Eco-Friendly Vegan Camping! Part III – Yosemite & “How To Be Vegan”

August 14th, 2014 - filed under: The Farm » Family

How To Be Vegan

A good road trip always calls for a good book!

Typically the drive from Sequoia National Park to Yosemite National Park should take somewhere around four hours – or closer to five if you’re operating under traveling-with-4-year-old conditions.

But when we made the trip Yosemite was on fire. Multiple fires in fact. And so we had to take a major detour, which ate up most of our day.

car trip vegan snacks

Road trip snacks! Grapes and [OF COURSE] Snapeas.

I drove the first leg, out of Seqioua and back into that no-man’s-land that makes up the inland-middle of California. Keeping the kid occupied is always tricky . . .

road trip reading kids books
But storybooks written for aspiring scientists help a lot.

Jeremy drove the second half of the trip, taking us back up into the highlands, watching the landscape change from grass fields and farmland, to foothills, rock formations, scrubby sage brush, and eventually, to evergreens.

I heart California in all her wild diversity.

And apparently, I also heart How To Be Vegan by Elizabeth Castoria. This delightful (and adorable) new book is just perfect for vacation reading.

How To Be Vegan Book

As you guys know, it’s not often that I accept a product for review here on the blog. But when I heard about this book, I knew I wanted it. Elizabeth is the former editor of VegNews Magazine – which is how I “met” her (via email), long long ago – and she writes with a strong, sassy, smart, and joyful voice. I love her writing and I knew that with her editorial skills and her years of experience + expertise, this was bound to be a great book.

And it doesn’t disappoint!

How To Be Vegan is sort of like a “vegan 101″ crash course – perhaps unnecessary for a seasoned pro, but an absolutely perfect entry point for new vegans, aspiring vegans, and the veg-curious. Which makes in an awesome outreach tool! The book is short and to the point, but covers a wide variety of topics like eating out, vegan makeup and body care, vegan cleaning products, and how to navigate conversations and social situations, all delivered in an easy-to-read conversational tone. Actually in many ways, it quite reminds me of my own book, Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide.

Two thumbs up!

But back to our travel day, we didn’t even arrive at our Yosemite camp site until dusk. We were lucky though, in that an old friend of Jeremy’s is the live-in “host” at the campsite where we were staying. Michelle and Jeremy met through the vegan scene in LA, when she was working down there as an animal rights activist. A few years ago she moved back home to Yosemite, and now lives and works at the Park. Can’t say I blame her.

Anyway, she helped us to get set up but even so, we were doing everything in the dark. Poor Waits was OVER IT after a long day in the car. So, I don’t have any pretty pictures of food for this night. Waits ate hummus and black beans and carrots and then went to bed. Jeremy and I ate Barbecue tempeh “ribz” (made in the cast iron on the Coleman) and steamed broccoli with my friend’s homemade ranch that we’d brought in the cooler. The picture is awful but the food was actually delicious.

vegan camping tempeh ribs

The next morning Waits and Jeremy woke up energized, and popped out of the tent to play and let the mama catch some extra sleep. They are so sweet to me.

camping wake up

Sleepy face.

But I couldn’t sleep for long, not when there’s so much cuteness going on right outside my tent!

camping faerie
I freeze you!

camping faerie costume

Okay, okay! I’m up!

Jeremy already had breakfast on the stove, and coffee brewing away. Bless him.

Waits was having a mixture of apple cinnamon granola with chia seeds, plus oat milk:

camping chia granola

Get up here and eat your breakfast, kid!


While we were having:

vegan camping breakfast

A vegan camp breakfast feast!

camping vegan breakfast

Cheezy skillet tofu + onion + yellow bell peppers, with green salsa, heirloom tomatoes, and a whole half an avocado YES PLEASE. Waits had said he didn’t want any, but then he ended up eating a whole bowl full. Because cheezy tofu.

handsome camper

Well hello there, handsome man.

So because of the fires, the entire Yosemite Valley was closed off (good thing we had planned to stay outside the valley!). But after the crazy few days we’d had in Sequoia, we weren’t too sad to miss all the major attractions. Hanging around camp and a nice little day hike to a nearby lake seemed just our speed.

yosemite meadow hike

I have to say, I was so surprised to see the difference in landscape between Sequoia and Yosemite. I mean, they’re only a few hours away form one another, and at similar elevations, but man . . . they are SO different. Sequoia reminds me a bit of the Pacific Northwest, with dark, heavily wooded, ferny kinds of forests. And of course, those ginormous redwoods.

But Yosemite is much milder. A wider variety of trees, it seemed, and much more open spaces. Meadowy.

yosemite kid friendly hike


yosemite meadow camping

yosemite hiking trail hiker

After an easy 2.2 mile hike, we arrived at our destination: an enormous, super still lake. I spread a picnic blanket and set out our lunch, but despite the gathering ominous clouds, the boys insisted on taking a quick dip.

yosemite hike lake swim

yosemite lake swim

My view from the shore was so dang serene:

yosemite meadow lake view

After their chilly swim, the boys joined me on the bank for a picnic of hummus, tortilla chips, veggies, and other little nibbles.

And just as we were settling into relaxation mode, we heard the first clap of thunder. It was about to storm!

So we packed up quick as we could, and high-tailed it back down the trail. There wasn’t much rain, but the thunder kept coming, loud and ominous, and I had my eyes peeled for lightening flashes.

camping hiking yosemite rain

On the way back we met this little baby, probably 15-20 feet away from us, munching in a meadow.

yosemite bear

And then a bit further down the trail, we met a young mule deer buck! They’re so pretty.

yosemite mule dear

Lucky for us we made it back basically totally dry. The storm passed alongside us but never over us, and within an hour the clouds had parted and the sun was out again.

We spent our afternoon puttering around camp – refilling our water, taking little walks, reading, playing, and all that sort of super relaxing, I-couldn’t-even-access-the-Internet-if-I-wanted-to type of stuff.

Michelle came by and hung out, and we put on a lazy camping dinner.

vegan camping cooking

Baked beans and camp fire-roasted brussels sprouts with olive oil and garlic. The hot dogs went on skewers.

vegan camping franks and beans
Franks ‘n beans. Brussels.

vegan camping food hot dog
#vkidsdoittoo !!!

It was a mellow day, a mellow evening, and led into a mellow night. Waits had fun chasing me around with “lasers”:

camping head lamp

camping headlamps
With matching head lamps. They slay me!

But for the most part it was a quiet night, and once again we were all early to bed.

On our last morning in Yosemite, we all got to sleep in together, which was nice. But we had another long day of travel ahead of us (Lake Tahoe-bound), so once we were awake, we were in go-mode. This was our last morning of the trip to experience camping – from here on out it would be hotels and motels and rented farm houses.

We had a good hearty camp-style breakfast, like we do:

camping breakfast polenta

Seared polenta and country potatoes. Always avocado.

After breakfast Michelle came by and brought her pooch Peanut, the famous Yosemite camp pup. Peanut is crazy cute:

peanut yosemite dog

While Jeremy and I broke down camp, Michelle took Waits on a little walk to visit some of her real Ranger friends. And those Rangers swore Waits in as a Junior Ranger, and made him promise to always be a steward of the forest, and gave him a wee wooden Junior Ranger badge, and oh my goodness you should have seen the look on his face when he came back to camp wearing that badge!

Well, actually, as we were leaving the park we stopped in at the information station, and while we there we picked up a surprise Junior Ranger hat for Waits. So that look? Well it was something like this:

yosemite junior ranger


And that, my friends, brings me to the end of this little camping series. We had SO much fun and we all can’t wait to get back out there. I feel incredibly lucky to live in a place with so much beauty to explore relatively close at hand. Death Valley, Joshua Tree, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Big Sur, and so much more.

We’ve got a lot of adventuring to do!

♥ ♥ ♥

  • JC Carter

    That face. This post. Awesome!

  • theveganchickpea

    i have to say, i want to go camping JUST so i can eat these delicious camp meals! baked beans and brussels sprouts? potato and avocado hash? omggggggg. and that picture of waits in his costume with jeremy gives me the tinkerbell chillies. i hope you frame it.

  • Isabel

    That is the happiest face I have ever seen on a baby boy. I love how hippie he is!

  • Angie

    Campground hostess would seriously be my dream job.
    Congrats to Waits on his Junior Ranger status!

  • Rebecca Carnes

    So much fun!!! And thank you for posting all the yummy camp food!! Logging it in my “to do” list with P :)

  • Lindsey

    Thank you so much for these posts on camping! We are planning to take our little herbie camping next summer when he is 3 and your information is very helpful. THANK YOU!

  • Ingunn

    Man, I need to step up my camping meals, especially now that I have a little one on the way! Thanks for all the great ideas. What did Waits think of the bear?

  • stephie137