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Robin Hood of the Wild West

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?”

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My own private outside

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.

Outback of Nevada

Soon, the road-like-thing turned to conceal itself between the toes of the mountain, and we followed it inside. The trail was marvelously horrible. It looked like the path to a lair of a wicked monster that would crunch the bones of hikers that came to visit him.

Salt Lake City

I didn’t think you could have a city on mountains so savage, but the people who built this city were the same clan of Oregon trailers who stopped on the section of trail covered in the graves and bones of dead travelers and said, "Here's good!" I guess if you live in a town of people so fond of ringing doorbells, you’ve got to go to extreme lengths to keep your privacy or you’d NEVER get to finish your dinner.

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.

Turnt at Albuquerque

she kept staring up toward where the sunrise should have been. Instead of a sunrise, there was a giant mountain covered in an armor of thorny rock spikes. Puffy clouds were stuck in the spikes like trash stuck a fence along the freeway, and those clouds were lit up from underneath by the missing sunrise. The whole thing worked like a trap to pull on Mom's eyes like a giant billboard that said CLIMB ME.

Altitude problem

Below, the crinkly and broken land looked like someone had crumpled and wadded up the blacktop of the world’s largest car kennel, and then changed their mind and tried to flatten it out again. On top of the cliff, the brick-grey rocks and scrubby bushes stretched out in a long plane to eternity in every direction but one.

Not rock climbing

Even though it was very easy to follow, Mom tripped and swore almost as often as she took pictures because the big rocks above our heads kept stealing her eyeballs making the rocks under us steal her feet.

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.

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