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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.

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Dog therapy

“I’m not worried about hikers. There are cats that hide in these trees. They jump down and before you know what’s happened, they've grabbed you by the head are dragging you into the bushes to eat you up.” “Oh! I love cats!” I said. “They are great fun to chase! I hope one drops on me.” “Not these cats…” Mom warned. Mom gets so scared of the silliest things.

King of the Potato Beasts

It took a couple of miles, but eventually reality caught up with Mom when the white dirt started sucking up her legs like a couple of pieces of spaghetti. Every time she tried to climb out of the hole, sluuuurp, her leg would get sucked back in up to the shorts line. On each one she let out a roar that was a little bit like a gladiator going into battle, and a little bit like someone whose leg was being bitten off by an alligator.

Mountain taxonomy

Finally Mom had had it. The trail was under a long stretch of white dirt, and we were practically within view of the top. “This trail may be covered in snow, but there is plenty of open ground if we make our own path,” Mom said. "Let’s see how high up we can get if we go straight up.” I was proud of Mom. I always explore the mountain outside the trail on our adventures, but she’s usually less curious. The West is a land with a history of explorers who had to break their own trail.

Devil’s Punchbowl

If there’s one thing that will guarantee that Mom will commit to doing something hard is if someone nicer and more cheerful than her says that they are going to do it too. It’s okay to be outperformed by a jerk, but if Mom gives up before someone with the personality of a marshmallow, she couldn’t look herself in the eye in the morning.

A western execution, foiled

Usually she’s stiff and ungainly as a water buffalo with bad self esteem when she runs, but now she looked a little less plodding. Not graceful, but kind of like a shopping cart with a wonky wheel rolling down a hill, which meant she was having fun too.

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