Before I begin my story, I must correct myself on the origin of the word, annigrocery. My brother, Billy, first replaced anniversary with annigrocery. Our cousin Valerie and Billy himself, informed me that it was indeed Billy that first said the word that is now a family favorite. If you like the word, go ahead and use it. As far as I know, he doesn’t have a patent on it, and it’s such a great word!
We travelers needed something fun to do today while we waited for the call that our motor home was ready. I suggested we take the dogs to the petrified forest.
It was sunny and a comfortable 73 degrees as we prepared for our trek into the wilderness. The start of all the trails into the petrified forest is at the top of Skyline Drive. It is up past Dinosaur Park, which is on a pretty steep hill.
We put the leashes on the three dogs and picked a trail, which was a blind choice, because there was no map telling us where any of them led or how far they went.
As we walked the narrow trail single file, we serpentined around the mountain. We finally came to a fork in the road. Kip asked me which one I thought we should take. I said that walking downhill was hurting my knees, so we needed to either stay on flat ground or go up. I’m also afraid of heights, so if at all possible we needed to stay on a flat trail.
Kip sighed loudly and asked me how we were going to find a flat trail on the side of a hill? He told me to choose so I did.
I kept seeing these signs that said we were in the Skyline Wilderness Area and to call 911 in case of an emergency. It even told us our location number, which I assume would be given to the rescue people who would come to search for us.
I started to get hot and very thirsty. I had left my cold drink in the car. I silently chastised myself for not getting a free refill of my diet coke at Wendy’s. I vowed to give what little was left to my dogs if they needed it.
We had been wandering in the wilderness for about fifteen minutes when it dawned on me that we hadn’t seen any petrified trees. I told Kip we needed to hurry up and find the petrified wood soon, so I could take some pictures before we all became too parched. My throat started to feel like I was trying to swallow sawdust. I felt like that guy in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly movie. He was hallucinating in the desert. He had flies landing on his face. He kept seeing water only to find out it wasn’t water at all, but a mirage.
“KIP,” I yelled! “My knees are hurting! We’re going downhill too much!”
He told me to walk backwards.
When I looked out, I was acutely aware of how high up we were. Rapid City was way down there. I began to doubt any of these trails would get us out of this unending wilderness area.
I heard Kip exclaim, “Here it is!”
“What?” I hollered! “Can you see the end of the wilderness?”
“Huh? No..Here is the petrified wood. Hurry up and take your pictures. I’m starting to get hot.”
“All right,” I answered. “I’ll take one of you, and then you take one of me!”
After the photos were taken, I looked up from the trail and saw the sun reflecting off the Jeep. Hoping it wasn’t a mirage, I continued up the hill. I remember being grateful that it was uphill and my knees didn’t hurt
Kip, the three dogs and I, finally emerged from the wilderness. I wiped my brow before the moisture got into my eyes. (That can really sting!)
We gave the dogs a drink from the water bowl Kip had remembered to bring, and turned the Jeep toward the Motel 6.
Yes..we’re still there. The brand new motor they put in the RV turned out to be defective. We will find out what our options are tomorrow.