We drove to a dark that smelled like the ocean, sounded like waves, and felt like sand. Then Mom let me off the leash. Behind us in The City there were lights, and cars, and people, and all the human things, but here on the sand there was only dark and the invisible ocean going on and on forever. I ran around in big circles until I heard Mom calling my name, then I ran back to check on her before she let me run more circles through the deep sand and waves.
All the people who weren't at the mountain were really missing something special, because with the crowds gone, the cows were chilling right next to the trail. Not only that, but because cows are wide and flat like sails, they were all lying boneless on the ground so that they wouldn't blow away. I barked at a few of them, but they just rolled their big moo-cow eyes at me and stayed lying on the ground like dropped blankets.
...and my favorite: Meetings! Meetings are when everybody gets together in one room to let one person show off their barking while everyone else looks bored and watches jealously as I make the rounds and my collies take turns scratching my butt.
"Mom, mom! Come here and look! Quick! There's a man dressed like Smokey the Bear!" Then Mom came clattering out of the bushes. If she were a cartoon character, she would have had twigs in her hair, hashtags on her cheeks and forehead, and her tongue hanging out. But in real life she just looked like a lost person.
Remember when I said that I wished we could just walk across the desert forever? Well... I changed my mind.
I could see that someone had decorated the whole park for Christmas. There was a delicate sprinkling of White dirt on everything that looked like the opposite of a shadow. Rather than the underside of everything being dark, now the sunny side of everything was white. The decorator hadn't missed anything, from the tiniest twig on the stubby trees that were all twisted like candy canes to the giant towers that made up the canyon.
We left the main trail and followed the footsteps and rock piles back to the secret passageway that would take us back down the cliff. The only problem was that the trail disappeared as if by magic. We found a pile of rocks wedged under an overhang like it was trying to tell us something, but we couldn't figure out what. We went back and forth over the same 1/10 of a mile of trail over and over, and couldn’t find anything trail-like anywhere; no packed-down snow, no shoe prints in the sand, no rock piles, not even a long stretch without things to climb over.
As we climbed higher, even the mountain we were on started to grow a little stubble of white dirt. It was funny to see the spikey desert plants and tumbleweeds sticking out of the white dirt like that. There was even white dirt as we came down into Roadrunner and Wily E Coyote country where cracks became canyons and the white dirt made the mountains look more like wedding cakes than muffin tops.
Mom and I turned back around to see that one of the odd humans was moving only his mouth while the rest of him stood still like a statue. “Mom! Quick! This guy found gold, but I think he’s a disabled person. I bet if I bark a lot to create a distraction, you could steal all the gold from him and then we could run away with it and he couldn’t chase us because of his disability. Then we’d be rich! On the count of three. One… two...”