Tag Archives: travel

Visiting a refuge in Siouxland, the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge

15 Aug

On a nice cool fall day the outside benches are an ideal place to sit and enjoy the quiet at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa, Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summertime in Siouxland is not always the best time to visit the DeSoto National Wildlife refuge. The migration of waterfowl and other birds has not yet begun and so they may not be a lot to see while visiting on a humid summer day. But maybe that’s the point and a person can spend more time checking out other displays at the welcome center and learning more about the area and the nature it contains. While there this summer I heard a few smaller birds sitting in trees and saw some turtles resting on logs in the water, but pickings were slim and the day much too hot and humid to spend much time enjoying the refuge’s trails.

A viewing gallery inside the Welcome Center at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge allows visitors to look for and observe waterfowl during a visit, situated along the Missouri River and near Missouri Valley, Iowa, Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

What looks like a momma or pappa turtle and a younger one bask on a log at DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa, Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Informational displays help explain life along the Missouri River and wetlands that existed in the area around the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa, Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Checking out the displays inside the welcome center was something I had not completely finished on an earlier a visit a year or two ago. Then I was more interested in seeing the migrating birds and trying to photograph them from inside and outside the center. But some of the displays, while brief, give nice details about the history of the area and what life was like previously besides having a nice quiet moment, as they were no others there at the time and thinking about the upcoming migration of birds once again completing their life cycle on a yearly basis.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Display signs showing various raptors help visitors identify what they may see along the water from inside a viewing gallery inside the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa, Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Native plants greet visitors entering the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge Welcome Center near Missouri Valley, Iowa, Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Patchwork Boat Dock Design in Siouxland, Arnolds Park

3 Aug

New boards on a pier give a checkered board effect at West Lake in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent visit to the Lake Region in Iowa I saw some rebuilt docks around Arnolds Park and Okoboji, probably due to age and recent storms. The old and new gave me the impression of a patchwork quilt I see in museums and from what I remember seeing in relatives’ homes growing up as a child. Unlike the museum and wall hanging pieces, these are real life and oft used “quilts” that add a visual element if one is keen to observe.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Fish are a Jumpin’ in Siouxland, Okoboji

24 Jul

Young anglers try their luck fishing near the dock in East Lake in Okoboji, Iowa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Whenever I visit the lakes region in Siouxland and walk along the “beach” areas around Arnolds Park and Okoboji I always find people trying their luck fishing. One particular day while visiting four young lads were having fairly good luck in catching blue gills near a dock area.

Young boys hoping for a bite while fishing in East Lake from a dock in Okoboji, Iowa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Toss the hook and bait into the water and soon one of them was reeling in a hungry and now sorrowful fish. Although one of the four enjoyed casting enough and playing the fish and reeling it in, but  could not bring himself to touch one. So he would let it dangle on the line out of the water until one of his friends took pity on the poor fish back into the water. I couldn’t make up my mind who might be more stressed, the fish which couldn’t breathe, the young man who couldn’t bring himself to touch it or his friends who seemed to be tiring of the repeated scenario. Summertime fun, or a variation thereof, casts its own fascination over those who pursue their interests.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Cruising the Countryside in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

18 Jul

A country road and knee high corn near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes a drive in the country can be a simple retreat from an otherwise hectic pace of the day to day. Some people might think a drive in the country is cruising on an interstate and occasionally looking over to see the “countryside”. Personally, living in a predominantly agricultural area and having grown up on a farm, I like driving those back roads and seeing what’s there. Summer time on the farm meant baling hay at some point. And when driving about I can smell the hay field before I see it, something I can’t share on a page but which brings back childhood memories of stacking bales, lunch in the field, sunshine, hot days and learning about hard work. So drives become a bit of a trip down memory lane as well as curiosity to see what is around the next bend.

A hay field drying in the sun near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Also stopping anywhere along my slow cruise and sitting quiet, I can hear nature entertain those who take the time and spend a moment to listen and appreciate what lies in view because tomorrow will be a different day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Summer scenics of a sparrow sitting a wire fence in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A doorway into Siouxland, Pisgah and Vermillion SD

16 Jul

An interesting doorway found in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Doorways are funny things. They create first impressions much the same as when individuals meet new people. Some doorways are inviting and more impressive depending on the building attached to them. Doorways can create a status in life as it were, both public and private. And that depends on circumstances. Then again, too much can be read into doorways too.

Angles and shapes define a campus building at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

Institutions, state and federal, need to maintain their buildings to a particular standard otherwise taxpayers will feel their tax dollars are not being utilized wisely, necessitating the construction of yet another building, because previous ones were not maintained.

Angles and shapes define a campus building at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

And sometimes older buildings find new life and purpose depending on who arrives and sees a use previously not encountered or possible earlier. And if such a use is successful it depends on whether or not people want to pass through a doorway to see what lies therein.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A grand marble staircase greets visitors as they enter the Mead Cultural Education Center, a former mental institution for women, which now houses the Dakota Territorial Museum under the auspices of the Yankton County Historical Society in Yankton, SD Saturday, April 6, 2019.(Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Summer in Siouxland, Arnolds Park

14 Jul

A worker at a coffee shop prepares for the day in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

“Summertime, and the living is easy……..” are lyrics that perfectly embody taking a day off and enjoying oneself in Arnolds Park. A slight breeze off West Lake is a respite from days of heat and humidity, and so simple pleasures can feel luxurious.

Visitors enjoying a ride in the morning on the oldest wooden roller coaster in Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was morning hours and during the week so people traffic was still a little light. But people were still out and about enjoying the Arnolds Park Amusement Park rides and walking along the lake area. I am certain on the weekend this is a hoppin’, happenin’ place to be. Although at this point in my life I like the slower, quieter time to walk about and take in sites or revisiting places I have previously seen.

Visitors enjoy a ride on the ferris wheel just after opening at the Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An obelisk designating a memorial to victims of an Indian attack early in the history of settlers living around the Arnolds Park, Iowa area seen Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Also, when visiting places in off peak hours one gets to see local people working, opening up a business in the  morning, making rounds and collecting receipts. It’s the offbeat pieces of life that I find fascinating and sometimes photographic.

Employees, possibly with the city, remove coins from a coin-operated view glass pointed toward West Lake from a viewing area in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Former ride seats sit outside the Arnolds Park Amusement Park area in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But any trip, whether it’s close to home or in lands far away is only as good as one makes it. You can either enjoy yourself and those moments you are in, or not. And I prefer to enjoy myself, simple pleasures maybe to some, but satisfying to me.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An American flag flies over docks in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A worker at a coffee shop prepares for the day in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Queen II cruise ship waits for its first outing in West Lake at Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring Small Siouxland Towns, Decatur, NE

4 Jul

A small shopping district in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Downtown Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent drive about Siouxland I crossed over the Missouri River into Nebraska near Onawa and visited the small community of Decatur, NE. Finding some online information one site purports that Decatur is the second oldest established community in Nebraska, forming in 1854 and incorporating in 1856. Pioneers settling the prairie and looking for a fresh start or just a different start from where they came. It’s a small community set in rolling hills and with a riverfront that I missed and have yet to explore.

But the community does have an urban legend from its early days and makes for a good tale about encouraging people to settle the area. Showing its sophisticated urban side post cards were evidently mailed out showing a trolley car operating in the small community. In the days before Photoshop, someone got creative in the darkroom and a legend was born.

The story of the trolly legend in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An exhibit about a myth that became reality in downtown Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the little park area a red telephone booth proudly stands holding various copies of books, a free standing little free library to share the joy of reading with those who happen to stop by.

A red telephone box is now a Lending Library destination in downtown Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While the downtown wasn’t particularly hopping the day I stopped by I want to return and explore the surrounding area including a riverfront walk that I missed as I was leaving town. Maybe in the fall, hoping for some colorful foliage on the trees standing on the surrounding hilltops. It could be picture perfect with any special effects in the photographic department.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Downtown Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Downtown Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

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