Camping During COVID — Part 3

Dear Friends and Fellow Adventurers,

Gourmet Girl Gail here writing from sunny and now temperate Santa Barbara. We’ve had some oppressive heat waves the past few weeks. Over now, hopefully, and I trust everyone is still doing well considering the challenges we’re facing at the moment.

I’ve written about our stays at Hipcamps before. They are always unique and sometimes downright eclectic. Some weeks ago, Kathy and I had our reservations canceled at Morro Bay State Park due to the COVID closure there, so we turned to the hipcampers and luckily nabbed a reservation at Social Distance in Wine Country — South Brady Ranch — in Templeton, California. We were actually very lucky because our fabulous host, Mike, had only had it listed for two weeks. It’s now booked for months!

Templeton has been called a wine country cow town with charm. It’s nearly a suburb of the better known El Paso de Robles (“The Pass of the Oaks”) or simply Paso Robles. Prior to my RVing days, I often stayed in Templeton at a lovely B&B on the outskirts of the main drag. My forever motto, Have Editor, Will Travel, lured me to this one-horse town weighted down with a couple of manuscripts to work on. They don’t have many restaurants in Templeton, but that’s okay, they’ve got McPhee’s Grill (formerly Ian’s Restaurant in Cambria), a gem of an eatery. Ian was the first all-star chef to come to this area and take a chance on Paso Robles and Templeton before it was discovered. I would say he was a visionary!

Although we obviously didn’t dine out on this particular trip, we did do the unthinkable in Gourmet Girls terms. We cooked hot dogs and beans! I can see Denise and Lindsey literally cringing in their kitchens. “No hot dogs and beans for us,” we always shouted out to the stars and anyone who would listen while we were working on the Gourmet Girls Go Camping cookbook. Well, they were gourmet hot dogs!

And what about this kidney shaped fire pit? Whoops! My bad! While parking, I ran over it and dragged it a ways. Really embarrassed about that, but Mike was forgiving, and it still made for a good nightly fire!

Abigail made a couple of fast friends on this trip. Here she is with Luisa, our neighbor at South Brady Ranch.

And here’s Abigail and Benny, the owner’s dog, playing. Benny came down each morning and waited for Abigail to come out of the Roadtrek. I’m always happy when my dog is happy!

One of the best parts of this experience was the nightly rodeo at the ranch across the way. And the sunsets, of course.

I think Mike kind of wondered why we didn’t go off on any day trips while we were there. He raved about Tin City, something I missed on previous trips to the area. On our way out of Templeton, Kathy and I decided to pay a visit, and I’m glad we did.

I got reacquainted with winemaker Jacob Toft, who has a tasting facility there. I hadn’t seen nor heard of Jacob since I met him when he worked at L’Aventure Winery, many years ago. It’s so well-deserved that he has his own label now. Congratulations, Jacob!

These camping adventures are truly great and keeping me somewhat sane. What’s been keeping you sane these days? Please let us know in the comments here. We’d love to hear from you!

Lastly, I’d like to leave you with a recipe that’s not in our cookbook. It’s for Pasta alla Norma, and I came across it in the L’Italo Americano newspaper, which I picked up at my all-time favorite restaurant in Santa Barbara, Via Maestra 42. Click on the newspaper link above for the recipe and the interesting story that goes with it. I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but I challenge you to make it and email us your feedback and photos at We’ll be sure to post it in a future newsletter about Italian cuisine, a favorite of mine during lock down and beyond.

Until next time, Bon Appetit!

Gail, Denise, and Lindsey

#gourmetgirlsonfire #hipcamp #adventure








Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.