Our Cabin Weekend With Snakes and Turkeys — Oh My!

My weekend retreat to our favorite cabin overlooking the Mississippi River at Four Mounds in Dubuque, Iowa, is over and I’m back to work with no vacation time planned until August!  That means two full months of work with just a couple of days off a week.  How will I survive?  🙂

It was a nice getaway with Ray, Gretel, and Betty (Mom), from northeastern Ohio, who was visiting us for five days.  She left this morning to head back to small town reality for her and work for me.

While we were at cabin and surrounding woods, Gretel finished reading the final book in “The Hunger Games” trilogy, “Mockingjay”.

Friday afternoon, on the way back from the overlook where she was reading, she told us that she had seen a wild turkey.  Although we had visited the cabin three times in the past, in the winter, the fall, and earlier this spring, we had never seen a wild turkey.

So, for the remainder of the weekend when Ray and I would go on our walks to try working off the calories from the wonderful food we were eating and not having our treadmill to help us, we were looking for Tom Turkey.  We saw him Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  I tried sneaking up on the beast, I sprinted through the woods, and even climbed over a barbed wire fence to capture a perfect picture of the sneaky creature who is definitely slick at getting away from city people.

Here is the best lame picture I could capture of him.  If you look closely enough, you can see it to the right of the tree!  However, most of the pictures of the turkey hunt were just lush, green woods!

I did mention that we did eat some really good food.  Ray made his very delicious chicken piccata Friday night, I made a sweet & sour chicken Saturday night, and Sunday for brunch, we had cheese fondue.

And, for dessert Sunday, I made a very tasty (but very unhealthy) sugar cookie fruit pizza.  I have to give Gretel credit.  While we were talking about how many calories the entire pizza had, she commented, “It’s kinda healthy.  It has fruit on it”.  Oh, out of the mouths of babes.  (In case you’re curious, it has more than 4,000 calories!  I definitely need to find a much lower calorie sugar cookie recipe!)

So, instead of just walking along the trails in the woods or up the steep road leading to the cabin from the main highway hoping that Jason Voorhees from Camp Crystal Lake and the “Friday the 13th” movie series wouldn’t jump out at us, Ray and I decided to take a much longer and more grueling route to burn off calories.

Just as we started down the main highway toward the railroad tracks that ran along the Mississippi River, Ray looked down on the side of the road and said, “Betty would die!”.  I looked down and there was a very large dead snake!  As I got closer, it looked huge and my first thoughts were, “is it really dead?”, “is it poisonous?”, “are there more of them?”, and “I think I’ll reconsider walking in the woods near the cabin”!

We made it to the Mississippi River and walked along the railroad tracks for miles to get back to where we thought the cabin was.  With the dense forest, we couldn’t see the cabin or the retreat more than a thousand feet up the hill above the River.  So we thought where we were at a good spot and started heading up.  Unlike mountain climbing, the ground was soft and kept giving way.  We had gone hundreds of feet up and we still had a long way to go.  We continued our trek.  When we finally made it up the hill, we were itching, sweating, huffing and puffing.  However, looking down to River, this was the view and we had a sense of accomplishment.

After we got back and showered, we looked it up on the computer to see what snakes are native to Iowa.  First off, we concluded that the snake was “most likely not poisonous” and that it was most likely a “Fox Snake”, which is part of the “North American Rat Snake” family and it was not a threat to people.  However, because it resembles a rattlesnake, people kill them.  With our limited “CSI” experience, our lack of lab results, and my criminal justice minor, we deduced that the snake was killed by a car as it was trying to cross the road.  Part of the snake was missing.  Case closed!

However, as we drove by yesterday on the way out of Dubuque, the snake was gone!  Gretel believes that a hawk swooped down and carried it away.  I want to believe her because I don’t want to think that the snake was alive and that its head was buried inside some dead rodent eating it while I was standing there taking a picture of it.  Non-poisonous or non-threatening to humans or not, I don’t want to be that close a snake in the wild!

And, because she is insanely fearful of snakes, we never told Betty about it until we were ready to leave the cabin and drove by looking for it.  Otherwise, she would have never left the cabin!

Now that I’m back to work today, I’ll be counting the days until August and my mini-vacation and then I’ll really be looking forward to the end of September when my real vacations start!


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by dogmomdiva on June 14, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Snakes!!! AAACK! I don’t like snakes either, and I’m sure there are all kinds here in the desert..as long as they stay away from ME I am fine with them! And that was quite a walk, fella..


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