If you haven’t seen me in person, since I got back from my vacation to the Wild West, you haven’t heard my speal about how important it is for everyone to surround themselves with nature every once in a while. You haven’t sat next to me while I breeze through my 500+ photos from the trip, each with a story behind it. You haven’t seen my face light up the way it does only after a trip like this.
I’m sorry I can’t get together with each of you over a cup of iced tea and tell you about it. What I can do is summarize it much faster here on this blog.
I can tell you that on this trip to Badlands National Park in South Dakota, Hot Springs State Park, Grand Tetons National Park and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, and Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota, I hiked my butt off (almost literally). I just love hiking, and I love nature, so for me, it doesn’t get better than hiking the rugged mountainsides of Wyoming. The highlights were walking up to a hidden waterfall and an overlook of the Grand Tetons one day, and walking down from a snow-covered mountain another day. All.the.way.down.
The jokes from the trip include the time we ran out of gas because when we had stopped to fill up, everyone thought someone else had done it. The time I got pulled over (for the first time ever) because I was going six over the speed limit in Wyoming. The time my friend scared us all into thinking there was a bear outside the tent, when really it was our other friend snoring.
Camping was interesting. My family has taken many trips to the far corners of our country, into the big, bad wilderness. But then we’d stay in a comfy, plush hotel bed each night. This trip wasn’t like that. We had to hike in 90-degree temperatures, sleep in 30-degree temperatures, cook over a fire, store everything with a scent away from where bears could reach it, and wash up via lake, bucket or shower that cost $3.75 to use.
At first, I wasn’t sure I’d make it through the week. But each day, camping got easier, and each day, we had more adventures hiking, swimming, sightseeing… and eating. Choosing a healthy campfire menu isn’t the easiest, but with like-minded people, it’s possible.
Camping soon? Contact me, your certified health coach who now has ample advice on healthy camping!
Here is one recipe that I’m sharing. My friend made the marinade ahead of time at home. When we got to camp, we placed fresh veggies and the marinade in a large Ziploc bag and shook it. An hour later, we placed them on a pan covered with foil and let them sauté over the open flames of our fire. Eaten with toasted bread or wraps, it tasted delectable.
Finishing it up with homemade hot cocoa over the fire didn’t hurt.
One last tidbit of wisdom to share: we all travel to man-made attractions (Disney World) and beaches (Florida, Southern California) but we don’t all travel to the western states that house our majestic Rocky Mountains. Why is that? Is it because not everyone could handle the strenuous hikes and drives up and down the swerving trails? That could be. But we fly thousands of miles to visit distant countries without seeing the beauty in our own. So many Americans miss out on the vast, natural beauty filling our home country.
Go there. I’m telling you, it’d be impossible to be disappointed. Stay in a hotel if you must. Rent a four-wheel drive. But please, go spend some time in these powerful mountains, along the speedy creeks, igniting geysers, rugged caves and dominant waterfalls.
There is something so inspiring, so humbling, about letting go of the man-made technology and learning to survive in Mother Nature.
(You can also make this anytime at home with your stove.)
4-5 cups raw vegetables (whatever you have on hand- we used a broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green pepper and mushrooms)
5 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Whisk together all ingredients except vegetables. Allow to sit for at least an hour, or make before the trip and keep it in a Tupperware container.
Pour veggies and marinade into a large Ziploc bag and shake until veggies are evenly coated. Allow to sit for 30 to 60 minutes.
Cover the bottom of a pan with tinfoil. Pour veggies onto the pan in a flat layer.
Place on top of campfire grill. Move veggies around every couple minutes.
Take veggies off of grill after five to 10 minutes, depending how cooked you like them. (Ours got a little burnt, but I enjoyed them that way!)
Toast slices of bread or wraps on the same pan, without tinfoil. Flip after 1-2 minutes.
Place veggies on bread/wrap and enjoy. Serves 4.