Before Mom and I leave the left of the world, we had one adventure planned. You see, I like dooms, which is what happens when sand piles up so high it acts like a slow ocean. So when Mom found a race on some dooms in Oregon that allowed dogs, we signed up. “When we get to the end, I’ll have a very special surprise for you,” Mom said. “Surprise?! Is this a treasure hunt?!” I whimpered, looking out the Wagon windows for a hint. “Are we searching for buried treasure?”
It was raining at the start, so Mom and I hung out in the Covered Wagon playing 20 questions with The Witch. “Look, the course is practically flat,” Mom said. “I bet even if we stop to take a lot of pictures we can be done in 3 hours.” “It’ll be like a 3 hour tour!” I said. “Those always end well!”
I’m a racing expert, so I know that the last one to the X that marks the spot is a rotten egg. When everyone started running down the narrow trail in single file, I pushed them out of the way to pass them on the curves and run over the dry dirt next to the puddles.
Before long, though, the trail opened up and everyone started climbing a huge doom in a line. I tried to keep sprinting, since the first mile is the best place for winning, but Mom wasn’t down with my strategy and started walking up the sand like everyone else. Well, if it was going to be that kind of day… I waited until the race went through a narrow spot and did what expert runners do best: I took a crap on the trail. “Oh great, I can’t wait to carry this to the next aid station,” Mom said. She doesn’t usually pick up my poop on the trail, so I thought that maybe she thought it was the treasure. “Is this about the ball I ripped up and swallowed yesterday?” I asked. “It was a great ball, but I think we can find another one if it’s that important to you…” “Look at all these people around,” she said. “They would judge us so hard!” So no treasure then… but she did carry the bag like something precious for more than 4 miles through the dooms to throw it out at the snack station.
Mom had a theory that we would visit the dooms a couple of times for a few hundred yards, and then we’d just run past them at a distance and say “ooh” and “aah.” That was not what happened. We ran 5 miles up and down the dooms. Then we ran through trees that grew right out of deep sand. Then we ran on the beach. And when we left the beach we ran through the grass, which only lives in deep, deep sand. Everywhere we ran it was sand, sand, sand! Have you ever run in sand before? It’s fun, but it sucks up all your speed and makes you stagger like a zombie.
Finally, after 40 years of wandering in the dooms, we reached the only quarter-mile of pavement on the whole course. There, at the side of the road was the most glorious puddle. I stood for a minute or so, trying to drink the whole thing. “You don’t need to drink it all at once,” Mom lied. “Do you know about camels? They’re sand horses, and this is how they survive,” I explained. “Good point,” she agreed.
Mom probably should have drunk out of the puddle too, because when we got to the aid station the man was holding a big pitcher of water in each fist. “Oh, um, I didn’t bring a water bottle,” Mom said. “Do you have cups?” “We have a couple…” Edward Pitcher-hands said, finding her a floppy drinking condom. “Are these, like… um… will I throw it out when I’m done?” she asked. “No, they’re kind of to share,” Edward Pitcher-hands said. “Oh,” Mom said, looking at the water. “No, Mom! Don’t do it! The Corona virus. You’ll die!” I warned her. I watch the news on Facebook, so I know all about infectious diseases. “Ssssh,” Mom thought at me. “That was down in San Francisco… I’m sure that it hasn’t hit Oregon yet…” And then she closed her eyes and drank the water down. Next we walked over to the snacks. Everything was cut up and set in bowls. Every runner before us had been touching their faces and all the filth that came out of it for miles, and then had stuck their filthy disease vectors into those bowls of snacks. “No! Mom!” I barked as she gingerly picked up a couple of snacks and put them in her disease hole. “Do you want a potato chip?” she offered. But I turned my face away. Dogs can get the Corona virus too.
Finally, after running a 17-mile 25K through deep sand, Mom and I were back to where we started. We still didn’t have any treasure, but a man at the finish line handed Mom a medal and a cup. “Is the medal made of precious medals?” I asked. “No, it’s made of wood.” “Oh, well is the cup the holy grail, or maybe some very valuable chalice?” “No, it’s just a pint glass. But it holds water, and that’s enough for me right now,” Mom said. Then we went to the water tanks and each of us emptied the chalice several times.
After Mom put on dry clothes, she made me put on my mermaid outfit. “What do mermaids have to do with treasures?” I asked. “All they do is flirt with princes.” “Well I want the treasure to recognize you,” Mom said. Then we found a spot right before the finish so that we could be the first ones to cheer for all the winners finishing the 25K and 50K. After awhile, a woman I’d never seen before came around the corner and yelled my name. I leaped up and looked at Mom. “Who’s she?” “That’s your friend Willy. She’s the one that got us into this mess!” Mom explained. So I ran up to her with the traditional greeting for someone who has put you through something harrowing and horrible, but you’re happy to see them anyway: I screamed my head off and charged her like a bowling ball. Even though she’d run more than 30 miles, and had climbed even more sand than we had, she didn’t even fall over when I hugged her.
We sat with Willy for awhile at the finish, but she still wasn’t coughing up the treasure. I’d seen this movie before, so I knew that even though Mom wouldn’t let me speak, I had to make her fall in love with me so she would give me the kiss of true love and then my wish would come true. “OSCAR! Be polite!” Mom screeched, pulling on the leash. But Willy thought my twerking was quite fetching, and she leaned over to let me lick the salt off her face. And with that kiss of true love, she took Mom and me over to her magical covered wagon to share our treasure with us. Mom squealed as Willy reached into the wagon and pulled out two of the thing that makes Mom most happy in the world. “DOG HATS!” Then she reached back into the wagon and pulled out a thing that had made all 17 miles of running through deep sand and rainshowers worth it. “TURKEY BACON!” I barked. It tasted like victory.
Oscar the Treasure Hunter