The toughest part of long term traveling with an only child has to be lack of playmates. We’re a close family, and Zevin still enjoys his time with both Michelle and I. Zevin and I will take long walks, making up stories with each other, and as I write this, Michelle and Zevin are swinging in a hammock together, just chatting while the heat of the day passes.
But kids want to play with kids, and when the opportunity to play with someone his own age comes along, Zevin gulps it like a man long lost in the desert.
In this case, the long-haired boy approached us out of the mingling crowd by the Windows in Arches National Park just north of Moab, Utah. Between his waist-long pony tail and easy, unguarded friendliness, I mistook him for a girl at first, something his mother confirmed was not uncommon (and something that happens to Zevin more and more as his hair grows past his shoulders.)
As everyone else was watching the sun set, he picked Zevin out of the crowd, said “Gimme five!”, and invited him over to climb with his sister on the rock wall. His mother told us that the three of them had been traveling, living out of their car and in hostels for the past year-and-a-half, and it was obvious the boy shared Zevin’s thirst, and doubly so for how long he’d been on the road.
Fast-friends were made, and our plans of getting to bed early that night to make a early start against the 100ºF heat were out the door.
We were headed west from there the next day, so that was likely the end of Zevin and Awren’s “real life” friendship, but they made plans to meet on-line in Roblox the next day (a plan that was executed quickly from the back of our van as we took care of the sundry errands and ministrations our van requires every few days), so who knows. It will be interesting to see if they stay in touch, becoming their generation’s equivalent of pen-pals.
Moving on to Goblin Valley, about two hours to the west, fortune favored us again: Zevin was scrambling on the hoodoos around our campsite, when a green-haired girl with a Pringle’s can scampered up past us.
“I’m going to get some clay from the top of the cliff to make things with. Want to come?”
Yes, yes he did, and our plans to take a cool evening hike to see the goblins of Goblin Valley were gone, sacrificed without a second thought.
Unfortunately, the two families (six kids between them, all with the easy, friendly confidence parents pray for) headed home to Salt Lake City this morning, but we signed on for a second night here at Goblin Valley campground, and a new set of families are starting to flow in. Maybe we’ll all get lucky again.