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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©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, Color and B&W, Adams Homestead

2 Jul

Meadow area at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, June 3, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I visit a place often in Siouxland, like the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, I wonder to myself how I can change up how I see which invariably are the same scenes, again and again. I like visiting the homestead, it’s just a nice place to take a walk. And depending on the time of year and the weather, the scenes never really look the same. Although others might argue differently.

Spring at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, May 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Choosing to photograph one time in color, and another time in black and white helps me keep a fresh perspective as I take a walk. And then hope the weather cooperates in giving me a little something extra.

Spring at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, May 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is always about the journey and not the destination, but that said, ending up with varying results from a walk about is nice as well. I might not hang all of these images on a wall, but it gives me pause as I wonder what next time I might try to create another image.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A summer’s day at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, June 3, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not yet the Garden Party in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

24 Jun

Timed reservations are required to visit the now reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life in Siouxland as elsewhere is beginning to return to some kind of normal. And for those folk I encountered visiting the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE recently, most don’t mind the slow reopening. The gardens now allow patrons and visitors to walk the grounds although indoor exhibits and some other areas are still sequestered and people are advised to wear masks, although it’s not necessary. And one must make reservations ahead of time to enter at a specified date and time.

Signs ask visitors and patrons to respect others space at the newly reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Most visitors are wearing face masks at the reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But it was nice to get out and enjoy the beauty of the gardens. Entry begins at 11 am and during the summer months it’s not an ideal time for photographing outdoor subjects due to the harsher light at that time, unless one wants to create light and shadow photographs. Previously the gardens opened around 9 am, when the summer light is a little more directional and not yet so harsh.

Visitors and patrons can once again see the blooming spectacle at the recently opened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

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©)

So it’s nice to be able to walk a shaded path and take a break from the sun overhead as the day also heats up. Living in the Midwest doesn’t mean one becomes used to heat and humidity, one just learns to mitigate the effects if possible.

Signage informs visitors and patrons about ongoing projects at the recently reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors and patrons enjoy a day out at the recently reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the timed entries there were not too many folk wandering about the paths, and those who were put masks on when they encountered others along the way. And all remarked how nice it was to be able to enjoy the gardens again, closed since mid March, and spend some time just enjoying the beauty and quiet.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

 

People enjoy a day out at the recently reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Venturing out into Siouxland, rural Sioux County

12 Jun

Venturing out in Oak Grove Park near Hawarden, Iowa Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the state of Iowa slowly opens amid the coronavirus so does areas of Siouxland. Although some areas, like parks were never really closed, it hasn’t been until recently that nature is dressing its season, such as spring with summer hot on its heels if one consider recent over the top temperatures the region has recently endured.

Making a trip back to Oak Grove Park to which I have traveled a few times, mostly during the fall. It’s a nice park, but it was nicer still to get outside and enjoy nature and take a walk, much to the chagrin of friends who know I like to walk about when photographing an area.

Venturing out in Oak Grove Park near Hawarden, Iowa Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Venturing out in Oak Grove Park near Hawarden, Iowa Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The sun this day was high overhead filling a blue sky and its light created deep shadows in areas with trees which made it fun and challenging to photograph.

Light and shade brings out details on a rail fence in Oak Grove Park near Hawarden, Iowa Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A bee seeks pollen from a flowering bush in Oak Grove Park near Hawarden, Iowa Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes photographing detail is easier in harsh light helping the sculpt and shape the image so the subject matter stands out. Then again, a light and airy approach can also be effective depending on what the photographer wants a viewer to concentrate on. Perspective and mystery can make an interesting photograph. Then again maybe not.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Forested acres in Oak Grove Park near Hawarden, Iowa Friday, May 29, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking Precautions in Siouxland, Sioux City

2 Jun

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic someone covered the mouth and hand of a Abraham Lincoln statue with a face mask and glove located at the entrance to Grandview Park, a city park, in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, May 12, 2020. A (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

With the current pandemic of the coronavirus going on, some people in Siouxland are taking extra precautions to see that others do not fall ill or make someone else ill. Such was the case near Grandview Park in Sioux City. Some resourceful soul wants to keep Abe Lincoln safe as people venture out into the park to enjoy the outdoors as the weather is nicer. Hoping that continues, but soon people will forget there were any issues and carry on as before, for good or ill.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Taking a cue from the South Dakota governor’s campaign slogan dealing with a meth problem in that state, someone created a sign with the slogan “We Got This” and added a glove and face mask for the COVID-19 pandemic to an Abraham Lincoln statue at the entrance to Grandview Park, a city park, in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hanging out with Friends in Siouxland, Adams Homestead, North Sioux City, SD

29 May

Birds flock to a tree at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, April 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I find myself frequenting the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve often these days in Siouxland. It’s a nice place to go and forget about current events and issues and enjoy nature and the variety of animals that inhabit the park. All of whom are mostly hanging out with their friends every time I visit.

Turtles sunning themselves on a log at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

They live in the moment and enjoy what there is without projecting, as far as I can tell, and I remind myself that one never really knows what the future holds, except maybe The Shadow, and then only a select number of folk even realize what I am referring to. As friends would say, it’s a generational thing.

Geese sweep across the surface of Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The antics of the animals are fun to watch as well. Much like people watching, seeing them behave as they do and trying to determine whatever motives there may be, other than instinct. Probably a similar quest as to determining which came first, the chicken or the egg.

Two gadwall ducks paddle about Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday April 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Two wood ducks sun themselves on a log protruding from the water at Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday April 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I find it’s a good thing to sit, watch and ponder, knowing there are answers to questions I will never know, and so don’t overly burden myself with asking pondering too long. Just enjoying the moment, being present, and looking forward to my next visit to this outdoor paradise.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A lone Redwing Blackbird sits in a tree at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, April 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Peeking Outside in Siouxland, Hitchcock Nature Center

27 May

The downtown area of the city of Omaha, NE can seen from an observation desk at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy visiting the Hitchcock Nature Center in southern Siouxland, especially its tower next to the nature center. The view allows one to see downtown Omaha, NE across the Missouri River and other areas as well. Normally during midweek there is not a lot of people. This particular day was in February of this year as the COVID-19 situation was beginning to ramp up and the weather was warmish for a February day.

People hike along a trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes it is just nice to go outdoors and being there.  No agenda, no excessive hiking, just observing and enjoying the moment, photographically speaking anyway. As the weather finally begins to warm up even though it is already May, I look forward to some more outdoor forays and just spending time in the fresh air and sunlight, and hopefully sunshine.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Smoke rises from might be a controlled burn near the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

15 May

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Visitor Center Friday, May 8, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the coronavirus pandemic that is gripping the Siouxland region as well as the world really, I haven’t been venturing out as much around Siouxland except for visiting the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve. Like in most places, parks in the area are still open and the Nature Preserve has trails for people to walk about and blinds to bird watch.

A Northern Shoveler duck watches its friends at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 8, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And so I spend more time observing nature in the “wild” or as wild as it gets at Adams. Recently I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple pair of Canadian geese out one morning with their goslings in tow, swimming about Mud Lake and as the saying goes, “getting their feet wet”.

A Canadian goose and its goslings out for a swim at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 8, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Canadian geese and their goslings out for a swim at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 8, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

They were taking advantage I believe of the state of South Dakota’s governor’s newest order for relaxation of distancing and for life to getting back to normal. But then again, they may be oblivious to this blight that is affecting their human counterparts or taking pity on them, and showing off their family to us less fortunate and helping us enjoy our time and reconnecting with nature.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Heading home after a morning swim two Canadian parents and their goslings at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 8, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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