We love road trips. And boy have we had our fair share of them.
We’ve made the journey from Texas to D.C. twice—once to move me in 2008, and once to move Jason in 2010—and did it all over again from D.C. to Denver in 2012. Next, we drove the entire South Island of New Zealand on our honeymoon in 2013 and crossed three European countries in a single day just this past December.
Our first road trip to DC
Driving through the South Island of New Zealand
I guess you could say it’s in our blood, or at least our disposition.
I’m what I like to call a “bona fide RV kid”. Growing up, flights and hotels were a luxury, and road trips in the camper were eternal. We took that beast of a vehicle everywhere—from the coasts of Corpus Christi to the faces of Mount Rushmore, and from the lobster feasts of Boston to the Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, with plenty of stops at the all-you-can-eat buffets of Las Vegas in between.
I wish I could say that I loved our adventures at the time, but the bratty part of me always longed for a decent shower and some serenity away from my card cheating brothers.
Upon reflection, however, I recognize those road trips as some of the best experiences of my life. As kids, we were afforded the chance to pummel our bodies down the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado, ski on any lake that would have us, watch Old Faithful burst with wonder, collect a few too many pet crawdads on the beach, ride horses [and fall off of them!] at dude ranches, and laugh relentlessly at the sight of a goat chasing my little brother around the car. To this day, I still love the feel of an Atlas and putting on my navigator hat in the passenger seat. I love listening to Peter Gabriel and Alanis Morissette, recalling an era when my dad had to censor her music while driving. I love sleeping bags and bungee cords and sunflower seeds and s’mores and all the novelties that defined our RV trips across the country.
We were spoiled with experience and raised to never fear the open road.
Which explains why road trips are now such a welcome part of my adulthood—that while Jason and I technically hate driving [give us a bicycle any day, thank you very much!], we rarely pass up an opportunity to hit the road to a new or cherished destination. For me, it’s returning to the adventures of my youth. For Jason, it’s a chance to strike out into the world “together” [his words, not mine, I promise].
That’s why we were especially excited for our 36-hour whirlwind road trip down to New Mexico this past weekend. My dear friend, Britni, was getting married to her favorite person, Alex, in her favorite town of Artesia—a “quick” 8-hour drive from Denver.
I’d heard so much about the town of Artesia back in college when Britni and I were in a Bible study together, and I couldn’t wait to finally see the town for myself and celebrate her matrimonial milestone. Sure enough, our 20 hour stay in Artesia was a two-stepping love fest full of BBQ platters, “coffee date” drinks, country music, and genuine, salt of the earth people. What a joy to see two generous and adorable individuals find one another.
Core group, all grown up
Their happiness was certainly enough to fuel our back-to-back journey two and from Artesia, but we have to admit that a few indulgent road trip favorites helped along the way, namely: Twizzlers & Diet Coke, Colorado mountain & Roswell alien sightings, and an abundance of homemade strips of beef jerky.
Beef jerky, in our opinion, is a must for any successful road trip, and we were excited to finally have the chance to make our own. As most of Jason’s favorite food items go, they certainly took their fair share of time to make, but we couldn’t be happier with our end result, which is as close to the Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse version as we could get it.
So the next time you’re prepping for a road trip, consider carving out some time to make these strips of deliciousness—we promise it is better than anything you can get from the gas station!
Homemade Beef Jerky
Prep time: 13 – 40 hours
- 4 lbs. round steak
- ½ c. soy sauce
- A few shakes Worcestershire
- 4 Tbs. honey
- 2 – 3 Tbs. grilling seasoning [we used TexJoy Old West Mesquite Shake]
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Freeze steak for 1 to 1 ½ hour tops. This will make the steak more manageable to cut.
- Remove steak from freezer and slice off excess fat. [You can save this separately to use for soup stock at a later date]. Cut steak into ¼-inch slices.
- Prepare marinade by combining soy sauce, Worcestershire, honey, seasoning, and spices over low heat until honey dissolves—do not heat through all the way. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Place meat in a large gallon sized Ziploc bag and pour marinade over the meat. Seal and make sure all of the air is out of the bag. [One trick to do this is to seal the bag most of the way, submerge it in a bowl of water leaving the seal above the water, and allowing the air to leave the bag. BOOM. Science trick.]
- Marinate in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours.
- Once ready, preheat oven to 170 degrees. You have two options to cook the meat: 1) line 2 baking sheets with foil, top with a cooling or dripping rack, and arrange beef slices evenly on the pans without overlap; or 2) hang meat strips directly on oven racks. We did both [see below].
- Sprinkle with additional black pepper and bake at 170 degrees for 4 to 5 hours until the meat reaches perfect jerky texture…chewy without being leathery, and moist without being wet.
- Let cool and store in an airtight container. It should keep for about 2 weeks at room temp and 3 weeks in the refrigerator, though it never makes it that long in our house!