Tag Archives: travel

Enjoying a Small Town away from Siouxland, Mt. Vernon

16 Oct

I enjoy the area of Siouxland in which I live. But it is nice to get out once in a while and visit other places outside of this region. Most places have similarities rather than differences. I enjoy the architecture of the 19th and 20th centuries when many of Iowa’s small communities came into being.

Downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I stopped in at Mt. Vernon because of seeing some architecture along the roadway I was on, historic Rte. 30 or Lincoln Highway. A stretch of roadway that crossed the continental United States giving people with automobiles a chance to see as little or as much of the country without traveling by train. Many of these small communities still have stunning homes and businesses for buildings dating from the mid to late 1800’s. Mt Vernon came into being as a result of the U.S. battle with Chief Black Hawk who fled the area and the tribal lands were confiscated as was the case with many native people’s lands when the expansion west was underway.

A church near downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The community is home to a liberal arts college which keeps it infused with younger people who come and go and possibly stay to raise their own families in a place they call home for at least four years. Quaint with a number of eateries downtown and a short walk from the college.

A mural on a downtown building’s wall in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Historic homes in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The community is extremely walkable and on a nice day it has places to visit and relax and enjoy. I am sure during an academic school year there are many events and other festivities taking place both in town and on the college campus. A nice combination for any community and the possibility to enjoy simple fruits of life in a picture perfect setting.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A city park just off of downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A closed Mt. Vernon visitors center in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Alleys in and out of Siouxland, Storm Lake, Sioux City, Clinton

14 Oct

Finding beauty in alleyways can be a tough subject for a photographer. One captures an image of what is there, maybe interpreting the light and shadows that occur but with not much else but shapes.

Photo Safari class checking out downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Oct. 15, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have found that alleys can be interesting places in and of themselves, depending on a variety of factors. Alleys in Siouxland and other places all have one thing in common. A short “roadway” out of sight from one near point to another. Narrow, sometimes not much light, and filled with those things one would rather not see. But sometimes alleys can surprise us. As I recently found out in Sioux City. A recent art fest allowed people to paint in an alley otherwise devoid of “substance”.

Images of the Photo Safari Lifelong Learning class in downtownSioux City, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014.

 

Seen is the resulting mural work by artists done during the 21 Art Fest on September 21 in Sioux City, Iowa Wendesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Seen is the resulting mural work by artists done during the 21 Art Fest on September 21 in Sioux City, Iowa Wendesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One business in Storm Lake uses the alley side of its building to promote itself and do so with a little flare. If nothing else, what has one to lose by popping one’s head inside an eatery? Savoring the aroma emanating from baked goods and other edibles.

A local eatery uses chalk and its brick walls for advertisements to entice foodies into its shop in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A local eatery uses chalk and its brick walls for advertisements to entice foodies into its shop in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most times though, alleys are just catch alls. Garbage cans, detritus, sometimes people.

No matter how many alleys a person walks by or through, for some reason, even in Storm Lake, Iowa they all look the same, seen Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The challenge for the photographer then is to find a way to make a subject interesting. Point of view, light and shade, time of day, time of year. All plays a part.

Photo Safari class explores downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Oct. 15, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding a way to visually create something that can most likely be happenstance and depending on when one visits a locale. It’s that challenge that I think helps keep a photographer sharp, always looking, seeing, hoping, to find something that peaks an interest or insight that appeals and then is documented. Good or bad, growth happens, one just needs to be open, aware, and as the actor put it so succinctly, “Are you feeling lucky?”

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

                  

History in Siouxland and not on the Prairie, Storm Lake

6 Oct

The Prairie Log House built by a homesteader in 1871 and originally located near Rembrandt now forms part of a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Prairie Log House built by a homesteader in 1871 and orginally located near Rembrandt now forms part of a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes dropping into a small community in Siouxland one finds interesting places, but timing prevents further exploration. I have seen this log cabin house and one-room school house numerous times visiting Storm Lake, but have not stopped to explore. This time I did, as much as I could, peeking inside to see what life appeared like that the homesteader who built this house lived in. It’s good I think to ponder life before modern conveniences if only to appreciate more of what is now available. Life today is possibly no harder than settlers on the prairie given the times then, it just depends on one’s situation at the time for each individual. Without technology now I couldn’t share my photographic musings and trips with others who may not have an opportunity to see this area, much like I view other people’s travels, near and far, and enjoy what they share.

A look inside the Prairie Log House built by a homesteader in 1871 and originally located near Rembrandt now forms part of a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look inside the Prairie Log House built by a homesteader in 1871 and originally located near Rembrandt now forms part of a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look inside the Prairie Log House built by a homesteader in 1871 and originally located near Rembrandt now forms part of a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life definitely was much starker then, but for the times modern conveniences provided pot-bellied stoves for cooking and winter warmth and by today’s standards a more humble adobe. But it was no less a home than its owners appreciated and maintained and enjoyed. The same can be said of the one-room school houses dotting the midwest and other outlying areas as the young country expanded west. An opportunity for children to gain at least rudimentary knowledge that had been accumulated and passed on to them, with parents understanding the fundamental necessity of such an education. Small reminders of gained through simple technology. A place to find a blackboard and someone willing to share for a meager salary information acquired from over the generations of those who had come before.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Elk Township County School is similar to many early 19 century schools constructed to provide an education to rural Iowa children now sits in a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Small Towns outside of Siouxland, Rock Falls, IL

4 Oct

A park near downtown along the Rock River in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like visiting small towns when I get out and about outside of Siouxland. Some places I knew when I was younger and it’s always interesting to see how places have changed. Many cities and small towns these days are trying to give their residents and community a little better environment to enjoy even if it’s only a few acres compared to what was there in the past. I don’t have a recollection much of Rock Falls, IL other than it sat across the Rock River from Sterling, IL which housed a wire mill for a few decades. But like so many communities, that business and those workers are all part of history. The river appears nicer than it did in younger days of the two communities with work being done to provide some recreation if only visually with a few amenities which might also benefit visitors and tourists.

A former wire mill sits across the river near downtown along the Rock River in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Art along the riverfront near downtown along the Rock River in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Art work scattered about along with benches to sit and enjoy the ambiance is a nice touch. Whether or not these are taken advantage of it’s hard to say having only passed through. But it’s nice to see the gesture and attempt made to enhance communities. A number of people were enjoying fishing along the Rock River as the day’s light faded. I’m not certain what is there to catch these days.

A man fishes in from the back near downtown along the Rock River in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The falls of the Rock River that flows between Sterling and Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But I spent maybe 30-40 minutes walking along the river front and enjoying the evening before finding a nice Thai restaurant with excellent food nearby which made for a nice end to a day. A saying states one can never go home, but sometimes visiting works. Some places I remember more than others, but as a child one never really gives much thought to places I believe, unless there is a really special reason too. I remember the mills along the river and dismay when they closed eliminating jobs with substantial pay as factories throughout much of the country were shipped south and overseas. So the quality of life made with good wages now seems supplanted with a quality of life through pleasant places to spend part of a day or evening. On balance who knows if one is better than the other.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Art along the riverfront near downtown along the Rock River in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Downtown and along the Rock River in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Summer’s Festivals in Siouxland, Storm Lake

12 Sep

Enjoying a day at the Wood, Wine and Blues Fest in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Small towns in Siouxland always have a way of finding something to celebrate. And doing it in an enjoyable fashion like Storm Lakes, Wood, Wine and Blues Fest it has each summer. In the lake side park there are a number of carved sculptures decorating it. Sadly in recent years vandals have destroyed and tried ruining a few of them. The festival combines some libation, music and wood sculptors with chain saws to perform their craft.

A not yet finished wood sculpture at the Wood, Wine and Blues Fest in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A master carver shows his stuff at the Wood, Wine and Blues Fest in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

These folk are pretty amazing creating works of art out of single pieces of wood. It makes me wonder what the Renaissance artist Michelangelo could have done with some power tools as opposed to his hammer and chisel. I did try some food but no libation as it sometimes limits one’s driving ability, and at the very least makes one sleepy and then wandered and watched as these 21st century artists created their contribution for mankind’s enjoyment.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying a day at the Wood, Wine and Blues Fest in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Walk Outside of Siouxland, Hennepin Canal Parkway, Rock Falls, IL

10 Sep

A walk and bike trail along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent trip I had a little time to stretch my legs after a bit of a drive and decided to check out the Hennepin Canal Parkway near where I was staying. For a later summer’s walk the temperature was not terrible or the humidity. I had checked out the Hennepin Canal Parkway a few years ago when visiting some relatives. The canal travels a bit of a distance, and for bike riders that gives them a good ride on even ground. I saw a couple headed out as I was walking back to my vehicle. And the gravel pathway, more for bicyclists than walkers was nice to get the heart rate up a bit.

The Parkway’s site states:

“Constructed from 1892 to 1907, the Hennepin Canal played an important role in U.S. history and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Hennepin was the first American canal built of concrete without stone cut facings. Although the Hennepin enjoyed limited success as a commercial and industrial waterway, its construction involved a number of engineering innovations, and its waterway, locks, aqueducts and adjoining towpath continue to provide a beautiful recreational resource.

The towpath provides 155 miles of hiking/biking fun from the Illinois River to the Rock River, with the feeder canal path to Rock Falls.  Segments of the trails are open to horseback riding and snowmobiling in season.  Fishing along the Hennepin is outstanding, and the canal is open to boating and canoeing (locks are no longer operational and must be portaged).  Campgrounds and day use areas are located all along the canal.”

I knew I wasn’t going to go any distance and kept stopping every wee bit to photograph, so maybe I didn’t get my heart rate up that much. But I really enjoyed the light play and reflection coming off the water in the canal.

Reflections in the water along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Reflections in the canal seen from a walk/bike trail path along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The part of the canal I walked is surrounded by trees and farm fields. I was lucky to have a nice sunny, blue sky kind of day as well. I am certain had I waited around, I might have gotten some nice sunset light, but water, trees, damp soil and I knew I would be mosquito bait just waiting to happen.

A meadow scene along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The afternoon early evening light though created some nice scenes and allowed me to play with light and shade. Something I can enjoy anywhere, as long as the sun cooperates.

The Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Backlit leaf along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

But as I walked along the canal the water seemed to become more active and I started seeing more light refraction that to me became more intriguing as I walked along. And while my heart rate wasn’t racing from my causal walk, I realized I needed to stop and head back, otherwise I would be in the next county, having taken hundreds of water photos of water reflections. Patience and discernment is sometimes necessary as I walk and shoot photos. On trips one can never go back again, but then again, shooting tons of photos doesn’t help the eye become better at creating a photograph one might consider a keeper, if just for oneself, as well as avoiding a half day spent editing. Being practical is important too.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Reflections in the canal seen from a walk/bike trail path along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Reflections in the canal seen from a walk/bike trail path along the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Rock Falls, IL August 28, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

 

 

Enjoying a Little Color on a Drab Day in Siouxland, Storm Lake

8 Sep

Colorful chairs decorate and provide seating at a local ice cream shop in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes some images just beckon a person. And one never really knows until it’s seen, and driving around Siouxland I get that chance to encounter if somewhat ordinary but in the right frame of mind (pun intended) that ordinary can become something more.

Tiring of the Wood, Wine and Blues Fest in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019, a couple large checker boards await patrons willing to give it a try. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like bees or butterflies being drawn toward something because of its color I at least feel the need to check out a subject and see if it’s something I want to photograph. Maybe whimsical or not, the contrast of the object’s color stands in contrast to its surroundings and the rest is up to the viewer.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Outside the local historical museum a piece of art shows the simple like one or two centuries ago via a child’s tree limb swing of rope and a piece of rope, seen in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Color catches the eye of a passerby of this flea market shop in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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