Tag Archives: iowa

A Candidate Frenzy in Siouxland, Democratic Hopefuls Make their Pitch

8 Jan

Former vice-president and 2020 presidential Democratic candidate hopeful JOE BIDEN begins his 18-stop “No Marlarkey Bus Tour” at the Biden campaign office in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa, and will campaign in western Iowa after the Thanksgiving holiday Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019.

With the new year beginning here in Siouxland as it is elsewhere, every four years the state of Iowa is blessed in being the first in the nation with its political caucus involving presidential politics. With less than four weeks remaining to make their pitch to the residents of Iowa why they should become a party’s nominee 2020 presidential Democratic candidate hopefuls are crisscrossing the state and Siouxland itself in making yet another pitch. This happened in 2015 with a large Republican field. And it’s a point of pride with Iowans that they are able to get some personal face time with national candidates wanting to tell their stories and why they should be selected to serve.

U.S. Sen. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful waves to people who waited the better part of an hour as her campaign schedule ran behind while trying to campaign in a number of Iowa counties before stopping at a small winery in Ida Grove, Iowa Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019 after the most recent Democratic presidential debate held in December. Klobuchar is making a three-day 27 county bus tour through Iowa.

 

Entrepreneur and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate hopeful ANDREW YANG, center, gives a thumbs up for a supporter’s selfie as a CNN camera person does a sound check for a live broadcast interview at Yang’s campaign office in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019.

Retail politics demand that candidates spend time with possible future constituents. It’s still a bit of a norm in the day and age of social media and the internet where everything is uploaded to and shared with the world. Depending on one’s definition of world, being a community, state, nation or a select sphere of people who believe in the same norms and policies.

Former Congressman JOHN DELANEY (D-MD), left, and 2020 presidential Democrat nominee hopeful campaigns during a breakfast stop at the Horizons Restaurant in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020.

 

U.S. Sen MICHAEL BENNET(D-CO), left, and 2020 presidential hopeful campaigns at a local brewery in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday evening, Nov. 8, 2019.

Ans for all the caterwauling that other states and pundits make about Iowa getting a personal and up close look at potential candidates,  people in Iowa take the challenge and responsibility seriously. Asking tough questions about how and why a particular candidate might be worthy of their support. Unlike attendance at large “big-city” rallies or high end dollar fund raisers and dinners, the people meeting these potential Presidential persons are moms, small business owners, folk who live in a rural setting most often and in communities on average no larger than 3-5,000 people, and many times maybe only 1,200 people who live in a small town. They represent a microcosm of American life with all the ills of a larger society but often times without the benefit that is afforded to larger communities because “rich” people don’t live there and individually these folk have no sway or lobbying power than the more “affluent” try to affect to curry favor.

U.S. Sen. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-PA) and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful campaigns at the Woodrow Wilson Junior High School gymnasium in Council Bluffs, Iowa Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. All candidates are in a push to visit the state of Iowa with roughly one month left before the Iowa caucus event, Feb. 3, 2020.

 

Businessman and investor TOM STEYER and 2020 presidential Democrat nominee hopeful campaigns at the Sioux City Convention Center in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020.

 

South Bend, IN, Mayor PETE BUTTIGIEG, and 2020 presidential Democratic nomination hopeful, listens to a woman’s issue dealing with Social Security as he meets Iowa voters in an intimate setting at Cronk’s Cafe in Denison, Iowa Nov. 26, 2019.

The people only have their own dreams and dreams for the children to have a better life. A hope maybe that their children might pursue some kind of career that would keep them nearer home and not have to move away to a larger city to pursue work options and make enough money to survive, get married and start a family on their own. So the folk of these small Siouxland and other communities in Iowa feel they have a vested interest in being picky about who might represent them and others like them in the next election. And not all candidates make the cut, some falling by the wayside between the start of their campaigning in ernest and and their failing in having the funding to continue. But most try. And I find it interesting that since 2015 and the large Republican field then with the large showing of Democratic hopefuls this election cycle, running for the highest office in the nation seems to have become a bit more democratic in and of itself. Candidates can survive for a period of time on smaller donations and not just being bankrolled by wealthy individuals and corporations and others who more than likely have a more selfish interest in who gets elected. And so it goes, until Feb. 3 in Iowa, when everyone gets together in their local caucus and chooses who they would like this time to represent themselves and the candidates go forth hoping they will become the chosen one.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

U.S. Sen. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ) and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful laughs along with the audience during an introduction as he campaigns iat The Fruited Plain Cafe in Sioux Center, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 21 2019 after the most recent Democratic presidential debate held in December.

 

Former San Antonio mayor and secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate hopeful JULIAN CASTRO speaks on the campus of Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019 as he campaigns in western Iowa.

A Siouxland Fall in Preparation Canyon State Park, Moorhead

29 Nov

Taking a look around Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A sign provides visitors with a history about the area of Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes it’s just nice to get out of doors and enjoy a walk, even a short one, in nature. Preparation Canyon State Park is one area I had not done much hiking in. And it was still pleasant enough of a fall day one could enjoy a walk and not be cold and still see some color in the Loess Hills region of Siouxland. As the cold settles in and the precipitation turns to snow all the color in this and surrounding areas will disappear until next year.

Taking a look around Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a look around Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Looking out onto surrounding farm land near Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And because this area along with others in Siouxland were settled in the 1850’s or so there is history to be found if one can find it and help you understand a bit more about the area. All of which must look a lot different than the prairie that the first settlers laid eyes on before the invention of the plow changed the landscape.

The vegetation and animal life has changed a great deal over the centuries around Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Taking a look around the forrested area of Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am hoping for a few more days of pleasant fall weather and maybe a milder winter without days of cold and windchill with a minus 5 or more below zero temperatures for a little more exploration before any ideas of hibernation set in.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Taking a look around Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Taking a look around Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Finding the Rustic in Siouxland, Rural Iowa

1 Nov

A weathered barn near Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving around the Siouxland area that I live in, there are many “rustic” scenes one can find without much effort. Weathered barns are a bit of a staple in rural Iowa. But over the course of the years these barns have begun to diminish as farmers put up more durable buildings that are made of metal. And as the “family farms” that dotted the rural landscape in Iowa for decades get swept up into ever larger conglomerations if just for survival or bought by corporations, these scenes will probably disappear entirely. Many I have seen over the years and able to revisit have fallen into disrepair. And the need for such buildings has disappeared as well as small farms or farms in general no longer have the variety of livestock (milk cows, pigs, chickens, some steers, etc.) there is no need. Another American icon that will eventually fade into memory for those who can remember such scenes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Tractor parked near Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Changing Seasons in Siouxland, rural Monona County

30 Oct

Colors are appearing in Monona County, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall colors this year have been a bit spotty. Appearing here and there, just getting started and making one wonder if the colors will mature. Wet weather and heavy winds recently makes me think I am lucky if I find a nice patch of woods to share its beauty as I hunt around the Loess Hills in Monona County and other places.

Fall colors near Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And sadly, as the light appears later in the morning my personal engine doesn’t rev up as quickly until I down a couple cups of coffee and then bundle up against 35 degree temperature to look for the changing scenery and the fact that soon Christmas music will be heard over the radio airwaves and in stores. I can wait for the weather that comes with that change in season and hope to enjoy one or two, maybe three more weeks of fall and the spectacular display that Mother Nature can on occasion share.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Fall colors near Preparation Canyon State Park located near Moorhead, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Small Town away from Siouxland, Mt. Vernon

16 Oct

I enjoy the area of Siouxland in which I live. But it is nice to get out once in a while and visit other places outside of this region. Most places have similarities rather than differences. I enjoy the architecture of the 19th and 20th centuries when many of Iowa’s small communities came into being.

Downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I stopped in at Mt. Vernon because of seeing some architecture along the roadway I was on, historic Rte. 30 or Lincoln Highway. A stretch of roadway that crossed the continental United States giving people with automobiles a chance to see as little or as much of the country without traveling by train. Many of these small communities still have stunning homes and businesses for buildings dating from the mid to late 1800’s. Mt Vernon came into being as a result of the U.S. battle with Chief Black Hawk who fled the area and the tribal lands were confiscated as was the case with many native people’s lands when the expansion west was underway.

A church near downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The community is home to a liberal arts college which keeps it infused with younger people who come and go and possibly stay to raise their own families in a place they call home for at least four years. Quaint with a number of eateries downtown and a short walk from the college.

A mural on a downtown building’s wall in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Historic homes in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The community is extremely walkable and on a nice day it has places to visit and relax and enjoy. I am sure during an academic school year there are many events and other festivities taking place both in town and on the college campus. A nice combination for any community and the possibility to enjoy simple fruits of life in a picture perfect setting.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A city park just off of downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A closed Mt. Vernon visitors center in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying the Outdoors in Siouxland, Hitchcock Nature Center

7 May

Hiking a trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I do enjoy a good walk in nature in and around the Siouxland region. I have only spent a few times visiting the Hitchcock Nature Center but enjoy it immensely each time I go. Recently on a very pleasant spring day I went hiking with some friends and enjoyed a warm day, blossoming trees (well greening anyway) and views that always impress.

A trail leads out into the forest at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A rest area along the boardwalk trail looks out over a scenic view at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The nature or interpretive center at the park has lots of information and the folk manning the facility are always friendly and willing to offer suggestions. Views of the emergence of spring and warmer weather while standing on a watch tower near the interpretive center makes finding views accessible.

The lodge and interpretive center at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A watch tower and viewer stand next to the lodge and interpretive center at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A well worn trail at right leading out into the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A trail leads out into the forest at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On this trip I talked with a woman and told her I was surprised that I could still see flood water in the distance where it should be dry with farmers getting into fields readying to plant. Sections of an interstate highway that runs through there is still closed because of spring flooding and a confluence of events with an early rain, still frozen ground and snow on the ground  too that created conditions where water inundated farm land and some smaller communities causing evacuations. Views of the emergence of spring and warmer weather while standing on a watch tower near the interpretive center makes finding views accessible.

Flood water can still be seen in the distance that inundated small communities and flood water that caused some evacuations in early spring from the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I find that sweet about revisiting places I seen previously because it is never the same, for good or bad. Changes take place, nature or man can affect what one might encounter at a later time and therein lies the interest that feeds my curiosity besides just enjoying a nice day out, fresh air and hanging out with friends.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Taking a break from walking at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photographing a vista of the surrounding landscape at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Hillsides are just starting to green up near the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Looking up in Siouxland Reaps Reward, Rural Iowa

30 Mar

A bald eagle glides past treetops along Highway 12 north of Sioux City, Iowa, Friday, March 22, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always nice when I am out and about to sometimes find an unexpected photographic pleasure in Siouxland. As the weather warms and driving conditions become easier, at least no ice on the roadways, I am venturing out to see how things have changed with the current flooding and to photograph the area. On a recent and somewhat short drive north I saw a railroad crew working on a track line that was crossing the Little Sioux River from Iowa to South Dakota. And then I saw them.

Bald eagles sit in treetops along Highway 12 north of Sioux City, Iowa, Friday, March 22, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

These days the photographic gear I carry is not what I used when working for newspapers, at least not telephoto gear, and one works with what one has on hand. I saw the two bald eagles sitting in a tree top. Guessing that they were eyeing the flooded river below and looking for a meal. What caught my attention was what looked like a flash of white. One of the heads. Some friends of mine from the local camera club are nature enthusiasts and spend time searching for these majestic birds and capture photographically some very compelling images. My background as a newspaper photographer is dealing with the moment that arises, and in seeing these two lovely creatures spent some time to get a few shots at quite a distance.

 

Geese are on the move in the background, right, as a bald eagle glides over the Little Sioux River running parallel to Highway 12 north of Sioux City, Iowa, Friday, March 22, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Both of the birds alighted at some point while I watched and photographed easily gliding over the river and through the tree line and then back again to the tree they were using at a stopping point. I know eagles populate the area and others have captured some very nice images. I settled for what I could get. Happy that I got a couple “action” photos while enjoying the grace of flight these two birds exhibited.

I know this outing these are fine photos for my blog, but nothing stellar to hang on a wall. But like most outings, it’s nice to return home with images that one enjoys making or able to create, but it’s more of a pleasure for the experience encountered while making the photos.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

a bald eagle comes in to perch in a treetop along Highway 12 north of Sioux City, Iowa, Friday, March 22, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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