from A Grandpa's Notebook, Meyer Moldeven

True to their word, Suzanne and Roger arrived at Three Palms the following day. We sat under the banana palm, and Roger told the next story.

This is the day for the hike to Point Nemo, on the other side of the island. It will be an all day trip, so we start early.

Mother packs our knapsacks with sandwiches, cookies, and cans of juice while Dad inspects our hiking gear, like for extra socks, sweaters, towels and things like that. We're ready and off we go. Dad takes the point, then, in line, Suzanne, me, and Mother.

Instead of the trail that winds up and around the top of the island, we head straight across, passing other campsites. We say hello to people camping along the trail.

We stop to listen to a woman strumming a guitar. She is singing 'On top of Ol' Smokey....' We gather round and join in the singing. We wave good-bye and move along.

We see a man with a camera; he is taking photographs of flowers. We stop to watch. We leave him and return to the trail where it opens into a field. We follow the trail across a hill to Point Nemo, and from there to the Point Nemo Lighthouse.

At the lighthouse it's time for lunch. Dad spreads a big checkered cloth on the ground and Mother takes the sandwiches and drinks from our knapsacks. We have lunch, rest, and sing songs. It's time to explore.

Climbing down to the beach near the lighthouse we run to the water's edge. Suzanne and I take our shoes off and race each other through waves that tumble over themselves on their way in. After a while we stop running so that our breath can catch up with us. Standing at the water's edge we shield our eyes with our hands, and look toward Seal Rock.

Brown shapes swim in the sea. They wriggle out of the water on to the narrow strip of sand below the rocks. They're seals. More seals wriggle out of the water. They're brown and of all sizes.

They bark. Have you heard a seal bark? It sounds like they have something stuck in their throats. They really don't, you know. That's just their way of talking to each other.

'Look, Roger, look,' Suzanne calls and points.

A seal is heading toward the beach nearby. Reaching shallow water, the seal raises its head, looks around and sees us. I think it knows we're friendly because it comes up on to the beach. The seal is followed closely by a much smaller seal. It's a mother seal and her cub.

Suzanne and I want to get closer to the two seals, but we know that if we move we might frighten them away. We watch and don't move.

The cub goes to its mother and they play in the sand. Then the mother seal cuddles and nurses the cub. In a little while they head back to the water's edge. The two seals look back at us. I must have imagined it, but for a moment I think I see the cub wave its flipper toward us. Anyhow, I think they know we're their friends.

The seals slip into the water and swim off in the direction of Seal Rock. Soon they disappear among the whitecaps. They've gone home.

Suzanne and I walk back to Mother and Dad sitting on the beach. They were watching, too. Dad talks to us about seals and other animals of the land, the sky, and the sea, and how they and we all fit together on Planet Earth.

We start back to camp. By this time the sun is starting down. It's late afternoon. There is still light when we arrive at our campsite. Dad lights the campfire and Mother makes supper. After we've eaten, and clear away the leftovers, we sit around the fire. Dad tells more stories about sailing and long hikes. Then we sing songs.

***

We stood, stretched, and walked toward the dunes.

'Any more stories?' I asked.

'Oh, yes,' Suzanne replied. 'The best is yet to come. Telling our adventures is such fun we're going to make it last for a few more days.'

'Tomorrow?'

'Tomorrow.'

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