The story of today started yesterday. When we left Choco Canyon, we held our pee for as long as we could so that we could make it to our last stop in time for sunset. All of our hurrying paid off, and we got to White Dirt, New Mexico right as the sky was starting to get wistful. But as we got closer, we could see that there was something wrong in White Dirt.
First, there were signs that said that the park was closed. Everyone knows you can’t close nature, and signs never stopped us in the past when we wanted to do something (that wouldn’t hurt anyone). Next we saw a sign that said that we couldn’t park within 3 miles of the entrance. Clearly, other less experienced outlaws had been there before us and the jig was up. Mom and I had no problem sneaking into the park, but we also needed to protect the Covered Wagon against speed certificates and wagon-nappings. At the entrance itself, instead of a gate that we could just drive around, there was a stone wall. On the other side of the wall a bunch of pickup trucks that looked like The Law were lounging in the car kennel.
“What’s this all about?” I asked. “Did we do something wrong? Do they know that we snuck into Choco Canyon, and now they’re coming to arrest us and throw us in the clink?”
“No, it’s not just us, Oscar. This is because the President is mad that he’s not allowed to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out, so he shut down the whole federal government.”
“So he’s grounding the whole country, just because he can’t cooperate? Is the President a people puppy?” I asked. I was impressed that Americans were open minded enough to let someone who hadn’t even passed obedience school yet run the country.
“No, he’s not,” Mom said like she wanted to say more. “This sort of thing is something that companies do in business to make the other side submissive.”
“Wait, I don’t get it. Forcing someone to be submissive when they don’t want to be is what you do to your enemy. Is the Alpha Puppy an enemy?”
“Nah. He’s just pretending to do something because he knows he can’t do it in real life.” “Oh, I get it. It’s like when I bark at someone scary so that they’ll think I’m ferocious, and then when you tell me to sit, I look like a good boy and get a treat.”
Anyway, the park entrance fortification was a problem. Now we a thousand miles from home with nothing to do, and no time to go somewhere else, we were committed to crossing into visiting public nature illegally. Outlaw experience had taught us that if a park won’t let you in, sometimes there are back ways, or similar but wilder landscapes nearby but outside the park boundary. Mom studied the map and found a service road that went through the white desert that lay outside the park. “Let’s just Google what this road is for, shall we?” Mom said. Then she was quiet for a minute while she read. “Well… it says here that it’s a missile range. So let’s not hike there after all.”
We spent the night in a dump off the highway where people stacked up dead branches and piles of broken sidewalk taller than Mom is high. Before we went to sleep, we stayed up watching the moon disappear and eating junk food that tasted like disappointment.
The next morning we woke up and discovered that much to our surprise that we were camping next to a lake, and the lake was copying the sky, and the sky was doing that thing that makes Mom not watch where she’s going because she’s got her head tilted back. We found a dry dirt basin that looked kind of white. This would have to do. When we climbed in and looked at it closely, it was just regular sand that someone had sprinkled shredded coconut all over. It was cool, and it was weird, but it wasn’t miles of white dirt piled so high that it was in dunes.
We walked around in the coconut ditch for a little over a mile — barely more than a potty break — and then we went back to the Covered Wagon and asked The Witch how to get home. On our way out of town we drove along the fence holding in the park. We stared longingly out the window at the white sands that looked like a beach vacation advertisement had gotten lost and found itself in the middle of Walter White’s desert. Then, like a miracle, the dirt busted right through the fence and to the edge of the highway. Silly park people, you can’t hold in nature.
We left the Covered Wagon by the side of the road and climbed up the rebel hill where the White Dirt Resistance had banded together to overcome the fence. When we got to the top we could see dune after dune of white dirt rolling out in front of us for miles. The way the sand looked and felt, it was like something you only find in magic or the movies. There was no trail, but we didn’t need a trail to tell us how to enjoy an open expanse of sand as far as the nose could smell. I dug in it. I rolled in it. I barked at it. I sprinted on it. I chased sticks over it. And the whole time, Mom followed me around doing her favorite thing: taking my picture.
When we were done, we got back in the Coverd Wagon and continued west through Walter White’s desert. Several times along our drive, we had to go through big, bright toll booths with The Law inside. In most of them, Mom rolled down her window, gave them a friendly smile, and showed them her privilege and we didn’t even have to stop. But the last toll booth waver wanted to ask Mom some questions.
“THEY KNOW! THEY’VE COME FOR US!” I barked in Mom’s ear so loud that my voice cracked. “BE COOL!”
“Are you from around here?” The Law asked.
“No, I’m from the Bay Area.”
“WHERE’S YOUR WARRANT?!” I yelled at him, using Mom’s ear as a megaphone.
“Where are you coming from?” he asked.
“White Sands, New Mexico.”
“NO! DON’T ADMIT YOU WERE AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME!” I yelled to Mom. Then, because I wasn’t sure if they taught geography at the police academy I told the man, “THAT’S WHITE DIRT, AMERICA!”
“Is this your vehicle?” he asked, looking at the mail man decorations that didn’t come all the way off.
“THE COVERED WAGON IS INNOCENT! IT STAYED OUTSIDE THE FENCE THE WHOLE TIME!”
“Yup!” Mom said.
Then he waved us through. Once we were moving again, I said, “Geez, Mom. You almost got us caught!”
-Oscar the Outlaw