Pancakes and Totes

1_CJ Trucks
The fire department of Center Junction, Iowa  pop. 111.

Hello and welcome to the blog today.  On Sunday I took the van and visited a pancake breakfast for the Center Junction Fire Department.  Center Junction is a small, recently unincorporated area about a dozen miles east of where I live.

1_pancake breakfast
Delicious carbs!
In this part of rural Iowa, fundraiser breakfasts, soup suppers, and fish fries abound.  Not only are they a terrific way to raise money but they help us socialize in a place where many people don’t go into the larger cities very often.  Things don’t move too fast – nor change very much – in this part of the world.  In the mid-1980s I used to go to college with the son of the mayor of Center Junction.  Back then the town boasted a population of nearly 170 folks!  In recent days, the town disbanded and its functions are run by the county.  The former town is down to about 111 people.
It’s been a quiet few days around here.  The weather is in the mid 70s and camping sounds like fun; unfortunately the work schedule has not been terribly cooperative.  All is not lost.  In early May, Sis will be here and we’re going to Decorah for a few days of vacationing and fishing.  In the meantime, I’ve been working on the homebase and van.
Underbed storage
Three of the four totes pictured (the other is behind)  These
little totes were $5 each at Walmart and are a perfect size.
One of the recent changes to the van was to add some storage underneath.  I’ve settled on a system of four totes that help provide everything needed for a trip but not a bunch of unnecessary crap.  Due to space limitations, here is what I’ve got in each tote:
  • Tools and Safety Tote – Hand tools, headlamp, electrical tape, batteries, first aid kit, fillet knives, cutting gloves, lighters, propane cans, ear and eye protection, and a box of bullets.
  • Emergency Clothing – various casual apparel, toiletries, bath towel … everything needed to maintain one’s hygiene.  Spare shoes are hidden behind this tote (accessible from the front)
  • Cooking Equipment – Hot pot, stick blender, folding skillet, bagged plastic silverware, cooking oils, paper towels, various utensils, can opener, plastic cups, coffee cup, bagged paper plates, mini cutting board, dishwashing soap and cleaning sponges.
  • Food –  Various non-perishable, frequently used items such as small cans of Beanie Weanies, granola bars, small cups of oreo cookies, macaroni and cheese cups, mashed potato cups, fish fry coating, spice collection, can of exotic tea bags, packets of apple cider mix.
Not everything will fit in the totes nor should everything should be stored in them.  For other items that are frequently moved in and out of the van, I have a little shopping basket like what you see at Target. It’s how I transport the pill box, extra paper towels, unusual food items, garbage bags, etc.  If needed, I can also tuck the camping grill in a small space under the bed because it is heavy enough to stay put.  This approach really seems to work well!
Trevor van
My buddy Trevor, a friend from McDonalds, checking out the van.
So far the new arrangement has worked very well.  I’ll probably go somewhere and camp in the next day or two just to get some fresh air and have some fun.  There’s a place just down the road that was rated as having one of the best hamburgers in Iowa.  It sounds worth investigating!  Stay tuned!
Take care and thanks for stopping by today.  Happy and safe travels always!
Bradford, Jennifer, and Jesse James
Jones County, Iowa



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