Mom had been working so hard that I could almost see the sparks shooting out of her when we left our sleep-over office at La Quinta where Pets Stay for Free and got back on the freeway where we belonged. Las Vegas disappeared into blackness, and we woke up to the sun was sparkling on the white dirt of Utah. “OMG!” I squealed. “I haven’t seen white dirt in so long!!! I missed you!” Then I kissed it tenderly, and slipped it some tongue. “Come on, buddy,” Mom said. “It’s supposed to rain later. We’ve got to hit the road.”
The Mighty Truck continued down the dirt road that we’d camped on, and The Witch told us we’d be there in a few minutes. “Shoot, I’m not even going to have time to drink my coffee!” Mom said sadly. “Look at all that white dirt!” I panted. “Let’s get out now!” “I sure am glad we have the truck,” Mom said. “Anything can happen on these steep dirt roads this time of year.” Then a frozen river crossed the trail in front of us. Mom sucked in her breath, held the driving wheel tight, and we rolled smoothly to the other side. “Phew!” Mom said. “I’m glad that turned out okay.”
A few minutes later we were driving up a hill no different from the hills we’d been climbing all morning when suddenly the truck stopped moving. “Drive, Mom!” I said. “I want to go hiking!” “I am driving,” Mom said. “Grrrrrrr,” the Truck said. “No you’re not,” I pointed out. “See? We’re stopped.”
Then Mom did something behind the driving wheel, and the truck started going backwards, but not in a driving way. Its butt went toward the edge of the road while its nose went where its butt had been. Mom kept doing things with the wheel, and the truck kept boogying wherever it wanted. Finally Mom convinced it to go back to the bottom of the hill and face the slope again. “Good thing we have four wheel drive!” she said, pulling levers and pushing buttons. The truck swiped its front wheel in the dirt and puffed like a bull ready to hunt a matador. Then Mom looked out the front window with determination and the truck growled back up the hill. It was like it didn’t even matter how bravely Mom squinted or how ferociously the Truck growled, we still went into slow motion and paused in the same spot as last time. Then we swiveled and boogied back down the hill just like before. “We’re only a mile and a half away, I guess this adventure just turned into an expedition!” Mom said. “What’s an exhibition?” I asked. “An exhibition is what you do when you roll on your back and spread your legs at the office,” Mom explained. “An expedition is an adventure where you’re searching for something. In this case, the trail.”
Mom left the Truck in some bushes at the bottom of the hill, and we dropped our paws onto the white dirt and started marching. When we got to the hill, I sprinted past the place where the truck had wimped out no problem, but Mom’s walking got a little smudgy. “Well that explains it,” she said. “It’s iced over under the snow.” Even Mom managed to climb what the Truck couldn’t, and we continued on our expedition. I sprinted ahead to roll in all the white dirt while Mom stomped behind me, still lost in thoughts about the stories she’d found in her laptop at La Quinta where Pets Stay for Free. “Isn’t this great!” I panted when I came back to check on her. “Grumble grumble,” Mom grumbled from deep inside her thoughts.
We discovered the trail, and almost immediately I discovered a problem. “What’s wrong with the floor?” I asked. “It’s white, but in a bad way.” We were in the hallway of a starter canyon, and the floor was covered in something hard and cold that looked like yeti snot. “It’s ice!” Mom said. “The creek has frozen solid!” I stepped on it and it threw my paws away. I pulled my paws back where they belonged with a mighty squeeze of my rippling muscles, and the snot gave up the fight. But as soon as I picked up my foot to take another step, the floor attacked again. I checked Mom to see whether she’d noticed that there was something wrong with the ground, but she was happily tottering along with tiny steps like she does in very high places. The only difference between here and the top of a cliff was that she was smiling. “Come here, bud! Let’s take a picture!” she said. “Nah, I’ll stay here. I don’t trust that stuff.” “Come on! It’s okay… you just have to be careful and take little steps, that’s all.” “It’s okay, I’ll stay here.” “I’ll leave without you…” Mom threatened, turning her back and shuffling away. “You do you,” I shrugged.
Mom’s voice bounced around the rock walls until she had disappeared and only my name filled the canyon. I sat and patiently waited. My name started bouncing sharp and ugly, and still I waited. Finally Mom wobbled back scowling. “Come on,” she said, clicking on the leash. “It’s just some ice. It’ll be an adventure.” I followed her onto the snot, but stopped again when it wouldn’t quit throwing my paws away. Mom pulled on the leash and I made myself an anchor, but that rotten ground slipped me toward her anyway.
When we came out the other side of the hallway, I found a patch of sand and watched Mom keep shuffling down the snot river. She seemed determined not to notice that it wasn’t behaving like ground was supposed to behave at all. I guess the snot had had enough of her smugness, because suddenly it stole both of her legs at once and threw them toward the sky. Mom fell in that way where she hit all the parts of her body on both sides at once. She started to say a bad word each time she whacked another part on the floor, but interrupted herself with a new bad word when a different part smacked the hard snot. She ended lying tummy-down on the snot and used her front paws to steady herself until both back paws were where they belonged. Then she stood up carefully, rubbing her butt. “Okay, you’re right. Let’s go back,” she sighed. “This would have been such a cool adventure, but I don’t want to fight you the whole way down this canyon.” “Aren’t we turning around because you fell down?” “No, we’re turning around because you’re being a baby,” Mom growled. “I’m just sorry we won’t be around any full length mirrors in a few days for me to see the impressive bruise that’s going to be on my butt.” “Everybody loves babies and wants to kiss them. No one wants to kiss your big purple butt, do they?” I dropped the mic and waddled back out of the canyon.
Oscar the Big Baby