So much happened today that I don’t know how I’m going to tell you about all of it in my usual 140 characters or less! When we woke up in the Walmart parking lot it was still raining very hard. Mom said that the car-house may take our time away, that we may have to live like a couple of strays, but “dammit this trip was supposed to be for running and hiking and that’s what we were going to do, rain or shine!” She said it through her teeth, which usually means that life coaches should butt out and just play along.
We were staying in the factory part of the desert, not the national park part of the desert, but Mom found a place where we could run 3 miles around a little lake. It wasn’t a very pretty lake, and we saw lots of underwear stuck in the bushes, but at least it was short. We parked the house and ran up a short trail to the ugly little lake . It was really pouring – the kind of rain that has little bees in it. Mom said that she needed a shower anyway, again in with her teeth clenched. The ground was made of sand and puddles, which also made it hard running sometimes because it swallowed our steps when we pushed into it.
After a couple of miles the rain started to let up and we could sort of see mountains in the distance rather than just a grey smudge. But we had a problem… now that it had stopped raining and we could see, everything looked different, and we didn’t know what direction we’d be facing when we got to the end. There wasn’t just one way to get to the lake like a lollipop, but lots of trails coming off of it like a ship’s steering wheel. It wasn’t just one trail going around the lake either, but a bunch of parallel trails that braided together. We might run round and round the lake forever and never know which exit to take. Or we might leave at the wrong spot and run into the desert forever. To make matters worse, Mom had left her phone in the car-house to protect it from the rain, so we had no maps, or GPS, or even a compass. After a few miles mom looked around and said, “I think this is the one,” and started running away from the lake. We made one turn and then another, always going in a direction that we thought might lead to the road.
Once we had run away from the lake for nearly a mile she said, “I don’t remember making this many turns when we came up from the van…” Uh oh… Then we saw a river. We definitely hadn’t seen a river before.
“Mom, how are we going to find the lake again. How are we going to get back to the car-house?” I asked.
“Well yesterday when we got lost, we went back in time for help. This time, we’ll go even further back in time… to when people could track animals and each other by their footprints. If we follow our footprints in this soft, wet sand, we can tell where we’ve been and find our way back to the lake.” This sounded silly, like a human trying to pretend that they were a dog following a scent… Only the rain had washed all the scent trails away. This plan would never work…
But it did work! Sometimes we had to look around a bit to find our old feet, but we did find them and they brought us back to the lake eventually so we could keep going around the circle. Finally, just when I thought we might have to run around the whole thing again, Mom recognized a signpost and soon after that we found the car-house, right where we’d left it. I didn’t want to tell Mom, but I can tell you guys… I was a little scared we were going to be at that ugly lake forever!
We drove for another couple of hours. When we pulled over to go to the bathroom, mom noticed a trail next to where we parked. “Let’s see where it goes!” she said. Almost as soon as we got on the trail I saw a pile of droppings shaped like little baby gumdrops. “Bunnies!!!!!!!”
As soon as Mom gave me responsibility I ran off chanting, “goody goody bunny droppings!” Humans may track footprints with their eyes, but dogs track footprints with their noses and I could smell that this place was positively hopping with bunnies. I ran all around that place sniffing the air, leaping over bushes and sniffing in holes. I was an action hero, like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Back in the old times before the internet, people and ponies used to ride this trail for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of miles to bring messages across the desert. They didn’t do it for very long, because a year after they started the internet was invented and even dial-up was faster than ponies. But imagine the adventures those ponies must have had…! Mom only hiked it for 3 miles, but I think I ran more like 742 chasing bunnies and stuff. But those ponies used to go even further! I wished that I had been a Pony Express dog. I can’t imagine a better existence than chasing bunnies across the desert every day and being a hero for it.
After a while we found a pile of rocks. Mom said that it was a house for the Pony Express people to eat and rest and feed their ponies. But I know a load of bologna when I hear it! I have eyes, and I know it was just a pile of rocks. Mom insisted that there used to be people who lived in that pile of rocks in the desert, miles and miles from anyone just so they could help the Ponies. I thought that might be a pretty great way to be too, if I couldn’t be a pony. But Mom said they probably just spent the whole day drunk.
We had another miracle at the next bathroom, which turned out to be another museum-trail. This museum-trail had funny rocks that were shaped like cheese. There were scratches in the rocks that were apparently important to somebody, but I didn’t care about those. I just wanted to climb on the rocks and look out into the sky.
When I stood on top of the big rocks and looked out at the desert so far down, and all the mountains, and no towns anywhere, I felt like the last dog in the world. What were the chances of anyone finding some rock scratchings in all that empty space? You could have a million dogs following bunny trails their whole lives and maybe no one would ever find this spot again. It wasn’t just the earth that was open and empty. I had never seen so much empty air in my life either. “Hey, Mom, look at this!” I shouted over my shoulder as I stood on top of a rock and looked out over the desert miles below, but Mom was frozen in horror again like she was at the other high places.
“Come back from there! The wind will blow you off the edge of the world!” She said. Then, a gust of wind came and blew her hat off her head, and she screamed. But her hat didn’t blow away into the empty sky, it just got caught in the tail on the back of her head.
“Now don’t you feel silly? Sometimes you get so freaked out when there’s no danger. Do you think there MIGHT be other times when you do the same thing…?” I said, rolling my eyes.
-Oscar the Pooch