Getting out into nature and enjoying cooking in the great outdoors is how I want to live. One of the best ways to do that is by RVing! I am so excited to announce that I am teaming up with Go RVing to show how easy it is to cook delicious meals around a campfire while you are exploring nature. Whether you are in a different state or at a nearby campground, RVing doesn’t have to limit the flavor of the food that you eat. Everything I will cook will be simple, easy and delicious. So to kick it all off, I have decided to cook some Campfire Surf & Surf.
The old Surf & Turf is a classic grilling recipe. But for all you seafood lovers out there, why not substitute the heartiness of the steak with a thick piece of salmon? Top that off with some skewered shrimp and veggies. Now you are talkin’ my language!
In my Campfire Surf & Surf recipe, you will first grill up a massive chunk of wild caught salmon over the fire. Seasoned with parsley, garlic, cayenne powder and more to make sure you have a savory and tangy fish. The same seasoning will go on the shrimp as well! This will balance the flavor of the food with the same seasoning on two very different seafoods. The tenderness of the salmon really complements the robust flavor of the shrimp to make sure you get that variety that you are looking for in a combo dish like this. Lastly, you will add some charred veggies cooked on a skillet/plancha over the fire. These veggies round out the whole meal with their salty and charred flavor.
My favorite part about this dish is how easy it is to cook. All the ingredients you can find on the road at any local grocery store! Plus, they do not take up a lot of space in your RV while still giving you delicious food. Stay tuned for more recipes to come while I cook over fire in an RV!
Yields: 2-4 Servings
Cook: 30 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Equipment Needed: Fire pit, wooden skewers, cast iron skillet/plancha, tongs, wood, and fire starters.
CAMPFIRE SURF & SURF
1 whole salmon (un-filleted)
1 lb. of shrimp (no shell & de-veined)
2 zucchini (diced)
2 yellow squash (diced)
1/2 white onion (cut into halfmoons)
1 tbsp of dried parsley
1 tbsp of minced garlic
2 tsp of cayenne powder
Sea salt & black pepper (to taste)
Using a fire starter, build your fire and let burn until it coals (about 15-20 minutes).
While the fire is burning, skewer the shrimp & lather both the shrimp and salmon with olive oil on all sides. Season both shrimp & salmon with dried parsley, minced garlic, cayenne powder, sea salt & black pepper.
Once fire is hot, season skillet/plancha with olive oil and start cooking zucchini, yellow squash and onions. Let cook until nicely charred & soft (about 10 minutes).
While veggies are cooking, place salmon on grill skin side down. Let cook for 8 minutes per side. Cook until internal temp reads 145F. PS: You can also smoke the salmon if you prefer!
Lastly, place skewered shrimp on grill and let cook.
On a crisp fall day, I stand on the shore of a lake that is sparkling with a million sunlit stars across it; the warm sun on my face making a noticeable contrast to the coolness of the breeze at my back. The day is a perfect blend of summer shorts and soft fall flannel shirts.
Flattop Mountain and the Bighorn flats seem to stand guard over the abundant wildlife in the valley floors where the golden leaves of the aspen trees are glowing with the backlighting of the sun.
The gentle breezes play along the lake surface, painting strokes of light sparkles as they move. It is the perfect backdrop to a day that breathes the promise of a rugged hike, then warm soup and fresh bread.
Rocky Mountain National Park is the crown jewel of Colorado’s National Parks and Monuments. It is located between Estes Park on the east side and Grand Lake on the west side, about an hour and a half drive northwest from Denver.
As one of the largest and most visited National Parks, averaging over 3 million visitors each year, the park boasts some of the highest elevation of all the National Parks (with over 75 peaks over 12,000 feet), is home to the headwaters of the Colorado River and Cache la Poudre River, and straddles the Continental Divide. The park is open year-round, and at any time of the year a visitor can quickly see how special “Rocky” is.
Rocky Mountain National Park was established in 1915 by Woodrow Wilson as the ninth National Park. Today it encompasses over 415 square miles ranging from 7,840 feet by the east park entrance to 14,259 feet at the summit of Longs Peak.
Over 95% of the park is wilderness, spanning from the lower moosey marshes, over the moraines, to the alpine tundra, and then the high snowy peaks of the Never Summer Range.
More than a third of the park is above treeline (the altitude at which trees can grow). Trail Ridge Road, which allows travel 48 miles through the park from Estes Park to Grand Lake, is the highest paved roadway in America topping out at a driving elevation of 12,183 feet, and one of 11 designated America’s Byways in Colorado.
Trail Ridge Road is not maintained during the snowy winter months but makes for a spectacular summer travel route.
Although the park sees many visitors each year, there is plenty of space to get away from people and enjoy the wilderness. The park affords exceptional access to some of the most iconic Colorado scenery and high alpine ecosystems.
While only 100 miles of roads (28 of those on unpaved roads) are available for vehicle access, there are over 355 miles of backcountry hiking trails! There are 147 lakes and 450 miles of streams, many with fish including the threatened greenback cutthroat trout.
Some of Colorado’s oldest rocks can be found in the mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park, carved into exquisite landscapes by glaciers and rivers. Several small glaciers are still found in the high peaks within the park.
The park is listed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural (UNESCO) international biosphere reserve and globally important bird area. Portions of the park’s montane, subalpine, and alpine ecosystems are managed as research natural areas for scientific and educational purposes.
The park has five visitor centers and four RV-friendly campgrounds that are open usually from late May to mid-September. Backcountry camping is also available year-round. Additional camping options can be found in Estes Park as well as in and around Grand Lake.
Do you read through RV blogs and websites, dreaming about traveling when your kids leave the house? I’ve got news for you—camping in an RV is something you and your kids can do right now.
The RV lifestyle scares away most families with the idea of being cramped into a small space with impatient children or moody teenagers. Still, those brave enough to try it out often discover what other families have been missing. It’s true, traveling with kids can be hectic…or it can be the chance you need to connect as a family.
Choosing a location
When choosing a location to camp with your family, keep in mind the types of activities your kids are wanting to do. Are they aspiring athletes? Nature fanatics? Do they like to swim or ride bikes? Be sure to choose a campsite with plenty to do. Some of the most kid-friendly campsites are the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, a campground franchise with 85 locations scattered throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Many of these parks offer waterslides, swimming pools, and bounce houses, not to mention character appearances from Yogi and Boo Boo. Some U.S. National Park campgrounds offer Junior Ranger programs, which may appeal to younger children.
Always be aware of how family-friendly your chosen campsite is. While kids are welcome in some parks, others may find them disruptive. Some RV parks even charge a fee for each child. If you are nervous about disturbing your neighbors, boondocking may be a good option for you. Park on legal dispersed camping grounds, where your kids can run around with plenty of space.
Safety with kids
When driving with kids, safety is the number one priority. Always make sure that everyone is wearing a seatbelt, even when riding in the RV. In some states, seatbelts in RVs are not legally required, but they should always be worn regardless.
Make sure you choose the right size RV for your family. Class C vehicles are safer, but for a family of 6 or more, a Class A RV might be the only option. If little ones need to sleep in overhead bunks, consider bringing along a bedrail. Always keep printed versions of your kids’ medical records with you in case of an emergency.
Keeping kids happy on the road
That said, your kids can be safe while still having fun. Rather than letting children roam around the RV while it is in motion, take breaks to get out and stretch at least every 4 hours.
Try not to do a 10-hour drive all in one day. Instead, break up the trip into one-night stops at campsites where kids can swim and play. If you have infants or toddlers, schedule your driving during nap times. Trust me, you’ll be thankful for the lack of screaming.
Although it’s okay to let your kids watch movies in the car, there are quite a few other methods of entertainment that you might want to try first. Try to involve your children in the travel process as much as possible. Pick up some of those old-fashioned paper maps from AAA and show them how to plot out the trip.
Practice reading signs and billboards along the way, and do your best to answer their questions thoughtfully. Play games like car bingo or make a list of all the states you see on license plates. Listen to music as a family and sing along. Car rides don’t have to be a time to tune everyone out.
If you need quiet time, bring travel trays, paper, and crayons for your little artists. It can also be helpful to put together a “goodie bag” and reward good behavior with a new activity each leg of the trip (think play-doh, puzzle books, or magnet dolls). The kids will have fun, and you’ll get some peace and quiet.
Unplugging from technology
No one wants to go on a family vacation just to sit on their phones all day. Camping trips are about being together without electronic distractions, but if you have teenagers, this can be hard to achieve.
When choosing where to stay, consider a campsite that doesn’t offer WiFi. Better yet, leave electronics at home and plan alternate activities. Even older kids (when coaxed into participating) will enjoy s’mores, campfire sing-alongs, and board games.
No matter how old your kids are, make an effort to spend time with them while camping. Read books about the region in which you’re staying and learn about local wildlife. Bring along outdoor games like croquet or cornhole, and if you have time, make a personalized scavenger hunt to complete together.
If you’re near a lake, take your kids fishing or kayaking. Many National Parks offer family-friendly hikes or geocaching (hunting for small treasures based on GPS coordinates). The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area now offers a refined form of geocaching called ParkCaching.
On rainy days, take the opportunity to teach your kids a new game, like chess or cards. Spend time as a family and make your next trip one you won’t forget.
Learning on the road
Kids often learn the most by experiencing things for themselves, so why not take advantage of some fun ways to learn during your family trip? If you choose to camp near a city, visit a zoo or museum.
Point out plants and animals while hiking, and don’t forget to let your kids roam a bit. Encourage kids of all ages to keep travel journals or scrapbooks to document their observations. Let them draw or glue in pictures of the trip. For younger children, this is a great opportunity to practice writing, though you may have to help them spell some words.
Full-time RVers with school-age kids may want to look into roadschooling. Like homeschooling, it allows you to develop lessons for your kids, but with the added bonus of incorporating real-world activities and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Traveling is the perfect opportunity to teach your kids how to be life-long learners.
Keeping it clean
When you’re living in a 400 sq. ft. motorhome, your space is bound to get messy; bringing kids along increases the chance by about a million percent. If you don’t want to lose your children under heaps of toys and blankets, it’s important to stay organized.
It can be helpful to give each child his or her own plastic shoebox to fill with whatever toys, papers, pencils, and stuffed animals they wish to bring along. This sets a limit on the number of toys they are allowed. Another way to free up space is to set up a separate “play tent” outside the RV, where you can stuff all toys, games, and books whenever they’re not being played with.
You also want to make sure that you’re not bringing too much of the outdoors in. Before letting your children inside, make sure all shoes are removed and sandy feet are rinsed. A doormat and a small broom are essential for the prevention of a dirty RV. You may want to invest a sack for dirty laundry and a cheap plastic tray for toys or dishes.
Be sure to involve your kids in campsite cleanups; believe it or not, many children enjoy being new given responsibilities. You can even make chore time into a game—try playing “Simon Says” with clearing the table or have competitions to see who can gather the most firewood.
One of the best parts of a camping trip comes after dark. No trip is complete without a blazing campfire. Use this time to circle up and hold a family sing along with silly camp songs or have a marshmallow-toasting contest.
Kids will love roasting hot dogs on a stick. You can also set aside a special snack to have only during RV trips—your kids will learn to associate this food tradition with family camping and have something to look forward to each time. When putting little ones to bed, maintain the same nighttime routine that you follow at home. Bring along your child’s blanket or pacifier and try to put them to bed around the usual time.
Even after the campfire dies down, nighttime can be a fun time to play with your kids. Reduce stress by buying glow stick bracelets or necklaces; the kids will love it, and you’ll be able to see them.
Lay down and gaze at the stars. There are many astronomy apps that can help you identify constellations. Play glow-in-the-dark bowling with your kids by placing glow sticks inside water bottles and setting them up like pins. You may want to watch a movie together under the stars or catch fireflies in a jar. Camping with your kids is the time to relive your childhood, so have fun.
When bringing along the whole family for an RV vacation, be flexible. Things might not go exactly how you want them to, but that’s okay. Remember—every predicament you get yourselves into, though it may seem like a stressful problem at the time, will become a great story to tell when you get back home.
As our 2-year nomadversary approaches, we have been thinking about all of the lessons we have learned during our time full-time RV living; and boy have we learned some lessons!!!If you have also transitioned from a sticks and bricks home to living in an RV full-time, I am sure you will relate…
We have been very vulnerable in sharing our lives with our tiny humans in a tiny space in hopes of inspiring you to collect more experiences during your time here on Earth, so here we are again being a total open book with our top lessons learned from full-time RV living!
Lesson # 1: It’s Still Life
Just like living in a brick and sticks home, things will happen. We have learned how to just smile and laugh when unexpected things occur.When we took our RV out for a test run a few weeks before hitting the road full-time, our neighbor (who was also full-timing) told us, “Things will happen, learn how to just go with it!” This was his biggest tip to us. I swear the universe wanted to prep us early because that weekend before going back to our sticks and bricks, one of our landing legs did not want to go up!
We have learned that kids leave faucets running, rainstorms cause chaos, and sometimes things just stop working, After every “terrible” unannounced situation life has thrown at us, we have been able to laugh about it and learn a lesson from it as well.
Lesson # 2: Slow Down
We learned this very quickly after crossing the country from Florida to California in less than a week (just writing that makes me exhausted) after only being on the road for 2 months!
After talking to many RVers, they have also learned this lesson the hard way because they have experienced getting burned out.I understand that it is so exciting at first that it’s easy to try to do it all, but trust us, (we learned the hard way) not only is it exhausting, but you do not get to enjoy yourself as much.
When we learned the art of slowing down, we began to remember our experiences more clearly vs feeling like we had run a marathon and every memory was starting to mesh together.It also allowed us to really explore the area we were visiting including the non-tourist attractions.
We also learned the art of not driving 10+ hours in a day, the maximum we ever do now is 4 hours and the least we have done has been 25 minutes.Growing up in NYC, I didn’t realize how much I had been programmed to live my life in a hurry for absolutely no reason and I almost feel guilty that I had kind of rubbed off on my better half without either of us realizing it.So, I am very grateful for learning this lesson thanks to this lifestyle because our kids are learning the art of slowing down as well (#priceless).
Lesson #3: Collect Experiences
Coming from an 1,800+ sq. ft sticks and bricks home where I had been conditioned to fill every nook and cranny just because I had the room I quickly realized this was not possible in our lovely house on wheels.Not only is there not a ton of space, but there are also weight limits in the RV I had to keep in mind.
We have been determined to make every day memorable vs filling ourselves up with junk we truly don’t need.Our slogan “Collect Experiences, Not Junk” came to me on a random night as I looked through our recent adventures at the time and realized how joyous my heart was just from thinking back on all of these experiences.
If it had not been for this lifestyle, I am not sure we would have seen and done as much as we have.It is one thing seeing videos and reading about it and it’s a whole other story living the experience yourself.We have definitely collected more experiences in the last 23 months than most people do in 10 years thanks to RVing.
You can imagine what it’s like to go kayaking in uncharted waters, fish across the country, climb up a 1,300 foot mountain in the rugged Upper Peninsula of Michigan, sit in an actual NASA room, walk through a cave that used to be a copper mine, hike through the Poconos to find a huge hidden waterfall that can only be seen by climbing up the mountain, go swimming in a spring fed pool in the middle of the Rocky Mountains…. but your imagination is nothing like collecting that experience.Doing this with our children beside us has been life changing because we know in our hearts we are helping them realize the power of collecting experiences simply through living.
Lesson # 4: Research RVs
This lesson right here could have saved us a bit of a headache in the beginning.We were one of those couples that dove in head first with zero knowledge about RVs!We ended up picking a fifth wheel (we didn’t even know what that meant) and learned very quickly that the weight was a little too much for our truck at the time.We had already made the purchase, so we ended up having to purchase a truck that handled the weight and that also fit all of us because our truck at the time was only a 3-seater.
I even recommend renting the type of RV you are looking for on a site like Outdoorsy because then you can really get a feel for the type of layout and you will meet the owners of the RV and get to ask them questions too!Quite frankly, if someone had told me this when we first looked at RVs, I would have totally done it! Learn from us: do more research on type, length weight, diesel or gas, etc.
Lesson # 5: Meet Others on the Same Path
In the beginning, it was a pretty lonely journey.Our friends and family did not really get our lifestyle and they did not understand the landing legs, sewer fun times and all the “funny” lessons we were learning.We began to connect with more fellow RVers online (thank you Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter) and we quickly found so many “crazy” folks like us!
We have slowly began meeting each other in real life and collecting experiences with these folks too! It has made the journey that much more memorable to know that there are folks just like us out there escaping the chains of what we were told our entire lives was “normal.”We love our friends and family, and of course, keep them up to date, but until you live in an RV full-time, you won’t truly understand all the lessons this lifestyle throws at you.
Thank you so much for reading about our lessons learned!We are on a mission to inspire you through our actions to collect experiences of your own instead of junk while living a more intentional life.We would love to hear your thoughts below and any lessons you have learned from living in an RV full-time.
Cooking while camping can seem like a daunting task. Problems like food storage, time management, and limited counter space can make having home-cooked meals seem impractical. Even with access to electricity, you might be tempted to skip the wholesome meals and head to a fast food restaurant.
On the other hand, it’s important to remain happy and healthy on the road. Preparing ahead of time for what you’re planning to cook can turn a slightly intimidating experience into a simple and efficient one.
Spice mixes: Rather than packing loads of individual spices, choose from a few versatile combinations. Taco Seasoning, Italian Seasoning, and Pumpkin Pie Spice are some great options.
Canned goods: Reduce cooking time and improve storage by stocking up on canned beans, tomatoes, and fruit. Cans are cheap and easy to stack—just remember to pack a can opener.
Sauces: If possible, mix up your own sauces and dressings from scratch before you begin a trip. Homemade sauces will taste better and can be easily preserved in mason jars.
Dry goods: Be sure to pack staple foods such as rice, pasta, dried fruits, oats, and nuts, especially if you’re planning to cook your own dishes.
Snacks: Try to find healthy, non-perishable snacks like trail mix or beef jerky. It helps to have something you can throw in your backpack for a hike or day at the beach.
Baking mixes: Instead of filling your cupboards with flour, baking soda, sugar, and other baking essentials, use pre-made flour blends. You might be surprised by how much you can make with a box of pancake mix.
Local foods: Try to find fruits and vegetables at local farmers’ markets or roadside stands. If you’re near a fishing source, plan your meal around freshly-caught trout. Pack non-perishables in your pantry and eat fresh when you can.
Slow cooker/Pressure cooker: Although they consume more electricity than other methods, slow cookers and pressure cookers are convenient for days when you’re short on time. The Instant Pot serves as both, with 9 different settings for cooking meals.
Solar oven: Though it may seem unreliable, a good solar oven can be a worthwhile investment. Even without direct sunlight, some can reach temperatures up to 400° Fahrenheit, allowing you to cook almost anything as well as sanitize your drinking water.
Microwave oven: Though it can take up a lot of your precious counter or cupboard space, a microwave oven offers more convenience than any other cooking method, as it can quickly cook or reheat almost any food.
Aluminum foil: Never underestimate the power of good old aluminum foil. Whether cooking on the stove, in the oven, or over the fire, foil is often a necessity.
Below are some easy recipes to cook in your RV or campsite. Try them out when you’re craving a home-cooked meal, either for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Enjoy the smell of Thanksgiving all year round with this easy-to-make scramble. Using nonperishable stuffing mix, you can have it ready to serve it as a savory breakfast, lunch, or dinner in less than 15 minutes. Cook in a cast-iron skillet over the fire or a camping stove, or use the sauté feature on an Instant Pot.
Omelettes are another easy dish that can be served any time of the day. Requiring only a few basic ingredients, you can easily whip it up in a cast iron skillet. Add whatever’s available to you—basil, pine nuts, mushrooms, tomatoes, or cheese.
Spice up your boring sandwiches by throwing them on the grill. Fill your panini with meat, cheese, and condiments of your choice, then brush the outside with butter or olive oil. Wrap the sandwiches in aluminum foil and place on a camping grill with a brick or cast iron skillet on top.
For simple preparation and easy cleanup, cook pasta, meat, and vegetables in the same cast iron skillet, either over the open fire or on a camping stove. Try this recipe for a wholesome spin on macaroni and cheese.
Whip up breakfast for the whole family in just five minutes using an Instant Pot or another pressure cooker. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, oatmeal can be made on a camping stove in about 15 minutes.
Throw together this easy dinner on a night that you’re in a rush. Wrapped in foil, these fajitas can be cooked in an oven, on a grill, or in the ashes of the campfire. The best part? There are no dishes to wash!
For a refreshing lunch, mix up a quick chicken salad using avocado instead of mayonnaise. Since it lacks condiments, this meal saves room in your fridge and is a bit healthier. Serve on hamburger buns, lettuce, or half of a fresh avocado.
Railroads conquered the mountain passes of the west long before highways were constructed. Much engineering was required to construct a rail grade gentle and straight enough to accommodate the locomotives along with the freight and passenger cars they carried.
The railroad over Washington State’s Steven Pass was no exception, requiring extensive tunnels, fills and soaring trestles. The initial line which was opened in 1893, went over the summit of Stevens Pass via a series of switchbacks. To improve the line, the digging of a 2.6-mile long tunnel to eliminate the switchbacks was commenced in August 1897 and completed on December 20th, 1900. While the tunnel improved travel times across the pass, snow slides plagued the line eventually resulting in one of the worst train disasters in history.
Early on the morning of March 1st, two trains, which had become trapped on the pass by snow slides, where caught in a massive avalanche which swept both trains off the tracks into the canyon below killing most of the people on both trains. The final fatality count was 96, which included passengers and railroad employees that had come to help clear the tracks.
To prevent a repeat of this tragic event, extensive snow sheds were built over the rail line while a longer tunnel that would be built at a lower elevation to avoid avalanche prone areas was planned. The new tunnel with an impressive length of 7.8 miles was opened in 1929.
Today the abandoned portion of the old rail line, including the area where the disaster occurred, has been turned into an interpretive trail known as the Iron Goat Trail. The trail offers miles of hiking opportunities from three trailheads including a section suitable for those using a wheelchair. Interpretive panels along the way tell the story of construction challenges and the disaster.
When you go:
As mentioned, there are three areas to access the trail.
Scenic Trailhead just off Highway 2: Easy RV access at N47° 42.680 W121° 09.790
Martin Creek Trailhead: Several miles on a gravel road to reach, use your tow vehicle or dinghy. N47° 43.764 W121° 12.409
Wellington Trailhead: Rough asphalt to get there. N47° 44.834 W121° 07.655
A great option for enjoying the whole trail is dropping your RV at the Scenic Trailhead and taking your tow vehicle or dinghy to the Wellington Trailhead and starting your hike there, which results in a one way downhill hike.
Stevens Pass Ski area offers overnight electric sites for $25 per night. There is also a large place to disperse camp just off Highway 2 on Forest Service Road 6095 between the Scenic and Wellington Trailheads at N47° 43.196 W121° 07.270
Note that the turnoff for this spot is only accessible via eastbound Highway 2. There are also additional places to disperse camp farther up Forest Service Road 6095 but are best scouted out in advance before driving to them with your RV.
Hiking historic rail lines and remembering those that perished on them years ago, a solemn adventure in RVing!