This morning Mom really nailed the planning, and we were up early so that we could hit the trail with the sun. The trail was nearby, so we would have plenty of time to do a long run and be done long before the dog-roasting part of the day. The Lady Who Lives in the Phone suggested that the trail that we were going to hike/run would be 8 miles, but Mom and I were prepared for 10 just in case. We were finally figuring this road trip thing out…!
This trail went up a mountain that had almost no trees on it, and hardly any boulders even, so we could see the other mountains almost the whole time. These were calmer mountains than the ones further up in the sky, and as the sun came up behind the clouds it put stripes on the mountains in a way that looked more like something out of a movie than real life.
The trail went up, of course, but in a way where Mom could run a lot of the time. And when she couldn’t run, we just hiked instead. That’s one thing that we’ve learned on this trip: if you try to make all the things look like the plan, then you’re going to miss a lot and spend the whole adventure being frustrated. Frustration can ruin even the best run.
If you only visit on the trails that you can run without slowing down and hiking, you will miss snow, and climbing on rocks, and waterfalls in the desert. You will never catch all the jackalopes in the desert, there will always be more. You can never run all the trails. Some of them you can’t get to because your car-house has to stop too far away. Some of them you can’t get to because they are too long, and if you try to do the whole thing YOU are the one who will be too far away from the car-house without supplies. Some trails that you think exist just don’t, but there are others that you find where you weren’t expecting one. It’s a great big world out there, and a dog could spend his whole life exploring it and never get to see all of it. That makes Mom anxious because she wants to see all the best things. But it makes me relax, because it means that I never have to finish and no matter how long I keep exploring, there will be more adventures.
There weren’t many critters to chase on this trail, but when mom let me off leash there was too much exploring to do to wait for her. I just had to run ahead and sniff things, or just stand at a windy spot on the edge of the mountain and smell the air go by. Every once in awhile Mom would tell me to “c’mere.” Every time she said it I was obedient and froze in place until she had came close enough to watch me turn my butt toward her and sprint away again. That made her squawk and point emphatically at the ground a little bit, which I think is a human way of saying “good job.”
When we got to where the map said our route ended there was supposed to be some sort of monument, but Mom and I couldn’t find it. The trail went on up to a higher peak, and another higher peak after that, so maybe the sign was up on one of those. But a cloud was stuck on the mountain with us. It was icy and dark inside the cloud and little rain droplets were getting in my fur. Water kills the lady in Mom’s phone just like a witch, and Mom said that now that she doesn’t have a job to replace her anymore that we had to protect the Phone Witch. Usually we turn back because we don’t have enough water, but this time we would turn back because there might be too much. So instead of trying to find the tippity top, we had to race the rain back down to the car-house.
It didn’t take long before it seemed pretty clear that we were going to win our race with the rain. The sun came back out, and the chill left the air. But with less than 2 miles to go back to the car-house, the wet made a surprise comeback. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Mom’s bladder started leaking all over her shorts and down her leg.
[Oscar, that’s not fair. You’re being deceptive. Tell them what really happened…] <~~That was Mom.
So it wasn’t the bladder inside of her body that failed, it was the bladder in her pack-pack that let go and dumped water down her back, butt and legs. We stopped and adjusted everything in the pack-pack, and she squeezed her shirt and flapped her shorts to try to dry it out, but there was nothing she could do about her socks and shoes.
After our run we consulted the Phone Witch and found out that it was going to snow 5-8 inches in the place where we planned to stop next. “Goody!!!” I said.
“I don’t think the car-house can handle driving those mountain roads in the snow…” Mom said, crushing my dreams. “And we don’t have chains.”
“Who needs chains?!” I said. “We’re free now, remember?”
“Sorry, Oscar. I think we should head to the coast instead.”
So we drove a long way without adventuring. We left the mountains and drove through orchards and fields and into hills that looked like a puppy playing under a blanket. We stopped for a potty break at a place where a guy who was a lot like me learned about responsibility. Just like me, James Dean was a rebel, loved speed, was very handsome, and popular with the ladies. After he rode his motorcycle through the intersection that we could see from the bathrooms, he learned about the dangers of being a rebel and went on to live a long and cautious life.
Soon we were driving through the curly trees and curly roads that reminded me of the car trips that we take within a few hours of home. We drove down one very long, very twisty road that threw me back and forth in my seat, and then suddenly we came over the top and I could see and smell the ocean stuck right at the bottom of a steep, steep mountain. We hadn’t seen the ocean since the first morning of our trip, when the car-house wouldn’t start and Mom and I went to the pirate’s beach.
Mom and I parked the car-house at what would be our last home of the trip, and took a short hike down to the beach. The last time I was on the beach, I had thought it would be pretty cool to be a pirate and live the life of an outlaw on the open seas, but after this afternoon’s drive I decided that with all that swaying back and forth, a pirate’s life wasn’t for me. If I was going to live the life of an outlaw, I’d run on the sands and along the cliffs of the desert where ponies ran thousands of miles to deliver messages, where the bunnies are famous for their running, where people worship mittens, and where the mountains are so high that their dirt turns white.
When I looked back at Mom, she looked real sad. “What’s the matter?” I asked.
“I’m sad that it’s almost over,” she said. “We haven’t had all of the adventures yet. There’s still so much left to see and do.”
“But don’t you want to do those people things that you enjoy? Like dishwashers, showers, washing your hands after you use the bathroom, a tea kettle to boil your water, and reliable cell service?”
“True, I do love those things…”
“And guess what? I’m not done having birthdays. I plan to turn 4 1/2, and 5, and 6, and 7… and 84, and 85… We’ll still have plenty of adventures left for those birthdays too.”
“I guess you’re right…” Mom said. “It’ll be hard, but maybe I can find a job that will let me have more dog adventure time, even if it’s for less money. Now that I know it’s not scary to live like homeless people.”
“And Bingo was his name-o!” said the future Nobel prize winner of life coachery. I think that Mom had finally hit on the lesson that we’d come out here to learn.
-Oscar the Coach
My dogs miss hiking in Colorado, at least I’m pretty sure that’s what they’d say if they could. Where was this? I might’ve missed it in the copy.
It was near Lake Isabella, CA. Outside a town called Woof-ford