Giving Thanks On the Road
Fall can be the most beautiful time of the year to camp. The seasons are changing and campgrounds and RV parks are not as packed with vacationers as they may be during summer months. If you are fortunate enough to have the time for travel in late November, you could have the unique experience of celebrating Thanksgiving on the road.
However, preparing an entire Thanksgiving feast in a camper or RV can be a daunting task and rife with unique complications. If you travel in a large vehicle with a full size oven, your solution may be obvious and your problems, minimal. However, if you are a tent camper or have a smaller travel trailer, as we do, you could experience multiple issues in attempting to achieve your usual spread.
Our small 18’ camper certainly contains an adequate kitchen area to meet our usual camping needs: a two burner stove, a small sink and a refrigerator. Indeed, it feels luxurious after many years of tent camping. However, we have no oven in which to cook the turkey. If you find yourself in a similar situation, do not lose hope. You have many interesting and creative options available to you.
Here are some ideas:
1) Organize a potluck Thanksgiving Dinner with others who are sharing your campground or RV Park. Everyone can commit to bringing a part of the meal and, chances are, at least one camper will have an oven sufficient to cook the turkey. To me, this sounds like a wonderful opportunity to give thanks and make new friends all at the same time. Quite reminiscent of that first holiday feast!
2) If your fellow campers are not interested in re-enacting the first Thanksgiving with you, another idea is to order a cooked turkey, or the entire meal, from a grocery store in the town or city near where you are camping. If you want to prepare some of the mean, you can always just buy the bird and complete the fixings in your camper. While my two-burner stove may not accommodate three vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and rutabaga) for the meal, I should certainly be able to pull off one of them, in addition to stuffing and mashed potatoes.
3) If you are not interested in purchasing an entire turkey, and are not a purist, another option is to pick up a rotisserie chicken from that grocery store, already prepared. Then you may complete the rest as you choose.
4) Deep-frying a turkey is an idea that became popular several years ago. There are special deep fryers on the market for just that purpose. Just be sure if you have never done this before, that you read the instructions before trying it out. I have heard of a number of injuries received by inexperienced “fryers.”
5) In most communities of any size, one or several churches or homeless shelters typically provide a traditional Thanksgiving feast for those less fortunate. If you can arrive in town a day or two prior to the holiday and locate on of these meals, they would be thrilled at an extra pair or two of helping hands to help serve their meal. The added bonus, in addition to meeting new friends, is that you would also get to partake of their feast without cooking the turkey. Problem solved!
6) Go nontraditional. Rather than turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, decide instead to celebrate with something easier to prepare in your RV or over an open fire. Perhaps a nice steak, with baked potato and salad would make you feel most thankful. Or you may choose to make a nice beef roast in the crock pot that travels with you. There is nothing saying that the ONLY way to celebrate Thanksgiving is with turkey. The holiday is what you make it!
7) Finally, in every city or town there are one or several restaurants offering a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day. If you are not in the mood to slave over a hot burner, or campfire, and would simply like to relax and be waited on, you may have a fine Thanksgiving feast at a restaurant near your campground.
No matter how you choose to celebrate your Thanksgiving meal, you can still incorporate your usual traditions for the holiday: holding hands while praying before your meal, everyone at the table taking turns sharing what they are most thankful for, actually sitting around a dinner table for the meal rather than around a campfire, or even the ever present football games.
Celebrating Thanksgiving on the road can be a wonderful way to take advantage of the gorgeous fall weather. In New Mexico, we have enjoyed 70 degree temperatures for the past month and look forward to mid 60s as we get into November. If you are, or can get yourself, to a location where the temperature will be moderate enough to enjoy your meal out of doors around a campground picnic table, what could be more reminiscent of what we have all heard about that first Thanksgiving?
To find your place to celebrate your Thanksgiving on the road, search for Good Sam’s inspected campgrounds.