Tag Archives: outdoors

Light Play in Siouxland and the Loess Hills, Monona County

23 Sep

I like driving around the backroads or county gravel roads in Siouxland. Better when it has not recently rained. Nothing like getting stuck to make one appreciate cement roadways. But it’s the backroads where one can find some nice images as you meander around.

Fast moving clouds play and hide and seek with the sun and ground below them in the Loess Hills in Monona County, Iowa Tuesday August 29, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the Loess Hills in Monona County I keep switch back driving these roads and find myself driving through natural or agricultural settings. It’s especially fun after a recent storm or change in weather when the clouds fill the sky. As they move about they create a lot of light play on the ground and finding oneself in the right place at the right time can create nice images. But, one also has to be patient and wait for the clouds to pass below the sun. And at times it feels like forever.

But it really is worth it and then comes trying to decide which images best describe the scene one photographs. And how the light plays on the ground and what visually is appealing to you. That can be tough, but well worth the time spent enjoying the day, nature and seeing what scenes God displays for you.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Revisiting a state preserve in Siouxland, Gitchie Monitou

7 Sep

This summer I revisited a state preserve in the northern most reaches of Siouxland, Gitchie Monitou. I hadn’t been there for a while and when I returned it was kind of sad because of so much more graffiti on the walls of a former shelter. Plus paint cans dumped around the area. And it wasn’t very good graffiti at that.

Graffiti is sprawled around a former shelter building at Gitchie Manitou State Preserve in Lyon County near Granite, Iowa Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was a good day to be out, with parts of this summer being very hot and humid, so I though the trip up and a hike would be nice. And the hiking and other aspects of the day and visit were good. Plus I hadn’t seen the preserve during this time of year when it was more green. My last visit was very early in the spring before foliage started leafing out after winter.

Large mansions on the outskirts of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, overlook Gitchie Manitou State Preserve in Lyon County near Granite, Iowa Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I just find it sad that some folk can’t leave a place as it is for others to follow to enjoy it. I am sure these people have their own residences they could deface with paint or let others deface their residences so those in nature could be spared. But then, I might be a little too old fashioned.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying the outdoors in Siouxland, Le Mars Bike Trail

3 Sep

On a recent trip to Le Mars, Iowa I needed an outdoor fix and so walked the community’s bike trail. When done in totality, it’s about 11-12 miles. This particular day was just a nice summer day and I walked around 7 miles.

Walking along the bike trail by the Floyd River in Le Mars, IA Monday Aug. 7, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course, when walking one has to get somewhere and then return. But the temperature was in the 70’s and the clouds populated the sky making the walk all the more enjoyable. And I found I wasn’t the only one to enjoy the beautiful day.

Soaring on a beautiful day above the bike trail in Le Mars, IA Monday Aug. 7, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of raptors were circling the area, maybe enjoying the thermals or seeing what the dinner menu might hold for them. I too started contemplating what I might have for dinner myself that day with a few hunger pangs telling me that it was time to head home.

Baseball’s summer days are waning along the bike trail in Le Mars, IA Monday Aug. 7, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I neared my parked car I saw a ball diamond and realized the sport of summer would soon be ending along with the season, and that I should just appreciate the chance to enjoy a summer’s day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Venturing over Siouxland’s Border, Steen, MN

22 Aug

I spent part of a recent day visiting an Iowa State Preserve in Siouxland near the South Dakota border which is also not far from the Minnesota border. While heading  home I saw a sign that said, Steen, MN, six miles. I made a detour. After living in Iowa for a number of years I have not ventured into Minnesota. No particular reason, I just never got there. When I hit the outskirts of the small community I had not even realized I had crossed a state border.

A sign at a park welcomes visitors to Steen, Minnesota Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Steen is a tidy little community. Originally settled by one Ole P. Steen who fought for the North during the Civil War as a calvaryman. Like many of Iowa’s early communities, Steen was created, 1888, because the Illinois Central Railroad needed a railroad station. Today it’s population is a little over 170 people according to the 2014 census. Many communities that start as a railway hub eventually hit a peek as that hub moves to another community. After having spent a bit photographing various aspects of the community, a pick-up stopped next to me and a man popped out introducing himself as mayor. He was quick, and handed me a little booklet about the community’s centennial which occurred in 1988. A man proud of his hometown and a place he calls home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Bike Adventure Starts in Siouxland, Orange City

20 Aug

Every year RAGBRAI ( Des Moines- Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) begins somewhere in western Iowa and most times begins somewhere is Siouxland. The ride has been going on since the 1970’s and continues to grow each year drawing riders from across the U.S. and even from some other countries.

John Potter, left, and dad Dale Potter of Knoxville, TN, will ride their 4th RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) event which begins in Orange City, Iowa, Saturday July 12, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Participants line up to sign in for the kickoff and the ride for RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) event which begins in Orange City, Iowa, Saturday July 12, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A convivial recreational bike ride that stops each night in communities along the way and where people celebrate summer with food, music, and an opportunity for even smaller communities to highlight themselves and entertain a genial crowd while boosting their economy.

Instead of Tulip Festival and Dutch history associated items, biking gear and accessories are found on the main drag for the kickoff of RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) event which begins in Orange City, Iowa, Saturday July 12, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Normally Orange City, which hosted the start of the ride, is known for its celebration of its Dutch heritage and its annual Tulip Festival that draws thousands each May to enjoy in the community celebration. This year it was decked out in all things bike. And visitors and residents alike got into the spirit of it.

Brother and sister Chloe and Sam Nonhof hope some bike riders stop by to buy lemonade from them as the kickoff for the RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) event which begins in Orange City, Iowa, Saturday July 12, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Residents spruce up their yards fand reflect a little of their Dutch roots or the kickoff for the RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) event which begins in Orange City, Iowa, Saturday July 12, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A rider participant wears a tee shirt in an ode to Iowa that the pretty much sums up the RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) event which begins in Orange City, Iowa, Saturday July 12, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Personally I like to bike, but not in crowds, but the atmosphere of the day before the start of the ride was of a celebration with people enjoying summer time and all that the week ahead would provide. And this year participants were lucky because a heat wave with high humidity was passing and cooler weather was flowing into Iowa making the days with some 50-60 miles of riding more bearable.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

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

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