Upcoming Return to Decorah

It looks like another Decorah trip is going to happen!  Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I am returning to northeast Iowa to do some more exploring.  With the Iowa weather starting to cool off, there might not be many (or any) more of the longer trips for a while.

This is more than just a van trip though.  You see, I might also be looking for another home though I am not sure exactly when.  I’ve been occupying the driveway at Dad’s for the last year.  He is in his eighties and staying in his house is becoming an increasing challenge for him.  Relocating is more of a “when” than an “if” for me.  Northeast Iowa is where I would like to eventually “land”.  It is safe, clean, cheap, and offers great fishing and recreation opportunities.  Each one of these van trips helps in the quest to decide where to live next.  Returning to this area feels more like “home” than home currently does.

It will be good to re-visit this area tomorrow.  A few weeks ago I wanted to ride the Prairie Farmer Bike Trail that runs from the cities of Calmar to Cresco and back.  A bulging tire on the Trek bike prevented that ride.  The bike is all fixed up and ready for another try.  We’re looking at temps in the low 70s tomorrow – a perfect setting for a leisurely ride.  The trail is featured in this photo on the left side.

Dinner on Wednesday might be interesting.  I had a crazy idea for making a thin pizza with a beer bread / olive oil crust (and lots of garlic).  That will be a fun project for the evening.  If it turns out well, I’ll share the recipe and pictures.  Another plan is to cook some salmon patties (or crab cakes) in sterilized cat food cans over the coals. 

Thursday and Friday are set aside for trout fishing.  The plan is to return to that wonderful stream in Decorah and get some more fish.  They will be smoked with apple wood.  I’m hoping to do some hiking in one of the parks as well on Thursday.

Friday will also be spent trout fishing.  There is a little walk-in park (about a mile long) called Our Lady of the Wexford.  It is located near the Mississippi River near the tiny town of Harper’s Ferry, Iowa.  The Department of Natural Resources does not announce when this stream is stocked with fish but that does not matter.  Wexford is not heavily fished because it requires so much walking – a healthy diversion!

One of the places I plan to hit is called Pete’s Hamburgers.  It is located just across the Mississippi River in the small town of Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin.  This little hole-in-the wall hamburger joint (and that’s all they serve) is famous with people in the area and from many parts of the country.  If you like hamburgers and onions, this place is heaven!  More details will be forthcoming. 

On the last night of the trip, I’m planning to do some primitive camping near Elkader, Iowa.  The State of Iowa offers free camping at the nearby trout hatchery.   Here’s the kicker… It’s only a couple miles from the tiny town of St. Olaf, home of one of the biggest and best pork tenderloin sandwiches in Iowa…. I think it’s a 21 ouncer, if I remember right.  This is going to be a test of the willpower but they also have a tasty grilled version.

In the meantime, today will be spent cleaning out the van… something put off since the last trip. 

Thanks to my sister’s funding, the van got another upgrade yesterday.  In the past there were three LED 12 volt light fixtures in the Chevy van – two on the kitchen side (on the overhead compartments along the passenger’s wall) and one above the bed near the back door. 

Yesterday two more were added, one on the driver’s side of the bulkhead wall and one on the passenger’s side.  That way the entrance is illuminated with a light reachable from outside and also the microwave / toaster oven area can be lit up.  Talk about a nice convenience!  For those wondering, each fixture is 2.7 watts meaning it draws about 1/4 amp.  That’s a lot of light for little precious power!

I also bought $200 worth of gas cards for the Kum and Go stations.  Kum and Go is a rapidly growing chain in Iowa  and they are a favorite haunt.  They stock “dutch letters” – a favorite pastry described in a previous post.  Kum and Go also has pretty darn good pizza for a buck on Wednesdays.  At least now the gasoline will be covered for the little van trips in the future.  Those funds have been helpful!  Thanks sis!

For now, it’s gonna be a busy day.  I had a meeting at 9:00 with the Diabetes Association (they are interested in the new challenge).  The first $40 in weight loss challenge donations were turned in.  Stephanie, the lady from the A.D.A., was really cool.  She told me of an upcoming bike ride / fun raiser for the Diabetes Association.  I will likely sign up for it.  The ride will happen June 29, 2013.  It sounds like a blast!

Sadly, I also had to go to a funeral today.  My friend Bob, a former cook at the senior center where Dad goes, passed away at the age of 66.  He was diabetic and suffered a heart attack.  I guess there are worse ways to go… Bob’s unfortunate death is also a good incentive to keep on track with the healthy efforts… It might be good food for thought when visiting Pete’s Hamburgers and the Saint Olaf Tap.  Moderation is the key.

Well have a good day.  Take care and thanks for visiting!  See you in a couple of days.

Bradford aka V.T.

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"
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