Cool Scenery Pictures from the Decorah Area

Decorah Community Meadow, Winneshiek County, Iowa

It’s been a fun trip this weekend.  Like most of the van excursions, there were all kinds of plans and about half actually came to fruition.  Spontaneity makes it all the more enjoyable!

Friday went by quickly.  After the carnival visit on Thursday, I camped at Anytime Fitness and then headed north to trout country.  The fishing did not go well.  The first trout stream, Sny Magill, was full of cars.  There were two groups of out of state folks who pretty much killed the chances of getting any fish.  Spread a few paces apart, they were casting nearly continuously with shiny spinners, terrorizing the trout.  Three people at one hole?  I uttered a few choice words to myself and decided to move to a more isolated spot.

Black raspberries are so healthy and tasty!

The next place is an old standby… Otter Creek.  I caught the last four fish in little time.  Game over, right?  Nope… the fun was just starting to begin.  Though a bit late in the season, it was still possible to gather about a quart of black raspberries after a long walk in the heat. 

Later in the evening the berries were made into an easy, tasty raspberry cobbler.  The main course was ribeye steak fajitas on homemade tortillas.  The nearby campers watched me make the tortillas on top of the generator box and one lady called out “That looks good!” when the first one was eaten.  I’ll post the directions for the tortillas and the cobbler on the sister blog in a day or two.


Creepy little critter…

Unfortunately, on Friday night I found three wood ticks in various places – on the neck and a shoulder.  Man, I hate these things!  Fortunately, they were found pretty early and could be removed easily.  When showering, it looked look I was doing the macarena dance when looking for more bloodsucking insects!

After breakfast, I rode into Decorah on the bike and over to the Trout Run stream.  Beautiful flowers were growing near the creek.  I wish the picture did them justice.  The flowers are a delicate shade of light bluish-purple.

After catching two medium sized fish and one much larger, it was time to bike back to the campground and clean them.  Once they were on ice at the campground, it was time to ride the bike back to town for the afternoon.

On the way back along the trail, I asked these friendly folks to take their picture for this blog.  They agreed.  Doesn’t tubing on the Upper Iowa River look like fun?

At first it appeared that was a festival in town.  Some of the downtown Decorah streets were blocked off to allow the various businesses a chance to put their offerings for sale.  People just milled around, chatting and shopping.  A local radio station had musicians playing guitar music.  It was a fun time!   I ended up buying a water bottle for the bike… It advertised “T-Bocks Sports Bar” (a favorite place).  How can you go wrong for a buck?

Live music is fun!

While meandering, a stop at the Oneota Co-Op (a healthy food type market) yielded a wonderful treat.  At first I thought it was an “apple crisp” dessert from the way it looked.  It turned out to be a leek dish with a crunchy sweet potato topping.  Holy crap, it was delicious!  Now it’s time to search for a similar recipe.  It would be a new camping favorite.

Along the ride back, I stopped to take a pic of this cool scarecrow at the city gardens.  After checking out the gardens, the  “Whippy Dip” restaurant (conveniently near the bike trail!) was calling.  It’s one of those Dairy Queen clones but much less expensive.  A medium “Brownie Bite Sundae” was $2.50 and likely had enough carbs to shut down a kidney or two.  It was worth the risk.

Looks like he came from “The Wizard of Oz”

Here is where the afternoon took an interesting turn.  One the way back from the second trip into town, I saw a simple sign announcing “Decorah Community Prairie”…  I thought to myself, it was probably just a bunch of weeds planted by tree hugging hippies.  Vowing to be open minded, I rode over to the prairie area which was near the Upper Iowa River.  Talk about beautiful!

And you thought the scarecrow was creepy!?

A honey bee busy at work on some “Butterfly Weed”

Same bee.. zoomed in.

So instead of the intended swimming, I ended up looking at prairie flowers and listening to live music.  But that’s the fun part of van camping.  You just sort of roll with it.  There are so many beautiful things to observe.  It’s just a matter of taking the time to slow down and enjoy the roses… or the black-eyed Susans.

It’s Sunday now and about time to head back toward Cedar Rapids.  I promised Dad a black raspberry cobbler when I get back.  Picking berries means a detour, possibly more wood ticks to contend with, and maybe more fishing.  Who knows what other adventures are out there?

And they mean it… “You betcha!”

This sign at the edge of the Decorah Community Prairie sums it all up.  Have a good one and thanks for following along.

Bradford the “Van Trekker”

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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"

8 Responses to Cool Scenery Pictures from the Decorah Area

  1. The prairie is beautiful! I love how you find all of these neat little places to visit.

    • Brad says:

      Thanks! There is so much beauty all around us. It helps to take the time to look for it but lately, it seems like being open minded has let me explore things I’d ignored before. It is so cool when a community takes pride in its heritage and maintains it for others to enjoy.

  2. Anonymous says:

    If you’re still in Decorah, and have time, stop by Mabe’s and get the Philly Cheesesteak pizza. It’s amazing!

    • Brad says:

      Thanks for the recommendation. I love Mabe’s… Actually, on Saturday I went in there for a pizza but ended up getting a “volcano burger”. It was delicious!

      The next time I’m in Decorah later this summer, I’ll try the Philly Cheesesteak pizza as you recommended. So far, the only one I’ve tried was the “All Around the Garden”. It was heavenly. Mabe’s lives up to its reputation!

  3. tinycamper says:

    Loved all your photos, but especially the one of you and the meadow flowers. Such a serendipitous day! I really envy your freedom to wander at will, stopping along the way to enjoy the flowers, catch a few trout, listen to music and enjoy a Brownie Bite Sundae.

    Thanks for sharing your magical day with us!

    But you can keep the ticks. 🙂

    • Brad says:

      Thank you for the kind words. I agree with your comment about the ticks. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that none of the critters came home with me after the second round of berry picking. Wandering is so much fun but pretty soon I will have to go back to working a little.

  4. Dragonfly says:

    Ohh, the pictures are lovely, with you permission, I would like to do a little painting of 2 of them. Just the flowers, I’m not a good person painter so you are safe.

    • Brad says:

      Feel free to use the pictures as you wish. I am delighted that someone can enjoy them in that fashion. Cool! 🙂