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Enjoying the Boys of Summer in Siouxland, Sioux City Explorers, Sioux City

29 Aug
A Cleburne, TX, Railroader gets tagged out on his way to second base in game action against the Sioux City, Iowa, Explorers at the Lewis and Clark Stadium in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Over the years when I worked at various newspapers I photographed my fair share of baseball games, high school, college and minor league. The Sioux City Explorers is an independent league here in Siouxland, and have called this area home base for over a decade. Nothing says summer like baseball, to most folk. To me covering a game as opposed to watching one are two different things. While personally not a fan, nor even having a favorite major leagues team, I enjoy watching moves and action that happens on the field. And locally, I enjoy late afternoon, early evening games as the sun sets behind the local stadium. The light play can sometimes be very nice.

Action, inaction during the Sioux City, Iowa, Explorers game against the Cleburne, TX, Railroaders at the Lewis and Clark Stadium in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Sioux City, Iowa, Explorer safely slides back to first base after an aborted second base steal in game action against the Cleburne, TX, Railroaders at the Lewis and Clark Stadium in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching the game sometimes certain actions while helpful on the field, become almost comical seen from the spectator stands. What might be obvious doesn’t always come to fruition for the players, especially when making note of what intentions are and then failing to follow through. Oops! But so goes the game of statistics. Columns upon columns of stats for each player, each team, etc., etc.

Sometimes game action is obvious as the Sioux City, Iowa, Explorers play the Cleburne, TX, Railroaders at the Lewis and Clark Stadium in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But watching those guys at bat I wonder how they even see the ball hurtling toward them, at speeds I can not even imagine. And once there on base, making certain the keep their spot so as not to become another error statistic for that evening’s game. Play Ball!

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Sioux City, Iowa, Explorer keeps his eye on the ball in game action against the Cleburne, TX, Railroaders at the Lewis and Clark Stadium in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Sioux City, Iowa, Explorer swings to connect with a pitched ball in game action against the Cleburne, TX, Railroaders at the Lewis and Clark Stadium in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Another aborted attempt for a steal to second base by a Sioux City, Iowa, Explorer in game action against the Cleburne, TX, Railroaders at the Lewis and Clark Stadium in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Day in Siouxland, Sioux City

7 Aug
A sparrow enjoys a quiet morning in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days should be set aside for a quiet time of reflection, enjoying the moment before the day’s activities begin.

Even for intrepid explorers and hunters, sometimes it’s best to watch and appreciate rather than jumping into action. There are enough days when the world is nonstop. Relish those that are.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A cat checks out a visitor as it enjoys a day in a backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A cat watches a visitor as it enjoys a day in a backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer Days in Siouxland, Sioux City

1 Aug
A squirrel checks out a visitor as it snacks on a peanut in a residence backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer days in Siouxland just aren’t enjoyed by we humans. Visitors to a backyard looking for a morning snack enjoy the shade before the heat of the day sets in and it’s nap time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A squirrel snacks on a peanut in a residence backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A squirrel snacks on a peanut in a residence backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Summer’s Day in Siouxland, Arnolds Park

28 Jul
A father and son make memories they will remember later while enjoying a summer’s day in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s been a while that I have traveled to some places within Siouxland this last year. Places, Arnolds Park and Okoboji that I enjoy, but for one reason or another I just didn’t make it there during the year of COVID-19. It’s a nice place to visit, and this particular day I didn’t get around to some places I would have liked, but that just means another trip down the road with time to spend at these other places.

New signage along a promenade walk in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Arches dot the promenade walk in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A new look near the amusement park in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a “tourist destination” during the week rather than on a weekend sometimes means not as many people. And that makes it easier getting around to places. I noticed a few changes to the waterfront like the nod to a former Iowan business person and legislator. But some things never change, like being greeted by photogenic regulars to also like to enjoy a day hanging out with friends and relatives.

Gulls enjoy a summer’s day in Arnolds Park, Iowa, Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Enjoying a summer’s day in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And change I didn’t notice was the replacement of a walking trail in favor of an actual sidewalk which local residents and those folk visiting find it much more easily navigated than the former rut that is part of a State of Iowa conservation easement allowing folk a chance to see the lake from the surrounding high ground.

A Dept. of Natural Resources marker shows an easement where visitors can walk a trail overlooking the West Lake Okoboji in Arnolds Park, Iowa, Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Cement sidewalks replace what was once a dirt trail along an Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources trail in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Enjoying a summer’s day and a view of West Lake Okoboji in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And it’s just nice getting out and enjoying nature, taking a walk, trying a new or different eating establishment or visiting one not enjoyed in a while. Summer days come and go quickly. And having the chance to enjoy even a part of it is always a treat.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bee enjoys flowers along a walking path during a summer’s day in Arnolds Park, Iowa, Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Enjoying a summer’s day in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bird Greetings in Siouxland, Bacon Creek Park

24 Jul
A Redwing Blackbird sings early in the morning at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking early in Siouxland one gets the chance to encounter and hear “the little birdies” sing or scold, depending on their mood and where one might meet them. Sometimes it might be too close to their home, especially in spring or early summer when young might be around.

A bird peeks out of a hole in a dead tree at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking by trees, many trees, and looking up the last place I expect to see a bird is it popping it’s head out of a hole. More likely I expect to see a bird sitting on branches and hidden. Although some species easily give away location once you hear them singing.

A cardinal sits quietly watching passersby at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Males cardinals are easy to spot within the green foliage. Although they do tend to move about, making it difficult to even grab a fleeting photo. Just a flash of red and then one needs to continue looking.

Early morning light is a bit more directional, and during the summer months bright which creates a nice contrast with the background. Backlit subjects like trees easily stand out against the darker area behind it in shade.

Morning sunlight illuminates a tree at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The bright light almost makes it impossible to see small birds nestled in the branches, where one might mistake it for a tree limb knot and a branch silhouetted against the light. And sometimes some clever birds mimmic their surroundings, looking like a short, standing tree trunk across the water until upon closer inspection with a telephoto lens or binoculars one sees there is actually a bird there. Standing very, very still.

A Great Blue Herron stands still, almost striking a pose like a tree branch as it watches something across the small lake at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But that is the fun of early morning walks. Trying to school oneself in learning the habits of these feathered creatures and and spotting them to photograph. The exercise is not a bad idea either as one walks about Bacon Creek exercising the eyeballs and legs.

But once the sun starts climbing, it’s good to heed the advice of other woodland creatures, and head toward a shady glenn to spend the rest of the day until supper time calls. Just lounging about and avoiding the day’s heat, and then starting the process over the next day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer makes its way to a shaded glenn at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, Fortenelle Forest, Bellevue, NE

22 Jul
An early morning mist envelopes part of the area surrounding the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy getting out and visiting places in Siouxland, especially outdoor parks. Taking a walk in nature is always nice, even on those days when the weather isn’t fully cooperating. Visually misty days can be more interesting and different that a bright sunshine, sunlight dappled view of a forest.

Visitors make their way along the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A woman makes her way along the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of people were out enjoying the board walk at the forest which wanders about a small portion of the park for about one mile. Meandering to different parts, one even close to the Missouri River when other surprises are sometimes in store for those who happened to pick one day over another to visit.

Turkey vultures roost in a tree along the Missouri River bank at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A bald eagle replaces the turkey vultures previously sitting in a tree along the bank of the Missouri Valley at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Besides making one appreciate the beauty of nature, it always works up an appetite walking and looking for scenes to photograph. Lunch is always a nice reward after a morning out. And the chance to yet again see another bald eagle and enjoy the quiet of the forest just makes it a pleasant day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A couple enjoy a day out at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The board walk ehich runs about a mile encompasses only a small portion of the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A couple looks engulfed in foliage while using the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making Photo Choices in Siouxland, Sioux City

18 Jul
A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even when “visitors” drop by in Siouxland for a visit, I find it a challenge to photograph them, especially when they are a little “flighty”. A butterfly visited a backyard earlier this summer and just when I saw it, it would leave, or move somewhere I couldn’t see it. I first noticed the little creature while reading and looking up for a moment.

A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I retrieved a camera and waited, but the little guy didn’t show up and so continued reading. Then by chance casting a glance up and the creature reappeared. The choice is whether to photograph the creature’s shadow only, or show more of the actual little guy. And then decide how as it came changing positions which created different backgrounds.

A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course what is seen is just the butterfly without any context. And sometimes that helps put things in perspective. And it all depends on one’s only aesthetics or tastes. Too little salt, not enough pepper? Maybe some cumin.

And then be happy with however the results turn out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving in Rural Siouxland, Rural Monona County

14 Jul
A turkey vulture flies above a valley floor of the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have not spent as much time in recent months driving in rural Siouxland as I would have liked. Work and the weather didn’t make such a drive very scenic. The spring remained brown and visually unappealing for a long time. But now with recent rains everything has begun greening up although a moderate/severe drought warning is still in effect for parts of Siouxland and elsewhere in Iowa. Low rain fall and not much snow during winter makes farming this year a bit tenuous.

Gravel roads and green scenery await any traveler driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A gravel road becons a traveler driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But driving the backroads in Siouxland is always nice. It’s quiet, there is no need to speed as time somewhat suspends itself as you wind around the Loess Hills scenic byway roads, enjoying the landscape and area for what is there. Nothing more, nothing less. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. Quiet, peaceful, a bit of solitude and maybe a day of contemplation.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spring flowers seen while driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Not all access points are gravel roads seen in the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Green hills await visitors while driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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

12 Jul
A Lesser Yellowlegs poses as it hunts for a meal at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a jaunt to Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve is always a nice way to start one’s day. Of course that is after having a couple cups of coffee to jump start the day. I am finding one needs to be an early riser to find nature’s creatures a bit more active as they hunt for their morning and mid-morning nourishment. For the shore birds, they sometimes do this just underneath a bird blind that the preserve has put in place in numerous places along Mud Lake for visitors to enjoy the residents and passers through.

A Canada goose informs a visitor that the bird blind is currently occupied at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Redwing blackbird makes some noise on a perch at Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two Lesser Yellowlegs look for food in Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I try to improve my photography of nature it’s nice, and convenient, to have willing subjects, as long as they are not too aware of one’s presence. Hence the bird blinds. I know I will not be traveling to far flung places on the earth like Africa, Peru or even the Rocky Mountains to photograph animals in the wild. But will be content with the “local wild creatures” I have nearby at preserves and parks and do the best I can to capture them in motion. Not a bad way to spend a morning.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

American white pelicans slowly circle overhead at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A wood duck floats in Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Lesser Yellowlegs hunts for a meal at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An Eastern Kingfisher studies its surroundings from a tree branch overhanging Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Quiet Time in Siouxland, Adams Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

11 Apr
A couple of Canada geese find a “dry” spot to sun themselves at Mud Lake at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, March 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when visiting places in Siouxland it’s just nice to stop, sit and watch and listen. Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve is one such place. Even though it is “late in the season” for migratory waterfowl and the chance to see a number of birds, there were still some “locals” hanging out in a water hole at the preserve, taking in the morning and enjoying the day.

I always try to remember that maybe there is a lesson in that.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two American coots paddle about at Mud Lake at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, March 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Canada goose stands on “dry” ground at Mud Lake at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, March 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Canada goose makes its way swimming around Mud Lake at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, March 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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