Visiting Johnnie in Muscatine (and roof update)

Hi and welcome to the blog.  I hope all the friends are healthy and things are going well.  As chaotic as the world is right now, camping and fishing seem the best cure.



First though, I wanted to mention a friend who passed at the young age of 22.  I’d come to know this young man, “M.J.” through work.  We were galaxies apart in our view of the world but he was a fun kid to work with.  I remember one day he looked seriously at me and said, “Kirk or Picard?”  (A Star Trek reference about which Captain we preferred.)  It broke the tension!

About a week ago MJ’s car went off the road in a dark, rural area late at night and he was thrown from the vehicle.  I ventured out there recently.  To see the scene brings tears.  Rest in peace, buddy.  Our hearts are heavy without you!  May the angels be with you, MJ!



Fairport, Iowa along the Mississippi River


By the weekend things were calming down a bit.  On Sunday, I went to Muscatine to visit “Little Brother” Johnnie and camped along the Mississippi River.  It was a great visit and we had a lot of fun hanging out on Monday.


Vegetarian food can be yummy…


There was one little hitch.  Monday morning’s camping meal was much different than had been planned.  I was going to make a spicy pork breakfast burrito… only to find that I’d left the pork roast at home!  All that was in the van was cheese, high fiber tortillas, mushrooms, onions, and an avocado.  All was not lost though….  With what was on hand I made a vegetarian quesadilla (heavy on taco-spiced cheese!) on the griddle and it was heavenly!


1500 watt hot pot from Amazon (less than $20). It’s a great addition to the van for cold weather camping. I used it for tea but you could heat water for soups, instant potatoes, you name it.


Johnnie and I went shopping and hit thrift the stores in Davenport on Monday.  We bought a few things but overall just had fun hanging out and catching up.  When we got back to his place I made something that I’d seen on Facebook – a meatloaf with mashed potatoes and cheese baked on top.  I’d been cooking homemade mashed potatoes at home (adding cheese and bacon) and freezing packages of them for the winter.  The potatoes added a lot to the meatloaf… It’s kind of a poor man’s redneck version of shepherd’s pie.



Jonnie and I had a great visit.  I’ve got some more time off this week and next and have been fishing, working on cleaning at home, and putting away a LOT of cans and boxes donated by the food pantry and federal disaster relief folks.  Many of the items are good through 2022 and 2023.  While working on unloading the latest load, a roofing contractor stopped by to bid.


Better thee than me!


It’s been a challenge to get roofing done in Iowa due to the scope of the August 10 derecho storm.  It was the largest thunderstorm damage event in the history of the United States, exceeding the dollar cost of most hurricanes.  Many of the out-of-state roofing companies (called “storm chasers”) are bailing out and heading for warmer climates.  The insurance companies are warning that some do inferior work or take downpayments and just leave, never doing the work.  How do you sue someone 1000 miles away?  I’ve been abundantly cautious.

This guy did buddy Steve’s roof on Thursday and said he can do mine for a decent (but slightly painful in my opinion) price.  With the shingling season coming to an end due to cold weather, crews are getting laid off.  A few will do metal roofs later in the year weather and my roof pitch is pretty low (and safer!).  That’s helping because they need the work and it’s a one-day job.  Easy money for them!

So things are hopeful and slowly turning around.  I’ve been doing some fishing and will probably go out angling for walleye with Steve today.  The time off from work has proven therapeutic.  With a birthday looming, there might even be a short camping trip squeezed in before too long!  Miss Jenny would likely enjoy it as well.


A Sunday night camping treat… “Grandma Linda’s” Italian Wedding Cookies and Early Grey Tea…


Take care and safe and happy camping!  Stay warm and drink lots of tea!

Brad and Jenny and Duke
Jones County, Iowa

 111 total views,  1 views today

Bookmark the permalink.

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 Visiting Johnnie in Muscatine (and roof update)

  1. my_vantasy says:

    Vegetarian quesadilla–awesome! I bet the avocado on the side added to the overall deliciousness, too. So glad you had time to go visit Johnnie and just hang out together, especially after losing your other friend. I will pray for comfort for you and his family. So young…too young. High five on getting the roof taken care of before winter! Even if the price was more than you wanted to pay, you will not have to be stressed about snow and ice causing more damage. And I’m sure you and the kitties will be warmer, too.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi and thanks for the note. Still not sure on the roof… The contractor wanted to order materials but I said I need it in writing… that’s the last I’ve seen of him! LOL. I’ve got some other folks coming over soon to look at it. They won’t be able to do it till spring. I tarped it good for the winter. Just did a new post and made another vegetarian dish that was kind of fun. Take care! — VT

  2. Jo Harmon says:

    Well since your Birthday is tomorrow HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRAD!!
    Happy to hear you finally may be getting your roof fixed. Yesterday I had a new furnace put in talk about money $$$$ but it beats being cold and it has gotten cold. We go from extreme heat to lets freeze to death LOL
    The breakfast meal sounds OK to me. And a nice visit with Johnnie is always a bonus.
    So sad about your friend may he RIP and sorry for the loss to you and family

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo and thanks for the note! Life throws us a lot of curves be we get through them somehow. Glad the furnace is working now! We had 74 degrees here (normal is 55) this last week. IT sure felt nice! Take care and we’re almost to Thanksgiving!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *