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.
People who don't like the desert just don't appreciate its drama. It's like they are going to the movies hoping to see something with Colin Firth, and instead they get Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is a very good actor, and his movies are always very well written and artfully directed, but it is the kind of drama that has grunts, and blood, and gore, and pain, not the drama with tea and feelings.
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...”
Well... mostly to ourselves. We were running through the skirt of the mountain, where the boulders and bushes fight to see who can win the trail, when I came around the corner and saw a turtle-person right in front of me. "What are you doing here? Let me see your early morning permit!" I barked. She looked suitably scared of me, so when Mom called my name, I figured it was okay to leave the turtle-person, go get Mom and show her.
Once we started walking downhill on the shady side of the mountain, Mom, whose heart pumps ice rather than blood, started to turn blue. Every mile or so, I had to come back to her and block the path so that she could bang her hands on my handsome butt until she could feel them again. It wasn’t that cold, Mom is just made with lizard parts.
“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.
“A lot of it goes through National and State Parks where they don’t allow dogs. That’s why we couldn’t go to Glacier or Yellowstone in Montana... or Yosemite, or Big Sur, or Olympic State Park, or Crater Lake, or lots of the other places that people recommended.” We both sighed when we thought about all the places that I can’t go just because I’m a dog and I poop in the bushes, bark at people, and chase bunnies. It really doesn't seem fair, because Mom does all those things except chase bunnies. "Anyway, it gets really hot in some of those places and you have to hike in the middle of the day. You probably wouldn’t like it,” Mom said. Then she pointed at an old dead tree that had its butt sticking up in the air. “Look! That tree looks like an octopus’s cloaca! Go stand on it so I can take a picture.”