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The story of my sixth birthday started when I was still 5 for another day and we were driving down the 55 mile dirt torture-road, getting the stink-eye from territorial cows and afraid that this was the adventure we wouldn’t survive. “Holy menacing cow, Oscar! Did you see that sign?” Mom crowed. “Mom, I can’t read. And I was too busy getting thrown around the Wagon.” “We just passed Peek-a-boo Canyon!” “What’s a Peek-a-boo?” “It’s a trail I’ve always wanted to visit! Or… ever since I joined Instagram anyway. I thought it was in a National Park, but I guess there’s one in Arizona that has the same name. The sign back there was a BLM sign, which means that it’s dog friendly and off leash! We’ll have to stay out here an extra day so we can visit on the way back!” “Okay, Mom, but what about the water?” I reminded her. We rationed the water more than we needed to so that we could survive an extra day far enough into the wilder-ness that we could forget that the world was coming to an end.



Soon the trail dove over the edge of the canyon, and bumped and flowed like a river down the sandstone. Since we’re not made of water, Mom and I bumped and staggered into the canyon more cautiously, until we were in a sandy wash with house-height rocks all around us. Before long, Mom found a crack in the rock that closed in tight as a slot canyon. I hung out at the entrance, hoping it was a short one and she’d come back out soon to lead me to a really awesome birthday surprise. But a moment later, her voice came bouncing out of the crack, “Oscar, c’mon!” “I don’t think I want to go in there,” I stared, when she came back out to look for me. “It gives me the screaming Mimis. It’s called Spooky Canyon. Why do you think they call it that, huh?” “Stop being such a baby,” Mom said, giving me a handful of brunch to remind me that birthday boy or no, she was the captain of this expedition. So I reluctantly followed her into the spooky rock hall.



We found the topside of the canyon and stepped inside. It was so tight that Mom’s widest parts wouldn’t fit through in the usual walking position, and she had to pull the packpack off and go through sideways. “Mom, this is insane!” I complained. “This is even spookier than the other canyon.” “Not Spooky, Peek-a-boo,” Mom said, missing the point. “This is no time for games!” I said. I rushed through the rocks to get the heck out, but after every turn it just got tighter and tighter, like a nightmare. As much as I wanted to hurry, I didn’t want to be in this place alone, so every few turns I had to stop and sit alone with my horror waiting for Mom to catch up. “That’s what this place is called,” Mom said, the next time I stopped. “Peek-a-boo! I see you!” she sang, popping her head out from behind a pleat in the rock.




Oscar the Birthday Boy


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