Archive | Travel RSS feed for this section

A Day out in Nature in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, South Dakota

11 Nov

Possibly a gnatcatcher sits with a insect in its mouth for a late morning snack at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, August 31, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have probably mentioned numerous times that I just enjoy being outdoors in nature in Siouxland, happier when I can make an interesting photograph of some species or scene, but nonetheless more enjoyable in agreeable weather before the prairie wind turns winter days frigid with temperatures marking below zero encounters. Not my idea of fun. And many times I end up with a hodgepodge of images of scenes or critters. I never really know what my encounters might entail and what I might find. And most times I can’t remember or even guess at the species until I check a book or two upon returning home. Birding is not second nature to me, but I still enjoy what I can and keep attempting to decipher what these creatures are.

But I could think of less pleasant ways to start or encounter a day and these days I try not to take these passing pleasures for granted.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An Eastern Kingbird sits among some wild sunflowers plants looking for insects at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, August 31, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A mourning dove flies across a meadow at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, August 31, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bee checks the progress of a small sunflower plant at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, August 31, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bee moves on to its next plant as it gathers pollen or nectar at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, August 31, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A group of small sun flower plants at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, August 31, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Fall Day in Siouxland, rural Monona County

7 Nov

A trace of fog highlights a rural scene of the Loess Hills area in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, October 8, 2022 near Onawa, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall is a favorite season of mine as it is for a lot of people. And even though again this year Siouxland has seen less rainfall than it should one could still find some color in places. Driving the backroads of the Loess Hills area in western Iowa is always a pleasure. I am only sad I didn’t get to enough places this year within the time period as the colors changed and the temperature yo-yo’ed between unusually warm to cold and near freezing.

Two hikers head off on a trail from the Loess Hills State Forest Overlook in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, October 8, 2022 near Pisgah, Iowa as fall colors are continuing to change from summer to fall. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A rural scene of the Loess Hills area in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, October 8, 2022 near Onawa, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Already most if not all trees have lost their leaves and their color. The only ones that still might have some leaves are burr oaks which sport a green and brown color scheme. Winter can sometimes be a long stretch as one only sees brown and sometimes white. But even that was sparse last year with less than normal snowfall as well. But patience will have to be the rule of the day as daylight savings time changes soon and winter slowly creeps closer.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The hillside near a trail from the Loess Hills State Forest Overlook in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, October 8, 2022 near Pisgah, Iowa are ablaze in fall colors. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two hikers set out to hike a trail from the Loess Hills State Forest Overlook in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, October 8, 2022 near Pisgah, Iowa as fall colors are continuing to change from summer to fall. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Nature Up Close in Siouxland, Lee Simmons Conservation Park, Ashland, NE

5 Nov

A Bald eagle calls out at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On an outing in Siouxland I visited the Lee G. Simmons Conservation and Wildlife Safari Park near Ashland, NE. It’s a drive through park where one can get up close and personal to some animals. There are areas one can park and step outside the vehicle which makes it a little easier taking photos that trying to do the same in the car.

A bald eagle calls out to others at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bald eagle responds to another one calling out at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The bald eagle enclosure keeps the birds in, but a fenced gate/doorway allows visitors inside the enclosure where one is within a football field 30-yard line distance from these incredible birds. I have seen them in the wild flying about and fishing and able to get close enough to photograph them clearly. And heard them call while flying, but I had never seen them calling up close and personal.

There seems to be varying ages of eagles at the safari park. Most times these birds have been found injured and rehabilitation was not able to restore them to the wild to continue their life. One bird in particular seemed much older, with a feather growing out of its beak or some point around it. Making me remember aged aunts and grandmothers who also occasionally sported whiskers as they got older.

A bald eagle returns a call at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I think about it, I become a little sad knowing these birds once flew hundreds of miles soaring above the earth and making their way in the world until some unfortunate accident that now requires them to live in captivity. Maybe remembering their days of youth and freedom and watching the world pass below from their perch on high.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bald eagle sits shielded on a branch as it watches others call out at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bald eagle sits shielded on a branch as it watches others call out at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Pausing in Siouxland and Enjoying the Moment, Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek

1 Nov

A couple watch a farmer harvest a crop in a field below a bluff that is part of the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. The couple said they met 40 some years ago on a grade school outing at this very site overlooking the area below which is approximately 30 miles north of Omaha, NE where they now live. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days it’s not a bad thing to take a pause, and slow down, ponder and just enjoy the moment in Siouxland. I found a couple doing just that recently at the Hitchcock Nature Center which overlooks farmland from a bluff region and part of the Loess Hills that is found in western Iowa.

The couple said they visit fairly often, and met while in school decades ago during a class trip to the preserve, and always enjoy coming out and enjoying the moment. Until a talkative photographer interrupts the reverie.

But pausing, watching and enjoying is always a good thing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing Red in Siouxland, Tekamah, NE

28 Oct

A doorway with red markings on a an older brick building fallen into disrepair in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are some days while driving about Siouxland that something catches one’s eye. Traveling with a friend recently we passed through the small town Tekamah, NE and an old grain elevator caught his eye. And while walking about I saw an old brick building, and a doorway, or what was left of each. What the red markings might mean to someone is anybody’s guess. Maybe even the one who made them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Some Days are for Clowning Around in Siouxland, Grand Meadow Heritage Days, Washta

26 Oct

Clown Special K launches bubbles into the air at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When visiting the Grand Meadow Heritage Days earlier this fall in Siouxland there were a few artists and others set up to entertain visitors to the museum and enjoying a look back in time at the displays. The clown Special K was creating balloon hats for kids and releasing bubbles into the air. Lots and lots of bubbles. Even though she probably entertained those attending, it would have been nice had more people shown up. Rest assured she went home “squeaky clean”

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Clown Special K launches bubbles into the air at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Clown Special K launches bubbles into the air at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Clown Special K launches bubbles into the air at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Clown Special K with a tool of her trade to launch bubbles into the air at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Clown Special K creates a balloon hat at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reliving the Old Wild West in Siouxland, Iowa Western Border Agents, Grand Heritage Center, Washta

22 Oct

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While attending the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival Days in Siouxland, in September, I ran into some folk who I previously met and photographed who belong to a black powder gun club, the Western Iowa Border Agents, and do staged Wild West Shootouts at various places they visit. Sometimes parades, sometimes other festivals. I talked with some of the club members a few years ago and asked about their interest in the Old West. Some of the kids then are now grown adults and according to one dad, living on their own as he smiled and looked at his sons.

Visitors to the festival watch as the Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The men’s portrayals and sharing of their interest is no different than those who attend Civil War re-enactments around the country, being involved in a kind of real-world experience of past events.

One of the gentlemen told me he does all of the loading for the rounds fired for the pistols and rifles. But that, like with everything else, costs have risen due to the pandemic and limited supplies, some items have gone from $12.00 per pound beyond $100.00 per pound for material. Which for an enthusiast is a steep cost for a hobby.

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Those that watch enjoy the staged event, a retelling of some of the harsher elements of the Old West where slights and disparaging remarks were settled by gunfire. Sadly those, it mirrors some of the current occurrences that happen today. Someone slights someone at a party and then you read about a person returning with a weapon and shooting someone.

One of the gentlemen told me that a parade event the group has been involved with for many, many years and in which they always did a staged shootout during the parade has been cancelled for a couple of years. Organizers cited the Parkland School shooting event which had happened that year and couldn’t in good conscience allow the stage shooting as people not aware of the staged event could panic believing an actual shooting is taking place. Modern society is not so modern sometimes.

But doing the Grand Meadow Heritage Festival in attendance enjoyed the “show” and everyone walked away and deciding who would hit the dirt the next time as we all like to come out as heroes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club talks to their cameraman prior to a staged Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Iowa Western Border Agents club stage an Old West shootout event during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A couple chat prior to the Western Iowa Border Agents’ stage shootout event at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Everything’s Ducky in Siouxland, Heron Haven, Omaha, NE

20 Oct

A young mallard stands on a floating log at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Wood Duck takes flight as two others continue sitting on a log at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Traveling a bit outside of Siouxland proper to other places like Omaha, NE and visiting various parks and preserves it has is kind of a plus as it’s not too terrible long a drive and while it takes some effort to get there, the rewards or hope for same can be a good motivator to get out the front door.

And while I can’t say I have the bird bug pushing me to photograph these “flighty” creatures I do enjoy the time spent watching them and hoping to make an unusual, or usual kind of exposure. I am always happy no matter what when photographing animals.

Two young mallards sit on a floating log at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wood duck peers about as it feeds in a pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy the light play on the critters and their surroundings. And with less than ideal rain conditions this year as well as last year many places that were just water have begun to become more wetland, land, than water ponds. Another element that looks weird when photographing fowl. The mossy like substance is more of a green ooze. Cue the Halloween music.

A wood duck feeds in a pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Heron Haven is a delightful place to watch water fowl and from what I learned, the one resident heron. I saw a shadow pass over but didn’t actually see the bird. Too focused on stationary ducks and reflections. But it’s all good. Outdoors, nature, pleasant enough weather and then lunch after having done an early start to reach Omaha in the morning while there is still some nice light. I have previously spent worse days when working for a newspaper. But now I can look forward to those excursions that I want to make. And only have myself to disappoint if all does not go well.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Ducks are silhouetted on a pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bird blind at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographers are drawn to find resident herons and other birds at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A board walk takes a visitor out over a water pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Sibley bird identification chart of backyard birds on display for visitors at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Pockets of Color in Siouxland, Rural Thurston County, Winnebago, NE

16 Oct

Some plants haver begun their fall ritual of changing color seen in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some local areas in Siouxland have begun exhibiting a change of season as fall slowly makes its way into the area. Recently temperatures have been in the 60’s with forecasts of temps hitting the 80’s for a couple of days. And then with low overnight lows the leave change will accelerate ushering that fall look.

Leaves begin to slowly change in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Yellow leaves on a dirt in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I immensely enjoy the fall season as many folk do. And will do my best in getting out photographing scenes in rural Siouxland much to the chagrin of many friends and probably readers of this blog. But, therein lies the joy of not having an editor look over one’s shoulder.

Many backroads, many early mornings to catch those rays of sun diagonally lighting up the landscape. And maybe some daytime runs with full sun lighting treetops from above. On a beautiful fall day, with a little jazz playing and some coffee on tap, what a better way to spend it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Trees barely begin changing in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A corn field ready for harvest in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sumac leaves change colors in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reminiscing About History in Siouxland, Grand Meadow Heritage Festival, Washta

14 Oct

A man pauses at a window while visiting the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it fascinating to learn about the history of a place and the people when visiting small town festivals or museums. And I have visited the annual heritage festival a few times over the years. Many local and not local folk visit and reminisce about attending school, now museum, which houses many artifacts from previous decades and even a century or two.

A former school now a museum of history at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Farm implements from a couple of centuries ago on display in the museum during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Farm implements from a couple of centuries ago on display in the museum during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Farm implements from a couple of centuries ago on display in the museum during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children visiting with parents and grandparents seem especially taken with technology they have never seen or heard of let alone used. And probably after a half day’s use might be very thankful for today’s version. And while it may be eavesdropping, hearing people talk about life in the old days is fascinating and telling, as most never say they went without when they didn’t know what they didn’t have to begin with. Although, most would agree, with all sorts of improved technology, the most favored seems to be the invention of air conditioning.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A scene from a history book that some folk still remember and seen at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Early century technology on display at the museum seen during the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The annual Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Pioneer wagons on display at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center’s 46th Annual Heritage Days festival Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, Washta, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
%d bloggers like this: