The last time Mom and I slept in the cold I didn’t know about blankets. While Mom was warm under the comforter and sleeping bag, I kept knocking off my blanket so that I would be ready to jump into action at any moment. I spent that whole night shivering, and ever since then Mom has been training me to use blankets. Every morning when she gets out of bed, she tucks the blankets up around my neck and gives me a kiss on the forehead. As long as I stay that way and I feel cozy and warm, no matter how cold the house is. Sometimes I don’t even get up until it’s time to go to work.
So when Mom tucked me under my Wagon blanket, and then tucked us both under the heavy comforter that she’d bought just for this trip, I knew just what to do and snored Mom a lullaby. Snug as a mug in a hug, we slept for almost as long as we’d been driving. (Mom says that’s not the right expression, but I’ve seen how happy humans are hugging both paws around a hot mug in the morning, so I think my way is better).
Mom promised me that we could stop long enough for her to post yesterday’s blog for my friends to read, so after about an hour of driving we pulled into a parking lot. “Are we there yet?!” I asked, looking out the windshield.
“Um, no. This is the only Starbucks for like 200 miles,” Mom said.
I looked around, but I didn’t see the Starbucks mermaid anywhere. “Where?”
“It’s in the casino,” she said.
So, as usual, Mom left me alone to fret about her getting stuck in a tourist trap while she went into the Starbucks alone. When she came out holding her coffee a dog year later, I sniffed her. “You smell like cold smoke and stink sticks,” I said.
“A low-budget roadside casino at 8:30 in the morning on Christmas Eve is one of the most depressing things I’ve ever seen,” Mom shuddered. “The wifi in the Starbucks wasn’t even turned on, and no one had noticed, knew how to turn it back on, or even knew what the network was called. Let’s go to the McDonald’s across the street. I never thought I’d say this, but that might be less depressing.”
“Do I get McRotguts???” I asked.
“Of course. Once I’m done posting this.” She didn’t even have to get out of the Covered Wagon to post my blog, but she still went in to get me my McRotguts. She came out a few minutes later looking confused.
“What happened?” I asked, sniffing at her empty hands.
“Apparently they only sell breakfast this early in the morning. McNuggets won’t be available for another few hours. It never occurred to me that McDonald’s observed meal times.”
We drove through the desert of Arizona and then Utah until the flat ground started climbing up mountains. We could see in the distance that some of the mountains had already started growing their white coats for next summer. As we climbed higher, even the mountain we were on started to grow a little stubble of white dirt. It was funny to see the spikey desert plants and tumbleweeds sticking out of the white dirt like that. There was even white dirt as we came down into Roadrunner and Wily E Coyote country where cracks became canyons and the white dirt made the mountains look more like wedding cakes than muffin tops.
We finally got a place for the Covered Wagon so that Santa could find us overnight, but instead of stopping driving, Mom turned around and went back to the road. “Where are we going??” I asked. “How is Santa going to find us??”
“I think that we have enough time for a short hike before sunset if we hurry…” Mom said.
When we got to the trail, I was so excited that I didn’t even care that Mom had dressed me in embarrassing Christmas pajamas. Since Mom was broken, I hadn’t run in weeks, and I felt weightless as I sprinted up and down the trail in a hurry to see what was up ahead, and then as I sprinted back to see if Mom was dead. I rolled on the white dirt, jumped on the boulders, and even chased a bunny or two. I could hardly believe my good luck to be back in the desert with all of my favorite things for Christmas.
Best of all, when we were finished, Mom took me out to a fancy Christmas Eve dinner so that I could have the McRotguts she’d promised me. Then we brought the Covered Wagon back to wait for Santa. Mom left some dog biscuits out for him to eat when he crawled up our exhaust pipe, but I ate them first. I would need the energy for Mom’s and my big Christmas hike tomorrow.
Oscar the SnowPooch