“So Foster, what do you think?”
I pondered for a minute before answering. We were sitting in my chair in the front living room, not long after Mom had made Panda his sweat suit. Panda had been thinking of somewhere we could go for an adventure, and had finally settled on Monterey. “It’ll be perfect,” he was saying. “Now that I have my new hoodie and sweats, we can jog on the beach and see the seals and maybe even eat seafood!”“Seafood?” I asked, suddenly interested. Panda nodded vigorously. “I heard Mom say they make really good seafood on Fisherman’s Wharf,” he replied confidentially. I had to admit that did sound fun. “Okay,” I said. “When shall we leave?” Panda considered for a moment. “As soon as possible, I’d say,” he replied. “We probably should go right now while Mom is working on her blog. That way she won’t notice we’re gone.” I agreed. “Let’s take the living room carpet this time,” I suggested. “I don’t think Monterey is that far, so we shouldn’t need the travel tunnel.”It wasn’t long before we were on our way. We were amazed at the beauty of the ocean. It kind of reminded us of when we went on our cruise. “Wow!” Panda exclaimed as we approached Monterey Bay. “Look at the colors!” We both nodded, not even needing to put our thoughts into words. It was seriously something Mom would draw!Before we knew it we had landed on a beautiful, sandy beach. “Hey guys!” said a voice nearby. “Watch where you’re going! You almost hit me!” We were amazed to realize the voice was coming from a large seashell!“Didn’t you guys know some of us sea animals live inside seashells? I suppose you’ve never heard of a mollusk?” the voice demanded, as we went up to observe the shell more closely. We had to admit we hadn’t. “We just thought seashells were decorations like the ones Mom has in her bathtub mosaic,” Panda ventured. We thought the mollusk sounded a bit offended. “Well, we’re much more than decorations. What do you want, anyway?” We explained that we wanted to jog on the beach, see the seals, and perhaps enjoy some tasty seafood, and asked if there were any good seafood places nearby.We followed the mollusk’s directions and soon we were standing in line for some delicious sea food. “I don’t get why the crabs and lobsters have to be dressed,” Panda mused. I laughed. “Well, you are,” I said. Panda looked at me like he was going to say something but changed his mind. As we waited our turn, we struck up a conversation with a seagull who was ahead of us in line. He seemed intrigued when Panda explained that we wanted to go jogging on the beach. “That sounds really fun,” the gull began. “I know where the best jogging beach is. If you want, I can take you there.” Before either of us had a chance to say anything, the gull picked up Panda in its beak and flew off with him!Wait, I thought, didn’t this happen before? Memories of the giant condor in Peru flashed through my mind. “Panda!” I called. “Don’t be scared! I’ll save you!” I ran along beneath them, just as I had done in Peru, and eventually the seagull let go of Panda. All I can tell you is that I watched in disbelief as Panda fell head over heels right into the ocean waves!
Panda told me later that he had tumbled all the way to the bottom of the sea, past some jellyfish, right into the tentacles of a huge octopus!“Hey, are you a stuffed animal?” the octopus asked in a friendly tone. “Actually,” Panda replied, “I’m a panda. Can I go now?” The octopus ignored Panda’s request. “Nice hoodie,” he said genially. “Is that a real pocket?”Fortunately I was able to get the attention of some divers who were on a nearby pier. After I explained my dilemma they immediately jumped into action. Imagine my relief when the divers surfaced with Panda in hand! “We got him!” they called to me as I stood on the pier. “He’s fine!” We thanked them and continued to the beach to go jogging.We were both surprised to see some of Panda’s friends from Basic Training jogging along the beach. “Hey Panda!” they called when they saw us. “Nice hoodie, dude! Is that your cat?” I was about to get a little offended when Panda stopped, meeting their gaze steadily. “This is my best friend, Foster,” he said calmly. The men seemed to accept me after that. We jogged with them until they had to turn off to go back to their barracks for lunch.We were hungry, too, so we stopped for some salmon at a seafood restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf. “Hey,” Panda said as we finished our meal, “let’s go see if we can find any seals!”It didn’t take long before we came across a group of seals, obviously engrossed in an animated conversation. We stood there for awhile, listening. “I’m telling you, I didn’t imagine it!” one of them insisted emphatically. “I actually saw a cat and a panda jogging down the beach!” The others shook their heads. “Pandas live in China,” they said, “and cats don’t like the beach.” “Ahem!” we said to get their attention. “Would you be referring to us?” The seals turned toward us, amazed. “Wow! You guys are real!” Now they were all talking at once. “Where did you come from? What are you doing here? Where did you get that cool hoodie? Is that a real pocket?” We answered their questions, and afterwards we realized it was getting late. “I guess we should be getting home,” I said. “Mom is probably done with her blog post by now, and she’ll be looking for us.” We said goodbye to our new friends and went to get our flying carpet. Once we were sailing through the air we decided to take a little nap. But when we woke up…“Hey, this isn’t Fresno,” I said, as we looked down on the city below us. “I know,” Panda replied, his eyes wide. “It looks more like…” We looked at each other and finished the sentence in unison. “Seattle!“
Author’s note: Background photos for this story are from www.pixabay.com, a royalty-free photo site. Foster and Panda recognized Seattle because they’ve been there before. You can read about their first trip to visit their friends, Tiger and Benji here.