Camping in the Uintah Mountains

Life is flying by these days. It’s hard not to focus on baby #2 all the time- he’s coming soon! My nesting instinct is real, you guys. And all of a sudden, I see the leaves are almost gone from the autumn trees and I am still catching up with summertime recaps…like our fun camping trip to Smith and Morehouse Reservoir!

It’s no secret that I love to camp. When I was brainstorming items for our Summer Bucket List, it was the first item on the list! We didn’t go as often as I would have liked, but even one camping trip is better than none. I love the crackling fire, the smell of the trees, the tasty camp breakfasts, the chilly mornings snuggled together. It’s one of my favorite things.  I married a man who loves to camp and our son seems to be following in our footsteps. (Maybe s’mores have something to do with it!)

There’s a reservoir just about an hour from our home in Park City with a couple of campgrounds nearby, and I reserved a spot for us for mid-July. It took longer to pack than usual, being somewhat out of practice. Despite the proximity of the campground, getting on the road late meant getting camp set up late and getting dinner started late and…well, let’s just say I’m pretty sure I was giving John the silent treatment by the time we finally started driving.

Luckily, the short drive gave us a bit of a re-set. We pulled up to the campsite I’d reserved online, which I’d chosen because of some open space in the back that seemed good for an active toddler and semi-protective dog. Oden wasted no time scrambling up the steep hillside and sent me sprinting after him before he tumbled backward on the rocks. A glance to my left and right revealed suspicious-looking plants with reddish leaves. I shouted to John to come and look, and sure enough, the hillside was covered in poison oak!

With Oden safely down the hill and away from the potential of a nasty skin rash, we finished setting up camp and I got right down to business making a tasty bacon and corn chowder. I had a helpful corn-tester who soon abandoned me for his bike and making a campfire with Daddy. Oh, there are few things I enjoy more than cooking dinner in the woods with the sound of a crackling fire in the background!

Though toddler bedtime was quickly approaching, I pulled out a treat for us all- fixings for s’mores! Ever since our staycation at the St. Regis with their s’mores set up, a campfire means marshmallows for Oden…and I’m on board! Somehow, despite the sugar buzz, Oden fell asleep. The bed was full with parents, toddler, dog, stuffed animals, and extra blankets to keep us cozy.

As I’ve mentioned before, camp mornings tend to come early- and even earlier with a toddler! I wish I could bottle that immediate energy. Oden literally opens his eyes and pops up, happy and ready to play and start the day. Mama needs a little help, in the form of coffee and quiet time. The boys bundled up and went outside to play with some diggers while I eased into the morning and made a tasty breakfast hash.

The day was wide open for us. It was cooler than we’d hoped for a day at the reservoir, so we explored the campground with Oden on his bike. We discovered the best campsite for next time (no poison oak in sight) and John searched the creek for fish. In typical Oden fashion, it wasn’t long until his little clothes were stripped and he was wading around in the semi-frigid water. I opened a magazine, but enjoyed watching Cholula and the boys play more than reading. The chill of the water must have tuckered out my toddler because he took a decent nap after lunch!

When he woke up, we had popsicles, just like at home- they were a summer post-nap tradition this year! After a few minutes checking in with Dump Truck and Digger, we packed up the truck and checked out the reservoir. You’d think in July that we’d be swimming and sunburned at a lake, but in the mountains, it can be chilly- especially the water!

Oden didn’t seem to mind and was waist-deep and squealing within minutes. I used being pregnant and tired as an excuse to sit in the sun and watch my boys splash around with Cholula. John threw his fishing line into the water a few times (me, too!) and we had some snacks on the shore. The view of the water and pine trees was so calming. It didn’t take too long for the cold water to send Oden to my lap for snacks, wrapped up in a warm towel!

Back at camp, we put on warm clothes as evening approached. Oden had some dinner  while I put together some Mexican Hobo Meals for John and I for later. Then, Oden helped me make some cookies for dessert. One raw cookie for the baking sheet, one raw cookie bite for his mouth…!

The heater was on all night that night and at some point, we were awakened by the pitter-patter of a rainstorm. What we didn’t know was that we’d spend the entire night listening to booming thunder that shook Willie the Camper and watching the bright flashes of lightning! Oden, sleeping with me, woke up scared and asked me to hold him…then promptly fell asleep on top of me, and snoozed soundly through the whole thing! Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much, but the storm had passed and it was a gorgeous day. Before we packed up camp, Cholula stalked a squirrel and we spent a little time practicing on Oden’s bike on a slight hill. I believe we have an adrenaline junkie on our hands! I wonder where he learns that behavior…?

Oden and Cholula traded sleepy snore time during the drive home- a sure sign of a good time! Our weekend had been short, but sweet. As I’m learning with Oden, it’s really important to be present during these times, to make those memories with simple joys RIGHT NOW… Because next summer, he’ll be a different, older kid with new skills and abilities and it will be time to make new memories!

I’ll try to hold on to that thought as this new baby enters our clan and turns things upside-down in that beautiful way only a newborn can do. Pause. Soak it in. Find the blissful moments!

More about our Summer Bucket List.

More about camping with Willie.

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