Quite a few folks have told me that they love these trip reports the most and I’m so glad because that means that I can quit cooking and developing recipes and just go on vacation. Thanks! Y’all are the best.
We left off Paleo Camping Tips Part 1 after Saturday’s breakfast of gluten free donuts and bacon. Really, we could just stop there, couldn’t we?
But no! There is more fun and more delicious food to be had. By Saturday morning our friends had arrived at camp and we spent a very leisurely morning hanging out with them, chatting and just goofing off. We ALL need more time in this life to goof off, adults included.
We did eventually get our rears in gear and headed out for a hike. Along the Blue Ridge Parkway there is a 13 mile trail called the Tanawha Trail. We’ve hiked most parts of it, but there are a few little stretches we had not tried until this trip. (There is one section of several miles that appears to us that it would not be very enjoyable so we will be skipping that part, until someday when we decide to do the whole thing at once.) For now, we’re sticking to the 2-3 mile sections that are fun for the kids. It just so happened that we had never hiked the very beginning of the trail which leads to the Linn Cove Viaduct. This was a pretty and fun hike.
We collected oodles of wild blackberries along the way. So many in fact, that we stuffed our bellies and then stuffed our little pockets and hands full of them, stored them in a zippy bag once we got back to the car, then had them to add to our dessert later.
Our tummies were grumbly by the time we got back to the car and we were thankful lunch had tagged along on our outing. We chowed down on the usual: lunch meat, chips (yes, Cheetos included), carrots, fruit, my cookies, some nuts, same old same old. It’s not exciting, but it fills us up and it’s super convenient.
After the hike, we headed back to the campground for more goofing off and relaxing. This is actually kind of unusual for us. We typically do two hikes per day (with a stop for ice cream in between – of course!). But the kids were begging for more friend time at the campground and honestly, the adults needed some down time as well so we gave in.
The temperature on this mountain was perfecto, so I chose to hold down the hammock some more. I don’t even know what my husband and kids were doing. I was content, relaxed and perfectly comfortable in my hammock. Who cares about anybody else?!! 🙂
Eventually, my husband surfaced and asked what was for dinner. The nerve. Before we left home, I cut up some boneless, skinless chicken thighs, a bunch of vegetables and made a batch of stir fry sauce from this recipe.
The one thing you do have to pay a good bit of attention to when camping is how you pack your cooler. Be very intentional about what you put in first. Everything is frozen when we leave our house (we need less ice this way) and I layer the food in the cooler based on when we will need it. By the time we made it to Saturday night (our third night away), the meat was just thawed out, but still perfectly safe and cold.
The oops here was that I left the stir fry sauce in the freezer at home. I immediately started thinking about how I could improvise. The main flavors in the sauce are orange juice, garlic, ginger and coconut aminos. I had orange juice for our breakfasts, but nothing that even came close to the other flavors. I did have salt and pepper and a little extra gluten free flour.
As I sauteed the chicken, I sprinkled in the flour (about 3 Tablespoons), got the chicken nice and brown, then added the little carton of OJ, a couple packets of yellow mustard from our lunch box, lots of salt and pepper then mixed that in with the vegetables which I had sauteed separately. I served this over white rice. It was very tasty, hearty and satisfying, even if it wasn’t what I had planned.
Dessert was blueberry, peach cobbler. At home, I cut up the fruit and made the cobbler topping and stashed it all in zippy bags. The cobbler simmered in our Lodge brand dutch oven over coals, out in the beautiful mountain air. If dinner had ended up really, really badly, it would not have mattered at all with this cobbler waiting for us. Oh yeah, remember those wild blackberries? We added them to the cobbler.
Everywhere we hiked, my little scouts found fresh, wild blackberries and occasionally blueberries as well. We did not let them go to waste.
There was so much chocolate left from s’mores the night before that I had to have a couple pieces of that later in the evening. Just to not be wasteful, you know.
I also burned my hand pretty darn good. I was boiling water to make a cup of tea and as I picked up the pot to pour the water I apparently lost all sense of coordination and poured the boiling water all over my hand rather than in the cup.
Here’s my burn remedy when at home (I do burn myself in the kitchen quite a lot): immediately rinse with cold tap water for a couple minutes, then soak the burned area with soy sauce. The sodium helps to alleviate the burn. It works really, really well. You know on Paleo we don’t eat soy, but I keep soy sauce around for this reason alone.
Prepared yellow mustard also works, but not as well as soy sauce. Naturally, I did not have soy sauce on the camping trip (I should have known I would burn myself at some point!), but I did have more mustard packets. I ran cold water over my hand for what seemed like ages. Thankfully, there was water at the campsite. Then I slathered mustard all over it, of course staining my clothes, but that’s beside the point. Meanwhile, my friends appeared and called the owners of the campground. Granny, who lives there in season, said she rubs a raw onion on burns. I had never heard of this remedy, but I was willing to try anything. Plus, Grannies are usually right about everything. By this point, it was completely dark, we were sitting around the fire with our friends, my hand covered in mustard and my onion was delivered. My husband sliced it up (I certainly couldn’t be trusted with a knife at this point) and I sat there rubbing it over my hand for well over an hour. By the time we went to bed, I still felt a little burning in a couple spots. This was a true miracle considering I had poured boiling water over my entire hand. We had some burn cream in our first aid kit so I rubbed that on as I drifted off to sleep. I woke up with no pain and just two small red spots on my hand, not even a little blister. I was very, very thankful. The only thing I couldn’t manage was washing the dishes because I simply could not put my hand in hot water yet. Oh, shucks.
The trauma of the night before behind us, we were ready for a hearty breakfast. Sunday morning’s breakfast was a joint effort with our friends. We cooked on the camp stove and ate in shifts, but it was totally fine. Remember, everything moves at a much slower pace when you’re camping. The kids were all too happy to eat first and then run off to do whatever 9-11 year olds do when left alone in nature.
Breakfast menu: We had half a package of bacon leftover, half the loaf of banana bread (which I toasted in the skillet). I also brought ingredients to make gluten free pancakes. These are not paleo, but are made with my gluten free flour blend. I brought the dry ingredients in a bag and the wet ingredients in a container kept in the cooler. Mix when ready to cook and voila! You have fresh, delicious pancakes. My friends brought eggs and more bacon, which we scrambled up and fried, respectively. Sliced a few apples, popped a couple cartons of OJ and milk and everyone was fed and happy.
Sadly, Sunday morning was packing up day. It was supposed to rain all morning so we were very thankful to wake up to sunny skies. The tent had plenty of time to dry off so we could pack everything up completely dry. If you get home late, it’s 100 degrees, and you have to open up all the camping gear so it can dry out, it’s not so fun. We’ve done this plenty of times so we were extremely thankful we could pack it up for good this trip.
Oh yes, we did make time for crawdad catching…
We headed off for a late morning hike and afterward were feeling a little tired and so decided on a lazy lunch. If you’re ever in the Boone, NC area, there is a great, little restaurant called Coyote Kitchen. I’d say their focus is Southwestern foods, but they also have salads, soups, burgers and sandwiches. The real special thing about this restaurant is how they handle allergy requests. All their fry batter is gluten free so the kids can indulge in real, honest-to-goodness chicken fingers or fried fish. Their friers are dedicated gluten free so french fries are an option here as well. They have these amazing concoctions called “boats” that are like a deconstructed burrito. I chose one with rosemary chicken, chorizo, roasted red bell peppers, rice and some other stuff I honestly can’t remember. My husband’s boat had chicken, beans, plantains, sweet potatoes, pineapple and more. Super delicious and we feel totally safe eating there. They even had a gluten free carrot cake for dessert. We could not resist!
Then down the mountain we came. Sadly, all good things must come to an end. We are always so very sad to see our mountain vacations come to a close. There is a new park on the outskirts of Boone called Rocky Knob, which is mostly a mountain biking park with great looking trails (we didn’t have our bikes so didn’t try those) and even a little training area where you can practice the various mountain biking skills before tackling the trails. They also have an amazing play area for kids all made of ropes and logs. It is a small park, but really pretty and peaceful. Maybe on an upcoming adults only trip, we’ll tackle the trails. I haven’t mountain biked since before my son was born so it should be a good mix of thrilling, scary and humorous.
There you have it, a camping primer, ala Heinze. Now what I haven’t told you is that we have a reputation for bringing the rain. Just because that one time we camped it rained over 14 inches in three days. And yes, we stayed in our tent and toughed it out. There were little peaks of sun here and there, but they were few and far between. I distinctly remember all the details of that trip. Our last effort at enjoying our time was a hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It wasn’t raining when we started, but there was lots of water dripping from the trees. A little way in, however, the heavens opened once again and the rains came heavy and steady. We had toughed out this weather for three days. We. Were. Done. My lead Boy Scout kept charging ahead, but I made the executive decision that our trip was over. We plodded back to our car and climbed in. Here my children sat with a makeshift clothesline overhead and wet, soppy clothes drying in their faces. It was glamorous, let me tell you.
So, all because of that trip, we are dubbed the rainy day campers. When the Heinze family camps, most people stay away. We are thankful for our hearty friends who dare to join us on these trips now. But they have a camper.