What are WE doing in Nephi, Utah?

Well, we targeted Nephi because it’s the closest small town (with a grocery store) to Maple Canyon, a beautiful, kid-friendly, rock climbing destination. But when we pulled into town, we almost kept driving straight through to Vegas. In all fairness, there were gorgeous campgrounds just outside of town where we were going to stay, but they didn’t get cell or wifi signals, which made them useless to us.

Soleil fish eye

That left us in town at an RV park that left a lot to be desired. To give you an idea of how less than stellar it was, the black tank hose exploded when Tree tried to hook it up to the sewer system. For those of you who are not versed in RV-speak, “black” means “poop.”  Yeah. That happened.  And then the next day when the owner came to fix it, he accidentally flooded the entire site next to us with black water. Yup, more poop. Then, later that afternoon, a sweet looking old couple pulled into the compromised site, and I just didn’t have the heart to tell them what had gone down there earlier that day. Word to the wise, if you ever see copious amounts of lye scattered on the ground, something has gone dreadfully wrong. 

Soleil puddle1

Anyhow, we thought we’d just rest up for a couple days and then either move on to Rifle, Colorado to climb, or San Diego to surf.  But, after one day of climbing at Maple Canyon, we changed our mind. It’s funny how that’ll happen. All of sudden, things weren’t so bad after all. Hell, it only stinks over by the hoses now!

Soleil climbing

Soleil, of course, didn’t mind that our 2003 Bounder was the nicest rig in the RV park, or that we were surrounded by broken-down semi-trucks and trailers, or that angry-god, thunderclouds were getting ready to dump their wrath on us.  After the enormous downpour that caused flooding and killed 20 people in Southern Utah, the big gravel holes filled up with water and Soleil had a field day jumping through the puddles. She loved it. 

Soleil puddle3

Soleil puddle2

If you look in the other direction, the view was actually pretty nice. As I was fiddling with the camera settings, my little nature girl was going pee in the weeds.  I was so weirdly proud. 

Soleil pee

After the floods, a couple trailers with Mormon Fundamentalists pulled in. Hildale, where the polygamists still live and practice, had been hit hard, so I imagine the families were seeking refuge a bit further north. There are still roughly 6,000 followers of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) even though their leader, Warren Jeff, is in prison in Texas for numerous counts of sexual assault against children he considered “brides.”

I was sitting on the grass with Sol, watching her play, when I looked up and saw two very young ladies dressed in the typical fundamentalist garb–full-length peasant dresses, white bonnets–get into the trailer occupied by an older dude in a cowboy hat. It was so surreal to see them temporarily displaced from where they normally live, co-existing alongside Soleil and me, who didn’t exactly fit in either. It’s hard saying who was more the anomaly in Nephi, us or them. And yet, even though the fundamentalists, the mainstream Mormons, and Soleil and I have far more in common than we don’t, it feels like we might as well be from different planets. I’m fascinated by the constructs of difference the mind creates when, deep down, we just want to connect. What is this warring tendency in humanity (myself included) to turn against itself?

“And there it was again. Another religion turned against itself. Another edifice constructed by the human mind, decimated by human nature.” -Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

Fortunately, kids are terrible at over-arching belief systems. They’re much better at finding commonality in the every-day details of life. You like to slide down the tunnel slide? So do I! You’re my best friend!

They wouldn’t even have to speak the same language to get the sentiment across. 

Soleil Tunnel happy 

The city park was filled with sweet, blond-haired, blue-eyed children accompanied by young, matching moms. All of a sudden, I felt very old and swarthy. One little kid even asked me if I was Soleil’s grandma. <Sigh>. Yup, that happened, too. But, really, I bet no one cared I was an old and swarthy grandma except me. Once again, I’m reminded that the cult of vanity starts and ends in my own mind, just like any other thought designed to separate me from you. 

Look at my little baby who’s not a baby anymore. Soleil is almost three.

Soleil at the crag

It’s crazy to think how much she’s grown, how independent she’s become. She climbs up and down the ladders and bars by herself.

Soleil Park

She goes down the biggest slides all by herself. And climbs up them the wrong way, even though it irks the secret hall monitor that lurks in my otherwise free-spirit. 

Up the Tunnel Slide

Climbing up slide

She’s her own little person, unique and special, and yet every bit a part of my fabric as she was when she was literally inside me. She’s woven into my soul, my favorite thread of life on this planet.

Now if only I could feel that same love for everyone, if only I could find that maternal religion, or way to re-bind to something bigger than self, I’d be in heaven. Soleil growing up


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  1. Ariana Lopez Salvador says:

    Soleiil sos tan pura e verdadera.. te amo tatita! Sabes.. tenes por suerte unos papas q nunca se olvidan q tenes una gran amiga en Argentina q quiere seguir en conexion por el resto de su vida. Nunca nadie causo tanta intriga en mi .. de como sera “cuando sea grande” .. lo q si sé es que siempre estaré. te amo

  2. Oh oh… time to hit the rode and find a different town?

  3. Old and swarthy? lol.. I don’t feel the swarthy part but old certainly feels appropriate some days! Unbelievable to remember reading when Sol was first born and thinking of all she’s seen since, a true child of the world.

    • Hola amiga! It’s good to hear from you. I love getting comments from all y’all 🙂 Indeed, she is a child of the world. Almost three years old, and she’s up to 8 countries already! Of course, she doesn’t know any different, though. To her, it’s all normal.

  4. You must fit, you are there 🙂

  5. That’s what we think, too!

  6. Good one, keep it up.

  7. In her mind she clearly appears to believe that she can fit anywhere. And that is really all that matters.

  8. There’s a hall monitor lurking inside you? Exorcise that demon! (maybe the Mormon can help)

    • It’s true Graeme. I try and keep the hall monitor at bay, but sometimes she comes out. What can I say, if Tree and I went to high school together, he would have SO MANY detentions. And Soleil’s on her way to Juvey. Have you seen her hair? She’s wild. 😉

  9. It has been so great watching her grownup while you guys are traveling. Our grand- daughter (3 years) climbs up the slide the wrong way also and the looks come from the yuppie moms wanting her to get out of the way so their kids can go down the “right way”. Both ways are okay…good training for learning how to climb!!
    Keep posting.
    Michael and Patty

    • Hi!!! Thanks for taking a minute to say hello! Sounds like Sol and your granddaughter need to meet. Little rebels 🙂 And, agreed, it is great climbing training. Soleil figured out that she has better traction barefoot, so now she takes off her shoes to climb up. I may have to start putting her in her climbing shoes to go to the park 🙂

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