With a couple of cool nights and less-sweltering days under our belts so far this fall, I can’t help be feel the need to go camping. I’m a moderately cool-air kind of camper. Call me crazy, but I don’t need to sleep outside when it’s hot, or really cold.
I’ve slept in 20-degree mountain air next to the Gila River in New Mexico. While I can sleep bundled in layers of fleece and down while wearing a warm cap and gloves, as wonderful as it is, I prefer a little milder temperature for camping. Fall and spring are my favorite times to camp, otherwise I’d rather just stay inside with air conditioning or heat keeping me comfortable. I don’t think that’s asking too much.
Camping at Big Bend National Park, Stillwell Ranch, Terlingua Ghost Town and the Davis Mountains State Park introduced us to the best parts of far West Texas, and played a big role in why we live here now. The air is just different out here.
We all know the night sky is vastly different from anywhere else in Texas,
but the day sky is different, too. Waking up to a Davis Mountains morning is a glorious thing.
We haven’t packed up the car and set off with our tent to sleep on the ground in a couple of years, but during those couple of years, we’ve been lucky enough to wake to the glorious Davis Mountains nearly every day.
For several months before we decided to lay claim to property out here, my husband and I went camping every other weekend, from Thursday through Sunday night. We were getting away from the trials of life to relax in places with limited-if-any cell phone service. We sought places that had people doing what we were doing – seeking solace, albeit brief, from everyday stuff, through a commune with nature.
Javelinas, hot springs, skunks and powerful hail storms are just a few images that come to mind when I think back to our early West Texas camping expeditions. We – and our tent – survived it all. It was some good stuff.
Packing food for a camping trip can be a tricky thing. We’d take as much water as we could fit in the car with our camping gear. Our ice chest usually had chicken salad, potato salad and a quinoa salad in it because we could eat them easily, even while driving. Chips and various dips, bread for making sandwiches with the chicken salad, jerky, fruit, trail mix, nuts and dried fruit. Dark chocolate for when we got the urge for something sweet.
I packed ground beef with all the burger fixins, prepped ahead of time, and some potatoes to go with steaks we’d cook over campfires my husband kept going for us. We took cans of sardines and kipper snacks, just in case we needed them.
Breakfast was eggs and bacon on the Coleman stove in a cast iron skillet, and left me feeling like a pioneer woman after cooking it outside.
Coffee made one cup at a time with our his and hers pour-over coffee makers tasted better than any coffee made indoors.
During one trip to Big Bend National Park, we hiked the Window Trail, and took a light lunch with us to eat at The Window.
While we ate sardines on crackers (I’ve always enjoyed sardines), all I could think about was the mountain lion warnings I’d seen posted, and wondered if mountain lions were attracted to the scent of sardines. Our cat certainly was. And I did my best to wrap our fishy tins as smell-proof as possible. It must’ve worked because not a single mountain lion followed us back to the parking lot.
Our scenic lunch at The Window concluded with an almost-overripe banana cut into pieces and smooshed between thin ginger cookies. I know it sounds really weird, but it was delicious. Or maybe it was the view and the company that made it taste so good.
Our next camping trip, I’ll take supplies for a “healthier” s’mores that we can make over the campfire for when we’re ready for something sweet, but not so marshmallowy-sweet as traditional s’mores… and I think we’re going to need to go camping pretty soon.
Marshmallowless Roasted Banana S'mores
- 2 bananas, ends cut off and sliced in half width-wise, peel on
- 1 bar dark chocolate, broken into 4 rectangular pieces
- 4 graham crackers, broken in half width-wise
- spray oil
Spray the bananas with a little oil and put them on the grill, over a hot fire. You want them hot, but not burned. Turn the bananas until all sides are blackened and the banana looks like it’s hot all throughout.
To assemble your s’mores, let the bananas cool a little, and peel them using tongs. Cut the banana in half lengthwise so it will sit flat on the s’more. Put one square of chocolate on top of one of the graham squares, then put the roasted banana on top of that, and place another graham square on top, smooshing it a little to get it to stick. If your banana isn’t hot enough to melt the chocolate, use fire-safe tongs to stick the whole s’more back in the heat for about 30 seconds, or until the chocolate melts.
Printed with permission of the Alpine Avalanche