When Mom reached the landing and saw us all waiting for her, she practically screamed. “No hugging!” she choked when she saw me pushing against my new Friend. “Not on the cliff side of the trail!”
What keeps pulling us out of our Stuck House to wander through this part of the country is that it's easier to appreciate what we have when Mom doesn't have to worry about all the responsibilities of having stuff. Things like hot poop juice in Mom's dented cup or turning the heater to sauna mode after a cold hike make us feel more wealthy than all the fancy City espressos in the world.
Most of the dragon was underground with only his flanks and stegosaurus crest sticking out of the ground and curling big-spoon-ways around a canyon. The land the dragon slept in was the color of the 1970’s ––all rusty, creamy and drab greys with the rough textures of courderoy and polyester–– but the dragon’s back itself was covered in white chalky scales that flaked off and turned to dust under my paws.
The distances got shorter and everything got smaller the longer I walked. It was like I was on a movie set that only looks real if you stand in the right spot, and when you walk around you discover that everything is a size that doesn't match.
Just at that moment, a man-Oscar in running clothes with hiking chopsticks came bounding up the trail behind us, running with the same rockethorse enthusiasm as me. He had the kind of shapely butt that tights were invented for, and made a mountain man beard look tidy just by opening his toothpaste-ad smile in the middle of it.
I was sniffing for critters in the white bushes when I heard Mom whisper-scream, “OH MY GOD!” and then burst out laughing. When I found her, she was laughing at a man who was dressed like a bush and standing still as a statue. He was carrying a lot of luggage with him, including one of the long sticks called a "gun."
But when we got there, there was no fire, only wispy clouds stuck to the mountains and blocking the sky. “Did the fire go out in the rain?” I asked. I know about science, so I know that when a fire gets wet it turns into smoke.
“Ugh, the forecast said the rain was supposed to be over by now, but the storm’s been following us since California. I think it’s going to rain the whole time we’re out here.” That happens, because Mom is the Weather Jinx.