Category Archives: logistics

Hawaii Trip in Review

Hawaii Trip in Review
20 days
18 nights tent camping
97 miles on foot
3  miles in an inflatable tube
1,062 miles in rental cars

$3,718 total budget
$1,213 flights
$608 rental cars
$71 gasoline
$66 restaurants
$279 groceries
$280 campgrounds
$196 Luau Kalamaku
$498 Kalaupapa NHP day trip
$234 tubing
$226 submarine
$47 miscellaneous
$0 NPS entry fees (free to enter both parks)

2 of 8 NPS sites in Hawaii
WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument
Kalaupapa National Historical Park

East Coast Trip in Review

East Coast Trip in Review
66 days on the road
37 nights camping
332 miles on foot
40 miles paddling
13,949 miles on the road

$3,661 total budget
$1,490 gasoline
$373 groceries
$227 restaurants
$164 campgrounds
$374 car maintenance (new brakes, new windshield, oil change)
$83 Pro Football Hall of Fame
$224 Universal Studios-Orlando
$70 National WWII Museum
$656 miscellaneous (ferries, tolls, parking, state parks, museums)
$0 NPS entry fees (saved $236 with America the Beautiful Pass)

70 NPS sites in 29 States
Badlands NP
Minuteman Missile NHS
Mississippi NRRA
Saint Croix NSR
Pictured Rocks NL
Sleeping Bear Dunes NL
Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial
River Raisin NBP
Women’s Rights NHP
Fort Stanwix NM
Saratoga NHP
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP
Saint-Gaudens NHS
Acadia NP
Lowell NHP
Minute Man NHP
Roger Williams NMem
Blackstone River Valley NHP
Boston NHP
Boston African-American NHS
Weir Farm NHS
Paterson Great Falls NHP
Statue of Liberty NM
Thomas Edison NHP
Delaware Water Gap NRA
First State NHP
Independence NHP
Thaddeus Kosciuszko NMem
Valley Forge NHP
Hopewell Furnace NHS
Gettysburg NMP
Antietam NB
Catoctin Mountain Park
C&O Canal NHP
Flight 93 NMem
Johnstown Flood NMem
Alleghany Portage Railroad NHS
First Ladies NHS
Cuyahoga Valley NP
Bluestone NSR
Appomattox Court House NHP
Booker T. Washington NM
Cumberland Gap NHP
Big South Fork NRRA
Manhattan Project NHP
Great Smoky Mountains NP
Blue Ridge Pkwy
Ninety Six NHS
Cowpens NB
Cape Lookout NS
Congaree NP
Fort Frederica NM
Castillo de San Marcos NM
Canaveral NS
Biscayne NP
Everglades NP
Big Cypress NPres
De Soto NMem
Fort Caroline NMem
Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve
Gulf Shores NS
New Orleans Jazz NHP
Jean LaFitte NHP & Pres
Big Thicket NPres
Cane River Creole NHP
Natchez NHP
Poverty Point NHP
Vicksburg NMP
Arkansas Post NMem
Chickasaw NRA

Alaska Trip in Review

Alaska Trip in Review
34 days on the road
14 U.S.A.-Canada border crossings
28 nights free camping
158 miles on foot
9,160 miles on the road

$2,698 total budget
$1,642 gasoline
$244 groceries
$45 restaurants
$0 campgrounds and lodging
$216 car maintenance (flat tires, new tire, oil change)
$260 glacier guide on Root Glacier
$46 Days of ’98 musical show in Skagway
$68 Denali shuttle bus
$177 miscellaneous (Chilkoot Trail permits, flight to Nome, etc.)

Visited 6 of 17 NPS sites in Alaska
Klondike Gold Rush NHP
Gates of the Arctic NP
Denali NP
Wrangell-St. Elias NP (photo below)
Bering Land Bridge NPres
Kenai Fjords NP

Group shot!
Group shot!

Trip 3 in Review

Trip 3 in Review
19 days on the road
16 nights camping (0 campfires)
103 miles on foot
5,500 miles on the road

$811 total budget
$575 gasoline
$107 groceries (we brought along most dry goods)
$16 restaurants
$12 campgrounds
$77 hotels
$24 miscellaneous (cave tour, state parks)

18 NPS sites in 12 states
Fossil Butte NM
Golden Spike NHS
City of Rocks NRes
Whitman Mission NHS
Nez Perce NHP
Grant-Kohrs Ranch NHS
Yellowstone NP
Fort Union Trading Post NHS
Theodore Roosevelt NP
Knife River Indian Villages NHS
Wind Cave NP
Bent’s Old Fort NHS
Washita Battlefield NHS
Alibates Flint Quarries NM
Guadalupe Mountains NP
Carlsbad Caverns NP
White Sands NM
Gila Cliff Dwellings NM

Logistics: Meals

Several people have asked us what we eat when we’re on the road and the truth is that it’s not that different than what we eat at home. The biggest difference is that we don’t have a microwave or an oven, although that hasn’t stopped Tiff from making cornbread biscuits. It’s amazing the variety of meals we have prepared on a campstove. We hope after reading this you are inspired to try cooking something new the next time you go camping.

As we explained in a previous post on logistics, we grocery shop more often to make sure things don’t spoil in the cooler. Therefore, we focus on one protein at a time and make multiple meals out of it—for example a rotisserie chicken, pound of ground beef, package of bacon, carton of eggs, or package of tofu. Future logistics blog posts will focus on the variety of dishes that can be made from each of these protein sources.

We also like to mix it up with recipes like lemon dill pasta with asparagus, sautéed zucchini and onions, and Uncle Rock’s green beans (cooked with white wine and canned tomatoes and served with melted mozzarella and balsamic vinegar). And there are our go-to camping meals like blackened salmon, Frito pie, tortilla pizzas, and anything out of a Zatarain’s box. The R.D. always makes sure we eat plenty of greens (salad, frozen or canned vegetables) and carbs (dehydrated mashed potatoes, boil-in-bag rice), plus stay well-hydrated. Eating healthy and getting enough sleep are two of the keys to keeping up our hectic pace during Pretirement.

Trip 2 in Review

Trip 2 in Review
43 days on the road
9 nights with friends and family (THANK YOU!)
32 nights camping (0 campfires)
154 miles on foot
47 river miles
8,719 miles on the road

$1,968 total budget
$868 gasoline
$288 groceries (we brought along most dry goods)
$223 restaurants
$57 campgrounds
$0 hotels
$134 car shuttles for river kayaking
$48 car maintenance (oil change)
$350 miscellaneous (tours, museums, state parks)

54 NPS sites in 16 states
Brown v Board of Education NHS
Wilsons Creek NB
Buffalo NR
Ozark NSR
Ulysses S. Grant NHS
Fort Donelson NB
Shiloh NMP
Natchez Trace Parkway
Tupelo NB
Little River Canyon Preserve
Russell Cave NM
Chickamauga and Chattanooga NMP
Kennesaw NBP
Chattahoochee NRA
Martin Luther King Jr. NHS
Horseshoe Bend NMP
Tuskegee Institute NHS
Tuskegee Airmen NHS
Jimmy Carter NHS
Andersonville NHS
Ocmulgee NM
Fort Pulaski NM
Charles Pinckney NHS
Fort Sumter NM
Moores Creek NB
Fort Raleigh NHS
Cape Hatteras NS
Wright Brothers NMem
Colonial NHP
Fort Monroe NM
Richmond NBP
Maggie L. Walker NHS
Blue Ridge Parkway
Shenandoah NP
Manassas NBP
Frederick Douglass NHS
Ford’s Theatre NHS
Mary McLeod Bethune Council House NHS
Rock Creek Park
Harpers Ferry NHP
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP
New River Gorge NR
Hopewell Culture NHP
Dayton Aviation Heritage NHP
George Rogers Clark NHP
Chicago Portage NHS
Pullman NM
Illinois and Michigan Canal NHA
Indiana Dunes NL
Silos and Smokestacks NHA
Herbert Hoover NHS
Jefferson National Expansion Mem
Niobrara NSR
Missouri NRR

Logistics: Hygiene

When it comes to keeping up personal hygiene on Pretirement, the bar must be lowered.  It is easy to find running water at rest areas, visitor centers, and fast food restaurants, but it is harder to find hot running water and showers can be few and far between.  On Pretirement we have taken advantage of rest areas/visitor centers at night, which we find to be typically empty, to brush our teeth and wash our face (same goes for early morning).  When we are unable to make it to a place with running water, we fall back on using oxy-wipes and body wipes to “freshen up.”  While I have not used these so far, you can also use dry shampoo and waterless shampoos.  But no matter if you have running water or wipes, the odds of you going to bed still feeling a little sticky, smelly, or dusty remain high – a small, but seemingly sometimes large, price to pay for being on the road.

Some state parks and campgrounds have showers, but typically you will pay more to camp in these campgrounds and these showers can be  closed seasonally (typically closed Labor to Memorial Day).  For Pretirement we purchased a 10-gallon solar shower, which is basically a black collapsible water bag with a hose and a “shower” nozzle that you can turn on and off the water.  The idea is that you fill it up, put it in the sun, and then you have warm water.  So far on Pretirement, we have yet to get all of those steps completed, resulting typically in colder, albeit, wonderfully refreshing hose downs.  We have noticed that both of us can shower with washing our hair with around 5 gallons total of water.  So far, the places where we have showered have been so remote as to not need to worry about onlookers.  For busier places we have a shower curtain which can be strung between two hiking/ski poles that stick horizontally off of the top of the van.  The solar shower sits on top of the van when in use.  Pros of the solar shower: it gets plenty of flow for washing, it can heat up quickly, 10-gallon size allows for plenty of water, but you can also fill it with way less if need be; Cons: Very difficult to move around, can leak, the hose that comes with it is only about 2.5 feet long.  We have also relied on taking showers whenever we see friends and family.  When all those fail, a hotel is never far away.

Trip 1 in Review

Trip 1 in Review
41 days on the road
27 nights camping
259 miles on foot
7,350 miles on the road

$2,380 total budget
$636 gasoline
$208 groceries (we brought along most dry goods)
$166 restaurants
$16 campgrounds
$138 hotels
$795 package trip for 3 nights in Yellowstone
$294 car maintenance (new battery, oil change, brake rotors)
$127 miscellaneous (state parks, festivals, hot springs)
$0 NPS entry fees  (saved $324 with America the Beautiful pass)

9 states out of 50
26 NPS sites:
Yellowstone NP
Grand Teton NP
Hagerman Fossil Beds NM
John Day Fossil Beds NM
Crater Lake NP
Lava Beds NM
Whiskeytown NRA
John Muir NHS
World War II Home Front NHP
Pinnacles NP
Sequoia NP
Cesar E Chavez NM
Death Valley NP
Lake Mead NRA
Bryce Canyon NP
Zion NP
Glen Canyon NRA
Grand Canyon NP
Tuzigoot NM
Organ Pipe NM
Tumacacori NHP
Coronado NM
Hubbell Trading Post NHS
Canyon de Chelly NM
Natural Bridges NM
Canyonlands NP

Logistics: Cooking

Logistics: Cooking

The only way we heat food is with a two-burner propane stove.  These typically run off the small green bottles that cost $3 a pop, but we were able to purchase an adapter off Amazon.com that hooks into a 15-pound tank most often used for grills.  We created a shelf that hooks to the back of the bed and is covered by the tailgate to protect from rain, but it can still get pretty windy back there.  As anyone who has used one of these stoves can attest, it is difficult to control the heat so constant stirring or non-stick pans are helpful.  We mostly use enamel-ware straight out of the 1950s that withstands the rigors of travel and cleans up quickly and easily.  We usually use a lid while heating that traps the warmth and provides more even cooking.  This efficient system has allowed us to cook quality meals in the middle of busy parking lots, roadside rest areas, and dirt road pullouts where we sometimes spend the night.

 

Logistics: Food Safety

Logistics: Food Safety

Keeping food cool
A thermoelectric cooler (ours is from Coleman) plugs into the car’s DC outlet and if continuously run should keep your food 40 degrees cooler than the surrounding area.  The cooler needs a significant amount of air circulating around it for it to work most efficiently.  We have ours under the bed loft near where a foot vent can continuously blow cool air on the unit.  Our van allows for different settings for driver, passenger, and back, so we are able to have heat running in the front, and cold running in the back to keep the cooler working more efficiently.

Even though the cooler works to keep the food cold while running, it is important to keep some source of ice in the cooler for the in-between times and to provide a thermal buffer for the food.  We started with plastic containers of frozen water.  Once those melted, we will chip off ice from snowbanks when we see them.  Block ice, while harder to find for sale in stores, lasts days longer than bags of ice cubes.  The thermoelectric cooler can help keep the food cold, as can ice, but we have found the combination of the two work best even in 80 degree temperatures in Death Valley.

Organization is essential since the cooler unit is focused on one end of the cooler.  It is important to prioritize the foods that need to be kept colder towards the cooler unit like meats, eggs, and dairy, while allowing breads, fruits, and veggies to be kept at the farther end of the unit.

Raw foods
The most problematic food with regards to food safety is meat.  Meat is an excellent source of protein, and provides variety while on the road.  It is important whenever you purchase raw meat to cook it within hours of purchase and cook all of the package, even if you are not going to eat it all at that meal.  The leftovers can be immediately cooled and stored cool to be used in a later meal.  Whenever possible, the safest way to purchase meat is to buy precooked meats (i.e. a rotisserie chicken versus a raw chicken).  When purchasing eggs, products like Egg Beaters have been pasteurized and are a safer (and less messy) alternative to shell eggs.

Condiments
Think of your refrigerator at home.  A large part of it is probably dedicated to condiments, salad dressings, and hot sauces (at least mine is).  These are items that are necessary on the road, but are a hassle to keep in the cooler.  Most individual packets of dressing, ketchup, mustard, mayo, etc. are shelf-stable and easy to collect over time.  Tiff had the benefit of being able to collect the leftovers from catering events at work, but these caches of packets can be started with every fast food run.

Grocery shopping
Even with a cold, efficient cooler, the best way to keep food safe is to not keep food very long.  Frequent grocery store trips (every 2-3 days) will keep the food supply fresh and the cooler stocked with cold, safe foods.

Rules

  1. Cook all raw meats within hours of purchasing
  2. Don’t overload the cooler
  3. Only purchase cold food that will be eaten within 2-3 days
  4. Stock up on ice/snow whenever possible
  5. Purchase precooked or pasteurized foods when possible