Camping has a wide range of connotations for the diverse lifestyles that prefer to wander off the beaten path as an escape, vacation, or adventure. Families with Recreational Vehicles (RVs) are drawn to different adventures than backpackers, and the concept of “roughing it” means different things to different people. For some, it means that you have to fit four people in a camper; for others, it means the nearest shower is a waterfall. The common thread here is that you are not cooking in your kitchen. Perhaps you attempt complex scratch meals in an unfamiliar environment, or maybe you figure out how to make delicious “to-go” meals that can be revived conveniently on the road. Either way, the challenge to impress your travel mates is on, and hopefully you can be pleasantly surprised in return.
The dunes and cactus trails, along with our mesmerizing lakes and lively rivers, have long been destination camping trips for Desert Rats in the winter and River Rats in the summer. Festive meals that can be conjured up in a resort mountain cabin on a ski weekend make for some incredible rustic memories. The creativity that goes into preparing a succulent meal over a campfire becomes its own event, and usually evolves into a fun and friendly competition around the camp.
Lest you fear that hearty, family-style meals cannot be accomplished over an open fire, remember that this is California, the trailblazing heart of the Wild West. Natives, explorers, settlers and gunslingers all had to make do with what they could carry on their backs or horses, or whatever they could hunt locally. These artifacts of the past can today be loaded up in your ergo-cushioned, air-conditioned 4×4 with satellite GPS, and driven in comfort but 20 miles from your backyard, to recreate the magic of sleeping under the stars. With not much more than a cooler, Dutch oven, an iron skillet, and some basic utensils from your neighborhood camping outlet, you too can rough it. You can even rough it in comfort if you have an RV with Internet access.