Chillin’ and Grillin’ up North

Hello and welcome to the blog today!  It’s Thursday and I’ve put in a lot of days of work… something like 15 out of the last 17.  It’s nice to have money coming in again!  Rest is a good thing too.

On this trip I decided to change things up a little bit.  Wally World had a special on 30 pounds of Kingsford charcoal for something like $8.  As much as a wood fire sounded like fun, in Iowa carrying wood from area to area is discouraged.  We have problems with the Emerald Ash Borer (a shiny green Asian beetle that feasts on Ash trees).  Charcoal still works, thankfully, and is more convenient.

She’s supposed to be smelling the new flowers at the home base but is looking past them at a cardinal on the bird feeder….

Jennifer didn’t get to ride along on this trip.  I needed a quick break away from everything.  In general, life is quite good.  The blood sugars had been doing amazing – normal and stable – and I’ve been having to cut back on insulin a bit.  With each passing month a person learns more and more about what works and what doesn’t…  but then ends up indulging just a little bit.  Yep, there are new camping dishes to try!  More about that in a bit.

In the afternoon I went for a drive through Decorah and areas to the east, pausing to stop at a creamery in Waukon and pick up some cheese curds.  They were delicious and had the characteristic “squeak” of freshness.  I stopped to snap a picture of this hardworking farm hand at the nearby Village Farm and Home store.

Village Farm Store in Waukon, Iowa.

A little farther down Highway 9 I decided to take a detour and check out another stream.  Big Paint Creek is stocked for a number of miles as it flows from west to east to join up with the Mississippi.  It was a beautiful drive and I found a bunch of new locations to camp and fish on future trips.  One of the coolest places was a tiny town named Waterville.  In retrospect, I should have taken a selfie by the big fish.

Somewhere over the rainbow…. Oh, what a tribute to this favorite of fish!


In addition to catching the limit of fish, I did a lot of hiking through rugged terrain … and it felt fantastic.  Eventually I’d spent too much time in the sun and ended up dehydrated, hadn’t eaten enough, and had some blood sugar issues ….  and a really bad headache.

For anyone who thinks Iowa is flat… Northeast Iowa has a number of steep hills and cold water streams.

After drinking some water the headache was better.  By now it was into the evening and it was time to cook up a nice meal.  I stopped at the last camping destination – Buck Creek – and built a charcoal fire.

Foil packets over coals… and an Iowa chop on a wood plank.


Most everything was cooked in foil packets.  The broccoli was heated with a bit of real butter.  The potatoes were Yukon gold cut into 3/4″ pieces and cooked with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and Parmesan cheese.  The orange and yellow peppers were also warmed up with olive oil.  Corn was cooked in foil and was dressed with butter, mayo and Parmesan cheese – similar to Mexican “elotes” except that I didn’t have any lime juice.

The pork chop was marinated in a homemade mustard / brown sugar / Worcestershire / garlic and onion concoction.  It was cooked on a wooden plank… a process that was arduously slow.  I ate my fill of the vegetable items and vowed that one of these days I’m going to do an all veggie camping supper.  Yum!

A pineapple upside down cake made with something you would not expect… I will be making it again on Monday for the next post!

After the tasty meal the headache was a little better but I didn’t feel good enough to stay overnight.  In case of any medical issues, I wanted to be back home. There will always be time to camp the next time out.  The next day off is Monday and I’m planning to do some camping at a nearby primitive campground… and do some more foil cooking!

Have a great weekend and thanks for visiting.  Safe and happy travels!

Bradford and Jennifer
Jones County, Iowa

A facebook selfie… It was difficult to wait till these fishies were cooked. 🙂



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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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