Getting Rid of Cabin Fever – Move the Cabin!

This little guy LOVES my pistachios!


This little squirrel buddy doesn’t get tired of hanging around no matter what season it is.  Unfortunately, like so many others, I tend to get a little edgy during the winter months.  In fact, one doctor even tried to make me sit in front of a full spectrum light to treat the seasonal affective disorder.  It didn’t work.  “Cabin fever”, that feeling of being trapped and unable to enjoy anything during the winter, was dragging me down.  I figured if I wasn’t happy in the “cabin”, it was time to move the “cabin”!

By some miracle, I had four days off in a row from the new gas station job and the weather was right for making some ice.  Unfortunately, after planning the little ice fishing van trek, I learned that the trout pond would not be stocked until January 5th!  But that area recently received 14 inches of snow and sounded like a perfect place to have some winter fun and shake the winter blues – fishing or no fishing.

On Thursday afternoon I headed up to Dubuque, Iowa.  The trip was delayed a little after some electrical problems with the van.  (More about that next week).  This photo was taken south of town at the Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey.  I mentioned their wonderful caramel candies in previous posts.  Dad loves these things and, of course, the driver wanted some as well. 

A few snowflakes and the van would disappear.
 
 
South of Dubuque, Iowa
 

From there it was on to Bunker Hill Golf Course – a local favorite for sledding…well, in my case, it was “tubing”.  Before leaving Cedar Rapids, for $25 I purchased a large inner tube from the Firestone Farm tire dealer – the kind of tube used inside the tire of a 16 wheeled semi-truck.  It would easily carry my hefty carcass down a hill.  Tomorrow I’m going to add a rope handle to make it easier to tote back up the hill.

Looking past the sledding hill toward the golf course
 
 
Sledding in reverse… Looks like fun!




Here is a video (complete with authentic sound effects) taken as I slid down the 50% grade hill.  Not only was it a great deal of fun, the climb up the steep hill was a tremendous workout.  I intend to do more tubing before going back to Cedar Rapids.  Sledding or tubing is a great activity at any age.  It’s healthy, too! 

On Thursday night the idea was to camp at Swiss Valley park in Dubuque.  Since the area had received so much snow (with up to three more inches coming tonight), the campground was not plowed out.  Hmmm…. Did I want to be the only camper in the same park where I nearly got stuck last year?  Nope…

So this post is being written from the Dubuque Walmart.  Earlier I locked the generator to the cargo rack and ran it for an hour to give the house batteries a strong boost after a dismal day of solar energy.  Now I have enough juice to run everything till morning and still be at 80% or so of capacity.  The recent addition of a propane hose for the Mr. Heater Buddy is proving handy.  With a 20# tank it means practically unlimited camping (100+ hours of heating time).  A couple of spin on tanks are also on board for a back up.  Bye bye, camping fees!

While charging the house batteries, it was a good time to warm up some vittles.  Last night I had roasted a turkey breast that Dad won at a free holiday dinner.  Some was made into sandwiches for the trip.  Part was shredded and mixed with gravy and stored in a plastic bag, making an easy entree.  The turkey was eaten over instant potatoes and I also made some crockpot whiskey glazed carrots.  The recipe is on the link to the left.  Total cost for the meal?  About $2.  I’ll take that over a restaurant any day!

The plan for tomorrow is to head north and do who knows what…  At first, I thought I’d forgotten the fishing pole but found that it was packed after all.  On the way to fishing there are two Anytime Fitness locations in addition to other things to see and do.  It would be fun to visit the pub in the tiny town of Gunder, Iowa for their famous “Gunderburger”.   I’m kind of tempted to camp for free at the trout hatchery, weather permitting. 

We’ll just see what happens and take life as it comes.  That’s the fun of “moving the cabin.”  How can you be bored when you don’t know where you are going or what adventure is around the next corner?  Contrary to conventional wisdom, wandering around with no place to go can provide you with lots of peace of mind…. and lots of interesting stories.

Have a wonderful weekend as we wrap up 2012.

Bradford, the “Van Trekker”

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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2 Responses to Getting Rid of Cabin Fever – Move the Cabin!

  1. tinycamper says:

    Sounds like a wonderful getaway, and like you stay plenty warm in the van.

    Do you have any trouble with condensation?

  2. Brad says:

    Hi! Things do condense in the van but not too badly. I have a vapor barrier which helps. The front windows take the brunt of it. Every day or two (every day if moving the van), I warm it up thoroughly and use a towel to wipe off all the water on the front glass surfaces as the ice melts. In close to two years there have not been any mold problems. I do keep windows cracked and the roof vent running some during the day, too.