Looking Back: 2016

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Megan and Michael looking at red rocks in Sedona
When we look back on 2016, we see a year filled with exploration, discovery, and personal growth. We cooked up a bunch of great recipes, made amazing new friends, reconnected with old ones, and saw some pretty spectacular sights. Despite the internet having written off 2016 as a total disaster, we are grateful that for FOTG, it was a pretty good year.

Last winter, we got our first taste of “slow travel” as we waited for our car’s A/C condenser to be repaired in Anza Borrego. We were unwitting bystanders during a BLM raid at a nudist hot spring outside of Holtsville, purchased gas for $1.17 gallon in Tucson, and briefly visited Yuma before being advised by the locals to “go someplace more interesting…”

In the spring, we hung out with naturopaths, palm-readers, and gem-therapists in a coffee shop outside of Sedona, AZ, time traveled across 4 time zones on our way through Navajo Nation to see the iconic Horseshoe Bend, nearly froze to death in Michael’s sister’s apartment in Durango, CO, and ill-advisedly tubed down the rocky Virgin River in the town of Springdale, UT.

In the summer, we found a campground paradise in Weaverville, CA, crashed not one, but two house parties during 4th of July celebrations in Bend, OR, shot a big project for Visit Idaho, drove across the country in four days, and then shot another project for Wild, Wonderful West Virginia. After which, rather than endure one more hot, sweaty, sticky night, we drove straight into the cool, indifferent embrace of New England.

In the fall, we brought our life on the road to a close. The ye olde Ford Focus, after logging an impressive 38k miles, needed a rest – at least for the winter. But we plan to continue to expand Fresh Off the Grid into future. Spring is just around the corner… and there’s a good chance we’ll have gone entirely stir-crazy well before then.

So watch out 2017, we’re coming for you! But before we do, let’s take a look at some of the highlights from 2016.

Top 10 Camping Recipes of 2016

A pizza in a cast iron skillet

Cast Iron Campfire Pizza

Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at supper time. When you know how to make pizza with a cast iron skillet, you can have pizza anytime.

Overhead of a table with a Dutch oven of lasagna and two plates

Dutch Oven Campfire Lasagna

One of our more improbable meals turned out to be one of our most popular of the year.

Michael holding a backpacking pot filled with ramen with mountains in the distance

Revamped Backpacking Ramen

We brought some much needed nutritional updates to this backpacking staple.

An easy backpacking meal idea: Fried Rice with Jerky. With just a few ingredients (and no dehydrator!) you can make this backpacking dinner ahead of time and enjoy a homemade meal on the trail.

Backcountry Fried Rice

A craving for good Americanized Chinese food knows no bounds. Now you can get your fix even out in the backcountry.

Michael holding a granola bar with a bite taken out

Vegan S’mores Granola Bar

Making a s’more into a granola bar was easy. Making it vegan turned out to be more difficult than we thought.

Two sweet potato bean burgers topped with avocado on blue plates

Southwest Sweet Potato Bean Burger

The ultimate veggie burger for meat lovers. We went the distance to develop this sweet potato & white bean burger.

Michael stirring pasta and red sauce that is in a cast iron skillet on a camping stove

One Pot Protein Pasta

This dead-simple, yet nutritionally balanced meal arose from an “oh crap, what are we making for dinner” moment.

Michael holding a taco and a beer

Drunken Cauliflower Tacos with Quick Pickled Onions

Tacos and beer are a match made in heaven, so why not cook them all together?

Michael holding a bowl of stew near a campfire

Sweet Potato & Peanut Stew

Eating this hearty, smoky, warming stew felt like wrapping ourselves up in a blanket and sitting next to a campfire.

Chickpea hash with two eggs on a blue plate next to a cast iron skillet

Chickpea Hash

Putting a unique spin on hash, this breakfast skillet will start your day off with a protein kick


Top 3 How-To Guides

Michael leaning out the driver side door of his car in front of a tent

How to Find Free Camping in the US & Canada

We got pretty good at finding a free place to camp during our 13 months on the road, and we’re passing that knowledge onto you.

Michael adding kindling to a Swedish firelog

How to Make a Swedish Fire Log

Take your fire making skills to the next level by making your very own Swedish Fire Log.

Wooden crate full of camping pantry ingredients

How to Stock a Camping Pantry

Keep the hangry away by keeping a properly stocked camping pantry.


 

Top Places We Visited

A wide expanse filled with cactus and mountains in the background

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ

With fields of flowering cacti, the vibrancy of the Sonoran Desert was on full display in Organ Pipe National Monument.

Megan putting her foot in the water at red rock Creek

Sedona, AZ

Tucked away amongst the blazing red rocks, we searched for secret swimming holes in Sedona, AZ.

Michael standing on a rock outcropping looking into snow canyon

St. George, UT

We spent so much time in Zion National Park this year that we were able to memorize the automated narration on the intra-park tram ride. We hiked the Narrows, climbed to Observation Point, and even got a chance to check out some of the other hidden gems of the area.

Heart lake with Mount Shasta in the distance

Mt. Shasta, CA

Part outdoor paradise, part spiritual retreat, we feel in love with the enchanted town of Mt. Shasta. An overnight backpacking trip up to Heart Lake was all we need to find our inner peace.

Wildflowers next to the trail in Jefferson wilderness

Jefferson Wilderness, OR

We hiked along a section of the PCT to reach Russell Lake, deep inside the Jefferson Wilderness.

Megan laying in the goldbug Hot Springs in Idaho

Idaho

If you haven’t been, then you’ve got to go to Idaho! We spent an entire week exploring this up-and-coming state. Mountains, deserts, forests, rivers, and hot springs, the best of the west can be found in Idaho.

Michael tying his shoes on the NRocks Via Ferrata in West Virginia

West Virginia

One of the most underestimated states in the Union, West Virginia blew us away. We spent almost two weeks exploring the diverse range of outdoor opportunities in the Mountain State.

First person view over the bow of a kayak Megan is kayaking up ahead

St. Regis Canoe Wilderness, NY

There’s no place to capture autumn than in the Adirondacks. We went on an overnight kayak trip through some of the most spectacular fall foliage we have ever seen.


 

Thank you to everyone who made this year what it was – the people we met on the road, our supportive friends & families back home, and the many of you who made our recipes, followed along, and have otherwise been part of the Fresh Off the Grid community.
We have some big dreams for 2017 and we can’t wait to bring you all along! If you want to stay up to date, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter below so that you’ll always be the first to know what is on the horizon for FOTG.

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6 Comments

  1. I enjoyed meeting you both in 2016 and reading about all of your adventures!! Can’t wait to see what you have in store for 2017!!

    1. Thanks, KJ! It was so nice to meet you this past summer. We are always so stoked to connect with people in “real life”. Hope you had a wonderful new year’s and that you are enjoying all that snow that Utah is getting right now!!!

      1. Stupid work kept me away all week but I’m hoping there’s still some powder stashed in the trees for me this weekend!! If you guys are in Utah again feel free to get in touch! 😀 Hope you’re enjoying the down time!

  2. Hi! I just came across your site, as my husband and I are planning a trip to AZ this summer and planning on seeing devil’s bridge and grand canyon. Would love to know where the photo at the top of the page was. Thanks!!

    1. Dawn,
      I know that this was in Sedona, but I can’t remember the exact location!! Sedona is gorgeous and there’s a ton of viewpoints like this, so I’m sure you’ll come across something amazing!
      Megan