Enjoying St. Patty’s Day Early


A rueben sandwich heated over a camping stove made for an early St. Patty’s Day fix

 After working on Dad’s house all week, it was time for a break to enjoy the moderating weather.  Serena and I headed to Muscatine, Iowa for a little camping fun and to visit some friends.  The intention was to explore a bit but that didn’t happen this time.  Instead of “getting away from it all”,  it seemed better to be around others… especially my colorful friend Johnnie.  We had planned to eat at Ryan’s – a favorite haunt.

IMG_5946[1]Meet the nicest server from Ryan’s –  Tammy – a mutual friend of Johnnie and myself.  Tammy is just as lively as she is pretty.  Johnnie and I first met her a year or so ago and are friends on Facebook.  We call her “Tammy Deen” because of her resemblance to Paula Deen as well as the southern accent.  Her friendly smile can really warm a person’s heart!



Serena has already claimed the new blanket.

Johnnie Red hat

Johnnie IS colorful!

After dinner, it was on to the Salvation Army.  Serena had thrown up on my bedspread and I decided to get a second one for the van.  While the old blanket is pretty with its “outdoorsy” dark colors, the only regret was that it made the van look small.  The new comforter is much lighter in color, has a few lavender flowers, and a number of leaves.  Since the new blanket contained some green [leaves], I received a 50% discount as part of the Salvation Army’s St. Patty’s Day sale.  The cost was just $4 for a much warmer, higher quality bedspread.  It’s not slippery like the cheap nylon blankets.


The LED light featured in another post.

After doing some shopping and driving around in the van on Friday night, I dropped Johnnie off at home and looked for a place to camp.  The favorite spot near the old Fairport Hatchery (along the Mississippi River, north of Muscatine and south of Davenport) is ideal at this slow time of the year.  The cost was just $11 including electricity.  There were only two other camping vehicles there.

IMG_6041[1]The picture you see on the right is the Mississippi River with the ice breaking up.  Spring is practically here!

When I got up on  Saturday morning, the Oster Smoker Roaster was started up with some chicken and pork ribs smoking with apple wood.  For moisture (to keep the ribs from drying out) a 50/50 mixture of apple juice and water was added to the bottom of the smoker to make some steam.  The results were very tasty!


Camping tires a person out!

In the meantime, Serena was playing all along the river bank, chasing leaves and listening to the geese “honk”, etc.  She loves the outdoors as much as her Daddy.

IMG_6103[1]For lunch, I hauled the smoked food over to Johnnie’s and made this new, tasty little side dish.  You can’t beat something with just two ingredients!  You simply take two pieces of asparagus, roll them up tightly with a strip of cheap bacon, and pan fry until crispy.  I added a touch of seasoning salt and black pepper.  A person might want to let the wraps cool a few minutes so the asparagus will soften more.  Johnnie had never eaten asparagus before and loved it…  It’s low carb, too… We won’t talk about the cholesterol though!


There’s nothing like waking up to some good scenery!

The afternoon was spent relaxing, watching movies and hanging out.  Unfortunately, the trip had to be cut a little short because I forgot some needed medication and needed to return.  Nonetheless, it sure was fun sharing the outdoors with “Ree Ree”, my feisty little senior “kitizen”.

So what is on the horizon?  Fishing, of course.  The DNR is going to start stocking trout in a couple of weeks.  The top priorities in the meantime are to finish up working on Dad’s house this week – just as the new job is starting.

Have a terrific week and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!  Thanks for hanging out.

Bradford and Serena, “Van Trekking” in Iowa

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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"

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