Tag Archives: Lost in Siouxland

Seeing the Forest’s Trees near Siouxland, Fontenelle Forest

1 Jan

During a recent excursion down into Nebraska I visited the Fontenelle Forest located in Bellevue, NE and couldn’t believe such a place existed within a city.

The visitor center contains a wealth of information before checking out the trails at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Fontenelle Forest is an ongoing project in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The visitors’ center has a wealth of information and exhibits on display and is a nice place to just sit and watch the outdoors from an enclosed area. But the network of extensive board walks was really very nice helping a person traverse a large area and enabling one to see more of the park.

Miles of boardwalk allow easy access to see various areas at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Miles of boardwalk allow easy access to see various areas at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Boarded walks head out in a myriad of directions for easy access in Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Their was also convenient benches along the way that allows one to sit and just enjoy the quiet and nature’s sounds or view the surrounding area at one’s leisure.

Convenient seating along a boardwalk is available to visitors to sit and enjoy the views a while, such as the Missouri River at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While walking about I found signage that informed me about the park and certain aspects of what inhabits the area. Talking to another visitor who was carrying a camera with a long lens and a monopod, he mentioned that a few weeks earlier during a migration period a particular species of bird (of which I have forgotten) had to stay grounded because of wet weather passing through interrupting its migration south, and he said there were so many that it was impossible not to photograph them within an arm’s length.

Signage helps explain to visitors various aspects of the park so one is more informed about the area when visiting Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Signage along the paths help inform visitors what they might see in the immediate area at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The day I was out there were families walking about enjoying themselves, trying to outdo one another in spotting birds they recognized.

A family stops to enjoy a view at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Paths make their way up and down the hillsides in Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And from the board walks steps descending into valleys brought one to more trails and other delights making wandering around the park a pleasant and almost timeless visit, time slipping by without realizing it had. Some days should be so carefree and unencumbered. Nature, the outdoors and a peaceful place to enjoy it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Acres of forested land can be accessed at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Sunshine and a few lingering leaves makes the Fontenelle Forest sparkle in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Some interesting trails with starts and stops at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting Siouxland, Alton

30 Dec

Somedays when I am driving about I stop in small community towns to visit and see what is there. Many times it’s during the week when people are at work so I don’t always see a lot of folk about. One such visit was in Alton, a community of a little over 1,200 people according to the last census count.

A mural reflecting Alton, Iowa Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like many of Iowa’s small communities Alton came to life in the latter part of the 1800’s as people moved west. A railroad arrived in 1872 and a hotel was built in 1873. A saloon also opened, but closed shortly afterwards.

Downtown Alton, Iowa Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of down town Alton, Iowa Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A quiet town that hasn’t forgotten its roots, but like many of the smaller communities that started with vibrancy, its beginnings are now different that current developments and citizens and young have migrated to larger communities offering more opportunity, but is still a good place to raise a family and enjoy a slower, quieter pace.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A tribute to those locals who have served near downtown Alton, Iowa Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding bits of History in Siouxland, Smithland

28 Dec

Blossoming trees at the Fowler Preserve near Smithland in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like stumbling upon a bit of history when driving about Siouxland. That happened to me a couple of years ago when visiting the Fowler Preserve in Woodbury County near Smithland. Trees and other fauna was just beginning to bloom. There are a couple of trails there that take one to the top of a hill where you can get a view of the surrounding area and to rest a bit as you make your way of the hillside.

Benches are sprinkled throughout the Fowler Preserve near Smithland in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Besides some normal accoutrements in parks like open space and picnic tables, I came across a large rock with a plaque. It made note of the fact that for 20 years, from 1856 to 1876, a stage coach trail passed through the area from Smithland to Sioux City. That century’s mass transportation which allowed small groups of people to get from one point to another on the western frontier without having to purchase their own horse, or wagon, or whatever might be available, until the railroads allowed even larger groups of people to move about. I was struck with awe the idea of standing someplace that 2 centuries earlier I could have spied the coach and its passengers making their way to a new place, seeing history unfold as people moved West, not knowing what to expect but hoping for a different, if not better life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A view of a picnic area at the Fowler Preserve near Smithland in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A stagecoach trail passed through the Fowler Preserve from the mid 1850’s to late the 1870’s near Smithland in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

(Click image for larger view.)

A Lighted Parade in Siouxland, Le Mars

26 Dec

Santa and Mrs. Claus wave to those attending the Christmas Lighted Parade in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

People bundled up against the cold attending the Christmas Lighted Parade in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Despite the cold people lined the streets to watch the Christmas Lighted Parade in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Lighted Parade that is an annual event in Le Mars was postponed a week because of a snow storm that basically brought the area, and actually most of the country, to a stand still. The storm basically shut down I-29 and many secondary county and state roads. A lot of events were cancelled. However, the parade happened the following week. There was less snow, but the cold and a crisp wind made for a very chilly night as people bundled up to watch those parade floats that participated in the second attempt.

Parade participants grab for more candy to pass out during the Christmas Lighted Parade in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Everyone bundled up for the cold to watch and ride in the Christmas Lighted Parade in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And later there is always the visiting of the Pioneer Christmas Village at the Plymouth County Fairground. A brisk walk and ride for those so inclined to sit behind chilled horses giving “sleigh rides”. And a few watch fires to roast marshmallows and warm hands and feet.

Christmas lights lit up the Pioneer Village Christmas at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An attendant feeds a fire at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds Pioneer Village Christmas in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When thoroughly chilled, I ducked inside a couple of places to view Christmas decorations and to see decorated Christmas trees. But inside where the trees and a few dozens other people kept fogging my camera lens which gave a hazy appearance that was not really the case indoors. But still a delight to see many happy people anticipating the day, and especially kids, whose eyes still grow wide seeing Santa decorations in the Round Barn and also in person, granting those last timed wishes for Christmas morning.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A variety Christmas decorations greeted people inside the Round Barn at the Plymouth County Fairground’s Pioneer Village Christmas in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Camera lenses fogged up inside a pavilion where decorated Christmas trees were located for the Pioneer Village Christmas in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

Man and Nature in Siouxland, Buena Vista University, Storm Lake

24 Dec

I always like seeing objects in juxtaposition to one another and how, mostly differences, can stand out if one takes the time to notice. During a trip to Buena Vista University in Storm Lake I was admiring one of the campus buildings and its sleek modern glass and steel look. Situated within an area of trees that were turning color.

Seeing the contrast between nature and a building of glass and steel, the Estelle Siebens Science Center, at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Man’s relationship with nature is a complicated one. At least it seems to have become that way. Some folk just want to strip nature bare and reap whatever profits are there for the taking without being good land stewards and without much thought, leaving that heavy lifting to someone else. In some places planners seemed to realize the two need to work in harmony and attempt to make that happen. Whether it is successful or not depends on who is viewing and if they are paying any attention. Either from the outside looking in, or the inside looking out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Nature outside, maybe looking in the glass and steel building on the campus of the Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring Siouxland, Fonda

16 Dec

I never tire of visiting small communities in Siouxland, most with a population of 2,000 or less, and some communities with less residents still. The town of Fonda is one such place, with a population of almost 700 people. It’s quaint and has a museum I found that I need to visit in season, that is, when it’s warmer and days are longer to allow for some drive time.

A mural celebrating the community in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the downtown area I came across a park that immediately made me think of another, slightly more famous park. Founded in 1870, Fonda’s park might not be so famous but offers the town’s residents a place to visit and hang out and have coffee with friends.

A Central Park in this not as famous community of Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A central gathering place in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is also a community garden near the downtown area where residents can also chat while producing some garden vegetables and other edibles they may desire. This particular day I met a couple of locals, but they were too shy to hang around while a visitor explored the area.

A community garden anchors one end of the downtown in Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A couple local residents enjoy some sunshine in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But next summer I plan to return and visit the local museum to learn more about the history of the area and the community itself which hopefully will lead to more exploration and a chance to explore more of the area.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A little history posted on a museum in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Fonda Museum based in the McKee Opera House in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seasonal Changes in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve

14 Dec

Wishing patrons of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve a pleasant holiday season in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seasonal changes in Siouxland always brings the expectations of coming holidays and a change in weather. The last waning days of fall like weather makes me a bit wistful of the impending cold that is sure to envelope the area. But along with that comes holiday lights, Christmas music and tons and tons of holiday confection. But I think I will most miss the fall light.

The waning days of fall at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The last vestiges of fall laying on the ground at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not so direct with a clear quality to it that can make subjects pop and imbue them with a special quality. Early morning and late afternoon in the fall are not so early or so late. A plus in my book when out photographing places. With the cold setting in I have to push myself to set my bare feet onto a wood floor in the morning before finding socks to help them a little warmer. And then to get dressed and go and out photograph when the temps can hover in the teens or single digits make me make a little bigger pot of coffee before venturing out.

The last of the leaves clinging to their branches at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The last remaining leaves at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Now I will find bare trees and the leaf covered forest floors are snow covered, with can be fun, especially when critter tracks are seen. But it won’t be until sometime in late March when I am hopeful temperatures return to a more modest clime and give me a better impetus to stick my nose out the door and once again explore Siouxland and see what new wonders I might find.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The last remaining days of fall at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota November 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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