Tag Archives: Lost in Siouxland

Nap Time in Siouxland, Sioux City

7 Dec
A squirrel tries to nap in the crook of a tree on a windy, bone chilling day in the backyard of a residence Thursday, November 17, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. Temperatures are predicted to fall into the single digits before a warming trend that is more seasonal begins next week. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©) (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when the weather isn’t cooperative, and is cold, breezy and with a heavy hint of winter in the air, a course of action might be to take a nap. This little guy was nestled in a tree nook, the wind buffeting its tail and I watched as its eyes kept closing. Doing its best to nod off even with strong wind gusts and a cold chill in the air. But tomorrow will be another day and with a tummy full from local eats, it might be good to forgot about the weather for a bit, and dream of spring, freshly dug up peanuts in a shell and a warm breeze.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A July Day in Siouxland, Wildlife Management Area, Woodbury County

5 Dec
A bee makes the most of gathering nectar from flowering plants in a meadow at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Snyder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days in Siouxland are more productive than others for every being. I wonder looking back at this busy bee if he and his family are safely tucked away into their hive, counting the days until spring again arrives. And wild flowers are seen in meadows around the region and the sun is warm and fragrances fresh. Winter is slowly descending into the region which some of the last warm days currently happening. And this and other scenes will be a faded memory.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bee makes the most of gathering nectar from flowering plants in a meadow at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Snyder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A bee makes the most of gathering nectar from flowering plants in a meadow at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Snyder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing History in Ruins in Siouxland, Tekamah, NE

3 Dec
An old railroad passenger car far beyond beyond its expiration date is seen in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I travel about Siouxland my imagination sometimes wanders and I wonder what life was life before my time in the area. On an outing with another photographer we happened upon an old passenger train rail car in Tekamah, NE. The rail car has seen better days and I wonder what rail line it covered and when and where did it transport people in an earlier era. Speculation as to its current location made us think that maybe someone had found the rail car, moved it to this location for possible later use say for a museum or some such thing. But time has taken its toll and now only the rail car knows what its former glory days were like and who traveled the rails in it possibly searching for a new beginning or visiting a past one. All I can speculate is that its history is now firmly in the past.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An old railroad passenger car far beyond beyond its expiration date is seen in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Day out in Siouxland, Owl Searching, Moorehead Park, Ida Grove.

1 Dec

A photographer walks about Moorehead Park as he and others looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently I joined some other photography enthusiasts searching for what seems to be illusive owls that winter in Moorhead Park in Siouxland in the community of Ida Grove. A local nature photographer and birder, Don Poggensee led the group around the park looking for barred owls and a northern saw-whet owl that comes from the Boreal Forests of Canada and winters in the “warmer climes” of Iowa and elsewhere. I always enjoy being outdoors although it was a brisk morning with temps in the teens and a stiff enough wind that was to become stiffer as the day wore on.

An empty tree cavity where nature photographer Don Poggensee said a barred owl generally occupies at Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature photographer Don Poggensee leads a group of photographers on a walk about Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature photographer Don Poggensee leads a group of photographers on a walk about Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mr. Poggensee told the group about the two species of owls while I came up empty on the barred owl, one member of the group was able to photograph it in the empty cavity of a tree. The rest of the time the group walked about search different pine tree stands looking for a 6″ owl that really blends into its environment. This particular day it seems its natural camouflage was working overtime, or maybe it was just wearing a cloak of invisibility. Even our guide told us that finding the little guy was hit and miss and it might be in a neighboring field next to the park enjoying its time while visiting the area.

One of a group of photographers walking about in Moorehead Park looking for owl species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A cut trail in Moorehead Park where a group of photographers spent half a day looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A group of photographers walking about in Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature photographer Don Poggensee points out a possible area where an owl might situate itself as he leads a group of photographers on a walk about at Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even though the group wasn’t successful in finding and photographing the smaller owl, or even a chance to photographer the larger owl, it was a very nice park to hike through. Cut trails make walking easy in parts and deer paths allow easy walking through the timber. Although during summer and early fall that might be different as green plants and ticks could make a barrier to some intrepid souls. But I find it’s always nice to get to see another place not too far a drive and getting tips and locations from an experienced nature photographer and area local who knows the “hot spots” to find bird species.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Nature photographer Don Poggensee talks about an experience looking for saw-whet owls as he and other photographers check Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature photographer Don Poggensee and another photographer pose for a quick image while on a walk about in Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature photographer Don Poggensee with a group of photographers on a walk about in Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fading Fall Colors in Siouxland, Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek

29 Nov

A hiking trail seen from a ridge at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular fall season in Siouxland seemed fleeting and unfulfilled. While there were pockets of color here and there, this fall was like a poem of unrequited love. It is always so nice to see brilliant colors and many hues when fall comes around. It is one of my favorite seasons as it is others as well. But this year that love of fall was not returned by Mother Nature. Mood swings in temperature in extreme seemed to have dampened expectations and the colors. So one must then hope and wish that next year’s fall will be better and somehow like memories past of a period of cooler temps and slowly changing colors that last a bit and not washed away with wind and rain.

Fading colors seen at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Railroad tracks seen from an overlook at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There were nice days though when the temperature seemed perfect for sweater, fleece or jacket wearing. Too cool for shorts but not cool or cold enough for a heavy jacket. The sun and its light rays caressing the path with direct yet diffused lighting. Adding another element to be cherished in photographing landscapes and such. Not the harsh, direct light of summer. And once the colors have faded, the brown landscape emerges and holds sway until spring and warmer temperatures prevail and green shoots reemerge. But now patience is key and the ability to embrace other styles of photography until winter has passed.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A trail takes a hiker to an overlook at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fading colors during a fall hike at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An Early Christmas Celebration in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

25 Nov

A young boy gets his photo taken during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes Christmas is celebrated a little early in Siouxland as various places and organizations host events and get togethers before the onslaught of family and other activities become overwhelming with too many choices. The Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve held its Christmas at the Homestead which is always early November although this year with the current cold weather that has come early it felt like winter, minus the snow.

Wearing elves hats to get in the mood during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Carolers sing in a former church now located on the grounds during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is always Santa to greet kids at the welcome center and carolers in the church and activities for children to create crafts in the former one-room school house. And even though it was unseasonably cold this year, many people attended and crisscrossed the grounds to peek inside the various buildings, grab a treat and some hot chocolate getting them in the mood for the upcoming holiday.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A child creates a Christmas ornament with the help of a parent during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People line up to take a Christmas photo looking through a cutout during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even the sheep are sporting Christmas attire during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a photo with the Christmas sheep during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A decorated Christmas tree inside Mary Adams house during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A line to see Santa next to the Christmas tree in the welcome center during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children making Christmas ornaments in the one-room school house during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making their way to the various buildings for different activities during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas lights are strung from the trees are see during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Alley Art on Display in Siouxland, Sioux City

23 Nov

Water fills an alley during a rain storm as people check out the alley art still on display after a festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes plans to attend an event in Siouxland doesn’t always go as planned as I missed this year’s alley art festival held in downtown Sioux City. A variety of folk decorate and the walls of alleys in the downtown with fanciful and other artistic endeavors which adds a bit to the normally drab scene in the alleys.

Water pours from a down spout during a rain storm in front of alley art on display after a festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An alley is back to normal but the alley art remains after an art festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like many communities the alleys are generally the living rooms and bedrooms for people choosing a homeless lifestyle. The folk find an area that apparently suits them and reside there. I am not certain how it is arranged to allow the artists and others who want to demonstrate their artistic skill to do so on alley walls without possible interference from the “local residents”. In the last few years, the demeanor in and around the alleys in the downtown area seem to take on a different tenor. I used to take photography students shooting at night to teach them skills in choosing white balance and using higher ISO settings and other technical camera stuff along with remembering to make a nice composition. A few years ago I stopped that and chose another smaller community whose alleys were also decorated but were also safer in my opinion than the Sioux City alleys.

Alley art on display after a festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Alley art on display after a festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An homage to the performing arts shown through alley art on display after a festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The use of wall space and those willing to give their time to beautify an area is ultimately nice. I would imagine the folk that hang out in the alleys the most enjoy the change in scenery. Banksy or Picasso’s adorning their “living quarters” created by some very talented people. And with winter coming into view, it might be interesting to go back and take a look at the art and the surroundings to see how the winter season looks in juxtaposition to the various displays.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Alley art on display after a festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Alley art on display after a festival earlier this year in downtown Sioux City, Iowa seen Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Future Seeds for Planting in Siouxland, Lakeside Laboratory, Milford

21 Nov

A couple of acorns sit on a deck railing at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Milford, Iowa Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while out and about in Siouxland I come upon a scene where I just want to stay put a while and enjoy, and maybe ponder what if. A recent revisiting of the Lakeside Laboratory in Milford near West Okoboji was such a moment. A deck that sits behind the research area’s housing complex was empty, with most summer participants having left to return to their lives at school or elsewhere. I saw a couple of acorns someone had placed on the deck’s railing. Wondering what mighty trees might grow from two such seeds or if they would get a chance to grow at all. The serene scene of the lake appeared from the deck, and the rollicking, fun loving boaters and summer folk who could fill the air with raucous summer fun were long gone. The silence was nice. Making it somewhat more poignant in taking a few minutes to sit, ponder, wonder and look. One such never knows what may appear in life or when, and sometimes a chance to sit quietly and think should be an opportunity not overlooked.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

West Lake Okoboji seen from a deck at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Milford, Iowa Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A stone structure used in research at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Milford, Iowa Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Continuing Drought in Siouxland Creates Wetless Wetlands, Wilson Island State Recreation Area, Missouri Valley

19 Nov

A Lesser Yellowlegs snatched a meal in a pond at Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The last couple of years or so, the Siouxland region like other places in and around the midwest and other states has been dealing with drought conditions. Little rainfall during that normal season or snowfall during the winter months. Areas that should have water now does not, and slowly the lack of water will affect all, humans and animals in nature.

I have driven past a sign on a local interstate highway for years, one for Wilson Island State Recreational Area. I understand from some friends that it used to be a wonderful place to camp and spend time. A major flood in 2011 inundated the recreation area and killed many of the trees and irreparably damaged the site, as the flood did to other areas in the region as well.

Just a few lily pads remain in a dry pond at the Wilson Island State Creation area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Barren trees seen at the Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For the longest time the park was closed. For years it seemed as clean up work apparently was slow going with the removal of dead trees and restoring of camping areas after the flood water eventually receded. I visited the park while in the vicinity of DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge. With the current drought conditions, shore birds and other life in nature is struggling to find needed food sources that have since dried up or changed from previous years. And some signs seen in the park appear absurd considering the current conditions.

Apparently a Lesser Yellowlegs looking for bugs in a pond didn’t read the sign at Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Lesser Yellowlegs looks for a meal in a pond at Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A dry pond bed is all that is left at the Wilson Island State Recreation Area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With winter seemingly coming earlier this year by indications of recent temperature changes and snow and rain storms passing across the U.S. maybe the drought conditions will be dented. But the Siouxland region is almost 14 inches below normal for annual rainfall. And so moisture is needed to replace what is disappearing and which will eventually affect controlled plant farming as water is needed for growing corn and soybeans and other agriculture crops.

I do hope it snows this winter, and also hope the frigid temperatures below freezing and those well below zero with wind chill take a year off. Snowshoeing and being outdoors in the winter time is not so bad. But feeling 20-30 mile an hour wind on your face with temperatures reaching -20 and -30 degrees is not so much fun.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A small a pond of water is all that is seen at Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Barely a trickle of water seen in a pond at Wilson Island State Recreation area near DeSoto National WIldlife Refuge outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Friday, October 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a “Rust”ic adventure in Siouxland, Tekamah, NE

17 Nov

Rusted roofs of sheds near a grain elevator in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes simple is best. During a recent outing in Siouxland and driving a backroad on a return trip from Omaha, NE, I came across some buildings that had seen better days while on a photo safari with a fellow photographer. Sometimes when I see something, one aspect of a possible image just “speaks to me” and I then must work hard to slow down and photograph other possibilities. The other photographer had spotted a grain elevator off the beaten path as we drove through Tekamah and so ventured up toward that area. I was fascinated by another building at first and made number of images of it and some other objects but then drifted back to a couple of sheds. In humans, the “stains” and aged marks would give a person a worn, weathered look, maybe good or bad, depending on one’s point of view. But the buildings made me thing of similar places I had seen as a child growing up on a farm in a smaller community. Maybe not having that distinguished look of a stone structure in a big city of a courthouse or library, but the two sheds were humble in their appearance and the work they seen taken place under their eaves.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A detail image of a grain elevator in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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