Time to Reflect


Clouds reflecting in Trout Run Stream.  At a time like this, does anything else in the world really matter?


It feels good to be liberated even though the gas station job is gone.  We had a mutiny late last week – the third such mass walkout this year at the station.  The staff all resigned, and it is back to job hunting… When people began to quit and the company’s “house of cards” started to tumble, I was asked to work more days.  It wasn’t going to happen.  The manager and assistant manger are pursuing new careers.  Two part timers (who each quit more than once) are coming back – sure to jump ship at the next crisis… and I went fishing and camping.

Nope, this vandweller is not giving up his time off for problems the company has perpetuated.   I was already mentally and physically drained by a bunch of stuff being worked on as Dad’s power of attorney.  It’s been a crazy period and some reflection and recreation was desperately needed..

3_Trout Hatchery

Serena at the trout hatchery in Decorah

With a little free time available until the next gig comes along, I went north with the little buddy, Serena.  We were in Decorah for two days.  There is something unusual about that town.  It is like none other in Iowa… and I’ve been to plenty!  God has blessed that city and all who visit.

The kitty and I were delayed in getting started but finally hit the road on Sunday night.  Due to the deer rut being in full swing, I could only drove 45 to 50 MPH on the rural roads, at one point looking a large buck in the eyes.  I stopped 20 minutes south of Decorah and we camped at Goeken Park, a favorite $8 (with electricity) spot.

4_GuillotineThe trout fishing on Monday was fast and furious.  Flattened, dead grass indicated that the trout stocking truck had not been around for several days, likely Friday.  That is a good thing – there were few anglers fishing.  But there were plenty of fish if a person walked far enough;  it was possible to limit out (5 fish) in an hour!

I took Serena over to Twin Springs, the park on the other side of town, and let her play in the pine needles while the fish were being cleaned.  The aroma of pine was heavenly and nourishing to the soul.  I roasted some premium all beef hot dogs on the Coleman Instaspark grill.  Serena, who usually doesn’t like people food, even ate a little of the frankfurter!

So why the gruesome picture of the trout facing its demise?  It was a lot easier to use some free, flat firewood to clean the fishies and catch the parts in a garbage bag.  It was so much better on the back than stooping over the stream.  (where a beautiful rainbow trout had slipped out of the hands and floated away during the last visit)

Last night Serena and I camped at Walmart in Decorah.   The Mr. Heater Buddy propane heater kept the van toasty.  This morning I fished the lower end of Trout Run Park, exploring some different fishing holes.  It was fun!  Recently Dad had said “Don’t you get bored fishing?”  My thought is “If you get bored fishing, you’re probably not doing something right.”


Dutton’s Cave Park, near West Union, Iowa

We paused on the way back and I let Serena play at Dutton’s Cave Park.  She is a trooper and had traveled all over with me, opting to sleep on a stack of clothes next to the driver.  She’s getting old and frail.  When that dreaded time comes, her final resting place will be either in Decorah or at Dutton’s Cave park.  She seems to love those places as much as I.

It was good to get away for a bit.  Emotions were thought through and released.  The fishing was great and the scenery was as beautiful as ever.

Life moves on.  The gas station is still there, importing employees from their stations in other cities to help out.  Dad’s situation is better – I’ve gotten a handle on the mound of paperwork that was downright vexing.  His health is fragile but he is in good hands.

More work will come along one of these days.  There are still plenty of low paying companies out there, desperate to hire someone to fill positions.  At least there is some security in that!   Sometimes less IS more.  If you take a lower paying job there often a lot of turnover – it’s easier to blend in and bail out if it becomes necessary.


It is close to Halloween.  Be safe.  There is a chance the white “Trekker Van” might even show up somewhere (along with a cute little black cat) for the evening!  Stay tuned.


Thanks for visiting.  Set boundaries, stick by them, and look out for yourself.  Nobody else will… Take care!

7_Renas Fanny

Serena sets a boundary by ignoring me.  Body language says a lot when you are a cat!

Bradford and Serena , the “Van Trekkers”

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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"

6 Responses to Time to Reflect

  1. tinycamper says:

    So glad to see you and Serena out free and fishing again, Brad. Wish I could make the break, but not willing to do what I would have to do to get there. So I just dream……

    I will use your tip on cleaning fish. I always make such a ghastly mess when I do that job.

    And yes, cat’s body language speaks volumes. I love them! 🙂

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks for the kind words. It seems boring not to work but the body is doing a lot better – physically, mentally, and spiritually. Taking Serena along adds a degree of fun; it’s intriguing to see what she likes to do and hang out with her. I just leave the van door open and watch. Once she’s played to her heart’s content, she just climbs back in the van and lays on the bed… just like her caregiver!

  2. Pleinguy says:

    Wow Brad! Another one bites the dust. Never hurts to have a break though. Hope all works out for you. Take care.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Yep, another one went down the tubes. If the job was like when I hired on, I’d still be there. I stopped in there the day after quitting in order to speak to a friend who was working. In the process, I reported a liquor thief to her and we got him. It was fun (and a reminder of what it was like) to be back in the saddle again.

      Two days after quitting, someone called work and posed as a company district manager and convinced the employee on duty that he was sending in a company rep and that money was needed to pay for something (I don’t know all the details). The long and the short of it was the store employee got scammed out of a lot of money (more so than if someone robbed the place with a gun). I feel sorry for them but they don’t value the hard working, older, critical thinkers. Karma bit them in the fanny in a big way.

  3. Meg says:

    I’m glad you have a kitty to travel with. I miss mine but I’m not in a good place (literally & figuratively) to get another one. Soon, I hope.

    My brother does the POA stuff for my mom (in a nursing home 4 1/2 years now). He’s an admitted procrastinator, puts everything off ’til the last minute (he has to reapply for her benefits every year, I think), but eventually gets it done. I’m glad he’s the one doing it though; I have my own paperwork to deal with 🙂 I’ve been a paper-pusher in more than one job and don’t usually mind it, but the government stuff can be a real hassle.

    Wow, you’ve had quite a few jobs in the short time I’ve been reading. I don’t mean that in a negative way; it seems like you’ve been able to find other jobs fairly easily and that’s encouraging for me, as I’ll probably be in a similar situation – once I get a vehicle, that is! I’m sure something else will present itself when you’re ready; this is a busy time of year, at least for retail operations. There are lots of signs up around here that say “we’re hiring.”

    In the meantime, enjoy your free time, and your travels.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Meg! POA is very difficult. I don’t charge anything for doing it but some weeks it is a full time job, with Dad becoming angry and bitter when money has to be spent, lays guilt trips, etc. My sister is very supportive and does not know all regarding his unhappiness, anger, etc. Her help and encouragement make it easier.

      As far as work, I hate jumping from job to job. I’ve had jobs where the employment lasted 6, 6.5, and 11 years! It’s sad to say but there is so little regard for workers now days. Companies pay very little, give you ever-changing hours (so you cannot work two jobs), and try to revoke your days off at will to benefit the team (means management doesn’t have to cover a gap). Something else will come along. The good part is having a clean conscience, knowing I tried to do a good job, and was nice to customers. 🙂

      Take care!