Cool Find: Dads Who Take Week Long Solo Camping Road Trips with The Kids

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My buds bombed my inbox a few times this summer. Several of them packed up the gear, a few pounds of jerky, several gallons-worth of juice boxes and hit the backroads of the American west on solo trips just Dad and the kids. Nearly every one told me some variation of this: "Just got home, bro!  I'm beat, exhausted, dirty, smelly, didn't get enough sleep, didn't rest enough, it was more work than it was relaxation, totally kicked my ass, but I'm looking forward to doing that again!"

They so perfectly summed up parenthood, didn't they? It's miserable and wonderful all at once, and that goes for whether you're at home or on the road. So it may as well be on the road. I've probably said that before.

If you noticed I gave this a title with "Cool Find," which is a column that I typically reserve for things that we find, uh, cool. To date, that's always been some kind of product you can buy from a shelf somewhere. Today we break that mold and bring you one of these emails one of my buds slung my way. Cool find was the best way I could describe it.  Here goes, from a dad named Steven in Utah:

Are you Crazy!

This is what I heard from some of my extended family members a week before my trip to the San Rafael Swell for 5 days in May. Was I crazy for going down there? No, that was not the issue. Everyone was surprised that this was the trip that I was taking my 2-½ year old little girl. My wife was staying home with our 3 week old newborn son. I have been planning this trip for a while and was determined to go, but I was not going to leave my wife with two kids to deal with just after her C-Section.

My wife thought the idea of me taking Gabby would be a nice break for her and it would give her some time to recover with Ewan. I knew that the going might not be easy, but there were other mothers in our group that I could lean on if things got rough. Sarah made sure to pack Gabby’s favorite toys, movies, and books.

We headed out on our trip singing songs and telling stories and making funny noises that mom usually doesn’t let either of us sing, tell, or make. We made it to Spanish Fork, took about a 20 min break then headed down to find our camp for the night. Found camp at midnight, so the whole time in the truck Gabby watched one movie, but as it got later, she was more interested looking out the window at the moon. Gabby fell asleep as we got into our camp site and with the Conqueror Trailer set up, I had her tucked away in bed in about 10 min and that is with a diaper change and getting into her pajamas. The wind was blowing extremely hard all night and I was really worried that she would have a hard time, but she slept the whole night without a peep.

Breakfast went great, we met the other explorers in our party and we hit the road. We stopped about 40 min later at the Wedge Overlook and then down to the dinosaur track that is hidden off the side of the Buck Wash Road. We had been there about 7 months before with my wife - funny thing is that Gabby remembered the trail to the footprint and asked if that is what we were going to see.  Around the next corner, and in Gabby’s words, we "saw the drawings on the wall" and then buckled in for some more time in the car seat. The day was still extremely windy so the next stop at an abandoned mine was short and Gabby wanted to be back in the Jeep. So far she had not looked at a book, played with a toy or watched a movie. I even asked if she wanted to, but she just liked looking out the window.

I guess to make a really long story short, we visited an old cabin, Goblin Valley, another mine and watched a fight with a scorpion and a red ant pile and Gabby had yet to cry, ask for mommy, or even say no. She never played with the toys we brought, in fact they never came out of the bag. Over all in 5 days she did not cry, whine, and she watched Finding Nemo twice, a Franklin movie once and part of Hairspray, not even the whole thing. It ended up being one of the best trips that I have ever been on, because it was so fun to introduce so many new things to her. She let me do her hair, she ate good and I did not even have to rely on the women in our group although it was comforting to have them there just in case. There were four older kids who included her in the fun and I can hardly wait to do a large adventure like that again. I think my point is that where a lot of people thought that I was crazy, I think I would have been crazy not to take her on the adventure. Maybe people just don’t have faith in Dads surviving with kids without mom around, but I did and I would do it again.

The little trooper, Gabby, playing in the dirt like a natural. Doesn't she just steal your heart?


Lindsey Wilson
+4 / 0
# Lindsey Wilson 2011-09-28 21:28
I brother took all 4 of his kids (ages 2-9) camping for a few days last summer while his wife stayed home. He did this a few times. I was SO Impressed. Impressed with him and impressed with how filthy those kids were by the end of the trip. I have yet to embark on a solo camping trip with the kids, but I think it would actually be pretty fun...
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0 / 0
# Mark 2011-09-29 19:44
So cool! I'll admit that the first time I told my wife, Brooke, I wanted to do a solo trip with our daughter she was actually hurt at this idea that we'd "leave her behind." It all worked out though.
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+1 / 0
# Lauren 2012-02-25 11:10
Sounds like it was a fab trip! But the only way my partner and 2 yr old would be leaving me behind is if I had a newborn too!
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