Pacific Northwest: Washington

The last time Matt and I were in Washington was 2016 and when we tried to leave, the aviation world went into complete chaos. We were on a red-eye about to take off when the pilot had to taxi the plane back to the gate at 1 am because the computers shut down. This would later be known as the Delta Meltdown. Apparently, the entire Delta computer system crashed and grounded all their national and international flights. It was a 30-hour travel nightmare.

Taken in the Sea-Tac Airport during the 2016 Delta Meltdown.

Since then, Matt and I developed a new policy that we no longer fly in or out of Washington due to poor past experience. We are smarter now. This time, we drove in and out of Washington. RVs for life babbayyy!!!

Autumn in Washington
Our campsite set up near Leavenworth

The benefit of driving through Washington is that you get to see all the inland beauty. We had the special treat of traveling during the fall so all the leaves were a lovely shade of yellow. We did make a stop at a precious Bavarian styled town called Leavenworth and treated ourselves to some delicious German food.

Matt waiting for our sausages and pretzels! I was so hungry and excited that I forgot to take a picture of the actual food.

Afterwards, we went to Mount Rainier National Park. Prior to our visit, the mountain received 16 inches of snowfall. The day we got there it was sunny with blue skies. The ranger said it was the first day she had been able to see the peak in over two weeks. We felt very lucky. On our hikes, the snow-covered peak was so blinding in the sunlight that it hurt your eyes to look at it.

Mount Rainier

We eventually made our way to Seattle. We got to meet up with Matt’s cousin and my childhood friend, Sam Sanders. Together, we drank coffee, ate tacos, played board games (I finally won a game of Terraforming Mars!!), and toured Sam’s new apartment. Sam just moved back from Luxembourg and didn’t have any furniture yet besides his mattress. Undeterred, Matt and I happily rolled out our sleeping bags and slept on his floor. This was way better than driving 40 minutes back in the dark to our campsite. In the morning, we got breakfast and then said our goodbyes. Sam was the perfect Seattle host and we loved seeing him!

Visiting Sam in Seattle!
Seattle Skyline

Washington is also a place where we overcame great adversity and Matt got to flex his handyman skills. During our stay, I cracked open the door to our RV to let some morning air into the camper. Ten seconds after I opened it, a powerful wind gust flung the door wide open. Unfortunately, this disfigured the bottom door hinge which prevented us from closing the door. This was very problematic.

After much careful inspection, YouTube tutorials, dealership phone calls, collaborating with our RV neighbor, and a crucial Facetime consult with Richard Scuderi (Matt’s dad), Matt fixed our door! It now closes like a dream. I’d even argue it closes better than before!!

So actually as I type this entry in retrospect, I’m having a revelation. I am realizing two things: 1) Washington wind should NOT be trusted and 2) that whether it’s flying or driving, maybe we should just never visit Washington again…

Skillet English Muffins

I’m going to be honest with you. I never thought that I could make an English muffin. I’ve always ate store bought and never believed it was done any other way. Until one day when I was in high school, a neighbor brought over homemade muffins to my family’s house and blew my tastebuds away. It was way better than store bought. I still daydream about that English muffin. When I saw this homemade English muffin recipe from the Dirty Gourmet cookbook, I was ready to try making them myself. Matt’s response to when I told him I’d have to buy bread flour (we already had regular flour in the camper): “Just get store bought English muffins, it will be easier.” To which I responded, “You don’t understand the power of a homemade English muffin. So shut up and let me do my thing.” He backed off.

Ingredients (per the cookbook, yields 8 muffins, but I’m not kidding I made 20 muffins. I think mine were smaller in size):

  • 3 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • Cooking spray

This recipe in the book is actually titled “English Muffins with Strawberry Skillet Jam.” One day I would love to make my own jam, but this was not that day. I already had some delicious mango-peach preserves in the fridge and decided that was good enough.

I combined flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Mix together.

In a medium size pot, I combined the milk, water, and butter. Heat over low heat until the butter is melted. Then, I poured the mixture into a medium bowl. Allow it to cool until it is lukewarm.

Waiting for the milk mixture to cool

Once cooled, I poured it into the large bowl of dry ingredients. I stirred until the mixture was well combined and became a soft dough. I covered the top and let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour. The dough doubled in size.

My dough after letting it rise for 1 hour

I rolled out the dough on a flour dusted surface. If you don’t have a rolling pin, the authors recommend using a wine bottle. Roll the dough so it’s 1/2 inch thick.

my lil dough baby

I then cut out my muffins using a glass, but you can use a biscuit cutter if you have one! The glass worked perfect for me.

I spent 15 minutes trying to rotate this picture, but it’s being super stubborn. You get the idea.

I sprinkled both sides of the muffins with cornmeal and covered them with a clean towel. Let them rise for 30 minutes.

Pre rise
Post rise

I greased my electric skillet and cooked the biscuits about 5 minutes on each side. You want them to be lightly browned on both sides.

lil muffins cookin’
ooooo babbbyyy

Serve warm with butter and jam!

We had so many muffins left over that I was able to make some fancy egg and sausage breakfast sandwiches for days after.

Review: These were amazing! To be honest, not as good as my neighbor’s recipe, but Matt and I were extremely pleased with them! I don’t have a lot of experience with baking bread so it was an exciting challenge. I felt very proud when they turned out beautifully. Warning: these do take a while to make. I spent the better part of the morning working on them. So you better set aside a few hours. The authors do say you can make the dough the day before and store in a cold place overnight (i.e. cooler or fridge). Next time, I plan to make the dough the day before and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight.

This is absolutely true

Thanks, Dirty Gourmet!

Idaho – Potatoes and More!

Idaho feels like a cousin of the Midwestern states who lives 1800 miles away. Like it shares the same facial features, but maybe has a different hair color and body build. Driving across the state, I concluded it has a Midwest vibe, but diverse landscapes. There are many similarities like rural small towns, farmland, and friendly folks. However, Idaho also has volcanic rock formations, mountains, deserts, canyons, and huge forests. So just as you are feeling at home surrounded by flatlands and cattle, suddenly you do a double take and see mountains in the distance. It confuses your brain for a sec.

Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area

I happily took some tourist bait and made us stop at the Idaho Potato Museum. Matt was less than enthusiastic to go inside. He said if the admission was more than $10 a person, he was going to wait in the car while I toured it. Well admission was only $5/person and guess who became enthralled by the potato harvesting equipment and factory videos?! I basically had to drag my engineering husband out of the museum when it was time to leave. I can’t blame him though the process of harvesting potatoes is pretty fascinating. Now armed with our potato insider information, we basically felt like Idaho locals. The rest of the time we drove through Idaho, we could see and appreciate the farmers harvesting the potatoes.

Outside the Idaho Potato Museum
Potato Head Collection at the Idaho Potato Museum
Matt hiking in Craters of the Moon

Like I said earlier, Idaho is a land of diverse landscapes. The most interesting probably being Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. It draws about 200,000 visitors each year. Matt and I stayed at the campground inside the preserve. The rock formations, caves, and lava fields were strange and fascinating. Some pioneers made the historic decision to travel along Goodale’s Cutoff which took them through part of this land. Imagine being a pioneer riding in a wooden wagon over these volcanic rocks?! What a nightmare.

North Crater at Craters of the Moon
Matt spelunking in Buffalo Cave at Craters of the Moon
Viewpoint from Inferno’s Cone at Craters of the Moon

We did a day trip to Salmon-Challis National Forest where we visited Sun Valley and even the ghost town of Custer. We also got to see the now retired Yankee Fork Gold Dredge which was used to extract gold from the Yankee Fork river. It was a real eye sore and pretty much destroyed the river’s habitat, but, you know, gold ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The good news is that there is a current government project working to restore the river to its former glory days.

Yankee Fork River
Old cabin along Custer Motorway
Yankee Fork Gold Dredge

Eventually, we made it to Boise, Idaho. Matt and I stayed a week exploring the area. We adopted an outdoor pet and named him Greg. He’s a praying mantis. He hitched hiked on our RV from Craters of the Moon. I discovered him while unpacking in Boise, ID. I put him on the tree next to our RV where he stayed for multiple days. He’s been a delight. Who saved who really?

Greg on our X chock

We attended a football tailgate at Boise State University – Go Broncos! We went to the Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. We visited the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial which was beautiful and moving. We ate Idaho fries and sampled multiple fry dipping sauces – surprisingly blueberry ketchup is actually pretty good. We also treated ourselves to some fancy meals! Boise was an awesome city. I highly recommend checking it out yourself.

This meat & cheese board from Txikiteo was amazing and deserves to be featured on this blog
Statue of Anne Frank at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial
Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
Sampling fry dipping sauces at Boise Fry Company. Pumpkin aioli was my favorite!

After saying goodbye to our pet Greg (he wanted to stay in Idaho), we left the potato state and headed to Washington.

Greg, our outdoor pet

Moroccan Lemon Chicken Kebabs with Couscous Pilaf

Grilling is the key for RV cooking sanity. It allows for more counter space and a better teamwork approach. I can marinate the meat the night before. Then, the next day while Matt’s outside cooking the meat, I’m doing whatever else needs to be done for the meal in our small kitchen. Divide and conquer babyyyy!!

Eating our meal at Craters of the Moon Campground in Idaho

This kebab recipe is bomb. It’s from Half Baked Harvest Cookbook by Tieghan Gerard.

Ingredients (Serves 4):

Chicken

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 1 (1-inch) knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated (**pro tip** use a plastic spoon to peel the skin off your ginger – makes it so easy!**)
  • 2 tablespoons of cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (*I just used regular paprika)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (*I just used regular chili powder)
  • **I also added 1 teaspoon of turmeric**
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1.5 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast or tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces

Couscous Pilaf

  • 2.5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1.5 cups couscous
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped and toasted
  • 1/4 cup of fresh mint, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

I have so much respect for Tieghan. Her dishes are beautiful pieces of artwork. Go to her website and see for yourself. In addition to the above ingredients she also includes harissa hummus, avocado puree, olives, cucumbers, arugula, lemon wedges, and fresh naan. These are all to be plated with the kebab dish. Since my goal is to keep things on the simpler side, I decided to omit most of the additional ingredients. I did buy hummus and carrots though which I added to the dish. Also, I love them as a snack for later.

Instructions:

Chicken Marinade: In a sealed container or bag, combine garlic, ginger, cilantro, paprika, cumin, cayenne, chili powder, salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Mix together and then add chicken making sure it is well coated.

Tiegan says to let marinate for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours. I actually let mine marinate in the fridge for about 24 hours and it was still delish.

Chicken Marinade

One day later, Matt heated the grill to medium high as I threaded the chicken onto four skewers. Discard the marinade.

pre cooked kebabs

While Matt grilled the chicken, I made the couscous.

In a medium sauce pan, heat chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove the heat source and add couscous. Cover with a lid and let sit for 5 minutes.

While waiting for the couscous to cook, I toasted my almonds.

Then, uncover and fluff couscous with a fork.

Add apricots, mint, olive oil, and almonds to the couscous. Make sure to stir it together. Season with salt and pepper.

Matt grilled the kebabs until lightly charred and cooked through. Tieghan estimates this takes about 10 to 12 minutes.

Kebabs!!

Once everything is completed, I added a smear of hummus to the plate along with some carrots. Finally, add the couscous and kebabs.

Final product!

Review: This dish is excellent. Matt and I both really enjoyed the flavors. It does require some extra work for prep, but I believe it is worth it, especially if you have a partner on grilling duty. I would absolutely make this again. The one suggestion I would have for the future is to cut back on the amount of couscous used. This recipe seems to make an excessive amount of couscous. Even though we finished the chicken, I still have a medium sized container in the fridge of leftover couscous. To balance the chicken: couscous ratio, maybe try 1 cup of couscous instead of 1.5 cups.

Thanks ya’ll! Send me your favorite grilling recipes please!

Easily peel your ginger with a plastic spoon – a professional chef taught me this trick in a cooking class!

Grand Teton National Park

I know I’m from the flat lands of the Midwest, but I’ve seen mountains before. Matt and I always tried to vacation somewhere that has mountains. We love them. We even got engaged on a mountain in Colorado! So, I guess what I’m saying is that I know what a mountain looks like. However, I was not prepared for the mountains in Grand Teton National Park. Driving into the park, you suddenly see the mountains and it is startling. They are giant and magnificent. I actually teared up when I saw them for the first time. True, I was also on my period and already hypersensitive, BUT STILL, they are amazing, people!!

I kept asking myself, “You’ve seen mountains before. Why is this so different than any other mountain range?” Even three weeks after seeing them, I have no idea. Maybe because the landscape surrounding the range is so flat that it provides a striking contrast against the monstrous mountains. These mountains demand your attention. They invoke a visceral sense of wonder. You can’t help but pull the car over in a trance to just stare at them. There’s probably a poet out there that can do a better job describing the experience… All I know is that seeing them is magical.

The Teton Range
Hiking to Lake Solitude

Another delightful experience I wasn’t anticipating was catching the fall foliage. The bright colors of autumn were in full fledged making the landscapes sensational.

Hiking around Lake Jenny
Hiking to Lake Solitude
Deer at our campground

We camped at Signal Mountain Campground which is along Jackson Lake. The campsites were so small though that we had to block the one-way road for fifteen painful minutes as Matt and I furiously unhitched our trailer from the truck. Thank God it wasn’t our first rodeo or else it would have taken us twice as long. We had to perform in front of three cars that were waiting for us to finish so they could continue driving. It was really stressful, er I mean fun 🙂

Phelps Lake

The next day, we met up again with our friends Julia and Brendan at the trail head to hike to Lake Solitude. It was a killer hike – 17 miles long with 2600 feet of elevation! The views though were *chef’s kiss* beautiful.

Lake Solitude
Hike to Hidden Falls

Julia and Brendan stayed with us that night in the RV and left the next morning. Matt and I decided to stay in the Tetons for a few more days. We did some other hikes: Death Canyon, Hidden Falls, Phelps Lake, and Amphitheater Lake. While there, the weather took a cold turn dropping the night temperatures to below freezing. During our hike to Amphitheater Lake, we were greeted by a foot of snow at the top which provided us unique views of the lakes.

Lake Jenny
Hiking to Amphitheater and Surprise Lakes. It was a really hard hike. Don’t let the picture fool you – I was panting a lot during the climb.
Matt hiking around Surprise Lake
Amphitheater Lake

Our last morning in Teton, we woke up to snow on the ground at our campsite. As lovely as it was, we were ready for some warmer weather. We brushed the snow off our truck and headed to Idaho.

Morning snow at our campsite
The Teton range at sunset. This was at our campground on Jackson Lake.

Yellowstone National Park

This stay was a lot of firsts for us which is fitting since Yellowstone was the first established national park in the US in 1872. It was the first time we hosted guests in our RV which then led to other firsts like using our cooler (to hold more beer, duh), building a campfire (long overdue, I know), and using the picnic table cover.

Our set up in Yellowstone
Grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner. Please note the picnic table cloth making its debut.

Julia and Brendan are from New York and they have been planning a trip to Wyoming for the past year. I met Julia in college and we have been close friends ever since. Really only geography stands in the way of us hanging out every day. Matt and I were able to map out our trip to meet up with them in Wyoming.

Julia and I hiking in Yellowstone

We arrived to Yellowstone early and spent a majority of our day setting up and cleaning our RV. In the evening, we drove to Lamar Valley and did a small hike that was cut short because a herd of bison was blocking the trail. Although bison appear to be slow and docile, they actually have unpredictable behavior and can run up to 40 mph. They are also crazy strong and weigh up to 2,000 lbs. So heed the NPS warnings and observe them from a safe, respectable distance.

This was taken at Teddy Roosevelt National Park but still applies here.
Lamar Valley

On our way home, we saw traffic up ahead. Cars were moving slowly as a ranger was directing them forward. Turns out a black bear was eating at a bush just 10 feet from the road. I took a three second video that I’d say is and will forever be my greatest video of all time. If you want to see the video, go to my Instagram account (@TheHungryCamper) because WordPress will make me pay $$ to upload a video to this blog. Sorry – I don’t make the rules, just go look at the it, okay??! Then we can talk about how amazing bears are!!

Artist Point overlooking the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Finally, Julia and Brendan arrived the next evening. We had dinner and a campfire waiting for them. Unfortunately, for the next two days, the weather was predicted to be cold and rainy with possible snowfall. Julia and Brendan were troopers though. We went to Artist Point at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Even in the rain, the canyon was beautiful. The canyon walls were splattered with vibrant colors and the Yellowstone river flowed right down the center.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

We also did a six-mile hike to ribbon lake and clear lake. To our delightful surprise, the trail had hot springs and geysers that we got to walk past and admire. They were so bizarre that it felt like being on a different planet. We could have gone farther in our hike, but with the weather getting colder, we decided to turn back. Glad we did because on our last mile, it started snowing the largest snowflakes I’ve ever witnessed.

Geothermal feature on our hike
Clear Lake
Hiking back from Clear Lake. Taken before the snow.
Stopped at an overlook on our drive back to our campsite.

Initially, Matt and I had a grand vision where we would do a long hike with our guests then bring them back to the RV and cook some fatty steaks on the grill. Everyone would sit by the campfire and enjoy the beautiful night. In reality, when we got back, it was freezing, wet and dark. We stayed cooped up inside the RV, while my courageous husband braved the elements to grill Costco sized steaks on the grill. He did an amazing job and we all were very grateful.

The next morning, we stopped at multiple geysers and hot springs around the park ending at the grand fromage: Old Faithful.

Artist Paint Pots
Geyser near Old Faithful

Afterwards, Julia and Brendan went on to The Grand Tetons National Park. Matt and I stayed in Yellowstone a little longer and actually got to soak in Boiling River which is where geothermal water runs into the cold river water. The next day we packed up our stuff and drove to the Grand Tetons where we planned to meet up with Julia and Brendan again.

Boiling River
Me having a soak in Boiler River

Pecan Banana Bread Cold Oats

I love me some good oatmeal. It has been a staple in my life since cooking for myself in college. Matt is not a fan of this dish fyi, but I am! He would prefer just warm oatmeal. I personally like the idea of cold oats because it is very easy to make and it’s a perfect breakfast at the beginning of a hot day. There are recipes all over the Internet for cold oats, but the one I used is from the cookbook Half Baked Harvest by Tieghan Gerard. Tieghan is a really talented cook who creates beautiful dishes. Even if you don’t like to cook, you should still follow her Instagram account because her videos are masterpieces.

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • 1 cup old-fashion rolled oats
  • 1.5 cups milk of your choice (I used Almond Milk)
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed up, plus sliced banana for topping.
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek Yogurt (plain yogurt disturbs me so I used Chobani “Hint of Madagascar Vanilla and Cinnamon”)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted (I did not toast mine cause c’mon, I live in an RV)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted (again, I did not toast mine cause again I live in a trailer)
  • Fresh or dried figs, halved, for serving (I did not use this ingredient – I don’t think I’ve ever bought a fig in my life except for fig newtons)
  • Pomegranate seeds, for serving (I did not use this ingredient)
  • I also added my sliced almonds for topping

Instructions:

1. Tieghan recommends mixing your ingredients in a medium size bowl. In order to reduce the amount of dishes I’d have to clean, I decided to use my largest Tupperware container. This way I didn’t have to transfer it later into a Tupperware for fridge storage because, ladies & gentlemen, I am a true genius. Thank you.

Oats, Almond Milk, and about to mix in yogurt.

2. I mixed in the following ingredients into my Tupperware container: oats, milk, mashed bananas, yogurt, coconut, honey, chia seeds, vanilla, and salt. Stir until well combined.

Mashed bananas
Coconut
God, I love chia seeds. I put them on everything that is deemed acceptable in society.
Everything in the container before I stirred it.

3. I covered my Tupperware. Then, let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. Tieghan recommends letting the dish sit in the fridge for at least 6 hours. Letting it sit overnight is okay as well.

4. In the morning, take the container out of the refrigerator and stir the oats. Then, add your toppings and make it look pretty to impress yourself at how talented you are!

Good Morning, Oats!
I topped mine off with banana slices, almond slices, and cinnamon.

Thanks for joining me on this post where I basically just show you how I put food into a container! I recommend trying it yourself! It’s simple, quick, and delish 🙂

Also, if you want to follow my cooking adventures in real time, watch my Stories on my Instagram account @TheHungryCamper.

LOVE YOU!!! BYE!!

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park (GNP) is to be feared and respected like your Latin teacher who was terrifyingly strict, but ended up being one of your favorite teachers. One should not take the park lightly. A man hiking in GNP went missing this July and still hasn’t been found despite extensive searches. Steep heights, bear attacks, and unpredictable weather changes are just a few things to be concerned about when hiking here. Matt and I wore bear spray canisters for every hike. Luckily no bear attacks, but we did get to see a grizzly from a distance who was happily eating berries. Also, side note: being a bear would be the best. Your main goal is to eat constantly, then to sleep all winter. Living the dream!!

Grizzly Bear (zoom feature is on, we were farther away than this photo perceives). Also, Matt took this picture – he wanted to make sure you all were aware.
St. Mary Lake

GNP is referred to as the Crown of the Continent. It is cold and magnificent like your favorite Disney villain. It rises above all other national parks in beauty. We had a few (er, a lot of) hiccups when we first arrived. We snagged a camping spot at Many Glacier campground which is popular and first come, first serve. We were very excited about this, but our excitement quickly turned to frustration. We had to set up our RV in the freezing rain and we realized our RV battery was not fully charged so the heat wasn’t working initially. Also, our slide out was, well, not sliding out like normal. It took three very chilly hours to finally get things set up.

View from our campsite!
Matt and I looking super presh on the Highline Trail
Lake McDonald

The first two days were rainy and foggy. We stayed in our camper and watched movies (glamping at its finest). Finally, on the third day the sun came out and the fog cleared up. You could actually see the mountains surrounding our campsite! We went on hikes, drove on Going To the Sun Road (the most scenic drive in America), and did a day trip to the Canadian park Waterton.

View from Going To the Sun Road
View from the Highline Trail

We went on three long hikes during our stay at Glacier: Iceberg Lake, Highline trail, and Grinnell. The views were so devastatingly beautiful that they could make you cry. I couldn’t help but to take 1000000 pictures every hike. These hikes made me feel like I was back in fourth grade science learning about water cycles. You get to see all the stages in one hike! These hikes have it all – glaciers, lakes, rivers, creeks, fog, waterfalls, clouds, and precipitation.

Iceberg Lake
View from Iceberg Glacier Trail

Also, I’ve been low key panicking about climate change for years, but now it feels more urgent than ever. This is what I learned while at the park: The glaciers are melting. There used to be about 150 glaciers when the park was initially established in 1910 and now only 25 are active glaciers today. Over the last hundreds of thousands of years, the Earth cycles through warm periods which causes glaciers to melt. This is normal. We are actually in a warm period right now. However, what is not normal is how fast they are melting now due to increased carbon dioxide created by humans. It is an alarming speed that can have devastating impacts like increased severity of wildfires and species extinction. They anticipate all the glaciers in the park will be completely melted by 2030!! I’m anxious just typing that last sentence out.

Jackson Glacier

So please vote for politicians who believe in fighting global warming. Tell your politicians that the concerns for climate change are important to you. Or run for office yourself – I’d vote you!! Evaluate your own carbon footprint and figure out small lifestyle changes you can do each day to reduce it. Mother Earth didn’t have to create this beauty for us, BUT SHE DID PEOPLE and because of that SHE DESERVES OUR RESPECT AND MUST BE PROTECTED….. Phew – okay back to my regular blogging.

Hike to Grinnell Glacier

After a week in the GNP, we packed up our stuff and headed south where I finally got some cell phone service. It was nice to be off the grid for a week, but I’ll sheepishly admit that it was really great to call my family and update my Instagram account.

Driving back to our campsite at Many Glacier during sunset

South Dakota

We just can’t get enough of the badlands apparently. After visiting the North Dakota badlands, we had to check out the South Dakota badlands.

South Dakota Badlands

We first visited the Black Hills National Forest. Like any American tourist, I wanted to see Mount Rushmore. Part of me suspected it may be a little overrated, but I can assure you that IT IS NOT. IT WAS SO COOL AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF LOOKING AT IT. First of all, as you are just driving through the hills casually looking out the window. Then all of a sudden, four president face carvings appear through an opening of trees. It is a delightful surprise. You quickly point it out to the driver, but they have already missed it (Sorry, Matt). Eventually, we did make it to the monument and awed at the creation. I found out that it was created to draw more tourist to South Dakota and to this day, it is one of the most popular sites in America.

Mount Rushmore

We also saw the Crazy Horse monument which is still under construction. Once completed, it will be the largest sculpture in the world! To quote Matt upon seeing it, “Wow, that’s crazy….no pun intended.” It really is a remarkable memorial.

Crazy Horse Memorial
Our view from Black Elk Peak. The rock formations in the distance are called the Needles.

We also did a hike to Black Elk Peak where we met our new friend Blake and his dog Booker. Matt and I were confused at a fork in the trail and Blake walked up behind us with a map. He kindly directed us the correct way and we began chatting with him. Blake is also traveling in an RV like us except he has a dog and a job (he works remotely from his RV). He invited us to boondock* at a spot at the badlands of South Dakota. The campsite was amazing! We ended up staying there for four nights. We are forever grateful for Blake who hooked us up big time.

Matt enjoying our boondocking campsite!
Our view from our trailer
We woke up early to see the sunrise. Blake’s dog, Booker, posing very nicely in front of it.

We drove through the badlands and did two hikes. The Notch Trail and Medicine Root Trail which had spectacular rock formations. The biggest difference between ND and SD badlands is that ND has the Missouri river flowing through it. The river gives the ND badlands more vegetation and wildlife. The SD badlands have more of a desert vibe. This is purely from my observation and zero research has been done to corroborate it so I may be wrong. But I’d bet an ice cream sandwich that I’m right.

Medicine Root Trail
Notch Trail

We finally had to say goodbye to our new friend and to our epic campsite in order to make the long trek up to Glacier National Park. We took a picture and parted ways in hopes we meet each other again in the near future.

Us with Blake

(*boondocking means camping for free without any electrical or water hookups. Meaning we used our generators for power and we filled up our fresh water tank prior to getting to the spot. Our water tank can hold about 40 gallons of water)

Skillet Vegetable Lasagna

This was the first recipe I made from a cookbook while camping. I was SO EXCITED! Before we started our trip, I bought and read the Dirty Gourmet cookbook front to back. I couldn’t wait to make a recipe from it. Everything looked so interesting and delicious. I can tell the authors (Aimee Trudeau, Emily Nielson, and Mai-Yan Kwan) are really passionate about camping and cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced (The grocery was out of zucchini so I used 1/2 bunch of thin asparagus instead)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I forgot to add this and the recipe was still delicious)
  • 6 cups marinara sauce
  • 8 oz lasagna noodles
  • 6 oz baby spinach (I bought regular size and it was still ok. Halfway through building my layers, I realized I probably should have cut my stems off though)
  • 8 oz ricotta
  • In addition to the above veggies, I also used: 1/2 medium yellow onion (diced) and 3 cloves of garlic (minced)

We are now boondocking in the South Dakota Badlands which is amazing, but also HOT because it’s early September. Even though the temperature was in the 80s/90s, I already bought the ingredients to make the recipe so I decided to go for it. I knew by the time I served, the sun would be down and a whole lot cooler.

My new copy of the Dirty Gourmet
Our set up at the SD Badlands
Preparing my ingredients

I set up my outside kitchen to cook at because remember it’s 85 degrees and I didn’t want to make our camper hotter. This set up basically consists of a collapsible table, an induction stovetop, and some indoor items brought outside. Also, more importantly, paper towels because I’m a hot mess sometimes. The only thing I cooked inside was I boiled the asparagus for 40 seconds so they wouldn’t be too chewy in the dish.

My Outdoor Kitchen
asparagus

Saute veggies with olive oil in the skillet for 5 minutes then remove from skillet and set aside.

Then, begin stacking your lasagna in your skillet. First, marinara sauce (1.5 cups). Then, lasagna noodles (1/3). Then, sauted veggies (1/3). Then, spinach (1/3). Then, ricotta dollops (1/3). Repeat 2 times. For the last layer, use pasta, marinara, and ricotta.

Built and ready to cook!

Once the lasagna is built, cover the skillet. The authors recommend cooking it on low heat for 20 mins. My husband was anxious about this instruction because he felt it wouldn’t cook in time. He convinced me to dial up the heat to medium. I did and checked it at 10 mins, it seemed to be doing okay. Eventually though, I did lower the heat and cooked it for an additional 10-15 mins. You know it’s done when you stick a fork in it and the noodles are soft. If the noodles are still hard, cover it back up and let it cook for a few more minutes.

NOTE: I’d recommend not listening to your husband on this one, and instead, listening to the authors who like you know created the dish. My bottom noodles did get burnt and I think it was because of the initial higher heat. The lasagna was still amazing and thank baby Jesus the burnt noodles didn’t ruin the dish. I basically just served the lasagna pieces without the bottom layer noodle. No biggie. Next time I’ll probably just cook it on low heat, check the noodles in 20 mins. If they are still firm, I would then cover it back up and continue to let it cook.

Done cooking!

Once done cooking, remove the dish from the heat and set aside. Let sit for 5 minutes while still covered. (NOTE: Mine did look watery, but once I let it sit off the heat, the dish solidified.)

The lasagna was a big success!! Matt had three huge pieces in one sitting. The best part is that it makes enough so we have some leftovers that we can put in our RV fridge for future meals.

Check out the Dirty Gourmet Blog for more recipes or even consider buying their book!

If you want to follow along in real time as I make my recipes, you can watch me on my Instagram stories @thehungrycamper.

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