Sunshine and warm gentle breezes are nature's gift to adventurers everywhere. Summer is no doubt the best time to travel and explore the many amazing spots here in the U.S. and also to taste new or traditional regional foods. Anywhere you go, food is always a grand part of the experience.
As we travel in our RV trailer searching for really cool dishes and what makes them special, we made our way to Sin City before heading to Utah this past May for the unofficial start of the gourmet and specialty foodie tourism season and the premiere of the annual event, Vegas UnCork’d.
If you ask whether it's really possible for ordinary folks to replicate some of the dishes on the road. The answer is yes. One of the chefs tells us that he'll share anything we wanted to know if we ask the right question. So, we ask, “What's in this dish and how to prepare it?” He jokes as he says, “That's not the right question to ask.” There's a long pause before loud laughter. He then answers there will be a few modifications for campsite cooking, but it's fun to be adventurous with your meals.
Which RV is Right for You?
First things first. Choosing an RV or recreational vehicle is totally based on your travel needs. There are a few categories to consider. If you want to drive to your destination and detach your rolling hotel, a travel trailer or 5th wheeler that's pulled behind a heavy-duty truck can be ideal. These units come in sizes that have living rooms, kitchens, a complete bathroom and can sleep 4 to 10 people.
If you want your rolling hotel with a steering wheel and similar accommodations, perhaps a Class A or Class C or even a class B motor coach may be the way to go. The Class A comes in either a gas or diesel engine (diesel engines offer more power and better fuel efficiency but are a bit more expensive) and stretches from 28 feet to 45. The Class C motor coach is often cheaper than a Class A and just might be an easier way to get into RV'ving. The length is usually between 22 feet to 36, which can be easier to drive.
Class B is a supped-up luxury van with all the comforts of home in a very compact size from 19 to 24 feet. It is great for one to two people and can fit in a standard parking space.
As you consider getting out there on the road, it's sometimes a great idea to try it before you buy it. There are several companies around that assist you with venturing into the RV lifestyle. A service that we've used before is Outdoorsy which is the Airbnb of RVing). Other firms include Cruise America and El Monte RV Rental. This article by TripSavvy provides some great tips on what to consider when buying an RV for the first time.
Objectives of traveling via an RV is to find your wanderlust and get out there, camp and see the beauty that is the United States of America. Here is our video as we began our adventure.
Firing Up the Grill in Las Vegas
The base camp of operations for our first glamping venture is the Las Vegas RV Resort, a couple of minutes east of the Las Vegas Strip. This rather large property is perhaps the cleanest and quietest site you'll ever experience. Staffers personally escort and assist you with properly parking your rig. Whether you drive a 43-foot Class A or pull a travel trailer, having clear parking prompts saves you a whole lot of time and stress when it comes to settling in. Quiet, friendly, fun and safe grounds is the high bar standard for this resort.
Taking what we learned from some of the chefs of Las Vegas and with encouragement and support from our friends at GoRVing, we ventured out on the road to recreate five-star meals outdoors with nature.
For many travelers, burgers and hot dogs are staples for many camping outings. But meals can be a bit more fun and delectable with just a little imagination.
Most RVs, in all classes, have a kitchen, some contain a convection or microwave oven, a two to three-burner cooktop, and some even offer a small baking oven! Many RVs also have a propane line outlet (used for tailgating) for cooking in the great outdoors. Portable grills are also ideal. Open flame cooking depends on the campsite or RV resort. Some sites allow open flames but some national parks during summer months fire season do not.
Now back to the food. A dish featuring marinated chicken kebabs (oil, a dash of coarse salt, thyme, and a dash of red pepper) atop green beans and red peppers medley with a tiny splash of stir-fry sauce is rather tasty.
Cut chicken thighs into bite-size chunks and marinate the spices for an hour or so. Place the chicken onto wet wooden skewers on a controlled high heat grill. A quick fast side dish is sautéed red bell peppers and green beans with a couple of pats of butter, then serve. You can also drizzle a smidge of honey and a dash of ginger on a few of the chicken kebabs for a different taste.
Glamping, Gourmet Meals and Gorgeous Backdrops
The next stop on our RV tour would be Springdale, Utah, a couple of minutes outside of the enchanting mountain panoramas of Zion National Park. This would provide the backdrop for preparing one of our favorite glamping dishes – grilled sirloin steak.
One chef suggests bringing the meat to room temperature before grilling. Rub the steak with a smidge of peanut or canola cooking oil (higher heat tolerance) and a tiny, tiny pinch salt and pepper. Sizzle grill your steak for six minutes or so per side for medium-rare depending upon thickness. Drizzle a bit of basil and butter pesto on top and serve on a bed of potatoes or vegetables.
Zion National Park, with its spectacular tan and reddish colored canyon walls, hiking trails along waterways, was once known as Mukuntuweap in recognition of long ago Spanish explorers and the indigenous Anasazi people. In 1919 the region was renamed Zion (a Mormon church term).
Another dish we also fell in love with is grilled lamb chops. During our venture to Capitol Reef National Park, also in Utah, we prepared lamb chops marinated with a citrus chutney, a tiny pinch of salt and served atop roasted mini potatoes, asparagus and a butter-mint pesto sauce with a dab of yogurt on the side.
Monoliths, plateaus, carved rock canyons, river walks, and cliffside petroglyphs and ancients peoples are part of the view from your outdoor dining table. You can spend several days in Capitol Reef and still not see it all.
Fresh grilled fish caught from a lake or river near your campsite around Bryce Canyon National Park or even the store-bought kind, is really quick to prepare. First, drizzle your fish with a little olive oil, then very lightly season to your taste with salt and red pepper. Over a high-heat sear the fish for a few minutes each side and then serve. We serve this fish dish topped with butter, grilled scallops wrapped in bacon over mashed potatoes, grilled onions and vegetables with a splash of lemon juice on top. Preparing this kind of outdoor fare is not complicated. It's a lot of fun.
Bryce Canyon is not really a canyon in the literal sense. It's instead a place of giant pinnacles, natural colorful geographical amphitheaters, colorful rock formations and narrow hiking trails and vistas first inhabited by indigenous Anasazi and Paiute peoples. The areas became a national park in 1928.
Be aware that some RV parks, as well as state and national parks, have restrictions on the size of RVs allowed onsite. The parks are also typically pack-in pack-out sites which means your RV must be self-contained with its own water, electric and sewer system as there will be no connections.
Please check before making any reservations at national park campsite. The alternative is to stay at an RV resort with full hook-ups typically located just outside the national parks.
Don't worry, if you have never been camping with an RV before, there are plenty of friendly camping neighbors who will be more than happy to help you get settled in. It’s the camping way.