Adventure Story Contest Winners

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Thanks to all who entered Out & About Magazine’s Adventure Story Contest presented by REI and Delaware State Parks. In this age of Twitter and Instagram, taking the time to compose a short story is a commendable endeavor.

Furthermore, receiving entries from several youngsters was especially encouraging. Writing is a life skill, and good writing must be applauded at every opportunity.

For us, Jill Althouse-Wood’s Strange Adventures was the best of the entries and you can judge for yourself by reading her full story below. For her efforts, Althouse-Wood wins a Kingdom 6 Tent from REI as well as a $50 gift card to Shop Rite for supplies and a $50 gift card to Ted’s Montana Grill to celebrate. You can also read the second- and third-place winners below.


1st Place: Strange Adventures

by Jill Althouse-Wood

My husband parked the car, and I opened my passenger side car door, assessing the jumble of tree roots that had buckled the curb of the West Philadelphia sidewalk. I’d be able to navigate the obstacle now, but I was in flip flops. What would happen when we returned to the car after a few beers? I didn’t normally drink beer at 10:30 AM on a Sunday morning, but these were extenuating circumstances. Mark and I were in flux. We were between houses having sold our Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, house and not having yet moved into our new home in the artist colony of Arden, Delaware. In the two-month interim, we, along with our teenage children, were bunking with Mark’s parents. Though the forced co-habitation was going smoothly, with three weeks until our move to Delaware, Mark and I were getting restless. We scoured fliers and magazines for possible field trips to give everybody a little breathing room. That sounds more magnanimous than it was. The truth was that we needed a jailbreak from our lives, and coincidently, Philly Beer Week was in full swing.

Mark had just joined Untappd. For those unfamiliar, Untappd is the app to track and rate beers. The more you drink and rate, the more badges you get. Badges like All-American, Social Drinker, I believe in IPA! It’s Pokémon Cards for grown men. That year, there were 611 events for Philly Beer Week. We had chosen one for our getaway, a Russian River Valley event happening at Local 44 in Philadelphia. Our holy grail? An IPA called Pliny the Elder which had been at the top of our list of beers to try for some time. Not wanting to risk the keg kicking before we got there, we aimed to get in line at Local 44 at least a half-hour before their 11 AM opening. We were not the only ones. When we had driven past, we saw that a line had already formed outside the bar. This is why I didn’t ask Mark to repark the car when I saw the tree roots. We needed to get in that line.

As we were speed walking toward Local 44, we mentally started counting the people in line. At the same time, we both said, “Is that…?” And we both trailed off before completing our thoughts, trying to be sure we weren’t seeing a mirage. But sure enough, the two people standing at the end of the line were Joe and David, people we knew. Let me back up. The reason we were moving to Arden, DE, was because Mark had a new job. While his new job was closer to Philadelphia, Arden was closer to that job than our previous digs. We had chosen to move to Arden over closer burbs because we had been going to Arden’s annual outdoor Shakespeare plays for a few years, and I, being an artist, had fallen in love with the idea of living in an intentional artist community. That said, we knew exactly four people who lived in Arden— our realtor, Cynthia, and her husband, David, who had hosted us for our Shakespeare jaunts, and Joe and Keri, the couple from whom we were buying our house. Two of those four people were currently standing in line outside of Local 44. We really liked David and Joe and hoped we would be socializing with them and their wives in the future, but Mark and I had made a pact that when we moved to Delaware, we were not going to be clingy hangers-on. We would seek out new friends and not burden the only four people we knew to hang out with us just because we didn’t know anybody else. But we had not planned this meeting in Philadelphia, could not have coordinated to arrive in line precisely behind them if we had tried. We were here, at this exact moment, stalking beer, not people. We approached with careful optimism.

David and Joe turned when we hopped in line behind them, and from the looks on their faces, we could tell that their surprise at seeing us was a positive one. They were here for the Pliny also. They introduced us to Larry, their friend who was with them on their beer pilgrimage. As if the moment were not serendipitous enough, we learned that Larry, another Arden resident (make that 5 people we knew!), worked in IT, like Mark, had a wife who was an artist, like me, and had two children who were close in age to our two. In addition to meeting Larry, we chatted with others in line, mostly men, about…what else?…beer. Many of those waiting with us were there for the sours from Russian River Brewing Company. We breathed sighs of relief. More Pliny for us!

At last, the doors to Local 44 opened, and as luck would have it on this day of planetary alignment, our new little group snagged the last five seats at the bar. I was glad for the seat. The small room was quickly filling to standing-room-only capacity. Beer nirvana ensued. We scored our Pliny the Elder as well as Blind Pig IPA, which we all rated higher than Pliny, and at the suggestions of the others at the bar, we opened ourselves up to the world of sours. Mark unlocked the Groupie badge on Untappd. When the check came, we were undercharged, of course. It was just how our day was going. The bartenders were so busy, we couldn’t get anyone’s attention to argue the bill, so we over tipped. We had padded our stomachs with poutine, but when we went stepped from the bar out into the June sunshine, we were all feeling the effects of the alcohol. Though a number of the holy grail beers had already kicked, the line still ran down the block. We looked from the line to each other. Nobody in our group seemed particularly anxious to relinquish our morning’s string of good luck to those poor saps.

Larry had gone to college at Drexel and had worked in West Philly. He knew the neighborhood. He said there was a noteworthy, abandoned building nearby that had been converted into an art installation. He had always been curious about the interior of this particular building and currently, it was on the Hidden City Philadelphia Tour. Did we want to take a walk and check it out? It seemed only wise to walk off our beers before getting into the car back to Lancaster County, Mark’s parents, and our kids. And after drinking several high-end, craft beers, we were nothing, if not wise.

Larry made it sound like the building in question was around the corner. It was not, and I was in flip flops. Around the time I was getting blisters on my feet, I started to doubt the beer-soaked wisdom of following a guy we just met for the first time in a bar all over Philadelphia (or so it seemed). Did this dude really know where he was going? The only landmarks he pointed out along the way were the kind that were pulled from the news—and not in a fluffy, human- interest kind of story. More like “POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS” variety. When we finally arrived at the Hawthorne Building in the Powelton neighborhood, I was a little taken aback by the ruinous state of it, and at the same time, intrigued by the obvious grandeur of the old building. My fear and curiosity were a heady combination. Larry talked the ticket taker into admitting us for the reduced price of $5 since we didn’t want to tour all the sites on Hidden Philadelphia. Then, he waved us in.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I walked inside. It was an art installation like no other. The artist group Rabid Hands Art Collective had transformed the space into the fictive Society of Pythagoras (think lots of triangles) using only materials found on the site. It was part temple, part secret society. Moving through a labyrinth of rooms with their lit pyramids, intentionally unbalanced tablescapes, and peculiar confessionals, I felt as though I should be wearing robes and whispering in some ancient tongue. Joe, a professional photographer, whipped out his iPhone and, though he was devoid of his usual high-tech gear, managed to capture the spirit of the installation in a way I didn’t think possible with any camera let alone one from a phone.

My artist self was entranced. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. Where was I? How had I left my in-law’s house this morning to get a beer and ended up here, inside a work of art in the belly of a derelict building? It was Indiana Jones meets Alice and Wonderland. Or something like that. Inspired, I started to question how I could incorporate what I had seen into future works of art. Could I employ found objects? Attempt triangular composition? I didn’t know the answers to those questions, but after seeing that exhibit I knew two truths: We were moving to the right community, and we would be able to make friends.

After we exited the exhibit, it took us a while to put words to what we just experienced. A familiar buzz broke the silence. In Cinderella fashion, Joe’s iPhone transformed from an artist’s tool to document otherworldly mysteries back into a line that tethered him to the real-life grind. His wife, in an urgency brought about by unanswered texts, was now calling Joe to ask him where he was. Unbeknownst to us, he was supposed to be home moving boxes of belongings to the shed at their new house. Emptying their old house so our family could move into it in a few weeks’ time. We couldn’t let him go home to work without one last beer. We popped by City Tap House to see if they still had any of the lineup left over from their Firestone Walker Beer event the night before. As it had been all day, luck was on our side.

The final toast of the day was not an ending, but a beginning. Mark and I, these three men, along with their wives and a core group of neighbors would, once we moved to Arden, form a middle-aged adventuring group, dubbed Strange Adventures. (Strange being both Larry’s last name and an apt description for our forays.) Most Sunday mornings of the last seven years, we have gathered in a parking lot to caravan to parks and destinations in New Castle County, the Brandywine Valley, Philadelphia, and beyond. We have walked designated trails all over the state of Delaware earning actual badges for our efforts. Take that, Untappd. We have also gone off-trail to some decidedly unmapped areas. Let’s just say Hawthorne Hall wasn’t the last abandoned building we have been inside. We’ve scaled the ropes course at Lums Pond and negotiated a network of tunnels under Philadelphia. We’ve hiked beaches, forded streams, climbed rocks, and explored caves. Once a month, we do an urban hike in Philly or Wilmington that ends (not begins) with a pub brunch. We are all-weather hikers, for the most part. On  snow days we have been known to hike from Arden to Two Stones Pub, and then, in a satisfying role-reversal, call our kids to come pick us up. I’ve turned in my flip-flops and bought my first pair of hiking boots. I am currently on my fourth pair, to give some indication of the miles we have traversed. Beyond the physical terrain, we’ve inspired each other in our art and careers, helped mourn deaths, celebrated achievements, and scouted open restrooms during COVID. It’s been part group therapy, part church, part depravity, and the best way to become acclimated to our new county and state. Pliny the Elder has said, “From the end spring new beginnings.” And it’s true.

To be continued…


2nd Place: Beer Quest

by Paul Parmelee

It was probably 2004 when the idea was first floated. A byproduct of a random late-night conversation with my buddy Erik as we hung at Mackenzie Brew House. Amidst our usual bar banter about life, sports, women, and current events, we began to ponder a question while brainstorming a potential next road trip for the gang. How many states can you set foot in within a 24- hour span?

Taking it a step further, we discussed maybe grabbing a beer in each state. Going over the atlas in our minds we discovered that if we did it in two phases, thanks to how clustered the northeastern states of this great nation are, we could possibly hit 13 states plus Washington DC. Phase One could start in Delaware, early evening, and proceed to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, DC, Virginia, ending in West Virginia. The biggest challenge would be making it there by last call, which we figured was 2 AM but at the time had no idea. From there we could make our way over to New York City in the middle of the night, assuming the “city that never sleeps” surely would have a place serving around breakfast time to begin Phase Two. Then we could start north, adding Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to the checked column, finally ending back down in Rhode Island by early evening. “It would be epic!” I thought to myself, envisioning the accomplishment this great feat. A quest. A Beer Quest! It would be just like Fandango, one of my all-time favorite movies, with a hint of Cannonball Run sprinkled in; friends hitting the road, seeing what the adventure brings, having fun no matter the outcome. Like many a great film idea, however, this one would be years before going from screenplay to the big screen.

Almost ten years would pass before the topic came up again. “When are we going to make Beer Quest happen?” Erik said. “Let’s make it this year” I vowed.

We got the ball rolling, recruiting six others whose curiosity was piqued by the prospect. Erik started investigating potential stops. With technology having come leaps and bounds in the last ten years it was much easier now to see distances between places, what establishments are available, and most importantly, their hours. By this time West Virginia had legalized gaming, an around the clock casino straddled the border with Virginia where last call no longer created a deadline to stress over. We pondered our mode of transportation; maybe we could rent a huge van and hire a driver, maybe we could get a party bus limousine. Perhaps we could get a beer company to sponsor us if we drank their beer at each stop and chronicled it all on social media. In the end, we opted for my 2006 Honda Odyssey, with the removable jump seat installed and me at the helm. We tested out the accommodation one night, cramming 8 of us into the van and sitting for a few minutes to see if everyone thought they could handle being in that position for 24 straight hours. We decided it was feasible, and Beer Quest was a go for Friday May 10th, 2013. As driver I would forego the beer part of it, the camaraderie and thrill of the drive were what it was all about for me anyway.

We set out at 7 PM. Two couples, two guys, a girl, myself, and the open road. We kicked it off at Stanley’s in north Wilmington, my long-time watering having grown up nearby. From there it was Duffers Mill just across the Pennsylvania line, then across the Delaware River to The Village Pub in Swedesboro, New Jersey. South became the heading as we traveled to Red Brick Station in White Marsh, Maryland, and Charlie’s Restaurant just inside The District of Columbia, then west to Pizzaria Uno in Reston, Virginia by 1:00 AM. All that remained of Phase One was Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, West Virginia, which we came upon shortly before two. I still don’t know what time last call is in West Virginia, but it was not of concern. We relaxed a while there, spreading out, charging cell phones, playing some table games. Having tried to keep the average length of stay at each location to fifteen minutes it was nice to take it easy for an hour or so. Around 3:15 we mounted up for the big leap over to Manhattan. Many slept as I drove east, as I gassed up in Hamburg, PA around 6 AM someone said, “hey you know we can head back home and be asleep in a couple hours?”. “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that” was my reply, you can’t poop out in the middle of a quest. Not on my watch.

Rudy’s Bar & Grill in New York City starts serving at 8 AM in case you were wondering, and we were not the only ones in there at that time. It’s a wild place, and the perfect launchpad for our tour of the northern colonies. The Half Door in Hartford, Connecticut was next, followed by Chili’s in Springfield, Massachusetts, our second chain of the tour. Unfortunately, proximity to the highway played a more important role than atmosphere, and we did not have the time to explore a more unique place in every case. Brattleboro, Vermont came next with a visit to McNeill’s Brewery, then to The Wild Rover Pub in Manchester, New Hampshire and The Corner Pub in Kittery, Maine.  All that remained between us and fulfillment of the quest was the 110 miles back south to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where McMahon’s Celtic Pub awaited. The 14th and final stop. While some accused me of driving slower to add some drama, which I swear I did not intentionally do, the clock ticked, and some began to worry we would not arrive in time. But as Dom DeLuise a.k.a. Captain Chaos would say in Cannonball Run, “Have No Fear!”.

With 12 minutes to spare, we arrived. 957 miles in 23 hours and 48 minutes. We entered the bar victoriously, delirious from the journey but pumped at what we had accomplished. We chatted with locals, as we had each location, so many fascinated and entertained by the idea. We spent the night in Providence, one of the greatest sleeps I’ve ever enjoyed, before returning the next day.

Beer Quest may not be taught in any history class, but it will no doubt go down in the annals of road trip history.


3rd Place: Mount Washington

by Helene Laprade

“Is it alive?”

“No”

“Was it ever alive?”

“No”

We were on hour six of our nine hour drive from Delaware to New Hampshire.

“Is it bigger than a breadbox?”

“No”

We were travelling up for our annual summer camping trip and this time we were going to also climb Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the northeastern United States. It was my dad, older sister, her two friends, and me.

“Is it a mammal?” one of the friends asked.

“She already said it wasn’t alive. Don’t waste a question!” I snapped. I was twelve and took the game of ‘20 Questions’ very seriously.

My sister and her friends were sixteen or seventeen, tall, slender, and much more graceful and cool than I could ever hope to be. I, on the other hand, had braces, was short and chubby, and was at the peak of my preteen awkward years. My father was silent–quietly focused on driving up I95 and probably wondering how he had agreed to take four girls on a camping and hiking trip by himself.

After many more rounds of “20 Questions” we finally arrived at our campsite, set up our tents and went to bed, ready to start early the next morning on our hiking adventure.

We got to the trailhead at Pinkham’s Notch at around 7am, parked our big bright blue minivan amongst the countless Suburus in the parking lot, and we were off. The first few hours on the trail were great–flat, with plenty of waterfalls to admire. As the trail gradually became steeper, it seemed I gradually trailed further and further behind the older girls. Periodically they would stop and wait for my dad and I to catch up; we’d drink some water and eat some trail mix, and then we’d start again.

After about two hours, we made it to a small shelter where we took a break and ate an early lunch. My dad told my sister and her friends that they could go on ahead of us for the rest of the trail and meet us at the summit–he realized I would not be keeping up with them.

I didn’t mind this, it just being my dad and me–it was honestly how I preferred it. I was the youngest in my family and, though I did and still do dearly love my older siblings, there had been a growing distance between them and myself for the past couple of years. They had all matured into young adults with young adult interests and I was still very much a kid with kid interests. So during this time, my dad became one of my most frequent companions and I became his sidekick. Together we built model rockets, went sailing, and did the weekly grocery shopping. I cherished time alone with him.

After lunch, as we continued our ascent, the trail grew steeper, I became more discouraged, and our breaks became more frequent. “I can’t do this” I would say at each rest. “Yes you can, you’re doing great”, my dad would assure me. “It’s just a little bit longer”.

“It’s just a little bit longer.”

I hung on to those words as I heard them again and again after each stop, still believing them even after they were uttered the fifth or sixth time. Finally we made it to the final stretch to the summit, a seemingly endless boulder field. At this elevation, everything is wet from the clouds that pass over the mountain, there is little to no vegetation, and the wind is always cold and strong. It was truly a breathtaking view to look down at the U shaped valley below, to see where we started that morning, and to realize how far I had come!

Unfortunately, it was also at this point that I learned of my intense fear of heights. Though it may seem irrational and just a bit silly, as we were climbing over the boulders to the top, which are steep, but certainly not a cliff, I was terrified that I was going to fall off the side of the mountain. My father slowly and patiently coached me to the summit of Mt. Washington where we met up with my sister and her friends, warmed up, and drank what tasted like the best hot chocolate I had ever had.

I felt relieved and accomplished to be in the visitor center at the summit. This relief, however, was quickly replaced by dread. I realized that what goes up must come down. I had made it up the boulder field and steep trails by not looking behind me so as to avoid that fear of heights, but going down, I would have to be looking down the whole time.

There are a few ways to visit the summit of Mt. Washington; of course you can hike to the top, but for those who don’t want to go that route, there is a cog railway or an auto road for those that want to drive up and down themselves. I was looking for any way to not have to go back down the trail and pleaded with my dad for us to take the cog railway back down, but that was out of the question because the railway takes its passengers down the opposite side of the mountain from where our minivan was parked.

Seeing that I was desperate, my dad suggested the older girls could go back down the trail and my dad and I would walk down the not too steep auto road. The auto road ended not exactly where our van was parked, but it at least wasn’t on the other side of the mountain.

This sounded like a great compromise. My sister and her friends started off descending down the boulder field and my dad and I started our walk down the winding auto road. This was so much better–the gentle slope of the road was pleasant, I didn’t feel like I was going to fall off the side of the mountain, and passengers of cars with “this car climbed Mt. Washington” bumper stickers gave us cheerful beeps and waves as they drove by. Since I wasn’t struggling to climb up or down rough terrain, my dad and I could chat as we slowly made our way down.

Then a couple of hours went by. Cars still beeped and wave as they passed by and the slope was still gentle, but we had run out of things to talk about and the constant downward pounding of our feet on pavement had given us both shin splints, and we still had miles to go. The gentle slope of the auto road came at a cost–with the winding back and forth, it was twice as long as the trail, nearly 8 miles.

Once again I became discouraged and doubted my ability to ever get off this mountain. “Maybe we could hitch a ride from some kind stranger” I suggested hopefully. “We’re not going to do that,” my father replied. We plodded on in silence with just the sound of feet hitting the pavement. I could tell that my dad was discouraged too. The ankle that gave him trouble was causing him to limp a little with each step. That was probably because the pounding of the pavement was so rough on it. And this trip that he had hoped would instill a bit of confidence and sense of accomplishment in his daughter seemed to be having the opposite effect.

Nearly on the verge of tears I heard my dad say “alright, 20 questions. I’m thinking of something”.

“Is it alive?” I said. “No.”

“Is it bigger than a breadbox?” “Yes.”

“Is it this mountain?” I asked “Yes.”

I smiled. “Alright, my turn. I’m thinking of something.”

We continued our way down the auto road periodically playing a few rounds of 20 questions to break up the hours, and the hours went on. Eventually, it began to get darker and we still had a ways to go. When planning out the timing of the trip, my dad had thought we would have a 4 mile hike up and a 4 mile hike back down, and there would be plenty of daylight for that. He hadn’t considered that our hike down would be twice as long.

Getting worried that we were going to run out of daylight, we found a trail that veered off from the auto road. The hope was that it would cut down through the u-bend of the road and we would shave off some of the distance. So we ventured into the woods where the shade of the trees made it even darker and heightened the feeling of urgency to get back to the car before dark. We didn’t know what trail we were on and were hoping it would lead us back to the general vicinity of where we had started.

My dad was getting more worried as it got darker and we didn’t see any trail markers, and that made me worried. We weren’t playing 20 questions anymore; we were just moving forward through the darkening woods as quickly as we could, carefully stepping so as not to strip over rocks or tree roots.

Then we heard the sound of a waterfall and then saw the waterfall, a beautiful one that we had seen that morning! Another half mile and we had made it to the trailhead where we had started our day. There were my sister and friends waiting and looking rather relieved to see us.

Sitting in the van on the way back to our campsite with my knees, shins, and feet aching, I did feel accomplished. Though it may have not been the most conventional route, I had made it up to the summit of Mt. Washington and made it back down again.


Honorable Mention: Adventures of Derby

by Prakrit Vaish (age 9)

Chasing Rainbows

Thump , Thump , Thump!

Derby, a wildlife educator and a famous Youtuber, is trying to find every animal in the world! Everybody thought that he was chasing rainbows.

Right now Derby is in one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Amazon Rainforest. As he is going through the sticky and swampy water he found a snake, a big one! He ran like a rabbit to grab him. As  he was running he got to a dead end. Derby was frightened, the snake attacked but then somebody or something grabbed the snake and saved Derby. He was a strong and tall man who introduced himself as Douglas. He had a very wise wife, her name was Sarah.

Bag of Tricks

Derby tells Sarah and Douglas about his plans to become famous and educate people about various animals. He told them how it is important to him, as he works as a scientist. After 30 minutes Sarah and Douglas agreed to help Derby.

Sarah and Douglas have a bag of tricks to help Derby in his adventure! So over night they taught Derby all of the animal catching and survival tricks.

In the morning Douglas showed a vehicle, which is very POWERFUL. They started their adventure.

After finding 10-20 animals, they came across a swarm of wasps. The wasps were ready to attack but then Derby remembered about the bug spray. He got It out and sprayed at the wasps. At first the wasps just slowed down and then they fell to the ground and died.

The Next Destination

Douglas is impressed by Derby’s skills so he said “A Journey of thousand miles beings with one single step”.

Douglas joined Derby to help him achieve his goals, but Sarah stayed home. So next they started an expedition to another continent – Australia.

They entered a very small airport with a big plane, that plane can carry vehicles!!! They boarded the plane and after 20 boring hours they finally reached their destination . They already saw so many animals at the airport. Just like kangaroos , frogs, snakes, spiders, horses, dogs, and cats. Douglas said “lets go outside to find more animals”. But then Derby said we already got all of the animals from Australia.

A Narrow Escape

For their next destination, they found a flight for Europe, which got delayed hence they thought to explore the airport. They found and bought books, candy, miny figures all of that fun stuff. After that they boarded the flight.

The plane was ginormous and very loud. While they were sleeping, suddenly they heard loud screams.

Douglas and Derby opened their eyes and to their horror, the plane was about to crash!!!!!!

They sneaked into their vehicle  and to Derby’s surprise, Douglas put the vehicle into the fly mode. Derby was astonished because nobody told him about that. As the vehicle broke out of the plane and glided throw the sky, they could see so many animals.

The Ultimate Goodbyes!

Douglas and Derby had lots of adventures and finally reached their goal after 8 months. Derby was so thankful to Douglas and Sarah that he gave his explorer badge to them. They had there farewells and kept exploring  the mysterious creature world.


Honorable Mention:  The Secret Tree

by Lillie Hawkins (age 13)

What would you do if you had found a secret tree to a magical transport that led to another land. That probably sounds crazy, but what if. Imagine that this land had beautiful mountains, lakes, and fields of lilies as far as the eye can see. That sounds amazing and it would be incredible if someone had found this land. Well, someone did, someone by the name of Tristan Jones. Tristan Jones was a smart, witty, and head-strong kid who was 14 years of age. He longed for a journey that would take him to a glorious destination, a journey that was filled with excitement and adventure. He never would have thought that a walk through an apple orchard would lead him there. On a typical Friday, Tristan was strolling through the orchard thinking about dogs. He had always wanted one, but was never allowed to own such a pet. He suddenly stopped to observe a tree with many red apples. Mixed in the tree was one green apple. There were no others like it in the whole orchard. He went to grab the apple to try a bite and he suddenly found himself spinning as fast as can be and falling down at great speed. By the time he had stopped, he felt like he had been through a tornado. This was only the beginning of a great tale that was about to unfold.

He had landed on what looked like bright red leaves, but what was really bright red monkey balls. The pain from the monkey balls only distracted him a tiny bit because what he had seen right after that blew his mind. Tristan found himself looking down a treacherous ravine into a pit with sharp rocks. He knew right away that was not where he wanted to go, but he had no clue where to go at all because he didn’t even know where he was. To attempt to find out where he was, he decided to walk straight into what looked like a forest of evil beasts and creatures. While walking, Tristan found himself close to the edge of the ravine, which continued for at least a mile long, even through a bit of the forest. As he was trekking the new land, he stepped onto a jutted rock at the edge and the rock suddenly broke off of the ledge and fell.

Tristan was able to hold his balance and decided to back away from the ravine. He did not want to die in a place he did not know at all. He journeyed past the edge of the forest and was walking as he heard this sudden howl that reminded him of a werewolf. He realized they were not real and ignored the howl and kept walking. The howl sounded again and he realized that the howl was in fact real, and close, and he started to keep a look out throughout the woods.

After a few minutes, Tristan gained a feeling of something following him. He looked all around and spotted a shadow through the dusky woods. Tristan started to sprint throughout the woods as far as his legs would carry him. The howl sounded again, and was very close. Tristan knew something was near, and the something that was near was not a friendly creature.

Tristan stopped and started to climb the tallest tree he could spot. All of the sudden, as he was at the top waiting, a furry slobbery animal jumped up into the tree on the limb next to his. Tristan was so frightened that he almost fell down, yet before he could plummet to the ground, he stopped and took a good look at the animal. It was none other than a dog, or that is what Tristan thought. Little did he know that it was a caraveila. A caraveila is a creature appearing to be a dog or a common animal, yet it has the ability to run like a gazelle, defeat a lion, and jump like a panther. Tristan did not realize what this thing was until it told him. Yes, caraveilas can speak too. The caraveila explained to Tristan that his name was Raveira and he had been roaming through the woods for dinner and saw Tristan. Raveira explained that caraveilas are kind-hearted and that he had never seen a human before and didn’t know what to do with Tristan. After some small talk, Tristan decided to bring Raveira with him on his unknown journey. Maybe Raveira could help him. As they were trailing the woods, they discovered a hole about the size of a manhole cover and Raveira chose to randomly jump into it. Tristan yelled after him and heard no response except a big gasp from Raveira. Tristan was not sure what to do until Raveira called for him to jump in also. Tristan was skeptical, but decided to take a risk. The risk was worth it. He arrived into a field with lilies all around and the sky was so blue that it looked like an ocean. He spotted Raveira about a yard away, laying in the field and rolling around. Tristan was even more puzzled about where he was than before. The two endeavors had decided that they better keep on their journey, so they began to walk through the lilies into a lightly wooded forest with mushrooms all around. After a quick canter through the mushroom forest, they came to a waterfall that kept on falling into nowhere. They did not know what to do.

Raveira chose to hastily jump into the waterfall. Tristan yelled to Raveira that he was crazy. After a few more seconds, Tristan could not see nor hear Raveira at all. The only thing left to do was jump in himself, which is exactly what Tristan did. Tristan continued to fall, for about what seemed like an hour, when he finally landed on a pile of old bird feathers. Raveira called out to him from the other side of a bridge, which looked more like 3 boards of wood tied together by pieces of old spaghetti. Raveira shouted that it was safe to cross, but Tristan was skeptical. He finally chose to cross. Right at the fourth board of the bridge, he stepped and the wood cracked into two pieces and his foot fell through. He was holding on with his three fingers when amazingly, Raveira suddenly leaped into the air, magically stayed up in the air, and flew toward Tristan. He bit into Tristan’s leather coat and pulled him up and onto the other side. Tristan fell onto the rock and almost had a heart attack from the breath-taking moment. They sat for a minute taking in what had just happened when Raveira heard a whistle from the far side of the cave. Tristan heard it too and they both, without warning, began sprinting as fast as they could toward the end of the cave. Something magical drew them both to the whistle.

As they were sprinting, they felt that they were getting closer to some kind of treasure or secret from the past. They finally reached the spot where the whistle was coming from. Neither Tristan nor Raveira could see anything around them that was distinctive. They sat wondering what the whistle was for and why they had heard it when randomly, when an apple simply appeared on a rock in the middle of the oval shaped space. Tristan slowly tiptoed over to the apple and picked it up. There was something about this apple that was quite familiar to Tristan, yet he could not figure out what he had known if from. Suddenly, a memory that would last forever came in his mind. He reflected on how he had gotten into this mysterious land and how he had picked an apple off of the apple tree, and how the apple was green. That was what was familiar to him when he saw this green apple in the cave. Tristan realized that this apple was the treasure that he had been drawn to. It sounds like a strange treasure to discover, but the reason behind this treasure is truly important. This quest had taught Tristan that the simplest things in life, like the apple, are often the most important. They lead to the biggest and most adventurous quests that we could ever go on. After Tristan had realized this, along with Raveira, they both immediately felt a feeling of hope and excitement come through them in the form of a spinning wind. They both soon found themselves back at the orchard right where Tristan had found the green apple. Tristan soon figured out that he was right back at home. He also realized that Raveira was with him too, as a normal dog though. They both walked back home as quick as they could, replaying the past journey in their minds. Tristan wished to show Raveira to his family, so once they both got to Tristan’s home, Raveira met everyone in Tristan’s family and they all bonded extraordinarily well. After a few minutes of talking and excitement over the family letting Tristan keep the new pet, Tristan’s mother asked where he had come to meet this dog that he had fallen in love with. Tristan gave a quick smile to Raveira and the dog winked back. “It was an adventure I will never forget” replied Tristan.

So, what do you think? Please comment below.