Tag Archives: backroads

Enjoying “Light Play” in Siouxland, rural Monona County

9 Jul

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting various areas of a hillside off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when I drive about Siouxland I have not particular destination in mind, or at least no particular subject matter. Sometimes when checking out an area to see what I can find and have as a resource for later use I will take a drive. One particular weekend day afternoon to got lucky as the sun was getting low in the sky for the end of the day, the sunlight broke through the cloud cover that had contained it and showered the countryside with light. Very directional and hard lighting that will give a landscape a bit of character or bring its own character out as it sculpts hillsides and other amenities.

A lone Canada goose sits quietly on a shaded pond off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting various areas of a hillside off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like watching the light when it creates some amazing possibilities for images. Even if I am not shooting or in position for what I might think would be a good photograph. A pond nearby was in shade because of the low setting sun and the trees and provides a good contrast (pun intended since there is no contrast in light at the pond) to what an area looks like without the sunlight streaming across.

Life sometimes should be simple and a joy to just enjoy simple things, like sunlight and a landscape.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting various areas of a hillside off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring Siouxland, rural Monona County

7 Jul

A winding country road beckons one to explore in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I sometimes feel like I haven’t been exploring Siouxland as much as I have in the past. Other concerns and work tends to keep one busy, as well as higher gas prices. But slowly driving about back country roads is always a joy because one never knows what to expect or what one might see. Sometimes nothing and then again.

A wood barn still stands seen off a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting an outbuilding off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular area I have driven many times but recently found out about a wildlife management area I have never hiked and it has some amazing views. So I drove out this direction a couple of times before a prairie seminar was to take place so I could actually find it and attend. Nothing worse than going somewhere and never arriving because one couldn’t find it.

A farmer makes his way to his next field for spring planting preparation on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cattle graze in a field just off a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And on a coolish evening as the sun begins to set, the light doesn’t magical things to the surrounding countryside and all within it. A better way to end an evening that some I have had in the past. Just wandering, listening to music and enjoying the moment.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting an outbuilding off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Sunset in Siouxland, rural Monona County

13 Jun

A muskrat has a snack in a pond off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Everyone seems to have a routine when it comes to the end of day and the sun sets a little lower in the sky before dropping behind the horizon as nighttime falls. Even in Siouxland it seems critters use the remaining daylight hours to enjoy the moment before the coming night.

What appears to be a muskrat slips away after enjoying a meal away in a pond on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Red Wing Blackbird sings its heart as the suns begins to reach the horizon line out on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy driving about this time of day, and if parked somewhere in the country, the bird song fills the air almost up until evening is fully descended. Restoring a sense of calm and quiet, it’s a pleasant way to end one’s day. As the days get a bit longer there will be more time to enjoy the countryside and its residents if they care to share with a visitor passing through.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Possibly a Cooper’s Hawk sits almost unnoticed in the distance in a treetop as the sun sets and it looks for maybe one last meal in a field off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Stop and Go on a Country Road, rural Monona County

9 Jun

A deer checks its surroundings along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While out driving about some backroads in Siouxland I always feel so lucky when I come across wildlife and they take the time to acknowledge me, in a cautious way, as I try to take a few photographs from a distance to see if I can. I shoot a lot of frames these days because I know how fleeting some of these moments can be. Also, driving slowly on the back roads with minimal if no traffic is helpful in that I can pull to the side or shoulder safely and slip out of the car seat to get a better vantage point or angle and not feel like I am a contortionist behind the steering wheel.

A deer makes its way along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A deer stops to eat along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This young deer came up from out of a field not far from where some Turkey Vultures were gathered eating carrion on the roadway. The deer looked about warily, walked a bit, ate a bit and then walked some more, stopping and starting as it found the greens it was looking for before disappearing off the roadway down into another field safe for another day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer makes its way along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning to Share in Siouxland, rural Monona County, Whiting

26 May

Turkey vultures spar over who gets to dine first on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems one of life’s lessons for many species, even those here in Siouxland, is that sometimes one needs to share. Driving out in the country recently I came across a demised raccoon on a gravel road with Turkey Vultures posturing and maneuvering to get a chance to eat some of the remains. And the vultures did a little dance until finally they decided that maybe it is best to be patient and share in the spoils.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

One Turkey Vulture gives a little push back than arrival who wanted to join in on the meal on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The newly arrived Turkey Vulture relents trying to muscle in on a quick bite while on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Turkey vultures wait for their turn to dine first on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Waning Days of Fall in Siouxland, rural Monona and Woodbury Counties

15 Nov
Cattle graze in a field under colorful fall foliage outside Smithland, Iowa in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the first winter snow and possible snow to begin creeping into the area accompanied by high winds, I don’t expect many of the leaves and any fall color to be seen in a few days. Driving about Siouxland the last couple of weeks I have felt lucky to see find spots of changing fall foliage and the chance to take a few images. Like many folk, I enjoy fall and it was one of the reasons for returning to the Midwest after having worked and lived in other parts of the U.S. Winter will come, but it will also pass. One only hoped it passes sooner that later. Mild winters are nice, if temps remain in the 20’s and 30’s without below freezing wind gusts and sustained cold spells. Being out on days like that is not so enjoyable even if one likes winter.

An iron trestle bridge frames a gravel road as some fall color is seen in a yet to be harvested corn field in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Country backroads and changing autumnal colors in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about the backroads and country roads are a joy to me. Have always been. No matter where I lived I always seemed to find country roads to drive about on and a chance to get away from the noise that sometimes daily life brings. These days maybe a little more jazz than classical music on the car radio that gives my mind a chance to wander as I drive around and just look, not really knowing what to expect over the next hill or around the next bend. Small surprises and joy when an image pops up and I am there to record it. Most times, if ever, award winning, but satisfying none the less and pleasing to me. Sometimes simple joys are the best.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Trees with colorful foliage near a harvested soybean field in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making Friends in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

5 May
A horse looks toward a visitor in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021, possible hoping for a little snack. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always look forward to meeting new “folk” when driving about Siouxland. One particular day I felt bad that I didn’t pack a carrot lunch with me to snack on as a couple of locals would surely have enjoyed me sharing that I met while driving some backroads.

It was a nice day and they seemed to be enjoying themselves on a hillside on a pleasant, finally, spring day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two horses eye a visitor in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hanging Out in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

29 Apr
An immature Red Tailed Hawk navigates a landing on a high perch in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While cruising about Siouxland on a weekend with somewhat warmer temps and winds, I noticed I wasn’t alone in just enjoying a day in the country. Animals seem to do that as well sometimes. I noticed a young Red Tailed hawk riding some thermals over a gravel road in rural Plymouth County. Soaring, diving, soaring again and occasionally coming to a rest.

An immature Red Tailed hawk flies by a possible high perch in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An immature Red Tailed Hawk takes in its surroundings from a high perch in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a break and watching for its next snack possibly or watching the ever so casual visitor drive by underneath its high perch. Some days should just be enjoyed for the moment, warmer weather, sunshine and a lazy day feeling. However, for this young bird and others I somehow think most days are not lazy. But it was fun watching it seemingly enjoy its time in the air.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An immature Red Tailed hawk enjoys some thermal winds in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving in Siouxland, rural Woodbury County

17 Jan
An afternoon drive in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes I am grateful that I can get out the house and just take a drive in Siouxland during this pandemic. For folk living in a city, that becomes a bit more problematic. It doesn’t take too many minutes or miles to find oneself on a backroad, taking in the sights and just enjoying some peace or in my case, a little jazz.

The moon is seen during an afternoon drive in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I don’t always expect to find anything exciting to photograph while on these excursions. Sometimes I don’t even take any photos. Just like to let the mind wander on its own as I am doing, mulling ideas and thoughts and just enjoying a slow, quiet drive in a place I feel at home in.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An afternoon drive in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Drive through rural Siouxland, Harrison County

30 Nov
Sometimes vehicle sunroofs can be beneficial when bird spotting like in rural Harrison County near Magnolia, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was nice to get out on a recent weekend to drive about rural Iowa in Siouxland without extreme cold or snowy conditions on the backroads and Loess Hills byways. I enjoy driving through the scenic areas skirting the footballs of what is known as the Loess Hills in Iowa that stretches down into the southwest portion of Iowa.

A gravel road traversing the byways in rural Harrison County near Magnolia, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular stretch of road and the general direction I was headed kept me driving through hilly areas most of which are wooded and will be necessary to check out come next fall. Coming across various rural scenes and sightings was rewarding and fun. I never drive very fast on the backroads allowing drivers with more “pressing matters” the opportunity to go around me as I look for subjects of interest to point my camera at.

Although at first hard to see, two deer find a lunch time meal in a newly harvested corn field in rural Harrison County near Magnolia, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A rural scene in Harrison County near Magnolia, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While the pace of being in the country really isn’t all that less frenetic as city dwellers, it does give one a chance to pause, look around, enjoy the beauty of the countryside if that appeals to a person. Some folk may find that really, really boring, but for others it is that slice of heaven. Time flies by fast enough until one realizes it has, and wonders how that happened. So slow drives on a weekend may not stop time or even slow it down, but I can personally can make an effort to enjoy it for what it is for myself and forgot about other crazy stuff happening in the world around me for a little while.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spotting an eagle sitting in a tree over a gravel road in rural Harrison County near Magnolia, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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