"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?”
When Mom finally stomped over the edge, she put her hands on her hips like an intrepid explorer and took a triumphant sigh. Then she tapped her pockets. Then she tapped her pockets in fast forward.
"Take that, white dirt! You can't stop us, this gate is stopping us. Suckah!" I barked. Mom stared at the gate for a long minute, and then turned back to find a place to sleep in the empty desert. We'd figure it out in the morning.
I was sniffing for critters in the white bushes when I heard Mom whisper-scream, “OH MY GOD!” and then burst out laughing. When I found her, she was laughing at a man who was dressed like a bush and standing still as a statue. He was carrying a lot of luggage with him, including one of the long sticks called a "gun."
“There’s no way that bacon boulder can out-sprint me!” I wagged. “Lemme at him! I'll have him teach you about his problem free philosophy when I catch him.”
I had never understood why humans collect things just for looking at, but as I looked at the tiny home wearing a hat of rampaging flame, I thought I understood how a building tells the story of the person inside. It’s a little bit like how the desert and mountains tell their story through cliffs, canyons, rocks and rivers both by what is missing and what is left behind.
The only way forward was to push through the branches like abominable snowmen. I let Mom go first because when she crashes through the brush, she knocks all the white dirt off the branches and carries it away in her collar, waistband and inside the packpack.
“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."
But when we got there, there was no fire, only wispy clouds stuck to the mountains and blocking the sky. “Did the fire go out in the rain?” I asked. I know about science, so I know that when a fire gets wet it turns into smoke. “Ugh, the forecast said the rain was supposed to be over by now, but the storm’s been following us since California. I think it’s going to rain the whole time we’re out here.” That happens, because Mom is the Weather Jinx.