Tag Archives: loess hills

Godot is Waiting for Spring in Siouxland, rural Monona County

29 Feb

Clouds pass through the area in the Loess Hills area off of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway in Monona County, Iowa Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spring is slowly wending its way into Siouxland. Temperatures fluctuate between cold in the 20’s and 30’s and warmer, high 40’s and into the 50’s. Talking with friends it’s the latter 50’s we are all currently interested in. While driving some country roads recently I had to be careful as normally sound roads were a muddy glaze that would navigate well in a pickup truck, but not so much with other vehicles.

Clouds pass overhead near a weathered building in the Loess Hills area off of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway in Monona County, Iowa Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Clouds pass through the area in the Loess Hills area off of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway in Monona County, Iowa Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The rural landscape is still pretty dull. Browns, shades of brown populate the hills and dales of the Loess Hills region in Siouxland. No early peeking green shoots could be seen by a passing motorist. But hopefully soon. And a chance to wander again on a bright spring day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

in the Loess Hills area off of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway in Monona County, Iowa Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sunshine in Siouxland, but still Snowy, rural Monana County

28 Jan

A winter scene near Winnebago, NE Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The sun has finally peeked out from behind grey, flat skies with weather prognosticators promising more for a couple days here in Siouxland. But the white stuff still covers the ground, along with a coating of ice from rain that fell before the last snowfall. So again I sit and ponder, wishing, dreaming and waiting. No, time doesn’t go any faster, but sometimes makes me feel better.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shadow play in a field in the Loess Hills of northwest Iowa near Moorhead, Iowa Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A rolling field seen nestled in the Loess Hills of northwest Iowa near Moorhead, Iowa Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographing the Details during a Siouxland Outing

17 Nov

A dilapidated wagon sits in a field in the Loess Hills of northwest Iowa near Moorhead, Iowa Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. T(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When out and about driving around the Siouxland region, I enjoy the broad brushstrokes of landscapes and scenes. But sometimes one must look at the details of such a scene to also enjoy what is there and record. Seeing what is front of oneself is sometimes an acquired skill. To isolate visually in one’s mind then translate that into a visual image takes patience and practice. I have had lots of practice and am still practicing.

A detail image of wagon wheels during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But that’s the joy of wandering about and challenging oneself to really see what is in front of yourself. Sometimes one gets lucky. Other times, maybe not. But what’s a better way to spend a day that out taking photographs.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

looking for designs and details during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by 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©)

 

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©)

Spring’s Rebirth in Siouxland, Preparation Canyon State Park, Loess Hills

17 Apr

A turkey vulture soars overly newly burned grass during a control burn by Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while driving around Siouxland a person gets lucky. And it probably depends on the person how luck is defined. Of course for some there’s this on the one hand, and then that on the other. Tradeoffs happen. As I found out early last week when I came upon a control burn in Preparation Canyon Park by the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources. Giving Mother Nature a little help in jumping into spring. I found some newly sprung wildflowers gracing part of a trail along with a couple of turkey vultures looking for anything of a fricasee nature after the burn.

Turkey vulture getting a close up view on the ground during an Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources control burn at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As ugly as the birds appeared sitting on the ground, they were very graceful gliding over the terrain looking for a meal.

A turkey vulture soars overly newly burned grass during a control burn by Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I will assume the DNR does this type of burn yearly, partially to control undergrowth and well as to rejuvenate what’s there. The trail leading from an observation deck is relatively short and a pleasant hike as long as the temperature is not soaring itself into the high 90’s or 100 with high humidity. During the summer without wind it can be pretty stifling walking the trail with tall grass and trees.

A large swath of land is now barren after Iowa’s Dept. of Natural Resources did a control burn at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources does a control burn at Preparation Canyon Park seen from its observation deck in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The downside of finding the burning going on is that later I found myself with a very sore throat I am guessing irritated by the something burned and taking a couple days off to recover. By this summer though the hilly park will be a pleasant place to spend a morning or afternoon. Although by then the two turkey vultures might be on to another area to look for meals.

Legend at the observation deck tells the history of the Loess Hills at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tueday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A turkey vulture soars overly newly burned grass during a control burn by Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And not far away in the valley below where farmers will soon be preparing their ground for planting, more burning was taking place, whether it was planned or not. The afternoon that particular day was smoke-filled and made breathing difficult. But am guessing someone believes it makes a difference.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A grass fire is seen from the observation deck at Preparation Canyon Park in rural Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing History in Siouxland, Preparation Cemetery in the Loess Hills

21 Jun

While driving about in the Loess Hills region of Siouxland recently I came upon a cemetery I was not aware of.

Preparation Cemetery sits on a hill in the Loess Hills region of northwest Iowa and is the lasting resting place for some Mormon settlers who homesteaded the area in 1852 creating a small town they named Preparation located in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Preparation Cemetery sits on a hill in the Loess Hills region of northwest Iowa and is the lasting resting place for some Mormon settlers who homesteaded the area in 1852 creating a small town they named Preparation located in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is populated by people who settled in the area in the 1850’s. Part of a movement of Mormon settlers heading west and looking for their promised land. I thought I had driven most of the back roads in this area but apparently not. The cemetery sits on a quiet hill and is a nice resting place to those who were looking for a better life in an earlier century.

The Perrin family added land to the Preparation Cemetery which sits on a hill in the Loess Hills region of northwest Iowa and is the lasting resting place for some Mormon settlers who homesteaded the area in 1852 creating a small town they named Preparation located in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Preparation Cemetery sits on a hill in the Loess Hills region of northwest Iowa and is the lasting resting place for some Mormon settlers who homesteaded the area in 1852 creating a small town they named Preparation located in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Again, it’s hard to imagine walking some of the same ground that actual pioneering families traversed looking for a new opportunity and the months of travel it took to reach a destination seems daunting. But those eager souls were more willing to take a chance and trust in their faith for a better life and seek out a new place to start life again with all the inherent difficulties presented at that time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Preparation Cemetery sits on a hill in the Loess Hills region of northwest Iowa and is the lasting resting place for some Mormon settlers who homesteaded the area in 1852 creating a small town they named Preparation located in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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