The RV Chronicles — Fond memories of campfire fried potatoes

Cane fishing poles. Cold grape soda. The beckoning aroma of bacon, onions and potatoes cooking beneath a canopy of loblolly pines, sassafras and water oak.

The setting played itself out annually between 1977 and about 1982 at Tyler State Park in northeast Texas, about 10 minutes off Interstate 20. Every spring. Just Dad and me.

There was never a lot of conversation – Dad’s not much of a talker – but he acted differently during those trips. Relaxed. Nurturing. Fun. From letting me drink store brand grape soda to my heart’s content, to pulling the small perch from my line and tossing it back in the water, his attention was solely on making memories with me. And did he ever.

I locked those scenes safely away many years ago, not knowing when I might recall them. But those recollections tend to rear themselves without conscious effort from their owners, and my precious vignettes are no different.

Alexandra and I, about a week ago, were in the mood for the quintessential American meal: steak and potatoes. We picked out the steaks, but we already had half a bag of potatoes in the Jimmy Rockford. So, fried potatoes it would be.

Before firing up the grill, which sits just to the left of a table outside my RV, I pulled out the Coleman stove and tossed a spoonful of bacon fat into my cast iron skillet. The onions went in first. Then the sliced potatoes. Salt. Pepper. Voila.

When one cooks just beyond the door of an RV, there’s a lot of back-and-forth. It was during my fourth or fifth forth that it hit me. That smell of some of my happiest days as a child. The aroma of Dad frying potatoes and onions on a Coleman stove (his was fueled by butane) fused with the sharpness of pine and the dankness of oak.

A fine perfume indeed.

I pray that my daughter finds the same value in my fried potatoes as I did with my dad’s.

I hope you have similar memories of this simple side. If not, please make some. Potatoes, onions and Dad – or Mom – combine for something that far outlives the moment.

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Campfire Fried Potatoes

Campfire Fried Potatoes — A simple memory-making side


5.0 from 1 reviews
Campire Fried Potatoes
Recipe type: side
  • 2 lbs — Potatoes, peeled (if desired) and sliced thickly
  • 1 – Small onion, diced
  • 2 – Garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 – Bacon slices, cut into fourths
  • 1 TB – Vegetable oil or bacon fat
  • 1 TB – Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp – Salt.
  1. Over medium heat, slowly fry bacon so that fat is rendered, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add onions and potatoes and toss in pan, making sure everything is coated; cook for 10 minutes, covered.
  3. After 10 minutes, turn everything with a spatula; season with salt and pepper; add garlic, cover and continue cooking for about 15 minutes, stirring/turning at least once.
  4. Turn off heat and allow to sit, covered, for about 5 minutes.
  5. Season additionally as desired.


  1. My sister and I have a similar memory with potatoes fryed in a castiron skillet in a park in Indiana on a bluff overlooking the Wabash river. Cooked by our Dad.
    Thanks for the memory

  2. I don’t believe I, or anyone in my family, has ever fried potatoes without onion but I never thought to put in bacon…..why not? Who knows but now I will be sure and do it.

    • adamjholland says:

      Dad never put in bacon, but he usually cooked the potatoes in bacon grease. Truth is, I keep bacon slices in the freezer at the ‘Jimmy Rockford.’ You never quite know when you’ll need to pep up a dish around these parts.

  3. I can smell them from here! Great memories, but I’m thinking your recent trip to Disney World might stick with them more. 😉

    • adamjholland says:

      We definitely made some WDW memories, just as we did seven years ago (on Thanksgiving) when they were younger. My family growing up didn’t travel much. Our big vacation was in 1975 — a road trip to Denver, where my great-grandparents owned an apartment complex. Otherwise, we made annual trips to Corpus Christi (until 1977) and a couple of trips to Beavers Bend, OK, which was about 120 miles from our home. ~ Tyler State Park and Dad are huge to me. And I’ll bet you that they are more valuable to me than Disney will be to our children.

  4. I LOVE good fried potatoes – or “homefries” – You’ve become pretty good at whipping up all kinds of good stuff in the Jimmy Rockford 🙂

    • adamjholland says:

      Me too, Shea. My home fries are more like the ones you order at a New Jersey diner — with onions, peppers and plenty of spices. Still good stuff! And thank you for your kind words.

  5. I have no doubt you are making memories-and they are surely of the best kind. As for the potatoes? Well, potatoes always hold an esteemed place in my kitchen!

    • adamjholland says:

      Aw, thanks Abbe. I’m not so sure that Alexandra will hold the same memories as I do (of potatoes), but I hope I’m creating something for her. Truthfully, my goal in life is simply to leave footprints.

  6. There is nothing better than potatoes cooked on the Coleman … I always made these for breakfast when we went camping. I have one question for you …. why didn’t I ever put bacon in them?????? :::knocking palm against forehead. 🙂

    • adamjholland says:

      My dad never put bacon in his. And I only put bacon in mine some of the time. They’re delicious either way. 🙂

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