It’s Looking Like Christmas — with Pizzazz!

Good morning and welcome to the blog.  It snowed today (Sunday, December 4).  It’s about time.  I’m not complaining though.  Yesterday I’d planned a nice camping outing that ended up getting cut a bit short.  In the morning I headed toward Decorah but stopped along the way at the trout hatchery.   Nobody was fishing brad-with-trout
there and I quickly caught five very nice trout.  From their coloring, it appears they’d been in the pond for quite some time.  Jesse is happy… We’re having fried fish and potatoes for supper tonight.

As one can see in the background, the ground was bare at this point.  That sure changed overnight – literally!

The jacket was open all morning and later a bad case of the chills set in.  Even though I still ventured to Decorah, the events had to be cut short a bit and returning toward home was necessary.

After cleaning the fish and heading north yesterday, the plan was to see some of the attractions related to Christmas.  Decorah was bustling with people.  This place knows how to draw a crowd!

One of the first stops was to view a gingerbread display – a contest involving local talent.  I also saw some adorable Norwegian Christmas gifts including the blonde dolls.


These are just a few of the beautiful gingerbread items on display.



Norwegian Christmas Dolls

The next stop was the Porter House Museum.  It was owned by Aldelbert (“Bert”) Porter and his wife Grace Porter until their deaths in the 1960s.  The Porters were wealthy and did not need to work.  (Wouldn’t that be nice?)  Bert and Grace had no children and enjoyed traveling and music.  Bert collected butterflies, among other things.  He loved the South American blue “morpho” butterflies.  The various collections are on the museum tour of the second floor.  The Saturday event was sort of an open house and did not include all of the normal stops.  I plan to return to see the other parts of the museum!


The Porter House


South American “morpho” butterflies.


Live music at the Porter House


Free refreshments for visitors… Notice that some of the goodies are made as butterflies. Bert Porter was a collector of the winged insects.

Well, all the talk about the Porter House got me to thinking…  Who doesn’t like a good steak?  On Friday night I had to do a short hauling job with the van and ended up making a few  extra bucks.  With the Decorah trip in mind, Saturday night’s supper was a Porterhouse steak, mushrooms in a red wine reduction gravy, and roasted veggies with avocado slices.


Well, I never did get to camp overnight on Saturday – just a catnap a couple of times.  The trip had to be cut short after a bad case of the chills and some aching bones.  I headed for a campground near West Union only to find there were no camping registration forms.  Two more campgrounds on the way home were closed for the season.  Instead, it seemed best to opt for sleeping in one’s own bed at home… Rest is the best medicine!

I’m feeling better this morning, thankfully.  Still, there was one thing I’d wanted to do on this trip that was still feasible.  Recently I’d mentioned a new gadget for cooking that seems like it might be pretty handy.  The farm store had been running a Black Friday sale on a Presto Pizza Pizzazz machine for just $27.99.  I picked up one and love it.  It’s been used for a lot of things including pizza, chicken nuggets, Jesse’s battered fish fillets, hash brown patties, etc.  But this time I made something special that sounded terrific in cold weather – breakfast pizza.  (Breakfast pizza is very popular in Iowa)


This tasty morning meal was cooked using all pre-prepped and bagged items including cream gravy, sliced sausage links, chopped bacon, green onions, green peppers, scrambled eggs, and a two cheese blend.  Even at 3o degrees during a snowstorm, the pizza cooked perfectly in the van… in the driveway at home.  The heavenly aroma of cooking pizza was an added bonus.  The Pizzazz is sure to go along on the next camping outing!

That’s about it for now.  We’re up to about 4 inches of snow here in Jones County and it’s still coming down.  The cats are both zonked about and it seems like a good time for a hot cup of tea and then to join the felines!

Thanks for visiting today!

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"

6 Responses to It’s Looking Like Christmas — with Pizzazz!

  1. Lucy. says:

    Oh boy, just by looking at the snow gives me chills, cold chills. I guess I shouldn’t be such a wimp complaining of temperatures of low-to-middle 60’s.

    Wish you prepared ‘ cooked fish were tasty.


    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Lucy and thanks for stopping by. I’m going to cook up the fish for Tuesday’s supper. With this sudden flu bug coming on, I’ve been eating mostly soup. Tomorrow Jesse will be happy when I fry up a couple of the trout. he’s a big fan of fish.

  2. Jo says:

    The snow looks so pretty. We have has some very low temps here for the past week and of course Murphy’s Law came knocking on my door telling me my furnace was dead. Just set up some electric heaters until I can get it replaced.

    Sorry you had to cut your trip short. Your steak meal looks fantastic and so does the pizza breakfast.

    Stay warm and hope you get well quickly

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo! It was pretty much all down time today. I was weak but am coming back to life. Everyone around here is getting sick. Heck, last week we had 8 tornadoes in Iowa. Sunday we got 4 inches of snow!

      Jennifer was sick, too. She got a trip to the vet and went berserk when they tried to trim her claws. She sunk a claw into my chin and then slashed at my throat. When we put her in the cage she turned around, sat down, and purred. Even the vet laughed at her tenacity as I bled. 🙂 I had to explain she does not like to be touched by strangers.

  3. my_vantasy says:

    No snow yet in my part of Ohio–thank goodness. Mmmm, breakfast pizza. I love it! Hope you warm up and have a great week!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks! I had to call in to work today… and ended up making a hearty curry chicken and split pea soup. It was one of those ideas where you taste-to-measure. It seems to have done the trick. 🙂 This wintery weather came up on us fast! Take care!