A Good Time with Great Friends

One of the two new solar yard lights at home. The lights actually turn at night and you can see rotating beacons.


“I would rather lie facedown on the ground and use my body as a bridge, than stand proud and tall and use my body as a wall.”

Kamand Kojouri



Hello and welcome to the blog this Sunday.  On Friday I was able to take a quick little overnight trip to friend Jim’s pond.  At first it looked like it wouldn’t happen.  Thursday I was stuck in town after agreeing to take care of the neighbor’s dog.  (Sometimes it’s hard to say no.)  Friday would still leave time to camp and return for work.

Just when it looked like Friday was feasible, buddy Steve needed assistance picking up his recently repaired car.  In the middle of it all he had a minor car accident.  Talk about a rough day.  Sometimes when things go to crap, the best thing you can hope for is to have supportive people in your life.  I can’t think of any more important honor than to help a friend in need.


Steve and Jim discussing fishing, their kids, and the antics of the ex-wives…


Steve is such a good pal – practically family – that a person can’t turn his/her back when the need is there.  I told him we’d get the cars situated and then he needed to come out to Jim’s pond (northern Jones County) for some good food.  While the poles were in the water, I started a wood fire to cook supper.  Jim and Steve enjoyed swapping stories and memories.




The three of us enjoyed barbecued ribs, barbecued pork steak, baked beans, loaded mashed potatoes, bacon wrapped asparagus, and bacon wrapped jalapenos (stuffed with cream cheese).  We ate like kings.  Then it was back to angling and more talking as the sun slowly sank.


Not the most flattering picture but oh, was it a relaxing place to rest up!


The fishing wasn’t so good on Friday evening.  Steve didn’t catch anything at all.  I only caught three bluegills but they were too small to keep.  Both of us agreed that while we like to fish, neither of us felt like cleaning them!

In the meantime, a big white dog and smaller black dog came over from a neighboring farm to the west and visited us… and helped with the ribs and mashed potatoes.  It was ironic (or not) that they arrived as the food was cooking.  The wind was blowing from the east so they might have smelled all the grub.  In any case, I took their presence as a compliment!


This guy made the night so enjoyable!   *** CLICK for a 38 second, adorable video ***


Jim advised that the white dog liked to play fetch with sticks and LOVED the pond.  The pooch would bring the stick to you, offer it, and withdraw.  You’d have to coax and trick the canine into giving up the twig… and then a person would throw the stick as far as possible into the water.  We must have tossed the little twig 20 times and each time it was returned.  What a blast!

By this time it was getting late.  Steve headed for home and I slept in the van for the night.  It was a cool evening with lows around 59 or so.  The sleep was blissful.

They run all night, turning and casting a beam of light through the darkness.


The trip wasn’t as long as I’d hoped for but was every bit as fun as one could expect.  There’s always another day to camp but there might not always be the chance to be there for someone in need.  That’s what we’re here for anyway… to be a beacon.  Perhaps those lighthouse yard lights are symbolic.  They’re sure cool to watch after dark as the lights rotate in the darkness.



As T.V. Detective Columbo used to say… “Just one more thing….”

This cloud never got its act together. If it had, things could have been bad as it passed over. Note the vertical curling.  The whole area was also turning horizontally.


During the writing of this post (at McDonald’s) the weather took a nasty turn.  On Sunday afternoon a cold front spawned a couple of tornadoes, one of them near Jim’s farm in Northern Jones County.  I took off in the van and followed the storm, even getting directly under the wall cloud as everything passed over the town of Anamosa.  It was possible to see some horizontal and vertical rotation.  I was mesmerized!  Thankfully, no damage was done by the storms!


That’s about it for now.  There will be more fun adventures in the coming days.  I found a small remote campground near Grant Wood’s old stomping grounds and plan to check it out.  Stay tuned!

Thanks for visiting!  Safe and happy camping!

Brad and Jenny and Duke
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 A Good Time with Great Friends

  1. Jo Harmon says:

    If you hadn’t had a post tonight I was going to email you.
    Happy your are OK and doing great things for your friend and then you both got in a little fishing.

    Love your lighthouse lawn decoration

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo! We had some fun, for sure. The gnats are pretty bad right now though. Thanks for keeping track of me. I’ll send you a private email and bring you up to date. Take care! — VT

  2. my_vantasy says:

    I do like your solar light houses. The camping trip sounds relaxing–you are a good friend to help Steve and then invite him to come out for fishing and a cook out. Sounds like both of you needed the calm and enjoyable night. And, as your unexpected guest proved, dogs make everything better! This is the first summer in many, many years that I have worked full time. The Little Dog and I have not yet been camping and probably won’t get out until our scheduled trip to Lake Erie at the end of July. Is the money really worth it? I am not so sure it is…

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi and thanks for the note! Dogs do make things fun! Yesterday I was taking care of Buddy, the neighbor’s dog. We have a tradition. When I open the door and say “Potty!” he gets a treat (this time a bite of slow roasted pork steak). He waters the sign post and comes back for the other half of the treat. For some reason, when the owner comes outside he keeps running over to my house! (He knows a good camp cook…)

      Sorry to hear that you have not been out camping. The weather has been variable here but the gnats are atrocious. I hope you can get out soon! Take care! Watch for a vegetarian post coming up soon. I made a veggie pizza that turned out really good. It was different that one would expect.