Wednesday Fun with Good Weather!

Waterville, Iowa

Hello and welcome to the blog!  On this trip the weather was better and there was time to do two nights of camping.   I got off work on Tuesday evening and had little time to reach a camping area before darkness fell.  Like two weeks ago, the van was parked near the Sny Magill trout stream in a space not visible from the road.  I slept pretty well despite it being a very humid night!  The price was right – it was free!

Perfectly legal to camp for free and very safe!

Wednesday morning was a great time to hit the trout stream.  I stopped at a favorite part of Bloody Run Creek a few miles to the north.  The water was high and murky from recent floods.  It was necessary to cross the stream and walk a ways but in short order I’d caught 2 rainbows and 3 brook trout… and slapped a lot of mosquitoes and biting deer flies.

Bottom two are rainbow trout. The top three (with orange-ish bellies) are brook trout. Only “brookies” are native to Iowa.

This pretty little butterfly (a fritillary) was busy flitting among the long blades of grass along Bloody Run Creek.

From there it was on to McGregor to look at the tornado damage from a week ago.  It was pretty heartbreaking to see the destruction first hand.

Historic buildings, some from 1800s, were destroyed by the storms last week.

The next stop was across the Mississippi River to Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin for a trip to the Village Fish Market for some catfish (mixed with pork) ring bologna… and a can of smoked… well, you’ll have to read the label.

Yum, yum! Hickory smoked frog sh*t…. Well, it’s not quite as labeled! 🙂

The rest of Wednesday was spent driving around Allamakee County (the farthest northeast county in Iowa) looking at streams and creeks that had been impacted by all the heavy rains.  Most were still bloated from the water running off.  Trout don’t bite that well in muddy water.  But then I thought of one stream that would likely not be affected because it is fished close to its source, a spring, in the Yellow River Forest.  Already limited out on trout, I could not fish until Thursday morning so a big dinner was cooked.

Big Paint Campground in the Yellow River Forest.  It is the smallest of several campgrounds but much less crowded.


The camping meal on Wednesday night was meant to reflect the kinds of crazy things we eat at fairs in Iowa – mainly food on a stick.  The first skewer contained fresh fried trout nuggets and slices of cheese.  To the right of that is Iowa sweet corn wrapped with Iowa bacon and roasted.

The little nodules (shown sliced open) were an idea I dreamed up in bed.  Kale (on sale for 88 cents a bunch) was blended up with olive oil, and mixed with cheddar cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, eggs, bread crumbs… and fresh Iowa sweet corn.  The balls were dipped in batter and fried.

The dessert was a “funnel cake” and a homemade triple berry sauce (using Splenda) and included blueberries, tart cherries, red raspberries, lemon juice, and tapioca for a thickener.  It was worth the calories.

The lemonade in the fancy cup was made with real lemons, tart cherries, and Splenda.  Talk about refreshing!

The trash was tied on the van and during the night the wildlife (likely raccoons) tore at the bag like it was a piñata


The sleep at Big Paint Campground was incredibly restful.  I fell asleep at 6 PM and slept until 5 AM the next morning!  At one point the temperature in the valley became so cold it was necessary to turn off the roof vent!

Pedestrian bridge over Little Paint Creek

The next morning I cleaned up the raccoons’ mess and went to the other creek, Little Paint, and quickly gathered a limit of nice trout.  The day was complete early and it was time to head back home with plenty of fish and some fond memories… and no tornadoes this time.

There will undoubtedly be more camping soon… closer to home.  Two of the blog friends recommended food ideas that sound great for enjoying in the out-of-doors.  It will be fun to try them and feature the info here.

Thanks for visiting!  Safe and happy travels!

Brad 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"

4 Responses to Wednesday Fun with Good Weather!

  1. Jo says:

    YAY! you got to go camping. Sounds like you had a great time too. Caught lots of fish and the meal looks great. I wrote down the recipe for the nodules sounds interesting.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks Jo! I’ve been going over the recipe you gave me and it sounds absolutely delicious. I’ll most likely make it on the next trip… probably in a week. Somehow I got very sick after this last trip (heat + food = danger) with really severe digestive stuff going on. Apple cider vinegar seemed to relieve the symptoms and all is well again. (whew)

      Three times a day Jenny is eager to explore all over the neighborhood on her leash. She’ll love the camping this fall. I can’t wait to get her to some of these beautiful fishing places when the leaves start to turn.

      Take care! — VT

  2. Jo says:

    Didn’t know apple cider vinegar would help the stomach I’ll have to remember that. Just happy your well again. Been meaning to ask do you have a small fridge in the van?

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo. For some reason while I had cramps and wanted to vomit, something instinctively said to drink vinegar. (Who would have thought?) It worked very well. Then when I googled it, I saw where apple cider vinegar is recommended as a possible remedy for stomach flu! It must have been a guardian angel whispering in my ear. 🙂

      No, I don’t have a fridge in the van, unfortunately. It would be nice but I don’t live in the van any more so it’s not necessary.

      On the upside, I have a 60 quart cooler and fill it with ice for the trips. For pretty much the whole time I’ve lived in Jones County, my pals at McDonalds give me all the free ice I can use. The food is prepped at the home base. I take it to McDonalds, add bottom ice, put the bags of food on the ice, and then put the rest of the ice on top. It all works great… and is free. 🙂 🙂 Being concerned about food safety, I also use gloves to clean the fish, cook food, and even consume the food.

      I wasn’t sure at first if it was the stomach flu or food poisoning but the bug messed up the sinuses, stomach, etc… It appears not to be food related as far as I can tell. Everyone at work is getting sick. Take care! —- VT