Tag Archives: outdoors

Exploring Light in Siouxland, Lyon County

8 Aug

Some days when I am driving around Siouxland I try to have a destination in mind so I feel I have accomplished something on my excursion. I visit a place and record some images to share here.

And then, there are those days when even after I have visited some place and explored and recorded I become extremely jazzed when after a stormy evening and the weather is changing that clouds become amazing. Add to that the fact that there is still developing weather and then the light becomes amazing.

As clouds pass overhead the scene on the ground changes quickly. Unlike landscape photographers who “camp out” at a specific spot to capture the moment, I drive around the Siouxland area and sometimes am not able to safely pull over to photograph a scene so must sigh and continue on as the clouds continue moving across the sky.

But then, sometimes the “photography god” smiles and gives an image of two to make the day’s driving worthwhile.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Grain bins sit on the outskirts of a small community in Lyon County, Iowa Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Horses graze in a field in Lyon County, Iowa Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Shorts Hikes in Siouxland, Stone State Park

25 Jan

I like getting out in the winter time to enjoy the outdoors. Some days the wind though increases that chill factor and makes even a well-intentioned hike or walk a non-starter or an abbreviated attempt. I took to the trails of Stone State Park recently and lasted about 30 minutes before the wind and cold forced me to make a retreat.

I like hiking in the winter months because the surrounding areas are open and easier to see more of and explore if one desires. But on cold days, even that look of sunshine can’t hide the fact that its cold.

Snow and the normal winter chill is fine by me, but when the temps dip into single digits and the wind brings it down even further to zero or possibly that minus range, then thoughts of coffee and a comfy chair and book begin to take shape.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Starting the New Year off on the right foot in Siouxland, Stone State Park

5 Jan

The Friends of Stone State Park co-hosted a 1st Day Hike Jan. 1 with the local park ranger Kevin Pape who explained that this event was not only happening state-wide, but nationally as well as parks across the country were trying to entire people outside and introducing them to their local state park in their particular area. It was an easy hike that approximately 30-35 people took advantage of with the temperature hovering around single digits to the teens.

Area residents pose for a photograph before setting off on a 1st Day Hike at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. A concerted effort by parks nationwide to get people out into nature in their area and introduce them to local parks and what is available. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Area residents pose for a photograph before setting off on a 1st Day Hike at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. A concerted effort by parks nationwide to get people out into nature in their area and introduce them to local parks and what is available. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Keepsakes for area residents who came out out for a 1st Day Hike at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. A concerted effort by parks nationwide to get people out into nature in their area and introduce them to local parks and what is available. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Keepsakes for area residents who came out out for a 1st Day Hike at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. A concerted effort by parks nationwide to get people out into nature in their area and introduce them to local parks and what is available. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dressed appropriately and moving, the temperature was not much of a concern. Park Ranger Pape also talked about the history of Stone State Park as we traversed a small section of it. Originally land owned by a Daniel Talbot, an early settler of the Sioux City area. Talbot purchased a lot of land but during the late 1890’s with bank failings, eventually lost the land to Thomas Stone, a local banker that personally guaranteed a loan to Talbot and later foreclosed on the land as Talbot was not able to pay. Ranger Pape explains that Stone’s children later donated the land Stone obtained to the City of Sioux City which then created a park area. Later on the city ceded the park to the State of Iowa and Stone State Park was created.

Some of the stone structures in areas of the park were formerly built by the city to house a local zoo. While trying to find more cursory information about the Civilian Conservation Corp that purportedly did work in Stone State Park in the 30’s I could only find reference to other state parks through the state’s Dept. of Natural Resources website.

Besides the historical footnote mentioned above, Stone State Park currently offers a lot of opportunity to get away from urban living even though it is situated on the outskirts of Sioux City. City sounds drift away, except for occasional traffic driving through.

Having hiked through several parts of the park over the years, it is a place to forget about current events and enjoy the moment and whatever nature provides that day. On a good day with good weather, one can see a variety of birds, deer and other creatures. Once while out with some Loess Hills Audubon people doing a December bird count I even saw a coyote on a hillside early that morning.

It’s good to unplug and tune into nature, maybe next year there will be enough people for two sets of hikes on a first day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Siouxland bicycling trails, Le Mars

27 Jul

I used to be a runner. No marathons, nothing to prove to anyone, I just liked to run. Until the day my knees told me no more and my doctor said my meniscus was wearing out. Swollen knees and the inability to walk brought the point home. I like to be active, and while walking is fine, which I do plenty of when out hiking and photographing, I also like to move a bit quicker.

So I bought a bike a couple years ago. I am not an avid bike rider, especially in Sioux City where the car drivers are quite heinous when it comes to safety. So I have taken to strapping my bike to my car and going out of town. And it is surprising that in a number of small communities around the Siouxland area, there are some various nice bike trails. They safely navigate one through their town and out into the country. No sharing the streets with car drives more interested in viewing text messages than actually driving.

LeMars, Iowa, has a nice bike trail. Is not that far away, and after a good ride, one can always stop at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream parlour for a well deserved treat.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland Spring snow storm, Sioux City

11 Apr

After a winter in Siouxland, people really start looking forward to Spring. Warmer temperatures, no snow to shovel, lighter jackets or sweaters and no falling down on slick sidewalks. But if Spring is slow to come and show up, even the best grin and bear it types start getting restless and grumpy, even through normally in Spring, snow does not last very long. This year however this particular snow storm arrived earlier this week. Monday’s temperature was near 70 degrees, but then Tuesday brought rain, sleet, freezing rain, hail, snow thunder, lightning and finally Wednesday evening, snow. It is all very pretty, but some sunshine, warmer temperatures and hearing robins sing in the morning might be nice. The robins I saw kept flittering around looking for a dry place and a little warmth. More rain is forecast in several days which is nice, but the temperatures are still hovering in the 40’s which could easily bring more snow yet this Spring.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Where is Siouxland’s Spring, Woodbury County

25 Mar

During the last couple of days Siouxland has been getting more snow. Not like other parts of the Midwest, or Mid-Atlantic states, but still. Enough already. Spring has officially arrived already. And Winter is supposed to be “done”. The rodent supposedly saw his shadow back in February. You can’t trust anyone anymore.  I like snow. And had it been say 10 inches or a foot, I would have grumbled, but at least I could have gone snow shoeing. Instead, it’s just chilly outside. And with the wind gust, it’s really chilly.

 

I think even the geese are confused. They are still flying, but which direction? North for the warmer weather, or south because Winter has not finished? I did some some robins the other day. A brother of mine out East said he saw some there a week ago. And thought maybe they got buried under the snow out there. I am guessing they found a nice pub and are hanging out until they can frolic in the sunshine. The weather people are predicting temperatures in the 50’s by the end of this week, and I’m rooting for them. Of course, I always root for the underdog.

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Owl Prowl in Siouxland, Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

24 Feb

Hoot. Hoot, hoot, hoot. Cue the wind, hear the leaves rustling in the tress as visitors to Sioxland’s Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center head out for an evening stroll along a trail to hear, if not see, some of the Center’s nocturnal friends, particularly the Owl.

” We’re here at the Dorothy Pecaut Center for a program called the Owl Prowl. And we’re just here to learn the types of owls that live in our area. What they sound like. What they look like. A little bit about them and then we’ll see if we can find some out on our trails,” so said Woodbury County naturalist Therea Kruid, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2013 at the Nature Center.

Kruid explained that around the Center and in Stone State Park that borders the Center she has seen or heard three specific types of owls, the screech owl,  the barred owl and the great horned owl. Even though there are other types of owls, these three are the predominate ones people will find in the area.

She said that owls’ eyes are large, for hunting nocturnally, and by comparison that if people had eyes like owls, they would be the size of tennis balls.

“Most birds have the really stiff edges to their feathers and then owls have really soft frayed edges, so that it kind of quiets the sound a little bit, (while they’re flying), she explained. “So quiet, sometimes you just don’t even know that they’re there.”

Kruid said she remembers sitting around a campfire one evening and an owl flew just overhead of the group she was with and no one heard it or even knew it was there until it was right over head.The group hiked in darkness for about an hour, periodically stopping along a trail in the wooded area while Kruid played different owl calls from an electronic device she had. Previously she said owls would respond to the calls, especially during mating season. But even though some people said they heard one owl call in return to the electronic call, no one saw one or heard one. The naturalist also explained that owls eat all sorts of things. Mostly rodents and insects, and said that the screech owl loves moths and June bugs. She stated that feathers on owls  cover their ears and even there legs and right down to their talons, where as other daylight birds of prey, raptors, the feathers stop higher up the leg. Kruid said naturists believe the feathering was due to the owls hunting at night so needed the extra warmth, as the day time birds of prey needed speed. She also mentioned that tests have been done concerning owls’ eyesight and it was found they could see a rodent a distance that incorporated the length of a football field.

The Hase family of Sioux City, Iowa, Greg and his daughter, Madison, said they didn’t see any owls during the prowl but heard one and Madison believed it was a screech owl. Mr Hase said the family just wanted a fun night out while the temperatures were a little warmer.  The Nature Center sponsors different events throughout the year and also camps for children. These activities can be found on its website.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

%d bloggers like this: