Teddy the Toad and Goeken Park


Meet Theodore aka “Teddy the Toad”


Hello, once again.  Wednesday’s trip was supposed to be about trout fishing and bike riding.  It turned out to be entirely different.  That’s the fun of traveling and camping by van.  If you are a spontaneous person, this is the way to go!

I left Cedar Rapids a little late.  The plan was to stop, ride the bike on a nature trail for a while, do some fishing, and let the kitty roam.  Serena ended up getting sick and we had to shorten the trip.  It was fairly warm and I had made a terrible mistake.  I should have locked the cat in the front of the van with me because it is cool up front.  Instead, she opted to stay in the back of the van where it was about 90 degrees.  No harm done – it just meant a change in plans.  She’s a tough old kitty.  Thankfully, a stop was needed and I could check on her.

I had forgotten to bring the kringla that was made the other day.  Along the way I found a little farmer’s market and picked up some of the world’s best chocolate chip cookies.  They are incredibly thick yet soft and chewy.  The girls selling them are Mennonite.  You can’t beat old school, homemade goodies!


View of Eldorado (pronounced El-do-RAY-do) from  Goeken Park

When stopping at the Farmer’s Market, it was then I noticed Serena was limp and panting.  I gave her some water and held her as we hurried to Goeken park, just 15 minutes  south of Decorah.  She rested in the shade under the van.

Goeken Park, located just a few hundred feet from Highway 150, (the main road) is a new favorite.  The slanted ground makes parking a big rig or even a 5th wheel camper difficult but for a van it’s perfect.  (if you don’t mind sleeping downhill)  With electricity, the cost was only $8 but I chose the “non electric” option for just $5. You just can’t beat the view or the value!

5_GoedkenIt was cool to have a private mini pavilion with free electricity for food preparation.  I cooked up a nice evening meal (more new recipes for the cookbook effort) while the kitty watched.  After eating,  Serena roamed around a little.  That’s when we found the toad which I nicknamed “Theodore”.  He was a cute little guy but was afraid of me.

Eventually he calmed down (after purging all bodily substances in my hand).  Teddy sat still long enough to take some photos.

6_SerenaBy this time I was pretty pooped out but Serena was getting her second wind.  She had a lot of fun checking out the smells (as you see in the picture below.

The sun started going down.   Mother Nature had changed her color palette to evening hues.  The wispy white cirrus clouds atop distant thunderstorms had taken on a more fiery color.  A lone toad (not Teddy) croaked.  A couple of crickets chirped.  Tires sang as cars drove by on the highway.  Someone in the distance was mowing his or her lawn.


Looking west from Goeken Park

The lawnmower stopped as the sky darkened.  Fewer cars passed by.  The orchestra of insects started to play as the sky became darker.  Then I realized that quite a bit of time had passed and the face and arms were bitten by numerous mosquitoes.  It was time to rest.  Talk about a peaceful night’s sleep!  Serena was also tuckered out and snoozed by my face with her paw on the right collarbone.

It’s another beautiful day today… much more like fall.  They sky is clear and so is the Upper Iowa River.  Two feet and four paws are going fishing and exploring now.

Have a spectacular day and enjoy the sunsets.  I don’t think there is a more effective therapy or better stress medication than observing the outdoors and giving thanks to God for the blessings we enjoy every day.

Now it’s time to give some thanks for tonight’s supper that is about to be caught.   🙂

Brad and Serena, “Van Trekking” in the hills of “Little Norway”

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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3 Responses to Teddy the Toad and Goeken Park

  1. tinycamper says:

    I almost felt as though I were looking over your shoulder observing your day. Thanks for sharing it. I needed that glimpse of serenity tonight! 🙂

    Glad Serena perked back up.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thank you for the kind words. Serena is a sturdy little girl. We might be going fishing later this week but closer to home. It’s kind of cute – She lives in Dad’s house but after feeding her at night, she wants to come out and sleep next to me in the van. It’s just too bad that the cat wants to get up at 5 AM… :-/

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