Tag Archives: travel

A Little bit of Sweden in Siouxland, Oakland, NE

20 Aug

Historically populated by immigrants from Sweden who settled the area in and around Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Everyone comes from somewhere, even the people of Siouxland. The region is a bit of a European melting pot. I haven’t spent a lot of time exploring the smaller communities of Nebraska but finding some interesting places and people need to do a little more exploration.

Graduating seniors photos are displayed in the downtown area of Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Each community has its own charm and history. But the community itself is quaint and only requires a short walk about to see it the downtown area and some of the surrounding neighborhoods.

A colorfully painted scene on a building in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A colorfully painted scene on a building in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As fall gets closer it will hopefully become a little cooler and more inducement to walk about on a bright sunny day. And maybe other aspects of life will become a little safer as well for those wanting to explore a bit.

A posted sign in a grassy area in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Older buildings are getting some makeovers in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun and nice to “see” what’s around the corner or up the road a bit. I do miss popping into small cafes for lunch or coffee, preferring these days to carry a thermos and snack, which doesn’t replace the sometimes homemade pies and other goodies one might find at a cafe and a chance to chat with the folk there and learn a bit more about their community.

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A boarding house in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rock and Roll in Siouxland, Rock and Roll Museum, Arnolds Park

12 Aug

The museum is a tribute to artists who played at the Roof Garden and other venues around the Arnolds Park Amusement Park area located in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In Siouxland it’s possible to find a wide variety of museums and places that showcase historical significance, if just to the locals. The Rock and Roll Museum in Arnolds Park is one of those places. Many artists up and coming have passed through the area playing a local venue, the Roof Top Garden to the delight of fans over the years.

The Roof Garden, recently renovated for an updated look, played host to a number of famous musicians and bands who played in the area over the years and located in the Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A variety of musicians passed through playing at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reading over a list of who’s who and seeing various guitars collected and signed would make many a would-be musician and fan aficionado stop in their tracks and spend time looking and reading

the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Signed guitars by artists hang in a small theatre room with a video about the local music scene over the years seen in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a summer’s day when one wants to get away from the heat and humidity, and a poor excuse it may be, stepping inside and spending some time allows one a snapshot into many a famed artist who actually visited this part of Iowa in Siouxland, rather than “flying over” on the way to a larger venue.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A number of famous musicians and artists passed through the lakes area and are memorialized at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Deep Purple’s Tommy Bolin’s custom stage suit circa 1975 seen at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Bolin, a Sioux City native, also played in the bands Zephyr and James Gang. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Small Town and its Swedish History in Siouxland, Oakland, NE

4 Aug

It’s fun when circumstances and happenstance combine and allows one to take a peek behind the curtain. In Siouxland I am always amazed but yet shouldn’t be surprised while finding little historical gems. Maybe not grand in the scheme of things, but this country contains many more small towns and communities than large ones, and history doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

The Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE was built in the latter part of the 1800’s and was the First Covenant Church serving this community as a focal point for many. It closed as a place of worship in 1985, eventually becoming the center with its focus on the Swedish history of the community.

The Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look into downtown and the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The center or museum’s director is Tom Watterstedt who was born and raised in the community and returned in later years and has worked to take an occasional in the community’s history and become a repository of most things Swedish. His ancestors and other local residents ancestors have items on display with some coming from immigrants who made that journey to America to begin a new life.

Museum curator Tom Watterstedt talks about the Swedish Heritage Center and his own family history associated with it seen in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Gowns which belonged to Tom Watterstedt’s ancestors on display at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Memorabilia fills the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A coat made from a former residents best horse on display at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watterstedt talked about receiving so many literature items from local residents which belonged to ancestors that he said the center was running out of storage room but was loathe to chuck them in the recycle bin. So he used he training as a florist to create artful flowers for sale to help fundraise for the center.

Artificial flowers made from Swedish books of early immigrants donated to the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Formerly a First Covenant Church, the Swedish Heritage Center is now a museum of local Swedish history of the immigrants that made the journey to America, in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Local historical items on display at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As with most places during the coronavirus pandemic, the center has been closed. But with a phone call and advance notice, Watterstedt and other community members are more than willing to share their town’s history and about a small community of immigrants that helped created this country many of us call home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Confirmation graduates of the First Convenant Church now the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Historical photographs of Oakland, NE seen at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Remembering Those Serving from Siouxland, Wakefield, NE

16 Jul

A war memorial park sits just off of the downtown area in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most small communities in the Siouxland region have a small veterans memorial park dedicated to those who served in the U.S. military during one of the many conflicts that the United States has been involved in. That is true of Wakefield, NE, where a small memorial is set up just off of the downtown area.

A War Memorial Park with names on bricks of service members and when they served in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dedicated bricks to service men and women with their names donated by families for remembrance and also in support of the park. A sign post at one end notes the various places that U.S. personnel have served.

A sign post representing many theatres of war of local residents who served at the War Memorial Park in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Names on bricks of service members and when they served at a War Memorial Park in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ideally many believe the world to be a better place if there were no wars or conflicts and if people worked more in getting along. But history reminds us that many individuals don’t share that sentiment. Those persons for whatever reason relish in conflict, or the need of power and dominion over others. And no matter the psychological implications or pathologies ascribed to these people, their intentions and actions still get people killed. Those who serve to protect their country from foreign folk intent on harm, a remembrance is a small, small thank you for serving.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Vietnam-era attack helicopter on display in a War Memorial Park in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a Stroll in Siouxland, Trolls included, Oakland NE

8 Jul

A little troll acknowledges an entrance to a path near a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes it is surprising was pops up when traveling about Siouxland. A friend from the local camera club told me about this trail in the small community of Oakland, NE. The No Toll Troll Stroll itself has seen better days, but is still a fun little adventure outdoors and a chance to laugh at the short trail creation local residents created for a little amusement. A short walk through the woods and over some bridges, but no grandmother in sight. The Troll’s Stroll abuts another park that is a bit more clear cut maybe adding to the drama as one “enters” the forest. Lions, tigers and bears? No. But little people that bid one welcome.

A local park in Oakland, NE near the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A little troll and friend sits at the base of a tree along a path near a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a hot, muggy  day the short walk might feel a little overbearing, but still pleasant even if the path is a little worn over the years. I am not certain about its origins, but stopping to ask someone in town and a smile comes to their face and they immediately know what you are looking for with quick directions.

A tree-lined path way in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A little troll sits at the base of a tree along a path near a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was easy to walk past these little fellows as all are places near the base of trees, except for one at the end of the trail, which might be a good clue that the adventure is over and there is no more to the stroll.

A troll hangs from a tree along a path near a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wooden bridge crosses a small stream in a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A few additional wooden bridges will take one to another path, much less traveled these days and a bit more overgrown. But the birds were chirping and a light breeze didn’t make finding the creatures too intimidating. And just in case one might feel a little claustrophobic, one only had to look up and realize, that Oz was not too far away.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A sunny blue sky greets visitors overhead along a path near a park in Oakland, NE where one can find the No Toll Troll Stroll seen Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Missing Celebrations in Siouxland, Orange City Tulip Festival

4 Jun

Cellphones are out recording their favorite dancers during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This year the sounds of wooden shoes on pavement was quiet in Siouxland as the 80th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the nation. The three-day event generally draws anywhere from 80,000-100,000 visitors the small “Dutch” community estimates.

Children perform a Dutch dance routine during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants in the Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival, get buckets of water to prepare for the street cleaning, Thursday, May 16 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The festival is an economic boost to the community as well as a chance to show itself off to visitors and something most residents participate in. Many former residents return to visit family and friends and “relive” their own former participation of the festival.

Young boys “empty” their buckets during the Street Scrubbing at the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A mom juggles taking photos of tulips while holding her child. With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) the 80th Annual Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival was cancelled this year. Over a 3-day period the community of roughly 6,200 residents sees anywhere from 80,000-100,000 visitors attend a celebration of the community’s Dutch heritage. The cancellation economically impacts the small community. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So this year halfway through the usual festival routine, a few people make their way around tulip beds in the city park to enjoy a bountiful display of the many colored flowers and each hoping that normal returns safely and sooner than later.

A father takes a photo of his son in a Dutch costume in front of a patch of tulips. With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) the 80th Annual Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival was cancelled this year.  (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An employee of the Woudstra Meat Market poses in her Dutch costume in front of her store. With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) the 80th Annual Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival was cancelled this year, seen Friday, May 15, 2020. The cancellation economically impacts the small community. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like many communities, Orange City residents will take the cancellation in stride. Some thinking too much was made about the pandemic while others believe it was a smart course of action. With a virus, the unknowns take on a large factor, especially when close to 100,000 “strangers” visit your community was various parts of the country and the world. And one can only hope that next year will bring the return of many community celebrations here and other communities as well.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

People check out a working windmill in Windmill Park. With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) the 80th Annual Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival was cancelled this year.  (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A mother and her sons pose for photographs. With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) the 80th Annual Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival was cancelled this year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A young boys seriously checks out a patch of tulips. With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) the 80th Annual Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival was cancelled this year.  (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Venturing out of Siouxland, Lee Simmons Safari Park, Ashland, NE

13 May

Venturing out to the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Venturing out of Siouxland in recent weeks has not been totally difficult as in many places around the country, but still done with a little trepidation and awareness. On a weekend, which I don’t know what possessed me as opposed doing this during the week, I took a drive out west past Omaha, NE to visit the Lee Simmons Safari Park in Ashland, an offshoot of the Henry Doorly Zoo. It was a nice weekend and many other folk had the same idea. Normally at this park folk can park and stay and watch the animals there, but because of the coronavirus the park is currently only allowing drive through visitation.

Venturing out to the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors in vehicles snake their way past a herd of bison at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On my way out of the park I asked one of the attending park personnel how many people had visited and he responded he didn’t know the total, but roughly there were 400 vehicles every hour entering. I later told friends I had not seen this kind of bumper to bumper traffic since living in the Los Angeles area in the 1990’s. But still, people were patient and gracious, giving everyone a chance to stop and watch and photograph animals as we all snaked our way through the acreage.

Pelicans relax at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Venturing out to the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a variety of animals, although not as much as at the zoo proper. And on this particular day the animals seemed to cooperate and allow a look at a large number of people adjusting to a different way of spending leisure time.

Kids stick their head out of the top of a vehicle to better see animals at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Children poke their heads out of a sunroof and door window to better see the bison at a pond at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A bald eagle in an aviary enclosure at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Parts of Nebraska are beginning a soft reopening. Time will tell how that is going. Venturing out is desirable, but staying healthy has a stronger pull to walking about and into who knows what. Maybe some road trips onto the backroads of Iowa and Nebraska, just to take a look and see what one should visit again when the coast is clear.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A pelican “waves” at visitors driving through  the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Animals roam free at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying a drive through at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Animals relax as people driver through the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Signage directs visitors to see the animals and find other places at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Some Me Time in Siouxland, Hitchcock Nature Center

21 Apr

A chipmunk sits on a cinder block wall trying to stay warm on a cold spring day at Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes a little me time is a good thing. A chance to reflect on life and stop and smell whatever aromas are occurring around one. Even in Siouxland critters as well as people need time to catch a breath and view the sites and take a moment.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying the Light in Siouxland, Harrison County

19 Apr

The setting sun is seen through a tunnel on DeSoto Rd. near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As a photographer I enjoy watching light. Whether I have a camera in hand or not. But preferably if out and about in Siouxland I want one for those moments I would like to capture. Recently I tried to photograph the setting sun along with a friend whose work I think outdid mine in this circumstance. He was interested in this tunnel created by a former railroad line and for the most part, the time of year helped bring the setting sun almost into alignment with the road passing through the tunnel.

The setting sun will eventually shine through this tunnel on DeSoto Rd. near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The setting sun is seen through a tunnel on DeSoto Rd. near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I did not do a good job handling the wide dynamic range created with the setting sun and the area around the tunnel that fell into shade. It also didn’t help that it was only 25 degrees out and cold. Patience was the last thing on my mind as the warmth of the sun evaporated and night fell. But the process of capturing a unique image was still invaluable. My friend used science and a sunset forecast to determine when might be an appropriate time to photograph the scene. And it was helpful that on this particular ay the weather cooperated and passing rain and snow showers took a day off.

The setting sun will shine through this tunnel on DeSoto Rd. near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The setting sun shines through a tunnel on DeSoto Rd. near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy the play of light. And sunrises and sunsets add much to circumstances in creating a dynamic image. Although it can feel like a slow process, waiting for the sun to set and staying warm at the same time. But in the end the result always makes the effort worth it. Even if one isn’t particularly happy with the resulting image, it was still fun to attempt and see if the final result would be a stunning image or a memory of a nice day out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The setting sun is seen through a tunnel on DeSoto Rd. near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The setting sun is seen through a tunnel on DeSoto Rd. near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Backroads in Siouxland, rural Pottawatamie County

15 Apr

A barn in Pottawatamie County near Crescent, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently I did a bit driving some rural, country roads in Siouxland’s southern region. No other vehicles passing by for the most part it was nice to get out and breathe some fresh air and forget about current events. I am still enthralled with the older barns I find in the area, each with history of its own and all past the days of former glory.

A house or small barn on a gravel road near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Siouxland region and country itself has gone through some changes when these places and others like them thrived in their heyday. Some good and others questionable. Time will tell about the end results of changes. In the meantime I just want to enjoy these relics and ponder their time in the sun and continue exploring the backroads.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Detail of a house or barn on a gravel road near Loveland, Iowa Friday, March 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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