Ride to the Tide
Scottie woke up to the rooster crowing just as the sun began to rise. She wasn’t sure what was in store for Sophie and her but she did know from Auntie Jill’s instructions that where ever their magical frame was going to take them; they were going to ride their horses through it!
“Come on Sophie, wake up!” Scottie ordered as she threw her pillow at Sophie.
“Okay, okay,” Sophie yawned.
“The backpacks are ready to go, we got a good night’s sleep, and now we need to put the frame in one of our packs,” Sophie said after returning to their room from eating breakfast.
“Since you packed the rain box, I’ll pack the frame,” Scottie said while making room in her backpack for it, “remember when we first got the frame from Auntie Jill and I thought it was boring?”
“I sure do; you were so disappointed until it began to change all sorts of colors,” Sophie remembered, “and then when it grew as big as our bedroom with that parrot flying in; we were in shock and didn’t know what to do,” she continued with a laugh.
“Yep, and little did we know that the parrot was Dr. Drakes and it was named Papaya,” Scottie added, “that reminds me, I wonder where Papaya was while Dr. Drake and Auntie Jill were getting married?”
“I asked him at the wedding where she was and he said that Papaya was waiting for us in a different location!”
“What does he mean ‘waiting for us’?” Scottie asked but not waiting for an answerer, “I’ll bet he was hinting about our next adventure!” she announced.
“You may be right, I didn’t think much about it but that’s probably what Dr. Drake was referring to,” Sophie said thoughtfully.
“You know sis, because Dr. Drake is so worldly and knowledgeable, I don’t feel comfortable calling him Uncle Rusty,” Sophie decided.
“I don’t either; it just doesn’t sound right – I know, let’s call him Uncle Drake instead!
“Great idea Scottie, from now on, he’s Uncle Drake to us!” Sophie exclaimed, “Oh, I almost forgot to put Maptrixter in my backpack!” (It was up to Sophie to be the keeper of Maptrixter when Dr. Drake told her the map was now hers.)
Once that was decided, the girls put on their cowboy boots, a light windbreaker jacket, and picked up their backpacks to head for the kitchen to say goodbye to Ma and Pa who were still drinking their morning coffee.
“What a beautiful morning girls,” Pa said while reading the morning paper and sipping a hot cup of coffee, “you two sure are up early this morning.”
“We wanted to get an early start for our new adventure, I mean, horse ride today,” Scottie said without giving too much away about their plans on the ranch.
“Ma tells me that you two are pretending to go to a far away land and then you want to camp out in the courtyard under the stars,” Pa commented while looking at Ma and then their backpacks.
“If that’s okay with you, Pa,” Sophie replied.
“That sounds like a very summery thing to do,” Pa said with a smile as he stood up to poor himself another cup.
“Oh good,” both girls sighed.
“Have a great ride girls but remember, home by supper,” Ma said as she gave each girl a hug and a kiss.
Sophie and Scottie hugged Ma a little longer than usual, knowing that they wouldn’t see her for a few days.
“Whew, I didn’t think we’d get on this trail so early this morning,” Sophie said while steering Firefly onto the Oak Branch trail, “I am so curious about what’s in the third envelope.”
“The envelope!” Scottie blurted out.
“Don’t worry, I put it in the outer pocket of my backpack,” Sophie calmly said as she patted her pack behind her.
“So, according to the next instruction, we can open the third envelope after we turn right at Bear Rock that Maptrixter showed us,” Scottie reviewed out loud, “is that right?”
“Yep, that’s right” Sophie agreed as they rode along the trail.
Soon the two were at Bear Rock and turned onto the trail that passes it. After riding a little while, Sophie could tell that Starburst was ready to gallop.
“I think you should open the third envelope now, Sophie,” Scottie suggested, “Starburst wants to gallop along this flat part of the trail, but I think we should open it up.
“Okay sis,” Sophie said as she reached for the third envelope, steering Firefly to walk next to Scottie so they both could see what Sophie pulls out of the envelope.
Both girls held their breath as a photograph was pulled out; on the back of it was a note from Auntie Jill.
Dear Sophie and Scottie,
Congratulations, you are now to begin another amazing journey. Sophie, I will need you to put your rain box in the outer pocket of your backpack with the lid off of it. Scottie, I will need you to get off of Starburst, give the reins to Sophie to hold and put the picture in the frame. Then I want you to walk twenty big steps down the trail from where the horses are right now and set the frame with the picture in it on the ground in the center of the trail with the picture towards you and the horses. Once you do this, I will need you to find the rock next to where Firefly and Sophie are waiting. Use the rock to get back onto Starburst. After that, you will know what to do next.
Have a great ride!
Love, Auntie Jill and Uncle Drake
Quickly, both Scottie and Sophie looked around and sure enough, there was a rock for Scottie to climb on so she could easily get back onto Starburst!
“Well, this must be the place on the trail because there is the rock,” Scottie said with a nervous laugh, “and how did Auntie Jill know we were going to call Dr. Drake, Uncle Drake?”
“I don’t know, but let’s get going before I change my mind and go back home,” Sophie said while looking back on the trail at the direction of the ranch house.
“Okay, okay, give me the frame and the photo; I haven’t really looked at what is in the picture at all.” Scottie said while turning it over, “oh wow Sophie, this place looks amazing.”
In the picture was an enormous mountain with lots of green grass in the lower portion of the mountain. As you looked up the mountain, the grass turned to shrubs and trees; almost like a jungle. There was a trail in the lower grassy area that was perfect for the horses to walk on to.
The sky was blue and there were a few clouds at the top of the mountain.
“I guess we’ll be riding on that trail,” Scottie said as she put the picture in the frame, “okay, I’ll be back in a few minutes. She looked at the picture and the frame began to sparkle and turn lots of colors while she counted twenty big steps.
When Scottie had done what the instructions stated, she walked back and climbed onto the rock and then sat on Starburst; who was getting very restless and was ready to go.
“Whoa Starburst, we’ll get going pretty soon,” Scottie soothed while petting Starburst’s neck, “the frame was still really colorful as I set it down on the ground.”
Both girls looked down the trail at the frame; it looked so small on the open trail. Then suddenly, as if the frame was tired of showing its colors, it just stopped!
“There look,” Scott shouted at Sophie, “the frame is growing bigger than when it grew in our room!”
Soon the frame with the picture in it was so large, that the girls couldn’t see over it or around it! In fact, Sophie noticed the warm breeze that was coming from the picture. Scottie started to sniff the air and could smell what seemed like a slight salty smell. Suddenly both girls heard a ‘whoosh’ sound; as if a pale of water was splashed against the side of a house! Both girls could see a large spray of water about fifteen feet high going up, which blocked the view of the mountain and then crashing down on something, sending the water onto the trail as well.
As the girls observed this, Scottie pointed to something flying right towards them and then landing about five feet away on the trail.
“Oh my!” Sophie stated, “that is a seagull and it just landed on our trail!”
Look out!” Scottie shouted as another seagull flew over their heads with a fish in its beak. The bird lost its grip of the fish and it dropped, almost hitting Starburst between the ears! Just before it landed, the other seagull standing on the trail used its powerful wings to lift itself up and caught the fish in mid-air!
“Whew, that was close,” Scottie said while brushing some dirt that came off of the seagull’s webbed feet and landed onto Starbursts bangs or forelock between her eyes.
“Where do you think the water is coming from?” Scottie asked Sophie.
“From what I can see and smell, I’d say that the water was a wave crashing on some rocks that aren’t in the picture,” Sophie began to answer, “so from where we are standing, we are over the ocean!”
“Wow, this is amazing,” Scottie said while staring at the scenery in front of her. She then realized that they’d better do something. “I guess we’d better get going after the next wave crashes on the land in front of us or the frame will begin to shrink again.”
“I don’t know if I can do this; Firefly doesn’t like water.” Sophie hesitated while waiting for the next wave to come.
“I know, Starburst keeps pulling on the rains with her mouth; ready to go. So just as I begin to gallop her towards the mountain, have Firefly right behind me. She’ll be so concerned about being behind Starburst that she won’t even notice any water, or ocean, or wherever the water is coming from.” Scottie suggested.
“Alright, that sounds like a good plan.” Sophie agreed as both girls began to walk the horses towards the ranch house to get more galloping room for the horses.
Once the horses were turned back towards the mountain, Scottie yelled out “Hayah!”
Instantly Starburst leaped forward as if she were in a rodeo relay to go around some barrels. As soon as Firefly saw her take off, she began to gallop too. The horses and riders got closer and closer to the trail in the giant picture. It was only a matter of time before the next wave would hit the land.
“Come on! Come on!” Scottie shouted as the horses were almost there.
Starburst crossed over onto the new trail first with Firefly right behind her; just as she did this, a new wave came crashing against the rocks and got the back of Firefly’s legs and tail wet. This startled her so much, that she jumped forward as if to clear a fence, which almost made Sophie fall off.
“Whoa girl,” Sophie yelled while trying to steady her on the grassy trail.
Soon both girls stopped and turned their horses around, they saw a vast coastline and a glittery ocean from the sun’s rays as far as their eyes could see.
“This is beautiful,” both girls said to themselves breathlessly while looking around; their ranch was nowhere in site. Sophie then noticed a tugging feeling in the outer pocket of her backpack, as if something was put into it. She decided that she’d look into the pocket later.
Soon they heard some pounding steps coming towards them with a man taking his hat off and waving it over his head while holding the horse reigns in the other.
Both girls looked at each other and looked at the man and yelled “Uncle Drake!”
As he got close enough for them to hear him he shouted “Welcome, welcome to Amelia Island!”
The girls rode up to Uncle Drake with big smiles on their faces. Sophie saw something in the corner of her eye and looked quickly towards that image; it was Papaya flying in fast from the ocean breeze that she had caught in flight. She ‘buzzed’ Sophie’s hair and then landed on Uncle Drake’s shoulder.
“I’m so glad you girls decided it was time for another journey; we here on the island could really use your help,” Uncle Drake stated as he reached over and hugged each niece while sitting on his horse, “but first let’s ride to where you will be staying on this cattle ranch.”
“There are cattle on this island?” Sophie asked while looking around for the steers.
“Yep, and so much more; you see, this island is a research center in the middle of the Pacific Ocean,” Uncle Drake replied, “I’ll fill you in once we get to your yurt.”
“What’s a yurt?” Scottie asked.
“You’ll see; follow me,” Uncle Drake said as he made a clicking noise within his mouth and his horse began to trot and soon lope on the trail towards the mountain.
The girls could see the cattle grazing in the upper slopes of the grassy areas at the foot of the mountain. They could also see a large building with huge bamboo posts holding up a roof covered in thick and long grasses that was a little farther down the pathway as they reached the horse stables.
“This is where you will keep your horses; the stand over there,” Uncle Drake pointed toward it, “is where your saddle and bridle will be kept. The box next to the stand is where the brushes are stored for when you need to brush the horses. Now, let’s take you to your yurt.”
After the horses were settled into their new stable, both girls barley watched where they were going on the pathway; constantly looking around as they walked. The plants next to the trail were lush and green with beautiful flowers. Sophie took a deep breath and could smell their sweet tropical scent.
“What kind of flowering tree is that?” Sophie asked while pointing to the huge tree that was covered in small, five pedaled yellow flowers.
“That is called a plumeria tree and the island is covered in them,” Uncle Drake explained, “they also bloom in white with yellow, in pink with red stripes on the back of the pedals, and in other colors; each having a different smell. Now, here we are; your sleeping quarters for as long as you are on the island.”
“Wow, this is neat!” Scottie exclaimed as she walked up the five steps leading to the front porch to open the door.
“What kind of building is this?” Sophie asked while touching the walls made of a type of material that reminded her of a sail on a sail boat or a heavy duty tent.
“This ‘ger’ or home is called a yurt which has been used extensively by the Mongolians as well as other parts of Central Asia,” Uncle Drake explained while unlocking the door. “The oldest known yurt that was used as a home was back in Greece at around 484 BC. So we know that they are sturdy and are perfect for shelter on the island.”
The yurt was round with a 15 foot diameter. It had the one door and windows on each side of the door. Once Uncle Drake unlocked the door of the round structure they walked in. The girls noticed another window on the back side of the yurt.
“There are the bunk beds over there; you two will have to decide who gets the upper bunk. The dresser has two drawers in it to put your things in; the bathroom is behind that door over there. It’s simple but works well, so what do you two think of your yurt?” Uncle Drake asked while holding his arms out to emphasize the room after showing them their island home.
The walls and ceiling of cloth were held up with wooden boards about one foot apart from the next one. In between the wall boards were other boards that were cris-crossed over one another in a lattice pattern to strengthen the boards and walls even more. The ceiling boards went from the top of the wall to the highest point of the ceiling; all meeting together at the center of about 15 feet above the ground. All of the ceiling wood boards and wall lattice boards were covered on the outside with a layer of felt and then a layer of thick cotton canvas material.
“We love it!” both girls blurted out at the same time as they ran up to hug him.
“Good, the canvas walls are really sturdy; just keep the door closed so the island critters and the rain doesn’t get in,” Uncle Drake said with a wink, “now put your things away, get Maptrixter, and meet me at that large building that we walked passed before we got to your yurt; that is the dining hall. After we eat dinner, I can show you where we are on the island using the map.”
“I get the top bunk,” Scottie claimed as she pulled her things out of the backpack, “look Sophie, the drawers already have more clothes in them too.”
“Uncle Drake sure takes care of us,” Sophie remarked as she unpacked her things,
“let’s hurry cause I’m hungry.”
Sophie made sure to get Maptrixter and soon both girls were walking up the steps to the dining hall where Uncle Drake was waiting for them. The food was buffet style where they got a tray and a plate and went to the food stations that appealed to each one. As soon as each had what they wanted, they sat down at a large round table. Soon other islanders came to eat lunch as well. Uncle Drake introduced the girls to anyone who asked him who they were. Sophie noticed that most were students, professors, or a doctors like Uncle Drake.
“What is this island used for?” Sophie asked while taking a drink of water.
“This is a research island and is part of the Pacific Remote Islands. What that means is that we are about half way between Hawaii and Australia,” Uncle Drake continued, “we call this Amelia Island for –“
“Amelia Earhart!” Scottie announced.
“Why yes, you’ve heard of her?” Uncle Drake asked in an amused tone.
“We learned about her when we had to do a report on women aviators,” Scottie replied, “and I learned that she was the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic Ocean by herself. I also learned that while trying to fly around the world, her plane mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.”
“That’s right, she was thought to have landed her plane on a remote island called Nikumaroro Island while trying to find the larger Howland Island. That island is part of the Coral Islands not far from this one. So to honor her, we named this land Amelia Island,” Uncle Drake explained. “In fact, some islanders have claimed to have seen her on parts of this island; just folklore I’m sure. Now, is everyone done eating?
The girls nodded their heads and began to clear the table where they ate. After the table was clear and just the three of them were sitting there, Sophie took off the rubber band that was around Maptrixter and carefully unrolled it onto the table.