Check out Camping July 2018 for Part 1 of this Expedition!
Notes before reading: We were able to coordinate our meals with the family’s for the most part. We communicated the meal plan well in advance and brought extra snacks and produce just in case!
Hopefully this post will give you some insight and ideas for how/what to pack for camping with non-vegan friends or family. It’s way easier than it sounds I assure you! I’ll be doing a detailed vegan camping post eventually, but this trip wasn’t our usual camping style, as we usually go pretty minimal with our packing and simple with our food.
We loaded our stuff up and took off on the journey around 7am. We made one stop at Natural Grocers in Coeur d’Alene to grab vegan breakfast burritos, road trip snacks and drinks. We arrived at our campsite around 11am. Grandma reserved a huge secluded group site with a private river beach and Griffin and I were the first campers to arrive. We sought out the perfect place to pitch our tent and set up doggy camp and jumped in the river until everyone else came an hour or two later (grandparents, good family friends and their pup, aunt and her beau and pup, another aunt, uncle, and three cousins).
Part of the day was spent helping everyone set up camp, complete with a kitchen area in the heart of the campsite, 6 tents and two campers.
We drank good beer and grandma-made cocktails relaxed at the river until gathering for dinner. I was informed well in advance of the meal plan for the trip, so Griffin and I hit Natural Grocers and bought vegan alternatives for each meal. Night one was hotdogs, easy enough. So we got a pack of vegan dogs and chips that my grandparents cooked up for us and we ate with everyone else without missing a beat (or a flavor). Grandma also made a scrumptious coleslaw Griffin and I love that’s vegan!
My cousin informed me that her little sister (also my cousin lol) was an avid writer, filling notebook after notebook with her own words. I told the little one I’m a writer too and asked if I could read some of her work. To everyone’s surprise, she agreed and let me skim through a couple of her notepads! Pretty much made my entire day.
We ended the night sitting around a huge fire pit watching a little learn to start a fire with nothing but wood and his hands and sharing stories until eventually everyone was settled in for the night. Word is a telescope came out after Griffin and I hit the hay so we missed that chance to scope out the stars and planets but I took note of my aunt mentioning how the Milky Way appeared to the naked eye.
We were kind of ill-prepared when it came to our sleeping quarters. We brought a sleeping bag and two fluffly blankets… but decided against bringing our air mattresses or foam pads (bad idea, if you didn’t already guess). We woke up freezing multiple times (as did everyone else) and got up pretty early on day 2 since we couldn’t sleep anyway… Marble was shivering when we woke up too, so we’ll take her a blankey next time. Lesson learned!
Up with the sun, Griffin and I bundled up and took the snoops for a walk. On my way to the restroom I was startled by a buck walking out from behind the restroom toward our driveway. He was slow, handsome and unalarmed by the humans walking toward him!
We were the first people awake after the grands, so we quietly snuck out of the campsite and walked the dogs up the road, through a little piece of the forest. We attempted to get to the river from a more remote area and walk the beach all the way to our campsite, but we were stopped by a jungle of pokey thorny plants.
While we walked and talked, I absorbed all the beauty around us, leading me to notice a huge owl sitting on a branch on the side of the road watching me back. I had never been so close to an owl before and it was pretty gorgeous!
When we got back a couple more folks were awake and we decided to build a morning campfire to warm up until the sun rose over the trees. We drank coffee and woke up beside the fire in the most peaceful way. My uncle and cousin found huckleberries and berries of some other sorts and brought a handful over for us to taste.
Once everyone was awake the family prepared chorizo and cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Griffin and I cooked vegan maple sausages over the fire while they cooked chorizo on the grill. We added the sausages to a breakfast sandwich along with a couple slices of vegan cheese and we all ate breakfast casually as we got hungry.
I’m kind of spacey on what happened between breakfast and the next activity, but I’m sure this time was spent chilling on the beach with a beverage in hand.
My grandpa drove my aunt and cousin up river with a raft and let them float back to the campsite. Griffin and I went next and kind of lazy, kind of adventure floated back down. Let’s just say Griffin made sure to steer us toward the “rapids”. As soon as we pulled the raft back to shore, my cousin (the writer) approached me cute as could be to tell me she didn’t have anyone to help her float. So, as you can assume, I went back up river with her next. Soon after we took off our raft was spinning around and we were laughing, and about half way through the trip after not hearing a peep out of her for a while she informed me she was sleepy! Me too, girl, me too.
Griffin and I snacked on chips, crackers, avocados and hummus periodically throughout the day and we had burritos with the fam for dinner. Theirs with pork, and ours without of course. Oh, did I mention we brought vegan nacho cheese? Ughhhh so good.
Day #2 also finished around the fire pit. We roasted marshmallows in celebration of my aunt’s birthday. Griffin and I used Dandies brand vegan mallows that were easily roasted to the perfect gold-ness with melty fluff insides! These were our first vegan marshmallows and we were equally impressed.
Griffin and I’s tent was a little off in the trees compared to the rest, and my aunt’s tent was even further into the trees. As we all headed off to bed this night, Griffin and I heard some branches breaking and leaves crunching in the woods past my aunt’s tent. Then we heard her dog start barking, so we went over and shined our flashlight in their direction, hoping to see whatever (large sounding) critter was in her neck of the woods. A second after we put our flashlight on the area we saw hers poke through the trees too and heard her ask “Did you see anything?” neither of us could figure out what it was but I’m sure our flashlights and dog barks scared it off!
The dogs. The sweet lil dogs. They were completely exhausted after socializing, swimming, and exploring all day. No sooner than Griffin and I got comfy in bed, the dogs were already snoring (loudly) outside of our tent. We mentioned not having a mattress in our tent and just about everyone jumped at the opportunity to offer mattresses and foam pads, so we slept comfortably the second night. I woke up in the middle of the night and I was completely astonished by how dark it was outside. I quite literally could only see what was within the beam of my flashlight. I did remember to look up to the sky and was happy I did, because I have never seen so many stars in my life, and I have definitely never seen the Milky Way. Even without my contacts, I stood in the middle of the campsite for a few minutes a little scared of not being able to see around me but also completely lost in space.
We made a routine of waking early, walking the dogs then drinking coffee around the fire til everyone was awake. Our DEER friend stopped by our campsite one more time, making his appearance to the rest of the group for the first time. He was also spotted in the woods around our site after I saw him that morning, but I’m unsure if that was day 2 or 3… regardless, what a friendly little buck he was!
Griffin and I had a fruit buffet of pears, apples, bananas, and grapefruit on the tailgate of the Tundra while everyone was getting up and ready for the day. They had pancakes and bacon for breakfast and we took a hike while they prepared their food. Sweet family friend, Linda, was disappointed in herself for not having something to cook for Griffin and I (which we never want to burden anyone with!) and insisted that we eat blueberries she brought. Once everyone was done eating about half of us took off for a little hike to a couple of waterfalls nearby, which were a sight for sore eyes to say the least. Griffin took off on a little expedition of his own and found a geocache full of interesting goodies.
When we got back Griffin and I packed up our stuff and then made the BEST vegan burgers for lunch (Field Roast brand fieldburgers) over one of the fire pits. After lunch Griffin and a couple other men from the group went off to shoot guns while I loaded the truck and sat by the river for the last time.
When Griffin got back we took the dogs for one last swim/hike, said our goodbyes to our Kansas family, and headed home!