Late January Update

There’s a pool on the left side, just below the dam… There are some nice catfish lurking in there all year!

Hi and welcome to the blog!  Winter is back in force.  The picture above was taken at the Wapsipinicon River Dam in Anamosa.  In a few months pal Elijah and I will be fishing there.  It’s always a soothing drive along the river to check out the scenery.


The view from the drive-up window at work this morning


In recent days we got about six or so inches of snow.  On Friday we’re set to receive anywhere from 3 to 6 more inches of the white stuff.  With temps hovering near freezing the air can hold abundant amounts of moisture.  When old man winter gives a puff of his cold breath, we get accumulating snow.  It’s kind of pretty at least.

Jenny and Duke and I have been inside quite a bit lately.  Following that last camping trip we’d had a nasty cold blast of arctic, sub zero degree air.  In the meantime, I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning on the home base.  On these winter evenings it’s nice to settle back and enjoy some belly warming food.  Toward the end of the post is a recipe for some delicious tomato soup that I’ve been making in the slow cooker.


A USB rechargeable rainbow trout…


By the way, here’s a late Christmas present for the fur pals.  For about 10 bucks this cat toy was ordered from China.  A USB cord goes into the belly of the fish for recharging.  Though normally dormant, when Jenny slaps the fish, it wriggles on the floor and she goes crazy.   Click on the picture below and check out the amusing video of Jenny as it appears on Facebook.  She’s part of an international group of fans who love our tortoise shell (“tortie”) cats.


*** CLICK HERE ** to see Jenny vs. a Rainbow Trout


During the chilly weather I’ve been crocheting up a storm.  A friend’s mom gifted a big box of yarn and I’ve been cranking out lots of potholders.  A couple of them just got sent to buddy Johnnie.  I’m now making some extra durable ones for camping – quadruple strength!  I’ll show pictures on the next post.  They should work great for handling grill parts, hot Dutch ovens, etc.

There have also been some cooking projects.  Here are a couple of fun meals that have been enjoyed of late…



The five bluegills pictured above were caught at Jim’s pond this last fall.  With a little olive oil and kosher salt, they grilled up very nicely in the George Foreman grill at home… and came out healthier than deep frying.  Kitty Duke was a fan.

Below is a tomato soup recipe that I’ve been working on.  I love it because the cayenne pepper adds a wee bit of heat and some extra flavor.  The tomato paste adds a robust, tangy kick.  It might be too strong for some – you can cut back on the paste or try more half-n-half.  A person could also add in a lot of yummy things like sausage balls, tortellini, other pastas, you name it!  The thing I like is that the soup can all be mixed in a bag and cooked at the campground in a crockpot.  If a slow cooker is not available, try simmering everything (except for the half-and-half) in a saucepan about 45 minutes on medium-low heat.


Brad’s Easy Crockpot Tomato Cream Soup

1 – 28 ounce can of Hunts Crushed tomatoes. (Hunts is my favorite)
1 small can tomato paste
1+1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
4T real butter
1+1/2 cups half-n-half
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (or to taste)
1T Italian seasoning
1t Old Bay Seasoning
1/2t black pepper
1/4t to 1/2t cayenne pepper (optional)

Put all except the half-n-half into a crock pot.  Cook on low for 5 hours
stirring every hour or so.  After the onions are soft, puree the soup
in a blender or with an immersion blender.  I like to leave some
small bits in there.  Stir in the half-n-half and cook another half hour.


Well, that’s all for now!  We’ve got another storm on the way tomorrow.  We’re used to it in the Midwest!  Eventually the weather will moderate and some camping will occur again.  In the meantime, have a safe and happy rest of the winter.  Enjoy the superbowl!

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"

8 Responses to Late January Update

  1. Jo Harmon says:

    The soup looks good and I may have to try some.
    Jenny and her fish are so funny.
    You sure have quite the winter wonderland going on. Be safe on the roads.

    I miss crocheting so much I was tempted to try again but would hate to spend money on yarn and then can’t use it.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo! Thankfully the weather is better. The soup hit the spot. I’m already trying to come up with a new, healthy one. Cheeseburger chowder sounds good. I sure wish we had your Arizona weather! Take care! Can you send us some warm desert winds?

  2. One Vikinggirl says:

    Haha, I’d probably end up on the floor with the trout between my paws too if I got a chance – I mean hands! Enjoy the snow, I have none and I miss it.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Viking girl! LOL. I am the same way, of course. The cats are already kind of bored with the fish now. Sometimes when I release the recliner it is enough vibration to set the fish to wiggling. Unfortunately, my crocheting seems to be of more interest to the kitties. Now and then as the yarn feeds through my fingers it is wet with kitty slobber. 🙂 We might have more snow on the way. It’s pretty but not conducive to camping. 🙁 Take care!

  3. my_vantasy says:

    Wow, all that snow and we have nothing. We’ve had rain, and a little “wintry mix”, but no real accumulation. Everyone is afraid that we will get dumped on all at once. Even though I am a dog person, I concede that cats can be hilarious when they play. Go, Jenny, go! Does Duke like the fish or is Jenny too possessive to let him try? Fish looks good. It’s the one thing that I sometimes miss since going vegetarian.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi! Yes, Duke will play with the fish every now and then. He’s not much for playing though, opting to sit upright and very stoic. Now and then a thread of yarn grabs his attention and he goes wild. He also goes nuts over the fishpole type toys. As a former outdoor cat, Duke has that hunting cat instinct. It’s fun to watch Jenny and Duke playing together. They’re great company… I wish I could have a dog but being alone there’s nobody to let one out most of the time. I hear you about the vegetarian thing. I made egg salad last night and I’d forgotten how good meatless and taste! (I used green onions, paprika, and mustard powder to give it a “deviled flavor”…

  4. my_vantasy says:

    Let me clarify–the fish on the George Foreman grill looks good, not Jenny’s rainbow trout! LOL