The crew of the Friendship Town’s sailing ship the Determined were excited beyond words. With their hedgehog captain at the great wheel of the ship, the animals were settling into their tasks on board the ship as it progressed. The Allegheny River was vast, and had grown to easily three times in size, spilling over its original banks and spreading far inland on each side. As the ship slowly passed the ruins of Pittsburgh, a few derelict sky scrapers were the only human structures that remained of the once proud city. The flood waters had covered it all, and the ship passed over what once was the downtown business district. Only the hedgehog could remember what the city once looked like. Gone were the traffic backups, and orange trucks with their big blades to scrape away the snow. The numerous pot holes and road issues were rectified finally, serving as homes to a wide variety of fish and underwater creatures.
Carefully steering the ship to take advantage of the currents, as well as the wind, Pudgy steered the ship through the remnants of the numerous bridges that spanned the Allegheny River. Only their tops could be seen, as they had fully collapsed into the river below their foundations. As the ship crossed the former location of Point State Park, the original confluence of the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio Rivers, the little critter captain reflected on his steam boat adventure. The last time had had passed by this place, the human city seemed to be so big, and full of lights that spread forever in all directions. The sounds of the boiler’s fire box crackling, and the steam engine chugging along were a soothing background music to his travels. The difference with this ship: that it was so quiet, and was amazing it was moving at all.
The ship had 11 sails spread out amongst two tall masts, and their arms. 4 main sails on each mast were the primary propulsion of the ship, though the other 3 sails were meant to redirect and focus the wind in different ways. The little hedgehog’s head had begun to spin when Cobalt had started talking about the sails, but thankfully the crew between all of them could understand roughly how to operate the ship. They key thing was, the sails must be taught at all times. Wind was necessary to propel the ship, as well as currents. In terms of speed, they were heading at roughly a little past four miles per hour, or 4 knots if the proper terminology was to be used. The squirrels and chipmunks volunteered to work the sail masts, since they were expert climbers. This was of great help, to ensure not only the sails did not break loose with a strong gust of wind, but to check for any potential issues. In the storage holds beneath the deck of the ship, they had enough sail cloth to replace two main sails, which hopefully they would not need to use.
As the sun began to set in the western horizon, the light began to fade with a sky full of vibrant red and orange hues. Behind where the hedgehog was standing at his wheel, his two field mice friends were peeking over the stern of the ship watching as the water moved past. Twitching their noses, they looked at each other, and then slowly walked over to Pudgy to discuss matters. Mr. Field mouse waved, “Pudgy we need to talk about something.” The little hedgehog nodded and turned to face his friends. “Yes Mr. Field Mouse, what Pudgy need to talk about?” The female mouse twitched her nose, “Pudgy, we can’t all be awake at the same time. Who will work the ship when we are asleep? The ship would crash into the shoreline, and that would not be good at all.” The little hedgehog nodded, “yes not good at all. Cobalt and Pope had been talking about something called a crew rotation. Half our crew would work at night, and the other half during the day. We should do that now, Pudgy thinks.”
The crew was called to gather on the deck. Argente and the otters peeked out from their storage hold and nodded. In a loud tone, their hedgehog captain explained that to work the ship around the clock there needed to be a night crew, as well as a day crew. There was no time to find a spot to moor for the night, and allow everyone to sleep at the same time. Soon they would be on the open waters of the ocean, and the ship could drift off course without someone awake. The animals discussed amongst themselves, and soon the two shifts were sorted out. This meant that some of their friends would be awake a lot longer than normal, while some went to bed early. All knew that while their supplies were plentiful now, they would not last if there were any delays. They had a razor thin margin of extra supplies, but even with rationing, they were still limited how long they had to reach the Philippines.
With the two otters arguing between themselves who had to go to bed, Argente giggled as she watched everyone looking out from the deck rails of the ship. The first night was going to be hard for anyone to go to sleep, since all were still bouncing with excitement. They had heard the stories of Pudgy, but never in a million years did they think that they could go on one with him? The silver fox wiggled her nose as she watched the daytime crew head below decks to try and get some sleep. Once the animals had exited the deck of the ship, female fox’s mind trailed off to plans on how to keep her little friends safe? Finally Private Pawl curled up beside her, and fell asleep. Sargant Miller climbed out of the storage hold, and onto the deck to stretch out his body. As the otter turned around to face the bow of the ship, Argente did the same while trying to not awaken Pawl in the process.
The Ohio river continued to widen as they travelled, and soon the light of day faded away into night. The skies were clear, with a half-moon shining brightly overhead. The stars twinkled, though there were friendly bear or wolf faces looking back at the ship nor its captain. Argente put her head down and closed her eyes to just give them a rest. She would open them soon, as she fully intended to keep a watch with her hedgehog friend. However, soon without realizing it, the female fox had fallen asleep. As the ship quieted down even further, the wide-awake hedgehog watched as the lands continued to pull back even further. The river water spread in all directions, which amazed the hedgehog. The land could just barely be seen, with only the tallest of trees being seen on the dark horizon. Pastor Blue Jay slowly walked the deck, saying prayers memorized from long ago. The former human marveled at the evidence on display in front of all to see.
Cobalt Eagle, Blood Honey Tiger, and Heather Owl’s reports did not come close to the scope of the devastation. Fertile farm lands that had once run along each side of the river were gone, covered by who know how much water? The tug boat and their never-ending barges of goods were no more. The world was quiet, so very quiet now, that it started to unnerve him a bit. The pastor looked up into the night sky, “merciful God, please bless this ship, and all her crew.” The blue jay nodded to himself, and then kept walking around the deck to check on the various rope lines and their knots. The bird turned around to look at the stern of the ship. There was a slightly raised platform, where the wheel of the ship stood and the hedgehog captain with his metal mining helmet on.
The raised platform allowed Pudgy to see over the deck, and out past the ship’s bow. The little critter watched as the blue jay waved from the bow of the ship, and Mr. Field Mouse and a chipmunk scampered up the couple steps to reach the platform. The field mouse twitched his nose, “Pudgy! I’m sorry, I fell asleep! I need to relieve you, please head down below to get some rest.” The hedgehog nodded and smiled at his friends, and watched the two excited animals take the place at the wheel. Their travels still required them to follow the Ohio River. It would eventually reach the mouth of the river, where the fresh waters of the lands surrounding the forest would meet the salt water of the ocean. The little hedgehog wiggled his nose, and scampered around the wheel, and down to the main deck towards an open hatch.
The distance was short, so within seconds he had reached the opening to the ship interior. There was a wood ladder, which allowed him to climb down a ladder to reach the sleeping quarters. Once he had reached the bottom, the hedgehog saw that there was one large communal sleeping area. They did not have the space for interior living quarters, as rows of barrels full of supplies lined the port and starboard sides of the hull. The chipmunks and squirrels had claimed the hammocks, and were sleeping quietly in them as they rocked back and forth. It was just as well as the critter had trouble with hammocks, and opted instead to lay down onto a cushy pillow. It was not long when he succumbed to the call of sleep. However, it was not long until he saw the visions flash in his mind again. Up the Allegheny River, up the Ohio River, through the fjords of West Virginia, to reach the sea of Kentucky. Cross the sea, pass the Missouri and Arkansas islands, and head to the Gulf of Texas. Find the great river of Mexico, and follow it to the Pacific Ocean. Cross the Pacific, deep and blue, to reach Mt. Apo in the Philippines.
The white glowing female fox was in every vision, showing the way to travel. This time however, there was no voice in his mind, only silence. The fox seemed older, and wiggled her ears as she stood on the shoreline of the island. The little hedgehog could see more of her details, almost as if the closer he came to the destination, more could be seen. The visions began to fade, as sounds began to fill the void of silence. “Pudgy … Pudgy … wake up.” The sounds of Mrs. Field mouse’s squeaky voice were calling to him. As Pudgy opened his eyes, the sunlight was streaming down through the open hatch. Yawing, “good morning, Mrs. Field Mouse … Pudgy haven’t been able to sleep for a long time.” As the critter sat up, the female mouse giggled, and handed him a piece of a sweet doughnut and a cup of water. As a partying gift for the crew, Mrs. Bobcat had made doughnut holes, and packed them away in a nice basket for every animal on the crew. There were not enough for all, so they were split so all could share. As the hedgehog nibbled his piece, he fully awakened. Breakfast was quickly finished, and it was time to head up the ladder once more.
The hedgehog climbed onto the deck, watching the night shift animals very sleepily shuffle past him and down below through the hatch. Scampering around the deck to check on everyone, he noticed Argente and both otters were still fast asleep. If they had not come, their food supplies would last much longer, but heading off into the unknown required the assistance of the larger animals. The otters could swim in the water, and if need be: they would be of great assistance. Once reaching the island, having Argente would be of immense help, as who know how far inland, they would have to go. The visions showed the path of travel, and the destination, but not what to do when they got there. Heading to the ship’s wheel, the hedgehog saw that the river water has opened up even further. There was a familiar sound, as a shadow passed overhead and beside the ship on each side.
Sandra Blue Herron flew around to circle the ship, “Pudgy … this is as far as we can go … please be safe!” As the deck animals waved at the large blue heron, they watched as she circled to fly back to the river channel. The next blue heron was her husband Raymond, “we have been following you in case if you needed us. The ship looks fine, and the crew is working together nicely. Good bye everyone, safe travels, please return to us as soon as you can!” The second large bird circled back and followed his wife towards the river. The eagle was last to visit and began to circle the ship, and Cobalt’s voice called out, “these are the fjords of West Virginia … welcome to the sea of Kentucky. Stay west by south west … the eagles say there is an island where Missouri used to be. There’s also an island to the south where Arkansas once stood. We have no other intelligence to offer at this time. Pudgy … please keep everyone safe … Good Bye Pudgy and the crew of the Determined!” Pudgy sniffed his nose, and waved at his bird friends as they headed back home to the forest.
Angeliki Raven chirped as she waved, “Pudgy … I have been giving though as to what occurred at our ley line. I think I have a working theory as to why you are being called to the island.” The little critter turned and wiggled his nose, “what does Angeliki think it is?” The daughter of the goddess nodded as she fluffed her black feathers. “My mother told me a story of long ago, when the world was younger. The ley lines were sources of natural magic, and were much stronger, more condensed. Over time, they fractured, and split in a myriad of directions. However, there were still traces of the past, scattered about. Nodes of such tremendous power, that the world could be shifted. When our stone reacted the way it did, I began to investigate further. The rock of the eastern mountains of the United States is far older than the rock of the western side. I believe that our ley line node may be one of those points.”
The little hedgehog wiggled his nose as he rubbed his chin, “what was that big thumping noise we heard and felt when Pudgy was released?” The raven chirped, “a lock. Either we unlocked it, or locked it, but until we find the next one … we will know not what happened.” Mrs. Field Mouse scampered up to the black bird, “how many of these nodes are there?” Angeliki spoke again with a clear but worried tone, “my mother is aware of seven of the nodes. When last I spoke with her, she was unaware what would happen if we were to affect all of them. The other remaining nodes will reveal their location as we affect the ones we find.” Pudgy nodded, “Pudgy understands. Maybe that is what the ghost fox is showing Pudgy in Pudgy visions?” The animals nodded, and returned to their stations around the ship deck. One squirrel was busy scribbling on paper, making a map of their travels.
All were truly amazed when they reached the open water of the ocean. Most of Ohio and West Virginia were completely gone, with only the highest parts of each state being still visible in the far distant horizon. As the ship sailed further out, they began to experience the first instance of waves. They were small, so the ship was gently rocking back and forth. This also led to the first instance of upset tummies, and a learning curve how to move on the ship during ocean voyages. The two otters were peeking over each side of the ship from their bow storage area, watching the water only grow darker as they progressed. The faint smell of salt, soon became all encompassing. Day turned into night, which turned back into day, following a pattern. Everyone had their duties, and routines to perform, with each passing hour moving farther and farther away from home. They passed islands thick with trees, and full of life. Curious animals staring the ship from the shorelines, waving and shouting well wishes.
However, the open ocean spread even further, and the islands disappeared. Twelve hours on, and twelve hours off, the crew worked the ship. Armed with the ship’s compass, a hedgehog with prophetic visions, a sailing ship, and a lot of luck: the animals travelled farther than anyone expected. Except for Pudgy, who knew how big the lands of the United States once were. After what seemed like an eternity, the faint outlines of the island of Missouri could be seen in the distance. Steering to the south west, the ship’s progress was steady. Many times, the ship started to slow or stop, as the wind changed direction. But the valiant crew learned quickly how to tack the wind. This allowed them to sail forward, despite a headwind. The approach to the island was also the first time that the crew encountered rain, which was of concern.
As the heavy rains fell, the ship began to collect water. This was good because it allowed the animals to gather fresh water, and put it into their water barrels. It was also bad, because if there was too much water, the ship would not float anymore. So, the night crew was awoken to help bail out water from various spots on the ship or to gather it for their supplies. Once the storm was passed, they were allowed to return to their slumber. The winds became stronger, which resulted in the ship moving faster. Missouri island soon gave way for the much smaller Arkansas Island. The two islands were the highest mountains of each state, and were covered in dense foliage. If there were animals living there, Pudgy could not tell, since it was hard to see into the interior of each island. It was not long until they were once more on the open ocean.
The ship soon crossed the former border of Arkansas, into the lands that were once known as Texas. The water under keel was over a thousand feet down. The water was no longer a deep blue, but more of a black color. The otters who had been clamoring to swim in the water, were staying put and peeking out into the water. Farther and farther, they went, until they could see once more the faintest outline of land in the distance. So, it came to much surprise to everyone, when a small white bird with black tips at their feathers flew in and landed on the ship’s deck. It had a long pale-yellow beak, and black markings around its eyes. The bird was excitedly chirping, and talking with Angeliki Raven who nodded and chirped back. As Pudgy climbed up out of the interior sleeping area below deck, he yawned and waved. “Hello, welcome to the Determined. My name is Pudgy!”
Angeliki giggled as she chirped, “Pudgy, may I introduce Carl Puffin. He stopped by to visit out ship as we sailed past.” The white sea bird chirped and waved, “howdy Pudgy! Welcome to Texas … or what is left of it.” The little hedgehog bounced happily on the deck, “hello Carl, Pudgy glad to meet you. We are sailing to the Philippines.” The puffin’s beak dropped open, “the Philippines!” Angeliki nodded, “yes as improbable as that sounds, that is our destination. As you might have noticed the sea levels raised drastically? The planet tilted, and all the ice has melted on the planet.” The sea bird chirped with an annoyed tone, “sea level rise? Ha, don’t get me started on that. It is just a donkey party plot to tax us more!” The little hedgehog wiggled his nose, “Umm … Mr. Carl … how do you explain where all the water came from?” The bird rolled his eyes, “we just had really bad flooding. It will all go away once we get back to normal. Although I do like being able to fly, and not having to go to work. So, I will miss that, when the world goes back to normal.”
Angeliki nodded, “normal huh? I miss those days … but things have changed. We just have to adapt, and move forward.” The sea bird nodded, “yes, and vote them donkeys out too. I noticed your chipmunk friend has been making a map. I can help fill in some details. I used to work as a surveyor, and made maps of the area.” The sea bird started to talk with the chipmunk, while continuing to complain about the local affairs. It turns out that when the flood waters began to rise, several animals tried to build flood walls. At first, they worked, but then were quickly toppled over. The water pressure ripped the constructs apart, and the escape further and further into the Texas interior began. There was talk of a massive group of wolves who marched through, and slaughtered all that they had come into contact with. The land began to wither and die behind them, until large cracks formed. The ground collapsed, and soon was swallowed by the earth, and covered by the flood waters. In terms of loss, the puffin bird estimated that over half the state had been flooded by the ocean.
Pudgy listened intently, as did his raven friend, to the stories. If you filtered past the human politic nonsense stuff, the bird was providing valuable information. Pudgy wiggled his nose, “Do you know where the big river is that goes inland?” Carl turned to the hedgehog, “you mean the Rio Grande? That will not take you to the Pacific Ocean, it follows the Texas border with Mexico, and then heads north.” The critter shook his head, “the wolves were in New Mexico. They made the land fall there too, and in Pudgy Dreams, the river flows all the way to the Pacific Ocean.” The white bird chirped as he laughed, “well if the river does actually do that. Maybe it’s not just those donkeys at fault here. Anyhow, it was fun to meet all of you. I have to get back, before my wife kills me. I’m supposed to be watching the nest.” The puffin quickly bounced across the deck, and then flew off towards the shoreline.
As the various crew members waved, Angeliki chirped, “I wonder how we should tell him that things aren’t going back to normal?” Argente giggled from her area on the ship, “he was certainly a colorful fellow.” Pudgy wiggled his nose and nodded, “Pudgy say we don’t tell him.” The chipmunk map maker was bouncing excitedly as he was armed with all sorts of new information. The coast line of Texas had changed drastically, and the sea bird had been scouting in a large path of the coastline. It weaved in and out in various spots, forming a variety of coves. The waters covered all the way past places called Austin and San Antonio, the latter which the ship was closest to. The map maker told Pudgy, and the little hedgehog nodded.
The ship would skirt the coast of Texas, and from what the bird said, would pull back to reveal the opening to the Rio Grand River. The excitement of the visitor soon passed, and all settled back into their routines. The coastline was never ending, with tall trees towering in the distance. The land was full of life, with a myriad of sea birds flying around the area. Day after day, the crew were watching the land. There was no attention paid to the bow of the ship, as the ocean water spread for what seemed to be eternity into the distance. However, one day there was a small gray bump coming out of the water, which the crew did not notice. Suddenly the ship shook hard, as they struck something. Pudgy snapped back to attention, “EVERYONE CHECK THE SHIP! WE HIT SOMETHING!” The animals scattered about the deck looking, as well as began to jump through the hatches to check the ship’s hull. After a frenzied inspection, it was determined that the ship was thankfully intact. The crew all took a collective breath to calm down.
“YOU BIG JERK!” A shrill voice called out from the water’s surface. Pudgy scampered over to the starboard side of the ship’s deck rail, to see a large gray animal had surfaced from beneath the ocean water. It had a long beak like nose, as well as a fin on each side of its body. There was a top fin, much shorter than a shark fin, and an angry set of black eyes looking at the ship. The little hedgehog looked upset, “Pudgy is so sorry! Pudgy didn’t see you in front of ship!” The creature positioned itself so that the majority of its body was beneath the water, and its head was above water, so it could get a better look at the strange vessel. As the sea creature opened its mouth, inside were rows of short sharp teeth and a gray tongue. “That really hurt! What is a Pudgy? What manner of creatures are you? What is this thing?” The little hedgehog looked at the ship’s wheel, “Mrs. Field Mouse, please take the wheel. Everyone … call out if you see another animal like this, so we can avoid it.”
The animal had a very unique tone to its voice, and had a squeak of sorts that chittered at times. “An animal, have you never seen a dolphin before?” The dolphin said with an annoyed tone, which soon resulted in the various crew members shaking their heads no. Pudgy wiggled his nose, “Sorry Mr. Dolphin. Pudgy is a hedgehog, from a forest town far away to the north east of here. This is the Determined, a sailing ship. We built it so we can sail to the Philippines.” The dolphin nodded, “A forest town … to the north east? A hedgehog?” The dolphin repeated the answers, as it got a thoughtful look on its face. “My name is Quicktail, and if you never saw one of my kind before, I guess you didn’t hit me on purpose. Now you know what to be on the lookout for, so DON’T DO IT AGAIN!” The various crew members on the ship all nodded, and started to call out apologizes to the sea creature. The dolphin calmed and chittered a bit with a more pleasant tone to its shrill voice.
Since the ship was continuously moving forward, the dolphin would have to reposition himself every so often. His large tail and body were fully adapted for swimming, and was easily able to keep pace with the ship. “Apology accepted, Pudgy and the crew of the Determined. All the way to the Philippines huh, that is quite the trip. It is possible, now that the Mexico river is open and passable all the way to the Pacific. You actually are not far from the entrance to the river.” The hedgehog nodded and waved, “nice to meet you Quick tail. Pudgy’s blue heron friend mentioned that dolphins live in the ocean, but Pudgy never saw one till today. Pudgy now know what to look out for. Pudgy glad that the river is open, that will make the trip so much easier.”
Quicktail’s face contorted as anger flashed in his eyes, and he started to chitter loudly, “DID YOU SAY RAYMOND? All dolphins of my pod are at war with him!” The ship’s animals looked strangely at the dolphin once again, while the confused hedgehog captain wiggled his nose again. “Wait … Pudgy confused … why are the dolphins at war with Mr. Raymond? What happened?” The dolphin became increasingly upset, “we were playing around off the coast of Virginia. And then that big blue dummy fell out of the sky on top of one of us. He never said sorry, and then splashed frantically around until he was able to use me as a platform to start flying again. His mate flew past to check on us, and then he had had the nerve to call me driftwood!” The dolphin chittered with an upset tone, and looked expectantly at Pudgy. The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy sorry Mr. Raymond did that. Pudgy don’t think he knows what a dolphin is either? We are all animals from the land, and this is our first time heading out to the ocean.”
The dolphin calmed a bit, “I can’t really blame you for what he did. But still, you know of him, so you will tell him this message for me when next you see him!” The hedgehog nodded, “ok, Pudgy will tell Mr. Raymond the message.” The dolphin nodded, “stay away from Virginia’s coast line! And he better apologize to us dolphins the next time he sees us!” The little hedgehog nodded, “ok, Pudgy tell him message. He is back home, so it will take Pudgy time to deliver message.” Quicktail looked at the sailing ship, and blinked, you said you came from a forest to the north east? How did you make it all the way here?” The hedgehog captain nodded and pointed in the direction of the forest. “Head that way across the sea of Kentucky, past the islands of Arkansas and Missouri, across the open sea to reach the fjords of West Virginia. Up the river to reach friendship Town’s River, is where we came from. All the land has been flooded by water, except our forest.”
The dolphin looked shocked, “all the land is under the water? By the glory of the King of the Ocean … the prophesy has unfolded!” The dolphin immediately sunk beneath the water, and took off much faster than any of the crew had seen an animal move before. Angeliki strode up to Pudgy, “the King of the Ocean? And a Prophesy … our trip just turned more interesting Pudgy. The next dolphin we meet, we have to get more information out of him.” The hedgehog nodded and called out, “someone head to the bow of the ship, to watch out for more dolphins.” A squirrel nodded, waved and then scampered to the front of the ship. The hedgehog scampered across the deck to big storage hold where Argente was sitting with her ears up attentively. The two otters were also expectantly looking at Pudgy, and wiggling their noses.
“Pudgy need to ask otter friend’s a question. Have you ever heard of the King of the Ocean?” Sargent Miller shook his head, but Private Pawl nodded. “General Otterbraun spoke of a legend passed on by our sea otter cousins. In the deepest part of the ocean, is a fortress where the King of the Ocean resides. No one has seen, nor heard from him in ages. It is said when the ocean rises, he will come again.” Miller shot a look at Pawl, “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL US THAT SOONER!” The private looked sheepish, “it’s just a story … what animal could live that far down without any air?” The former human now turned otter looked cross at his counterpart, “fish breath water! Sharks, squids, and a whole host of animals not discovered yet. Pudgy! We never expected to engage in ocean combat!” Argente’s ears folded down as she started to look worried., “Pudgy … maybe we should turn back?”
The little hedgehog shook his head, “no … we can’t turn back. If the water still rises, then our home will be flooded. We need to head to the Philippines, and find out what is going on. Striped Tail keeps showing Pudgy the way, and the closer we get, she comes into more focus.” The silver fox’s ears perked up, “Striped Tail is my mother’s name!” The little hedgehog nodded, and his fox friend whimpered a bit. “She only arrives in my dreams, when something bad is going to happen. I watched the car run her over, so there is no way she can be alive. But why would her spirit be coming to you now, instead of me?” The little hedgehog shook his head, “Pudgy do not know. Pudgy will ask her next time Pudgy sees her in visions.” The hedgehog turned around, and scampered down the long deck to return to the wheel platform. The female field mouse twitched her nose, and then Pudgy take the wheel once again.
The words of the sea bird and dolphin kept bouncing around in the little hedgehog’s mind for the rest of his assigned hours on the deck. When it was time to head below for sleep, he headed to his spot and curled up to immediately fall asleep once more. The visions continued, with the same sequence of steps to follow, and the same glowing fox with a striped trail leading the way. He tried to ask his questions, but no sound came from his mouth. Once again, he was awoken by his friend mouse friend, and given a cup of water and hard tack for breakfast. Gone were the yummy bobcat made doughnuts, and now it was time for standard rations. Pudgy missed the sweet taste of the donuts, and worried about his friends back home. But soon enough it was time to head back to the deck, and take the wheel.
The distance travelled had grown further still, and the ship was continuing to skirt the new coastline of Texas. In the distance they could see dolphins leaping out of the water to play. The dolphins were keeping their distance from the ship, which did not lend itself to ease of communication. Day turned to night, and then back into day once again. Closer and closer they sailed towards the lands once known as Mexico, with the land on each side of the ocean rising higher into the sky. The squirrel at the bow of the ship called out, “Pudgy! I see the river! Steer to port, I see some trees sticking up out of the water on the starboard side!” The little hedgehog nodded, and steered the ship, clearing the submerged trees. The little hedgehog called out, “we made it to the Rio Grande River! I need eyes on port and starboard, call out anything you see! Pudgy doesn’t know what we will find the deeper we travel up the river. But Quicktail says the way is clear all the way to the Pacific Ocean!”