Camping with Mama’s Family

1 Tortie C

One of the kitten’s from “Mama’s Family”

Hello and welcome to the blog!

That last post was kind of thought provoking… maybe not all comfortable emotions but it offered some food for thought.

How quickly I found out that something mentioned in that communication would come to pass… the dreaded “contact” (but not with law enforcement)… More about that in a moment.

Monday was spent in Muscatine with buddy Johnnie and with the little cat family living outside his front door.  The only one of the cats that has a name is mama – they call her “Blah Blah”.  I’m working on a name for the little kitty girl in the photo and was thinking that “Tori” sounds good because of her “tortoise shell markings”.  She’s adorable although quite feral.  With a few cat toys, some good food, and a little love, the trust level increased dramatically.  The kittens and I had fun playing for quite some time.


Johnnie Hat and Boo BooWhile visiting Johnnie, he knew that I’ve been making hats for the cold weather and asked me to make him one that was “cherry red”.  At JoAnn Fabrics Johnnie picked out some Vanna White brand yarn and a $2.97 broach.  I figured “Why not”?  Here is the result of several hours worth of work as we watched TV, ate pizza, and enjoyed playing with his cat, “Boo Boo Kitty”.

Late last night (around 11:30 PM) I stealth camped in a parking lot near Johnnie’s place.  After running an errand and positioning the van on the public street in the morning, the landlord lady approached and asked if mine was the van parked in the lot overnight.  I explained about visiting Johnnie and she said it was okay if I want to park in the lot in the future… but she did say she had been tempted to call the tow truck when the owner of the vehicle was unknown.  I apologized and offered next time to park on the street so there is no worry in the future.  It was a very polite discussion – perhaps  “Five Star” in the friendly department.  I’ll probably not camp there any more – Wally World is a safer place.

I only mentioned this contact because even after having “stealth camped” there a few times over the last few years, things can go wrong.  Stealth camping is not always 100% guaranteed to be without incident.  Had the landlord lady not been so nice, one might have been awakened by a tow truck.  In case of encountering a landlord or cop, it never hurts to run some scenarios through your head and be ready to answer any questions.  It also helps to be upbeat and sincere and to speak softly.  Apologize, even if apologizing is not expected or demanded.  This approach works in retail and plenty of other settings… and will often diffuse most situations.  What is ironic was that in this case, I’d already moved the Express van… There was no discussion about if anyone had been sleeping in it.  (Whew!)

Mamas Family

Mama says “Don’t mess with my babies!”


After waking (and before the landlady) I had taken the van to Wally World.  Thanks to a coupon on a bag, Mama’s family got a 16 pound bag of catfood for just ten bucks.  That should last them for a while.  Johnnie’s got the duty of feeding them now.  After all five of the cats ate like little horses, they were revved up and ready to go.  The kittens rolled around and chased each other in and out of (or wiggled straight through) pieces of plastic drain tubes (previously attached to the gutter downspouts).  It was very entertaining.

I dropped Johnnie off at work this morning.  The short little afternoon / overnight trip was enjoyable but also a good reminder that even in a place where I’ve camped many times, things do not always go as expected.  At the same time, it was a lot of fun camping overnight in the van.  In thinking about the van saving $11 by being able to dry camp in a parking lot instead of a campground, it dawned on me that it also saved $50 or so that it would have cost for a motel.  If there was no van, there might not have even been a trip.  Having the camping flexibility is a plus.  The van sure has brought a lot of fun over the years.  If I could go back in time, I’d surely buy a van again!

Take care and thanks for visiting.  Happy and save travels always!   Be safe; be cautious!

Brad, Jesse James, and Jennifer
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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