Tag Archives: iowa lakes region

Prepping for Summer, Arnolds Park

24 Apr

I stopped into Arnolds Park, Iowa recently just wanting to get out and enjoy some spring sunshine and warmer temps. After having a lunch I walked about seeing the nice weather being put to use as workers were prepping the sight seeing boat the Queen II for cruising the lakes this summer. Docks along the shoreline near the Arnolds Park amusement park were not yet installed. And a boat was hauling a boat docking device of some type across the lake as boaters will later begin bringing their boats to the lakes for idling away summer hours.

I met another couple out “walking” their dog. Well, part of the walk was in a stroller. The woman explained their pet was 17 years old and not as spry as it had been when younger, but it still enjoys getting out and sniffing to its heart content. And it was a nice day for a warm with blue sky and temperatures in the 60’s.

A woman takes her 17-year-old dog for a walk in a stroller in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, April 11, 2017. She said the little guy still gets out to walk, but not as well as when he was younger. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Seeing the work being done at West Lake Okoboji reminded one that warmer, sunny days are coming and it is nice to have the opportunity to enjoy these moments.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying Spring Weather in Siouxland, Milford

22 Apr

A week or so ago when the sun was shining and the sky was blue in Siouxland, I went to the Iowa Lakes region. I stopped at a trail head in Milford. I didn’t bring my bike this time but instead walked a ways along the trail. It was just a nice spring day. And others had to agree as I met a variety of people either walking themselves or riding their bikes.  The sun felt fine, temperature in the 60’s. A nice day to enjoy spring and what it brings.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland Farmers prepare for Spring Planting, Sioux County

17 Apr

While driving and checking out parts of Siouxland up by the Iowa Lakes Region and again returning home, I came across some farmers prepping for planting this spring. The two I saw appeared to be disking their fields, although these days I understand that farmers employ a no-till option and just plant directly without any prep work. It’s been a little wet with rain passing through Siouxland, but not all parts are getting rain. I must admit that when I smell newly turned soil in a field it brings back memories while growing up on a farm. Probably the same for people who grew up near a body of water like a lake or the ocean.

Although reminiscing now is easier than the part of growing up, I still have fond memories.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A quick look at History in Siouxland, Okoboji

3 Aug

Earlier this summer I took a drive up to the Okoboji, Iowa area before the summer season and visitors inundated the area to just relax and enjoy some time away from home. It had been particularly warm the days prior to my trip and pleasantly, arriving early in the morning, it was nice walking along the lake shore, finding a coffee shop and enjoying the breeze before the temperature began rising.

When it did get hotter, I stopped into the Maritine Museum located near Arnolds Park Amusement Park where I found fascinating tidbits of history about the region, boat building that had occurred and photos of early days around Lake Okoboji and its residents and early guests. It was a fun day even spending some of it indoors and learning more about the early days of tourism.

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The summer is easy and a day off in Siouxland, Okoboji

23 Jul

The other day was a pretty typical summer, those I remember as a kid growing up on a farm in Illinois. There was a nearby river that I could fish in, and a barnyard and fields to run around in, though not much after the crops began growing. But the other day I decided to take the day off and drove into northern Siouxland to the Iowa lakes region around Okoboji, Iowa.

I walked around the area bordering the lake after a 2.5 hour bike ride along the Dickinson County Bike Trail. But it was such a nice day. Warm temperatures, but not yet that stifling humidity and heat, with a breeze and the “smell” of summer in the air. It was nice to sit and watch and not be in a hurry. The scenes of the lake are just plain nice. And when I saw the boy fishing and his friend join him, I thought there is nothing more summerish than this, idling away a day, hoping for a bite, but not worried if there isn’t one. Because it’s summer, and there is always tomorrow to try again. There should be more days like this.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Fall in Siouxland’s Iowa Lakes region, Okoboji

21 Oct

I traveled last week up to the Iowa Lakes region in Siouxland that includes Okoboji, West Okoboji, Spirit Lake and other small communities clustered around that area. It was during the week and quiet. The summer crowds had left. The summer residents have left their summer homes and local workers were prepping them for winter. The resorts and businesses that catered to them were closed. One could see leaves turning on trees around the lake and in amongst the homes. The air was cool and crisp in the morning then turned warm in the afternoon. I had a quiet walk around the place, talking to a few local residents and just enjoying the solitude. Something that at times seems in short supply.

I like fall. A good time for contemplation over a cup of coffee as the sunlight comes and goes more quickly. The quality of light in the fall is just very nice. It has a crispness to it that isn’t as harsh as summer light, but softer, and also a shorter time span. And just makes being outside more enjoyable.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland, where the living is easy at the Lakes, Arnolds Park

3 Jul

I lived in the Siouxland area close to 12 years now, and until this year, had never visited the Iowa Lakes Region in northwest Iowa. It is only a 2-hour drive north, through pretty farm country and then into the lakes area. In the summer time, the lakes area is where people go to play, for families and singles. The area around Arnolds Park, East and West Okoboji and other areas are highly developed. According to history, this area has been popular a long time as a place to get away and relax. The amusement park has been a magnet for decades, as well as the lakes, where people constantly boat. My second visit this past week saw storm clouds and intermittent rain showers pass over the area. It looked dark and foreboding, reminding me more of England and images I have seen of it that of sunny Iowa, corn fields and a Field of Dreams. Personally, I liked the dark clouds, and overcast skies. I like summer, but not as much as fall and early spring. The wind gusts in the area that day were 30-40 miles an hour, maybe more. There were whitecaps on Lake Okoboji. And being early in the week, fewer people. Crowds are okay, but large crowds are not a favorite of mine.

The communities surrounding the lakes though are highly developed. Some might think overly developed. Like a university town during school, these communities overflow with humanity in the summer. Rental cabins are compressed into what space there is. Even shoreline homes are shoe horned next to one another. It is a cozy feeling. So many people trying to just get away from whatever daily routines they have to enjoy themselves and relax. People I know have family rituals and talk about their childhood memories of visiting the lake. They now take their children to the lakes region, creating another set of childhood memories and passing on the tradition. However like many popular places to get away too, sometimes prices are steep, but worth it. Real estate in the area I am told has increasingly gone up. People talk of previously owning places around the lake, now just visit, becoming more like nomads without a permanent residence.

But it is a nice place to visit. Welcoming, friendly, truly an Iowa place that tells its neighbor to stop on by and have a cup of coffee. I can see the allure, and will be making more trips to visit myself. Sometimes wondering why I waited so long, but know that I will return. One weekend I plan to watch the crowd and see the surge of humanity that flocks to the lakes with people everywhere, just getting away and forgetting the outside world for a few hours or a weekend.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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