Catching up a Bit

Hi and welcome to the blog!  It’s been a while since posting so I wanted to pass along some pics and happy thoughts.  Life has been great lately!  Just a word of warning — this post spans 2 weeks time and 80 miles of distance.  It’s likely to be pretty choppy.  Fasten the seatbelt!

Buddy Johnnie, aka “Little Brother”

A couple weeks ago I went to visit buddy Johnnie in Muscatine.  We went out for dinner at a terrific Italian restaurant called Sal Vitale’s.  Salvatore Vitale is from Italy and frequently returns to his home country to visit.  A number of Sal’s cooking ingredients including cheeses and olive oil are imported.  We both had pizzas.  Johnnie’s was a standard meat pizza; I had one with a spicy chipotle alfredo sauce, various pork meats, and onions.  Both pizzas were to die for.

DNR planting trout around the pond.

Sadly, the fishing at Discovery Pond never resulted in any fish.  On Saturday the trout would not bite.  Out of the many people around the pond, few caught anything.  1000 trout had been stocked from the Manchester hatchery located some 80 miles away.  The fish were apparently not hungry or were upset by the long drive…or a combination of both.  By Sunday the wind picked up to 40 MPH and fishing would have sucked that second day.  Enough fun was had and I came home early.  It seems like the best plan is no planning!

From Muscatine, it was another busy week of work training at the new job.  I’ve been continuing to do some work camping but the cold weather has made it a bit more challenging.  Last Monday night (about a week ago) was a little tough as temps reached the upper 20s.

Antwon, one of the service dogs for veterans.

On Tuesday I went to the Hy-Vee store across town from the camping spot at a truck stop.  Two media celebrities were present – Simon Conway and Doug Wagner.  Doug hosts a radio show on WMT radio in Cedar Rapids.  Simon has a [mostly political] talk show on WHO (the big station in Des Moines where Ronald Reagan once worked).  They were raising money for the Puppy Jake Foundation.  Puppy Jake is an organization that acquires, trains, and gives service dogs to veterans.  The guys from the radio stations were selling slices of breakfast pizza for donations.  I gave them a nice contribution.  Sadly, the picture with the celebrities and I didn’t turn out well at all.

Later that Tuesday it was voting time.  None of the three people I voted for got into office.  Shit happens.   🙂

So fast forward to Friday.  Between election day and now I got a nice pay increase and am now making more than nearly all the former bosses at the last job… What happy news!   Friday was also birthday number 53.  I took a cake to work and it read:  “Brad is 53 and pending”… In work lingo, “pending” refers an account that is in limbo for some reason.  I decided to pause the aging process for around 30 years or so.   🙂

This cute little weathered box that looks like a boat is going to sit on my desk.  I’m adding a jar of trout bait, a bobber, a fish shaped cat toy, etc.  It was a gift from the department.  They decorated the desk with balloons and streamers.  Though I’d love to show that picture, I’m not sure it’s permitted… It’s better to err on the side of caution!  We also had a “food day” with dips, other snack foods, etc.  What a wonderful welcome to the new work group!

So now it’s Sunday.  For the birthday, Sis gifted a Fareway grocery store gift card.  There’s a special deal going on right now that if you buy $50 from the meat counter, you get a free turkey.  Using some negotiating skills (being cheap), I ended up with quite a haul of meat for $55 bucks:  4 giant hot dogs, 3 lbs fresh 85% ground beef, a 3# beef roast, 8 half-pound strip steaks, and a #14 pound turkey.  By the time this post is finished, the turkey will be done cooking.  It smells heavenly.

This week’s lunches, breakfasts, suppers… etc.

The time has passed so quickly!  Last week involved a night of work camping.  Unfortunately, it’s going to be very cold this week so I’m opting not to camp on Monday.  The propane heater is in the van now and there will be a night or two of adventures ahead.

Another night of work trekking and not having to commute!

It’s been nice being at home this weekend.  Jenny is doing awesome and DJ is still settling in.  He’s learned about things like cod, roast chicken, ham, and tonight it will be baked turkey.  The little guy is enjoying the new home and with a little luck he’ll be camping and fishing in the spring.

The next outing might be this coming weekend.  The weather is moderating and I’d like to take a trip north to fish for trout one more time before it gets too much colder.

Thanks for visiting!   Happy camping to everyone and enjoy the fall season!

Brad, Jenny, and Duke Jasper (DJ)
Jones County, Iowa

P.S.   This picture of Jenny and I is cropped to show our faces.  I use it as an Avatar in emails and communications to customers, both internal and external.  At least one of us is pretty!


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 Catching up a Bit

  1. my_vantasy says:

    Happy belated birthday! Your cake looks awesome and so does all of that pizza. Congrats on the raise,
    too. You did have a good week! It has turned cold here and I’m told it’s not going to warm up until April. That may be an exaggeration, but I am honestly not sure. Keep warm and safe!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi! It hit 10 over the weekend… way too cold for this time of the year! I’ve put the heater back in the van and am going to try work camping with the propane assist tomorrow night. That should help warm things up a few degrees, hopefully! Take care and stay warm out your way as well. The coming weekend will bring some improvement. — VT

  2. Jo Harmon says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Brad!
    So I’m guessing you are now a full time employee? That’s wonderful news and the raise is a wonderful too.

    The pizza’s look really yummy and that turkey wow what time is dinner.

    Stay warm my friend the cold weather is here. For me it is a blessing but we don’t get as cold here as your place.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo! I’m full time but not yet permanent… It won’t be long now! I’m trying to learn things and get up to speed quickly. It will be great to have good benefits again. That turkey hits the spot on these cold nights. Saturday night it was down to a record 10 degrees! Brrrr. It’s supposed to be cold tomorrow night but I’m going to work camp with propane to save on gas… We’ll see how it goes! Take care!