Hello and welcome to the blog. This camping trip was an early celebration of Thanksgiving… as well as a chance to see a new landmark, a bridge crossing the Mississippi. Jenny did not go along due to a shift to much colder weather. It was 18 degrees Wednesday morning.
East of my home in Jones County is Jackson County, bordering Illinois. The island town of Sebula is on the Iowa side; Savannah is directly across in Illinois. Since 1932 there has been an old bridge crossing the river. The old bridge deck is a steel grate – no pavement. You could see the water 65 feet below while crossing. The lanes were so narrow, in fact, that two full sized vehicles could barely cross from opposite directions. The bridge also swayed. For people on motorcycles, it was downright scary to ride across as the wheels followed the grid pattern.
Back in the early 1970s, every year our family drove east on Highway 64 into Illinois, eventually heading this back way into northwest Chicago. I remember being scared of the old bridge… and won’t miss it one bit! In time the old crossing will be removed. Some had protested the loss of the old structure but truthfully, I won’t miss it a bit!
Let me digress a little… Well, okay… The whole afternoon. On the way to the Mississippi River, I paused to visit Grandma’s old house in Maquoketa.
This picture above points to where Mom’s ashes are sprinkled near Hurstville, overlooking Maquoketa. The picture above was taken from the alley next to Grandma’s two story home. As a little boy I would always ask where that road went as Mom and I peered out Grandma’s second story bedroom window. Mom said she did know but we often spoke of that pretty little road in the distance and how one day we would go there. We never did… Well, not until she passed seven years ago this coming Sunday. Mom wanted to have the ashes scattered in a scenic place and I felt moved to place them there near a small pine tree.
The next stop was a dozen or so miles to east in the town of Preston. This town was a frequent stop for us as we traveled on the highway. Mom and Dad would freeze milk and we would stop and have doughnuts and milk at the little park on the way to Illinois.
Lunch was a salad in a recycled McDonald’s salad container. It used some breaded chicken tenders cooked on the Pizza Pizzaz machine at home and then diced up. In fact, before leaving home I’d assembled the whole salad except for the avocado chunks. With some Vidalia onion vinaigrette dressing, this salad knocked the socks off, so to speak. The only problem was that it had to be finished in the van due to very cold weather and high winds.
After poking around in Illinois, I decided to head back to Iowa. I don’t know what their gun carrying / storage laws are in that state but didn’t want to stick around too long. (My permit works in Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin).
For supper, I pulled out all the stops. Sis had sent a honey smoked boneless ham from Amana, Iowa. The turkey came from drumsticks cooked in the crock pot… with broth saved. The dressing was a nice wet style, oyster stuffing. (1 box herb Stove Top, 1.5 cups turkey broth, 1/2 lb oysters with juice, 1/2 stick butter, 4 oz fresh mushrooms).
The baked sweet potato was sort of like a “twice baked” potato with a filling including pecans, maple butter, and brown sugar. The green bean casserole was also a little different from standard. I like to use fresh mushrooms when making it.
The apple-cranberry crisp was made from apple packets we discarded at work. Warmed up and with whipped topping it was worth the leap in blood sugar. The meal and dessert was heavenly and sedating. The rest of the evening was spent watching Star Trek episodes on the laptop as the new infra-red heater kept the van toasty. There was nobody else in the campground.
The night’s sleep was very peaceful. Breakfast was cooked before returning home. Man, it hit the spot. My buddy had traded some deer rope sausage. I’d crumbled it up and made a gravy to put over biscuits. With a couple fried eggs, fruit, and hash browns, it made for a great breakfast.
It was sure a fun trip with lots of good food ideas to pass along. There was virtually nothing that had to be prepared once on the road. I’d cooked most everything before leaving. It’s too darned cold to fiddle with a stove outside… Thank goodness for the microwave. Great food home cooked food can still be enjoyed.
That’s it for now. Thursday will be spent at the casino in Marquette (for lunch) and at a few neighboring trout streams. It should be a fun time with some pictures to post.
Take care and a safe and happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
Brad and Jenny
Jones County, Iowa