Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Modern Chuckwagon

In August Amy and I went on a national parks road trip. We drove from Chicago to Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Big Horn National Forest, the Black Hills, and Badlands National Park. We were on the road for 28 days, camping for all but 4 nights. We cooked all our meals outdoors, except for 3 at restaurants and 2 at the home of friends. We ate whole grains, fresh vegetables, beans and fruit, just like at home. How did we do it? We set up a modern chuckwagon in the back of Amy's car that held all of our food and cooking equipment.

As you can see the chuckwagon did not take up too much room in Amy's small SUV.

The smaller bin on the left side of the chuckwagon was the dry food bin. It contained our whole grains such as rice, millet, oats, barley, pasta, and flour as well as other dry foods such as dried beans, oil, soy sauce, peanut butter, tahini, crackers, tea, and salt. We always had plenty of trail mix in this bin. 

We put perishable foods such as fresh vegetables and fruit, soy milk, bread, and containers of leftovers in the cooler. We had to buy ice for the cooler about once every 2 days.

The large plastic bin on the right side of the chuckwagon held all our cooking equipment. We brought four pots of varying sizes and one frying pan. The pots are made out of fairly thin steel, which allows them to pack compactly, but sometimes caused food to burn on the bottom.

We used a Coleman 2 burner propane stove. In 28 days we used 6 1/2 canisters of propane fuel. The stove was a real workhorse. At Yellowstone and Big Horn, where the temperature was often in the 30s when we got up, we appreciated that we could cook hot cereal and soup right away. As you can see, after a few weeks some spilled food had burnt on to the stove. I removed it with oven cleaner after we returned home.

We usually ate breakfast in camp, and packed a lunch of sandwiches or leftovers for the trail. Since our chuckwagon was always in the car, we did not have to go back to camp to eat dinner, so we usually ate at a scenic picnic spot. The photo at the top of this article is of Amy cooking dinner on the shore of Jackson Lake with the Tetons in the background.

We were in bear country, so we had to put all our food in the car every night. Since all the food was in the dry food bin and cooler, all we had to do was put these 2 containers in the car.

We had little rain on this trip, but when we did, we put up a tarp over the picnic table.

Our chuckwagon allowed us to eat the way we wanted, while we enjoyed some of the most beautiful places in our country.

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