If you guessed that the portal led to strawberry rhubarb pie, then you were wrong. If you guessed it led to a water park in Fun City, you were wrong again. If you guessed it led to a gazillion dollars, you were wrong yet again, and maybe should stop guessing.
The portal actually led to the nostril of our sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln. No, not the actual Abraham Lincoln, who died over a hundred years ago, but the nostril of his likeness, carved in stone. Which is to say that the portal led to Mount Rushmore.
“Land sakes, I didn’t think we’d ever get here,” Daphne said, climbing out of Lincoln’s nose. She had to tiptoe along his upper lip to get to land, or else she would have fallen several feet down. Normally, this would have frightened the dickens out of her, but after the adventures she’d had, it was a piece of cake. Josephine and Artie Quirk climbed out of the President’s nose as well.
“You know, I’ve been all over the universe, from the moons of Jupiter to the seas of Caspian, but I’ve never been to Mount Rushmore,” Artie said. “It’s very fascinating.”
“It’s fabulous, and thankfully danger-free,” Josie said.
“Danger free?” asked Daphne. “I thought you loved adventure.”
“I do, but there is such a thing as too much adventure, and I think we’ve reached our quota.” Daphne laughed, and they all took in Mount Rushmore, taking all sorts of pictures and reading up on its history. Josephine learned that Teddy Roosevelt was a master prankster, and he kept the White House on its toes with his hand buzzers, whoopee cushions and exploding cigars. A prank call to Paraguay almost resulted in a war, but once the situation defused it was turned into a luau. Daphne discovered that George Washington originally wanted to be a jockey, and had written several stories about George Washington, Jockey in which he won every horse race he ran, against all odds. These odds included pirates, underwater races, and one in which all the other horses were steam-powered. Artie read about Thomas Jefferson’s crippling fear of lions, and the special lion traps he placed in his bedroom (a clothes hamper with a plate of bacon poised underneath) which needed to be checked very night before he slept. The trap was always triggered, not by a lion, but by Vice President Aaron Burr.
Before they knew it, the day was over. “I hate to say it,” Josie sighed, “but I think I’m ready to go home.”
“Wow,” said Daphne. “I’d almost forgotten about the farm. I hope the MerCows are all right.” She felt the slightest twinge of panic in her stomach when she remembered Bendix was watching over the farm.
“I’m sure they’re just fine,” Josie said. “I have to admit, though, I’m not looking forward to another bus ride.”
“Bus? Bus?” said Artie Quirk, removing his porkpie hat. “Why take the bus, when you can take a balloon?”
And so, Josie and Daphne rode home in Artie Quirk’s balloon. When they arrived at the farm, they were surprised and relieved to find that everything was in its place and that nothing had died or exploded or otherwise been harmed. When asked if he had any trouble, Bendix blushed and turned away. “My mom helped out a little bit,” he admitted.
“No shame in that,” Josie said, patting him on the wing. “Here, we brought you home a souvenir.” Bendix examined it, a travel mug from the Dismal Demitasse, The Saddest Café in the Sun.
“I thought you were going to Mount Rushmore,” he said.
“We did,” replied Daphne. “But took a little detour.”
After a meal of DeerHen eggs and bacon, Artie Quirk bid his new friends good-bye. “However, don’t forget, if you need me or wish to see me, just call out my name.” And with a puff of smoke, he was gone.
And with that, Josephine and Daphne’s summer vacation was officially over. The next day, it was business as usual, and they both found it oddly comforting to return to the routine of their farm work. Josephine milked the MerCows, Daphne mixed the rainwater solution for the Umbrella Tree, and they both picked meatballs and noodles from the Spaghetti Patch. It was good, hard work. That being said, they were both already considering their vacation options for next year.
And both were thinking about the moons of Jupiter.