Make it count!

I admit that the trip was a tad forced. Since bringing Willie the Camper home, we’ve been itching to go camping. We knew Labor Day would be busy everywhere, but we realized that many of the campgrounds close for the season after the holiday. So, with a couple of days left in the week, we decided to head out the weekend BEFORE Labor Day. Despite my best prep attempt with Oden attached to my hip, getting out of town on Friday afternoon was a complete debacle. We got a super late start, messed up Oden’s sleep routine, and had no campsite reservation. We crossed our fingers, prayed Oden would sleep on the drive, and headed to our old standby, Aspen Campground on the East Fork of the Duchesne River. There was bickering. There were tears. I may have poured myself a cup of wine before we got to camp!


Apparently, the weekend before Labor Day is a smart time to go camping. Not only did we find a great campsite with access to the river, there was no one else around us. Every site was reserved for the NEXT weekend! John set up Willie in the dark while I warmed some homemade meat sauce for a late pasta supper. I went to bed with an overtired Oden, ready to bid adieu to the frustrating day and start over in the morning. Friday was shot so we had to make the next day or two count!

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There’s nothing like waking up in a cozy little camper, heating water for strong coffee, and opening the door to a pine-y mountain view. I knew the moment I opened Willie’s door that everything would be ok. Immediately, the stress of getting there dissipated and the effort felt worth it! Our jolly little baby makes it hard not to smile from the get-go (see: strong coffee). While Oden and Daddy hung out together outside and Cholula was completely preoccupied by the plethora of chirping squirrels (we call them “The Babysitters”), I got down to business frying some bacon and eggs for a lazy camp breakfast. We ate outside in the crisp morning air and realized we’d camped here once before! Cholula was right at home with her squirrels, just like she was then. Our site had a little trail that led to the river. It was so peaceful. The campground was probably only 20% full!

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When naptime became a bit of a struggle, we decided to pop Oden into his new comfy car seat and go exploring. The rumble of the truck on a dirt road lulled our sleepy guy right into Dreamland. John wanted to research some other campgrounds he’d seen on the map, opting to drive over a steep mountain pass to get there. The drive was beautiful and we did find some good camping options for another trip. I love finding a road and saying, “I wonder where this goes!” That said, it ended up being a solid 4-hour adventure- much longer than we’d planned to be out.

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When we finally got back to camp (and fed ourselves a long overdue snack), John took Oden to the river for some fishing while I put on some music, poured a glass of wine, and prepped dinner. I’d made these Mexican Chicken Hobo Meals in Durango with my folks and they were delicious! It was fun to have some time to get to know the kitchen setup in Willie. When the foil packets were prepped, I joined my family at the river for a few casts of the spin rod. I thought about all the photos I’d seen of myself as an infant on the banks of various rivers while my parents fished. I’m so glad to have these memories with Oden!

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Back at camp, we snuggled in around the campfire and let the hobo dinners cook on the grill over the coals. The meal was super scrumptious (and I’ll share the recipe soon!). I put Oden to sleep in Willie and used our iPhone baby monitor app to keep tabs on him while we enjoyed dessert- coconut pecan cookies I bought from my market’s bakery, tossed on the grill for a minute or two. Brilliant!

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In the morning, we kept it simple. Oden and I read a couple of his favorite books before a miraculous morning nap that allowed me to enjoy some coffee, granola, and yogurt under the pines. When he woke up, I took him for a stroller walk with Cholula through the campground (stalking squirrels, naturally) while John started to break down camp.

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While we weren’t in any rush to get home, our plan was to try to coordinate our exit home with one of Oden’s naps (next to impossible). John wanted to fly-fish just a tad more before heading home, so we tried to repeat the magic “rumbling truck” lullaby by driving up the road a little ways. Oden did fall asleep, but woke up 3 seconds after John left to wet his line. Luckily, after some time out of the car seat while Mama tried to cast to a fish John pointed out, Oden did fall back asleep on the drive home. Thankfully, HOME is only about an hour and a half away from Aspen Campground!

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Because Friday evening didn’t really count, the weekend felt too short. Despite its rocky beginning, being out in the woods near a river with my little family is basically my perfect outing. I’m so glad we stuck with the trip, adjusted our attitudes, and were able to save the weekend. We’ve still got some time before the snow flies! With a little more practice (read: more camping trips), we’ll get the Willie routine down pat and it will take no time at all to hitch him up and be on the road againwink.

Willie the Camper

More travel adventures.

One year ago: Asian Grilled Tuna Salad with Honey-Ginger-Lime Dressing


  1. Oden has gotten so big and his smiles light up everywhere going camping in willie looks fun love you all and miss you hugs and kisses

  2. I couldn’t even finish reading this… I started crying cuz I miss camping so much!! Your new Willie is quite handsome. I might start crying when I meet him someday. 😉

  3. Small world! I was searching pinterest for day trip ideas in the Uintahs (we’ve only been to a couple spots) and came upon this post… We live in PC too, and see Oden at story time every week!

    1. Hi, Emma! I love “small world” moments! Tere usually takes Oden to story time (and less often in the summer) but please say hi if you see Oden with his mama! 🙂

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