The North Dakota Badlands

Over Labor Day weekend, we camped in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We drove in from the East after leaving Minneapolis. Initially, it was all hills and grassland. Then, suddenly we hit the Badlands and I was totally blown away. The difference was striking. It was likely the strong coffee contributing, but I felt such giddiness in my heart as we drove through the park. Theodore Roosevelt described the badlands as a bizarre beauty and honestly, that’s the best description for them in my opinion.

River Bend Overlook – North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Um, also I’m going to take a moment to talk about Teddy because he was just a super cool guy. I learned that Theodore Roosevelt spent a few years in those Badlands before he moved back to New York to become President. He was a naturist and conservationist who was able to pass legislation to preserve significant land in the United States. Thanks to him we get to appreciate the national parks today and they are spectacular.

Badlands Overlook – South Unit Theodore Roosevelt National Park

We camped in the south unit of the park, and explored the area. We also did a three mile hike to the petrified forest. Petrified wood occurs when the organic mass of the tree turns to stone. It slowly fossilizes. When I saw it, it was probably the only time where I thought “Wow, it would be cool to be a geologist and study stuff like this.”

Hike to the petrified forest
Petrified Wood
Petrified Wood

After that we continued to Elkhorn Ranch (Theodore Roosevelt’s ranch – or rather what’s left of it which is mostly just the stone foundation of his house). It’s very remote and not much to see so most people do not visit. According to the check-in book, only three people had visited that area earlier in the day besides us. It was surreal to stand in the same area as a former president and to imagine how he lived.

Site of Teddy Roosevelt’s Ranch

We then continued in our car to the north unit of the park (70 miles from the south unit). I absolutely recommend people check out the north unit because River Bend Overlook was the most beautiful view I ever seen (scroll up and look at the first photo). HOWEVER, I do not recommend going on a hike, then going to Elkhorn Ranch, then going to the north unit, then driving back to the south unit all in the same day. This is how we did it and it was way too much. That being said, the north unit scenic drive was enough to subdue my hangry attitude which developed as the day wore on.

Also, during our stay we saw so many bison. Initially, we were so shocked to see bison that we took an obnoxious amount of photos. Turns out the bison are everywhere and very comfortable around people. One evening a herd of about eight meandered into our campground and just grazed on grass to their hearts content. Everyone just quietly observed them with a mix of awe and fear. It should be noted as well that I saw my first prairie dog towns in the park and now all I want to be is a biologist who literally studies prairie dogs all day because THEY ARE THE CUTEST ANIMALS EVER. Maybe this is a sign I should make a career change…

Anyways, the Badlands should be renamed the Goodlands. Please sign my petition if you agree.

Turkey Burgers!

I’ve never been a big turkey burger advocate until my sister, Colleen, introduced me to her amazing recipe. Now it’s a staple in our meals that I make about once a month. They are delicious and simple to make. Also, pretty easy to clean up which is a huge plus while camping!

Turkey burger goodness

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs ground turkey (85% lean – no leaner or else they will fall apart!)
  • 2-3 green onions – chopped
  • half to full bunch of cilantro – chopped
  • 1 jalapeno – chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic – minced
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 or 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • A good splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Some good squirts of mustard (I like spicy brown mustard)
  • 1-3 tablespoons of cumin
  • Whatever other spices you want to add (oregano, paprika, tumeric, etc)
  • Hamburger buns
  • Cheese slices (if you like cheeseburgers)

Instructions:

  1. Combine all the above ingredients into a medium size bowl.
  2. Use clean hands and mash it all together. I hate (HATE) touching raw meat so I like to put on disposable gloves.
  3. Create 8 patties out of the creation. I just eyeball it and can get 8 patties. However, my sister weighs each patty to make it 170 grams (she gets 7 patties out of it). Making them the same weight allows them to all cook evenly. Eyeballing it is just easier and to be honest, I’ve never had a problem.
  4. Shape the patties with an indent in the middle of each (see my picture below). This helps hold the patty together while it cooks.
  5. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Place patties on it. Put in freezer.
  6. Freeze for at least 1 hour. Okay to freeze overnight.
  7. Heat up the grill.
  8. Spray both sides of each patty with Pam. Get another person to help you with this – it will go faster.
  9. Grill patties (add cheese if desired) and enjoy!
My sister (Colleen) with her two adorable children, Josephine and Francis.

Ok so here are some pictures of my ingredients. I do have a confession. I forgot to buy garlic and I didn’t have garlic powder. So I added the next best thing – onion powder to give it more flavor. It got the job done!

Combine it all in a bowl and mash it together.

Then create your patties and put in the freezer for at LEAST 1 hour.

Each patty has an indentation to help hold the patty together while it cooks.

Grill and eat!

THANKS FOR COMING TO MY FIRST RECIPE BLOG POST!!! OK BYEEEE! ๐Ÿ™‚

Pure Michigan

Those Michigan advertisements were not exaggerating when they said Michigan was pure!! Every view is stunning. A true hidden gem in the Midwest. I cannot believe these amazing sights are in Indiana’s (my home state) backyard!

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

We first stayed in Grand Rapids and visited Mattโ€™s old buddies. Then, headed along the west coast of Michigan and drove through small adorable cities. We also stopped at Sleeping Bear Dunes, Traverse City, and Mackinac Island. My two former patients live and work on Mackinac Island for half the year, and they always invited me to visit them. Finally, I was able to! It was great to see them and get a local perspective of the island.

Mackinac Island (No cars are allowed on the island!)

Eventually, we headed up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where the scenery is lush and remote. We camped in two state parks: Tahquamenon Falls and Lake Gogebic. We went on one hike in Porcupine Mountains Wildness State Park. At the trail head, when we realized we forgot to bring insect repellent, we looked at one another and shrugged nonchalantly. We confidently reassured ourselves it wouldn’t be a big deal. We then hiked to Mirror Lake where the mosquitoes rallied together and almost ate us alive. So, folks, always wear your bug spray on hikes especially in Michigan where the whole state is surrounded by water.

Tahquamenon State Park – Lower Falls
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Mirror Lake ( I probably had a swarm of mosquitos biting my neck as I took this)
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Finishing up our hike

Initially, we were very ambitious by only staying at campsites for one night, then packing up and traveling again. This was working well until we hit a wall and exhaustion set it. As you can predict, exhaustion plus travel is the fastest way for any couple to begin to bicker. We now have a new rule that we must stay at a campsite for a minimum of two nights. Currently, we are staying our third night on Lake Gogebic and it’s been great! Looking forward to getting a fresh start tomorrow and head to Minneapolis to visit some family.

View from our campsite on Lake Gogebic
Lake Gogebic State Park

New Beginnings!

After multiple Amazon orders, endless Internet research, and intense RV packing (at one point I definitely had a meltdown), we are finally done and ready to start our adventure! We plan to head to the Michigan Gold Coast and Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Then, we will head out West. First stop is Grand Rapids, MI. Follow along on our adventure! You can also find us on Instagram @thehungrycamper.

Day 1: August 20, 2019

RV Set Up

After moving from Dayton, OH July 2019, we spent the last four weeks with our families in Northwest Indiana visiting loved ones and preparing for our RV expedition. Both of our parents have been a tremendous support in helping us prepare for our trip. They are very excited for us, but also probably think we are a little crazy. They fed us and let us crash in their houses while we figured out the logistics of our trip. We are very grateful.

Moving out of our house in Dayton July 2019

Downsizing our lives has been a very cathartic as well as overwhelming experience. It’s shocking all the items we accumulated over the last four years together. I do have to say though how wonderful it has been to purge nonessential items (like the large box of halloween costumes that I haven’t touched in years, but also you guys never know when I may need to wear this mermaid tail in the future!! … *reader gently pats Kelsey’s shoulder* “Yea it’s time to donate it, Kelsey”). This has been the most organized I’ve felt since moving into the freshman dorms at college and it feels amazing!!

Matt is way more organized than me and although it sometimes drives me crazy when he holds me accountable for my endearing chaos of clutter (AKA “The Kelsey Tornado”) – I have to hand it to him that his standard of organization is the way to go. Downsizing has forced me to examine each item and decide if its functionality makes it worthy of our RV nest. It’s brutal, but also freeing once the process is done.

Since the RV trailer is only 23 feet long, it is vital we keep it as clean and organized as possible. There are no extra closets or drawers I can throw random junk into. EVERYTHING inside has a space and a purpose, and if it doesn’t then it doesn’t come. This will be a great way to challenge my organization skills and see if I can maintain it the whole trip. Ask me in 6 months how I’m doing – I’ll either excitedly tell you it’s going great or I will get defensive and fight you.

Hello!

Thank you for coming to my blog and following along on this adventure! My name is Kelsey and my husband’s name is Matt. We are home grown Midwesterners who have decided to move out West. We recently quit our jobs and plan to travel the US in an RV for a few months. Our hope is to find a city out West we can relocate to from Indiana/Ohio.

I love to cook. I also love to share my experience of cooking on social media (because I’m a proud millennial!!). However, I’ve only ever cooked in a conventional kitchen where I have everything to my disposal. This trip will push me way out of my element. Like WAY out of my element. I’m already overwhelmed ๐Ÿ™‚ Join me as I learn how to shop, store, and cook food while camping.

My posts will be about our experience with food as well as our travel adventures. You can also follow me on Instagram @thehungrycamper

Our Wedding Day 9/1/18
Hiking in Olympic National Park 2016
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