Tag Archives: rural america

A Drive through rural Siouxland, Harrison County

30 Nov
Sometimes vehicle sunroofs can be beneficial when bird spotting like in rural Harrison County near Magnolia, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was nice to get out on a recent weekend to drive about rural Iowa in Siouxland without extreme cold or snowy conditions on the backroads and Loess Hills byways. I enjoy driving through the scenic areas skirting the footballs of what is known as the Loess Hills in Iowa that stretches down into the southwest portion of Iowa.

A gravel road traversing the byways in rural Harrison County near Magnolia, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular stretch of road and the general direction I was headed kept me driving through hilly areas most of which are wooded and will be necessary to check out come next fall. Coming across various rural scenes and sightings was rewarding and fun. I never drive very fast on the backroads allowing drivers with more “pressing matters” the opportunity to go around me as I look for subjects of interest to point my camera at.

Although at first hard to see, two deer find a lunch time meal in a newly harvested corn field in rural Harrison County near Magnolia, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A rural scene in Harrison County near Magnolia, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While the pace of being in the country really isn’t all that less frenetic as city dwellers, it does give one a chance to pause, look around, enjoy the beauty of the countryside if that appeals to a person. Some folk may find that really, really boring, but for others it is that slice of heaven. Time flies by fast enough until one realizes it has, and wonders how that happened. So slow drives on a weekend may not stop time or even slow it down, but I can personally can make an effort to enjoy it for what it is for myself and forgot about other crazy stuff happening in the world around me for a little while.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spotting an eagle sitting in a tree over a gravel road in rural Harrison County near Magnolia, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching Seasonal Changes in Siouxland, rural Monona County, Iowa

18 Nov
Two weathered out buildings of a former homestead along a gravel backroad in rural Monona County, Iowa near Castana, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I encourage photography students to revisit places they have previously photographed because there will always be changes. Different time of day, time of year, weather, it all plays a part in an image one wants to create.

And it’s fun to witness the change, plus being out in the country away from all the white noise and just cruising a back road listening to music. I also ask students what is a better way to spend a day, that out photographing. Of course I am biased, but still.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The look of fall in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Forgotten Small Towns in Siouxland, Arcola, rural Monona County

10 Nov
Arcola was an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History is a funny thing. Some things are never forgotten, and then others are never remembered but for sign posts. In Siouxland apparently as well as other places in Iowa there are a number of early towns of which little is known.

Arcola was an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A hillside near where Arcola was situated, an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The only reference I could find doing a little searching online is that once a post office was in a township where Arcola was located from 1861-1187. The town came in to existence prior to the start of the Civil War and lasted for a short bit after the war between the states.

The countryside around the posted sign is hilly, part of the Loess Hills region in western Iowa and only happenstance while driving by allowed me to even catch sight of the sign. Now the area is wooded, with some surrounding farmland and a winding road that drifts off like a trail may have in those days when the state was in its infancy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Arcola was an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Fall Day in Siouxland, rural Monona County

6 Nov
The look of fall in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a drive in Siouxland on some back country roads is always a joy in the fall. Colors are changing in the landscape and the light play is fun to see and how it might sculpt the landscape.

The look of fall in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The look of fall in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As days begin to grow shorter, even before the change of Daylight Savings, it’s nice that the crack of dawn doesn’t begin before 6:30 or 7 am. The same is true for sunsets. Driving around on the backroads with music on allows one to forget about whatever animosity is occurring in the world.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The look of fall in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The look of fall in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Patience in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

25 Oct
A turkey vulture waits for a passer-by to leave to resume a meal in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes patience is key in obtaining what one wants. Recently while driving some backroads in rural Monona County in Siouxland I interrupted a mealtime by some turkey vultures. Whether it was fresh road kill or not, the creatures patiently waited for me to leave so mealtime could continue and the good eats would not be wasted.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Turkey vultures wait for a passer-by to leave to resume a meal in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Fall Season in Siouxland, Lewis and Clark State Park, Onawa

21 Oct
The look of fall at Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Smoke from the western states wildfires has begun to clear in the Siouxland area and fall color pops a bit more while taking photographs. I like others am getting out enjoying it while it lasts. One never knows when a heavy rain and wind storm will come through depositing shimmering gold leaves into a pile on the ground. Where all that glitters turns to a rust color of dried and decaying leaves.

The look of fall at Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The look of fall at Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Lewis and Clark State Park offers some nice color and with clearer skies the leaves fairly sparkled in the sunlight. Weather prognosticators are calling for colder temperatures coming to the area and some strong winds as the temps begin to drop. Not good sign for folk wanting to enjoy a few fall days of leaf peeping. Some have predicted a rain/snow shower forecast for the coming days. too soon for such a wacky year by my estimation.

So enjoying the days now is important as tomorrow brings something different.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The look of fall at Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Walk in Siouxland, Preparation Canyon State Forest, Rural Monona County

11 Oct
A couple takes a selfie along a trail in Preparation Canyon State Forest enjoying the changing colors of fall leaves in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall in Siouxland, like elsewhere, is just a nice time to get out and enjoy nature and what’s available. Like many places this year, the colors are a bit muted with western wildfire smoke and haze and from a drought that still continues for western Iowa as rainfall is almost 10 inches shy of normal according to some meteorologists.

A couple finish their hike along a trail in Preparation Canyon State Forest enjoying the changing colors of fall leaves in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A couple check out the history from an information display about Preparation Canyon State Forest enjoying the changing colors of fall leaves in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Preparation Canyon State Forest is a nice place to visit and hike as trails through the woodlands/prairie area. The trails are fairly easy to navigate but become narrow in places so care should be taken. I always enjoy the view from an observation deck on those days I don’t feel like a taking a walk. I had been cruising about the Loess Hills area looking for what fall color I could find. Most of it in yellows and lighter shades of green. Without the extra moisture and no profound cold snap yet, although there have been some cool nights, colors may not be forthcoming this year.

A man walks his dog along a trail at Preparation Canyon State Forest enjoying the changing colors of fall leaves in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two men check out Preparation Canyon State Forest while enjoying the changing colors of fall leaves in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With possibly some cooler days ahead, and maybe rain, the time for enjoying the changing leaves on trees could be short lived. With such a wacky year already, I guess fall could be just as wacky. I was kind of hoping though that it might be a long, slow one to give folk time to enjoy some more outdoor time before the blast of winter arrives and keeping folk indoors.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Curbside Food to go in Siouxland, Rural Cherokee County

18 Aug

A turkey vulture swoops in to join some friends in a roadside meal in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The advent of the coronavirus and its ancillary effects on people’s lives in Siouxland and elsewhere has been somewhat profound and probably the full extent will not be known until the virus is under control. People’s lives have changed including eating habits. Folk used to go out for meals but now many are dialing and asking for delivery or doing a pickup themselves. This kind of behavior I believe has been ongoing for years if not decades or longer in the animal world.

A turkey vulture looks up the roadway before feasting on some road kill in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Raptors, especially turkey vultures, have been enjoying “curbside meals” for as long as I have seen them. Sometimes I have to be cautious driving in the country because these birds are reluctant to leave their meal once they found it alongside the roadway and I don’t want them flying up and into my vehicle when I pass by. These creatures would probably turn their heads and wonder why these two-legged creatures haven’t been doing this previously.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Turkey vultures find their meal interrupted as a car approaches their road kill dinner in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Summer Day’s Drive in Siouxland, rural Cherokee County

8 Aug

A perfect Iowa summer’s day in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like driving about in the summer in Siouxland on back country roads. I don’t have to drive fast and can just enjoy the scenery. Growing up on a farm I sometimes think that prejudiced me to like being in the country rather than in the city. I am not exactly “Green Acres” material and those who understand will get the gist. Wide open spaces, a slow pace driving gravel roads and enjoying the a summer’s breeze, provided that the temperature isn’t in the 90’s and the humidity above 75%. Without the radio on, or maybe some low key jazz, my mind wanders and ideas come and go as I make my way in various places in this part of Iowa. When I was younger, I know I was in a hurry. Now, I want to enjoy the moment, hopefully a nice moment, and get to what needs being done in good time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A perfect Iowa summer’s day in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An Americana Moment in Siouxland, Rural Cherokee County

30 Jul

An old, unused railroad trestle at the Pearse Area in rural Cherokee County and near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun to find a moment in life that seems to be pure Americana, especially in rural America, even in Siouxland. Possibly reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting. Although in this day and age that viewpoint may seem skewed to a particular demographic. But summertime is essentially kids’ time. Before the vagaries of adulthood creep into sight and childhood fun time has to be put aside.

A perfect Iowa summer’s day for some teenage boys as they jump from an old railroad trestle into the Little Sioux River in rural Cherokee County near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. What some might consider a quintessential slice of rural Americana and a right of passage hanging out at a favorite swimming hole. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Idyllic may be another way of looking at it. I was surprised and happy while out roaming some backroads in Cherokee County one day and I had come across this bridge and thought it might create a nice image. Then by chance driving across the the Little Sioux River I spied from some distance a group of boys up on the old trestle. Sometimes God smiles on you and the kids hung out long enough for me to swap lenses and from a short zoom to a telephoto. The railroad trestle was still some 2-3 football fields away, but made it possible to shoot a little tighter and tell a story many children in many places have experienced.

A perfect Iowa summer’s day for some teenage boys as they jump from an old railroad trestle into the Little Sioux River in rural Cherokee County near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. What some might consider a quintessential slice of rural Americana and a right of passage hanging out at a favorite swimming hole. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not all of the boys jumped into the water, but those that did spaced themselves out and hung around while the others behind them dropped into the water, creating their own living quintessential slice of Americana that maybe someday their own children may experience growing up in a rural place, some call heaven, others not so much. These boys are enjoying their summer, not thinking about tomorrow or next week or what school life might look like this year. Just enjoying a summer’s day and being kids.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A perfect Iowa summer’s day for some teenage boys as they jump from an old railroad trestle into the Little Sioux River in rural Cherokee County near Quimby, Iowa Monday, July 21, 2020. What some might consider a quintessential slice of rural Americana and a right of passage hanging out at a favorite swimming hole. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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