January Hiatus from the Outdoors

Hi and welcome to the blog!  It’s been a crazy busy start to the new year.  In speaking with friends at different businesses, we’re seeing the same thing… Some of the young people are quitting after getting the latest round of stimulus money.  One told me it’s no big deal ’cause we’re going to get $2000 eventually.  I told him not to count his chickens and don’t spend his money…  I’m saving mine!


A cool little message on the castle plans reminds us of the relaxation benefits of woodworking. Whoever wrote this didn’t have a cat like Jenny!   J/K


My big Sis inspired me to make Monday a “boundary day”.  I’d agreed to a quick shift at work to let a friend run a critical errand… but no more on my day off.  Much of the afternoon was spent working on the cat castle project.  It felt SO good to just put life on hold for a bit and turn the phone on “Do Not Disturb”.  Whether it’s clay, crochet, or wood, making something from scratch is always fun!



Just a side note… the tomcat, Duke, is still with us but is slipping a little more each day.  He still knows me… but time is apparently very short.  Over the weekend I ordered this urn for the ashes.  It looks just like him and is in his favorite upright position – the reason he was named Duke.  The size is just right to sit on top of the wooden castle.


An old, empty shaving gel can… It’s amazing the cool ideas you find on the Internet! That somewhat jagged cut is now smooth and curvy.


Yesterday all of the platform pieces were fashioned.  The fancy stair supports and column reinforcements were cut with the new scroll saw… But sanding them was a pain in the butt without a machine.  The Internet provided an ingenious way to accomplish this.  Using an object such as a can, some PVC pipe, or a wooden dowel, a spray adhesive such as Locite is applied to hold a layer of sandpaper, and voila… You have an object for smoothing curved surfaces.  I plan to do something similar using a straight board to simulate a belt sander.


The “turd bird” supervising the work on the column and stair supports for the spiral staircase.


Kitty Jenny continues to be a brat.  At one point she wanted to be on the table while I was making scroll saw cuts.  Not cool.  One slap of the blade would be a quick de-claw!  But nonetheless, she posed for pics and is interested.  It’s been said that cats are curious and she’s no exception!

For now, it’s back to work in a few minutes.  There won’t be any camping or fishing for 2 or 3 weeks as this project is completed in the spare time.  Outdoor fun can wait a bit.  The woodworking is relaxing – just as much as fishing – and it’s a lot warmer inside!


This is “rime ice” and it comes from freezing fog pushed by a wee bit of wind and impacting cold surfaces.


There will be more updates as the wooden palace comes together.  I hope the friends have a great start to the year and for most all of us, stay warm.

Safe and happy camping and travels!

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"

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