Mount Hope and Independence Day

Mount Hope Park in Linn County, Iowa


Good morning and welcome to the blog.  I’m all mixed up today – it feels like Monday.  That will happen, especially after having 4 days off in a row over a holiday weekend.  It was sure nice to have Independence Day for leisure!


Chocolate milk doesn’t make for very god fishing…


On Wednesday I headed over to Mount Hope Park near Stone City, Iowa (about 10 minutes west of Anamosa).  The plan was to cook a small meal and do some camping… maybe thrown in a line or two.


One of several tables / fire pits near the river.


Mount Hope is an unusual park.  The entrance to the driveway is in Jones County.  The camping area is actually in Linn County.  The park looks like it’s got some potential but I’m not so sure about overnight camping.  The fee is $12 for primitive camping.  That’s a little pricy.  At the same time, a friend in law enforcement as well as a friend who smokes “the herb” cautioned me that the nickname for Mount Hope is “Mount Dope”, likely due to illicit activity.


Something fun to nibble on.


Nonetheless, I decided to enjoy a nice picnic and parked in this round parking lot (top photo) with camping spots radiating around the circle. The van blocked the view of the picnic table. Before I’d even opened the side doors to take the cooler out, a Linn County Conservation officer pulled up and asked me if I was going to camp. I got kind of a funny feeling about the whole encounter… and invoked the name of friends in law enforcement.   The guy was very nice but I had the feeling he was checking me out.


Mann’s Power Blend –  Just $1.99 at the local grocery store.  It makes amazing stir fry.

Despite a light rain shower, I quickly cooked up a little meal.  There were a couple of large hot dogs that were split and stuffed with American cheese, diced jalapenos, and then wrapped in bacon.   The fruit (which was supposed to be red, white, and blue) had a drizzle of white frosting.  The green stuff is Mann’s Power Mix, a blend of various shredded veggies.  I’m trying to eat more of it because it is healthy, tasty and delicious, Mann’s works in all kinds of entrées and side dishes.  It will likely be seen in future posts.

As luck would have it, luck kind of ran out.  The rain got stronger.  The “Bug Soother” spray on, organic stuff didn’t work on mosquitos.  Then the call came from work (not far from where I was).  There had been a snafu on the afternoon’s paperwork.  A new girl needed some help and I was happy to help train her.  Translated, it meant she was also “thrown in” with little training and having been through it myself, it’s great to have someone there for reassurance.   🙂

Camping didn’t happen.  There will be more chances soon though.


The elementary school in Mechanicsville… I parked along this road, reasoning the high lines would not be visible in the dark. What power lines?


Fast forward to the evening of the 4th.  Though the weather has been miserable for camping, come heck or high water, yesterday was Independence Day and I wanted badly to see some fireworks… and it was fun!


A utility vehicle with flashing blue lights collecting donations for the next year’s fireworks show. I was not the only one startled! (Nope, no booze – just illegally parked along the highway)


Mechanicsville is a small town south of Anamosa, along Highway 30.  I’d never been there for the fireworks but it turned out to be a nice little show.  The van was parked along the county road and I sat in a lawn chair on the shoulder.  Behind me a family parked and set up on the other side of the road.  The kids were throwing “snaps” (small, legal explosives that pop on contact) on the ground and then hitting vehicles with them.  Some of the small explosives landed next to me… but I didn’t say anything.  One of the kids threw one and hit his mom in the knee and then there WAS some fun!  I exploded in laughter as his mom cussed him out!  It was the best part of the show!


Redneck fireworks launched about 200 feet away.

Behind me and 200 or so feet down the road, some locals were igniting fireworks of their own.  It was spectacular and perhaps even better than the show at the school.  Each time I saw a cannister lit it was a bit of guesswork to try anticipate the trajectory and get the shot.  Fun stuff!  The only problem were the misfires which came whistling overhead.  People were also shooting “bottle rockets” over our cars.  That was a little irritating.


The finale at the school.


The finale at the school’s show signaled the end of another fun Independence Day celebration. While the “4th of July” is a lot of fun, I’ve been telling a lot of people that we need to think about why we are celebrating.  This is a very difficult time for the United States.  Some are criticizing history, our flag, almost everything we hold dear.  I guess all I can say to those who want to change everything is that they better be careful what they wish for!  As for me, I’d rather call it “Independence Day” and keep being thankful and remember what history has taught us about what it was like before July 4, 1776.

God Bless America each and every day.  We’re not perfect, we do have some bad things in our past, but this is still one heck of a nice country to live in… especially here in the boonies in Jones County, Iowa.

Take care and thanks for visiting!  I’ll likely be camping somewhere next week and trying to catch another fireworks show somewhere yet this summer.

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 Mount Hope and Independence Day

  1. Jo Harmon says:

    Guess the parents thought little johnny was funny until he hit mom. LOL That was nice of you to help out the new co worker. And maybe was a good thing to move you out of that area.

    I didn’t see any fire works but sure heard them all around me. It’s so dry here I can’t believe they let people shoot those things off. But glad you enjoyed the show.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo! How are you? Sorry I didn’t respond to your note sooner. I just deleted 22 spam comments from shoe companies. Sometimes it’s difficult to see which are from the friends. We’re past the fireworks in our area (thankfully!). I’m up north and had a fantastic night of camping. Oh, it was so very peaceful. Amazing weather. The creeks look like chocolate milk so the fishing isn’t the greatest right now. Take care! — VT

  2. my_vantasy says:

    I had to laugh…Mount Dope…okay then. Not my kinda campground. The power blend vegetables look great–some of my favorites all together! I will be looking forward to those meals. I have decided to have vegetable skewers, aka kabobs, when I go camping later this month. Grill them over the fire and serve on a bed of rice with fresh fruit on the side. My son still eats meat, so he can easily add chicken, shrimp, or steak to his skewers. A few posts ago, you mentioned your health, but haven’t said anything since, so I’m hopeful everything is all right. We have had super high humidity recently, so be careful and take care of yourself if your weather is the same!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi! Just had a wonderful omelet with some of the power blend veggies and used them for supper, too! I’m in the boonies and have to stop at the store for another bag of veggies. They are helping so much with the blood sugar and oh… the taste! There will be another post in a day or so. The fishing is terrible right now but it’s relaxing here! Take care! I hope you get the cool weather we had (65 – low humidity last night) Oh yeah, aren’t veggie skewers yummy? You have me wanted to make some soon! 🙂 — VT