Some Tough Days


He’s a licker!

Hello and welcome to the blog.  It’s been pretty rough lately.  There was some heartbreaking news on Tuesday.  After acting strangely and not eating right for a week or so, Jesse started swelling up.  I took him to the vet thinking it was a digestive issue.  I was not prepared for this… My little 9 year old cat has a large abdominal tumor.  The vet says it’s likely cancer and the kitty could last days, weeks, perhaps a month or two.  It’s not causing him any pain… yet.  I started loving on him every minute and he’s responded with non-stop licks.  We both feel better and are enjoying each day we can spend together.


Van camping at the Kwik Star gas station

On Wednesday night my nerves were a shambles.  Thankfully, the new job was super supportive and let me have a couple days off – something practically unheard of!  A little trip north seemed like the best home remedy.  Jesse stayed at home with Jennifer.  There was no point in stressing him right now.  But I needed to get away, fish a bit, and de-stress!


Patterson Creek in Allamakee County as the trees are beginning to change colors for autumn.

This is a new-to-me trout stream, Patterson Creek, as seen on a foggy 47 degree morning.  It’s a place I’d driven by many times but never had stopped.   The bovine neighbors were friendly and the fishing was good.  It didn’t take long to gather five decent trout.  This stream was badly flooded a few weeks ago and one of the locals said the fishing holes had changed a lot – and not for the better.  But for being a new fishing venue, there was no sense of loss.  I really liked the stream and will be back again this fall.


Another view of Patterson Creek.

With everything going on, I was kind of in a “funk” Thursday morning.  Despite a night of peaceful sleep at the gas station in Monona, Iowa, I was still experiencing some physical symptoms from stressful events.  After fishing I decided to zip over to Decorah and go for a walk to survey the damage from the recent flooding.  Imagine my laughter upon seeing this outhouse along busy highway 9 between Decorah and Waukon!  It doesn’t matter one’s political affiliation, I think in the US we are all fed up with the sh** being spouted by both who running to be President!  A little levity is something that crosses party lines!


Once in Decorah, I walked about about 2 miles or so along Trout Run Trail.  There had been some flood damage as rushing water had torn up the creek banks.  The middle section of the stream seemed to suffer the most as well as the very end of the creek.  Some of the old familiar holes looked much the same.  I’ll fish it again later this year.  Thankfully, some of the prettiest stretches are relatively unscathed.


Trout Run creek and chickory flowers.

Pictured are colorful chickory plants, a relative of the dandelion.  Does the name sound familiar?  Many of us eat a part of the plant quite often.  Chickory root is a fiber source used in those lovely fiber bars so many of us enjoy… well, except for this guy who is often fishing a mile away from a porta-potty.   🙂  🙂  🙂


A tree next to the Porter House Museum in Decorah.

After walking, I did not spend too much time in Decorah.  I just didn’t feel right, worrying about work and Jesse.  Anxious to check on him, I headed for home through the town of Frankville.  Along the road is the Lawnmower Graveyard.  I’ve never asked the story (though I will one day) about why this guy has a bazillion lawnmowers, even piled up to his windows!


Spring must be coming… Lots of signs of green everywhere!

On the way home I stopped at a small town restaurant called Franny’s.   Franny’s is in the town of Edgewood, a place where regular readers know I’m fond of the small town meat locker.  Of course, a few meat items for the freezer came home, including Jesse’s favorite pork and pineapple meat sticks.  (Another weak attempt to blame my addictions on the tomcat.  He will eat any critter that swims, crawls, or flies!)




Yep, that’s the Frannyburger.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, except for the drooling cheese.  This gut busting burger has two 1/3 lb beef patties, a slice of ham in between them, bacon on top, and 3 slices of cheese.  Though bursting at the seams, I was happy that the blood sugar didn’t spike too badly at all.  As for how I feel this morning… well, thank goodness for chickory root.   🙂  🙂


Amish product cart… Notice the bucket for self payment!



A small “pie pumpkin” and some Indian corn

I stopped at this Amish produce stand on the way home and picked up some decorative Indian corn for my neighbor.  The pie pumpkin is for me… for smoothies!  You break off the stem, cut the pumpkin in half (top to bottom), clean it out and bake face down on a cookie sheet for 1 hour at 325 degrees.  Then one scoops out the pulp (when cool), and you can put it in the blender with whole milk (I use a milk + half-n-half mixture), a few tablespoons of brown sugar, and plenty of pumpkin pie spice.  The result is a yummy smoothie with fewer carbs!

That’s about it for now.  When I got home Jesse was doing okay, licking and wanting to be held.  He still goes outdoors for fresh air but only for a few brief minutes.  I am past the grieving process for the most part.  He’s not going to be with us much longer, I fear… but he’s got a loving dad who will spoil him rotten for what time he’s here.  Jesse has brought me a lot of love and happiness and he’s got a blank check for anything that will make him happy in the coming days… Today it’s smoked trout.  🙂 🙂

Thanks for visiting today.  There aren’t any immediate plans to do any camping for a bit but stay tuned for a fall leaf trip with my friend Teresa.  We’re going up north to check out the fall foliage (and fish), visit some great places to buy apples (and hopefully go fishing), and check out some touristy venues and restaurants… (which are near trout streams).   🙂

Have fun.  Safe and happy travels always!

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"

14 Responses to Some Tough Days

  1. shadowmoss says:

    I am sorry to hear about Jesse’s issue. I know he will feel very loved for the time he has left, as he has the entire time he has had with you.

  2. Kathy says:

    I’m very sorry about Jesse. I know he is very loved and enjoys everyday with you.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks Kathy. It’s been tough but he’s a tough little guy. He’s not too energetic but sat outside watching me clean trout today. Some things never change. 🙂

  3. Rod Duell says:

    Hang in there buddy. I’ve lost several feline friends over the years and it never gets any easier. They’re only with us for a few short years and then we’re left with our memories. My only consolation comes from my belief that we’ll all be together again in that great bye and bye.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thank you, Rod. I held him a while this afternoon and he was pretty weak but purred constantly. The sicker he’s been getting, the more affectionate Jesse has become. Those memories will last forever. He’s always had some health issues but I’m glad he was able to live an amazing life for a kitty.

  4. Laurie Stewart says:

    I’m so sorry.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thank you Laurie. He’s fading slowly… getting a little confused, not moving too quickly, etc. But he’s been very loving and doesn’t seem to be in any pain. This morning he had some fried trout and really enjoyed it. Little does he know that as he’s fading, he’s loved just as much. 🙂

  5. Veronica Durling says:

    So sorry to hear about Jesse….I know how much you two love each other….he will always be with you in your heart….you will see him again….I know you will cherish every moment you have together…..

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thank you Veronica. He’s been next to me a lot. What’s tough is watching Jennifer try to play with him and then realize he’s not up to it. He’s feeling lethargic and it’s adorable (and sad) to see her lick him and then purr and snuggle up to him. Cats are amazing friends to us and each other!

  6. Jo Harmon says:

    I’m sorry to hear about Jesse, hope his passing will be easy on him. He has been such a blessing to you over the years.

    Your trip was good for you and I love the outhouse haha. yes I to am sick of this bashing going on and can’t wait for it to be over.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo and thanks for the comment. Jesse is having a better day today after ups and downs this weekend. He’s getting lots of love and had freshly smoked trout this morning and played outside. Instead of strutting the neighborhood, he’s content to sit under the van. I can feel the tumor but it’s not bothering him yet. Each day will be as enjoyable and comfortable as possible for the critter. The trip really was relaxing and there were many moments to laugh and forget about the cares!

  7. my_vantasy says:

    My heart is breaking for you, Jesse, and Jennifer. Enjoy what time you have left with him and know that you gave him a great life.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thank you for the kind words. He’s had some good days but is starting to feel sick again. We’re making a lot of memories and he seems to enjoy his time and the attention received.