I’m not a video game person. I’m not even really a social media person. (My job requires it of me, so please go Like my FaceBook Page and follow me on SnapChat (username: @TheSpicyApron)). And I’m certainly not a jump-on-the-bandwagon-and-do-what-everyone-else-is-doing person. I like the outdoors. I like to exercise. And I think people spend way too much time with their faces buried in their phones. But that all changed when I went camping with Pokémon Go! And serving this juicy, crispy on the outside tender on the inside bursting with flavor bratwurst made it even better.
I know what you’re thinking – camping, the great outdoors, and Pokémon Go do not belong together. And until two weeks ago I would have agreed with you. (You may also be wondering what any of this has to do with food, recipes, and bratwurst, but I’ll get to that.) So, now let me explain. If you’ve listened to my podcast recently, you know that we took several trips over the summer. Some with the kids; some without. One of the trips with the kids happened to coincide with the release of the amazingly-popular-take-over-the-world Pokémon Go mobile game. What is that, you ask? Well, if you have to ask, then you’ve probably been hiding under a rock or perhaps you were abducted by aliens. It is an augmented reality location based game played through an app on smartphones. The player walks around and “catches” cartoon looking characters that are placed all around based on Google Maps. It’s all the rage. And it’s all the kids could talk about, think about, and dream about on that vacation.
I’m not going to lie; it annoyed me. Here we were on a family road trip and all we heard from the back seat were things like “did you see that Rattata” and “I need to evolve my Pidgey” and “Oh no! My Meowth escaped!” Yeah. Whatever. Then it hit me… Either I join in on the craze so I could at least understand what the kids were saying, or there’d be no real interaction between adults and kids the entire trip (or longer depending on the longevity of Pokémon Go). I chose the former.
And you know what? It was actually fun. (And somewhat addicting. Just ask my sister). Here’s what I didn’t know then, but I know now – Pokémon Go is actually designed to get people outside. Get people to explore new things. It actually rewards the player for walking. A lot of walking! What?? Who knew? A game that allowed us to relate to, communicate with, and get outside with our teenagers! Now that’s my kind of game.
Camping with #PokémonGo. Bratwurst Makes it Easy
Then we went camping. The pine needle scent of fresh air in the Arizona mountains, blue skies, cool breezes. Aahhh.. paradise. I was getting everything ready to grill the zesty, tasty, mouthwatering bratwurst, complete with spicy mustard, peppers and onions, and cool crisp sauerkraut (see… I told you I’d get to the food!), when my sister exclaimed, full of excitement, “Our campground is a Pokéstop!” No way! A Pokéstop in the middle of the forest at a campground?? Yep! Woo hoo! After the initial shock wore off, I really wasn’t that surprised. Remember… Pokémon Go is designed to get people outside and explore new things. Just. Like. Camping!! See… they really do go together! And the entire camping area was loaded with Pokémon to catch – Sure, there were the typical Zubats and Pidgeys, but we also caught Pikachu, Charmander, and even the ultra rare Exeggutor! And the funny thing was, the kids weren’t even with us on this camping trip. Ha!
So there we were, the four of us adults, PokéHunting at the campground. It encouraged us to go on long walks multiple times a day. We made the walks even more exercise-like by adding a round of lunges or squats every time we stopped to catch one of those little critters. (I was actually really sore by the end of the weekend. Lol!) I even had to put that bratwurst dinner on hold until after sunset just to catch some cool stuff! (That’s why it’s so important to bring along easy dinners to make at the campground. Well, it’s one reason.) Not only did we take way more walks than on our typical camping weekends, we met a bunch of new people. Some were also hunting those elusive little characters; some were just curious. We taught the gracious campground hosts how to play. They found it fascinating. (He’s been a geocacher for years). They didn’t even know their campground was a PokéStop! They do now.
We met kids, teens, and other adults walking around in that ever-familiar Pokémon Go stance… phone in one hand at just the right angle, index finger extended, swiping upward at the perfect “gotta catch em all” speed on the other hand. We met a local policeman who was looking for illegal elk hunters. (The real ones, not the Pokémon type…) We met the nicest man who was devastated by the recent passing of his wife of 51 years. We all exchanged stories, told each other where they could find more, and chatted about life in general. Not only did we learn about some new places to find Pokémon, we learned about all kinds of new and beautiful places to head out camping (courtesy of the man grieving for his wife, but determined to move on and continue the journey they both started).
To say that Pokémon Go brings people of all ages, genders, races, and life interests together would be an understatement. A gross understatement. It does that and so much more. And there’s nothing wrong with playing Pokémon Go while camping. Nothing wrong at all. Just make sure to bring some really easy camping meals to make – like these amazingly delicious bratwursts – (or these grilled chicken quesadillas) because you might just be out there trying to Catch Em All!
One of the Tastiest and Easiest Camping Meals – Bratwurst!
Here’s how to get dinner out on the picnic table in a big hurry – especially if you’re out PokéHunting!
- Slice green peppers and onion, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper (do this before you go camping and bring in a zip top bag to make it even faster at the campsite)
- Heat up the grill to medium low (brats should be cooked low and slow)
- Cook brats on medium low, turning frequently, for 15-20 min
- While brats are cooking, cook peppers and onions for 15 minutes (either directly on the grill if they won’t fall through the grates, or on a skillet on your camp stove)
- Toast the buns on the grill for the last 2 minutes of brat grilling time
- Serve with spicy mustard, ketchup, cool sauerkraut and let everyone build their bratwurst masterpiece