Pre-Labor Day with the Cats

Hello and thanks for visiting the blog today!  On Friday and Saturday I took a brief camping trip with the two cats, Jennifer and Jesse to do some fishing and sightseeing.  We had a blast.


Located near Highlandville (just a few miles from Minnesota), this tree seemed anxious to start its fall transformation.

I’ve not been to the Decorah area much this year.  After hearing of the flood damage, particularly of record high crests near Dorchester, I needed to return and see for myself.  Waterloo Creek, which passes through Dorchester, had become a favorite place to fish with its crystal clear streams, fresh air, beautiful scenery, and hungry trout.  I’d worried that the landscape had been damaged but all was much the same as before.

In addition to the rolling hills and the emerald carpet of grasses and prairie flowers, the cattle were leisurely grazing… and as I soon found out, they were in a nasty mood.

Cows up close

This picture was taken unzoomed after the encounter with the cattle… They were on the bank above; I was below fishing.

Though usually the cattle are distant, on Friday they were sharing the same space where I was fishing… and were not too happy about the company.  Several animals approached me (within 10 feet and closing) and the old trick of shaking the fishing pole like a cattle prod was not effective.  One of the bovine even snorted.  I didn’t even notice a calf on the right until looking at the picture.  That explains the protective behavior!

One of the bulls was particularly aggressive and that worried me.  I carry a 9mm pistol and contemplated firing a warning shot or two but it was not necessary.  Just pointing it at the animal and cussing at him caused them all to back up… thankfully!

In talking with one of the old guys who was already fishing the same area, he said one time a bull actually came up from behind and nudged him with its nose.  That would be pretty frightening.

Stringer Trout

Ready for the smoker!

The fishing was great even with having to watch over my shoulder for bovine visitors!  The water level was a whisker higher than normal, but the clarity was acceptable and the fish were pretty hungry.  It did not take long to catch five.  All the while, Jesse and Serena occupied the van.  The outside temperaure was 72 and with the roof vent running, it was comfortable inside.

Are we there yet

Checking out the scenery…

After fishing, we headed a county to the west to the city of Decorah.  I scoped out the streams but the water levels were still elevated and it appeared that the terrain had changed quite a bit.  We camped there but I decided to fish elsewhere for Saturday’s limit of trout.  There will always be time to go back to Decorah this fall and see what Mother Nature has carved out.


Jennifer at Twin Springs

Hanging out at the trout stream…

Lunch was eaten at a place I’d longed to try but had never got around to visiting – Old Armory BBQ .  So often I hit the trout streams early and leave right away before lunch.  Friday there was time to sit down and have a nice meal.  What a treat it turned out to be!

Old Armory

Smoked brisket salad

It’s not difficult to eat salads like this!  It’s got a lot of smoked beef brisket under that salty smoked bacon.

Friday night the cats and I ended up camping in Decorah at the Pulpit Rock Campground.  On the driver’s side of the van was a yellow caution tape.  Beyond that is the Upper Iowa River which had flooded badly about 10 days ago.  Things are returning to normal.

Pulpit Rock Campground

Friday night’s camping supper was simple and diabetic friendly.  I’ve recently started using these Brownberry brand “Sandwich Thins”.  They are small pieces of soft, high fiber bread cut thin… and only 1.5 diabetic exchanges.  It is still possible to enjoy steak sandwiches without the guilt or high blood sugar!

Diabetic Supper

The stir-fried dish for Friday night’s supper is a favorite.  It’s pretty healthy and something eaten almost every day at home… and it’s super easy for camping.  For $2.49 for two servings, you can’t beat Mann’s Power Blend, a shredded mixture of Brussels sprouts, Napa cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, carrots, and broccoli.  I stir fry 1/2 bag of it with a dab of olive oil, adding 2T of spicy Szechuan stir-fry sauce and 1T of crunchy peanut butter.  The dish is heavenly!  By the way, the steak on the left was a 5 oz ribeye – Jesse enjoyed some of the meat, too.

After a peaceful night’s sleep, it was back to the streams.  With the water still up a bit in the Decorah area, I decided to go for a “bird in the hand” by returning to Waterloo Creek.  Being a holiday weekend, the creeks were sure to be busy with anglers.  I got in and out by 8:15 AM and happily headed home with five nice fish to smoke on Sunday.

Clouds over the Iowa River Valley

Fog over the Iowa River valley in Allamakee County

It was a fun little fishing trip with the cats.  Both were surprisingly well behaved and seemed to like the “family outing”.   All three of us came home and zonked out.

Brad Jesse and Jen Are we there yet

Thanks for riding along.  I’m sure there will be one more camping trip before the new job starts.

Take care!  Safe and happy travels!

Brad, Jesse James, and Jennifer


Mr Jesse


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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"

2 Responses to Pre-Labor Day with the Cats

  1. Jo Harmon says:

    Another great camping and fishing trip. I love those little round breads. That’s all I buy now. Glad the kitties got to go along and enjoy the camping too.

    • VanTrekker says:

      They are SO tasty! I like to get the “everything” one and then put a small piece of steak on it. Oh, the flavors! (but not the consequences). Yesterday Jesse, who never liked van camping, go into the van while I was cleaning it. He’s hooked! 🙂