Snowy NE Iowa – Serenity Isn’t Always Safe!

Hello and welcome to the blog.  On Thursday I took a trip north to do some trout fishing.  Having fished in the same area for many years it seemed safe enough.  But I had a little mishap that resulted in some lessons learned.  Thankfully, no harm was done.

Near Edgewood, Iowa


This area had seen about 8 inches of recent snow with drifting due to high winds.  The white-blanketed, peaceful scenery was nourishing to the soul.  Retracing steps taken many times before can be comforting… I just wanted to take a little chill trip and get a good night’s sleep.


Pedretti’s Bakery is a must visit in Elkader

Who can resist?

The first stop was in Elkader at Pedretti’s Bakery.  The place has been around forever.  Their goodies never disappoint.  The Snoopy cookie was as delicious as it looked.

A beautiful home in historic Elkader

During the 80+ mile drive north, I saw quite a few deer, pheasants, and wild turkeys.  Squirrels, eagles, and many other critters were busily searching the ice and snow covered fields looking for corn leftover from the harvest.

Bambi. This deer stood for quite a long time as I zoomed and took a bunch of pictures.


The Turkey River as seen from the levee.  I was fishing along that bank below.

It is about a half mile hike from the van to the that open spot on the Turkey River.  The steep embankment is normally navigable.  There was about 8 – 12 inches of snow and ice covering the bank right now.  I managed to get down to the bottom safely, though at the end it was necessary to butt slide (a 3 foot drop) off the ice shelves.  (not the safest thing to do!)

This portion of the river has almost always provided plenty of fishing fun.  Unfortunately the flow was very high due to some snow melting a week or so ago.  Nothing was biting and the water was moving so fast it kept bringing the line in to shore — even when using 6 sinkers as opposed to the normal 2.

After a couple of hours fishing without any bites I was getting chilled by the 11 degree weather and decided to exit.  The asthma was starting to kick up.  The picture below shows the various layers of ice and snow and depicts how difficult it was to maneuver.  About 100 feet down the bank, it looked easier to get back up to the top of the hill… but not so.

Layers of ice and snow.

While trying to ascend the steep incline, I could only crawl.  Every bit of progress meant crashing through the ice covered snow drifts up to 15-18 inches deep.  It was very slow going.  The lower body was not dressed for this situation (only heavy blue jeans) and the legs quickly became chilled and didn’t work well.  I had trouble breathing and the heart was racing.  It was scary because there was a chance of hypothermia and nobody was around to help.

Once I got to the top I noticed the glasses weren’t on my head….  *$&^ !!!   It took a while to get the breathing and heart rate under control.

After resting at the van, an attempt was made to find the bifocals.  I went back to the river and scaled the bank a second time but in a different spot.  It was a much longer climb but far less steep… and so much safer.  Talk about being exhausted!


It’s nice to see again!


I called the eye doctor in Cedar Rapids and had to drive 85+ miles back to get an exam and order some new glasses.  Thankfully, after vision insurance coverage the bill was only $39.90…  and there was exactly $40 left in the fishing / camping budget.

Thankfully no harm was done but it could have been a different story.  I’m not eager to go out in this darned cold weather any more this year.  If what happened was enough to make me say the heck with fishing… well… it could have easily turned out worse!

No worries…

Take care and thanks for visiting!  Happy and safe (yes, please be safe!) travels and adventures.

Brad and Jenny and Duke
Jones County, Iowa

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

6 Responses to Snowy NE Iowa – Serenity Isn’t Always Safe!

  1. Onevikinggirl says:

    Close call. Pat youself on the back for being resouceful and strong when you needed to be! Perhaps a whistle on the keychain or a pocket alarm just to be able to make some noise in case of future adventures? Now, warm tea, kitty and safety for a few days.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Viking girl! It’s been nice being back home with the kitties. When I read your comment, tea sounded so good that I had some tonight. Great stuff. The whistle would be a good idea for future endeavors. Sadly, at this place nobody would have heard it — it’s so remote. As time goes by I realize that I’d taken too much of a risk. It’s a good idea to be safer in the future. 🙂 Take good care! — VT

  2. Jo Harmon says:

    Well that was an adventure you could have done without. Happy it turned out better than it could have . Nice new glasses. Staying home until the better weather comes in might not be such a bad idea.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo! Well, the weather here is starting to moderate a bit. I’m kind of excited because I’ve found some temp jobs that sound pretty attractive – more money and right up my alley. We’ll see where the future leads… (more work camping!) Take care! — VT

  3. my_vantasy says:

    That incident really speaks to the balance between finding an area where you can be alone in nature and being close enough to reach out for help, if needed. Thank goodness you have a happy ending to that story. Consider yourself blessed that you could drive without glasses. No way I could. In fact, I am keeping an eye out (pun intended? ) for a buy one pair, get one free offer from Lenscrafters, Pearl Vision, or one of those chains. I see Duke has a tab, so I’m going to read it now. ♡♡

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi! You’re right about being close enough to reach out for help. The next time I get a wild notion to be out in a remote area during less-than-ideal conditions, it might be a good idea to bring a buddy along. Driving back was horrible and I had some close calls (bad depth perception). The buy one, get one is a good deal.. I go to “Dr. Barnes Vision-4-Less” and they offer great deals like that. Take care! I’m off to a fish fry tonight and will be doing a post tonight (or tomorrow).