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Outback of Nevada

Soon, the road-like-thing turned to conceal itself between the toes of the mountain, and we followed it inside. The trail was marvelously horrible. It looked like the path to a lair of a wicked monster that would crunch the bones of hikers that came to visit him.

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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.

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.

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.

Mystery of the falling bread truck and baby goats

"This sure is beautiful, isn't it, Mom?" I asked. I wasn't quite sure if it was beautiful, so I was hoping she'd tell me. These mountains didn't do all the inspiring gymnastics of the really tall mountains that blocked the desert. They were kind of nubby, and their only trick was to trip and fall right into the ocean with a little splash.

Duck

When Mom wasn’t hypnotized by the Bahama-colored lake, her eyes were fixed on the mountains, trying to puzzle out how someone as scared of heights as she is could still climb all the way to the top. Meanwhile, I chased critters over rocks and logs with the grace of a hurdler.

Stunner

“What is the difference between rock climbing, and mountaineering, and hiking? Like, if you wanted to climb that mountain up there, you’d have to get up all that scree.” She pointed at one of the steep fangs, and the thick gums of rocks and sand at the bottom. “Well, you’ve got to do your research. People will post what approaches are loose or dangerous, and what routes are safest and so on.” “Well, what if you were on the right trail and you slip anyway?"

Wagon mishap

Finally, with a giant heave, Mom pulled on the door with all of her might. She pulled so hard that she pulled the door right off of the Covered Wagon. "Dog doo!" she said, standing stunned and holding the heavy door so that it wouldn't bump into the car next to it.

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