Jackson County, Iowa trip

Hello and welcome to the blog!  Today was spent driving around Jackson County, Iowa and seeing some cool sights.  Jackson County is bordered on the east by the Mississippi River, forming the top of the “nose” of Iowa.  The plan was to have a good lunch, visit a butterfly garden in Bellevue, and maybe camp nearby.  Well, plans are known to change…

Lunch was enjoyed in the tiny town of Canton along the Maquoketa River – about 30 minutes east of where I live.  Canton is so small that it is now unincorporated and is managed by the state.  But what a fantastic eatery they have.  “The Hop” is a great little diner with a 50’s theme.  A modern juke box plays 1950’s music as well as songs from up to the 1980’s or so.

Brightly painted, “The Hop” is difficult to miss!


Cool interior, great food, and lots of fun!

I enjoyed a mushroom swiss burger that was very thick yet juicy and cooked until precisely well done … along with fries, cole slaw, and a strawberry shake.  From there is was on to Bellevue to find the butterfly garden  at the state park.

West end of the Butterfly Garden

By this time a nasty thunderstorm was threatening the region.  I got to the butterfly garden but within a few minutes was drenched with heavy rains that were driven by 40+ mph winds.  There were only two butterflies that I saw after the storm… intrepid little creatures!  Neither sat still long enough to be photographed.  I did capture this little guy who will one day be a beautiful monarch butterfly.

A tiny monarch caterpillar munching away on milkweed.

The butterfly garden spans a couple acres and has a variety of plants that will nourish both caterpillars and adults.  There is also a small pond which is popular with small frogs.  The best period for butterfly viewing is late July to early September.  Sixty species have been spotted there.  I’m looking forward to visiting again later this summer.

A friendly little frog who seemed content to watch as I spoke to him. The others fled.

Bellevue, Iowa. If you look toward the top you’ll see a haze. That’s rainfall from the thunderstorm.

After the butterfly garden, I wanted a picture of the town.  As so often happens at overlooks, the vegetation interfered with the shot.  This picture was taken from about 40 feet above (and well in front of) the observation area using the little Syma drone.

From there it was down the river road checking out potential camping areas for future trips.  One of the places worth investigating is a restored wetlands called the Green Island Slough.  It consists of 2000+ acres of flood prone land that is home to foul, fish, plants, etc.  Though very flat, it might not be the best place to boondock camp during spring because it can very quickly flood with little warning.  The water table is very high and one could wake up floating.

Reaching the sister cities of Sabula (Iowa) and Savannah (Illinois), I visited some camping areas on the Mississippi River.  They were jam packed, sadly.  From there it was west to Maquoketa (“Muh-coke-uh-tuh”), the translation of which means “There are bears”… and they have been spotted in this area!

Cooking a good meal is half the fun!


By this time it was late afternoon and the belly was hungry.  Before leaving I’d prepped everything needed to make some Italian food.  The wheat pasta was cooked in a skillet with water and a bit of oil using a camp stove.  After draining I added homemade pesto sauce (frozen from 2016).  The jumbo shrimp were cooked Scampi style with olive oil, butter, LOTS of minced garlic, lemon juice, and white wine…   It sure tasted well outdoors.

The evening air was very humid and it was about 80 degrees.  I was going to camp at the park where dinner was cooked but a sign proclaimed “No guns” … and I carry one!  *oh well*   Time for Plan B.

When turning in for a night’s sleep at Walmart, the automatic roof vent would not respond to the remote.  Then it suddenly turned out at full blast – and would have drained the house batteries.  Even with new AA batteries the control wouldn’t work right and I had to scrap the overnight camping.  After arriving back home the fan has worked correctly every since then!  That’s okay…  I’m believing there might have been a reason not to camp there!


You can’t beat a 50’s style strawberry shake on a hot day!

That’s it for now….  No camping occurred but there’s always next time.  The weather is going to improve and cool off by Monday.  I’m sure there will be more camping very soon.  We’ll have to see how it goes.  But today’s trip was still a lot of fun… and the shake was worth the drive…

Thanks for visiting!  Safe and happy travels.

Bradford and Jennifer
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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One Response to Jackson County, Iowa trip

  1. Jo says:

    Sure did plenty in one day. Love the 50’s place and the shake looks really good too. But boy oh boy that shrimp sure is making my mouth water.

    Your right something just wasn’t meant to be for and over nighter. Always best to follow your instinct.