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Spring’s Rebirth in Siouxland, Preparation Canyon Park, Loess Hills

17 Apr

A turkey vulture soars overly newly burned grass during a control burn by Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while driving around Siouxland a person gets lucky. And it probably depends on the person how luck is defined. Of course for some there’s this on the one hand, and then that on the other. Tradeoffs happen. As I found out early last week when I came upon a control burn in Preparation Canyon Park by the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources. Giving Mother Nature a little help in jumping into spring. I found some newly sprung wildflowers gracing part of a trail along with a couple of turkey vultures looking for anything of a fricasee nature after the burn.

Turkey vulture getting a close up view on the ground during an Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources control burn at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As ugly as the birds appeared sitting on the ground, they were very graceful gliding over the terrain looking for a meal.

A turkey vulture soars overly newly burned grass during a control burn by Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I will assume the DNR does this type of burn yearly, partially to control undergrowth and well as to rejuvenate what’s there. The trail leading from an observation deck is relatively short and a pleasant hike as long as the temperature is not soaring itself into the high 90’s or 100 with high humidity. During the summer without wind it can be pretty stifling walking the trail with tall grass and trees.

A large swath of land is now barren after Iowa’s Dept. of Natural Resources did a control burn at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources does a control burn at Preparation Canyon Park seen from its observation deck in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The downside of finding the burning going on is that later I found myself with a very sore throat I am guessing irritated by the something burned and taking a couple days off to recover. By this summer though the hilly park will be a pleasant place to spend a morning or afternoon. Although by then the two turkey vultures might be on to another area to look for meals.

Legend at the observation deck tells the history of the Loess Hills at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tueday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A turkey vulture soars overly newly burned grass during a control burn by Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And not far away in the valley below where farmers will soon be preparing their ground for planting, more burning was taking place, whether it was planned or not. The afternoon that particular day was smoke-filled and made breathing difficult. But am guessing someone believes it makes a difference.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A grass fire is seen from the observation deck at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ah Spring, where are Thou in Siouxland, Bacon Creek Park, Sioux CIty

15 Apr

Trees are still looking barren around a walking path at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, April 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The current season looks much like the past season in Siouxland, winter, not spring. The same brown color, and bare trees reinforce that perception, except the temperature is warm enough to take a walk through Bacon Creek Park and enjoy some of the outdoors until Spring comes into full bloom.

Trees are still barren along a walking path around the path at Bacon Creek park in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, April 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In sparse patches some green is emerging which is a welcoming sign. If one like to get out and photograph, finding elements to show spring is here is challenging for a photographer. It’s not there staying back waiting for someone to snap a photo.

Some green lichen appears near the water Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, April 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But there are some in the park that are still enjoying themselves, winter or spring, rain or shine, oblivious to Mother Nature’s actions, just enjoying those moments they can.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A duck sits and tries to enjoy a little peace by itself near a walking path at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, April 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Two ducks, or maybe geese, find a little solitude in some water across from Bacon Creek in the park of the same name in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, April 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Time Changes Scenes in Siouxland, Le Mars Bike Trail

22 Mar

I always tell students of my Lifelong Learning photography classes that revisiting places can often yield different photos depending on the season, time of year and time of day. The recent weather Siouxland has experienced brings that idea into better focus as until a week ago, temperatures were still below freezing and then most recently the area received rain, plenty of it for this time of year, in addition to warmer temps that created snow melt and eventually flooding.

Fall colors on the bike trail in Le Mars, Iowa, Tuesday Oct. 17, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

flooding along Hwy 3 heading west out of Le Mars, Iowa Friday, March 15, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Baseball’s summer days are waning along the bike trail in Le Mars, IA Monday Aug. 7, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Little League Baseball Complex in West Floyd Park has flooded after a recent rain and melting snow caused the nearby river to overflow its banks seen from nearby Hwy 3 heading west out of Le Mars, Iowa Friday, March 15, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes one doesn’t expect such a drastic change in scenery. But it can happen and then those photos previously taken create a record of what was, and possibly may never be again. The sad thing is that depending on how quickly water recedes from a flooded area determines if trees growing there can survive or will need to be taken down changing the look of an area.

There are a few bridges that cross a stream for the Le Mrs, Iowa, bike trail, Friday, July 10, 2015. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A foot bridge over the Floyd River in West Floyd Park has flood water hitting it after a recent rain and before all the snow has melted seen from Hwy 3 heading west out of Le Mars, Iowa Friday, March 15, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The bike trail I have frequented along with many others  is barely scene along the West Floyd Park next the the Little League Baseball Park. Most of the trail along here is now paved making it better than gravel paths being washed away. But still, they will need to be checked out for any erosion damage.

A bike trail is seen above flood waters in West Floyd Park as the Floyd River came out of its banks with recent rainfall and melting snow combining to inundate the area seen from Hwy 3 heading west out of Le Mars, Iowa Friday, March 15, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Floyd River that runs along the park was almost touching a highway overpass. A much different look than I have previously viewed.

THe Floyd River near Wesst Floyd Park is out of its banks and flowing just under the Hwy 3 bridge seen heading west out of Le Mars, Iowa Friday, March 15, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Le Mrs, Iowa, bike trail winds its way through wooded areas following a stream and passing under motor ways and train tracks, Friday, July 10, 2015. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mother Nature graces us humans with quite an array and display in various forms. Thunderstorms and tornadoes are frightening yet fascinating at the same time. The same is true of water. A little can be bucolic, while a lot disastrous. And one generally only gains a perspective after months have passed, sometimes years from when an event occurred and the future becomes the present.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Floyd River, left, floods after a recent rain and melting snow combined to create too much water before the ground has thawed flooding everything around it and see from Hwy 3 heading west out of Le Mars, Iowa Friday, March 15, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Blue sky and robust clouds on the walking/bike trail in Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, April 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Le Mars, Iowa, bike trail meanders along a stream as it runs along the outskirts of the community, Friday, July 10, 2015. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Winter Activities in Siouxland, Bacon Creek Park

24 Feb

People kill a little time looking at their phone while ice fishing at Bacon Creek park Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As winters in the Siouxland area seem to embrace extremes, warmer temps, then freezing below zero temps, I admire those who like to embrace winter activities and get out to enjoy them. Ice fishing is one such activity. As a youngster I ran out onto a small stream bed covered in ice and made the mistake of finding an area where it wasn’t frozen solid. I write about that now as it was because of an older brother who fished me out and helped get me home to warm up and become wiser. I don’t venture out onto ice at all anymore, even when the temps are dipping below zero.

People ice fish at Bacon Creek park Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But some people love the sport of fishing and try their hand every year to catch whatever nibbles at their bait through the ice. It’s a nice way to enjoy the outdoors. And it also makes me think of the movie that included Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, “Grumpy Old Men”, something I can enjoy in the comfort of my home, drinking another cup of coffee and thinking, that’s really swell.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A man begins preparations to ice fish at Bacon Creek park Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Fall leaves frozen in the lake at Bacon Creek park Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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©)

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