Eden Valley Refuge

Hello and welcome to the blog!  On Monday afternoon I visited the Eden Valley Refuge Campground which is located about 26 miles east from home.  It is located in extreme northern Clinton County just south of Highway 64… and along the shores of Bear Creek.  This place is a real gem.  The refuge hosts many species of animals, insects, and plants.  There are hiking trails which offer a peaceful way to see and learn.  It’s been referred to as an “outdoor classroom”.  There is also a nature center (open Saturdays and by appointment.)

The campground area.

Monday was a fun day.  I’d packed the van in preparation.  The weather was cool and comfortable.  I was sure that Jenny would come along but she wanted to stay home.  She knows when I’m leaving and this time hid.  Oh well – her loss!  She would have loved this park!

View from the van

Dinner was an idea I’d been mulling over for some time.  My boss periodically discards broken items from work including french fry baskets.  The welded-on hook on the end of the basket often snaps off on these things making them useless for a fry cook.  (You cannot hang them up over the fryer)  I was given an old basket and it worked great for packet cooking.  The handle never got hot and when the food was cooked, I could place the pouches on top of the basket to keep them warm.


The dinner was very tasty.  I roasted some red baby potatoes (use Yukon gold instead – they taste better!!) and cooked a crown of broccoli.  The burger was made from some 85% lean meat that has been in the freezer since last November.  To give it some life, I added minced garlic and onion as well seasoning it… a day before cooking.  The burger is sitting on a brioche bun.  It is topped with Swiss cheese, grilled onions, and a homemade mushroom sauce.  It was pretty filling!


The campground was quiet and peaceful.  With no TV stations or cell phone coverage, I sat and watched some old TV shows that had been saved to the laptop.  Most of the time the side doors were open and I watched the scenery transition to darkness.

The sleep was incredibly restful.  I used to toss and turn a lot but last night it was much better.  Some time back a new mattress pad was purchased for the van’s bed.  It was higher end and added a very soft, smooth texture to the sleep surface…  a great investment!

Sorry about the crooked photo… The drone was fighting strong wind… I had to “level” the picture with software!

This morning it was necessary to get up early, update the blog, and then it’s off to work.  On the way out I did stop and visit a public hunting area not far away.  It’s going to be cheaper.  Yesterday I’d had to shell out $12 for a night of primitive camping but that will change.  Above is a picture of the place where I’ll be camping for free in the parking lot for the hunting grounds.  The plan is to cook a wonderful meal at the refuge and then snooze for free just 3 miles down the road … and with that amazing view.  It should also provide dozens of TV stations, too!   🙂

Breakfast was a leftover mushroom Swiss burger.. A person could get used to this. 🙂

Well, the next trip is coming up this weekend.  It’s the annual Trekfest celebration in Riverside, Iowa.  The town was designated as the official “future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk” from Star Trek.  It is always a fun time.  With the weather projected to be nice, it’s guaranteed that free camping will happen, too!

Take care for now.  Safe and happy travels!

Brad 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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4 Responses to Eden Valley Refuge

  1. my_vantasy says:

    I love how you repurposed the fry basket. Great idea! But your food…wow. I love mushroom Swiss burgers and your entire plate looked delicious! Going camping this weekend in southeastern Ohio and taking brats, deli ham, and seafood pasta salad. Gonna keep it simple this first trip.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi and thanks for the note. I sure like the sound of your menu! Seafood pasta rocks! I’m craving brats and told the Fareway (grocery store) manager that I would try their skinless brats ($4.99) when the budget catches up a little. Brats are yummy! Have a great first trip!

  2. Jo says:

    How green everything is so very pretty. But if you can find free that looks good to. And as always your food looks mouth watering good. What a great idea with the basket.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo! We’ve had lots of rounds of rain lately so everything is lush and green. The fry basket worked out really well and will surely be used again. No more of the bitter red potatoes though – I like roasting the Yukon golds so much better. Lately broccoli has tasted good and it’s going along again one of these times. The next camping trip is on Friday night at the casino — no scenery but I might slip over to a park to cook breakfast before the Star Trek parade. With summer in full swing now a cold cantaloupe sounds so tasty!

      Take care!