Staying Alive in Wadi Shab, Oman, Part 1 (or, "Bully Goat's Gruff")

A goat tried to maul my daughter in the parking lot. So I guess you could say it was an inauspicious start to our hike up Wadi Shab, a glorious, watery canyon a couple hours southeast of Muscat. The goat had wandered up to us, hoping to get a little hit of the sunscreen Shannon was applying to the kids. It was one of those junkie goats you see eating grass sometimes out behind the barn. Tess got excited, because, wow, goat. So she tried to pet it. So it tried to gore her. Don't worry though. After a cool-down period, the two parties reconciled. And by "reconciled" I mean the goat left to see if it could bum a cigarette from the Europeans in the Fiat three parking spots down.

Ye olde swimming hole. Wadi Shab, Oman.
Everyone was nearly sunscreened when Shannon instructed Savannah to fetch from the car the backpack containing all the food. You know, the backpack Shannon had asked Savannah to load into the car two hours and 100 miles ago. You know, the backpack that Savannah left sitting inside the front door to the house.

Savannah defended herself, ably employing the classic 11 year-old rhetorical tactic "Vocalize Unpersuasive Arguments Loudly and Defensively Because That Makes Them Seem Compelling": "You didn't tell me I was supposed to bring that backpack!" she said, as if one needs to be told to bring food and water with them when hiking into desert wastelands under the triple-digit heat of the harsh and unyielding Arabian sun. I said, "I think you need to repeat fourth grade. Also, third grade and second grade. Also, do you have a concussion you never told us about." So I drove 10 miles back up the highway until I found a dingy little town where I bought several bags of dusty pre-popped popcorn and a few sleeves of stale cookies from a grocery store with no electricity.

So we had our food, we were sunscreened, and the bully goat gruff was over taking drags beside the men's room. It was time to start the hike. But first we had to get across the lake separating the parking lot from the trailhead. A few Omani guys had rickety boats, and you could pay them a couple bucks to ferry you across. But me and Shannon looked at each other, and we're like, "No way. We're not paying no one to give us a ride across a knee-deep river/lake thingy." So we made for the near shore and had gone maybe 80 steps, and Shannon goes, "Oh, I think I forgot my sandals," which are important because this hike is like two miles over rocks and sand and through a lot of water. And I go, "No problem, we're only like 80 steps from the car. I'll go back and get them." And she goes, "No, I mean I think I left them at the house." And I go, "That's like a half million steps." And she cheerfully says in her indominable way, "It's okay, I'll be fine just hiking with my expensive running shoes." And I reply in my abominable way, "Great. Fine. Nice. Did you remember both kidneys."

So we went ahead and forded the little river thing, and Shannon took off her expensive shoes, which was fortunate because the bottom was really mucky and sticky. So there we are, 10 minutes into the hike, on the far side of the river/lake thingy, and Shannon is cramming her feet -- which are caked with sticky poopy-looking mud -- into her expensive running shoes, and I'm thinking, "This royally sucks."

And that is my cliffhanger ending: my wife putting her poopy-looking feet into expensive running shoes on the bank of a little river thingy in the wilderness of Oman. Next time, I will tell you how hiking Wadi Shab got way better once we left Devil Goat and Poopy River Crossing behind us, particularly thanks to an exciting cast of characters, including Weird French Girls Who Traveled Thousand of Miles to Oman and Drove Several Hours Into the Desert and Then Hiked Several Miles Up a Canyon in Order to Sun Tan Which Can in Fact be Done in France, and Overly Protective Euro Parents Who Were Unreasonably Afraid of Sheer Cliff Dropoffs and Sasquatch.