It is a rash weekend escape plan, hatched by my friend Jeff Christiansen, with an e-mail late last night: "I hope the summer has treated y'all well. This nice weekend weather has us thinking about heading up the Poudre tomorrow night for an overnighter. Wanna join us?"
My first thought is to find an excuse for being too busy. I've got plenty. It would be so easy to stick with our home-bound weekend routine. But I haven't seen Jeff and his family since our camping trip last year, right around this time. Plus, another dad-friend reminded me recently, our kids are only little once. I impulsively fire back, "Let's do it."
I grab my guitar, go-bag (tent, sleeping bags, camp mattresses, pre-stuffed into a duffel for occasions just like this), then load my eldest daughter into the car and head north. In less than two full cycles of the Mary Poppins soundtrack, we turn left onto Colorado 14, a scenic byway and beauty of a road that delivers us into the Roosevelt National Forest and Cache La Poudre River Corridor National Heritage Area.
If you go
There are numerous campgrounds along Colorado's Scenic Byway 14, all with access to the river and close to the road. Sites can accommodate up to eight people and have fire rings and grills and pit toilets. They generally cost $19 for a single site, or for an extra fee, you can make reservations at recreation.gov or 1-877-444-6777.