The Camel Burger Fishing Trip

Elkader Iowa and the stone bridge

Hello and welcome to the blog!  It was a really fun day… and the weather is about 50 degrees warmer than it was just a week ago!  Instead of -10 degrees we hit 40 above zero.  Only in Iowa!  With weather like this, a little road trip was called for.  I’m feeling much better and managed to drop some weight over the last couple weeks (being sick isn’t the best way to do it though).

The ordinary fishing outing took kind of an unusual twist and I learned some interesting Iowa history along the way… and ate some camel meat.  (Who would have thought?)

Turkey River as the sun is coming over the hill

The look of longing is priceless!

With the cold weather we had last week, the majority of trout streams are still mostly frozen.  The Turkey River is always open and the fish are plentiful.  Upon arriving at the hatchery at 7:30 AM, I caught 5 fish in 45 minutes using some bait received from Corey W, the “Secret Santa” at work.  About halfway through fishing, hatchery mascot Woody suddenly bounded over the levy and started sniffing around the trout fishing bag.  He was rewarded with a Hardee’s bacon / egg / cheese biscuit.


Standing in front of the largest spring in Iowa. This part of the river NEVER freezes.

After fishing and playing with Woody, it was time to think about eating lunch.  Thanks to Google, there was a new place to try, Schera’s Algerian American Restaurant and Bar.   In reading about this fine dining establishment, I learned dignitaries and even a young Senator Barack Obama had dined here.

My sister was studying Islam this last year and I knew she would be intrigued.  For those not familiar with its location, Algeria is a northern tier, African country located between Morocco (to the west) and Libya to the east (and Egypt farther east).  99% of its residents are Muslim.

Schera’s Algerian American Restaurant and Bar

The restaurant opened this morning at 11:00.  I had arrived around 10:15 and went for a little walk to kill time.  One of the landmarks in Elkader is this stone bridge built in 1890.  In 1888, the old iron truss bridge was deemed unsafe.  This new bridge, completed in 1889, is the longest stone bridge west of the Mississippi.  It was made using a wooden form.  The stones comprising the sides of the arch were lowered into place until there was a small gap at the top.  The “capstone” pieces were wedged in the middle.  Each side pushes the capstone.  The whole downward thrust is supported by bedrock.  Other than adding a sidewalk and driving surface, the bridge remains nearly the same as it did all those years ago!  I read that this type of arch construction dates back to the Roman aqueducts.  It still works just fine!


One of the two arches. There is a dam about a block upstream.

The Algerian restaurant was amazing.  The environment is fairly dark with small lamps near all the tables.  A sweet motherly lady assisted me and the service was terrific.  There were quite a few Middle Eastern dishes on the menu.  I chose the “Camel Burger” which really is ground camel meat.  It is seasoned with “ras al hanout” which is a spice mix containing 15+ ingredients.  Though flavorful and aromatic, the blend is delicate and not at all hot.  The condiment on the bun was “harissa mayo” which added even more flavor and just a hint of heat.  The burger had the wonderful char of a well-cooked hamburger but without the heaviness or greasiness of beef.  The meal was phenomenal.  For dessert I enjoyed a bit of baklava.

The camel burger and side salad.


Elkader, Iowa shares history with Algeria starting from the naming of the village.  The town’s first permanent residents arrived in 1836 and the community was platted in 1846.  The early residents settled on the name Elkader after Emir Abdelkader, a young Algerian who led his people in resistance against French colonialism from 1830 to 1847.  During uprisings in 1860, the Muslim Emir even sheltered Christians from those who sought to do them harm.  It sounds as if he had a very compassionate heart.

The United States and Algerian flags at the restaurant.

The positive relationship with Algeria continues to this day. In 2017 a group of Algerian diplomats came to Elkader, Iowa.  In late 2017 a group of Iowans visited Algeria, including farmers who helped teach the Algerians how to better farm their land.  If the rest of the world could get along so well!

It was quite a memorable trip today. It’s just too bad Kitty Jesse James died last year.  I would have surely brought him a little piece of that camel burger to try!

So long for now.  It’s time to get the fish in the house, relax a bit, and think of where to go next.  When the temps are this warm again, it’s likely the van will go out for an overnight trip.  I miss sleeping in that thing!

Thanks for visiting today.  Safe and happy 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"

6 Responses to The Camel Burger Fishing Trip

  1. Pam in Louisiana says:

    You definitely had a fun and interesting day. I didn’t know you could get camel meat, actually I never really thought about it until I read this post. Glad you are feeling better, and you can now plan an outing in your van! Take care.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Pam! You never know what’s going to happen each day but that’s what makes life so interesting. I’m hoping to take a trip with the van now that it’s fixed. It’s hard to say where it will lead. I’m going to do some research into some areas I’m curious about. Take care! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Jo says:

    Another good fishing trip. I had never heard of camel meat in this country. The burger sure looks tasty.
    We had a great weekend here as well and my daughter and I finally went to the Desert Museum. Sure was nice to get out and walk around again.

    Be looking to see where you go off to next

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo! That desert museum sounds very interesting! We’ve got another blast of cold weather coming again early next week. I might do an overnight trip somewhere or just stay inside for now. Yesterday sure was fun though… and needed. I’ll have to check out your blog and see what’s new! Take care — VT

  3. my_vantasy says:

    Camel burger?! You are a lot more adventurous with food than I am. Love the pictures and history of the bridge. I think we’re down to 50-some days until Spring. Have a great week!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Good morning! Won’t that be nice when Spring is finally here? Looks like we have another cold blast on its way. I might take the van out on Monday into Tuesday. It’s going to be a cold one though! Take care and stay warm!