It didn't really matter where I ran because everywhere was basically the same, so I ran everywhere to see what the sand looked like when I looked uphill at it, and downhill at it, and while at full speed, and close up at the end of my nose, and upside-down while rolling around on my back.
The trail was still sweating off the month of rain in streams that dug a tiny canyon down the middle of the trail, and sometimes pooled into big patches of mud that I leapt over and Mom had to tip-toe through.
Mom and I have never been so badly matched as dance partners, so there are only so many places where Mom can walk with her elderly meatwad shuffle and I can frolic like a light-footed freight train. But I'm so starved for sprinting that even the old familiar places are exciting. When I smelled the beach coming, I whimpered a happy song and crawled up to the copilot's seat to look out the front window for all the dogs just waiting for me to chase them around in the sand.
Bodie started digging for gold while I supervised her work. Then, when she ran off to check if a puppy was worth bullying, I lay down in her hole, which was cool, and damp, and perfectly Oscar sized. For the next hour or so, we stayed in that spot, sunbathing or digging until a puppy came along that we could gang up on.
I was having fun chasing bunnies and discovering dead cows, but I was afraid that this wouldn't be enough adventure for Mom's last expedition. We had hiked almost 5 miles and she hadn't had to figure anything out yet, and I hadn't had to be brave and use my gorgeous and brawny muscles to get me out of danger.
I looked skeptically at Mom's knee. It looked like it was already connected together, even if it was a little floppier than usual and hung a bit like a puppet's leg when she walked. "Are you sure that the vet isn't just having you on so that he can sell you a surgery?" I asked. "Those psychos really can't be trusted." All she said was, "I'm so sorry..."
On our way out of town we drove along the fence holding in the park. We stared longingly out the window at the white sands that looked like a beach vacation advertisement had gotten lost and found itself in the middle of Walter White's desert. Then, like a miracle, the dirt busted right through the fence and to the edge of the highway. Silly park people, you can’t hold in nature.
But no, Mom put me back in the Covered Wagon and turned it on. Then she drove right off the paved road and into the bushes and sand next to the gate, just like Walter White did when he was being an outlaw. “Towanda!” Mom hooted. “To Heisenberg!” I howled. Neither of us actually said those things. But when we drove back onto the pavement on the other side of the gate, Mom did laugh a crazy, evil, triumphant laugh like Kathy Bates after she smashed that fancy car.
It wasn’t just the big cactupi that had spines. The bushes did too. There were round Oscar-high poofs that looked like something you could sit on… if you wanted to get poked in the butt. And there were bushes that looked like they were made of spiny ping pong paddles. And other bushes had tiny little delicate spikes that looked almost like floofs of cotton unless you tried to touch them.