Coldest Stretch Since 1985

Camping can wait a bit longer…


Hi and welcome to the blog.  It is COLD in Iowa.  As of Sunday morning it was -13 when I started writing this post.  The last time we had such a long cold stretch of weather was when I was in college in 1985….

  • I was 19 and driving a taxi cab in Cedar Rapids (fun job!)’
  • The rage at the local college bar was the “Boysenberry Kamikaze” drink
  • New movies: “Moving Violations”, “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “The Breakfast Club”
  • Songs “Take on Me”, “The Power of Love”, “Things Can Only Get Better” were popular.
  • Favorite TV:  “MacGyver”, “Diff’rent Strokes”, “T.J. Hooker”, “Knight Rider”. “Dallas”, “Golden Girls”…an more!

Sorry about all the reminiscing but life was so much simpler then!  Those WERE the good old days… but looking back I’d rather be 55!  (Okay, 19 for a week or so but I’d probably not live through it!)


About 10 miles east of Anamosa on a gravel road. That’s ice under the plowed snow…


Anyhow, it’s cold.  I recently had to run to a rural area and pick up an employee friend whose car wouldn’t start.  It was a white knuckle drive.  Just past the co-worker’s house the road was drifted shut.  Country roads are scary during Iowa winters.

We’ve had a lot of blowing snow in this area over the last few weeks.  The campground near home is plowed shut.  So much for camping until sometime in March!  Piles of snow cover all the local lakes and ponds so I’m hesitant to do any ice fishing right now.   Who wants to step over a spring and fall in?  The walleye and trout can wait till spring!



But there will be tackle and plenty of it this year.  A customer friend stopped in the other day and asked me to photograph a small tractor.  He needed the picture emailed to a dealer’s service department.  I’d never charge this gentleman but he slipped the boss a $20 bill for me to take.  At $.94 cents per package, it was possible to buy a LOT of hooks and sinkers for this coming year.  Here is a picture of the pegboard in the home office where some of the fishing hardware is stored.  Thanks A.S. !


This is the overflow… I have 4 tackle boxes full of stuff too….


Work has been fun lately.  I recently received a promotion and work with the new employees.  One of them is an avid catfish and walleye enthusiast.  He loves catching turtles (yum) as well.  I like about any species that will bite.  Training him on some of the processes has been a lot of fun.  We’re planning to do some fishing together when things warm up.



With the cold weather I’ve been cooking up a storm.  The favorite fun, easy, healthy meal of choice has been the shrimp cocktail.  Wal-Mart was running colossal sized, cooked prawns for $6 – a great thing to stock up on.  I use a blend of 3/4 Clamato Juice to 1/4 cocktail sauce.  Add in some chopped onions, a minced clove of garlic, some chopped cilantro, and a cut-up avocado.  The cocktail tastes best nice and cold.  I also chop a couple shrimp and put them into the mixture as well as decorating with the whole ones.

Well, that’s about it for now.  The weather will start to moderate as we get toward March.  I’m looking forward to getting Jenny out on a camping trip this spring.  At any rate it’s been nice to be at home and enjoying some hibernation time.

Thanks for visiting!  It’s going to be a fun 2021.  Despite all the challenges in 2020 so many of us had outdoor fun and made the best of it.  Safe and happy adventures in the coming camping season!


Brad and Jenny
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 Coldest Stretch Since 1985

  1. my_vantasy says:

    Hello! Ohio is buried under a ridiculous amount of snow, too. Congrats on the promotion at work. You have such an upbeat personality that I’m sure makes new team members feel welcome and puts them at ease. You mentioned cilantro in your shrimp cocktail. I have just recently discovered fresh cilantro and am in love with it. Me–the noncook–using a fresh herb! (Or is cilantro a spice?) Keep warm and stay healthy!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi and thanks for the note! I am sorry for the delay. The schedule is all over the map these days. That’s one nice thing about living close to the job. They can pull me in at a moment’s notice. 🙂

      Cilantro is so very tasty. I do use the fresh. After Googling, I learned that cilantro seeds are the yummy coriander spice (I love that stuff) in so many middle eastern dishes. The leaves are cilantro. Talk about versatile… and two very distinct flavors! I’ve been eating a lot of black-eyed peas lately. Oh, they are so yummy and the effect on the blood sugars is negligible – actually improving it. In the US we don’t seem to use legumes enough in our cooking. There will likely be some in an upcoming camping trip… Sadly, 4 more inches of snow is on the way yet again! Take care! — VT

  2. Jo Harmon says:

    Congratulations on your promotion. You have such an easy going personality I’m sure the new comers are happy to be there.
    This is a nasty winter for so many folks losing power and freezing. Stay safe Brad be careful out on the roads

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo and thanks for the note! It’s rough out there for so many. We’ve finally come through the 2 1/2 week period with below zero temps every night. Thankfully the heat was on and the pipes never froze (we’re used to it in Iowa). The roads weren’t the greatest. In about an hour more snow is coming – up to 4 more inches – just in time for the work shift. LOL. But the job is only 1/2 mile from home. I’m sure not going to pick anyone up today!

      Take good care Jo! Hope all is comfy in AZ! — VT

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