Johnnie’s Birthday

John and Johnnie

The other two muskateers – John on the left and Johnnie (the birthday boy) on the right.

Hello and welcome to the blog.  Last week my buddy Johnnie (in Muscatine, Iowa) turned 40 and we had a whale of a birthday dinner for him.  I bought him some “over the hill” presents, of course!   We had huge ribeye steaks with a homemade portabella mushroom sauce, bacon wrapped asparagus, baked beans, potato salad, and a low carb dessert with strawberries.  It was a great deal of fun.

Johnnie and I had gone”junking” during the afternoon and I managed to find an unusual Jello mold that was impossible to live without .  That makes 29 of them on the wall now in the kitchen.  Oh well…  If lightning strikes all this copper, it wouldn’t be a surprise!

In a previous post, I mentioned “shaking the bushes” but things didn’t pan out in that regard… at least not yet.  I was out at the farm shaking the mulberry bushes and gathering berries on a tarp … but didn’t get many.  The more established bushes will yield a nice crop later this month.  A friend in Cedar Rapids also invited me over to pick raspberries, mulberries, and cherries at her place.  It is likely that some of these fruits will make it to the blog and onto the dinner plate in the near future.  Berries are a healthy treat to anyone and especially to a diabetic!

East of Martelle

Looking west of the farm toward Martelle, Iowa… This was from about 150 feet up.

After arriving back home, I got to looking at the camping fund; it is stored in a bank that electronically counts the coins placed in it.  Recently, I’d thought about cashing the money in at the big green Coinstar machine at Wally World.  But then I realized what a gyp those devices can be.  A person works to save his or her spare coins and then pays 10% or so to have them counted – unless you want to take a retail certificate and be forced to spend the money.  Even my bank charges to count the coins!  Sure, it’s fun to hear the rattle of the counting apparatus but for $6.10 (I had $61 accumulated), it’s more fun to hear coins fall into a Coke machine.

A fun diversion was to buy a bag of paper coin tubes at Dollar Tree.  Filling them was therapeutic as a multi-hour thunderstorm rattled the trailer windows and jangled Jesse’s nerves.  At one point I knocked the bank over and nearly caused the little guy to have a breakdown.  Nearby lightning strikes had me jumping about as badly!

IMG_3859The coins went to a good cause.  The town I live in is relatively small and has several gas stations.  I made gas purchaes at all of them while running errands.  To be nice to the cashiers, only two rolls were used at each stop… and I didn’t have to pay the Coinstar machine.  There are two rolls of nickels left (each roll is $2).   They will work for “soda pop money”.   As for the four rolls of pennies…. I might let the machine count them and keep the 20 cents as a tip.  😀

So what’s on the horizon?  There are a couple of days off coming up this week though I’ve not yet made any plans.  Recent heavy rains in the area (three to four inches) have swelled the area rivers and creeks; more rain is on the way.   But days off from work are too precious to waste.  It’s likely camping will occur somewhere before long… even if there is no fishing involved.

“Just one more thing…”  (Peter Falk as Columbo)    Always-keep-smilingIn closing, I wanted to pass along a thought that I posted to Facebook today….

Keep smiling… In looking back at some recent difficult times, I realized that the only time I was not enjoying life was when I let others steal that happiness. Life is finite, precious, and there’s not a moment to waste with anger, gossip, and bitterness.

It doesn’t matter if the wheels fall off the car, I lose my job, the trailer burns down, or the pancreas falls out. Who cares? The key is to not listen to unhappy people – or be one of them. What is important is to love God and be grateful for every day He has given us… (and go fishing and camping more)

You just don’t get happy by being unhappy.

Have a terrific week.  Make it a great one!   Safe and happy travels, always!

Brad and Jesse James
Jones County, 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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