Another Visit to Backbone State Park

Beach Area Backbone

Backbone Beach area and Lake

Hello and welcome to the blog.  Wednesday was the first time it’s been possible to do any trout fishing for a while.  The month of June saw double the normal rainfall in many places in Iowa.  The streams are just now starting to recover.  Though I don’t often get cabin fever, not being able to do one’s hobby takes a toll after a while!

Backbone State Park, located in northwest Delaware County, is one of the closest trout fishing locations to where I live – about half the distance it would be to drive to Decorah.  This was where Grandma and Grandpa used to take Sis and I when we were kids.  Nothing could ever beat the fried trout that Grandma cooked up in her cast iron skillet using Crisco.  She had a knack… That simple Midwest cooking – comfort food – was amazing.

1_Rock Hole

One of Grandpa Harris’ favorite fishing holes… 40 years ago!

The trout fishing was marginal at best on Wednesday.  Richmond Springs, a creek that winds through the state park, was swollen due to recent rains.  Where one would normally catch fish, the water was high, murky, and slow.  Narrow portions of the stream – places where there was not normally a lot of water – had become white water rapids and hungry trout were hiding in them… eager to feed.  As older fishermen were content to sit in lawn chairs and converse in front of familiar flooded holes, I tried something different.  A quick stroll a few hundred feet away yielded five decent fish.  Two were even caught next to the road where the stream crossed over the cement.

At the time of the writing of this post, there are several fish soaking in a marinade of lime juice, fresh thyme (from the herb garden), a touch of cayenne, and some garlic flavored olive oil.  It will be fun to see how the fish turn out on the grill!  Jesse’s will be fixed the way he prefers – boneless with just a bit of salt and cooked in real butter.

2_White Jelly FungusAfter fishing, there was  a cool discovery – some fungus I’d not before encountered.  Once properly identified, I love to eat safe, fresh mushrooms but this critter was something different.  It was a white jelly fungus – safe – but kind of strange.

Despite its beauty, the consistency of this fungus was practically repulsive.  Without getting a bit gross, it is difficult to describe the tactile sensations.  The white jelly fungus had that sort of gooey, rice paper type consistency like you find on an uncooked spring roll … but much thicker.  Perhaps we’ll just say it was like overcooked “rice noodles” … kind of almost like jelly.  (although I thought it felt like a gigantic nose “booger”)  Nonetheless, finding this new-to-me fungus was exciting… even if it was not something desirable to pick and eat.  (Sorry!   Ick!)

The few hours outside were gently restorative because there is so much to see, learn, and experience… besides just fishing.  If things work out, later this month I hope to head for Decorah and do a little biking, fishing (of course!), photograph some butterflies, and perhaps hike in the hills.  Periodically one needs to “detoxify” by getting away from the rat race of the world.  Any time of any day I will gladly trade listening to the prattle of the gossips for the soothing gurgling of a trout stream.

Backbone Cabins

Oops… I nearly forgot to share a picture of the cabins at Backbone State Park.  These are very modern, comfortable dwellings and are immactulately maintained.  Right now it looks like they are booked solid for the month of July.

The cost to rent a cabin is a $100 / night (or $600 / week) including heating and air conditioning.  I guess that’s not a bad deal compared to the price of a hotel room.  I would still rather sleep in the van, pee in a cat litter jug, and eat cold cans of Beanie Weenie during the night.  But to each his own!   This would be a terrific place for a family to go and relax.


For now it’s back to work.  The holiday weekend is nearly at hand and things will be busy.  Have a safe and happy Independence Day… Though some only celebrate just once a year, for those of us who love to camp outdoors, the blessing of freedom is something we express gratitude for much more frequently.  God Bless the USA!

Brad and Jesse James in 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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