Exploring Light in Siouxland, Lyon County

8 Aug

Some days when I am driving around Siouxland I try to have a destination in mind so I feel I have accomplished something on my excursion. I visit a place and record some images to share here.

And then, there are those days when even after I have visited some place and explored and recorded I become extremely jazzed when after a stormy evening and the weather is changing that clouds become amazing. Add to that the fact that there is still developing weather and then the light becomes amazing.

As clouds pass overhead the scene on the ground changes quickly. Unlike landscape photographers who “camp out” at a specific spot to capture the moment, I drive around the Siouxland area and sometimes am not able to safely pull over to photograph a scene so must sigh and continue on as the clouds continue moving across the sky.

But then, sometimes the “photography god” smiles and gives an image of two to make the day’s driving worthwhile.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Grain bins sit on the outskirts of a small community in Lyon County, Iowa Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Horses graze in a field in Lyon County, Iowa Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Living History, or seeing it, in Siouxland, Wisecup Farm Museum

6 Aug

While visiting southern Siouxland this summer, I came upon another little slice of historical memorabilia. I find it surprising but also wonderful that there are so many museum’s of all stripes in western Iowa. Some in cities and small towns, but others created by people trying to preserve the past and help people understand what pioneers and early settlers lives were like prior to this 21st century. The Wisecup Farm Museum outside of Missouri Valley has a number of restored pieces of farming equipment as well as a one-room school house, a small chapel and homestead. A lot of stuff “stuffed” within the confines of a small space.

A variety of “antique” or former period farm machinery is found at the Wisecup Farm Museum in Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Antique Minneapolis Moline tractors form a line at the Wisecup Farm Museum in Missouri Valley, Iowa Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I appreciate the aged and no longer viable farm equipment I encounter because it was in use and the tech of the day while I was growing up on a farm. Farming today is as high tech as a number of other industries with satellite guided tractors and sensors to help farmers get the best yield from their tillable fields.

But it’s nice to know the what and how farmers got to this point. But it’s also nice that individuals find it important to share the past and help educate those of today. It’s been written that people are condemned to the past if they don’t know it. But that is another discussion for a better philosopher than myself.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Watching the Clouds go by in Siouxland, rural Woodbury County

4 Aug

I remember as a kid I would sometimes lie on my back in the yard and just look up and see an expansive sky. Growing up on a farm one didn’t have tall buildings interfering with your view from the yard as one might in a city. The blue sky with clouds overhead sometimes made one think of large wads of cotton candy drifting by in a sea of blue.

I still love seeing clouds fill the sky and on days when I can chase them, I do. To me it makes a nice drive in the country. If I get a little shadow action on the ground to create a bit more mood, all the better. And yes, I will admit I use a polarizer filter. Guilty of sometimes making the sky too dark, too dramatic, but hey, it’s what I see.

Some people I know tsk, tsk the use of that filter, and especially the overuse of it or creating too dramatic a sky. And well, that’s fine. But if you look at some of my photos, you might want to close your eyes.

With clouds in the sky, the day just seems to be endless as they drift by adding something to the landscape and reminding one of childhood.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Cruising Siouxland on the Queen II, Okoboji

2 Aug

On a recent visit to the lake region of Iowa in Siouxland which includes the communities of Arnolds Park, Okoboji and Spirit Lake, I finally was able to take a cruise on West Lake Okoboji on the Queen II. When the lakes region around Arnolds Park and Okoboji became a resort area, a boat named the Queen brought visitors out onto the lake and showed off the region. The Queen II continues that history.

The Queen II prior to leaving for a cruise around West Lake Okoboji in Arnolds Park, Iowa, Monday July 24, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A passenger gets a better view of West Lake Okoboji from the Queen II during a cruise at Arnolds Park, Iowa, Monday July 24, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The cruise gives a nice background history to the immediate lakes region and for those wanting to know more they can visit the Maritine Museum in Arnolds Park.

Capable of holding about 200 passengers, the skipper this day, Lance Freed, gave some general introductions then played some canned information that was informative and effective.

Lance Freed skippers the Queen II during a cruise around West Lake Okoboji in Arnolds Park, Iowa, Monday July 24, 2017, something he has been doing for 17 years. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Originally owned by farmers, the non-tillable area was sold off to various individuals who began selling plots of land to those who wanted a place on a lake. The then cottages, although still called that, were modest and small. Now some of them are multi-million dollar vacation homes, one is estimated to be worth $12 million. And the land itself around the lake, depending on which side, east or west, can run from $10,000 a square foot to $17,000 a square foot. Not your granddaddy’s little summer getaway.

Passengers taking a cruise on the Queen II around West Lake Okoboji in Arnolds Park, Iowa, Monday July 24, 2017 can see mutli-million dollar homes, euphemistically referred to as cottages, which line the lake shore. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But for the average Joe and his family, people can bring their boats, fish, waterski and pursue other summertime activities on or around the water and still enjoy a nice day out. I personally like being near the water but am not exactly a water person and not one to get in it and splash about. But on a warmish day with a breeze, it is hard to beat and just fun to learn a little more history about the area.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City,

Nothing Exotic in Siouxland, Persia

30 Jul

It’s always fun coming across communities with names that is associated with a different visual landscape. I visited Vail, Iowa a year or so ago, and as expected it didn’t look anything like its more famous Coloradan counterpart.

Recently I came upon the town of Persia, Iowa and seeing its name was curious if there were any similarities to 1001 Nights fairytale.

An early Iowa settlement is Persia, Iowa Friday, June 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The community has about 300 residents and like most Iowan communities was founded in the the 1880’s when railroads were making a push through the area headed west. Some online searching didn’t help me find the reason for the community’s name, although I stumbled upon another gentleman’s query into the small community sometime in the late 1990’s. He was from Iran and driving cross country and stopped in to ask about the community’s name and its beginning.

A small compact place, I found a few people out and about while in the downtown area before I left and continued my sojourn to Highway 30 and another community I wanted to visit before heading home. So many places and so much history, but sometimes finding it is not always easy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Finding more History in Siouxland, Algona

28 Jul

On a trip to eastern Siouxland I stopped in the community of Algona. It was surprising to find so much history in a small area and I didn’t have the time to do it all justice and will need to return. I came upon a small museum concerning WWII concentration camps in Iowa that I previously wrote about. The community also has a county historical museum that has many, many items detailing its past.

The Historical Museum Kossuth County in Algona, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The couple there the day I stopped by were helpful and insightful about the community’s past pointing out a variety of items all of which I wish I had more time the day I visited. But that just gives a person the impetus to visit again and spend the time learning about an area near where they live.

As the saying goes, “It’s always good to know where you have been so one knows where you are going.”

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring southern Siouxland, Missouri Valley

26 Jul

I like driving about in Siouxland as I look for places to visit that I have not been to before, and the southern part of the area is a place I need to explore some more. Recently I stopped into Missouri Valley and walked about. It is nestled next to the Loess Hills region of Siouxland which draws a number of visitors throughout the year as it is only one two places on the entire planet, the other being in China, that has these particular earth formations called loess soil.

It was an extremely hot day that I picked to visit but sometimes one just has to make the best of it. The downtown area and main drag is actually the Lincoln Highway or Rte. 30 that passes through. The area retains some of its earlier historical feel with covered walks and brick sidewalks. Part of the community sits on a hill and looks out over the Loess Hills area and gives a bit more dramatic presentation. Sunset would be a perfect time to take in those views and maybe fall a better season to explore the area on foot a bit more.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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