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Swamp NAStronauts

Last night Mom couldn’t sleep, and when Mom can’t sleep no one can sleep. She makes us hug her, pokes at her phone, or turns on the light and stares at a book. Last night I hadn’t even been shouting at the Creature in the Dog Bathroom that Comes Out at Night. She just wouldn’t let us sleep. So some time before 3am she said, “I give up, dogs. Let’s go run.”

There is one spot where Mom loves to run, but we never go there because we have to run 4 miles just to get there, it’s covered in bunnies and sometimes striped stink-cats, and dogs aren’t “allowed.” For over a mile this secret section of trail lets you run on the water on a causeway, and on a clear night you can see the stars and the lights all around the Bay and their reflections in the water. Mom says it makes her feel peaceful, but she still yells something fierce if we need to do a bunny sprint. Since Bodie and I had to take Mom on a 17-mile run for her marathong, this seemed like a perfect day to give her a treat and go to Mom’s special spot.

As we approached the bridge that led to the path that led to the causeway, Mom saw a car drive over the bridge (this bridge is part of My Trail, and not supposed to be a car bridge at all). “Are you ducking serious right now?!” Mom asked us. “It’s not even 4:30 in the morning on a Saturday!” Mom was poorly socialized as a people puppy, and sometimes doesn’t do well with other people around when she wants to be alone.

When we crossed the bridge we passed a sign that lit up in my spotlight. “Mom, what’s hunting?” “It’s when people shoot at things for fun.” “What happens when they hit the things they shoot at?” I asked. “Oh…” Mom thought about it. “I suppose it probably tickles and then they laugh. Why?” “Because that sign said that this was a bird hunting area from October to January. We’re in October now, right?” “Oh Oscar, I wouldn’t worry about it. This is the heart of Silicon Valley. We had to run through Google land to get here, and that’s NASA right over there. People who live out here are engineers and bro-grammers. They spend their Saturday mornings listening to NPR or going to farmer’s markets. They don’t spend their morning killing… er… I mean tickling birds.”

So we ran out to Mom’s special spot and past the sign with the picture of the dog with the big line through it. Immediately, Bodie and I could smell all the bunnies that lived in between the giant rocks of the breakwater. Bodie ran back and forth squealing and looking for an early-rising bunny, and I stopped to smell every bunny and seagull turd on the ground. Mom would rip my nose off the ground and force me to keep running, only to be dragged along at a million miles an hour by Bodie. So after a minute or two she gave up and took us back off the magic causeway.

When we got away from the bunny apartment complexes, instead of going back in the direction that we’d come Mom took us in the other direction. There was a fence with a sign that said “Authorized Vehicles Only.” Mom said she’d never seen this fence open before. “What do you suppose is down this way?” Mom asked. “Are we an authorized vehicle?” I asked. “You know, Oscar, I’m really not sure. But it isn’t even 5:00 in the morning yet, and I refuse to believe we’d be bothering anybody if we just ran a mile down the path to see where it went.” So we did. It turned out to be another causeway, even further out in the Bay and bunny free so Mom was in a better mood about running on it.

Eventually Mom got the idea that just because the fence was unlocked now, that didn’t mean that it would stay unlocked all morning and we should probably head back in case they locked it, so that we wouldn’t have to swim to safety. When we got back to the bridge, there was some sort of vehicle there with headlights so bright that we couldn’t see where we were going. “What’s that?” I wondered. “Is it one of those city parks golf carts, maybe?” Mom said. “Or maybe a construction truck headed over to NASA?” NASA always seems to be building things, or paving things, or tearing them back up to re pave them. “Or maybe it’s the truck that empties the Tardis?” We see all 3 of these types of vehicles on My Trail all the time.

But as we got closer we could see that it was some kind of Jeep or Land Rover. Behind it were two pickup trucks. Not white pickup trucks like every single constuction pickup I have ever seen. One of them was hauling a motor boat. All the drivers were wearing clothes with a patchy pattern that looked a lot like bushes and crossing guard vests over that. “Mom, is that the uniform that engineers wear? Or what bro-grammers wear?” “Uh, neither. The engineer and bro-grammer uniform is a t-shirt or plaid and jeans. Definitely not duck cammo.” “Oh, so they must be Nastronauts then…” “Oscar, I honestly have no earthly idea WHO those guys were, or where the heck they came from. I think maybe they were from Arkansas.”

So there you have it. We ran Mom so long that we ran all the way to Arkansas!

– Oscar the Pooch



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