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Visiting a Zoo near Siouxland, Sioux Falls, SD

18 Dec

Earlier this fall I took a trip up to Sioux Falls, SD and stopped into its zoo, the Great Plains Zoo, which was busy getting ready for a Halloween event for that evening. Sioux Falls is a continually growing community and it surprised me that it had a nice zoo. Personally, I am not a big fan these institutions. Some zoos I have been too the animals constantly walk around a very small circuit, confined to an area that just makes me sad. I understand possibly the need for zoos. People can see animals they normally wouldn’t see and a place for rescue animals and those born into captivity. Still.

But I found it was a nice day to sit and ponder such questions. I also saw some incongruity such as a black rhino in an area with fall foliage on deciduous trees. Somehow I don’t think of some continents with these types of plants.

A black rhino of Africa is oddly contrasted with decidous trees at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There were some others there to also enjoy spending a nice fall day out looking at creatures one does not normally see in the Midwest.

An orangatan at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A scarlet ibris of South America at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking sad is a black and white Colobus monkey from Africa at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There was also an artist drawing a “Disney Princess” with part of the zoo as a background. I thought for the subject matter of species being out of place, the scene was well done.

Some sketchy stuff going on at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am planning a Photo Safari class trip to a zoo in Omaha, NE if enough students sign up to go. It is a much larger zoo than this one in Sioux Falls with some recently completed space to allow animals to roam a bit more. I don’t know if I can get past my own personal bias and feelings about “caged” animals, but it does give an individual something to ponder and being grateful to enjoy freedom of movement as one desires.

Sioux City, Iowa

A black rhino of Africa at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Giraffes in their enclosure at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An African spurred tortoise looks for a little shade at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Christmas in Siouxland, Akron

16 Dec

No matter the place, large or small, or the person, adult or child, Christmas is just a joyous occasion in Siouxland. And Akron has started its own tradition hosting a third annual Chamber visit by Santa Claus who kicked off the event with a tree lighting and had children anticipating telling him what they wanted this year to find under their own Christmas tree.

Santa and Mrs. Claus light up the Christmas tree during their visit during the third annual Akron Area Chamber of Commerce’s Hometown Christmas in Akron, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Parents take snap shots of their children with Santa and Mrs. Claus while others peek as they wait their turn during the third annual Akron Area Chamber of Commerce’s Hometown Christmas in Akron, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Smaller communities invest their time in celebrating holidays for its residents. Santa arrived in style in a fire truck. The library hosted a Santa and Mrs. Claus greet and meet with the children and downtown businesses opened their doors and served treats and hot chocolate. The downtown area was dressed to the nines.

Downtown Akron decorated in a festive holiday mood for the third annual Akron Area Chamber of Commerce’s Hometown Christmas in Akron, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Lights and decorations make downtown Akron a festive place during the third annual Akron Area Chamber of Commerce’s Hometown Christmas in Akron, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Even if only for a couple of hours, cares and worries are replaced with celebration and anticipation. One joyful fulfillment so far for me is that I can attend these events without driving through any snow, yet. But it’s coming. Maybe Christmas Eve, or possibly sooner, but a Siouxland Christmas doesn’t generally go by without some cold and snow.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Framing the Obvious in Siouxland and the Joslyn Museum, Omaha, NE

14 Dec

When out shooting sometimes I don’t really know what to expect until I see an image in front of me. During an outing with my Photo Safari class through the Lifelong Learning program at Western Iowa Tech Community College I was struck by some columns in downtown Sioux City.

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I never really noticed City Hall behind it until that night.

And during my trip to Council Bluffs and visiting the historic General Dodge House columns again caught my attention.

Columns line the porch of the Dodge House, former residence of one Gen. Greville M. Dodge, a Civil War Veteran and railroad builder who settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As did a recent to to the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE. The architecture there in the building itself is as much a tribute to art and the art of building as are the works found within it. It was a good day to wander through the museum and enjoy the building and what it offers in and of itself.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Columns in the Joslyn Art Museum frame other building aspects in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Columns in the Joslyn Art Museum frame other building aspects in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Columns in the Joslyn Art Museum frame other building aspects in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Celebrating Christmas in Siouxland, Plymouth County Museum

12 Dec

During the Christmas holiday, it is hard to escape the celebration. In the Midwest, Iowa and Siouxland people celebrate Christmas. Lights are up most places and Christmas music fills the air. Every year at the Plymouth County Museum it hosts a Nativity set display and a number of community members lend their displays for others to view. It is pretty amazing how many different examples of nativity sets there are.

A variety of nativity scenes are on display at the Plymouth County Historical Museum in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A variety of nativity scenes are on display at the Plymouth County Historical Museum in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

These nativity scenes are made out of a variety of material and hail from a plethora of locations all honoring the birth of Jesus. The craftmanship used to create some of these scenes are pretty amazing.

A variety of nativity scenes are on display at the Plymouth County Historical Museum in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A variety of nativity scenes are on display at the Plymouth County Historical Museum in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The display takes up the most of the top floor of the museum, formerly a local high school. So it is a large space. I always find museums are fun places to visit. One can learn about the past, the present and people’s state of mind by viewing exhibits. And it’s a nice place to divert one’s attention on a blustery day reveling in the moment of a momentous holiday to some.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Learning History around Siouxland, the Dodge House, Council Bluffs

10 Dec

On a recent outing I traveled south to the city of Council Bluffs which is probably outside the Siouxland perimeter but still is situated within the Loess Hills defined area. I wanted to visit a historic house, the Dodge House, a residence of the youngest Civil War general, Grenville M. Dodge and later a builder of the railroad network that traversed early America. Like all well maintained historical residences the home contains the essence of the era plus artifacts of the man’s life.

The Dodge House was the residence of one Gen. Grenville M. Dodge, a Civil War Veteran and railroad builder who settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A portrait of Gen. Grenville M. Dodge, a Civil War Veteran and railroad builder who settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The General lived quite an eventful life and at the time settled in Council Bluffs on what then was a frontier of America. On the Council Bluff’s website this bit of history of General Dodge is recorded: “In 1853, Grenville M. Dodge took charge of a crew surveying central Iowa to find a terminus for the Rock Island Railroad on the Missouri River.  Dodge chose Council Bluffs, and later he settled his growing young family there in 1855. Dodge and his brother created a banking house which merged into the Pacific National Bank and ultimately became the longest continuously chartered bank in Iowa’s history.  In 1858 Dodge made the acquaintance of an Illinois railroad lawyer named Abraham Lincoln, who had been hired by railroad financier Thomas Durant to do work in Iowa where Dodge was engaged in surveying.”

The General and his family lived in style as he pursued his military and later engineering career.

Docent Connie Spencer, right, leads a tour through the Dodge House in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A study for Gen. Grenville M. Dodge, a Civil War Veteran and railroad builder who settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bedroom in the Dodge House in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking down the stairwell from the top floor of the Dodge House in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy learning a little more history about places I live in and near. For some it might be useless information but knowing how life was previously lived is never a bad thing. Some just lived life a little better than others.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Singing Christmas Carols in Siouxland, Nora SD

8 Dec

Around Thanksgiving I attended a Christmas carol sing-a-long in a small community in South Dakota in Siouxland. In Nora, SD music enthusiast and Christmas lover Mike Pederson invites people to come to a former general store and share in the spirit of Christmas.

Mike performs on a pipe organ in the store which he has been doing for 28 years, and is accompanied by a violinist and the voices of people who travel near and far to join in song and celebration of Christmas. The last sing-a-longs will be occurring soon and a real treat, it’s worth a drive.

Mike Pederson plays a pipe organ that sits in the store during the Christmas sing-a-long at Nora, SD Sunday Nov. 26, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The Nora General Store in Nora, SD, sits along a state highway and is listed on the National Register of Historic, which occurred in 2007. A Christmas sing-a-long has taken place for 28 years at the Nora store, Sunday Nov. 26, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

It is fun to meet people and sing with them, even if your voice sounds better in your head than in real life, like my own. Christmas is a season for rejoicing and sharing and the comradery with happy faces and voices is amazing. Mike would love to have you stop by and join in the fun. However, get there very early, otherwise you might find yourself listening in through the open front doors on a pleasant day, and through the doors on a day with temps in the teens and snow on the ground.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

With the seating and standing room full inside the store, others stand around the front door for the Christmas sing-a-long to sing carols at Nora, SD Sunday Nov. 26, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

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©)

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