Mom and I listened to stories about the real-life bandits and stagecoaches of the Old West. “Mom, we’ve been to a lot of these places!” I said, astonished. “Some of them were so small that their gas stations didn’t even have Perrier or string cheese! How could a place be famous and forgotten?”
Usually we can't even go to this trail on the weekend because there's no time to run between all the jumping into the poison oak whenever a bike rides by. But this year Mom has only gotten poison oak one time.
They looked like their father was a cow and their mother was a warthog, because they looked like someone had taken a cow and squeezed all of its extra parts up around its shoulders until it had no neck at all. And their haircuts were just terrible, like Julia Child or Norm MacDonald, but worse.
The walls swooped and lunged at us like ghosts as we wound through for almost half a mile. Then we turned a corner and found ourselves looking up at a rock taller than Mom’s head. “I’ve got just the thing,” Mom said, pulling off her packpack. Then she looked at it like someone had pulled a dirty trick on her. “Oh crap, the emergency sling is in the other pack.”
But just because it was dangerous, illegal, and a really bad idea wasn’t enough to make Mom accept that the walking rocks were out of our reach, and for the next hour she kept trying to bargain with The Witch to find a way in.
That's why I was still tied to Mom when we came around Creature Corner, where I have met a lion, a wolf-dog, and too many bunny rabbits to count. This morning there was a new creature flumping across the path. It was a horseshoe-crab-shaped ball of fur that moved like a land sting ray. "STRIPEY STINK-CAT!" I barked.
"It’s not a race.” “Are you sure it’s not a race? They’re giving out medals and stuff…” “No, it’s a challenge. There’s a difference. A race is something that you do against someone else, a challenge is when you commit to doing something difficult and compete with yourself. It’s like a competitive resolution. Challenges are different for everybody because they depend on context.” “Wait, so a challenge is a contest?”
“Are you kidding me? Now that I’m a sophisticated man-dog and have seen the mountains and deserts of 9 states, I have more to say than ever,” I told her. "The more you've seen, the more there is to notice. The first time you see something, it's like a photo. But when you see the same things over and over, the differences unroll like a movie."