OUTDOOR ENTERTAINING MADE EASY

 

A few years back we were deep-sea fishing off the coast in Washington State with a very lovely family-run charter business, when hubby decided to invite the captain, his crew and their families to come and join us back at camp for dinner.  “I’m sure Monica would love to cook up the catch of the day for you all!” He beamed (it was a very good day fishing, after all).  To set the record straight, the catch of the day happened to equate to one very fat 12-pound salmon, an extremely large bucket of over flowing prawns and no less than 12 extra-large Dungeness crabs.  As the boat rocked from the force of the waves, I grabbed the handrail and took a good foothold while taking a deep breath. I had visions of my tiny kitchen overrun with all this seafood and myself in the middle in utter despair. How on earth am I going to prepare a seafood feast for all our guests?

In the end, I survived that evening. As I look back, I’m not sure how, after all, I forgot to bone a freshly caught fish, forgot the salmon dip in the oven (which I discovered the next morning) and had no choice but to serve wine in coffee mugs.  Regardless of all that, everyone had a great time. I also realized that evening just how capable my RV kitchen was.

Since then we’ve enjoyed many great evenings with friends of ours along the way. Take for example the time we returned to Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington State where we entertained over 25 of our friends. This is when I learned that when your guests offer help, you take it. I also realized it’s quite alright not to cook every course from scratch. My friend Gavin who runs Asher & Olive’s catering business on the island came to my rescue with Bananas Foster for all of our friends. Thank you, Gavin!

 

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HOW SWEET IT IS!

When Natalie Campanella left the cold corridors of NYC life for sunny southern California in her early twenties, she knew that she wanted to live in a place in which she could “be outdoors” year round. In her mind she harbored the idea that someday, somehow, she would be in a place where she could explore the west coast from San Diego to Canada and beyond. She imagined the sweet life songwriters and poets wax about when extolling the virtues of southern California, a place where it never rains and the days are longer and the nights are stronger than moonshine, a place where dreamers go to live.

 

Natalie grew up in the Midwest in a camping family, the youngest of seven siblings. She took into adulthood vivid childhood memories of the rocky Canadian beaches of Newfoundland and of spelunking in the cold, dark caves of Kentucky with her six siblings and five cousins who joined her family each year on their camping pilgrimages. Long car rides in the family station wagon before seat belts and air conditioning. Rolling through the miles with the windows down and kids sprawled all over each other. Eight track cassettes with the Beatles Greatest Hits. Coleman lanterns and the parental warning to not touch it when lit! Mosquito bites dotted with calamine lotion and with an “x” dug into them with a fingernail. That and moms sympathy being the standard remedy of the day. Shorts and tees by day, and jeans and hoodies by night. Campfires, sing-a-longs, toasted marshmallows and lightning bugs in jars. Natalie stored all these memories and hoped to one day add to them.

 

Natalie (the middle hooded child!) with her siblings on a family camping trip in Fish Creek, Wisconsin

 

Post-college life has a way of getting really busy, really fast and Natalie’s life was no exception. Natalie’s move to the West Coast took her to Santa Monica where she continued pursuing the performing arts while working in the legal department of a large corporate real estate agency. In New York she had been a regular performer at the 1980s famed punk rock and improv venue, CBGB’s, in the East Village.  Her free time on the west coast was spent at an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico where she helped the founders raise not only money, but also the spirits of the 100 children who lived there. She was free to “be outside” all the time and ran the LA marathon with her Tijuana “kids” in mind. She raised enough money through sponsorships to contribute to the purchase of a used school bus to take the kids on outings off the orphanage grounds. She knew that exposure to nature has healing effects. She went to her bosses so often with charity projects and fundraising ideas that they eventually made her the manager of the nonprofit within the company. For the next 10 years, she raised funds through the company real estate offices and provided services and assistance to countless individuals and groups until the corporate office changed its structure in 2015 and the job was eliminated. For the first time since graduating from college, she was unemployed.

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A GYPSY SOUL

Start by doing what’s necessary;

Then do what’s possible;

and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.

-St Francis of Assisi

 

Angela Gonzalez has a plan! She’s planning on taking time to tour the country in a vintage RV. She has places to go and things to do with her boyfriend Damian and their dogs. Meanwhile, she is working everyday doing what is necessary and possible to make what might seem like an impossible dream come true. She is a person of great joy who lives color dreams; she’s a modern day mix of gypsy and hippie stock who lives life in a perpetual state of hope and happiness.

 

 

Angie was born in Brooklyn, NY in the early 80s. She is the oldest of three children in what she describes as a “typically crazy, funny, loving family of five. My father is Cuban. My mother is Jewish. I love my sister Heather and my brother Jeremy more than anything. My mom and I talk on the phone daily and my dad is truly my best friend. He’s always been there for me my whole life and I’ve been there for him.” The family lived in Brooklyn until Angie was five and then spent the next twenty years in beautiful Northern California. Angie spent lots of summers visiting her grandma on the east coast and never gave up her Brooklyn roots. “We got the street smarts of city kids but the chill laid back feeling of California.” Angie loves this aspect of her life and truly feels authentically bi-coastally blessed.

 

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FIVE BENEFITS OF ESCAPING IN OUR RV

 

My family suffers from one of society’s most common and prevalent afflictions: too much. Too much clutter, too much to do, too much general busy-ness. My husband and I are both self-employed Type-A personalities and there are many weeks when we work upwards of 50 to 60 hours. Our two daughters are both in competitive cheerleading that gobbles up eight hours each a week of their “spare” time. Add to the mix all the regular mundane chores like homework, laundry, and grocery shopping – and we have an active social life. 

While there’s no doubt it’s a good life, every once in a while it can get, well, overwhelming. When it all gets too much for me to handle, I metaphorically throw out my hand and slam it hard on our escape hatch.

 

 

Our family’s “escape hatch” sits on six wheels and is 40 feet long. From the outside it looks like your typical motorhome, but don’t be deceived; it’s so much more than that. Our RV has become our shelter from the storm and our first go-to when we need a family reset. “But it’s just an RV,” some may scoff. Not so, I’d counter. It’s a family containment unit and when the outside world has us paying more attention to our screens than to each other, it’s time to hop inside for status updates that are spoken instead of texted.

 

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YOUR OWN PRIVATE IDAHO

 

It’s 8 o’clock on a sunny Saturday morning. We’re happily camping at the McCall RV Resort in the sweet mountain town of McCall, Idaho and life at this moment could not be better. Winter camping for us is prime time and we adore it. Outdoor winter snow sports beckon us outside and the warmth of our cozy trailer at the end of the day is a treat in and of itself.

 

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