Another Birthday Under the Belt

… and still alive!


Hi and welcome to the blog… I won’t tell ya how old this fisherman turned today but if you look at the speedometer on the van, it will give you a pretty good clue!

2020 has not been the best of years… Right now we’re experiencing a massive Covid 19 outbreak in Jones County.  It was bound to happen at some point with our aging population and state prison nearby.  Many people are getting sick, a lot of workers at local businesses are getting paid or unpaid time off if they’ve come in contact with anyone infected, etc.  This too shall pass over time, we hope.  Even the local gas station was locked down tonight – only card purchases at the gas pump were allowed.


Steve and I were walleye fishing on Friday…


In the meantime, I’ve been healthy as a horse {one advantage to not partying at bars or in close proximity to others} and have been getting lots of fishing time in.  It’s actually to the point where it’s time to be working on the housework more than going angling… But then again, tonight Mason, a local friend, told me about a place where he got a 3 pound walleye…  It’s guaranteed I’ll be out there soon.   🙂


New lucky fishing hat and a 15″+ walleye… Just enough for a meal!


Steve and I went fishing on Friday.  Mainly the carp were biting but I’m getting better at teasing up the walleyes.  This one hit pretty hard.  I released him into the grease on the Sunday / Monday camping trip.  Walleye is considered by many to be the best tasting freshwater fish around here.  It’s right up there as a favorite!  This one was just large enough to be legal and that works for me!

Sunday was the birthday eve camping trip.  Instead of venturing too far, I decided to stay close to home.  With a possible major roof expenditure looming, it’s not a time to go gallivanting around far NE Iowa.  The van sleeps just as comfortably most anywhere!  The trip consisted of a peaceful evening, a great meal, and a pleasant (well, not quite) night’s sleep.



The pre-birthday dinner was fried walleye and potatoes, a cool new casserole, and some amazing carrot cake cheesecake (a gift from my Sis who also had a birthday today!) from Junior’s in New York.  For a person who loves both cheesecake and carrot cake, it was heaven on earth!  The easy vegetarian casserole was a seat-of-the-pants experiment that actually turned out terrific.  I’m still eating on it for the next two days…  If you like the unique flavor of asparagus, this is a step up that using canned green beans.

Asparagus Mushroom Casserole

1 pound of fresh asparagus, snapped into 1″ or smaller pieces
8 oz container of fresh white mushrooms (sliced is easier)
3.5 oz envelope of garlic pepper french fried onions (Wal-mart)
1 envelope of pre-cooked long grain wild rice blend
1 can cream of asparagus soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
5 or 6 slices of wrapped American cheese


Directions:  Mix everything together except for the cheese and rice.  Place in a
non-stick 8×8 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for about 45 minutes.  Add
in the cheese and rice, stirring until the cheese is melted in.  Bake another 15 min.
Note – I mixed all of the onions into the dish.  You could bake half on top during the
last 15 minutes or so — just watch to make sure they don’t get too crispy!



The good meal put my lights out for the evening.  As I leaned back to watch Star Trek and drift off to sleep some winds buffeted the van pretty bad.  It scared the devil out of me!  It looks like we had a rainstorm.  But by the time the body woke up, I was a year older  and well rested. Jenny and Duke were there to greet me and it felt good to be home again.


Not a soul around… We were 20 degrees above normal but no neighbors in the campground…


Tomorrow is Tuesday and the birthday is almost past.  It was a fun day and very little got accomplished around the house.  Between the election drama, the roof situation, work concerns, all that “schtuff”… it’s had me a little down in the dumps.  The contractor who seemed interested in my roof said he was going to order materials but I said “Not until I get a BID…  Gotta have it in writing.”  I’ve not seen or heard from him since.  So over the weekend it was back up on the roof putting down a heavier tarp for the winter.  No sprains or broken bones, thankfully…   🙂

So what is next?  I do plan to do a post on Thursday or Friday.  The van has been to a lot of places and on Thursday it’s going to another unusual destination – one I am curious to visit once, and perhaps not again for some time!   🙂  We’ll leave it at that for now.  In the meantime, I hope everyone is safe and happy and enjoying the autumn as we approach the end of the year.

Happy camping!  Live long and prosper!

Brad and Jenny and Duke
Jones County, Iowa

He told me that the cheese part smelled good but where’s the beef? Mister Duke’s favorite treat is sharing a double cheeseburger.


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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"

2 Responses to Another Birthday Under the Belt

  1. Jo Harmon says:

    Happy Birthday Brad!
    So who said you can only celebrate 1 day you can do it up all month long LOL
    Nice looking fish. I may try the recipe I think I have all the ingredients.
    Smart move with the roofer guy.
    It turned pretty cold here so glad I spent the money on the new furnace it was in the 30’s again last night and will be tonight too.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo and thank you! It’s been a 3 day celebration. I only got one card in the mail but over 70 well-wishes on FB and that really made it fun! The last item on the birthday to do list is to make a giant pork tenderloin sandwich… They are so popular here in Iowa. It’s too big for one meal but something really fun and tasty to prepare.

      That cold weather is huge departure from what you had a few weeks ago. We’d become accustomed to 30s recently and then the temperatures went to the mid 70s. It felt like 90 degrees and I had to keep checking the thermometer to make sure it was not covid. LOL. Things are really bad here right now but I’m staying safe and wearing a faceshield.

      Take care and stay warm with that new furnace! 🙂 VT

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