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A Swinging Time in Siouxland, Fontenlle Forest’s, Bellevue, NE

26 Sep
A new service, Tree Rush, began operations in 2019 at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE seen Wednesday, July 7, 2021. People with various skill levels can climb, zip line and swing through the canopy of old-growth trees at the tree park. Suspended bridges, rope ladders and a variety of aerial challenges give visitors a chance to test their skill set. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I don’t always get back to places I previously visited in Siouxland, such as the Fontenell Forest in Bellevue, NE and am always surprised and pleased to see additions to a place that while personally I might not indulge in, others do. And it’s fun to just watch. Such is the case of above the treetop experience with Tree Rush at the nature preserve. It gives people a chance to enjoy new heights as it were and experience what it must have been like for some of the Tarzan actors. I enjoyed watching, but at this point in time, I like my feet solidly on the ground as I don’t bounce as well as I used too. But watching the staff and the people checking out the opportunity it all seems well done. I watched a short training course given to people who signed up to participate and the place was hopping on my way out from a hike than when I came into the forest. Ingenuity in appreciating nature takes many avenues.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A new service, Tree Rush, began operations in 2019 at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE seen Wednesday, July 7, 2021. People with various skill levels can climb, zip line and swing through the canopy of old-growth trees at the tree park. Suspended bridges, rope ladders and a variety of aerial challenges give visitors a chance to test their skill set. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A new service, Tree Rush, began operations in 2019 at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE seen Wednesday, July 7, 2021. People with various skill levels can climb, zip line and swing through the canopy of old-growth trees at the tree park. Suspended bridges, rope ladders and a variety of aerial challenges give visitors a chance to test their skill set. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Family Outing in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

24 Sep
A family of turkeys enjoy a morning out together at the playground at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes we humans take for granted some of the amenities available to us, even here in Siouxland. The amenities are certainly nice and I was pleasantly surprised to find a passel of turkeys enjoying a playground area early one morning before the humans showed up. Although not house trained, the turkeys can leave a trail behind and are not known for picking up after themselves.

A turkey preens itself on a bench at the playground area at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As “residents” of the park, I am sure the turkeys appreciate the area as much as their human counterparts. And early in the morning they have it all to themselves to wander and enjoy. Although wary of passing trail walkers also out early. It’s just a nice way to start the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Uehling, NE

22 Sep
Crossroads in downtown Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy driving around Siouxland, not always knowing what I might find. And like many other states, there are numerous small towns one might run across that somewhat appear out of nowhere, but have been in existence for decades if not a century for some of them.

A country road heads off into the distance leaving Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wall mount dedicated to the anniversary of the community’s founding on a downtown store in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some communities are a mere crossroad for the surrounding area. In former glory days these small communities sprung up as railroad tracks and lines were laid through the area. In earlier centuries the small town was necessary because of the distance to travel and time spent by early modes of transportation, which now with automobiles is not the issue it might have once been with horses and buggies and wagons.

Each place has a story to tell, although sometimes finding that story can be challenging. These days there is a plethora of content online, though it may not be the content one is searching for to find answers.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A visitor might assume the community was named after Theodore Uehling see in in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wall mural heading into empty space seen in Uehling, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hazy Days in Siouxland, Rural Nebraska

20 Sep
A turkey vulture flies over tree tops through a smokey haze created by western wildfires seen near Winnebago NE Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like many places throughout the U.S. this summer, there were a number of hazy days in Siouxland created by the wildfires raging out west in different states. The air quality was sometimes repressive as the haze lingered for days, and only recently with rains passing through the region has the quality begun to improve.

The native American wild turkey seems to ignore the old adage of crossing the road seen near Winnebago NE Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And it seems unlikely that this year will be an anomaly with what is to come. More likely more fires until everything is burnt and then years as regrowth takes place hopefully bringing to life what took hundreds of years to create, especially the old growth forests. Looking forward to fall in Siouxland it will be nice to go about and hopefully enjoy some cooler temps and whatever color the trees will share this year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A smokey haze created by western wildfires hangs in the atmosphere near Winnebago NE Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A raptor sits on the corner of a roof of a shed waiting seen near Winnebago NE Saturday, July 31, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

“Fawning” over Nature in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

18 Sep
A fawns rests in the shade of a thicket at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like pleasant unexpected surprises when out photographing in Siouxland. In the last year I have taken many walks at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve and I can’t say I have ever been disappointed with opportunities to photograph wildlife there. I am not a hardcore wildlife or nature photographer. Never rising before the sun does to get in position to take photos but happy when serendipity intervenes and gives me a chance to test my reflexes while walking about.

A fawn checks out a visitor at close quarters at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Attending an event at Adams recently I took a walk away from the activities down a short trail and was pleasantly surprised to find two young deer hanging out in the shade and munching a bit of grass in the immediate area. I generally can not get with a football field’s distance of these skittish creatures and these two didn’t seem to mind as I was not in a hurry to scurry down a trail, but stopped and watched and was able to take a few frames of them until they tired of my presence and left. I am looking forward to fall arriving at some point in anticipation of maybe photographing wildlife with fall color. But then that might be asking too much of a serendipitous encounter.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A fawn checks out a visitor while snacking in the shade of a thicket at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having a snack but also wary of a passer-by at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With its fawn not far away, a white-tailed deer watches a visitor using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching Neighbors Stop by in Siouxland, Sioux City

16 Sep
Two common house sparrows and a downy woodpeckers stop by for a snack at a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s nice sometimes when guests drop in unexpectedly and stay to grab a bite to eat while visiting. I am always interested to see who stops by, along with my roommates who at times are non plussed about visitors, especially when out of reach, which I believe is a good thing. Bon appetit.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa



Common house sparrows snack at a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A black-capped chickadee munches on a snack from a backyard feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bluejay checks out what is going on in a backyard at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching as some backyard birds snack at a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching as some backyard birds snack at a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning History in Siouxland, Kirchner Home at the Peterson Heritage Park, Peterson

14 Sep
The home of J.A. Kirchner, an early settler in the Peterson, Iowa area see at the now Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy learning a bit more history about the Siouxland area. Most of the region was first explored and somewhat settled in the early 1800’s with more folk following during midcentury and the latter portion beginning in the 1850’s. Peterson, Iowa was first settled around 1856 with a small fort being build in 1862 because of the Dakota Indian War. One of the first people to build a frame house was J.A. Kirchner who settled in the area was a farmer. Local historian and farmer Michael Hyde gives tours of the home and history about Kirchner and other early settlers who called Clay County home. The home had many of the “modern day” conveniences for its time period and more luxurious than living in a lean-to or sod house.

Local historian Michael Hyde talks about the J.A. Kirchner home that is now a museum and its owner who was an early settler in the area. The home is in what is now the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Local historian Michael Hyde talks about the J.A. Kirchner home that is now a museum and its owner who was an early settler in the area. The home is in what is now the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it fascinating and interesting to see what modern appliances and other items were available in another century. People living in comfort that today some folk might shake their heads at and not understand. But life is what you make of it and some people fare better than others which is sad. But one can learn to appreciate what is available now as compared to 100 years or more ago and what seems like hardship now may not have been then.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A comfortable bed at the time seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rope was used in place of bed springs two centerues ago for early settlers seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bedroom and its furnishings seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The dining room of the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A kitchen with modern appliances for the time seen at the J.A. Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Churning creme to make butter while seated at a kitchen windown seen at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Entertainment of an earlier century found at the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children of early settlers seen in the J.A Kirchner museum home at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Early settlers in Peterson, Iowa seen at the Peterson Heritage Park in Peterson, Iowa Saturday, April 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching Crafty Critters in Siouxland, Sioux City

12 Sep
A squirrel slowly makes its way down the side of a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It never amazes me when I watch little critters behave, especially when in search of a treat in a backyard. Squirrels can be quite entertaining, and sometimes animated as they look for peanuts some friendly neighbor has left them or kernels of corn. Some of the squirrels busily obtain and they scurry to bury their treats, while others simply enjoy and chow down on as many as they can.

A squirrel peeks over a fence in search of some peanuts in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Always cautious yet always moving, hoping to score a morsel, one or two of these backyard neighbors put on a show without realizing their entertainment value. And I hope they make it through another winter even though fall is only just arriving. It seems the weather recently has been just as wacky as some these critters’ antics but a little more serious.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A squirrel lowers itself to reach some nuts in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A squirrel leaves with a prize in its mouth after visiting the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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

10 Sep
American wild turkeys and their young forage for food in morning light at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like many in Siouxland enjoy a nice morning walk when the weather’s nice and the sun is just coming up. That activity is not exclusive to humans but also wildlife when it might be a bit safer to take the family out for a stroll and morning brunch. I consider myself lucky when I happen upon such a “family” and I don’t spook them too much and be patient while they make their way to whatever destination they choose. Have the fun is just watching their behavior and seeing nature up close and somewhat personal, each being on it way to start a new day and to see what awaits.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A young wild American Turkey chick stretches its wing while out walking with its parent at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

American wild turkeys and their young forage for food in morning light at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Affirming One’s Faith in Siouxland, Pilgrimage of the Cross, Sioux Rapids

8 Sep
Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) before the start of the day’s 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage, Thursday, July 29, 2021 leaving from Sioux Rapids, Iowa. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fr. Doug Klein, center, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) says a prayer with parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Robyn Van Venrooij and Maria Cartelan before beginning their 24-mile walk of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county at St. Josephs’s Church in Sioux Rapids, Iowa. With the newly constructed Christ the King church completed, the 5-day parish pilgrimage began in Mallard and will end in Sioux Center. Fr. Klein gathered various sacrosanct items from each church in the parish, such as the corpus from Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, seen on the cross, to be used at the newly constructed parish church. They will carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The faith landscape of Siouxland as of other places across the U.S. has been changing in the last few years. While many folk continue to say they are believers in Jesus Christ and an afterlife, the attendance to formal institutions has been dwindling, not only for the Catholic faith, but Protestants, Methodists and other established religious orders. All have had their troubles with problematic faith leaders erring in their own lives and causing pain amongst the faithful.

The Diocese of Sioux City (Iowa) has been readjusting its “deployment” of personnel or priests the last number of years as attendance has dwindled along with men willing to heed the call of God and serve as ordained priests. So the diocese has been consolidating its parishes with one community serving as a hub for an area and is closing some of the smaller, less or least attended churches within its area of coverage.

Which then makes it most remarkable that a new church has been built for the Diocese to minister to the faithful in an area that is predominantly Reformed Dutch. With the closing of some of the smaller communities places of worship the priest for Christ the King church, Fr. Doug Klein, put together a pilgrimage that started and passed through a number of the areas now covered by the new church but will lose its own house of worship. Fr. Klein gathered artifacts from the various communities and made the almost 100 mile walk to the new church along with parishioners to show the commitment to faith and the continuing idea of community in one’s faith.

Gene Bartels drives the tractor as Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) and parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Paola Rivera and Maria Cartelan leave Sioux Rapids, Iowa to begin their walk of 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Gene Bartels drives the tractor as Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) and parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Paola Rivera and Maria Cartelan walk 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is debate about the loss of faith in the U.S. and how godless it has become. But it seems the loss of faith is more directed to those overseeing the flock and some of those individuals loss of direction for personal gain or need of power and the feeling of importance, rather than actually ministering to the needy. And any judgement that might come from any for or against the idea of faith, will ultimately be decided on that one day for what some evangelicals call the “end of days”. And for those who truly believe, the only important judgement comes from the Trinity and not a self-appointed judge among the many now living on earth.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Gene Bartels drives the tractor as Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) and parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Paola Rivera and Maria Cartelan walk 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Gene Bartels drives the tractor as Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) and parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Paola Rivera and Maria Cartelan walk 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Gene Bartels drives the tractor as Fr. Doug Klein, pastor of Christ the King church in Sioux Center, Iowa (of the Sioux City Diocese) and parish members Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Vickie Ryan, Paola Rivera and Maria Cartelan walk 24 miles of a 100 mile pilgrimage Thursday, July 29, 2021 through rural Buena Vista county. They carry the corpus from the Sacred Heart Church of Laurens, Iowa. With fewer priests available in the diocese to oversee services and duties and diminishing number of members attending the outlying parish churches, the Ministry 2025 Pastoral Plan called for creating a number of cluster parishes to serve the faithful. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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