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White Hills

As we got closer to the trail, the ground suddenly rose up into steep, sharp rocks covered in toupees of forest, with desperate trees hanging on for their lives. “Mom! It looks like a painted teapot!” I said, looking up, up, up out the windows. “Are we in China?!”

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The biggest butt in the west

When a hill pokes out of the ground like a human's big toe in a place where it doesn't belong, that's called a butt. This Wyoming butt burst purposefully out of the ground and seemed like it was leaning forward like it had something urgent to tell us. It was made up of long, straight columns and still seemed to be erupting out of the ground before our eyes. It was the biggest butt I'd ever seen in my life. I felt drawn to it.

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.

Oscar-sized

The best thing about this little sprout of a canyon was that it was on my scale, and Mom and I climbed in and out over the rocks, taking in the canyon from all angles. Then we walked out over the sandstone plane that surrounded the canyon-let, losing the trail almost as often as Mom took pictures. Come to think of it, I’m not so sure we were following a trail at all, so much as wandering from one interesting thing to another.

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.

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.

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