Tag Archives: lifelong learning

Waiting for a Weather Change in Siouxland, Beresford, SD

28 Jul

History sitting in place sight seen during an outing of the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

This past week Siouxland experienced a very insufferable heat wave much like the eastern part of the U.S. is now experiencing. The start of this week has brought cooler temperatures which will hopefully last a few days before those Dog Days of Summer, and the month of August gets here. Everyone knows when it’s fair time it’s got to be hot and humid.

So it was a little to my delight when I came across a photograph I had taken in April during a Spring Photo Safari class I teach. There was unexpected weather that day. Snow, then rain. Now it sounds kind of nice, but then not so much. Winter had over extended its stay.

Having lived in a few places throughout this vast land there is one thing in common that I found people to say, “Just wait five minutes and the weather will change.”

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Community Parks in Siouxland, Bulow Park, Beresford, SD

26 Jun

When visiting various communities throughout Siouxland I always enjoy stopping by the parks. This one in Beresford, SD I would have missed except for a student calling me to see if I was coming by to check it out after a Photo Safari class had ended.

A stone wall greets visitors as they enter Bulow Park dedicated in 1959 in honor of William John Bulow, a founding father born in 1869 who served a few terms as mayor and as the city attorney in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many of the parks built years or decades ago have a character to them that really isn’t seen these days. Maybe because the style of architecture or cost and available supplies have increased too much. Or possibly there isn'[t the community support to create such havens for its local residents that these green gems are a safe harbor to get away from the day to day and enjoy nature and quiet in such places as Bulow Park.

Stone steps lead to a small amphitheatre space in Bulow Park was dedicated in 1959 in honor of William John Bulow, a founding father born in 1869 who served a few terms as mayor and as the city attorney in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Stonework in Bulow Park which was dedicated in 1959 in honor of William John Bulow, a founding father born in 1869 who served a few terms as mayor and as the city attorney in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoyed the architecture immensely and know when the trees and bushes are in full bloom during summer it must be an awfully nice place for picnics and quiets getaways, well, except for the kids playing at the ball diamond next door. But it’s summer, and that kind of activity is expected and adds to ambience of summer time in the park.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Stonework in Bulow Park was dedicated in 1959 in honor of William John Bulow, a founding father born in 1869 who served a few terms as mayor and as the city attorney in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Small Town, Pisgah

12 Jun

A main street running through downtown Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am endlessly fascinated when visiting small towns in Siouxland. And am always surprised at what one might find in them, as well as the folk one meets. Walking around, taking my time, something students of mine for my Photo Safari classes know all too well, in good and inclement weather. Recently while in Pisgah the class met a couple who runs a bed and breakfast there. I had no idea.

A 104 year old former hotel is now the Loess Hills Bed and Breadfast located in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

They also have access to a small museum with local history. Class photos of people who graduated from the area in the 1930’s, although there are no longer any schools in the small community. The sleepy little town is a starting point for exploring the Loess Hills in western Iowa where hiking and meandering roads allow one to explore the countryside and surrounding area.

A photograph of 1932 graduates from the Pisgah High School that no longer exists hangs in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A photograph of 1938 graduates from the Pisgah High School that no longer exists hangs in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

David Chlupacek, left, shows visitors inside of a former barbershop and now museum that sits across from a 104 year old hotel, now the Loess Hills Bed and Breakfast he and his wife run in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s these meetings and a chance to learn about the a local area I always find fascinating, even with newly transplanted residents such as David Chlupacek and his wife, who have lived there maybe 10-12 years. Getting a sense of what was once a vibrant small town now a bit more quiet and circumspect about its future.

Photographs and other items are found in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

David Chlupacek, right, talks with a visitor standing in front of a former barbershop and now museum in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

A sometimes pass through point for an Iowa tradition of bike riding, RAGBRAI, where small communities grow into overnight metropolises. But not the day we visited. But because of the visitors headed to the Loess Hills State Park the town retains one decent eatery and a place to relax and enjoy small town America with lunch and a short rest before pursuing other places to visit.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Old Home Fill-er Up and “Keep on Truckin” Cafe was made famous in a song by C.W. McCall is located in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photographs hang in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Perspective in Siouxland, Little Sioux

8 Jun

Sometimes it truly is in the eye of the beholder when a person sees something it is very important in how they see something. Perspective gives an individual an “informed” viewpoint, no matter the subject. In photography I believe that is also true. And how one sees subjects to photograph juxtaposed to other elements included in the frame and can interest, or distract.

A ready field for a later in town harvest seen during a Spring Photo Safari outing in Little Sioux , Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

I found it interesting to find a field “in town” ready for planting. I need to go back to see if it is just a large garden, or a corn or soybean crop. Sunflowers would be a fun crop as well and add interest to a small community. Then again, some scenes only occur at certain points in the year as nature takes its course and winter progresses into spring, into summer and then fall. And in that it is up to the one seeing and recording what those scenes might be and of what interest they may hold to other viewers.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spring blooms during a Spring Photo Safari outing in Little Sioux , Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying the Outdoors in Siouxland, Preparation Canyon State Park

6 Jun

Spring emerges after an Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources burn off recently seen during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Time spent outdoors is always time spent well I believe, barring the fact that it isn’t a blizzard or a -20 degrees temperature with 40 mph wind gusts. And there are many nice places in Siouxland to spend some outdoor time, like Preparation Canyon State Park situated in the Loess Hills area of western Iowa which runs from Sioux City down past Council Bluffs. The Dept. of Natural Resources gives this history of the park, “The 344 acre the park encompasses what was once the town of Preparation. In 1853, Charles B. Thompson broke from the Mormon wagon train to Utah after receiving a message from the “Spirit.” The Mormon leader and elder led 50 to 60 Mormon families to Kanesville, now Council Bluffs. Upon much searching, Thompson and a few select men chose the area called “Monona,” an Indian name meaning “Peaceful Valley.” Here they organized the town of Preparation, complete with houses and schools and started Monona County’s first newspaper which Thompson owned and operated.”

On a recent class outing for my Spring Photo Safari class through a Lifelong Learning program at Western Iowa Tech Community College we spent some time at the overlook, as the actual park with camping sites is down the road maybe 2-3 miles. And not far from here also is a cemetery of early pioneers as well as more recent local residents interred in a bucolic setting with the wind creating a concert of sound along with chirping birds.

A quiet spring day during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was only a week or two earlier that the DNR had done a controlled burn in early spring which I believe is a yearly occurrence. The area had rebounded and spring green was gradually coming to life giving the area a fresh face for another outdoor season, well, an outdoor season that doesn’t include trudging through snow.

A ridge line trail taken during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Spring emerges after an early burn off by Iowa’s Dept. of Natural Resources seen during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is a nice trail that leads out from the overlook into the adjoining area that is not overly difficult and gets one into the pastoral setting, giving a visitor a chance to explore and see what is over the next hill and dale without going to far off the beaten path and after some exertion, a chance to return to the overlook, rest, and then continue the journey through the Loess Hills and the chance to find other places to explore and ponder what it must have been like for the early settlers in the later 1850’s as some made their way west and others settled into the area to begin life anew.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Hiking a trail for a better photo perspective during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Pausing to enjoy a nice day outside during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Waiting a Week in Siouxland, Beresford and Little Sioux

2 Jun

There are many places like Siouxland where locals will tell you that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. I heard that refrain in Louisiana, growing up in Illinois and now in Iowa. And in some respects it’s true. Weather can change in a moment some times. Recently what everyone thought was spring was still a late blooming winter refrain.

Dressed for the weather on a cold, rainy and snowy spring day during an outing of the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Photo Safari classes I teach through a Lifelong Learning program at a local community college are done on Saturdays. It gives myself and the students a chance to get to places, spend some time photographing and learning more about a place as well as practicing the art of photography. But within a week much can happen. On the trip to Beresford we encountered snow flakes getting there and temps in the 30’s and eventually 40’s.

A different kind of doorway is found along with a spring’s dusting of snow during an outing of the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Brrrrrrrrr. Then a week later, spring seems like it finally arrived, blessing the class with some sunshine and warmer temps and a chance to walk about without feeling a chill. Summer is almost here and the weather around Siouxland is still acting a bit crazy, vacillating between cold overnights, some hit days and cold rain. But the snowflakes seemed to have gone into hibernation for the year, which I find to be a nice thing, and a chance to get out and explore more of this area.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Students enjoying a spring day during a Spring Photo Safari outing in Little Sioux , Iowa, Saturday May 4, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning more about the Loess Hills in Siouxland, Pisgah

27 May

 

The Loess Hills State Forest Visitors center gives people a background about the Loess Hills is found in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Part of Siouxland is comprised of the Loess Hills which begins just south of Sioux City and runs down into Missouri. A Loess Hills State Forest Visitors Center is located in the small community of Pisgah and gives a great background about the surrounding area and information about the Loess Hills.

A scale model of Preparation Canyon State Park is found in the Loess Hills State Forest Visitors center in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors can learn more about the Loess Hills at the Loess Hills Sate Forest Visitors Center in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Within the state park there is a camp ground and an overlook not that far away. And trails can lead visitors through the area to enjoy the outdoors and experience a phenomenon that is only found in Iowa and a part of China. Plus getting the chance to enjoy the outdoors on a nice day by yourself or with friends and communing with nature, which is something we all should probably embrace.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Loess Hills State Forest Visitors Center gives a background about the Loess Hills is found in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Livin’ the Dream in Siouxland, Beresford, SD

25 May

A room full of tempting items are seen in the Remember When …. Antiques business during the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Siouxland covers a region in western Iowa, southeastern South Dakota and northeast Nebraska. A variety of people with a variety of reasons call the area home. The area was traversed decades ago by the members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition exploring the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase, and later settlers began arriving to create a new home for themselves. And is some ways, calling the area home hasn’t changed. And one man or woman’s treasure is another’s junk.

Sue and Allen Smith moved to the Beresford area in South Dakota after retiring from jobs out west in a warmer climate. This area of the midwest is not for the faint of heart. The open prairie can be brutally cold during the winter months with 30-40 mph wind gusts and temps reaching well below a -15 degrees. And storms come through in the spring and summer months. Fall can be nice though.

The couple opened an antique store, Remember When …. Antiques, and they have a plethora of items for folk to look at. And they genuinely like the area, not to mention that they can find a lot of items for their store within an easy commute of where they live and work.

Sue Smith, foreground, and husband Allen prepare for another day at their antique and treasures “Remember When….Antiques” business seen during the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

The two seemed undaunted by the weather and invited some cold pedestrians visiting their small community into their store for a cup of coffee and a little warm up on a cold, snowy and blustery day in late April. Winter had not yet departed and clung to the area like a wet blanket leaving an adventurous class outing a bit more chilled than anticipated. Walking through the store was like walking back in time. Seeing items that I remember as a child growing up and seen in grandparents’ homes.

A room full of tempting items are seen in the Remember When …. Antiques business during the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s fascinating to look at items see a progression through the decades of what came before compared to what is available now. it helps give one a perspective and a bit of a history lesson if one takes the time to look at the items and ask questions and find that life in some ways is really not so bad after all these days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A wedding gown and the bride’s photograph attached in a room full of tempting items seen in the Remember When …. Antiques business during the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fascination Doorways in Siouxland, Beresford and Little Sioux

11 May

Shapes and angles during an outing of the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like doorways. No matter where one goes in Siouxland, or any place else, one will encounter a doorway. And while there are grand ones to be found and admired, it’s the quirky and offbeat ones that attract my attention. And sometimes you can find them juxtaposed to other objects within a space and “redefine” your visual look of them. Most times though they are just straight forward as doorways but quirky.

Doorways and spring snow can be found during an outing for the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not all doors lead to other spaces though, unless they are dimensional or one has an active imagination. Maybe too many episodes of the Twilight Zone as a child.

A different kind of doorway is found along with a spring’s dusting of snow during an outing of the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

But doorways are fascinating. Leading a person to another space and a place to explore beyond that doorway if it’s possible to get within. And there an imagination can be worthwhile as one conjures up what possibilities can be found just on the other side.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A doorway without steps seen during a Spring Photo Safari outing in Little Sioux , Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Subjects in Siouxland, Beresford, SD

29 Apr

Shapes and color during an outing of the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

When teaching the Lifelong Learning photography classes I have at a local community college in Siouxland I encourage those attending to look and see and photograph what captures their interest and imagination. Everyone sees differently and that is a good thing. But I also encourage people to look at and photograph objects or places and scenes that may not always appeal to them, simply because they may surprise themselves.

During a recent class outing visiting Beresford, SD, the class and I walked about the small community’s downtown area. It had its classic early 19th century buildings and other interesting architecture. But after circling the area a couple of times and having previously visited it last fall, I came upon a wall this time that struck me because of the color involved and its relative starkness. On my first visit it was just an alley. But after the winter and before spring has begun in earnest its renewal, the starkness and color along with the benches created a scene I don’t remember seeing. Many times one just needs patience and a willingness to look at scenes a second time. And it could be a pleasant surprise.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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