Tag Archives: travel

Visiting a Zoo near Siouxland, Sioux Falls, SD

18 Dec

Earlier this fall I took a trip up to Sioux Falls, SD and stopped into its zoo, the Great Plains Zoo, which was busy getting ready for a Halloween event for that evening. Sioux Falls is a continually growing community and it surprised me that it had a nice zoo. Personally, I am not a big fan these institutions. Some zoos I have been too the animals constantly walk around a very small circuit, confined to an area that just makes me sad. I understand possibly the need for zoos. People can see animals they normally wouldn’t see and a place for rescue animals and those born into captivity. Still.

But I found it was a nice day to sit and ponder such questions. I also saw some incongruity such as a black rhino in an area with fall foliage on deciduous trees. Somehow I don’t think of some continents with these types of plants.

A black rhino of Africa is oddly contrasted with decidous trees at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There were some others there to also enjoy spending a nice fall day out looking at creatures one does not normally see in the Midwest.

An orangatan at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A scarlet ibris of South America at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking sad is a black and white Colobus monkey from Africa at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There was also an artist drawing a “Disney Princess” with part of the zoo as a background. I thought for the subject matter of species being out of place, the scene was well done.

Some sketchy stuff going on at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am planning a Photo Safari class trip to a zoo in Omaha, NE if enough students sign up to go. It is a much larger zoo than this one in Sioux Falls with some recently completed space to allow animals to roam a bit more. I don’t know if I can get past my own personal bias and feelings about “caged” animals, but it does give an individual something to ponder and being grateful to enjoy freedom of movement as one desires.

Sioux City, Iowa

A black rhino of Africa at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Giraffes in their enclosure at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An African spurred tortoise looks for a little shade at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Framing the Obvious in Siouxland and the Joslyn Museum, Omaha, NE

14 Dec

When out shooting sometimes I don’t really know what to expect until I see an image in front of me. During an outing with my Photo Safari class through the Lifelong Learning program at Western Iowa Tech Community College I was struck by some columns in downtown Sioux City.

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I never really noticed City Hall behind it until that night.

And during my trip to Council Bluffs and visiting the historic General Dodge House columns again caught my attention.

Columns line the porch of the Dodge House, former residence of one Gen. Greville M. Dodge, a Civil War Veteran and railroad builder who settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As did a recent to to the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE. The architecture there in the building itself is as much a tribute to art and the art of building as are the works found within it. It was a good day to wander through the museum and enjoy the building and what it offers in and of itself.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Columns in the Joslyn Art Museum frame other building aspects in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Columns in the Joslyn Art Museum frame other building aspects in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Columns in the Joslyn Art Museum frame other building aspects in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Celebrating Christmas in Siouxland, Plymouth County Museum

12 Dec

During the Christmas holiday, it is hard to escape the celebration. In the Midwest, Iowa and Siouxland people celebrate Christmas. Lights are up most places and Christmas music fills the air. Every year at the Plymouth County Museum it hosts a Nativity set display and a number of community members lend their displays for others to view. It is pretty amazing how many different examples of nativity sets there are.

A variety of nativity scenes are on display at the Plymouth County Historical Museum in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A variety of nativity scenes are on display at the Plymouth County Historical Museum in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

These nativity scenes are made out of a variety of material and hail from a plethora of locations all honoring the birth of Jesus. The craftmanship used to create some of these scenes are pretty amazing.

A variety of nativity scenes are on display at the Plymouth County Historical Museum in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A variety of nativity scenes are on display at the Plymouth County Historical Museum in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The display takes up the most of the top floor of the museum, formerly a local high school. So it is a large space. I always find museums are fun places to visit. One can learn about the past, the present and people’s state of mind by viewing exhibits. And it’s a nice place to divert one’s attention on a blustery day reveling in the moment of a momentous holiday to some.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Learning History around Siouxland, the Dodge House, Council Bluffs

10 Dec

On a recent outing I traveled south to the city of Council Bluffs which is probably outside the Siouxland perimeter but still is situated within the Loess Hills defined area. I wanted to visit a historic house, the Dodge House, a residence of the youngest Civil War general, Grenville M. Dodge and later a builder of the railroad network that traversed early America. Like all well maintained historical residences the home contains the essence of the era plus artifacts of the man’s life.

The Dodge House was the residence of one Gen. Grenville M. Dodge, a Civil War Veteran and railroad builder who settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A portrait of Gen. Grenville M. Dodge, a Civil War Veteran and railroad builder who settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The General lived quite an eventful life and at the time settled in Council Bluffs on what then was a frontier of America. On the Council Bluff’s website this bit of history of General Dodge is recorded: “In 1853, Grenville M. Dodge took charge of a crew surveying central Iowa to find a terminus for the Rock Island Railroad on the Missouri River.  Dodge chose Council Bluffs, and later he settled his growing young family there in 1855. Dodge and his brother created a banking house which merged into the Pacific National Bank and ultimately became the longest continuously chartered bank in Iowa’s history.  In 1858 Dodge made the acquaintance of an Illinois railroad lawyer named Abraham Lincoln, who had been hired by railroad financier Thomas Durant to do work in Iowa where Dodge was engaged in surveying.”

The General and his family lived in style as he pursued his military and later engineering career.

Docent Connie Spencer, right, leads a tour through the Dodge House in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A study for Gen. Grenville M. Dodge, a Civil War Veteran and railroad builder who settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bedroom in the Dodge House in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking down the stairwell from the top floor of the Dodge House in Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy learning a little more history about places I live in and near. For some it might be useless information but knowing how life was previously lived is never a bad thing. Some just lived life a little better than others.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Festival of Trees in Siouxland, Cherokee

2 Dec

Sometimes revisiting places in Siouxland leads one to pleasant little surprises. One such visit to Cherokee recently I dropped by the Sanford Museum and Planetarium and came upon its Festival of Trees.

A house from across the street is reflected in the windows of the Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Small Christmas trees decorated by a variety of groups from the area each giving their own tree a special spin and unique look.

Each of the Festival of Trees entries have unique aspects about them during the exhibit at the Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Sometimes those decorating exercise their sense of humor as well.

Playing on words for one Festival of Trees entry at the Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

So it’s fun to visit different communities this time of year to see what is going on, even though the theme of Christmas is the same. Pleasant surprises await the person willing to make the time to visit.

The museum and planetarium provides the community and surrounding area residents a place when there are art shows and history programs. A small display with the history and information about the museums’s benefactor plus a room with some items from a founding community family gives visitors a little background. Just another reason to do a bit of local travel to explore areas in Siouxland.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A decorated tree in the “Sanford” room at the Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

History about the Sanford family at the Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday Nov. 25, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Enjoying the Light in Siouxland, Woodbury County

30 Nov

The other day I saw part of a gorgeous sunset from my backyard. I only saw part of it because the sky is partially obscured by neighboring homes. The sky still had some clouds, blue sky and such the beginning hint of red. I really should have been out taking photographs. But I contented myself with just watching. With cooler temperatures I need to force myself outside nearer sunset to enjoy the sights of nature and God’s work. Beautiful etchings in the sky. And a moment of  quietude as night comes on.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sun setting behind a cloud near Sergeant Bluff, Iowa off or County Road D45 Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Lights and Shadows in Siouxland plus effective composition, Omaha, NE

26 Nov

Sometimes when I am out and photographing I know I shoot too many images. It’s just easy to do with digital. In the film days I would shoot more judiciously because I didn’t want to process more than a couple rolls of film. Those days I primarily shot B&W. I would look a scene over and judge what I thought would give me the best result. Now, I shoot more liberally and decide when I look the pics on a large display monitor.

Fall color hangs on in Elmwood Park in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Do I like this crop, the tonality, the road veering away from the scene.

Fall colors hang on in Elmwood Park in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Or does this crop feel more intimate bringing the viewer into the image more quickly if at all. But then, I liked a third take.

Fall colors still appear in Elmwood Park in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And pretty soon I have a dozen photos or more as I make slight variations.

But there are other times when I see and know what I like, especially shooting lights and shadows. I like the ying and yang of the images and their overall feel. And it’s nice to have choices when creating images.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Afternoon sun creates a shadow in Elmwood Park in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A tree retains its fall leaves in Elmwood Park in Omaha, NE Thursday Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

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