Tag Archives: Lost in Siouxland

Honoring the Birth of a Nation in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

3 Jul

A lot of my driving around the backroads of Siouxland is done in anticipation that I will find something surprising and not previously seen by me. Although many of the places I visit I am certain are frequented by those living nearby.

I came across a small, well kept cemetery recently that I don’t recall visiting in the past. In the country it was quiet. Not even passing traffic disturbed the quiet. Seeing one grave in particular it made me think of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday that America celebrates, as do all countries when it comes to their birth and becoming the nation they are today.

A remembrance of a person who served his country in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Tuesday June 26, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fourth of July celebrations for most communities involve parades, backyard cookouts and fireworks. Two out of the three are noisy but fun and delightful. Children these days live for parades and the free candy generally tossed their way by those on participating floats.

So it was this quiet and solitude, a salute to a person who served their country that resonated. No distractions, no noise, just a thoughtful embrace of those who came before.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

A dove finds a quiet spot to rest in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Tuesday June 26, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing tonality in Siouxland, Cherokee

1 Jul

While out and about in Siouxland recently visiting a community festival I dropped by Cherokee. With recent rains there have been many reports of small and large rivers rising and flash flood warnings. I was curious to see if a small creek running through town had reached the tops of its banks. It hadn’t.

But I liked the quality of light I was seeing that day and saw areas that intrigued me and reminded me of the days working for newspapers and shooting only in B&W, film.

Fading wall art in Cherokee, Iowa June 23, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One had to be really conscious of tonality and contrast to make one’s image pop and help it jump off the page. Not all images taken did that, as some were more documentary in nature.

A path to adventure in Cherokee, Iowa June 23, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A shady creek in Cherokee, Iowa June 23, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©) 

But like shooting in color, the viewer still needs to find the path through a photograph that draws him/her into it and through it and makes the viewing a worthwhile effort.

In those days one could always shoot the film, tweak the film processing and finally adjust some of the printing to give an image more snap. Now it’s all done via software. Whether it’s successful or not is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Summertime and finding fun in and around Siouxland, Omaha, NE

29 Jun

On an earlier outing this summer south of Siouxland traveling down to Omaha, NE I came across a street fair that has been a recurring event there, Summerfest. Sioux City where I live also has an arts festival, generally occurring in early September. As I walked about it also happened to be an extremely hot day, but that didn’t seem to deter people from checking out what was there.

Artists stalls line a street at the Summer Fest arts festival in downtown Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A family poses for a street artist during the Summer Fest arts festival in downtown Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I found myself more interested in the canal flowing into the downtown area, maybe because it was shaded and I had already spent a good part of the day visiting the Lauritzen Gardens.

The Summer Fest arts festival borders a canal located near downtown Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A duck quietly sits in a canal that parallels Summer Fest arts festival in downtown Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

However it didn’t escape my notice that a couple of guys demonstrating black smith technique were taking a break working in the heat and putting their portable furnace to a different use, getting in a bit of lunch.

 

Workers demonstrating black smith techniques take a break during the Summer Fest arts festival to grill some lunch in downtown Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

That is the nice thing about traveling, even just down the road, one can always find something new, to oneself, and enjoy the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Garden Surprise near Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE

27 Jun

On a recent trip with a south of Siouxland I visited the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, Nebraska. Although it was a very hot day, the gardens visit was truly wonderful. A few different gardens, some formal and others not, with a variety of plants. But what truly caught my eye was a model train setup in the gardens with tracks and wooden trestles made from twigs and branches with plants growing around and within the train tracks.

People watch a model train cross a trestle bridge overhead at the model train exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

There are a number of trestle bridge configurations for the several running trains at the model train exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The train master Bill Willis explained that the setup was commissioned and built by Paul Busse, a model railroad enthusiast, who has built other such models in other cities. Willis maintains and sees that repairs as needed are done as well as checking tracks for overgrown plants.

A plaque at the explains how the train exhibit originated at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Bill Willis oversees the model train exhibit set up at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Bill Wilis, trainmaster and dispatcher clears a track area of debris at the model train exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardensin Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Such a setup was thing I never really imagined finding in a garden setting. But it is so beautifully entrenched and appears almost out of nowhere until you walk right up on it. It was just a delight.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visitors wait for one of several running model trains in an exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardensin Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

There are various trestle bridge configurations set up for the model train exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One of several running model trains crosses a trestle bridge at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

There are numerous trestle bridge configurations at the model train exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Besides the wooden branch and twig train track configurations, there are also a number of buildings representing different aspects of the city of Omaha built of wood at the model train exhibit display at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Remnants of History in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

25 Jun

While traversing some of the backroads in Siouxland I am sometimes struck with the thought of what life must have been in an earlier century, or two. Coming across an abandoned house, barn and small shed near a forested area in rural Monona County, the nostalgia part of me thinks life was probably simpler. Raising some stock and crops, maybe hunting in the woods for some food and no worry about the hustle and bustle of the modern world as we now know it.

An unoccupied farmhouse in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But then a more rational part of the brain kicks in with thoughts about living near a hospital in case of a serious emergency. Or hot, muggy nights near a forest without a breeze and surrounded by gnats and mosquitoes. Somehow the thought of need and want became intertwined along the way and people these days, myself included, could live without a number of items I have acquired over the years. The need of food, lodging and other basics are the more important aspects of life.

Unused barns from a former homestead in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The advent of marketing, which began centuries ago (think prostitutes and other necessary evils), helps feed the need of want. And maybe that is why life then may have seemed simpler, being away from the bombardment of all the glorious contraptions of man one never bothered to worry or think about those things, but just what was around you. The peace, solitude and loved ones living life a day at a time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying Summer in Siouxland, Sioux City’s Municipal Band

23 Jun

 

During the summer months in Siouxland many small communities have local groups that perform free concerts for their residents. The Sioux City Municipal Band plays a summer concert series of eight performances on Sunday nights in Grandview Park which has a bandshell that was built during the 1930’s by the Civil Works Administration (CWA).

Summer concerts in general evoke an era of the play “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder. Mild evenings, light breeze and music drifting over the area, some more enthusiastic than others depending on the play bill for the evening. But always delightful.

 

The Sioux City Municipal Band warms up as patrons arrive before playing a concert in Grandview Park, Sunday June 10, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

People relax in their lawn chairs while listening to the Sioux City Municipal Band play a concert in Grandview Park, Sunday June 10, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Folk will bring picnic lunches as children run about and play and just joke in the evening as the sun settles on the horizon behind the bandshell and a nice way to start the week.

The Sioux City Municipal Band plays a concert in Grandview Park, Sunday June 10, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Patrons sit on the grass and in park seating as they listen to the Sioux City Municipal Band play a concert in Grandview Park, Sunday June 10, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©) 

And generally throughout the eight week series the music offerings appeal to most everyone’s taste. The band members should also be congratulated for giving of their time to rehearse and then play for its community. It makes something special about summer nights and small towns.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Patrons enjoy the Sioux City Municipal Band as it plays a concert in Grandview Park, Sunday June 10, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Sun sets as the Sioux City Municipal Band plays a concert in Grandview Park, Sunday June 10, 2018. (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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