If you go to the nearest freeway on a clear day and face south you can see a mountain in the distance with a giant rectangle tombstone on it. That mountain is Mt. Umunuhm, which Mom pronounces by singing, “Mt. Umunuhm, doot-doooo-de-doo-doo, Mt. Umunuhm, doot-doo-de-doo…” We had never visited a mountain whose name was a song, so we decided that it would be a good weekend adventure. Mom checked the park’s website, and when she saw the little icon that looked like me being a good boi, she set the map and away we went.
We drove toward the tombstone on Mt. Umunuhm (“doot-doooo-de-doo-doo”) until the freeway lost interest. Then we followed skinnier roads that twisted and turned to hang on to the mountain like a rodeo. When we got to the park entrance, a sign said, “NO DOGS ON TRAILS, ROADS, PARKING LOTS, OR IN CARS!” “What the…” Mom said, slowing down and looking around with more attention. “No dogs in cars? Is this a joke?” As we went deeper into the park, someone had nailed a sign with my picture and a big line through it to every No Parking, and Speed Limit sign on the road like NOT WANTED signs. “All right, all right, I get the hint…” Mom said, turning the car around and driving back the way we’d come.
From the parking lot we could see signs in every direction that said, “ALL PET OWNERS MUST CLEAN UP AFTER THEIR ANIMALS!” and, “BAG YOUR WASTE!” and, “THERE IS NO POOP FAIRY!” and the most welcoming sign of a dog-friendly trail: a birdhouse full of free poop bags next to a trash can! What’s more, this trail must have preferred dog hikers to human hikers, because despite being a lovely and clean dog bathroom there was no human bathroom at all.
Even though I don’t know much about the Old West, this park sure did. We walked for miles and miles, and around every bend in the trail I discovered more ruins from the gold rush. There wasn’t just the giant tombstone on top of Mt. Umunuhm (“doot-doo-doo”) and the old stump cemetery. I also discovered an old mill, wooden stilts for mine cart tracks, and many, many old houses lying in all the positions of relaxation between house-shaped and wood-pile-shaped. Each of the ancient ruins I discovered had a sign or two in front of it explaining what the wood pile was before it fell down. I would have had Mom read them to me, but the didn’t have any colors or dogs in them, so I figured they must be very boring.
After more than five miles of hiking, we were on our last new trail before hiking back to the car I saw a stick lying in the middle of the trail. What was strange about this stick was that there were no trees as far as the eye could see, so a dog with a lot of self control must have carried it a long way without stopping to chew it up. When Mom saw the stick, she froze. Then she took a step forward, and the stick moved.
spaghetti monster! “There’s something I’m supposed to remember about these things,” I said, straining at the leash to get my nose close enough to take a better sniff. “NO!” Mom yipped, taking a step back so that we would be further away from the spaghetti monster. “No, I think it was really important!” I said, pulling even harder so that I could get at the spaghetti monster before it disappeared off the trail. “Whatever it was, it was something that I was really supposed to remember.”
Oscar the Pooch
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