Tag Archives: rural iowa

Storms in Siouxland, rural Sioux County

5 Aug

Storm clouds appear to bring rain showers near Ireton, Iowa in rural Sioux County Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I was younger and prior to living in Siouxland I chased a few storms for newspapers I previously worked for, in west Texas and Louisiana. Looking back on those experiences it was probably not the best of choices. But it can produce interesting images. Many of them centered on property destruction on surrounding communities where I worked. Storms roll through the Midwest and Siouxland in the spring and summer. Sometimes they can be pretty dramatic, other times they bring needed rain without much drama. Generally those are the better storms. But I still enjoy going out occasionally to check out the clouds and such and hope the most action I see is heavy rain. Done the the hail and high winds and I can pass on those. To which the adage “no pain no gain” can extol a heavy price especially when personal vehicles are damaged.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Storm clouds appear to bring rain showers near Ireton, Iowa in rural Sioux County Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Storm clouds appear to bring rain showers near Ireton, Iowa in rural Sioux County Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying “Light Play” in Siouxland, rural Monona County

9 Jul

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting various areas of a hillside off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when I drive about Siouxland I have not particular destination in mind, or at least no particular subject matter. Sometimes when checking out an area to see what I can find and have as a resource for later use I will take a drive. One particular weekend day afternoon to got lucky as the sun was getting low in the sky for the end of the day, the sunlight broke through the cloud cover that had contained it and showered the countryside with light. Very directional and hard lighting that will give a landscape a bit of character or bring its own character out as it sculpts hillsides and other amenities.

A lone Canada goose sits quietly on a shaded pond off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting various areas of a hillside off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like watching the light when it creates some amazing possibilities for images. Even if I am not shooting or in position for what I might think would be a good photograph. A pond nearby was in shade because of the low setting sun and the trees and provides a good contrast (pun intended since there is no contrast in light at the pond) to what an area looks like without the sunlight streaming across.

Life sometimes should be simple and a joy to just enjoy simple things, like sunlight and a landscape.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting various areas of a hillside off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring Siouxland, rural Monona County

7 Jul

A winding country road beckons one to explore in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I sometimes feel like I haven’t been exploring Siouxland as much as I have in the past. Other concerns and work tends to keep one busy, as well as higher gas prices. But slowly driving about back country roads is always a joy because one never knows what to expect or what one might see. Sometimes nothing and then again.

A wood barn still stands seen off a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting an outbuilding off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular area I have driven many times but recently found out about a wildlife management area I have never hiked and it has some amazing views. So I drove out this direction a couple of times before a prairie seminar was to take place so I could actually find it and attend. Nothing worse than going somewhere and never arriving because one couldn’t find it.

A farmer makes his way to his next field for spring planting preparation on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cattle graze in a field just off a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And on a coolish evening as the sun begins to set, the light doesn’t magical things to the surrounding countryside and all within it. A better way to end an evening that some I have had in the past. Just wandering, listening to music and enjoying the moment.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting an outbuilding off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Sunset in Siouxland, rural Monona County

13 Jun

A muskrat has a snack in a pond off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Everyone seems to have a routine when it comes to the end of day and the sun sets a little lower in the sky before dropping behind the horizon as nighttime falls. Even in Siouxland it seems critters use the remaining daylight hours to enjoy the moment before the coming night.

What appears to be a muskrat slips away after enjoying a meal away in a pond on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Red Wing Blackbird sings its heart as the suns begins to reach the horizon line out on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy driving about this time of day, and if parked somewhere in the country, the bird song fills the air almost up until evening is fully descended. Restoring a sense of calm and quiet, it’s a pleasant way to end one’s day. As the days get a bit longer there will be more time to enjoy the countryside and its residents if they care to share with a visitor passing through.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Possibly a Cooper’s Hawk sits almost unnoticed in the distance in a treetop as the sun sets and it looks for maybe one last meal in a field off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Stop and Go on a Country Road, rural Monona County

9 Jun

A deer checks its surroundings along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While out driving about some backroads in Siouxland I always feel so lucky when I come across wildlife and they take the time to acknowledge me, in a cautious way, as I try to take a few photographs from a distance to see if I can. I shoot a lot of frames these days because I know how fleeting some of these moments can be. Also, driving slowly on the back roads with minimal if no traffic is helpful in that I can pull to the side or shoulder safely and slip out of the car seat to get a better vantage point or angle and not feel like I am a contortionist behind the steering wheel.

A deer makes its way along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A deer stops to eat along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This young deer came up from out of a field not far from where some Turkey Vultures were gathered eating carrion on the roadway. The deer looked about warily, walked a bit, ate a bit and then walked some more, stopping and starting as it found the greens it was looking for before disappearing off the roadway down into another field safe for another day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer makes its way along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning to Share in Siouxland, rural Monona County, Whiting

26 May

Turkey vultures spar over who gets to dine first on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems one of life’s lessons for many species, even those here in Siouxland, is that sometimes one needs to share. Driving out in the country recently I came across a demised raccoon on a gravel road with Turkey Vultures posturing and maneuvering to get a chance to eat some of the remains. And the vultures did a little dance until finally they decided that maybe it is best to be patient and share in the spoils.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

One Turkey Vulture gives a little push back than arrival who wanted to join in on the meal on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The newly arrived Turkey Vulture relents trying to muscle in on a quick bite while on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Turkey vultures wait for their turn to dine first on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

“Shooting the Moon” in Siouxland, rural Woodbury County

22 May

A full moon rises as the sun sets behind a the horizon over an Iowa countryside near Anthon, Iowa Saturday evening May 15, 2022 before the lunar eclipse takes place later creating the blood moon. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the seasons change in Siouxland and the days slowly get longer, I find it easier to “stay up later” and try some photographic adventures. Although a friend of mine was probably disappointed that I didn’t want to shoot later, I find myself fading sooner as night approaches than I did when a younger person.

We ventured out to try our hand at photographing the blood moon, which was created by a partial lunar eclipse. I have driven countless backroads around the Siouxland region, but when it came time to decide where to situate ourselves so the moon create a nice backdrop to something in the foreground, I drew a blank, and settled for a stretch of roadway and hillside.

But after an hour of shooting I found myself fading faster than the setting sun. I told my friend to continue shooting and I didn’t mind staying out late, but I decided to just enjoy the moonrise as it got darker than to try and photograph it in the night sky.

It was amazing to see though. And while there are no European cathedrals in rural Siouxland to utilize in creating an image of note, there is always next month to maybe plan a little better and find a place that would visually create a better scene. Time will tell.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A full moon rises over an Iowa countryside near Anthon, Iowa Saturday evening May 15, 2022 before the lunar eclipse takes place later creating the blood moon. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Outdoors in Siouxland, Snyder Bend Park, rural Woodbury County

1 Mar
Canada geese fly in and out from open water at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa, Friday, February 11, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Just recently I learned that a park in rural Siouxland was once again up and running. Snyder Bend Park had some surreal visitation in 2020 but with drought conditions and some other issues, the water area was drained and only recently refilled and stocked with fish, which brought with it the return of waterfowl. A number of Canada geese on a blustery day were doing touch and goes with one group landing on the water while another took offer and soaring on the air currents around the park.

The cacophony of noise was somewhat deafening but understandable with a large flock of geese. Some of the waterway was iced over, but a decent portion had open water and the waterfowl were making the most of it. Maybe happy to return to a favorite stop over spot on their migration route.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Canada geese on open water at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa, Friday, February 11, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese do a fly over at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa, Friday, February 11, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa, Friday, February 11, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Unexpectedly Finding History in Siouxland, Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge, Monona County

21 Feb

A older sign designating a place as a campsite of the Lewis and Clark expedition when it moved through the area exploring the Louisiana Purchase found near Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge in Monona County, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021, near Whiting, IA. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes I find it amazing as I explore Siouxland the little things that pop up, whether true or not , because of a convenient history and clever marketing or the actual truth.

While checking out the Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge area in rural Monona County I came upon a sign trying to photograph White American Pelicans on the lake area. I was walking around the lake and looking for a vantage point to photograph the pelicans through the trees when I saw the sign, almost covered by weeds and somewhat obscured by a cornfield not yet harvested.

The Sergeant Floyd Monument is located in Sioux City not that many miles from this area located south of it and where the only Lewis and Clark Expedition member died while exploring the Louisiana Purchase territory for then President Thomas Jefferson.

When the anniversary of the expedition occurred so many years ago and people were traveling the country “following” the trail, it’s only human nature to find some sort of tie-in to history. Attracting tourism dollars is never a bad thing. And it’s more than possible that remnants of a campsite and/or mention in the journals’ of the explorers account for this area being a stopping point. Travel in those days was slow, even slower via a reluctant Missouri River.

A older sign designating a place as a campsite of the Lewis and Clark expedition when it moved through the area is found near Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge in Monona County, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021, near Whiting, IA. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring an area across the road from a where sign states a former campsite of the Lewis and Clark expedition was located when it moved through the area exploring the Louisiana Purchase and found near Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge in Monona County, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021, near Whiting, IA. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having previously worked for various newspapers I am always skeptical about information I find. I guess it comes with the territory as people either want to embellish their importance in life or trying to deflect something about that life. That truth seems a little more evident these days, but I digress.

Still, it is fun to think that standing there at that spot were some brave souls on an adventure exploring a country still in its infancy and having no idea how the areas they explored would look centuries later. The prairie these men encountered is long gone, now mostly farmland, and the Missouri River “tamed” by a corp of engineers, whose verdict, depending on who one talks with, is still out.

But on a sunny fall day, with a breeze blowing and geese flying for a brief moment one might think you are encountering a scene those men saw so many, many years before.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Geese fly overhead of an area across the road from a where sign states a former campsite of the Lewis and Clark expedition was located when it moved through the area exploring the Louisiana Purchase is found near Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge in Monona County, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021, near Whiting, IA. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring an area across the road from a where sign states a former campsite of the Lewis and Clark expedition was located when it moved through the area exploring the Louisiana Purchase is found near Badger Lake Wildlife Refuge in Monona County, Tuesday Oct. 19, 2021, near Whiting, IA. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History on Hallowed Ground in Siouxland, Fairview Cemetery, Albaton

28 Jan
Resting sites of early residents who may have settled the area seen at the Fairview Cemetery near the early settlement of Albaton, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So many small communities in Iowa, present and past, maintain cemeteries that collectively hold a lot of history of Iowa in Siouxland and elsewhere. But many times those histories of former residents or pioneers are not accessible to more than the few remaining residents or folk who live in the immediate area.

The site of the former Albaton Wesleyan Church, 1886-2005 at the Fairview Cemetery, near the early settlement of Abaton, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Fairview Cemetery is the final resting place of many early residents who may have settled the area two centuries previous near the early settlement of Albaton, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Resting sites of early residents who may have settled the area seen at the Fairview Cemetery near the early settlement of Albaton, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

At most sometimes one can find a listing of those buried within these various resting places like Fairview Cemetery in Albaton, but beyond that or knowing descendants or local residents, not much else can be discerned about the history of the place or its former residents.

Judging by the dates some of these folk buried here as elsewhere were pioneers to the area. Traveling by wagon train or walking to find a new life west of the Mississippi at the time. A reference to the former community I found online also showed photographs but nothing definitive about the place itself.

So a cursory understanding who settled into the area, and if they prospered will never be known outside of descendants if any exist. History is a continuum of life, but sometimes that life and history can be very fleeting on that long road.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Resting sites of early residents who may have settled the area seen at the Fairview Cemetery near the early settlement of Albaton, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Resting sites of early residents who may have settled the area seen at the Fairview Cemetery near the early settlement of Albaton, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The site of the former Albaton Wesleyan Church, 1886-2005 at the Fairview Cemetery, near the early settlement of Abaton, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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