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Enjoying some sunshine and warmth in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

2 Mar

A cheetah takes a nap in the sunshine in its outdoor enclosure during an unseasonably warm day where temperatures almost reached 60 degrees at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems everyone is waiting for an early spring, and enjoying those days that bring a little extra warmth in February and sunshine to the area. All creatures like to enjoy a peaceful moment and take in the surroundings.

A cheetah suns itself on a rock in its outdoor enclosure during an unseasonably warm day where temperatures almost reached 60 degrees at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A cheetah rolls in the grass during an unseasonably warm day where temperatures almost reached 60 degrees at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While recently visiting the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE not many animals were outside their indoor enclosures. But the few who did venture out wasted no time in enjoying the sunshine and warmer temperatures. According the rodent, Phil, spring should be arriving soon. Early March maybe, but in Siouxland as elsewhere, there are always those sudden spring snow storms that might delight school children but only illicit groans from adults. Patience is a virtue, but sometimes that is in short supply.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visitors watch a sealion sun itself on a rock in its enclosure during an unseasonably warm day where temperatures almost reached 60 degrees at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A white rhino stands outside its enclosure during an unseasonably warm day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Godot is Waiting for Spring in Siouxland, rural Monona County

29 Feb

Clouds pass through the area in the Loess Hills area off of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway in Monona County, Iowa Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spring is slowly wending its way into Siouxland. Temperatures fluctuate between cold in the 20’s and 30’s and warmer, high 40’s and into the 50’s. Talking with friends it’s the latter 50’s we are all currently interested in. While driving some country roads recently I had to be careful as normally sound roads were a muddy glaze that would navigate well in a pickup truck, but not so much with other vehicles.

Clouds pass overhead near a weathered building in the Loess Hills area off of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway in Monona County, Iowa Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Clouds pass through the area in the Loess Hills area off of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway in Monona County, Iowa Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The rural landscape is still pretty dull. Browns, shades of brown populate the hills and dales of the Loess Hills region in Siouxland. No early peeking green shoots could be seen by a passing motorist. But hopefully soon. And a chance to wander again on a bright spring day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

in the Loess Hills area off of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway in Monona County, Iowa Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Film in Siouxland, Prairie Grass Film Challenge, Dordt University

27 Feb

Attendees watch one of the entries in a screening room prior to the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In today’s world, there is a proliferation of media. Video and stills. Everywhere. As a photographer, I somewhat thrive on seeing images and for the most part enjoy them. People’s tastes runs the gamut. Depending on one’s point of view there is “good” and “bad” art, video and photography. Individuals pursue what interests them and where their tastes lie.

Every year in Siouxland at Dordt Universtiy there has been a 48-hour film challenge, the Prairie Grass Film Challenge. Individuals and teams come up with and create a film within the specified time period and then compete at this private Christian college in northwest Iowa. The films need to be family friendly but do push the boundary as each, as people are, have an individual opinion of what is friendly. And winners for this year’s competition just recently were announced.

One film crew entry pose on “The Red Carpet” prior to the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The films are produced by high school, college and post college individuals. All maybe reflecting a generational outlook through their individual films, and most certainly have a point of view and moral component to the pieces. Attending the awards ceremony (which is also live streamed to competing teams from around the country) held at the small university one can feel the excitement for these folk as much as directors, producers and actors attending the Oscars and receiving awards and recognition for their work.

Teammates for a film entry react after winning first place in their division during the awards ceremony at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Presenters react as they watch one attendee show off his Superman shirt under his street clothes mimicking a recurring theme for this year’s entries which involved superheroes during the awards ceremony at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Twenty-five teams made the final cut of the competition that were judged and then four films were selected for best of in three categories with a fourth winner judged best of show. It’s fun to watch these folk enthusiasm and see their creativity put to the test, or not. Prior to the awards ceremony the film are screened in rooms around campus for people to view a few of them before finding out the winner. It’s a fun night, except for the cold weather and sometimes snowy conditions, and a chance for people to begin an adventure in film that may continue or compete in a venue their find worthy of their own involvement with similar values. As with everything, you get out of the experience what you put into it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Dordt University jazz band performs prior to the start of the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Members of a film crew ham it up on “The Red Carpet” prior to the awards ceremony at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An audience member dressed up as a bee patiently waits for the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Mark Volkers, left, and Bob Pollema, right, emcee at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 awards ceremony at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visiting the Great Plains Zoo in Siouxland, Sioux Falls, SD

23 Feb

A Siamang gibbon reacts while visitors look on at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking forward to visiting area zoos near the Siouxland area again this coming year as the warmer weather permits the animals to be outside, probably making a better experience for both them and visitors. While not a large zoo, this one in Sioux Falls, SD has a variety of animals on display, both exotic and domestic and is a nice way to spend a morning or afternoon.

An entrance to one section of the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019.

The zoo is set up to allow visitors to pace themselves as they wander cemented trails from exhibit to exhibit. Although sometimes I find it an interesting juxtaposition of seeing some exotic animals with very identifiable deciduous plants that would not be found in the various species original habitat. But the shade provided by the trees is a welcome relief some days and colorful in the fall.

And just a more pleasant experience for the visitor as one learns about the animals residing there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A water fountain near the entrance with playful monkeys at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019.

History surrounds Siouxland, Fort Omaha, Omaha, NE

21 Feb

A former departmental headquarters of historic Fort Omaha in the late 1800’s, now the Metropolitan Community College media and library center, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Siouxland region and parts surrounding Siouxland are steeped in history. As hard as it is to remember sometimes that Iowa, Nebraska, both Dakotas and other midwest and western states were at one time open territory and prairie before the land rush that brought settlers and others who “tamed the land”. Previously populated by Native American Tribes that followed the buffalo and other seasonal practices involving roaming a large swatch of land.

A sign post with history about historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A large part of the college is still open as it was during the days the fort was in use, primarily as parade grounds or muster grounds for troops located or passing through to other outposts.

History of the Omaha barracks and parade grounds at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The parade grounds at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As warmer weather approaches it will be nice to be able to spend more time learning about area history as opposed to rushing back to a warm vehicle out of the cold. And seeing what other gems are about Siouxland.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Part of the parade grounds at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Greener Pastures in Siouxland, Rural Buena Vista County

19 Feb

Cruising in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

in rural Buena Vista County, Iowa Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while out driving in Siouxland in nicer weather I never know who I might see off the beaten path. More likely a critter of some sort. And I am glad when driving backroads I am moving slowly enough to be able to brake and then get one or two photographs made before the elusive creatures vanish.

Planted crops on a summer’s day in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cornfields and woods near corn and soybean fields can be an ideal spot to find nature hanging out and I feel lucky when I can both enjoy and photograph the scene at the same time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Revisiting History around Siouxland, General Crook, Omaha, NE

15 Feb

Cabin fever is working on my wanderlust to begin exploring Siouxland area again without slipping and sliding to and from a destination. Although it’s only February and already the warm weather temps that have graced the region recently will depart a short bit as a bitter winter front and some snow moves into the area again.

The Douglas County Historical Society chronicles the history of General George Crook’s home at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently visiting the Omaha area I checked out but didn’t stop into see General Crook’s museum home at Fort Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s a glimpse into a time frame in the early frontier days as the west was being”tamed” for settlers heading in that direction. General George Crook was commandant of Fort Omaha and was responsible for patrolling and keeping safe a region that included Iowa, Nebraska, parts of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. His home is a well preserved specimen and fun to look into the past and see what life was like on the prairie for a higher ranking officer. There are a number of homes along that ridge top that housed officers of the fort while the enlisted men bunked in larger housing facilities down the hill.

General George Crook was commander at historic Fort Omaha during the early frontier days, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A plague gives a history about General George Crook’s home at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

The warmer days makes it easier to get out and about again but patience for the return of some greenery will probably be a few more weeks coming as winter lingers and Mother nature teases us about the coming spring.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A garden spot now dormant behind the General George Crook home museum at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Old Glory hangs on the front porch of the General George Crook home museum at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

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