Eco-Friendly Vegan Camping! Part II – A Few Of My Favorite Natural Products

August 13th, 2014 - filed under: The Farm » Family

camping view

Our creekside campsite at Sequoia National Park, early morning.

Our first official morning of camping, Waits woke up early with the birds. I was still exhausted, but Jeremy was kind enough to get up with the kiddo and begin the breakfasting. Later, he told me that those early mornings, working in the cold and quiet, hanging with Waits, were some of his favorite memories from the trip. And aren’t I lucky for that? I’ll take the toasty warm tent, thankyouverymuch.

vegan camping breakfast

I finally emerged, persuaded by the amazing smells wafting in from outside . . .

vegan camping morning

. . . and the coffee, of course!

Breakfast was delicious vegan camp-food perfection:

vegan breakfast camping

Tofu, taters, tomaters.

After breakfast it was time for the washing up, which we did at our little “mess hall” tree station.

camping dish washing station

We used a simple solar shower (they’re super cheap) which we’d gotten with the intention of taking solar showers, but which we found instead worked just perfectly as a sink. I suppose we could have used it as both, but meh. Who needs showers anyway?

Every morning we would fill the solar shower using the melted ice water from our two 48-quart coolers. This would make room for new ice as well as re-use the water, which was important to us. Win-win! Hanging from a tree near camp, it was like our own private sink station, and man it made clean-up a breeze.

camping dish washing

And for the cleaning, we used Mrs. Meyers dish soap, which is all-natural, cruelty-free, and best of all biodegradable! The perfect camping soap indeed.

vegan camp kid

After breakfast was cleaned up and everything was packed back into the bear box, it was time to hit the road for another adventure. We had a big day ahead of us!

camping fashionz

Our first stop was Moro Rock, which promised a pretty special view. But on our way there we got a bit distracted . . . by a bear!

camping sequoia bear

This guy was pretty far away, but still so special to see. Just a young black bear prowling through the woods, bein’ all gorgeous and amazing!

And then, on to Moro Rock.

little boy forest faerie

When we told Waits that we were going camping in the forest, he asked us if there would be faeries there. And could we look for some? And could he please have a faerie costume so that the faeries would want to come out and meet him?

Jeremy and I both agreed that camping just isn’t camping without a faerie costume. And this is the one he chose.

He insists his name is Tinkerbell, but I call him Stinkerbell. And I think he’s just about the coolest human being that’s ever been.

vegan sequioa moro rock trail

“Trail” head at Moro Rock.

So, this little faerie climbed Moro Rock. And Moro Rock . . . how to describe Moro Rock.

You’re basically walking up narrow stairs carved into the side of a giant granite mountain cap. Yeah, that’s about right. And the pictures don’t do it justice as far as expressing height and magnitude. It just keeps going up. And up. And up. Every time you think you’re almost at the top, you turn a corner and realize the mountain just keeps going up.

moro rock hike

vegan moro rock

I don’t know that Jeremy and I would have gone the whole way, but Waits insisted on it. I’m so glad he did, but it was nerve-wracking. I was clinging to his hand so tight, terrified he was going to slip.

People die there! Every few years someone falls to their death. So my fear was not without warrant.

top of moro rock

At the very top. Waits made sure we walked all the way out to stand at the very edge.

Man, what am I gonna do with this kid?

By the time we got back down, our legs were shaking uncontrollably and Waits had a big blister on his heal. But it was amazing, and totally worth it. If you’re ever in Sequoia I can’t recommend this experience highly enough.

camping snacks

Leftover breakfast snacks en route to our next destination.

Next on our agenda was an afternoon of good old fashioned spelunking – cave exploring 200 feet under the earth. But in order to get to the cave we had to hike once more, this time down a canyon, past a waterfall, and into the valley below.

Crystal Cave hike

At the bottom of the ravine was the entrance to Crystal Caves. I took about a bajillion photos inside the caves, trying to capture the beauty of the rock formations and the wonder on Waits’s face. But cave photography is HARD and I basically failed.

Here, at least you can get a sense of the shapes:

inside Crystal Cave

We kept an eye out for cave faeries. I’m almost certain I saw one.

After our cave tour and subsequent hike back up the gorge, we were all pretty exhausted. We had another quick snack, but the wee little mister crashed out mid-munching. Bad form, little dude!

team snapea


Back at camp Waits and I took a little creekside stroll, and now I have to tell you my shameful secret and ask you to please, don’t do what I did.

dont do this
So pretty. Much shame.

So maybe it’s because I live in a beach town, and at the beach everyone takes. A pretty pebble, a shell, some sea glass. The waves wash endless treasures ashore and those treasures travel home in the happy pockets of tourists and locals alike. That’s just the way it is.

And it’s the only reason I can think of to explain why it didn’t even occur to me that picking wildflowers in a National Park is not only terribly illegal, but also not very nature-friendly either. And as soon as it was pointed out to me I realized “Oh! Of course!” and I felt like pretty much the biggest dummy ever.

So yes, there’s a beautiful bouquet on the table in the following pictures. Please do not take it as an endorsement of my behavior. I am embarrassed and apologetic, and I learned my lesson.

vegan camping food

While I set about preparing our dinner, Jeremy and Waits settled into a little project:

campground activities


camping vegan grilling
Campfire cooking.

And before too much time had passed, the table was set – complete with fully-erect T-Rex – and dinner was served!

camping vegan burgers

A closeup. Grilled zucchini and veggie burgers:

camping gluten free vegan

Right around dusk is when the mosquitos come out, and being right next to a stream, we were in prime skeeter territory. Luckily we had come prepared!

badger bug spray

You guys. This stuff – Badger bug spray – works SO WELL. I couldn’t believe it. But we compared a few products and this all-natural and organic spray had a much higher percentage of essential oils than the other comparable options. So we went with Badger and I’m so glad we did. You have to use a pretty good amount, but once you get it on, the stuff WORKS. Definitely recommend!

As the sun went down and we cleaned up camp, Waits kept chanting one happy little word . . .

camping vegan smores

S’mores! S’mores! S’mores!

And how could we say no?

vegan smores
vegan smores camping

#vkidsdoittoo !!!

vegan smores while camping
Oh yeah, and this is what a gluten-free s’more looks like. Dig?

After that it was quick to bed for all of us, completely exhausted from a jam-packed day.

The next morning was our last in Sequoia, and I decided to get up early with Waits and let Jeremy catch up on some sleep.

camping coleman stove

Coffee. And for breakfast I made a simple “camping hash” with cubed potato, onion, bell pepper, and black beans. But dressed up, of course, ’cause that’s how we do.

vegan camping breakfast coleman

vegan camping breakfast hash

Not too shabby for camp food, I’d say.

A few days later, up at Mount Shasta, I forgot to put on the Badger Bug-Spray, and we got bitten to smithereens. My legs were torn up and I was itching like crazy, especially in my sleep. So Jeremy found me this:

natural bug bite itch cream

And WOWZA, it saved me! Again, all natural and based on essential oils. This stuff is soothing and amazing and it allowed me to get a good night’s sleep despite my bug-bitten lower half. So, I just wanted to pass along the tip to all of you. SssstingStop. It’s good stuff.

That morning in Sequoia we packed up all our gear, broke down the tent, bade our campsite farewell, and hit the road. Yosemite bound.

It was a long day of driving, detouring, and dodging multiple wildfires, and we didn’t make it into Yosemite until dusk. But more on that another day . . .

For now? Homemade raw zucchini chips! And a little shared love: please tell me, what are your favorite all-natural camping essentials? Any must-have’s for my currently-in-the-works camp kit? Thank guys!

choosing raw zucchini ranch chips


Just an FYI, I was not comped or compensated for any of these products/reviews, I just loved them and wanted to share. The links are affiliate links like always. Square?

  • theveganchickpea

    this looks like so much fun! i haven’t camped as an adult, but i really want to now. the meals look so delicious and the adventures look so heart racing and life enhancing. and i love that little stinkerbelle of yours. i agree. he’s pretty much the most awesome human that has ever lived.

  • bmkr

    Hey Sayward. I’m loving these types of posts – so inspiring! Your science of salad post a few months ago honestly changed my life by the way. Cheers :).

  • Rebecca Carnes

    I love these camping posts!! I love knowing that the adventures are endless for vegan kiddos:):) Cannot wait to make some S’mores with P – I will have to hunt down some Dandies!! :)

  • Sarah C.

    I wish I were camping there right now!

    Isn’t 4 the funnest age? I love that these kids (my girl is 4.5) are brave and strong and excited about adventure, and don’t care what other people think – they just do what they love. I have been noticing that in my kid lately, that strength of mind to just love what she loves, even if someone (later, say in junior high…ugh) might tell her that it’s not “cool” to love that thing. I want to foster that, and keep her like that for as long as I can. I want her to want to dress up as a ninja turtle and a firefighter and a princess (and sometimes a princess-ninja turtle) no matter what “people” say. (All that’s basically to say that I think Waits is the cutest faery ever, and I love his conviction that that’s what you wear into the forest).

  • ellie

    that hash looks amazing! was if just the veg or did you add any spices?

  • vegyogini

    I love Waits. He is such a treasure!

  • Bianca

    That looks like such fun!!!! My favorite part of this post is Waits’ faerie costume!! Why didn’t I think of that? Next time I camp, I’m totes wearing faerie wings. I need the faeries to come hang out with me!!!

  • Aderann

    I always find inspiration in your posts. I am just a “baby” vegan and have the food part down pat. I am now trying to transition with my clothes, house and beauty products, etc. To see you take it on while camping is pretty darn cool.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Caitlin! I know I see through rosy mother glasses but man, I sure do think he’s special. ♥

    And ohmigosh, you should totally go camping! Would your hubby be into it? Its pretty bonding and super romantic. An adventure together! I hadn’t been as an adult either, and now I feel like I’ve been missing out. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Oh thank you, that’s so awesome to hear!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Endless indeed! You can get Dandies at most Whole Foods, even the dinky one here that doesn’t stock a ton of vegan foods. P will love s’mores! Sooo fun. =D

  • Sayward Rebhal

    YES! I hear so many parents say how whatever stage they’re in is so hard, and – don’t get me wrong, it’s hard – but I just feel like it keeps getting better and better. Maybe because Waits is spirited and the *hard* started fast and furious right away, haha. I know that I’ve definitely learned along the way . . . but still, the older he gets and the more he can communicate and imagine and share himself with me, the more fun I have. So yes, 4 ROCKS!

    And I will be so sad when he grows that sense of self-awareness, the realization that other people are watching and maybe judging him. He has almost none of that now and it’s inspiring and beautiful to witness. ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Oh yes, I definitely added spices! Salt and pepper, plus garlic powder, cumin, and oregano. I think that was all?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks lady! I couldn’t agree more, haha ;-)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Right?! I wanted to wear faerie wings int he forest too! =D

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you so much Aderann, it means so much to me to hear that I’m helping to inspire others in their veganism. Makes my day!

  • Katie

    I think you mean a fully-erected T-Rex. ;)

  • Angie

    This is a great post, it’s awesome to see how much you all enjoyed yourselves. I don’t want what can be better than fairy Waits. <3
    One of my favorite camping essentials is doTerra's On-Guard essential oil blend. I have used it for cuts, to combat the first feelings of sickness, bug bites (it worked awesome when my son was stung by a wasp) and to help with my husband's many allergies.
    Another favorite is Dr Bronner's liquid soap. It can be used for dishes and then some.

  • Rebecca Carnes

    I’ll have to make a special trip to Whole Foods this weekend!! But just for those marshmallows…and maaaaybe some other treats:) I always get in trouble there lol

  • Jenna

    love the camping posts!
    totally random [and perhaps already covered somewhere], my eyes literally cross every time I’m in the non-dairy milk section at the grocery store. between almond, coconut, soy, rice, oat, hemp, flax, sunflower, and various other combinations of blends – I’m curious of your choice on oat milk? is a taste, a nutrient composition, a price point….

  • Sarah C.

    I agree – my chica’s earlier years were great, but she’s a high-intensity gal and always has been (didn’t sleep through the night until almost 3 years old, for example). So each age gets easier and more fun….I’m just having a blast with her.

    I hope we can find some way to keep our kids brave and strong enough to “tough out” those rough years ahead wherein other kids will judge and bully. I want my sweet girl to stay true to herself, and I have no idea how to help her do that other than to keep telling her how awesome she is. I’m hoping that a solid base of self-confidence will help.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Hi Jenna, great question and I want to write a whole post about this, but the short answer is:

    I drink almond milk myself because of the taste and the price.

    I give oat milk to Waits (and drank it myself while we were traveling just for ease – also it is the YUMMIEST) for a few reasons. 1. It’s more than double the calories of almond milk, which that growing and active kiddo really needs. 2. It’s quadruple the protein of other plant milks (except soy, obviously) at 4 grams per cup (almond and others are ~1 gram per cup). 3. It’s so naturally sweet that he loves it even though they don’t add any sugar. It is SO yummy.

    I don’t drink it myself because it is significantly more expensive than almond milk.

    Coconut milk is healthy too but I don’t love the flavor, especially in coffee. The rest are too expensive (hazelnut, hemp) or yucky (rice) or in the case of soy, I try not to overdo the soy foods.

    Hope that helps!