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."
There's a reason that Mom and I don't like easy peasy trails as much as we do the badass ones, and it's not just because I like to brag. Mom doesn't turn around and talk to me as much when we're not in danger, and it's like we're on different adventures.
When we got back to the swishy butt crack rocks, there was a problem. This morning there had been little puddles at the bottom of the crack, but now the puddles filled the bowls in the rock like pools.
The mountains bulged roundly out of the ground like a pair of stretch pants. The air was dry, but a different dry than the sharpened and clean dry of the desert. This was a sticky, rustling, itchy dry.
I understood why a runner would want a buddy if they couldn't smell their way around a marathong course, but I didn't understand why there weren't a ton of other people fighting over who got to visit Michigan.
The higher we hiked, the more we could see. Low down in the valley the view was mostly just of the slides that humans had built to catch and release the water that came off the freeway, but the higher we went we had views of the freeway itself, and the ugly stripes that humans had cut into the rock to keep the mountain from jumping onto the freeway. "Maybe you can use your imagination," Mom suggested.
"No!" Mom said slowing down like she wasn't sure whether to start running or fall on the ground herself. "Nononononono!" she groaned. Dr. Remy's Dad handed Mom Remy's leash and started running toward the man. Remy and I could tell that the humans were scared, so we were scared too. Mom's movements slowed down even more until she froze, and so for now Remy and I froze and waited for something to happen.