Friday, April 6, 2012

Vegan Road Trip

Back when we had the trailer, it was easy to take all our food along with us, and prepare it in our own little kitchen. We left Taos for Seattle this trip with nothing more than my jam-packed RAV4, which is a great road trippin' vehicle, but of course it doesn't have a kitchen. The solution was to bring what we need for some simple meals and snacks, all prepped and ready to serve.

One day into this adventure, I can already see what's working... and what isn't. We have one cooler full of drinks and ice. We also have an electric cooler that plugs into the car, which we filled with cleaned, chopped vegetables, homemade salad dressings, and dips - like our own portable salad bar. Then there's the "kitchen box," with chips, nuts, and other dry snacks, bowls, cups, forks, and napkins. The kitchen box also carries our blender, so we can make our usual smoothies in the morning and not have to try to hunt down breakfast in strange towns when we're trying to get back on the road. We also have an electric kettle, so we can easily make tea that isn't "coffee scented" from the hotel room coffee maker.

This is the first time we've tried all this. We usually just surrender to restaurants and too many salty snacks when we're traveling, but we wanted a little more control over our food this trip. The drink cooler is great. Nothing to change there. We just grab what we need and take it with us. The electric cooler is perfect during the day. We made our big lunch salad yesterday in Durango, and had a leisurely (free) lunch by the river.

It wasn't until we were dozing off at night that I realized the cooler only cools if it's plugged in, and that means only if the car is running, or if we bring it in to our room and plug it into the wall. We were so tired when we figured this out, we decided to count on insulation and dropping nighttime temperatures to keep our veggies cold enough to make it another day.

The kitchen box has what we need, but it's too heavy to move in and out of the car, so we ended up buying a smaller plastic tub to carry the essentials to the room with us. This will be OK, but it's not perfect because it means multiple trips to unload and load the car.

One thing that's been really helpful is the HappyCow phone app. We pulled into Moab after a long day of driving and Canyonland cruising, and my friend the HappyCow instantly showed me a (short) list of local restaurants that are veg-friendly. We opted for the Moab Brewery, figuring we could at the very least find salads and fries there. A nice cold beer was what we wanted most anyway. We were really happy to find a whole veggie section on the menu though, and totally enjoyed the veggie burrito and the veggie sandwich... and the beer.

We'll keep fine tuning this traveling food thing. I'm always wanting to pack lighter and make life simpler, and while it's clear that we haven't quite got it figured out yet, we've got at least part of it right. Truth is, it's really hard, and possibly silly, to try yo have all the comforts of home when you're traveling. Part of the adventure, part of the fun, is the lack of accustomed comforts. We learn as we go... Next trip, we'll bring less, and you know I'll keep you posted.