There’s always that moment when the reality of camping sets in. Perhaps it’s when you lose cellphone reception and Wi-Fi service. Or when the sun sinks into darkness and the mosquitoes come out to play. Slapping the bugs away, you zip yourself into a tiny triangle on ground so hard you could tap dance on it. Or maybe that moment arrives when, after wrestling with the tent, you finally dig into the pouch of freeze-dried beef stew that seemed so promising, but didn’t quite deliver on the gourmet guarantee.
Glamping — the brilliant marriage of glamour and camping — was designed for those who still relish the quiet only the great outdoors can deliver but under less rugged conditions.
Wondering how to glam up your coastal camping trip? We offer a luxurious itinerary. Coast co-creative director Alicia Cahill, owner of The Kitchen Chick in the island’s downtown, provided all recipes for this article.
2:45 p.m. Set up site.
After check-in, set up your glamp site. Folks with tricked-out trailers are in business after mainlining water and electricity.
To create a makeshift living room invest in chic folding chairs, doormat (on the cover we used recycled lobster rope doormat by New England Trading Company, available at Tom’s Thumb Nursery in Galveston), hanging lanterns and small table. Make your campsite stand out with campy décor, like the pink flamingos we used for the cover of this issue.
7 p.m. Chow time.
Instead of settling for a predictable picnic of open flame hamburgers and hot dogs, cook up something a little more sassy. Glamping on the coast means a chance for many to enjoy the fishing in these parts. Grill your catch with some vegetables. And remember, it’s the plating that counts. Even a simple meal looks like a gourmet feast when arranged on patterned melamine plates. Parchment paper, by Regency, is available at The Kitchen Chick.
Glamporized Grilled Fish in Parchment
Four 15-inch square pieces of parchment paper or four parchment paper pouches
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/8-inch slices
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/8-inch slices
1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes
2 lemons, cut into ¼-inch slices
Four 4- to 6-ounce fillets of sole, or other white fish
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed juice from
2 to 3 lemons
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prepare your grill by placing charcoal or wood on one side of the cooking grate. When charcoal is covered with gray ash, cover grill and preheat for 5 minutes. If using a gas grill, light half the burners to medium-high heat. Cover and preheat for 10 minutes.
While waiting for grill to heat, fold parchment papers in half or use parchment paper pouches. Open parchment and line middle of one side with two rows of alternating slices of zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes, leaving about 1-inch of space around the outer edge of the paper. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Arrange fish on top and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place 2 sprigs of dill on top of fish followed by two slices of lemon. Drizzle with lemon juice and oil.
Fold parchment over and seal by rolling edges together all the way around creating a pouch. Place pouches on cool side of grill, over indirect heat, cover, and cook 10-12 minutes. Fish should flake and be opaque throughout when done. Serve immediately.
7:30 p.m. Toast the sunset.
A shaker full of sangria can revive even the most road-weary glamper. Try shatterproof wine glasses by Govino, available at The Kitchen Chick.
Aqua serving tray available at Target.
The Grape Outdoors Sangria
2 peaches, thinly sliced
8-10 strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup of white or red grapes
1 bottle white wine
½ cup vodka
1-liter of Fresca
Place peaches, strawberries and grapes inside quart-sized Mason jar.
Next, pour in vodka and half a bottle of wine. Recork the wine bottle tightly. Chill sangria overnight in an ice filled cooler at your campsite.
Mix sangria concentrate, remaining white wine and Fresca together in a pitcher.
(Remember to ask your campsite superintendent whether alcohol is permitted).
10 p.m. Rough to fluff.
The lull of coastal wildlife and gentle gushing of nearby water provide an optimal soundscape for snoozing. Along with your sound machine, leave behind your sleeping bag. For a cozy night of rest, retire to a raised air mattress with high thread count linens (try luxurious sheets made from bamboo fibers that are woven into soft fabric at Cariloha Bamboo in Galveston) and bid farewell to the aches and pains that come from sleeping on the unyielding floor of a tent.
10 a.m. Nature walk.
Strap on your walking shoes — preferably Chanel trainers — and hit a nearby trail. Guides at Galveston Island State Park offer a 30- to 45-minute walk on Galveston Bay marshlands where glampers can learn about ecosystems, birds and plants.
1 p.m. Bike ride.
After a glampsite lunch, find some of the many winding nature trails around area campsites and a glorious scape of wetlands to admire while taking a leisurely spin.
8 a.m. Gourmet breakfast.
S’well insulated bottles, available at The Kitchen Chick, are the perfect replacement for those bulky camping canteens.
Double-wall insulated construction keeps beverages hot or cold for a long time and they’re stylish, too. Cast iron skillet by Le Creuset, also available at The Kitchen Chick.
Rise & Shine Stuffed French Toast with Blackberry Syrup
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1 1/2 cups cold mascarpone cheese
8 thick slices of day-old French bread
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 1/2 cups blackberries
2 tablespoon butter
Heat a charcoal grill to medium-high or set up a camp stove and use medium heat.
In a large bowl whisk together egg, milk, sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside.
Combine mascarpone and remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla in another bowl.
Dip bread slices in egg mixture. Gently spread mascarpone mixture over 4 bread slices; top with remaining slices.
In a small covered saucepan cook maple syrup and berries over medium high heat until berries start to break down. Remove from heat.
Heat a large cast iron frying pan and melt butter in pan, swirling to coat surface. Cook sandwiches in pan, turning once, until crisp and browned. Drizzle French toast with syrup and serve with a side of bacon.
9 a.m. Last looks.
Get in a last swim or go bird watching before packing up your glamp site.
‘Your own little cocoon’
On weekends, islander and cover model Cindy Buckley hitches her 1964 Airstream Bambi II to the back of her Hummer and hits the open road. There’s just enough space in the Bambi to squeeze out a gourmet meal or to collapse into comfortable cotton sheets at bedtime.
It’s a different story when Buckley unfolds an awning on the front of her camper and drags out a lounge chair.
“You have a view of the whole world out there from your outdoor living room,” she said.
Buckley is a member of a growing group of glamorous campers, known as “glampers,” who choose to travel by trailer. Thousands travel yearly to the island and surrounding area for waterside glamping.
“You have everything you need, the luxuries of home,” she said. “You can just pull over, make up your bed and feel like you’re in your own little cocoon.”
Buckley bought the trailer from a dealer in North Carolina and had it restored to its full vintage glory with Formica countertops, birch cabinets and upholstery fabric by Sunbrella.
She has glamped as close as Sandpiper RV Resort, 201 Seawall Blvd. in Galveston, and as far away as Southern California.