I’ve been keeping Mom home ever since forests closed to everyone but fire fighters. It was about time we go somewhere.
“Hey, Mom! Guess what. This weekend is that holiday when we celebrate the first cruise ships that bought a boogeyvirus to America!”
“What? You mean Columbus Day?”
“Well, I’m team Indigenous Peoples Day, but if you want to celebrate Team Boogeyvirus it’s a free country. Where should we go?”
“How about that place we went last Easter?” Mom suggested.
“You remember… that time we drove 5 and then there was a sign at the trailhead saying that we would be arrested if we tried to use nature.”
“Oh yeah…” I remembered. “And you almost punched that guy.”
“I didn’t mean to punch him, I was just putting out my arm for him to get back while he was leaning in to hear me better. Europeans are close talkers and he wasn’t practicing social distancing. No one was wearing masks back then either. It was a different time…”
“Yes,” I said in a scholarly tone. “This is the perfect weekend to remember the dangers of disease-carrying Europeans.”
It’s hard to keep track of the time of year when you live in a place that has 3 seasons a day, 1 season a year, and you never leave your stuck house. I was surprised that after a full night’s sleep in the Covered Wagon and a drive long enough for Mom the finish her poop juice, the sun still hadn’t woken up by the time we reached the car kennel. When it finally got its lazy butt into the sky and gave us enough light to hike by, Mom and I walked out of the car kennel to the very end of the world, and then turned and started walking up the beach.
“OMG! OMG! OMG! This is amazing!” I barked, running donuts in the sand. “Mom, isn’t this AWESOME!” I hollered as I charged at her like a speeding loco-motive and skidded to a stop right in front of her, spraying her with a wave of sand like a skier. The sand splashed all over her legs and dropped down into her shoes and socks where it would ride for the rest of our hike.
Once I had gotten my zoomies out and made sure Mom’s toes were covered in sand despite her shoes, we settled into a less thrilling Mom-like pace to make it easier for me to sniff out buried treasure.
“So where do we go from here?” I asked. “Should we climb up the mountain so we can see pirates or explorers coming from across the sea?”
“I don’t think there is a trail on the mountains…” Mom said. “I think we just walk down the beach.”
“Um, what beach?” I asked. Ahead of us the misty mountains looked like they walked right into the fuzzy waves with no stripe of seagull covered sand in the blurry place where they met. Mom is always forgetting that nature has a schedule and you can’t just drop in unannounced whenever you feel like it. She’s always losing beaches into the ocean, trails under white dirt, and sunsets into the fog.
“What time is high tide?” Mom asked The Witch, waving her around like a butterfly net to try to catch the answer out of thin air.
“It’s in about an hour,” The Witch told us.
“I sure hope we don’t get marooned somewhere when the tide comes in…” Mom said, but she said it in a bored way like getting marooned on a deserted beach was like getting marooned in traffic on the Grey Bridge when you need to go potty.
Even though the beach always looked like it was about to disappear into the ocean just beyond where my eyes could reach, we always found more sand or rocks to walk on. I strode boldly into the unknown with Mom pitching and lurching behind me like she was trying to tap dance on the deck of a pirate ship in a hurricane. In a few places the beach was made of deep sand that sucked up all our walking, but mostly it was made of round rock kibbles the size of chicken eggs, and duck eggs, and sparrow eggs, and dinosaur eggs, that rolled and wobbled under our paws.
The end of the world is just a mile from my Stuck House, so I figured that we had driven all afternoon yesterday because this beach had something special that we didn’t have on our beach at home, but after we’d walked for awhile and I’d found nothing but wet rocks and sand, I checked with Mom. “What is this place?”
“It’s called the Lost Coast,” Mom shrugged. “Those mountains are called the King’s range…”
Now it all made sense! The King must have buried a very valuable treasure here on this secret beach, hidden by the mountains and protected by a curse of 60 days in a dungeon for any unfortunate travelers who dared to venture there. People had stayed away for so long, that they had lost this part of the coast altogether, and the treasure buried there too! I dug in the sand at my feet, and when I didn’t find anything there, I set off further off the beach to discover it.
I discovered many mysterious creatures, both dead and alive on my treasure hunt. There were old dead trees that looked like bone and smelled like the ocean, and when the waves touched them they twitched like zombies waking up. There were no rotting blubbery dead beasts competing with the seaweed for the flies’ attention like on the beach at home. Here the vegetarian flies swarmed around celluloid strips of seagrass like old camera film, the plasticky Super Mario kelp pipes, and the latexy doilies of seaweed that looked like they’d come from an underwater exam room. Instead of sand yarmulkes, Mom balanced other dead creatures on my face, like spikey pompoms that looked like tiny Russian hats, crab shells that she sat on my face like a Venetian mask, and starfish that she stuck on my face like a Eurovision glamrock star. I saw a pack of sea beavers running across the sand like snakes, and the biggest dog tracks you’ve ever seen.
“Hey, look!” I sniffed. “It’s Dogsquatch! Bigpaw?” I couldn’t decide what the doggie Big Foot should be called. “He’s got five toes. What a freak!”
“Um, I’m pretty sure that’s a bear track,” Mom said.
There was only one kind of bear that I knew hung out near the ocean… “There are polar bears here?!?!?!” I said.
Before I’d found so much as an X-marks-the-spot, Mom ordered me to about-face.
“But what about the treasure?” I said.
“I always come to the beach expecting to find something awesome, and I always forget how boring and tiring it can be…” said the Grinch who stole Indigenous People’s Day.
“But adventure could come over that horizon at any moment!” I said, gazing out over the ocean the color of fish flavored Listerine where the unknown could come sailing to meet me at any moment.
“When did anything good ever come over the ocean?” Mom grumbled. “Ships only brought genocide, marauders and murderers, slaves, and disease carrying rats…” Just then a cheeky wave snuck up behind her. I darted nimbly out of range, but it caught Mom who was still distracted by listing the dangers of sea travel and washed more sand into her shoes.
“Let’s go check and see if we missed anything,” I suggested, leading us back in the direction of our landship.
Oscar the Land Lubber