Tag Archives: iowa

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©)

Siouxland’s part of the Presidential Horserace Begins

24 Mar

Sen. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MASS), center, talks to reporters after her organizing event in the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I recently wrote about the 2015 Iowa caucus campaigns that Republican presidential hopefuls pursued starting around April of that year. This time around the Democrats have started even earlier, beginning in January and most hopefuls have appeared in Siouxland which is a bit more red than a more purplish/blue hue found more in the central and eastern part of the state of Iowa. All are doing “exploratory” visits to see if folk in Iowa actually like them and would support a run for the office of president.

New York City Mayor BILL DE BLASIO, center, a Democrat, shares a joke with VLADIMIR LANDMAN, left, of Sioux City and formerly from Brooklyn and TISHA DUMKRIEGER, right, also of Sioux City, at a meet and greet with local Democrats at Rebos restaurant on Historic 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa, Saturday evening February 23, 2019, as he explores entering the 2020 presidential race.

 

Former Maryland Congressman JOHN K DELANEY, center, opens a campaign office in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019 and greets supporters and others who attend. Delaney has visited all of Iowa’s 99 counties through his 23 trips to the state. THis week Delaney also opened a campaign officein Council Bluffs , did meet and greets in Ft. Dodge and Glenwood and a town hall meeting in Dennison as he pursues a 2020 presidential campaign.

Early on many of these meet and greets happen in local residents’ homes where people get a chance to listen to those politicians visiting and ask questions. Some questions can be softballs, but others prod visiting presidential hopefuls into expanding their comments even though it’s still early in the process. Those very active in Iowa politics, even on a local level get the chance to really learn more about these people and see what they are like. Sometimes it feels a little like a show and tell party, but local, retail politics is just that.

Rep. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), center right standing, and an Iowa native, talks with members of the Truman Club of the Woodbury County Democratic Party in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday evening, Feb. 16, 2019 as he explores his potential in running for President in 2020.

 

Former San Antonio, TX, mayor JULIAN CASTRO,left, meets and talks with members of the Democrat Woodbury County Truman Club in Sioux City, Iowa, Friday evening, February 22, 2019, as he explores entering the 2020 presidential race.

 

Now that spring seems like it has arrived, hopefully these potential candidate visits will become a little more fast and furious as they try to prove themselves within a crowded field, as yet there are still a few folk deciding still if they will be running. But it seems politicians are always running. It just depends on whether you believe what they say, or not.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

U.S. Sen. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), reacts to an attendee during a Woodbury County, Iowa, Democrats first time meet and greet at the residence of a local couple in Sioux City, Iowa Friday evening Jan. 18, 2019, as she explores running for the office of the President.

 

Former Colorado Governor and businessman JOHN HICKENLOOPER, a Democrat, talks members of the public at the Coffeeworks in Sioux City, Iowa, Saturday morning February 23, 2019, as he explores entering the 2020 presidential race.

 

Author and spiritual guru MARIANNE WILLIAMSON speaks at the Donna Reed Theatre and talks about poverty in America, in Denison, Iowa Saturday, March 2, 2018, while exploring a presidential run for 2020.

One last Communion with Fall near Siouxland, Hitchcock Nature Center

4 Nov

I’ve only visited Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County just south of Siouxland once before. But it’s a very nice park of just over 1,200 acres situated in the Loess Hills of western Iowa.

A view of the surrounding countryside from a tower at the lodge atHitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The lodge and lookout tower sits on a hill for excellent views at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie COunty near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It has a number of trails and a lodge that sits atop a hill and looks out over the surrounding area. There is also a watch tower at the lodge we allows birders to track the various migration periods when the birds are heading either north or south, depending on the season. The one aspect of the park I like is the elevated board walk which allows some accessibility to those with wheelchairs or walkers to “get into the woods” for a quarter mile or so with stops along the way and picnic tables for those who pack a lunch or want to stay a bit and enjoy the quietude and nature.

Part of an elevated board walk trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An elevated nature trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s just a nice way to spend part of a day putting aside the daily rush of events and happenings and imagining what the area must have looked like to explorers and first settlers when the prairie grass still covered a large portion of land before farming began. And it’s nice to know they are concerned enough citizens who have the foresight to set aside parcels of land for others to enjoy and for future generations as well as themselves. A place to reset one’s thoughts and take a pause in life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A valley and farmsteads below a hilltop at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Sunshine after a number of days of rainy fall weather made leaves almost sparkle at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A view from an elevated board walk trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning History in Siouxland, Sheldon

4 Sep

A number of communities in Siouxland have a museum. Sheldon‘s Prairie Museum is located in a former Carnegie Library building which is as beautiful today as it was when originally built.

The Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Sheldon Prairie Museum was a former Carnegie Library in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most of the museums I visit contain local history, photos of past residents and early pioneers as well as yearbooks of now closed schools if they are small communities who have seen their school districts consolidate with other nearby communities as small towns have gotten smaller.

I found the Prairie Museum unusual in the sense that it showcased some hard, not very nice history as well as the usual past. One display case talks about Mrs. Burnice Geiger, a daughter of a bank president of the Sheldon National Bank which residents learned in the late 1950’s and early ’60’s that Mrs. Geiger had been embezzling funds for many, many years, totaling a little over $2 million.

A display in the Sheldon Prairie Museum tells the story of a woman who embezzled money from a local bank in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And in the mid 1920’s another not so savory piece of history involved a Klan Konklave which is some still prevalent in parts of the United States. But since Iowa fought on the side of the Union during the Civil War locals were astonished that such an event could happen in their midst.

A display in the Sheldon Prairie Museum tells the dark history of a Ku Lux Klan enclave that occurred in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The story of a Ku Klux Klan Konclave appears in an exhibit in the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The museum has happier pieces of history and volunteers that help inform a visitor about various exhibits. One small room in the museum is pretty much the same as when a family occupied their home, the furniture still intact and original except for some reupholstering. Giving viewers a look backward into time at actual local residents.

Volunteer JoAnn DenBeste gives some background on exhibits at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The photo represents the look inside a Sheldon home in 1937, and the furniture in the photo is now at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The furniture in the exhibit remained the same as it was in a home in 1937 and except for some upholstery work and repairs is now an exhibit in the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Museums such as Prairie Museum help a visitor understand a community and give a better insight of history, good or bad, that residents encountered. Making a visit more meaningful and receiving a better understanding of times past.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A variety of exhibits can be found in the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Earlier residents of Sheldon, Iowa, now on display at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A photograph of early Sheldon residents, and survivors of the American Civil War, now on display at the Sheldon Prairie Museum in Sheldon, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Siouxland Man’s Passion, Lloyd Baker in Ashton

31 Aug

Resident Lloyd Baker drives three of his restored tractors in the parade at the Ashton, Iowa Town and Country Festival Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always interesting to find someone passionate about a hobby. And hobbies can encompass almost anything. Siouxland resident Lloyd Baker’s hobby is a little large, and not something that easily fits into a desk drawer, like say a stamp or coin collection. Mr. Baker likes to restore early era farm tractors. Formerly working at an farm implement dealer in Sheldon, after retiring Baker couldn’t stop. During the recent Ashton Town and Country Fair I came upon his wife and she said her husband loves his John Deere tractors and spends many hours getting them running and restoring some of them.

A local resident, Lloyd baker, finds and restores, for the most part, older tractors, especially John Deeres and has his “office” and repair shop in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A local resident, Lloyd Baker, finds and restores, for the most part, older tractors, especially John Deeres and has his “office” and repair shop in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And walking about his shop in Ashton Baker seems to have enough tractors to continue his fashion for many years to come. Enjoying something as he restores part of an American past which celebrates agriculture and farming and the changes that occurred in an industry that benefits so many.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A local resident , Lloyd Baker, finds and restores, for the most part, older tractors, especially John Deeres and has his “office” and repair shop in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

History on Display in Siouxland, DeBoer Grocery Museum, Ashton

25 Aug

A little museum in Siouxland, the DeBoer Grocery Museum in Ashland, has been a place I have wanted to visit for some time, but never caught it open. But recently attending a Town and Country celebration I got my chance.

A local museum situated downtown in Ashton, Iowa Saturday Nov. 5, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The De Boer Grocery Museum was an actual grocery store in Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The store was a working grocery until the 1960’s or ’70’s I believe. That was one question I did not get answered while I was there. But the place is full of historical items with more behind it and a small house next door where the owners lived.

in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A baptismal font from the former St. Mary’s Church in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018, which was used for all baptisms from 1900 until 1972 when a newer church was built seen in the De Boer Grocery Museum. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photos of men from the Ashton, Iowa area that served in previous world wars, seen in the De Boer Grocery Museum Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An attached building has many farming items used pre, and probably post 19th century until Deere made available bigger pieces of equipment. I find that one can never encounter too much history, to learn about residents in an area and what life was like for them, even if at times it is presented in a more positive light than it probably was.

And even though technology has made life somewhat easier, at times it is no less hard as those who lived, died and celebrated life, good or ill, in the previous centuries. It’s what people do. And I am glad that it is remembered, even if in a small museum that is only open every now and again. The information is there, it’s up to the individual to seek it out and learn from it, or at least imbibe it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A prairie sod breaking plow circa 1918 used before a “regular” plow could be employed to begin farming on prairie land seen at the De Boer Grocery Museum in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A replica steam engine 1/4 the size of an original that would have been used for threshing grain early 1900’s seen at the De Boer Grocery Museum in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Early farming implements and tools see at the De Boer Grocery Museum annex in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An early agricultural photo seen at the De Boer Grocery Museum in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A Van Brunt grain seeder circa 1890’s seen at the De Boer Grocery Museum in the Ashton, Iowa Saturday, Aug.4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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