Enjoying a day out in Siouxland, Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek

21 Nov

A trail wanders through the prairie and woods at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A ridge trail leading out from the Welcome Lodge at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent pleasant fall day I took another trip down to the Hitchcock Nature Center in southern Siouxland. It’s a very nice park with trails and a board walk for those with difficulty walking. The fall colors had pretty much passed, but still, fresh air and a chance to enjoy the outdoors was pleasant enticement.

Fall foliage dots the woods even on a grey day at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An all accessible boardwalk at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I walked a couple trails I had not previously done and enjoyed a different view and was rewarded with a fire pit and shelter that looked inviting for camping guests.

“Two paths diverge in a wood…. and I…..” as a choice needs to be made at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Some hike-in camping sites and a fire pit sits in the woods at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I also noticed that people were again doing a migratory bird count from a watchtower next to the park’s lodge. It gives a nice view above the tree line into the surrounding countryside. I also noticed that while some of the spring’s flood water has receded from surrounding areas and farm fields, the area was not back to normal as attempted high water flow coming from the Missouri River is still ever present with the possibility of more flooding.

Researches stand in the watchtower counting fall bird migration at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Water still stands in nearby fields along Interstate 29, flooding which first began in the spring from overflow from the Missouri River seen from the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Maybe if this year’s winter has some milder days, it might be possible to get back out and enjoy a different look at the park without biting winds. Snow is good, but windchill and temperatures dipping below 0 degrees, not so much.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bench awaits those wanting a brief or long respite before continuing along a trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History Comes Alive in Siouxland, Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park, Nebraska

19 Nov

Visitors head into Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park for July 4 festivities at Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The history of Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park at Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This summer I spent part of a day reliving history at a Nebraska Historical Park in Siouxland, Ft. Atkinson, which according to one living history participant and re-enactor, was the largest fort in the U.S. during its days of use on what was then the frontier.

I find attending such places and events informative and fun. As well as fascinating because of the people who help make history come alive for us regular folk who get the chance to understand a bit more about those folk who came before us. While those volunteering their time to portray actors can’t provide all the answers, they can help people appreciate what history says about a place and possibly give us direction where to find more information about a place’s history.

Visitors assemble for a program about the creation of the United States and a firing demonstration of muskets and canon as each state’s name is read and when it entered the Union during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of the display and honoring of territories becoming states included musket and canon firing salutes during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of the display and honoring of territories becoming states included musket and canon firing salutes during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And sometimes the people who portray historical characters are themselves rascals who give a nice dimensional look to an era we can only read about now.

 

Blacksmith Tom speaks with visitors during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Two “regimental officers” talk about life at the fort in early frontier days during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors check out the Trading Post cabin outside of the Fort during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Photographing the Details during a Siouxland Outing

17 Nov

A dilapidated wagon sits in a field in the Loess Hills of northwest Iowa near Moorhead, Iowa Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. T(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When out and about driving around the Siouxland region, I enjoy the broad brushstrokes of landscapes and scenes. But sometimes one must look at the details of such a scene to also enjoy what is there and record. Seeing what is front of oneself is sometimes an acquired skill. To isolate visually in one’s mind then translate that into a visual image takes patience and practice. I have had lots of practice and am still practicing.

A detail image of wagon wheels during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But that’s the joy of wandering about and challenging oneself to really see what is in front of yourself. Sometimes one gets lucky. Other times, maybe not. But what’s a better way to spend a day that out taking photographs.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

looking for designs and details during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying a Nice Fall Evening in Siouxland, Onawa

15 Nov

The Fall Photo Safari class taking photographs at night in Onawa, Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Probably my favorite season of the year, like many Siouxland folk, is fall. Sunset comes a little earlier and the weather is still pleasant. Of course, not so much this year as winter seems to have already arrived and along with it, colder evenings. But recently with a photography class we spend a pleasant evening shooting pictures at sunset and night. Students practicing long exposures and light painting. I enjoy the long exposures. Light painting is a practiced art of science as one learns to determine length of exposure and amount of light to add to a scene.

The Fall Photo Safari class taking photographs at night in Onawa, Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Fall Photo Safari class taking photographs at night in Onawa, Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And how one lights a scene or uses the “existing” light to effect determines the outcome of a photograph. These images are taken at the Monona County Memorial Museum and Freedom Rock in Onawa. The placement of the plane with a neighborhood in the background makes it difficult to make a clean photo of the exhibit, especially using a setting sun to accomplish it. So one must take liberties and use selective cropping within the camera for some images. And then find the right exposure to create that image.

The Fall Photo Safari class taking photographs at night in Onawa, Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But a challenge is always good, especially for students. And to fail a couple of times while learning a new skill only reinforces that skill once success is accomplished and a sweet image produced.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Fall Photo Safari class taking photographs at night in Onawa, Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Decking the Halls in Siouxland, Yankton, SD

13 Nov

Feeling the Yuletide spirit in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In Siouxland like many other places, communities and individuals begin showing their Christmas spirit early, and maybe earlier every year. While I lament the fact that Thanksgiving Day gets short shrift anymore, the intent of the Yuletide spirit and cheerfulness of the Christmas season for the most part is a good reason to celebrate that cheer all year long.

A Thanksgiving window hanging in downtown Onama seen during a Fall Photo Safari class taking photographs at night in Onawa, Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Christmas cheer in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During a recent visit to Yankton, SD, I came upon Christmas decorations, mostly in the downtown area, but also at the walking Meridian Bridge over the Missouri River. And seeing the decorations brought a smile to my face. Especially with all the hate that seems to fill the air these days during such a contentious political climate, and what seems to be never ending lies coming from “authority” figures which becomes apparent more each day who may never have spoken an honest word in their life.

A Christmas wreath decorates the Meridian Bridge, now a walking bridge, in Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Window displays with Christmas tidings in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So seeing the decorations and thinking of the holiday makes me cheerful, hopeful and optimistic that maybe life could be better next year. My cynical side has its doubts, but more now I’ll revel in the thought of true good will to others and not just “political speak” where the words are spoken but not with any affection.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas decorations popping up in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Fall Day in Siouxland, Lewis and Clark State Park, Onawa

11 Nov

at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days in Siouxland are so nice one just wants to savor them as long as one can. Recently a fall day had temps finally getting back into the 50’s with sunshine. The weather has been a bit funky this year and what should have been a great year for fall color found many trees getting close, but continued cold nights and rainy days seemed to stopped the color change in progress.

at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People were out though enjoying what they thought might be one of the truly nice days this year before the winter season begins bringing a constant chill to the air in the temperature range of the 20’s and 30’s. Indeed chilly and the cold spell helps the trees to drop their leaves before they can reach that peak of color display.

at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But I enjoy what I can and wandered through the park savoring the sunshine, the golden boughs and hoping for maybe one more day when I didn’t have to throw on a heavy coat to go outside and brave the chill.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ho Ho Ho Siouxland, It’s almost Christmas, and Winter in Already Here, Clay County Fair

9 Nov

at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Well, Christmas is more than a month away, with Halloween barely behind us and Thanksgiving meals not yet begun cooking in the oven. But winter is definitely here. Unseasonable temperatures in the 20 and 30’s. Weather folk saying the Siouxland area is 20 degrees below a “normal” fall day for this time of year.

A model train display at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa, Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

At the Clay County Fair in Spencer there is a large model train exhibit with working tracks. Various scenes and seasons are depicted within the display and they are set within different types of communities.

at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One exhibit I enjoy the most is the Christmas season display at the fair. Lights twinkling, a Santa whose sleigh glides over a small town bringing gifts, all seen at a county fair where some days the temperatures are in the 80’s along with the humidity and the pleasant thought of changing seasons yet to come. But somehow those season didn’t materialize this year as winter stretched into a very short spring, then summer and soaring temps appeared and now it seems that fall was a brief one-week period with temperatures overnight next week to dip into the teens. Snow has already dusted the area around Siouxland. Nothing like the heavy storms out west in the mountain regions, but still, a fleeting fall passed in the blink of an eye this year.

at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like the Christmas season and the music that always seems to get short shrift being played on the radio. Most times people are a bit kinder but no less harried as they prepare for the holidays, gift shopping, plans to visit relatives and putting up decorations. As well as taking some time to think about what Christmas should mean and taking a break to just enjoy the moment and holiday cheer and friends. But with winter already here, it may seem like a very long season this year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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