Camping (but not fishing) at Central Park

Hula Hoop Tree west of Amber, Iowa. There are even Hula Hoops along the fence.


Hello and welcome to the blog.  Monday night was spent at Central Park in Eastern Jones County.  I tried to get Jenny to come with but she’s pretty crafty.  While I was packing the food in the cooler, Jenny hid somewhere and would not come out.  Her loss!  She apparently wanted to stay home with Duke.

Fishing Buddy Steve dishing up the food


Central Park has one big lake and a smaller one behind it.  A couple of years ago the large lake was drained for renovations.  It’s since filled in with water but the fish population has not yet recovered.  When the big lake was drained, many of the keeper fish were moved to the smaller pond; more were stocked.

Unfortunately, I did not bring poles and as the sun went down, I could see quite a bit of activity in the smaller pond.  It will be revisited in the coming days.  Nobody was around and I’m sure a stringer full of fish could have easily been caught.  Oh well, there’s next time.


The ribs were seasoned and baked at 250 degrees for a couple hours, wrapped in foil, refrigerated, and later finished over hot coals at the park.  They were heavenly.

Steve stopped out to the park for the cookout.  Supper was a fun and tasty meal:  pork ribs, hash browns with cheese, and asparagus with bacon.   The ribs were warmed in foil over the coals.  The side items were cooked over charcoal on a griddle.


The beverage above was a fun experiment.  To cut down on the Diet Coke, I’ve started drinking a canned product called Bubly (a PepsiCo drink).  Bubly is unsweetened, carbonated water with natural flavorings, similar to LaCroix…but I found Bubly more flavorful.  A bunch of blackberries were frozen and added to the fizzy, flavored water in place of ice cubes.  The result was delicious, especially after the berries thawed and I mushed them up.  A packet of Splenda might have made it a bit tastier but the fruit beverage was still good!



By now the sun was starting to set.  Steve and I chatted and listened to nature sounds.  We both recognized the loud squawking of male pheasants.  In the distance a wild turkey gobbled.  Woodpeckers flitted from tree to tree and pecked incessantly, their beaks pounding like machine guns.  Bullfrogs croaked from around the pond in the lower portion of the picture.

The best part of the nature show was an air fight between an owl and three or four common crows.  It looked like an aerial scene from of a World War II movie.  The crows were circling and squawking, angrily pursuing the owl into the woods;  for the longest time the noised continued.  We speculated that the owl had raided a crow’s nest.

As the sun set, Steve departed and I settled down for the night.  It was cold last night and not the best sleeping weather.  But the trip was still fun and relaxing.  In the morning I fried up more hash browns and made an omelet with the leftover bacon and asparagus.

Changing gears a bit…. Here’s a recipe idea I thought might be fun to pass along….

Rhubarb is very popular in Iowa.  A coffee drinking friend dropped off some rhubarb (aka “pie plant”) at McDonald’s.  I had been reading about dump cakes and threw this together without a recipe.  It turned out really good and I’m sure could be cooked in a Dutch over.  Here’s what I put in in…








Strawberry Blueberry Rhubarb Dump Cake

2c finely diced rhubarb
2c chopped strawberries
1c fresh blueberries
1c sugar
1 yellow cake mix
1c water
1 stick of butter (melted)

Spread the fruit in a greased 9″x 13″ pan. Cover with sugar. Sprinkle the yellow cake mix over the mixture. Evenly dribble the water over the pan. Pour the stick of melted butter on top. Bake for 50-55 min at 350. Cool for 20 min before serving.  It’s great served warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Tonight Steve stopped in at McDonald’s and showed off some morel mushrooms he’d found on today.  Tomorrow we’re going to get together and go in search of the elusive fungi.  It would be fun to find some and share the photos!

Things are really starting to look up on this end.  I should have some good news to share next week.  In the meantime, take care and thanks for the encouragement during a difficult time!  🙂

Take care and thanks for reading!  Safe and happy camping!

Brad and Jenny and Duke
Jones County, Iowa

Jenny and her patriotic poppy from the American Veterans.



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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 Camping (but not fishing) at Central Park

  1. Jo Harmon says:

    A camping trip is always nice whether it be fishing or just being out in nature. I like the looks of your drink might have to try that. I drink lots of water and sometimes you just need something more. I make my aspargus like that to so good. Of course the pie looks like something to die for YUMMY

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo! I hope you had a good week! I meant to reply earlier but got caught up trying to get some fishing in. Have a great weekend! Isn’t asparagus delicious? Take care! — VT

  2. My Lib says:

    I have been dreaming of taking a camper van along the coast for years and Trekker vans empowered my trip to be better than I had imagined it would be. Returning the van was sad, I definitely want to return and use a Trekker Van again. read less

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi. I was doing some reading about Trekker Vans. Apparently it is a newer company in California. It sounds like a fun way to rent a van and try it out. My van is an older Express van that I called the “Trekker Van” way about in about 2011 or so… There’s no connection with that company. But at the same time, the Express van has seen many cool sites and continues to provide a lot of low cost fun. Take care! — VT

  3. my_vantasy says:

    I always enjoy reading about your outings. I am stuck in a work, work, work rut. Your sparkling water is so appealing with the fruit. I drink sparkling water all of the time, but have never added fruit. Sometimes something so simple as that can make your drink seem special. Part of me was surprised that Jenny stayed home, but then I remembered that you said she and Duke were really close. That’s good that they get along so well. Friends fur-ever!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi and thanks for the note. It sounds like you’re very busy. I’m starting back to work on Wednesday and jumping into the fray right before Memorial Day weekend.

      Jenny and Duke are definitely co-conspirators. They are all the time fighting, sleeping, fighting more, sleeping, etc. It’s so cute to see. At the same time, nobody gets lonely and I have a little time to myself to go camping. It’s kind of fun that way.

      I’ve got another cool (no pun) fruity drink idea I think will taste great… It will be for the next outing…

      A veggie pizza still sounds good one of these days. I can just imagine a soft crust with a garlic butter spread and lots of types of veggies on it. The next trip into Cedar Rapids might result in a visit to the salad bar… and then I’ll be able to get lots of tasty things to put on that pizza.

      Take care! — VT