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…Previously, in South Dakota

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.

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Perspective

The hills were rounded and furry with wiry grass that was excellent for rolling in, and here and there in the distance sprouted tiny farm houses. There was a 1% cloud in the air, and the sun lit it up and gave everything a glow the color of gold like a scene from a 99¢ Christmas card.

World falling down

Suddenly, I heard a loud rumbling coming from high on the mountain. It sounded like a crack of thunder, and rumbled in my ears like a gunshot. But it went on for too long to be either a gun or thunder, and had too many sharp new sounds buried inside to be just a disturbance in the air like an echo.

White dirt, schmite dirt

Just at that moment, a man-Oscar in running clothes with hiking chopsticks came bounding up the trail behind us, running with the same rockethorse enthusiasm as me. He had the kind of shapely butt that tights were invented for, and made a mountain man beard look tidy just by opening his toothpaste-ad smile in the middle of it.

Planning for the worst

We navigated like cowboys, or Indians, or Mormons by jagged rocks that looked like they’d been blown up, and then past rocks that were jagged in a much flatter way. We worked our way steeply up and down striped lumps of rock, and past deep belly-buttons in the rock with pools trapped at the bottom. Finally, we came over a ridge and far below us I could see a canyon filled with peaceful water of deep jewel-colored grey surrounded by bright fire-grey cliffs that were rounded off as if they’d been polished.

They’re pink

“No, Mom, this is awesome,” I corrected her. “It’s better than awesome. It’s… There’s no word for it in your language for how awesome it is.” So I barked the word in my language, and then did a cartwheel followed by a sprint to show her what it meant.

Rekindling

“Lemme at ‘em! I’ll bark at ‘em, and I’ll chase ‘em, and then I’ll bark at ‘em while I chase ‘em!” But Mom, who doesn’t understand how to appreciate wildlife at all, ignored me and slowly chased the beasts to my side of the street.

Doomed

We ran 5 miles up and down the dooms. Then we ran through trees that grew right out of deep sand. Then we ran on the beach. And when we left the beach we ran through the grass, which only lives in deep, deep sand. Everywhere we ran it was sand, sand, sand! Have you ever run in sand before?

Oscar the cheerleader

“How do I be encouraging without pressuring her... just in case she’s the kind of person who barfs?” I asked. I know all about barfing before the finish line because that's what Mom used to do when she was excited and messed up her pacing. “How about just 'Go'?” Mom said. “Yeah! That’s good! Use two of them!"

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