Hot on the Trail

Since this had never happened to us before,
we weren’t quite sure what to do now.

There was no place to hide. Not that we needed to hide. Yet. It looked like we hadn’t been spotted. We were safe. For now. The monster hadn’t changed position, and his prey seemed frozen, as well.

So, I waited, nervous and unsure of myself.

I didn’t dare make eye contact with Bethany, for fear of what she might think. But for the briefest moment, I glanced into my mother’s eyes.

Immediately, we each held our breath and turned away. We had been hiking for over an hour, and now we were lost. Our water was almost gone, too. I know she was wondering how much longer we would last without water.

Up to this moment, it had been a good day. Spring Break had finally arrived, and we were celebrating with a day trip for picnicking, picture-taking, and hiking along the Paluxy River outside of Glen Rose, Texas.

Since we took these trips several times a year, no one was particularly surprised when my brother announced, from the comfort of his bed, that he was too tired to even consider going. He had no idea what he was missing.

My friend, Bethany, however, was delighted to be invited. One of my best friends from high school, she was also a favorite student in one of my dad’s freshman science classes. After hearing my dad and me talk so much about her, my mom was getting anxious to meet this paragon of virtues in person. Just as the sun was rising, we drove to her house to pick her up.

I couldn’t remember the last time I had enjoyed my parents’ company so much. We had certainly never laughed together as much as we had when Bethany joined us.

Hours later, I wondered what her family would say if we never came back. It wouldn’t end this way, of course. They hadn’t seen us.

Here, yards from the riverbank while surrounded by dozens of scraggly trees, we were almost in the shade. The river lay between us and the predator beyond. I wondered how good his vision might be. Surely not good enough to see us cowering on the trail half a mile away. Besides, his attention was engaged elsewhere. He had a much bigger—and, more importantly, meatier!—quarry right next to him. He couldn’t possibly be interested in us.

Yet, I couldn’t help considering our options. The trees above us didn’t offer much cover. Although there were a lot of them, they were young and spread out so much that nothing could really hide between them. If necessary, we could try to climb the ridge and find a safe place from there, perhaps out of sight of the battle across the river.

The heat of the day was almost gone. The light coats we had laid over our arms would again be inadequate once the sun went down. We were going to be trapped: unable to get the water we needed, and too cold to boot!

I gave myself a quick mental shake. This whole thing was just silly. There was no danger at all. Especially if we could run really fast. For long periods of time.

But there would be no running. In fact, we had slowed our pace a little to accommodate my mom, who hadn’t been feeling well for a while. And, though I played tennis, I could barely run a mile before needing rest and a tall glass of water.

That left Daddy and Bethany. They were probably the strongest of our group of four. But they would never dream of leaving my mom and me behind. Especially now that we had lost the trail. They were too kind to do that to us.

My mom and I were starting to breathe hard. We wondered how Bethany was taking this, when suddenly she gasped.

“Oh, Mr. Henderson!” she panted. “For a moment, I thought they were real!” I am ashamed to tell you that the three of us had a long, hard laugh at Bethany’s expense, but, too, at our own.

Up close, the statues we had photographed and stood beneath only ninety minutes earlier were unimpressive. Peeling paint and fading graffiti had reduced them to ludicrous representations of the monsters that had roamed these shores years ago. But seeing them across the river was a completely different story. It wasn’t hard to fool someone at this distance.

In the few seconds after my dad had pointed to the T-rex and brachiosaurus statues through an opening in the trees, our imaginations had taken over. I wondered what life must have been like a few hundred years ago when they walked the earth.

And the rest of the way back to the car, although my head kept telling me we were safe, my heart kept prompting me to look for hiding places. Just in case.

by Gwennon  2007

This is a story that was first printed in our local newspaper back home.  I have permission to reprint it here.  I have also taken the liberty of changing the names of everyone.

From my earliest remembrances, I have always loved dinosaurs. That’s probably because I have never actually met any. I expect they may be cranky and difficult to work with. But nothing shows the power and majesty of God’s creation quite like the dinosaurs! From time to time, my husband and I read Dinosaurs, Unleashed to our children.

I would like to invited those of you who are so inclined to pray for the people in Glen Rose, Texas, and in Oklahoma, who have been battered lately by some vicious storms.  Thank you.

Praying for you to see and enjoy the many joys God has for you,

Gwennon

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