A Rolling Hills Hike to Bring Calm


The old oak tree is a familiar friend… as well as the white van to the left.


Hi and welcome from the rolling hills of Jones County, Iowa.  We’re under some emergency directive from the Governor of Iowa as the mysterious virus spreads in our state – primarily in urban areas.  Perhaps it will fizzle before it gets to the boonies where I live.  The fear is sure apparent in folks.  I’ve heard it said the illness came from bats…  I guess it’s no surprising so many people have gone bat$shit crazy…

We’ve had the same kinds of orders as so many states:  all bars are closed, only restaurants doing carryout or drive-thru food can be open, all gatherings of over 10 people are prohibited and so forth.  Work has been a little slower as more kids have been out of school and staying at home.

And, of course, there is no TP to be found and the grocery stores are bare.  So be it.  Most of us are doing okay.  Some of the friends and co-workers are stressed and that’s understandable.  But I’ve also never had so many strangers at Walmart strike up a conversation and enjoy chatting.  Sometimes a crisis will bring out the best in people.

For the most part this single old bachelor’s life is not much different than normal, just a little more stressful.  That necessitated (well, justified) a little hiking and fishing trip.  I decided to visit the Hale Wildlife Area about 20 minutes east of town.


The favorite pond that provided many tasty fish over the winter months.


This is the perfect place to relax.  There are a half dozen stocked ponds connected by a series of mowed trails that cut across the rolling prairie hills.  I decided to walk a couple miles of trails on Tuesday afternoon.  It was about 50 degrees.  This was the first major activity since the terrible lung issues of last year.  (I’m curious if the Corona virus was already here and we didn’t know what it was last autumn!)


This pond was quite a walk but looks like it will provide a lot of quiet fishing during the summer months.


Climbing the first hill was arduous.  I gasped and the heart raced.  It felt like anaphylaxis starting all over again.  But pacing one’s self helped and the walk was as peaceful and relaxing as could be… albeit pretty tiring!


Sometimes there is no better medicine than a nice cold beer and some lime.


Unfortunately, the water in the ponds was very cold and clear.  The fish were not biting.  On the way back to the van I paused and sat on the new fishing bucket and enjoyed a Corona with some wedges of lime stuffed down the bottle.  The funny thing is I’m not much of a beer drinker but did that “barley pop” ever taste good with lime!


Looking at the bottom of the pond through very clear water.


The whole scene was tranquil.  The wind was lightly blowing, gently ruffling the surface of the water.  The sun warmed my black fleece jacket.  While Internet surfing a little and enjoying the beer, I saw the news story that actor Lyle Waggoner had passed away.  It hit me a little bit having grown up with the TV show “Wonder Woman”.  Another part of the childhood died… That’s a reminder to enjoy every moment we have.

By now it was getting late in the day.  While daydreaming, I thought more about the illness and the unpredictable reactions we are starting to see – hoarding, looting, mental breakdowns, etc.  I decided that on Wednesday a little work on the home base was in order.


Before, me as the burglar… After… Hopefully a little more resistant to anyone wanting to enter.


It’s always bothered me that the front door had a little window in it.  One can see how easily I could flip the deadbolt without the window there.  A board was added to the inside of the door and attached with carriage bolts (no head to grab on to).  It looks decent from the outside.  From the inside, the board is not quite so pretty… but a coat hook and jacket can work wonders.   🙂   Now I can sleep a little easier.  Ya can’t prevent someone from breaking in but slowing a person down never hurts.

At the moment, they are talking about cutting hours at work.  It’s 10PM and I have to be at work at 5AM to ready the breakfast shift despite a slowdown as more people stay home.  There’s talk about losing some hours as early as tomorrow… but if there’s a couple of attributes that help a person survive in fast food or about any endeavor in life, it’s being able to remain flexible and always upbeat.  Things will improve.  Heck, tomorrow is the first day of spring!!



Besides… The river is starting to flood and the carp will be heading up into the backwater.  A few days ago I picked up a Berkley Big Game pole, a large Quantum 60 reel, and loaded it with 65 pound braided line.  There will be some heavy duty fishing action.  The “RR” is a label with a blog friend’s initials.  Let’s see that pole bring some good luck and happy times this spring!

Take care and be safe.  I hope everyone who wants to go camping or enjoy other outdoor activities will have the ability to do so.  The old saying that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” has never been truer.  It’s also true that if we want to be happy the happiness needs to come from within ourselves.  Once happy, nobody can extinguish that feeling… It also doesn’t hurt to ignore the national news.  🙂

Thanks for visiting today!  Safe and happy travels!  Warmest wishes from Iowa!

Bradford and Jenny and Mister 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"

4 Responses to A Rolling Hills Hike to Bring Calm

  1. Jo Harmon says:

    So happy you made it out to camp. What better way to stay away from people.

    I have the same door the carport side of my house its such a cheap flimsy thing and the window is plastic. I ofter thought of putting the wood panel in it.

    I’m staying home since I have the lung issues, but it isn’t all that big of a deal I stay home all the time anyway. I have plenty of food to last at least a month or more and if I really need something I’ll just order it and have it delivered.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo! I hear ya about the food. I have a lot on hand and Friday’s project is to organize it all.
      The way people are acting, it’s not a bad idea to strengthen the security. I’m hoping to do some trout fishing soon. Staying busy inside and out takes a person’s mind off things. Take good care!

  2. my_vantasy says:

    Your peaceful nature walk was an awesome way to practice your Social Distancing. My biggest walk has been to the mailbox, Haha, and that was only once this week. Tomorrow I go and brave the grocery store. I usually eat fresh, so I buy a weeks worth of food and eat it all in one week. Guess my habit will have to change as we go on a two week Stay Home Order tomorrow night. That guarantees the stores will be crazy! Stay safe and stay healthy. This can’t last forever…can it?

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi. That’s the best thing – eating fresh! I should do it more. I know people in other states and it’s been crazy. Even without the order, it’s been nuts in Iowa. Take care, stay safe! — VT