I feel so sorry for all the people who don’t know that they can drive an old mail man van and sleep in it anywhere they want. Because those people always sleep in their stuck houses, they get stuck too. Mom and I know that we don’t need many things or much space, so we can be busy-ness people in The City on Friday, and still wake up in the desert on Saturday. After work we drove right past our stuck house, and instead of watching a couple of hours of Netflix, we sat in the Covered Wagon and listened to a story while we watched the night go by until bed time. When we woke up, we were in the desert.
We didn’t have time to get to another desert state in just one night of driving, so we went to the Near Desert called the Moon-Havi. The Moon-Havi is named that because it looks like you’re on the moon. I don’t know what “Havi” means, but it probably means “battleground” or “combat zone” or “octagon” in Martian, because up close it looks like the moon and Mars had a big fight.
They say that it’s not supposed to rain in the desert, but whoever said that doesn’t know how Mom is the Weather Jinx. It is well documented that bad weather follows her wherever she goes. Driving the final hour from The Last Starbucks to our hiking spot, to the right we could see the sun lighting things up in that special way it does in photos that they use on jigsaw puzzles, but to the left it was grey and angry looking, like the sky was bruised and swollen from a fight and was looking to get revenge. I sure hoped that our last turn would be to the right, but then Mom turned to the left and drove into the distressed sky until we were right in the middle of it.
Rain is a funny thing. Sometimes the rain hits the windows like a storm, but when open the door and stand in it, most of the drops you. That’s the kind of rain that was happening as we hiked into the desert. Maybe it was just the fashionable rain coat that Mom made me wear that scared away the rain drops, but even though there was rain for our whole hike, it mostly left us alone.
People who don’t like the desert just don’t appreciate its drama. It’s like they are going to the movies expecting to see something with Colin Firth, and instead they get a movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a very good actor, and his movies are always very well written, true to life, and artfully directed. But his movies have the kind of subtle drama that uses grunts, and blood, and gore, and pain, not the over-the-top drama with tea and feelings.
At a sign that said to be careful of the monster-birds, Mom and I turned off of the tire-tracks-trail and walked into the desert. The desert is good for walking across, but not good for marking an obvious trail, so I sprinted here, there and everywhere, barking into the clouds while Mom and The Witch that Lives in her Phone navigated. I guess I should have been paying closer attention, because soon a long fence made out of a wire tied to posts blocked our path. “What do we do now?” I asked.
“Well, the sign says ‘Foot traffic only.’ I think that means we’re allowed on the other side…” Mom said, scratching her head. “But how?”
“Where’s the door?” I asked. We looked right and left along the fence, but it went on and on forever into the desert without a break. Mom looked flummoxed, so I had to take control of the situation. “I know what to do!” I said. Then I ducked my head and walked under the wire. Like magic, I was on the other side. I could almost see smoke coming out of Mom’s ears at the magic trick I had just done. Humans are so dumb, they think that a fence is the same as a wall and they never even try to go through. Luckily Mom was having a brave day and she went through the wires herself. Her packpack was feeling a little less brave and tried to prevent her from trying something new, but after a few tries, she made it to the other side too.
We hiked in another dry river bed, but this one was much nicer than the last dry river we went to because it had no Oscarfalls, just lots of sand and the mess left behind by the fight between the moon and Mars. Everywhere there were rocks that were all the colors of grey: jade-grey, red-grey, pink-grey, yellow-grey… In the parts of this desert that the moon had won there were drip piles of grey-green cheese covered in matcha dust that dribbled down the cliffs, and slimy bits of cheese curds on the ground in places where the rocks were rotting. In the Mars parts of the desert, the rocks were the color of car accident bruises and the cliffs had big holes in them like they’d been blown up, and the blown-up rocks were flung all over the ground like blood and guts. The moon parts were mostly up-and-down lines like stalagmites, and the Mars lines mostly went side-to-side in stacks, but here and there the moon balanced a stack on top of its drips, or Mars tried dripping down a tall stack. That’s called compromise.
When we got to the top of the river, we kept climbing up the mountain and walked along the edge of the cliffs. This hill couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. To our right it was Colin Firth: bland, gentle and smooth with only a few rocky or spikey bits to keep it interesting for the eyes. To our left it was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson where the ground was ripped away in a cliff that would KILL you! We walked on the edge between the two until finally The Rock won and we had to pick our way down Colin Firth back to the Jeep trail. Colin Firth is not without danger, it’s just a slower, less dramatic kind of danger. We weren’t risking falling off a cliff, but the wet, sandy ground liked to be slippery and could sag down the hill with you on top of it if you weren’t careful where you stepped. Some spots looked solid like smooth rocks, but when we stepped on them they dribbled and smeared into sticky mud that was almost like ice, and we skied down 6 inches with each step.
A little further down the Jeep track, the trail that we were following turned off into the wilderness again. Whenever we had left the main trail it had shown us a fun adventure, but it was also harder to find our way around and there were obstaples like fences, and battle grounds, and trick mud, and Colin Firth that slowed us down. We had been hiking for more than 7 miles and the rain had eased its way through my rain jacket. Mom’s front paws were so cold that sometimes The Witch didn’t recognize her as a living thing when she poked to ask for directions. So we decided to stay on the main Jeep trail and skedaddle back to the Covered Wagon. I wished very much that Mom could run so that we could get to the Covered Wagon faster, but instead I bounded around in the brush beside the trail and tried to dig to China to keep myself warm.
The heat in the Covered Wagon felt wonderful, and I snuggled deep into all the winter blankets wiping all of the wet desert off of my lustrous fur and into the warm bedding. We had to drive 5 hours to get back to our stuck house, and we enjoyed relaxing in the sauna that the Covered Wagon becomes when Mom turns on the heat. And guess what? In all the 300 miles between our hike and our stuck house, there was not one drop of rain!
Oscar the Explorer