Along the Border

New Albin4

Hello and welcome to the blog.  Friday’s journey began in McGregor (M) where I camped on Thursday.

After heading north from the Pikes Peak Campground, I took a break at a little trout stream called Wexford – a place about a half hour away.

The Immaculate Conception Church and Cemetery that you see in the drone photo below was established in 1851.  Rev. Thomas Hore, an Irish priest, brought seventeen families over from their Irish homeland in the County of Wexford, Ireland, an area of similar beauty. Here is a link to some history about Wexford.  Their website has some Irish recipes, too!

Wexford 4

Immaculate Conception Church at Wexford

The trout stream at Wexford (below the cemetery area) is slow-moving and is not stocked with fish as often as other creeks.  I saw a few fish in the water but did not have much luck there.  (I prefer faster running streams)

When leaving Wexford, I noticed something interesting on the dashboard of the van.  When the Express was purchased in 2011, it had 69K miles on it, plus or minus.  On Friday the van turned a milestone and got a new name.

100000 milesJust as I arrived in beautiful Lansing, Iowa, (“L” on the map) the van turned 100,000 miles.  There was a pause at the overlook to reflect on the many camping trips, places visited, and other fond memories.  The journeys with Serena came to mind and I made a decision.  When the van was purchased, it had needed a name.  It was called the “USS Dora” after my mother’s birth name.  On Friday it got a new identity.  From here on out, this vessel is going to be called the “USS Serena” after the occupant who loved camping as much as the captain.  She was one amazing cat with a most adventuresome spirit!

Lansing 2

Lansing, Iowa

From Lansing, it was time to decide where to go.  Some awesome trout fishing was desired but scenery was a priority, too.  The decision was made to proceed north and follow Upper Iowa River Drive west after checking out New Albin (the asterisk on the map).

New Albin, the farthest point in northeast Iowa, is bordered by the Mississippi River to the east and Minnesota to the north.  Before stopping in town, I passed through and parked the van, walked to a Minnesota welcome sign, and then walked a few yards to a greeting for people entering Iowa.
By this time (around noon), the stomach was rumbling.  I didn’t make it too much farther because of the smell from the City Meat Market, located right along the highway at the edge of New Albin.  For just $3.17, a large, smoked turkey leg became lunch.  It was amazingly delicious and easily rivaled anything from the fair at just a fraction of the price.

City Meat MarketI also picked up some homemade Italian sausage links (which were heavenly).

Fishing is big in this charming area.  I was amazed by how many boats were in yards.  Then again, when a person lives in a remote town so close to the Mississippi, it tends to attract people who love the region for the recreational opportunities.

The drive west offered two options.  The right fork said “Dorcester” and followed the beautiful Upper Iowa River.  The decision was a no brainer.  The road to the right led to Waterloo Creek, a familiar place with fantastic scenery and great fishing.  While knawing on the smoked turkey drumstick, I eagerly headed west with the same anticipation felt when Grandma and Grandpa took Sis and I fishing some forty years ago.


Trout catching

Click for a 10 second trout fishing video…

While driving to Waterloo Creek, I passed by a parking lot for trout stream “Bear Creek” and was dismayed to see a lot of guys standing around in camo clothing… Then it dawned on me that deer hunting season had recently opened. That’s a good thing!  Nobody was at the Waterlook Creek meaning there was a mile of premium angling action all to one’s self.  The fishing, as always, was great.  The water was sparkling, the air crisp, and the leaves whispered gently in a light breeze.  Time seemed to slow for a bit.  In short order it was possible to catch five beautiful fish – two of them quite large.  Here is a link to a 10 second video of a trout on the line in the crystal clear water.

After fishing, I started heading toward home and had contemplated camping.  But I was a little worried about the cats.  Jennifer had been coughing a little bit (she’s over it now) and Jesse had been very sick earlier in the week (He’s on a long-acting antibiotic injection).  The cats were in great shape when I came home — and glad to see Daddy.

Trout on Grill 41a

Lemon Pepper Trout with Rosemary

The three of us had a great meal of rosemary lemon-pepper trout cooked up on the grill. Here is a cooking video (or click the picture to the left).  This one was made at home.  Most of the future cooking clips will be made in the boonies with my Coleman Fold ‘n’ Go propane grill.

So what’s next?  Well, since camping fees have dropped at many state parks (after October 1), I’m looking at some options for camping next week. Now that Jesse and I are both over the cold / flu, he’s likely going on the next outing soon.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Happy and safe travels always!


Brad, Jesse James, and Jennifer
Jones County, Iowa

Jen Jen with fresh trout

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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2 Responses to Along the Border

  1. Jo says:

    Enjoyed the video’s and the cooking lesson. Nice to see you caught some great fish this trip.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thank you. The kitties sure enjoyed the fish. I’m going to slip back up there again for a little car trip – the maple trees are starting to turn quickly now. It’s so pretty at this time of the year.