You can’t show weakness in front of your brother. You just can’t. Sibling rivalry never ends. Ever. You must always win. And then text everyone in the family telling them about your win.
MojoFiction: “Look, Mom, I finished my pizza first.”
Mom: “You’re 40.”
MojoFiction: “…What’s your point?”
Mom: “Stop texting me. And when are you bringing my grandson around?”
So, when MojoFiction’s older brother was in the area and asked us to meet him for some hiking on Saturday morning, we said, “Challenge accepted.” He said, “Huh?” We said, “Don’t act like you don’t know.”
Here’s the problem:
We here at MojoFiction are woefully out of shape. We know what you’re thinking, “MojoFiction you always look like a fine specimen of manliness.” While that’s true, just trust us on this one, we’re out of shape.
Did we mention our brother is in the Army and being in shape is a general requirement? Yeah, like he doesn’t remind us.
Here’s the other problem:
He wanted hike at Starved Rock near Ottawa, Illinois. Okay, it was our suggestion, since he doesn’t live in Illinois, but whatever SIBLING RIVALRY! Unfortunately, this meant about a two-hour drive.
What’s so bad about that, you ask?
MojoFiction currently drives a Nissan Versa Note, which is a small car, light car. And by “light” we mean if you had a head-on collision with a bicycle, the bicycle would crush the Note like a paper cup. If you hit 83 MPH on the highway, the Note achieves liftoff (it’s all about the yaw), which can be embarrassing if you’re in a no-fly zone. So we drove to Starved Rock at a cool 82.5 MPH, only once accelerating to 85 so we could pass a semi via air because the fast lane was occupied. The FCC fined us for not filing a flight plan. But we eventually touched down at Starved Rock State Park at around 10:30am CST and taxied to a parking spot.
For those of you who don’t know, Starved Rock sits along the Illinois River and is a large outcropping of rock that has not eaten in several days, making it rather cranky due to low blood sugar. We recommended calling it Hungry Rock, but we were told that sounds like something you find in the freezer section of the grocery store. And calling it Ravenous Rock would scare all the families away and then what would it eat? For the record, our older sibling kept calling it Starving Rock and, like a good brother, we kept correcting him.
Anyway, Starved Rock State Park includes a number of hiking trails that connect a series of canyons carved into the elevated ground near the river. In the best tradition of nature, the park is extremely crowded because Illinois literally has nothing else going on. Thanks, nature, for screwing over Illinois. You gave us an overpopulation of deer and some marshes. You won’t be getting a Christmas card from us this year.
The crowding wasn’t so bad, though, as everyone was friendly. But because of the elevation changes, and the fact that so many people visit, there are man-made, wood stairs. Lots of stairs. Long, long tracts of stairs. It’s, like, a Stephen King novel called “The Stairs,” that’s how many @#$&ing stairs there are.
Because we were hiking with our brother, we bravely took to the stairs at full tilt. For every one he took, we took two. For every two he took … we stayed at two. When he would get to the top of a particularly long set of stairs to get to a canyon overlook and he would stop to take pictures like it was no big deal and wasn’t even tired, we would stand just out of his view, huffing and sweating and trying not to cry, while silently screaming “Oh, God, why have you forsaken us?!” Then our brother would turn around and we would be like, “What? We’re okay.”
This went on until we found ourselves at The Lodge, which is a hotel/restaurant/meeting center at the top of a bluff. The Lodge reminds us all that, no matter how breathtaking nature is, mankind is contractually obligated to build a restaurant on it.
While getting to The Lodge sounds like a good break from the long hike, The Lodge is high up from the parking lot. We had to take about 216,000 stairs back down to where we started our trek. It was at this point that we finally broke down and admitted aloud that our calves were completely shot (we couldn’t walk for almost 2 days afterwards). Then we stepped off the stairs and rolled down the treacherous hillside because it was a lot easier than walking. At the bottom, instead of asking us if we were okay, our brother simply raised his arms in victory. Then he pulled out his phone and texted his wife about it.
Our Brother: “Guess who won on the hiking trails?”
His Wife: “You’re in your forties.”
Brother: “…What’s your point?”
Wife: “Guess who left you a pile of dishes in the sink?”
Brother: “I don’t get back until next week.”
Wife: “What’s your point?”
Brother: “Yes, dear.”
Wives. The great equalizer in sibling rivalries.