Pre-Thanksgiving Trip – Part One

RIP fishing pal Kenny – he passed today. In the 90s we worked together and these many years later, we fished together. He was an awesome friend.


Hi and thanks for visiting. It was a tough day today as we lost Kenny, a long time friend.  It hit me pretty hard.  He made a big impression when I was going through a very bad time in the 1990s.  His friendship steered me away from a severe depression and I still fish with a gift he gave me almost 30 years ago… I will show it in the next post…


Sign as you enter Guttenberg, Iowa…. They always have cool sayings.


Things lined up perfectly for the Sunday / Monday trip.  The weather was perfect – mid 40s and no precipitation.  Due to a scheduling fluke, I had three days off.  Also, since I will be working on Thanksgiving, this little trip north seemed like the perfect way to celebrate, be thankful, and have some fun.


South Cedar Creek in Central Clayton County, Iowa. It is one of the smaller trout streams.


I overslept on Sunday, took forever to get the van packed, etc… and didn’t leave town till 1:00.  At the first stop, South Cedar creek, no keeper trout were caught but I had a chance to walk about a mile and a half and explore new holes like the one above…  I came close to exploring one nice fishing hole feet first…but the weeds kept me from falling in…  The hip still hurts!  By this time it was getting late and there was only once chance to get any keepers.  Rather than give up I decided to face the challenge, hobbling with all possible alacrity!


A farm in Central Clayton County. It was such a peaceful, post-harvest scene.


The next stop was over to nearby Buck Creek where I walked/limped about 3/4 mile to a favorite hole.  In short order, a couple of rainbow trout hit and went on the stringer.  Then all heck broke loose as I tried some worms for bait.  The left pole was suddenly yanked toward the water.  I lunged and hit the ground to save it… At the same time, the right pole starting being dragged too!  It was necessary to roll over and hold the second pole down with my gut.  Each pole had a nice brown trout… The last trout of the limit was another a rainbow.  I laughed and thanked God for the wonderful fish – easily one of the best angling experiences in many years!


The fish were caught in the pool in front of the embankment at the bottom of the photo. If the pole had dropped it would be “Bye-Bye”


By now shadows were starting to appear and the sun was setting behind the hills.  I hurried and field dressed (heads, fins, guts, tail) the fish.  There was little time to get out of the woodsy countryside… The deer are in rutting season and are plentiful on the roads!


There was a reason to be happy. Though the fish are not trophy caliber, I make fish chowder and 3 fish equal four meals!


Leaving the trout stream, I hauled butt out of the area and headed to Pike’s Peak campground, hoping to get set up and cook a good evening meal.  But a wrong turn took me out of the way.  Once registered at the campground, the pre-Thanksgiving meal had to be made in the van.


Sundown… and it didn’t take long to get dark!


The side dishes were made earlier and warmed up (which turned out to be a good idea!).  The meat was “Country Ham” from Burger’s Smokehouse in California, Missouri.  Sis bought me a sliced half-ham.  This stuff is cured and aged.  The flavor is incredible.  The little salad is a new favorite… a low sugar version of “Watergate Salad”.   While the original, sugary dessert is even better, my sugar-free version is addictive!  The recipe is below the camping meal picture….  (Just an update – I’m now using dehydrated cranberries and pecans in the salad for extra taste!)


The light green of the salad was altered by the flash. The items on the left plate had to be heated on a griddle over the camping burner. It works!


Brad’s Lower Sugar Waterford Salad

1 eight ounce tub of sugar free Cool Whip
1 envelope of sugar free pistachio pudding mix
20 ounce can of pineapple in its juice, drained
1/4 – 1/3 chopped nuts (I like walnuts or pecans)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.  Eat some!
Then put it all back in the Cool Whip bowl,
refrigerate overnight and take it camping!


By the time all was said and done, I’d put over 3 miles in walking over pasture land and trails.  The body was so very tired!  But what an amazingly fun time!  The weather was perfect and it finally felt like there wasn’t a care in the world!  After watching a favorite episode of Star Trek in the van, the body drifted off to sleep for a tranquil eleven hours of sleep..


I stopped to chat with a couple of cows. With a soft voice, they were willing to watch but were socially distancing…


Monday brought more fun, pictures, and outdoor adventures.  The next post will be coming up in a couple of days.

2020 has taught me to enjoy every moment, cherish every blessing, and relax when the body needs rest.  There have been a lot of difficult times this year but nature is still beautiful, God is still good, and there is so very much to be grateful for!

Thanks for visiting!  Safe and happy camping!


Starting to cook the chowder… That’s a chunk of brown trout in the middle. Partway through I take the fish out, remove the skin, slide the meat off the bones, and put the flesh back in…


Brad and Jenny and Duke (who liked the fish chowder)
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"

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