Bellevue State Park with Mr. Jesse

Brads Fall Hat

Here’s a little three hour project made the other night after work.

Hello and welcome to the blog today!

On Tuesday Jesse (a.k.a “Mr. Jesse”) and I camped at the Bellevue State Campground in Bellevue, Iowa.  It is located about 20 miles south of Dubuque along the Mississippi River.  Jesse had recently been sick with an upper respiratory infection but he’s back to his old self again.  I decided to give the little guy some fresh air and take him along this time.

Speaking of fresh air, it’s getting very cold very quickly.  As this post is being written, we’re looking at the first killing frost of the season.  With the archery deer hunting season in full swing (and early muzzle loader deer season starting tomorrow), displaying bright orange is a good idea while in the boonies.  I’d been wearing camoflage sweatpants so making this little homemade hat was a fun endeavor … and useful, too.  It came in handy on this camping trip as the temperature dropped to 39 degrees.

Thankfully the weather was comfortable as we headed out on Tuesday morning, first pausing to go to this overlook.  Here is a picture of the Mississippi River from Bellevue State Park.  The view is spectacular.  I let Jesse play at this location and get some exercise.


Even though the Bellevue area has two trout streams, fishing was not a priority this time.  I needed a little rest break from work and some time to play with the kitty.  He’d been moody since getting the new kitten and seemed to enjoy some alone time with Daddy.  It really perked us both up.

Bellevue Campground


The campground was peaceful and away from traffic.  For just $11 at this time of the year, you can get a beautiful camping spot with electricity and few (or no) neighbors.

Jesse Bellevue

Here’s a picture of Jesse under the van.  He ventured out quite a bit – always supervised.  Later in the afternoon I attempted to make a cooking video.  Right in the middle of cooking, the skillet fell off the propane camping stove and oil went flying!  I was able to salvage dinner – a breaded pork tenderloin.  The kitty gobbled down some of the fried tenderloin like it was his last supper.  Mr. Jesse loves pork.

Okay, now here’s the rest of the story as to why the pan fell off the propane stove.  While one tenderloin was cooking, like a dipsh*t I was pounding the meat out for the next one when the skillet vibrated and fell off the burner… I could have been badly scalded by oil but completely lucked out.  It was amusing and no harm was done.  After a good meal, both Jesse and I retired with bellies full of Iowa pork.  We slept pretty well that night.

Pork TenderloinOn Wednesday, after returning home, I ventured out to a nearby park and repeated the cooking effort.  Please check out this tantalizing video on how to make the Iowa Style Breaded Pork Tenderloin.  It’s something you find in many restaurants around here.  My version has an added twist by using fresh herbs rather than dried herbs.  Please click the link above or the picture to the left.  Word of warning… There is the most seductive sizzling sound as the meat cooks in hot oil out in the wilderness.  Incidentally, the picture below was from when I was mixing up the breading mixture for the trip.

Cooking with Jen Jen

Jennifer likes watching food get cooked. We made pork stew last night using more fresh herbs…

After returning from Bellevue, it was back to working at Wally World.  A trucker came in the other night asking if he could sleep over.  I helped him get management permission to stay overnight in the parking lot, later telling him my story about living in a van, camping at Walmarts, fishing, etc.  He was pretty cool and said he enjoys sleeping in his semi-truck while traveling.

In other happenings, with the cold weather setting in, I’d been thinking about slowing down with the camping… until today.  Then things changed… One of the neighbors ended up with pneumonia and asked if I could help mow his yard.  Despite my [weak and unconvincing] protesting, he gave me $20 and said “use it to go fishing or something”…

I’m reviewing the work schedule, weather forecasts, etc… and thinking about another outing soon. It might be a good time to introduce Jennifer to camping.

Thanks for visiting today.  Take care and enjoy what waning moments of daytime sunlight we have left.

Happy and Safe Travels always!
Brad, Mr. Jesse James, and Kitty Jen-Jen
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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