one might cover a school student and do a feature photo, or go to a traffic accident and even sometimes a house fire. When I lived in California I covered wildfires there as well as photographing in South Central L.A. during the Rodney King after verdict rioting that took place when four white police officers were acquitted.

Residents hose down their home in the South Central area of Los Angeles, California during fires and looting incidents after the Rodney King verdict, April 30, 1992. (Jerry L Mennenga ©)

A woman loots items from a Von’s Grocery Store in the South Central area of Los Angeles, California after the Rodney King verdict, April 30, 1992. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Los Angeles fire fighter hoses down a burning building in the South Central area of Los Angeles, California after the Rodney King verdict, April 30, 1992, caused by riots and looting. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In doing that kind of photography one reacts and anticipates. These days I am content shooting small community events like fairs or small town museums to share with people. And, I am not always prepared to capture nature.

On a visit to Sioux Falls, SD, I stopped by Falls Park. It is just a nice place to visit. Bring a picnic and a camera. Families, friends and a general assortment of folk come to hang out and enjoy the ambiance. And the Big Sioux River runs through the park and there are some falls there.

Families and friends hang out at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I travel I always carry a camera and maybe a couple of lenses. What I don’t always carry is a tripod and filters. Polarizer, sure, I use it on sunny days with clouds. But neutral density, no. I don’t think about it. And I don’t carry a tripod. My background in news is that you want to travel light and on the down low. So when the opportunity presents itself capture motion and utilize another skill set I always lament, I should have thought of that.

A photographer spends time waiting for that perfect photograph at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But this particular day I did have my polarizer filter and a 2-stop graduated neutral density filter. Although I didn’t have a tripod I attempted some water motion. Many a day shooting news at at 1/30th of a second or slower when it was necessary. So I am a little rusty. But sometimes you do what you can.

Rushing water headed to the falls at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rushing water headed to the falls at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is true that slowing the movement of the water is a nice effect. Maybe next time I will try it at the falls with people in the scene to add another element to the image. And try to be better prepared, although I still probably won’t have a tripod with me.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing Nature in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

29 Sep

On a recent visit to Vermillion, SD, I came upon a walking trail of which I wasn’t aware in Cotton Park inside the community. It follows the course of the Vermillion River, is paved and so is an easy walk to enjoy nature and get away from any immediate surroundings of the town itself.

A small river running alongside a walking trail in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was pleasant hearing songbirds along the trail and I even noticed some early signs of fall, changing leaf colors, although sadly, I think the leaves belonged to a poison ivy plant, and a wooly caterpillar. I can never remember the old farmer’s tale whether seeing such a critter means an early winter or a colder one.

Nature along a walking trail in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A wooly caterpillar predicting winter on a walking trail in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding solitude in a city setting is always a plus in my book, even in smaller communities. Sometimes a getaway shouldn’t involve traveling miles, just maybe a few steps outside of one’s doorway. When I emerged back into the more “civilized” part of the town I saw a coniferous tree that with a little imagination would be perfect for tinsel and Christmas balls, as well as an industrious bee working to harvest some remaining nourishment for the months ahead.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Add some tinsel and colored balls and Christmas is just around the corner in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bees still working even in September preparing for winter in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

 

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