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Seeing the Forest’s Trees near Siouxland, Fontenelle Forest

1 Jan

During a recent excursion down into Nebraska I visited the Fontenelle Forest located in Bellevue, NE and couldn’t believe such a place existed within a city.

The visitor center contains a wealth of information before checking out the trails at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Fontenelle Forest is an ongoing project in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The visitors’ center has a wealth of information and exhibits on display and is a nice place to just sit and watch the outdoors from an enclosed area. But the network of extensive board walks was really very nice helping a person traverse a large area and enabling one to see more of the park.

Miles of boardwalk allow easy access to see various areas at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Miles of boardwalk allow easy access to see various areas at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Boarded walks head out in a myriad of directions for easy access in Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Their was also convenient benches along the way that allows one to sit and just enjoy the quiet and nature’s sounds or view the surrounding area at one’s leisure.

Convenient seating along a boardwalk is available to visitors to sit and enjoy the views a while, such as the Missouri River at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While walking about I found signage that informed me about the park and certain aspects of what inhabits the area. Talking to another visitor who was carrying a camera with a long lens and a monopod, he mentioned that a few weeks earlier during a migration period a particular species of bird (of which I have forgotten) had to stay grounded because of wet weather passing through interrupting its migration south, and he said there were so many that it was impossible not to photograph them within an arm’s length.

Signage helps explain to visitors various aspects of the park so one is more informed about the area when visiting Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Signage along the paths help inform visitors what they might see in the immediate area at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The day I was out there were families walking about enjoying themselves, trying to outdo one another in spotting birds they recognized.

A family stops to enjoy a view at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Paths make their way up and down the hillsides in Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And from the board walks steps descending into valleys brought one to more trails and other delights making wandering around the park a pleasant and almost timeless visit, time slipping by without realizing it had. Some days should be so carefree and unencumbered. Nature, the outdoors and a peaceful place to enjoy it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Acres of forested land can be accessed at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Sunshine and a few lingering leaves makes the Fontenelle Forest sparkle in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Some interesting trails with starts and stops at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding bits of History in Siouxland, Smithland

28 Dec

Blossoming trees at the Fowler Preserve near Smithland in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like stumbling upon a bit of history when driving about Siouxland. That happened to me a couple of years ago when visiting the Fowler Preserve in Woodbury County near Smithland. Trees and other fauna was just beginning to bloom. There are a couple of trails there that take one to the top of a hill where you can get a view of the surrounding area and to rest a bit as you make your way of the hillside.

Benches are sprinkled throughout the Fowler Preserve near Smithland in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Besides some normal accoutrements in parks like open space and picnic tables, I came across a large rock with a plaque. It made note of the fact that for 20 years, from 1856 to 1876, a stage coach trail passed through the area from Smithland to Sioux City. That century’s mass transportation which allowed small groups of people to get from one point to another on the western frontier without having to purchase their own horse, or wagon, or whatever might be available, until the railroads allowed even larger groups of people to move about. I was struck with awe the idea of standing someplace that 2 centuries earlier I could have spied the coach and its passengers making their way to a new place, seeing history unfold as people moved West, not knowing what to expect but hoping for a different, if not better life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A view of a picnic area at the Fowler Preserve near Smithland in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A stagecoach trail passed through the Fowler Preserve from the mid 1850’s to late the 1870’s near Smithland in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

(Click image for larger view.)

Seasonal Changes in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve

14 Dec

Wishing patrons of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve a pleasant holiday season in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seasonal changes in Siouxland always brings the expectations of coming holidays and a change in weather. The last waning days of fall like weather makes me a bit wistful of the impending cold that is sure to envelope the area. But along with that comes holiday lights, Christmas music and tons and tons of holiday confection. But I think I will most miss the fall light.

The waning days of fall at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The last vestiges of fall laying on the ground at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not so direct with a clear quality to it that can make subjects pop and imbue them with a special quality. Early morning and late afternoon in the fall are not so early or so late. A plus in my book when out photographing places. With the cold setting in I have to push myself to set my bare feet onto a wood floor in the morning before finding socks to help them a little warmer. And then to get dressed and go and out photograph when the temps can hover in the teens or single digits make me make a little bigger pot of coffee before venturing out.

The last of the leaves clinging to their branches at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The last remaining leaves at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Now I will find bare trees and the leaf covered forest floors are snow covered, with can be fun, especially when critter tracks are seen. But it won’t be until sometime in late March when I am hopeful temperatures return to a more modest clime and give me a better impetus to stick my nose out the door and once again explore Siouxland and see what new wonders I might find.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The last remaining days of fall at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall Remnant in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve

12 Nov

The last vestiges of fall laying on the ground at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Siouxland has already had a couple of very cold days and overnights in the single digits and teens as well as just a dusting of snow, although some areas received up to 8 inches or so. So I already miss the short fall season the area had while trying to get into the spirt of the holidays that will soon be here. The bright colors of fall have mostly turned brown or shades of grey depending on how much weather some have seen already. I took one last walk around the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve to just enjoy the color and quiet and milder temps that were still around.

The last remaining leaves at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The last of the leaves clinging to their branches at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But with winter activities and the decorations that are going up around the area it will be easy to overlook the chill or cold and enjoy the festivities leading into the celebration of the birth of Christ and the many holiday events that will soon begin unfolding.

The waning days of fall at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The last remaining days of fall at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And many will begin thinking about those Sugar Plum fairies dancing in their heads, the Nutcracker ballet traditional performance and hearing some cry out, Merry Christmas, and to all a Good Night.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Wishing patrons of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve a pleasant holiday season in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One last Communion with Fall near Siouxland, Hitchcock Nature Center

4 Nov

I’ve only visited Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County just south of Siouxland once before. But it’s a very nice park of just over 1,200 acres situated in the Loess Hills of western Iowa.

A view of the surrounding countryside from a tower at the lodge atHitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The lodge and lookout tower sits on a hill for excellent views at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie COunty near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It has a number of trails and a lodge that sits atop a hill and looks out over the surrounding area. There is also a watch tower at the lodge we allows birders to track the various migration periods when the birds are heading either north or south, depending on the season. The one aspect of the park I like is the elevated board walk which allows some accessibility to those with wheelchairs or walkers to “get into the woods” for a quarter mile or so with stops along the way and picnic tables for those who pack a lunch or want to stay a bit and enjoy the quietude and nature.

Part of an elevated board walk trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An elevated nature trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s just a nice way to spend part of a day putting aside the daily rush of events and happenings and imagining what the area must have looked like to explorers and first settlers when the prairie grass still covered a large portion of land before farming began. And it’s nice to know they are concerned enough citizens who have the foresight to set aside parcels of land for others to enjoy and for future generations as well as themselves. A place to reset one’s thoughts and take a pause in life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A valley and farmsteads below a hilltop at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Sunshine after a number of days of rainy fall weather made leaves almost sparkle at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A view from an elevated board walk trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Wet Day in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve

28 Oct

The Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve located in Siouxland  is just a few miles from Sioux City. Some days I go there to just enjoy nature, cloudy, sunshine, wet or dry. Many times one can walk about without others in proximity and you feel like you are enjoying the park by yourself. With the recent wet weather that never seems to end this fall, I have been photographing in black and white. A failsafe for an otherwise bland and blah kind of day.

A grey day at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. Oct. 1 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A damp day at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. Oct. 1 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Again, I look for tonal ranges and try to make an image I like that will also work in this particular medium. Sometimes I feel successful and other times not.

A grey day at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. Oct. 1 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When teaching classes I tell students about using a gradated graduated filter that I use to control the brightness of the sky. This particular day I found it would also work controlling the ground area so my image of a tree would get a little more attention. Well, that was the plan. But as always, it’s just nice to be outside, enjoying nature and taking photographs. I tell students, what is a better way of enjoying a day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. Oct. 1 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. Oct. 1 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Views in Siouxland, Iowa Lakes and the Missouri River

26 Sep

I enjoy visiting areas around Siouxland that incorporate bodies of water. Whether it be visiting the Iowa Lakes region or up near Yankton, SD. I like water, watching it, the views and horizons.

Enjoying a day at the lakes in Arnolds Park, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying a day along the Missiouri River in Yankton, SD Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have read that bodies of water have a calming effect on people, and just gazing out onto the horizon can sometimes give us momentary peace of mind as well as making us contemplate what our own personal horizon is, and if we are willing to take the journey to reach them once we figure out what they may be.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying a day at the lakes in Arnolds Park, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying a day at the lakes in Arnolds Park, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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