Dusting Off The Trailer


It has been more years than I would like to count since this camper has been taken out of the drive way. I found diapers in one of the cabinets from when my son was a baby. He is now 16. I will not dwell on why this camper has not seen activity but rather that it finally did.

For spring break my family and I headed south and stayed at the First Landings State Park in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Just as we finished setting up our trailer as a huge storm rolled in. The warm temperature quickly dropped 30 degrees. Along with it strong winds and rain. It was probably the worst storm that I have ever encountered while sleeping outdoors.

While the weather was unusually cold for this time of year I am glad that we got out and had an adventure, seeing some local attractions and trying some new camp recipes. I will share some of those recipes in later posts.

Highlights from my trip:


Touching History:
We visited “old” Cape Henry Lighthouse, built in 1792 near the site of the “First Landing ” of the Jamestown settlers. It is the first US commissioned government building and lighthouse built under the newly formed federal government. It remained in operation until around 1872 when a second lighthouse, also called Cape Henry, was built. This lighthouse is still in operation and run by the US Coastguard, but not open to the public.

Most unexpected event:

A Northern Gannet lay injured in front of our campsite. This is a very big bird with a very large beak! The beak is used to tear meat. As a result, no one got too close to him for fear of testing out how well his tearing skills were. Northern Gannets are flying North this time of year. I was told that they are not usually spotted on land unless there is an injury. Wildlife rescue was called in and our unexpected guest did not put up a fight, going willingly with his rescurer.

Best family fun:
Playing games and flying kites on the beach.

Guests are good when camping:
We had over night guests of 4 of my sons closest friends, two of which had never been camping before. It was a lot of fun to watch them put up a tent and teach them a few tricks about camping. Oh boy do they have a lot to learn.

What I learned:
1. Wool socks are a God send! Get them, use them and love them!

2. Dutch ovens and everything you cook in them rock!

3. Don’t drink any liquid past 6:00pm!

4. Always introduce yourself to other campers. You will always be delighted by the people you meet.

5. You can always find fun in the unexpected.

Remember to relax and enjoy life and look for adventure in your day!

Sweet and Spicy Beef Jerky


I have been experimenting making beef jerky for the past couple of years. It started when I discovered an awesome “spicy sweet” beef jerky made by Oberto. The flavors and texture really hit the spot but to sustain this new addiction would be pricey.  So, I came up with my own recipe. It’s chewy texture and mouth watering sweet and salty flavors, with a hit of “heat”, becomes the perfect snack to take backpacking or hiking!

Sweet and Spicy Beef Jerky

1 lb of sliced flank steak (or a very lean cut of meat)

1 cup of Mr. Yoshidas Sauce

1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger

3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (more if you like it really spicy)

2 Tablespoons of lime juice

2 Tablespoons of  Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce


Cut flank steak 1/8-1/4 of an inch. Place all ingredients (except the meat) in a plastic bag.  Mix well.  Place meat into the bag and incorporate the ingredients into all layers of the meat. Place in the refrigerator for 3 days.  Occasionally turn and mix the ingredients in the bag over the next three days for an even marinade.

Take meat out of the bag and place it on to your dehydrator racks. I use a Nesco Dehydrator and Jerky Maker. It works great! Set the temperature to 160º.  Space slices of meat so they are not touching. This will help with a more even cooking time.


Cook beef jerky at 160º for approximately 3-7 hours. This time frame can vary greatly due to how well your dehydrator retains its heat, thickness of your meat as well as desired texture.

When your beef jerky is finished, let it cool before packaging. Take the beef jerky off the trays and store in an air tight container or plastic bag.

Your beef jerky will store up to 1-2 months in a cool dry place like a cupboard, longer if you refrigerate or freeze your it. If you are at my house it does not last a day!

Enjoy and happy hiking!


Helpful Hints:

Freeze steak partially (not solid) prior to cutting your meat.  This will make it easier to slice the meat and cut more even slices.

Cut steak across the grain of the meat for a less chewy texture.

Get you beef prepped at a butcher shop. I purchase my beef jerky meat from the wonderful Springfield Butcher’s.  I can order the flank steak ahead of time and my butcher will cut it and have it ready for pick up at an agreed time.  My butcher tells me any lean cut of beef will work for beef jerky but he finds that most customers always come back to flank steak as their preference.

Trim off any extra fat on your beef.  You want to have the leanest cut of meat as you can.  Fat will inhibit the length of storage time of your meat as fat can go rancid. So keep it lean.

You can find Mr. Yoshida brand products at Costco, Wallmart, Sams Club, or Amazon.

It is important to cook your meat at a minimum of 160º, the temperature in which bacteria is destroyed, keeping your beef safe and enjoyable to eat!

The Tiger Talisman

20130909-144523.jpgJust when we were getting settled into our evening routine an unusual shape caught our eye. Amazed by its presence we realized there was a tiger that decided to join us. Startled and excited we sat and watched and wondered how could we be so lucky to be in the presence of such a creature.

Each camping event has its own experiences and tales to share. This outing, to Holland State Park, was no exception.  Joined with me on this trip were my trusted, well-seasoned daughter and my college roommate and her son who had only camped a couple times prior to this outing.

The tiger, which was a small fury plastic toy, was left behind by a previous camper and found by my crew as we readied our site for the evening.

The tiger perched upon the ledge of our campfire became our watchdog and more importantly our camping talisman. The tiger brought magic to the evening as only tigers can do. Laughter, bonding, sharing of stories of years past, followed by a lifting of spirits. Then a sigh, a sense of peace and the thought that life could not get any better than this moment.

Camping and being in the outdoors is an amazing and rewarding activity giving participants the opportunity to connect with themselves and with others in a way that cannot be achieved in everyday life. But to find a tiger, to remind us of this moment and bringing magic to our evening, well that is very special.

A talisman is an object that is supposed to possess special powers or even a charm that can exercise powerful influence on the human spirit. The tiger had magic powers. The tiger had become our talisman.  Was it the talisman that brought magic to our time together? Or was it being outside and unplugged that made it so special, giving us the opportunity to connect with one another?  Or perhaps it was a little of both.

My college roommate, as I found out, is a natural at camping. With her golden tan and athletic build, just shy a day of her 48th birthday, you would have thought this woman had been and outdoorsman all her life. What a birthday gift to discover a new passion. My roommate exclaimed with exuberance that camping had not seen the last of her and that she was going to get out and camp more with her family and with me.

As we parted, my roommate picked up the tiger and packed it in her tent bag. “I am taking this with me”, she said “and we are doing this again next year!”  With a smile I said, “Of course, as long as the Tiger comes too”.

On my backpacking trip in the backcountry of Isle Royal National Park, in the middle of Lake Superior, I found dimes, feathers and an infinity bracelet that became my talisman, my magic and my reminder to an unforgettable trip I took with my daughter. As I wear the bracelet around my wrist it became a reminder not only of what I experienced while I journeyed five quiet days in the wilderness, it too became a reminder of something bigger than myself watching over me and leading me forward along my journey.

How about you…do you have a talisman that brings magic and a reminder to your time in the outdoors?

The Macho Taco Burrito!

20130822-164341.jpgI really enjoy cooking.  However, cooking in “the outdoors” is even more fun and challenging  by using different tools and techniques resulting in the most delicious mouth watering culinary creations.  I hope to cover many techniques overtime but today I would like to share a simple and fun recipe that is quick and easy to prepare. It’s called the Macho Taco Burrito or the “MTB” for short.

What I like about the “MTB” is that everyone makes their own feast. Also, it is an easy clean up when your meal is over. Each camper creates a masterful meal to their liking by combining the ingredients that appeal to them.  The “MTB” starts off with a  very large tortilla wrap placed on a sheet of foil. On the tortilla place any or all of the following ingredients:

The Macho Taco Burrito

  • Large, soft tortilla
  • 1 lb. Seasoned pre-cooked Taco Beef
  • Tomatoes diced
  • Corn
  • Avacados
  • Salsa
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Chopped red onion
  • Black Beans
  • Re-fried beans
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Red peppers
  • Foil
  • Sour cream and salsa for garnish

Wrap your Macho Taco Burrito tightly remembering to fold in the sides as you roll resulting in a completely closed burrito. Continue by wrapping your burrito snuggly in your piece of foil.  Since the meat is already cooked, all you really need to do is warm your “MTB”.  I recommend that you put your “MTB’s” on hot coals so it can slowly heat up all the way through.  Do not put them directly on the fire otherwise you will end up with a charred mess on the outside and cold food on the inside. When you are done you will end up with a warm Macho Taco Burrito, cheese melting with a slight crunch to your outer shell. Serve your “MTB” with a dab of sour cream or more salsa.  You won’t be disappointed.


Helpful Hint: Prep as much food as possible before you leave for camp. Using plastic containers or plastic bags to contain your food will help with your organizing your meal. I recommend waiting to cut the avocado till right before you use it, however, if you chose to dice it up ahead of time place the avocado pit into the container with the avocado to prevent browning

An added bonus: The MTB is great the next day.  I made about 10 “MTB’s” with the ingredients I had available. There were several left over that I put in the cooler.  The next day three of the teenagers that I was camping with wanted a burrito.  I told them, “Sure, enjoy the leftovers.”  They were enjoying them, cold, more than I anticipated. I thought they might take a few bites then throw them away. Instead they ate the whole thing. Before they were completely devoured I requested a bite of this cold burrito wonder. Much to my amazement this pocket full tasty goodness was just as appealing cold the following day as it was warm the day before! What a pleasant surprise!


There is a fox in the Tree?!

20130819-115907.jpgIt was no small feat, with juggling of schedules and a lot of planning, but a camping trip with good friends and first time campers finally occurred.

Along with camping with newbies, comes the temptation of bringing the digital world  in the form of electronics, telephones, games and bluetooth earpieces into the camping experience. For me camping is a time to unplug from electronics and plug into the real world around us–nature. Taking in surroundings through sight, smell  and sound opens us up to a world otherwise silenced by layers of digital noise and distractions. Sharing the etiquette of unplugging while camping went over surprisingly well with the teenagers but not so easy with one of the adults.

As we were sitting around the campfire enjoying our surroundings a very large bird swooped in and landed in a nearby tree.  Very excited by our visitor I exclaimed, “There is a Hawk in the tree!” “What”, exclaimed my friend, “there is a fox in the tree?” With that statement howls erupted from around the campfire while further confusion of a fox in the tree plagued my friend. “Where is there a fox in the tree?” “No”, we all exclaimed.  “There is a very large Hawk that flew into the tree right behind us”, I said. Confusion still on my friends face.  With that I replied, “Take the bluetooth out of your ear and you will be able to hear better.  “There is a hawk in the tree!” I said one last time.  As the earpiece was removed there was a slight pause and an “ah ha” moment blossomed across my friends face. “Ohhhh”, he replied, “there is a hawk in the tree!” Smiles and laughter erupted with subtle jeering from fellow campers. 

Take time to unplug not just out camping but at home and plug into your surroundings and those around you.  If you don’t… you might find a fox in your tree.

About Me



Full of spirit and imagination, I am setting off on a journey to explore and discover the great outdoors. As a mother of two, I have spent many years nurturing my children’s exploration of the world, it is now my turn to quench my curiosities that call to me and lead me forward. Living in a metropolitan area all of my life has made it difficult to truly nurture this desire. I have decided bringing more of natural world into my everyday life a goal of mine. With limited time and natural resources it will take work to put this Mother back in Nature, but I am looking forward to the challenge!

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