Merry Christmas!


Hello friends!  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Please take a moment and let us give thanks for the birth of Jesus Christ and the most amazing gift the world will ever know – salvation – which is totally free and lasts an eternity.

Tonight’s posting is from Muscatine, Iowa.  I’m visiting buddy Johnnie.  This afternoon we made a bundt cake using Captain Morgan spiced rum.  It’s a holiday favorite!  Yes, you can get a buzz from the glaze!

Rum Cake

A rich yellow cake (with rum baked in) soaked with a glaze of butter, brown sugar, and MORE spiced rum.


After baking this dessert it was time for dinner.  The cake had to cool in the fridge for a few hours after the booze had soaked in.

Sal Vitales Muscatine

The restaurant… striped with pink to honor Francesca’s positive outcome with breast cancer.

Johnnie and I went out to Sal Vitale’s – an amazing, multi-generational Italian restaurant.  Johnnie loves the stuffed taco pizza.  I went for the Francesca (ham, sausage, onion, mushroom, fresh mozzarella, artichokes).  We also ordered calamari (breaded, fried squid) and cold tomato slices with a creamy asiago cheese topping.  Talk about great food!  As a cheese nut, I could tell that in the pizza they use a mix of whole milk and part-skim mozzarella cheeses for the best combination of flavor and “stringiness”.

Statue at Sal Vitales and Bradford

This is the statute at the entrance of Sal Vitale’s restaurant. It looks like we could be in the same Weight Watchers class.

Tomato Appetizer

This cold appetizer is addicting. I’m going to try to learn how to make it.

Later this evening we headed 1/2 hour south to the small town of Wapello, Iowa to see a light display with 60,000 Christmas lights.  It was a fun little drive;  Johnnie and I had some time to catch up and just enjoy hanging out.

Keep Christ in Christmas

One of the many displays.  This one reads “Keep Christ in Christmas”. The whole light show had 60,000+ lights.


So what did Johnnie get for Christmas?  He’d been driving me nuts for the last couple of months talking about a “Fisher Price Tudor Brown House” toy he had as a kid.  There was one at the Salvation Army but it was in rough shape.  I found a mint condition  house on Ebay.  It was a hit.  Johnnie is quick to say he’s not playing with the playhouse… but has been “setting it up for display” for hours.  That’s okay.  I’m still doing the same things (mainly fishing) as 40 years ago.  (Men don’t grow up very often, or so I tell my female friends!).

Johnnie House


We’ve had a terrific visit.  Tomorrow (Christmas) we’re going to a homeless shelter to enjoy a community Christmas dinner.

I sure hope everyone has a terrific Christmas and a Happy New Year.  May your families remain healthy and cohesive.  Take good care and enjoy the season!

Christmas Border2

So what’s next?   I’ve got a trip planned for New Year’s and am going to do a fairly short but thorough (and tantalizing) video using the Coleman Fold and Go propane grill and griddle.  If the weather is cooperative, one of the drones will go along on the next trip, too.  It looks like Jesse might get his chance to camp this time as well.

Thanks for visiting.  Again, have a very Merry Christmas!

Brad, Jesse James, and Kitty Jen-Jen
Currently in Muscatine, 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"

6 Responses to Merry Christmas!

  1. Debby hoots says:

    those tomatoes look good….think I may just have to pop a quart jar open tomorrow for Christmas dinner….yummo….garden tomatoes in December. Merry Christmas

  2. Jo says:

    Merry Christmas! Looks like you and Johnie had a great time. Nothing wrong with toys at any age.

  3. Sunday says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!
    I appreciate your words about the true meaning of Christmas!!!
    So many people are afraid to state them anymore due to the harsh responses that can be received in return. I live in a very large city and it is like walking on eggshells to speak of Christ anymore. Thank you!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Isn’t it something about how messed up people are? We’re told to all accept each other’s differences but if you mention Jesus and Christianity, they want to silence us… Talk about intolerance. 🙂 God is good!