so where were we? oh yeah. waking up in a campground in moab. I forgot to mention that our first night at Kane Creek there was just one big party, with loud music blasting from the guys next to us who had a generator and one of those giant sleek trailers for hauling their off-road vehicles, impromtu dance parties, kids running amok, lines at the pit toilet, campfires and beer and loud laughter and pick-ups. addie said it had a burning man vibe. it was kinda crazy. but at 10:00 things immediately piped down, our neighbors turned their music up to a roar of thumping techno beats at 9:53 then abruptly switched it off with a dramatic flourish. the girls promptly fell asleep at that point and we all slept like snoring logs to the sound of the colorado river.
the joy of a camping morning. darin got up early just like at home and made us a nice french press pot of coffee, complete with a few gritty grinds, wouldn't be camping without'm.
after oatmeal, we took a little excursion up the road to see the petroglyphs at birthing rock, so named for this amazing depiction of a woman giving birth. it appears her baby is emerging feet-first, and she is accompanied by a witchy shaman helper.
i invoked a little fertility-power at this spot back in spring of 2010. the next fall i was pregnant. after six years, that seemed like a hop-skip-jump. i like to think she pushed me gently on my way.
here i am now, two beautiful babies later, complete with spit-up and dried-milk-boob.
bella-toot. two little desert cactus flowers with noontime desert secrets.
stopped over at the Lazy Lizard Hostel where addie, utah and pops were staying. (art had taken a train home the night before in order to get back for work.)
i find the place incredibly picturesque.
and then they joined us for an even more picturesque scene: arches national park.
we did the park avenue hike through a canyon wash overlooked by the red sandstone towers of the Three Gossips and Nefertiti, among others. Desert wildflowers blooming and babes sleeping to the rhythm of our footsteps on the soft red land.
bella had been dying to show us all her favorite rock shop, so that was our next very important stop, while we tried to figure out where we wanted to go to jump in some water. bella's favorite did not disappoint. the place has been family owned and operated since 1960, and matt says last time he met the owner's grandson who frequently accompanies his grandfather on adventurous digs to add to their amazing collection of minerals and fossils. take a look at their website to see some of their amazing curiosities. while the kids were fascinated with radioactive rocks, skulls, dinosaur bones and shark teeth, lucy just wanted to touch and pick up every single rock she could reach. as amazing as the place was we had to cut our visit pretty short. luckily there was a shady bench out front for me to nurse polly while everyone re-convened.
afterwards we we found this rad little gem, Milt's for french fries and creatively flavored milkshakes.
we met a gal and her dog who told us about the reservoir just south of town with a little waterfall that has a swimming hole at its base. we decided to check it out, and did a little off-roading ourselves getting there, a pretty wild ride. by the time we arrived the sun was so low in the sky it wasn't hot anymore and the water was pretty cold so no one ended up swimming. still the walk was gorgeous, we were surrounded by pale evening primrose and the scent of blossoms in the air, and best of all was the giant red-sand parking area where the kids went nuts just playing in their own giant personal sandbox.
most importantly, we had met up with our dear friend Ryann Savino, who has been working this past year in the quaint Utahn town of Green River just north of Moab. She camped with us one night, joined our family for a couple days, and finally got to meet Polly. I think it's love.
looks like someone takes after his mama, loving that good red desert dirt....
I've never seen anyone as raggamuffin as Lucy after that sand-fest. She did somersaults while Bella did cartwheels and handstands. She threw dirt on Ryann, scooping it up and raining it down, feeling its softness with her whole self. They ran around and tumbled and rolled. Red dirt in hair, diapers, noses. Little spirits so exhilarated.
The ragtag crew indeed; we managed to sneak in a quick family pick....
and one of the WHOLE family....with just a few glitches.
we let lucy and utah rinse off down in the lake and by that time it was getting too late to cook so we had pizza by the slice at Paradox Pizza before heading back to camp.
polly woke up between 6:00 and 7 a.m. every morning out there. a bit early for my taste, but she wakes up perfectly content to just chill awhile, kick her legs, look around, make little happy sounds, until someone (darin or i) puts on glasses and lifts a head to greet her and receive the most massive gleeful smile in the world. it's a pure joy to spend mornings with her.
amy had snuck to the store the night before to get special treats for Bella's birthday morning. Bella turned 10 that day! A pure desert dreamgirl, with doughnuts and a flower crown for her Moab morning.
We were so excited to spend Bella's birthday with her.
Jarom built his sister a birthday fire. He wouldn't really show it, (being a tween and all) but he was kinda excited about his contribution, with a little candle on top burning brightly.
Presents from nana at the campsite, the makings for a delicate little miniature fairy garden.
On our way out of camp we stopped to visit a few more petroglyphs at Moonflower Canyon. The big kids climbed the native American style ladder staircase up the narrow slot, and clambered around on boulders. It was windy and the old stories blew around through the rocks.
For years, Amy and Matt's family's tradition was to spend Bella's birthday at the beach...meaning the Pacific Ocean. This year, she chose a different beach: the Green River in Utah, at a site that was traversed by John Wesley Powell on his exploratory journey so long ago. These are Ryann's stomping grounds, so she took us straight there after we left Moab, with a stop to take a picture of the beautiful rustic Green River sign that her own uncle painted years ago.
the beach! it's a stunning place, lower Gray Canyon in Desolation Canyon, drenched in blue skies and history. We just happened to go on a day so windy that a constant sheet of sand blew all over our picnic, but we were happy, running around, squealing at the cold water, blowing up floaty toys and making merry.
It was late afternoon by the time we left and headed back into the dusty town of Green River. Ryann was able to get the key to the thrift store where she occasionally puts in hours and let us all in. We had fun digging through the clothes and books, admiring the paintings on the ceiling tiles and the general homespun decor, and just having the place to ourselves.
Darin in a newly thrifted shirt:
us girls, together at last, together forever.
i wish i had the time, place, and words to aptly describe what Ryann is doing out there in Green River Utah. She works for a group called Epicenter, their slogan is "Rural and Proud," and they are taking creative steps and making strides in boosting the small town's economy and working class people, through building projects, art, design, and any number of thoughtful community projects. check out their website if you're intrigued.
we headed over to one of the only eateries open on a sunday: Ray's tavern, for veggie burgers and some local flair.
I believe an Epicenter artist made these amazing cut-outs for the windows of an abandoned storefront next door. It is so interesting to see a clash of old and new play out in these wide, prairie streets under the steady gaze of the Book Cliffs. To feel a new energy sweeping in just like our swirling river winds.
We said good-bye to Ryann at her house in Green River. The girl's going places, literally and figuratively and I missed her dreadfully the second we drove away. She and Lucy had such fun together and have similar sparkling spirits. I am so glad my girls will grow up with amazing women aunties in their lives, close to their hearts, leading them into canyons and thrift stores and sand dunes and every other adventure they could dream up.
We headed back to Provo that night, spent another wonderfully cozy night at Matt and Amy's, and then early the next morning hit the road home with our babes in their jammies all day long. More Elko Nevada pitstops and parks. Both girls slept from Elko almost to Reno so that was awesome. We made it home before dark. And now it's been a week and I want to go again.
Thanks for listening this long.
These trips are the definitive experiences of our family life, and it is so important to me to try to record many of the details here. I still left out so much! But i have to publish this and go to bed. Get ahold of that sleepy baby and go to dreamland together.