Our Unplanned Trip to The Beaver State

It was really cold in April in Colorado. And Ari really wanted to see Oregon. So we took an impromptu road trip to the Beaver State because, what the hell, we’re nomads and we can. 

It was a VERY long, two-day drive, but we made the best of it playing ring-around-the-rosy and hopscotch at gas stations to burn off energy. 

The truckers loved us. Especially Ari 🙂 


I love roadside attractions, or any unexpected thing you see on the side of the road. 

This guy was camped on the highway in the middle of nowhere with a sign that said “Good Story.” I still want to stop and hear it. 


Our destination was Smith Rocks to climb, of course. But along the way we stopped to see Celestial Falls. 

KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera

We stayed at the Crooked River campground in Redmond and Soleil made fast friends with these two kids, Brayden and Harley, who both lived there. Every day some kid would come over and ask Soleil to play, or she’d go out into the big grassy circle and wait until another kid saw her. She looked so small and brave standing out there all alone, but it never took long for another kid to join her.  It was the first time she ever felt really comfortable making friends without mom or dad initiating the dialogue. We’d watch through the Bounder windshield as our little girl played hide and seek and and red light green light. And now, of course, it’s old hat.  She walks up to everyone and asks if they want to play. 



When we got to Smith, we discovered that our longtime virtual friends, Pat and Ali, were in town, too. About 8yrs ago Tree discovered their site, Bumfuzzle, which ended up being part of the inspiration for us to hit the road. Now they have a couple kids, Ouest and Lowe, who are just a bit older than Soleil. It was great to finally meet in person.  


Photo Credit Pat Schulte

At one point all the kids were playing Duck Duck Goose together, and it was such a global shit show. Soleil said Pato Pato Nato,the Argentine version, as she went around the circle. Ouest and Lowe said Duck Duck Grey Duck, a distinctly Minnesotan version I’d never heard of, and then we had a random kid from the park reciting the banality we all know too well. And if three versions weren’t confusing enough, whenever Lowe picked his sister, Ouest would inexplicably take off running and a game of tag ensued. It was awesome. 

Soleil practicing her gangsta lean with the big boys.


We took a day trip to Bend to visit our good friends, Doug and Marcia, who we met on the Pan-American highway. Marcia took me to a store called Cowgirl Cash that sells vintage cowboy boots and other gems. Soleil got me these beauties for Mother’s Day. 

KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera

Soleil had a few more firsts at that campground too. She got her first squirt gun, and she’s a MACHINE! I saw her having a water war with a little boy. They were unloading in each other’s faces while he screamed “give me your gun!” and she yelled “no!” until he finally retreated. Despite being a pacifist, I was weirdly proud of her for holding her ground. 


And she got her first piggy bank! 


Which, naturally, translates into having a helper around the house.

Soleil earning coins to feed “Chancho.”


I could not be more in love with these two cuties. 


But don’t let the muscle tee fool you. Like most little girls her age, Soleil is a princess. Fortunately, she is not a Disney one. She makes her crowns with construction paper, glue, and feathers and designs her own royal robes. She has magic powers in her hands that ward off monsters (Dada), and she spends a good chunk of each day saving Bebe Rosada from all kinds of horrors–sickness, falls, snake bites. But when she has to pee or eat or do anything too mundane, she is not a princess anymore; she’s just Soleil. 

I love this picture. She’s so satisfied with her noble self. It reminds me of that meme of the kitten looking into the mirror and seeing a lion. The other day Noni asked her to describe herself, and she said, “I’m so brave and strong  and kind. And I share.” (I’d add smart and funny and beautiful, but I’m  irreparably biased.)


 I hope she always feels this confident and secure in her own skin. 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Our time in Oregon was a little bittersweet because we were closing in on our last weeks with Ari. 


When we were first making plans for Ari to come visit us, we thought the most we’d all be able to hang out in such a small space would be 4-6wks. As it turned out, Ari traveled with us for 10 whole weeks, and we never tired of it. I appreciated the help so much, I kept teasing Tree that every wife needs a wife 🙂 

Soleil wanted tattoos like Ari so she painted them on for her. 

Ari is incredibly creative. Soleil would routinely say, “I want [fill in the blank],” and Ari would make it out of a cardboard box, some paint, and duct tape. Now I’m left filling those shoes. Let’s just say my creations are more abstract. 

I read an article the other day about how isolating and stifling the nuclear family can be; the author suggests alloparenting instead, or a more community based approach. We’ve all heard the phrase, it takes a village to raise a child. But, of course, that’s not so easy in today’s urban world. Instead, what we can do is encourage our children to develop strong relationships with selective other adults. Watching Ari’s influence on Soleil has definitely has sold me on this point. She brings things to the table Tree and I can’t. Aside from being a native Spanish speaker, she shares her culture, ethics, passions, and talents with Soleil to give her a broader and deeper life experience. My hope is that when she grows into adulthood, Soleil will “be more likely to be compassionate – or at least open-minded – toward people whose beliefs and values differed from [her] parents’.”
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And all that aside, there’s the love. It’s important that we feel loved beyond our nuclear family–even beyond our extended family. Ari is Soleil’s first best friend, and she’s learning young to honor and nurture that connection. 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Ari’s amazing parting gift to us.

Thank you Ari for sharing your heart with us. We love you!

For the past month we’ve been touring the West. Next post, Wyoming and South Dakota. Yeehaw! 





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  1. What fun seeing two of my favorite bloggers come together!

  2. If it works out, let’s visit.

  3. Just missed you guys in Oregon. I was in Eugene for 10 days.

  4. lol—when in Rome. . . 🙂

  5. Nice stashes!

  6. I am growing my ‘stache just like yours for the summer, LOL.

  7. Amo descubrir mas de nuestro mundo con ustedes..LOS AMO A USTEDES!! Buena vida family!

  8. Wish we hadn’t crossed paths during such a busy time. Would have loved to hang out more. Hopefully Ari will have a space in her world for us when we get down south. We’ll see you guys when we see you.

    Oh, the other day we were at a lake, and I was wrestling with the kids in the water when a young boy came up and started attacking me. Just jumped right in on our game. I looked at Ali who was on shore dying laughing, and later we both said, god, he was just like that boy at the park that day with Stevie and Tree. So funny he gets a nod on here now, too. 🙂

  9. i got soooooo excited….i thought you were back!

  10. Beautiful

  11. One of my favorites. We are always growing our community and working to accept the fluidity of those who come and go.

  12. Solei is so big now like, wow.

  13. How fun, you met the Bumfuzzle crew. I had that pleasure when they passed through Memphis a couple of years ago. Good people. Best wishes.

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