Fishing, Camping, and Rhubarb

SunriseHello and welcome to the blog today.  It’s been a busy weekend (I have Tuesdays and Wednesdays off).  Jesse and I went trout fishing and camping up north.  It was the same type of fishing and camping trip – hanging out at Goeken Park (near West Union) but with a different fishing stop.

On the way north, I stopped at Backbone State Park, Iowa’s oldest of all the state parks.  Though the facility was dedicated in 1919, many buildings were not constructed until the 1933 – 1941 era; they were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Some of my relatives participated in the construction.  This was also the park where Grandma and Grandpa Harris used to take Sis and I trout fishing there in the early 1970s.  One of my fondest memories was listening to the song “Billy, Don’t be a Hero”  (by Bo Donaldson and the Haywoods) playing over the old [AM only] Delco radio of Grandpa’s Impala back in 1974.  Those were the days… and doing a little arithmetic, it means I’ve been trout fishing for 40 years!  From the same hole fished as a child, I caught some beautiful fish to enjoy over the next few days.

Jesse PlayBy this time the weather was warming and Jesse was showing signs of fatigue.  I took him to Goeken Park in Fayette County.  While cooking dinner, my little buddy played to his heart’s content.  He was very near and the van’s side doors were open so he could enter and exit at will.  For supper, I cooked some brats that were picked up at the Edgewood Locker.  This new flavor is a favorite:  it contains a touch of cayenne pepper and cherries.

I’m getting lazy these days… and cheap as well.  Instead of buying charcoal and hauling it around, I find parks or campgrounds where one can buy or mooch electricity and run a hot plate.  It’s still possible to cook some pretty tasty grub even with a little shortcut here and there.

Breakdfast 06_03

The breakfast pictured here was cooked on Wednesday morning.  The trout was fresh, of course.  I cooked it in Dean and DeLuca’s garlic infused olive oil.  (Sis gave me a case of it – a half week’s pay at my wages!).  The veggie and cheese omelet was made with Eggland’s Best eggs.  I used diced red, green, orange, and yellow peppers and some onions that were prepped the day before.  My buddy Tony recommended using paper towels in the bag with the peppers so moisture could be absorbed and the omelet would not be watery.  The other dish was a bunch of discounted white mushrooms sauteed with garlic salt and veggies.

From where we camped in West Union, it was only 25 miles on to Decorah.  Jesse and I visited the lower end of Trout Run Park, about 1/2 mile downstream from the famous Decorah eagles nest and webcam.  Although there were the usual bird watchers staring at the nest, nobody was fishing!  The water was quite high from a recent thunderstorm but the stream was not at all muddy.  The rushing creek seemed to put off the usual fisherman but I was delighted.  Conditions were about as I expected and it was possible to go home with five very nice fish – all large enough to fillet.  Kitty’s gonna be happy!

Jesse BridgeJesse and I went to the other trout stream in town – Twin Springs Park.  This park has fast running, clear water.  There is no high bank and it’s easy to kneal down and clean the fish.  Jesse once again played to his heart’s content, even sampling the tempting bubbling, cold water… like most of us wish we could!

I also learned something new today.  If you are going to fillet trout, let them sit on ice for an hour or two.  Between the cold ice and rigor mortis, the meat gets firm and it’s much easier to cut the fillets!

Unfortunately, by this time the wind had picked up and the chances of losing the drone were too great; I decided to fly it another day.  Jesse was getting pretty antsy and I made the decision to bring him home.  He likes the outdoors but not the trip to get there.

Fishing with Tony and Dylan

Tony and his son Dylan

Right after a short nap at the home base, buddy Tony called and asked me to go catfishing a couple miles from home.  Why not?  We fished until dark, catching only one small catfish per person.  That’s okay.  There are already plenty of fish to eat up this week.

While out, I realized that to many, this person’s life (and perhaps the blog) might be getting kind of boring.  There was more to write about when there was chaos.  Now that things have settled down a bit, the posts are less frequent and kind of repetitive.  At the same time, now and then things come up and spark one’s interest.  Such is the case with rhubarb… and the Rhubarb Festival.

Dad and I attended this event the first year they held it in the town of Manchester – not far from where I live.  Dad was 79 or so back then and he enjoyed rhubarb, too.  I’m a huge lover of anything cooked with this tart and tasty plant.  The Edgewood Locker even makes bratwursts with it.  Stay tuned for more details after I attend on Saturday morning.

What else is on the horizon?  I’ve got some tips that and new products that have been making camping easier… There will likely be a post about that soon.  Work is going great and the job and camping seem to complement each other… the way it should be!  We’ll just have to see where life leads…

Take care and thanks for visiting!

Brad and Jesse James
Van Camping in Iowa

Sleepiing in bed

Two lazy overfed, happy males



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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"

4 Responses to Fishing, Camping, and Rhubarb

  1. my_vantasy says:

    I don’t think the blog is getting boring at all, but I do miss your frequent updates. Oh well, it just makes me appreciate each post that much more! 🙂

  2. Jo says:

    What a great camping trip you had. And as usual all the food sounds so good.
    I’m finally leaving for a nice long trip on the 14th. Getting everything in order.