I woke up wet. Wet outside the tent, wet inside the tent. The tent is a meaningful barrier, creating more than just a weather difference between inside and outside. Inside the tent is qualitatively apart from the outside world: contained, knowable, subject to my imposed order. Nights when I pitch the tent I sometimes feel I’m creating a tamer bubble in the wider wilder world. At its most basic and its most perfunctory, that usually means outside stays outside. But not last night. It was maybe the wettest the inside of my tent has been, and it hardly rained last night. The moisture rode in on the air and out of my pores and everything inside the tent was soaked. So too everything outside. Yesterday’s thunderstorms left a lasting impression.
I was hiking with all my wet things by 5:30 (Arizona time), on the paved busy highway heading straight northwest for almost 6 miles to Colorado City. The morning was misty and cloudy but no rain threatened. I made good time, even if my legs and feet were a little stiff from yesterday.
Just as I was coming up to the turn off towards the grocery store (about a mile or so before Colorado City itself), a woman pulled up in a little green Honda and asked if I’d had breakfast yet and if I would like to have breakfast with her. Well, yes! Colorado City is one of several communities squished together here, and my route went right through Colorado City and then Hildale, a few miles away from any restaurants. I had just accepted I wouldn’t be eating a hot meal in town today, but plans change. I hopped in her car and she drove me down the highway to the Merry Wives Cafe, where she bought me breakfast. We had a very long conversation about Colorado City, because I know almost nothing about it but rumors and she grew up here. She’s in her mid forties now, but her father, a man she greatly loves and respects and who was instrumental in shaping her character as she grew up, had three wives. She has thirty siblings. Her parents have one hundred grandchildren so far. These are numbers, only numbers, but they describe a kind of life I can’t imagine. I have one sibling, and my family is kind of blown apart it seems, like tatters in the wind. Ultimately she left the religion, moved away, and then moved back to be near her family and because she loves it here. She has eight kids with her husband, a huge family on its own. We talked a lot about Colorado City, the sects and subsects within it, Warren Jeff, the FLDS, and so on. What is happening here is more complicated than the rumors suggest, as I thought it would be. It usually is. But it does seem that for some of the people here, polygamy is working just fine.
After breakfast she dropped me off at the store, promising to pick me up later today from the Post Office. I would stay at her house tonight and get a chance to take a shower, do laundry, and charge all my doodads, all things I had assumed I wouldn’t be able to do while in town. I made a quick run through the supermarket, an excellent one for its size, and then walked the rest of the way into town to the post office to pick up food I mailed to myself when I was in Kanab. There wasn’t much to see in town. Larger than normal houses, lots of kids, and women and girls in unusual homemade dresses that look very old fashioned, but otherwise a standard town. Sometimes people would nod or wave as they drove by, but most I was stared at. I had decided to wear my pants through town rather than my shorts which are pretty short, and anyway it was cool. But my pants are so torn up. I taped them up with Gorilla Tape I got from some rafters, including the seat, and it seemed to be holding well. Maybe that’s what drew all the stares.
I picked up my box, repackaged my food, and even sat outside the Post Office charging my phone for a bit in one of their outlets. Eventually Stefanie came back to pick me up and took me to her house where I met her kids who are still at home, her husband, had dinner, and relaxed.
Tomorrow she’ll bring me back to the Post Office and I’ll make my way out of town. I’m heading into the last stretch now. I’m switching back to Utah time.