Day Twenty-Seven, Saturday
Morgan was sore when she woke up. A long day yesterday. She and Shandra had worked all day. Sammy followed her to each room, getting underfoot, asking for a pat, wagging his tail whenever she talked to him. Guess dogs do like me, if I like them, she thought.
After the party rental truck arrived, she worked in the kitchen, arranging trays of cut vegetables, mixing dips, and making a new list for Shandra so in the morning, she could go straight down the list, setting up the food items. She made notes as to where she put things like the bags of chips, and she put the big bowls she found next to each item to make it extra easy. Shandra invited her to come help, but Morgan declined, saying she already had plans for the day. It made her think though, to add party organization to her possible business plan list. The extra money Shandra paid her would enable her to take Nancy and the kids out to a special restaurant for dinner after their hike.
At nine, Nancy and the kids loaded in to Nancy’s car, since Morgan’s car wasn’t big enough for all of them and Joey. They drove across town, turned up highway twenty-four, a few turns, and left to Gold Road. A few miles down, a parking lot held about twenty cars, parked in a row. One family was distributing water bottles, putting the baby in the backpack carrier, and leashing their dog.
“Look, their dog has a red leash and collar just like Joey,” said Jimmy.
“So?” said Johnny. “Do you know how many dogs have red collars? Thousands.”
“Hey guys. Today is for fun. No teasing, no arguing. Okay?” said Nancy.
They all grunted. For a moment, Morgan doubted the wisdom of this hike. But once they were out of the car, packing up their water bottles and getting Joey ready, they were eager to go. It was an uphill climb, over rocky terrain, loose gravel and steep dirt paths. It didn’t take long to begin to see out across the open plains. As the long range views came into sight, they identified familiar landmarks, tried to figure where their house was located. Some of the trees still held their fall colors, though most of them were bare. The scent of winter was in the air, with the warmth of fall still hanging on.
At one turn, Jimmy stood, quiet and still. “Is that the ocean?” he asked.
“No, the ocean is two thousand miles away. Across a whole lot of states from here.”
“It looks like the ocean. I think it is the ocean. I can see the ocean from here! Wow!”
“Jimmy, it is not the ocean. It is Colorado and Kansas, and many states beyond that before you get to the Atlantic Ocean,” Nancy told him.
“I still think it is the ocean. I see it. It is blue and it goes on forever. Hey, I can see Germany!”
“Well, let’s keep hiking. The top is farther, still,” said Morgan to distract him. The kids complained about the climb. It was too steep, too hot, too dusty. Joey wasn’t complaining. Her tongue was hanging out of her mouth, a sign she was very, very happy. Several groups of mountain bikers rode past. The kids were impressed with that, saying it must be much harder than hiking the trail.
“I can’t believe they actually ride their bikes across these rocks,” said Johnny.
A track team ran by them. The gals had their shirt sleeves pulled up around their shoulders, most of the guys had their shirts off, tucked in their shorts, swinging behind them like tails. Sarah watched them go past. “It is hard to complain about walking this trail when others run by you, and they make it look easy. Even fun. Wonder how often they come up here and run this? Looks like they do it every day.”
At the top, they ate snacks, sipped their waters. They sat a long time on the rocks overlooking the valley below, the plains beyond. It was an amazing view. Morgan decided she would come back up here, with Joey, more often. The perspective, the distance, made it hard to view life as narrow or small. Or, the opposite, it made your life look small, compared to the vastness. She couldn’t decide which was accurate, settled on both of them, like two sides of a coin.