Fall Trip with Falling Temps and Leaves!

Hello and welcome to the blog today.  With that little warning, Jennifer and enjoyed a couple days of camping this week.  We were staying at Pikes Peak Park in Clayton County along the Mississippi River.  This area is familiar to the followers because we camp and fish in this area often…  Sometimes I feel like the blog might be getting a bit boring but there is something always going on … pictures to take and new cooking ideas to share.

Jenny and I came up on Monday.  We stopped at Buck Creek to fish near the town of Garnavillo.  The weather was warm but very windy with a powerful cold front on the way.  The fish were practically freaking out.  At one point I was lunging to keep one pole from going into the water when the other one nearly went in!

This beautiful, deep hole is about 3/4 mile from the van… and a nice walk through a pasture with plenty of cows and their “land mines”  But the hole is so deep and the fish are plentiful.  I counted myself lucky to see recent tire tracks… possibly meaning Gary had been stocking trout that day.

Jenny near the gate leading to the trout stream at Buck Creek.

After limiting out on five very nice fish, I drove up the road to Bloody Run Park to clean them.  Running water and flat ground are preferable to a fat guy bending over a stream.  I still remember falling into the creek a few weeks ago… Not fun!

A happy fisherman but I’m not so sure about the double chin!

The weather was still okay for the time being but there was a dark line of clouds to the west.  A strong storm system with high winds was on the way.  There was still time though.  I let Jenny play on her leash at both Buck Creek and Bloody Run Creek and she seemed to really enjoy herself.

McGregor, Iowa

After Jenny had her chance to relax, it was time to go camping.  We stayed at Pikes Peak Park just a few miles south of McGregor.   This park is a fall favorite both for the scenery and comfort.  At this time of the year it is only $11 per night with electricity!

As one could imagine, the little kitty pal loved the leaves and we spent quite a while walking around and rustling.  The smell of pine was in the air and several times I saw her inhaling deeply.  It was heavenly!

Buffalo Chicken Tenders Salad

Monday night’s meal was a salad that contained romaine lettuce, red and green bell peppers, blue cheese, fried chicken tenders, and a dressing made with buffalo chicken sauce, ranch dressing, and blue cheese.  It was a very tasty meal!  I had leftover tenders so those were saved and rolled up in low-carb tortillas along with more of the cheese and dressing.  That made for Tuesday’s breakfast as crazy as that sounds!

Doesn’t that just “get your goat” ??  This curious goat was staring as we drove by near the Mississippi River.

By Monday night it was decision time… go further north or back to Buck Creek?  I decided to visit nearby Buck Creek on Tuesday morning.  By this time if was very cold – about 46 degrees – with high wind.  That cold front passed through and buffeted the van all night.  Come Tuesday it was still around 40 degrees and miserable.  But the fishing continued.


She loves Pikes Peak

The action was slower on Tuesday.  With the sharp weather change and intermittent showers, the fish were not quite as active.  I still limited out and they were nice sized trout.

Jenny and I returned to Bloody Run Creek to clean the fish.  As I was finishing up, here came Gary with the DNR fish stocking truck.   He was replenishing the fish in Bloody Run Park’s popular stream.  I told him I’d clobbered the fish at Buck Creek and asked when he’d last stocked.  He said it was last week!  When I mentioned the tire tracks he said they were from a farmer’s ATV (all terrain vehicle).  It was a surprise, finding that many aggressive  and large fish after having not been stocked for that long!

After a very long and warm nap back at the campground, supper was very simple on Tuesday night.  I’ve been making this homemade soup that is bursting with flavor.  A bag of soup was brought along for the trip.  As the wind howled this piping hot soup hit the spot.  It is simple and easy to make:

Brad’s Italian Hamburger and Veggie Soup

1 pound of ground beef, browned with 1/2 chopped onion
1 box no salt beef broth
1 can of Italian diced tomatoes,
1 bag of Italian blend frozen veggies (I take the cauliflower out)
1/2 t (or more) cayenne pepper to taste
2t Italian seasoning to taste
salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc. to taste

After browning the beef and onion, you just dump it all together, put in the crockpot on low for 5 hours, and that’s it.  A person can also cook it on low for 30 minutes on the stove.  This soup is now a favorite!

When there is no TV station available, I have 100+ TV programs saved on the laptop. This one was “The Greatest American Hero”

The night’s rest of uninterrupted.  Jenny was very relaxed and often purred, rubbed, did nose kisses, etc.  There is something to be said for the relaxation of camping in a state park.

Breakfast was … filling, to say the least.  It was very cold this morning (Wednesday) and I was not to motivated to cook outdoors.  Using only the camping griddle / grill, it was a challenge to cook each item separately and keep it all warm.  Then I had a brainstorm!

The Coleman stove has both a griddle and a grill that fit together.  After cooking all the dishes on the griddle, I wrapped the grill with foil and set it on top of the grill, using the heat to keep the breakfast piping hot!  The picture is a little fuzzy but breakfast was little sausages, pecan pancakes, hash browns with cheese, and some slightly burned and scraped up eggs.  It sure filled the belly!

It was terrific to have a couple days off from work.  We will likely go out again in a couple of weeks.  For now, it will be nice rest up a little at the home base.  I nearly forgot to mention that the new infra-red heater works very well.  It’s toasty yet the heat is gentle.  When it cycles off, the environment stays warmer for longer.

Her highness playing on the stile (ladder) over the cow fence at Buck Creek near Garnavillo, Iowa

That’s about it for now.  My Internet service is off at home, likely for good now.  For that reason I’ll turn off the comment moderation for now and will respond to comments as things allow… hopefully as soon s possible!

Thanks for visiting and happy autumn travels!

Brad and Jenny
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 Fall Trip with Falling Temps and Leaves!

  1. my_vantasy says:

    What a great trip! We have a Buck Creek State Park in Ohio and it is super nice for camping and hiking. Your food looks delicious, as always, but now I am hungry for a big salad!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi and thanks for the note! We actually have multiple Buck Creeks in this area. A big salad sure satisfies! I am thinking about doing a fancy salad with turkey and cranberries for Thanksgiving dinner. It would be nice to have a lighter meal.

      Thanks for the kind words! It’s always fun to try new cooking ideas. I hope it helps motivate people to trying new food ideas. I was not going to cook breakfast this morning but reminded myself that preparing food outdoors IS part of the experience… despite the cold. Take care!

  2. Jo says:

    Well another successful fishing and camping trip. All the foods look so good. That salad is wonderful of course I’m not a fan of blue cheese but that’s just a small thing. I love soup and made a big pot of vegetable soup last week so I have plenty stored in the freezer. And you breakfast looks so good.

    Seems like Jenny had a great time exploring too.
    Love the fall colors.
    I had walked out to start loading the truck the a camping trip and the wind almost took me and the door for a flying trip instead. So that ending this weeks trip. But looking really good for next week.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo. Blue cheese is one of those things a person loves or hates – there’s not much middle ground. The vegetable soup sounds so good! I’m finishing up a batch today… and will make more soon.

      There are some new fall ideas for dishes (salads, desserts, etc.) for the next major camping trip in November. There won’t be any blue cheese on that salad. Jenny was wild last night and this morning. She had a good time outside and wants to go right back out again.

      I hope you get in some good camping time soon. That wind is a pain sometimes. It sure makes it colder up here, too. I imagine that’s not a factor down south… other than nearly taking an unintended flight!