Tag Archives: outdoors

Winter and Spring Effects in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

13 May

The Vermillion River seen along the bike path near Cotton Park in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Vermillion River near Cotton park flooded earlier this spring as seen from debris left in trees along the bank. This river and other waterways flooded when a still frozen snow-covered ground couldn’t absorb rain that fell in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On an outing in Vermillion, SD with a Lifelong Learning class in photography that I teach we ventured along the Vermillion River that runs below Vermillion, SD. It’s like a lot of other rivers and normally provides a nice walk on a bike path near a park in the community. I have visited this walking a path a few times and I was struck by some fundamental changes, like sand being scooped off the walkways so people could pass through. This I guess occurred when the river ran high with rains and the ground still frozen from winter last spring. In only a couple of days or more sand was swept from the riverbed and deposited outside of the banks. But it will take more time to return the sand that accumulated.

Photo Safari students from Western Iowa Tech walk along the bike path near Cotton Park that was cleared of sand from a flooding Vermillion River seen in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Erosion of the bank of the Vermillion River along the bike path near Cotton Park in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One can also see new erosion from the rushing river water and how eventually it will affect paths that run alongside it and provide enjoyment and a respite for locals. Nature can be beautifully destructive at times. I was also amazed at how high some river detritus I saw along the path as the water spread out of its banks and ran high.

 

A wooden bridge gives a good vantage point at Cotton Park in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And that’s what I like about visiting and revisiting local areas because they change. Sometimes changes that we as people don’t find beneficial but for me it’s the exploring and looking and just being outside finally with warmer temperatures even though nature sometimes reminds us that we are just along for the ride.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying the Outdoors in Siouxland, Hitchcock Nature Center

7 May

Hiking a trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I do enjoy a good walk in nature in and around the Siouxland region. I have only spent a few times visiting the Hitchcock Nature Center but enjoy it immensely each time I go. Recently on a very pleasant spring day I went hiking with some friends and enjoyed a warm day, blossoming trees (well greening anyway) and views that always impress.

A trail leads out into the forest at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A rest area along the boardwalk trail looks out over a scenic view at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The nature or interpretive center at the park has lots of information and the folk manning the facility are always friendly and willing to offer suggestions. Views of the emergence of spring and warmer weather while standing on a watch tower near the interpretive center makes finding views accessible.

The lodge and interpretive center at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A watch tower and viewer stand next to the lodge and interpretive center at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A well worn trail at right leading out into the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A trail leads out into the forest at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On this trip I talked with a woman and told her I was surprised that I could still see flood water in the distance where it should be dry with farmers getting into fields readying to plant. Sections of an interstate highway that runs through there is still closed because of spring flooding and a confluence of events with an early rain, still frozen ground and snow on the ground  too that created conditions where water inundated farm land and some smaller communities causing evacuations. Views of the emergence of spring and warmer weather while standing on a watch tower near the interpretive center makes finding views accessible.

Flood water can still be seen in the distance that inundated small communities and flood water that caused some evacuations in early spring from the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I find that sweet about revisiting places I seen previously because it is never the same, for good or bad. Changes take place, nature or man can affect what one might encounter at a later time and therein lies the interest that feeds my curiosity besides just enjoying a nice day out, fresh air and hanging out with friends.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Taking a break from walking at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photographing a vista of the surrounding landscape at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Hillsides are just starting to green up near the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County, near Honey Creek, Iowa Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying Winter Activities in Siouxland, Bacon Creek Park

24 Feb

People kill a little time looking at their phone while ice fishing at Bacon Creek park Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As winters in the Siouxland area seem to embrace extremes, warmer temps, then freezing below zero temps, I admire those who like to embrace winter activities and get out to enjoy them. Ice fishing is one such activity. As a youngster I ran out onto a small stream bed covered in ice and made the mistake of finding an area where it wasn’t frozen solid. I write about that now as it was because of an older brother who fished me out and helped get me home to warm up and become wiser. I don’t venture out onto ice at all anymore, even when the temps are dipping below zero.

People ice fish at Bacon Creek park Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But some people love the sport of fishing and try their hand every year to catch whatever nibbles at their bait through the ice. It’s a nice way to enjoy the outdoors. And it also makes me think of the movie that included Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, “Grumpy Old Men”, something I can enjoy in the comfort of my home, drinking another cup of coffee and thinking, that’s really swell.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A man begins preparations to ice fish at Bacon Creek park Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Fall leaves frozen in the lake at Bacon Creek park Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Warm-up in Siouxland, Bacon Creek Park, Sioux City

14 Feb

A runner takes advantage of a warm day at Bacon Creek park Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During a recent change in weather in Siouxland, I ventured out to a local park, Bacon Creek, to enjoy some breathable fresh air without my lungs freezing. And I wasn’t alone. The recent extreme temperatures that with windchill was well below zero, approaching almost a -40 degrees. But people with their dogs or by themselves getting some exercise were enjoying the 40 degree weather, practically a 100 degree swing from the couple days previous.

On a warmer day than normal people walks the path at Bacon Creek park Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A runner and her dog enjoy the warmer than normal day at Bacon Creek park Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

More snow and cold is expected in the forecasts which is not to be unexpected for this time of year. But it is nice for a respite from the very cold weather and a chance to enjoy nature again without feeling the need to hurry from one indoor location to the next.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Someone left a Christmas ornament hanging on one of the trees at Bacon Creek park Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A warm day at Bacon Creek park Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rescuing Raptors Near Siouxland, Fontenelle Forest, Bellevue, NE

2 Feb

A recent visit south of Siouxland took me to the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE. A nice park with plenty of trails and some easy board walks for everyone to easily navigate and enjoy the outdoors.

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©)

Another interesting aspect of that park/preserve is there is a raptor rescue center which helps rehabilitate wild birds.

A raptor refuge can be found at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A raptor refuge can be found at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There were only a few birds there when I visited but the set up for the center was similar to a large tree house, or collection of a few tree houses that housed the creatures and situated visitors on a hillside overlooking the park.

A raptor refuge can be found at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A raptor refuge where a variety of birds are rehabilitated and cared for can be found at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It made an enjoyable experience to see such birds of grandeur up close and the fact that if successful, most, if not all, would be returning to the wild once their medical situations were over. A nice way to enjoy nature for part of a day and something to look forward to again once warmer temps arrive this spring.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A raptor refuge can be found at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors are given a tour of the raptor refuge at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

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©)

Siouxland’s Tonality of Summer, Le Mars Bike Trail

17 Aug

Some days you feel like a nut, some days you don’t, to borrow a jingle from a candy bar commercial. Walking the Le Mars Bike Trail is always pleasant. More pleasant when the weather is cooler, but I like the route and depending on whether one is a nut one day or not, a person can see something numerous times and yet see it differently.

Light and shadow involving a highway bridge and supports along the Le Mars bike path in Le Mars, Iowa July 20, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have traversed this route numerous times. And I always try to see it differently. This time I looked at it through tones, as in black and white tones. My first few photographic jobs as a newspaper photographer involved shooting B&W for these various publications. And it is through the tonal variety within an image as well as the subject matter that creates the photograph which people may remember. Color does not help here. And if one looks at color when shooting B&W it may even skew results because those bright reds will be surprisingly dark shades of grey. And to differentiate a person in similar color that seems apparent in the “real” world we live in, is not in B&W. One must be a little more deliberate in the execution of creating a photograph.

Light and shade along the Le Mars bike path in Le Mars, Iowa July 20, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

You want highlights to draw a viewer’s attention and lead them merrily through your photograph to a destination that can be mysterious or in plain sight. But in black and white it still must deliver a final effort or effect which is what hopes all photographs will do.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shade along the Le Mars bike path in Le Mars, Iowa July 20, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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