An Amazing Christmas Present

Hello and welcome to the blog!  The latest trip (Christmas Eve and Christmas day) was a brief but fun filled time.

2_Mr Buddy SandwichOn Wednesday night, I took off and headed north   Since it was Christmas Eve, the boss (a pretty cool guy) had bought the store several trays of party food including cookies and a collection of deli meats and cheeses.  That worked out perfectly.

I gathered some roast beef, turkey, ham, and cheeses.  One of the supervisors contributed a premium hamburger roll.  With a little aluminum foil, a fat little sandwich was made to warm up over the Mr. Heater propane furnace.  Oh, did it work well!  But I digress.

2_kidsThe first stop was at Frankville, a small village located close to Decorah.  The Presbyterian church had a Christmas Eve service including a children’s choir, the adult choir, a reading by a church member, etc.  It was a wonderful, heartwarming event.  I had not been in a religious setting since Dad died.  There was a calming, safe feeling as I sat in the pew and thought about the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross and how none of the earth’s stresses (bills, disease, physical pain, how long it takes to make a Big Mac, etc) really matter.  For the first time this year I finally felt the “Christmas Spirit” and it did not come from a Walmart ad. It makes sense, right?

Frankville is so close to Decorah that I opted to camp at the Walmart, a familiar place to enjoy a peaceful night…although the Trekker Van was the only vehicle in the massive parking lot.  In the middle of the night I opened the Christmas presents Sis had sent along including 2 books of cool places to visit in Iowa.  Just wait – there will be more van trips to some of them!

Big Fish Christmas3On Christmas morning the fishing bug bit.  On the way, I thanked God for the birth of Jesus, salvation, the friends and family, etc.  I also asked for a couple of fish to take home for Christmas, remembering  last year’s giant trout caught shortly after Dad died.  Well, fishing was worth a try … although regular stocking had ended some time ago.

On the first cast this big fat brook trout attacked the bait with such force it caused the kind of excitement you remember for years.  He was a scrapper but soon tired and lost the battle.  After dragging him to the bank, I grabbed a railing to lift myself and the rotator cuff started popping like a string of firecrackers.  Neither of us felt too well after the encounter.

Decorah DinnerAlready chilled to the bone, it was time to eat at the Winneshiek County Medical Center’s special meal.  Most of the diners were seniors.  I had a nice conversation with a couple of them.  Predictably, the subject turned to fishing and camping.  One of the volunteers and his son even came out to the van to check out the fish.  “Oh, ya!  You betcha!  Gosh, that’s a big’un!”

After lunch I took the drone up for some test flights.  It flew admirably in the stiff wind but soon started faltering.  One of the four motors failed.  At the same time, I had a problem with the micro SD card and didn’t get any pics.  New parts are on order – there’s always next time.  It was time to start heading home anyway.

IMG_1545On the way back, I checked out a little highway marker east of Calmar on Highway 52.  This site was where Hamilton Campbell, his wife, and son made their home as Winneshiek County’s first white settlers.  Hamilton served with Abraham Lincoln during the Black Hawk war.  I love seeing these interesting little roadside historical markers.


While meandering along Highway 52 heading in the general direction of home, I spotted a highway sign indicating the town of Monona was close.  I was passing just a few miles from a trout stream that never fails… and I’d only caught three fish earlier.  After pulling in, I quickly caught two more dinner sized trout and thanked God for the wonderful trip and fantastic fish – some of the nicest trout I’ve ever had together on the stringer at one time.  What a wonderful Christmas present!

1_Trout Fish and Jesse

“Thanks Daddy, now catch one for yourself!”

Tonight I cooked the fish, stuffing it with a mixture of applewood bacon, onions, shitake mushrooms, wild rice, fresh thyme, a little lemon, and some garlic.  Keeping Jesse at bay was not easy.  As Daddy started from the front, Jesse worked on the tail.  That’s what we call a special Christmas dinner.

The whole little trip only spanned a 24 hour period but it was still a lot of fun and really helped gently adjust the attitude to one of gratitude and festivity.  God is great and fishing is fun… I learned there needs to be time for both… and both will always be there.

I hope the friends who read the blog had a great holiday time as well.  Thanks for following along.  Undoubtedly, there will be more trips – perhaps quite soon as New Year’s approaches.  We’ll see where life leads.

Have a happy upcoming New Year!

Bradford, Serena, and Jesse James


 489 total views,  1 views today

Bookmark the permalink.

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"

3 Responses to An Amazing Christmas Present

  1. Jo says:

    What a wonderful and spiritual Christmas you had. That trout looked fantastic.
    For only a 24 hr. trip you saw so much and enjoyed a wonderful meal with wonderful people.

    Hope your New Years is a Happy one and may your health stay well.

  2. Pleinguy says:

    Sounds like you had an enjoyable holiday. It so happens I also had fish for Christmas dinner; and it was delicious. Hope you have a wonderful new year.