A Pleasant Night at Pleasant Creek

Pleasant Creek 3

The lake is down for maintenance. It will be refilled in 2017

Hello and welcome to the blog!  On Saturday night I was near Palo, Iowa which is located north and west of Cedar Rapids.  It’s been a few years since fishing here… and in all these years, I’d never camped at this location!  This was a terrific time to have a night out.  State Park facilities are still at half price right now and there’s nobody around!

Palo is a small town located just west of Cedar Rapids.  A few miles north is the Duane Arnold nuclear power plant which is located along the Cedar River.  The nuclear plant is the only one in Iowa and generates 615 megawatts of energy.  As of 2016, Iowa’s wind turbines generate more than 10 times that amount.

The lake at Pleasant Creek was formed to provide cooling water to the nuclear plant in case the flow of the Cedar River is too low.  For now, the lake has been drawn down to work on some improvements and is expected to refill in 2017.  As the weather improves and things green up a little, I hope to get some drone footage of the area.  The campground is on high ground, provides for fantastic TV reception, and overlooks the lake.  It’s a terrific facility!

Van and lake

Cold, foggy, and gloomy still makes for warm and enjoyable camping!

The weather on Saturday was nothing short of crappy.  It was in the 50s but the fog and occasional rain and grey skies were not the prettiest.  But the van was at a nice 72 degrees all night and the favorite TV shows were enjoyed, along with some warm “comfort food”.

The dinner was inspired by Mason, a teenager at the local Fareway grocery store.  He knows I’ve been eating a lot of beans lately and mentioned some were marked down to 99 cents.  Green split peas put a smile on this camper’s face!

Pea Soup Mix

The container you see above started life as a bowl for McDonald’s biscuits and gravy.  I save the bowls, rinse them out, and use them for camping meals.   In this case, it was 1/2 package of split peas (about 50 cents worth), some dehydrated onion, freeze dried garlic, black pepper, veggie flakes, garlic salt, and a bay leaf.  The amounts were recorded for later reference.  To the dry stuff was added 1 cup of bottled water, 1/2 lb ham, and a can of low sodium chicken broth.  The van’s crock pot cooked the meal to perfection.

Split Pea Soup with Ham and Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The soup was tasty!  I had also made a toasted cheese sandwich at home (high fiber sandwich bread, 2 slices of smoked gouda cheese and some colby jack cheese).  The lemon Perrier water was a treat!  I drank the whole four pack while watching TV.  It sure made for a relaxing evening.

I’ll admit to some anxiety Saturday night in the isolated campground.  The nerves have been a little edgy after the shed at home was broken into just feet from where I was sleeping.  The same thing happened to some friends in town and they’ve expressed similar feelings.  It takes a little while to get past.   A peaceful night like this sure helps calm a person down.   🙂


It’s going to be a busy week coming up.  I’m off on Wednesday and then going to a “Vendor Show” on Thursday.  The “Vendor Show” is put on by the company I work for.  There will be many booths demonstrating the various products we sell.  It’s supposed to be a fun learning experience… and I’ve heard stories about the many “freebies” that are given away.  The plan is to collect a bunch of trinkets (pens, key chains, little sanitizer bottles, tiny first aid kits, shopping bags, etc.)

The group that is going that day are all awesome folks who I really enjoy working with.  It will be a lot of fun!  I’m hoping the company will let me take some pictures to share with friends.

That’s all for now.  There will be another post in a couple of days regarding a couple of new cooling items that will be used for upcoming fishing / camping trips.

Thanks for stopping by today.   Safe and happy travels always!

Brad and Jenny
Jones County, Iowa

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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4 Responses to A Pleasant Night at Pleasant Creek

  1. Jo says:

    Another over nighter for you with a great looking soup and cheese sandwich. Great comfort food for a chilly night.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo! Thanks for the note. Comfort food is always good!

      Just had another scare. I was sleeping and at 4:05 something large (likely a human) turned on the automatic shed light. I spotted a strange car creeping around the neighborhood and got the plate number and gave it to the cops. The officer said he is familiar with the car – hopefully it’s useful info!

      • Jo says:

        UGH! At least you got the plate this time around, and they know your ready for them with your huge bright light. Hope they catch the creeps.

        • VanTrekker says:

          Thanks. I hope the info helped! I have’t heard anything yet. If the light scared the poop out of the person in my yard, it did its job and was worth the money. Peace of mind is a good thing! 🙂

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