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Turkey-squirrels, sea boogers and work

Today Mom and I started at our normal house, in our normal bed. We got up early like we usually do and then we went to one of our favorite trails to run 7.5 miles. We started running in the dark so that we could get to the top of the mountain right when the sun got to the top of the next mountain. That way we could all be in the sky together. When we got up there Mom and I stopped for a minute to look across the bay. “Look, Mom! That’s where we’re going!” I said, pointing with my nose toward the sun and Utah behind it.

“We’ll go that way eventually, but today we’re going that way.” Mom pointed to the left. “What’s up there?” “Well, the hotel where you almost got us kicked out because you were barking so much that the other guests checked out early, for one… But lots of other stuff too.” “Oh.” I had forgotten that sometimes travel is scary.

If we’d had more time we could have gone another mile all the way to the tippy top, where you can see the the ocean on the other side of the mountain. But today we had to hurry back home so that both Mom and I could take a bath so that we could start our adventure fresh. We would see the ocean later anyway…

It took us awhile to sign all the papers and move all of our stuff into the car-house we’ll be living in for the next 2 weeks. Mom was getting stressed out because she was eager to get going, but I was keeping busy collecting butt scratches from strangers and trying to learn about strange squirrel in the cage in the back of the room. It made a noise like a turkey gobbling underwater. Mom said the turkey-squirrel was called a guineapig, but since she can’t spell that word that it was okay to call it a turkey-squirrel from now on.

I didn’t know if I liked the car-house so much. It is different from My Car and didn’t have any of my favorite places to sit, like my copilot seat on the console or my fainting couch in the back seat. I tried sitting on my butt like a human in the seat next to Mom, but it was too hard to nap there with all the twisting and turning that was going on. When I got scared of all the swooshing back and forth I sat down on the floor between Mom’s seat and mine, and even though it wasn’t a good place to drive from I figured out that it was the perfect height for me to put my head in Mom’s lap and she could scratch my ears while she drove. So that made it a little less scary.

Our first hiking stop wasn’t much fun because we just hiked around the block that Starbucks was on, and a crazy man made me kiss him on the face. We were supposed to be hiking and running and relaxing, but so far we had just gotten lost and stressed and walked around on sidewalks just like we do at home. I was beginning to think this whole road trip thing was a big mistake.

But then we stopped for our second potty break in a place called Tomales Bay. I thought that the ocean was always a place that you had to hike to, but now we were stopped in a place where cars turn into boats and then boats turn back into cars. We parked just a few steps from the water and watched some men pulling a bunch of huge trays out of the water.

I sniffed the air that the trays were letting off. “What’s that?” I asked. “They’re oyster beds.” “They don’t look very comfortable…” “Well they’re comfortable for the oysters…” Then Mom explained to me how oysters are shellfish that rich people love, even though they aren’t pretty at all and look like crumpled up wads of grey paper. The rich people like to eat the oysters right out of their wadded up shells, even though Mom says that they look like snot and probably taste that way too.  Oysters are also special because they make their own booger-rocks that old ladies like to stick to their heads and call it fancy. So already I’d learned about turkey-squirrels, that rich people like boogers, and that cars turn into boats and then back into cars again. Then Mom and I explored the beach and climbed over some big rocks together and stuck our feet in the water. I couldn’t believe not only all the fun things to smell, and look at, but also Mom let me do it all off leash! Usually I am real careful to never smile for too long so that Mom can’t get good pictures, but I was so wrapped up in my adventures that I forgot to look tough for the camera.

At our next bathroom break the ocean had gotten bigger. This time we had to walk out to it and then down a cliff in a big box filled with stairs that went round and round. Mom dropped my leash on the ground and went real slow with her hands on both railings.  Her face looked like someone was trying to feed her medicine she didn’t want to eat. “What’s wrong with you?” I asked. “I’m not good at heights, Oscar.”

“What’s to be good at? See? The heights come right to you in these holes between the stairs.” I stuck my face in the hole so Mom would see where the sky was coming in. She whimpered like a puppy closed her eyes, and stretched the corners of her mouth down to her neck. “Please don’t do that, Oscar! You might be sucked through!” But I wasn’t.

Finally we got down to the beach and Mom was able to walk like a normal person again. This beach was totally different from the last one, and I got to run around even more sniffing stuff and seeing how the beach looked and smelled different depending on where I was standing. I ran around and around trying to stand in all the places at once because I knew that I didn’t have much time, and I wanted to make sure I got it all. I was supposed to be on leash, but Mom said that it was okay because there wasn’t a single person there to see us.

I ran around and around in circles sniffing things until my face hurt. It took me awhile to figure out that it was from smiling. I didn’t know that smiles were something that could make you tired because I’d never tried doing so much of it. “Mom, where was this stuff before we got here?” I asked. “This place has always been here, Oscar.” “Then why haven’t we been here before? This is way better than The Fart.” “Because we have to work, Oscar.” “Why?” “Because I need to pay for things like our house, and your food, and your friend that takes you on adventures while I’m at work. You work too, remember? You have to patrol Your Trail every day.” “Yeah, but now that we’re here I can’t really remember why it’s so important to serve and protect my trail anymore.” Then I had a thought, “Mom, are there houses in places like this too?” “There are, but there isn’t a lot of work to do for the people that live in them.” “But you still haven’t explained why it’s so important to work to live in houses rather than going on adventures instead.” “I’m really not sure, Oscar. I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

-Oscar the explorer



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