As many of you know, I love the ocean and desperately miss it now that we live inland. What better way to celebrate my 38th birthday this past week then to take a long weekend at the coast? We feasted on wine, cheese, and crackers, filled our lungs with the salt air, and were lulled to sleep each night by the constant crashing of waves on the shore. It was wonderful, and I was home.
This last weekend, we decided to extend our time off a couple of extra days and travel to the Ruby Mountains in Nevada. We had been working so much on the house, we hadn't even had time to take our new camper on its maiden voyage. At the end of the trip, I wrote down snippets from the most memorable aspects of our mini vacation.
For a week, we camped in Death Valley National Park. We avoided the gift shops and the tourist traps. We did a great deal of hiking and every couple days, we moved our camp. The weather was perfect. The wildflowers were spectacular. Our meals were pretty plain Jane. We special ordered everything at BriarPatch, from the gallons of water to our evening dinners -- Jaipur Vegetables for me, Bombay Potatoes for Charles. We coupled those with a Tasty Bites boil-in-a-bag jasmine rice, added a bottle of beer for each of us, and dinner was set for the week.
Besides our amazing, never-changing dinners, we also carried snacks, oatmeal for breakfast, and Equal Exchange coffee. Our snacks consisted of cashews, trail mix, Clif Bars, and Tanka Bites. We carry the Tanka Bars, but the Bites are available for special order. All you omnivores out there, these Bites were a god-send! Full of protein and low in fat, they were the perfect energy pick-me-up. I didn't even touch the Clif Bars and barely touched the trail mix, they were such a perfect midday snack. Couple the Bites with a coconut water or a Klean Kanteen full of regular water, and I was ready to take on more hilly miles.
March 23 was my birthday, so we celebrated with a little wine. While celebrating, we discovered that our next door neighbors, Cliff and Lori, were 1. from Auburn (small world) and 2. celebrating Lori's birthday. Talk about synchronicity! We shared the Curtis, an excellent bottle of wine that Charles just brought into the store. Wine drinkers, pick this up! It really is an amazing wine. The other bottle was what Cliff and Lori shared with us. It was also terrific, with a nose full of woodland violets and layer upon layer of complex and sophisticated flavors. While I'm not sure if Charles will be able to bring it into the store, he's going to look into it.
While we bought in bulk where we could, when tent camping, we've found that having things like Tasty Bites work really well. They don't smell like food before they're opened, and while bears aren't a problem in Death Valley, there are still pack rats and ravens to contend with. Plus, they're easy to prepare, don't take up a lot of space, and we only bring one cooler with us, so it keeps us from having to buy tons of ice. Of course, cooking while camping is a very personal choice. We lean more towards convenience because of the ice situation and because the less time spent on making dinner, the more time that can be dedicated to hiking.