Studying Pays Off


Stealth studying in Muscatine, Iowa

Hello friends and welcome to the blog.  This post was actually written from inside the van which is docked at the homebase right now.  It’s as peaceful here as next to a trout stream.  🙂

Tuesday was a very happy one for the people who I’ve gotten to know at work.  I had recently started a customer service job in the Cedar Rapids area.   The position is at a well-respected company in a relatively low volume call center.  There is much to learn and I’ve been in training classes both last week and this week.  Today marked a critical milestone – a make or break moment – as our diverse group took a final exam.


Nothing like sitting in the easy chair in the van to study… No cats allowed!

A passing grade was 92%… anything less was considered a “Fail” and could result in dismissal.  We were permitted two attempts.  I scored 94% and was disappointed.  On the next attempt  I reached 98% (49 out of 50 correct) and lamented about not getting that last question right!  Nonetheless, it was a happy moment!


Enjoying dinner with “Taz” at the Taj Mahal restaurant in Cedar Rapids.

One of the benefits to training with a group is that you meet wonderful people.  I’ve made some new friends who, like me, have experienced many things in life.  One of those new friends is from Pakistan.  His nickname is Taz.  We both came from technology backgrounds and discovered we have a number of things in common.  Taz and I agreed to help each other in the coming days when we hit the phones and start assisting customers.


A steak and shrimp fajita salad… The ingredients were cooked in the van using a small propane burner.

Preparing for the Tuesday final exam required some studying the previous Saturday.  I had visited buddy Johnnie in Muscatine last weekend and had the intention of staying (and cramming for the exam) in a campground along the Mississippi River.  In all, I’d visited seven campgrounds in several different counties.  Two campgrounds along the Wapsi River were either flooded or about to flood.  A third was in the middle of nowhere with little chance of receiving a TV signal.  The remaining four campgrounds were packed with people and at or near capacity.  That much noise wouldn’t work!  Where there were spots available, the rates were $23 to stay overnight.  Forget that!  Having a solar panel does provide a lot of freedom, not to mention cost savings!

Around 6:00 PM I stopped in a Muscatine city park and cooked the steak and shrimp taco salad you see in the picture above.  Ultimately I ended up stealth studying and camping in front of Johnnie’s apartment.  Sitting in the van’s green easy chair (aka the “Green Throne”) the study materials were perused over and over… and that seemed to do the trick.


Johnnie’s cat (and my pet nephew), Midnight “Boo Boo” Zuniga-Dill.

The rest on Saturday night was very peaceful.  I’ve stealth camped here before numerous times and have never had any issues.  The street is very quiet and safe.  It was also nice catching up with my best friend!


A cool idea.. and a fun way to get people talking!

Johnnie and I ate at the HyVee grocery store’s restaurant on Sunday morning.  On the tables they had plastic cups with these “conversation starters”, slips of paper with thought provoking questions.  It seemed like no time before our meals were ready.  It was fun!


Buddy Johnnie from Muscatine, Iowa

It’s been a good week although a bit tiring.  Training is not easy – there is a lot to learn!  So many jobs are difficult now days… but the only thing more difficult is not having a job!  I’m really happy with the way this company treats its employees and the plan is to give 150% effort — like I did at Wally World.

For every stretch of hard work there should be an equally enjoyable rest break.  I’m hoping to do a little camping and fishing this weekend somewhere around the Decorah area and maybe check out a new trout fishing location, all the while cooking an Indian Dal dish in the van’s crockpot.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for visiting today.  Have a terrific week!

Brad, Jesse, 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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