Voyage of the Ballyhoo (Part Five)

(Alrighty then. When last we met Kip and GP, they were in a pub, having being transported mysteriously from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to a landlocked lake near a remote village in Iceland. If you need more to bring you up to speed, I recommend reading parts one, two, three and four before continuing. Thanks.

And away we go…)



Kip awoke the next morning in an unfamiliar room, pleasantly drowsy. There were sparrows in the tree outside her window, and somewhere farther off she could hear the chuckling of ducks on the lake. She sat up. In the next room, GP lay heaped on a sofa-bed, snoring like a sputtering power-saw. She dressed and eased her way out the door and downstairs.IMG_7707

They had rented a room above the pub for the night. Brynja Finnsdottir, who had made the lobster-tails the night before, was already working in the kitchen.

She greeted Kip with a shy smile. “Good dag,” she said, “Kip?” Kip nodded. “Ja, Kip. You, uh… eat? Morgunmatur? No, wait. Breakfast! Breakfast, Ja?”

Kip nodded. “Ja, takk,” she replied.

Brynja Finnsdottir piled a plate with smoked herring and fried new potatoes, and poured Kip a mug of coffee—extra sweet and white with cream. While Kip ate, Brynja puttered around the kitchen—scrubbing a copper sauce pan, putting plates away—and all the while trying out snippets of English conversation on Kip. Since Kip had used up all the Icelandic she had learned the night before with ‘Ja, Takk,’ they made do with Brynja Finnsdottir’s broken English.

“You sleep, Kip? Good not?” She smiled a warm, crinkly-eyed smile.

“Yes, fine. Takk. Much better than the Ballyhoo,” Kip replied.


When Kip finished her plate, Brynja cleared it away and then poured a little more cream into Kip’s cup. Continue reading “Voyage of the Ballyhoo (Part Five)”

Voyage of the Ballyhoo (Part Four)

(This here be part four of this bodacious tale.  If you haven’t been following along, you can—and you should—catch up with parts one, two and three by clicking the links. Thank ye kindly.)


They beached the sloop near a smooth stretch of dark sand and went ashore. A gravel path led up the hillside to the main road.

“So, do you know where we are?”

“Haven’t a clue, Kipper.”

“Well…so what’ll we do?”

“We’ll ask for directions. Let’s try that place what’s all lit up with the music.”IMG_8324

There was a sign hanging over the door, with the word ‘Brynja’s’ painted on it. In the window, the word ‘Egils’ blinked in lazy, orange neon. Kip stopped. “GP,” she said, “isn’t this a…a pub?”

GP looked at her curiously. “Sure. That it is.”

Kip shifted her weight, from one foot to the other. “Well, I’ve never been in a pub before.”

“Never?” GP asked. “Well, it’s high time. Come on, we’ll get something to eat. Pubs always have the best food.” He held open the door. “Maybe you can even get some sue cheese.”

Inside, the music was loud. On a tiny stage near the end of the bar, a man thumped a hand-held drum the size of a garbage can lid, and sang into a microphone. It was impossible to tell what he was saying. Behind him, a short-haired girl played a pale blue electric guitar, and an older looking man slapped an upright bass. Seated on a folding chair, a young man with bright, red hair turned the crank on an odd looking box which he held in his lap, causing it to wail a high, rough melody. He kept swinging his head in time with the beat, and his hair flashed amber in the stage light. Continue reading “Voyage of the Ballyhoo (Part Four)”

Voyage of the Ballyhoo (Part Three)

(Parts one and two can be found here and here. You really should read those first if you haven’t already. Go ahead. We’ll wait for you.)




“GP,” Kip asked, looking up from Soxbridge, “how long until we reach Polynesia?”

“Hmm?” he asked, stretched on his deck-chair, hat tilted down over his face. They were two days past Bermuda and running well. “I’d expect…mmm, another three to four days, given fair winds.”

Kip wrinkled her newly-browned brow and looked down at the book once more. “GP. There is a map in Soxbridge, you know.”

“I’d expect there were several.”

“There are,” Kip confirmed, “and they all say the same thing. Bermuda to Polynesia is a fair piece. You might even call it a major haul.”

“Might I?” GP asked blandly, still not rising from his napping position.

“You might,” Kip continued. “As near as I can figure, Polynesia is more than seven thousand miles away, and that is as the albatross flies—and we cannot go as the albatross does, because we must sail first around Africa and then around Australia, and that is what you’d call a major haul.”

GP yawned, and reached up under his hat to scratch his nose. “Shortcut,” he said. Continue reading “Voyage of the Ballyhoo (Part Three)”

Voyage of the Ballyhoo (Part Two)

(If you haven’t already, you should go back and read part one first, or it won’t make a blasted bit of sense.)

The story continues, ahem:

As it turned out Kip’s homework proved less trouble than either one of them expected. Their third day out they were heading north toward Bermuda through an area called the Bermuda Triangle. Now you may have heard of this Bermuda Triangle. Many people believe it to be a place where shIMG_5285ips mysteriously sink and planes mysteriously crash, but there isn’t a word of truth in any of that. Strange things are no more likely to happen in the Bermuda Triangle than any place else on the ocean. On the other hand, the ocean as a whole is a place where strange things tend to happen and quite often.

Kip was lying belly down on the foredeck doing homework, head propped on one bent arm—the classic homework-doers pose. So absorbed was she in the cold winter of 1778 at Valley Forge, that she did not notice the rapidly approaching squall until it was right down on top of them.

“Swordfish and sou’westers!” GP hollered. “It’s a galloping blue gale! Trim the jib-boom, Kipper!

The blue gale galloped down on the Ballyhoo, and before Kip could properly figure out which what the jib-boom was, the whole lot of worksheets and flash-cards and photocopied pages were swept up in a spectacular spiral, higher than the rigging, over the top spar, and scattered like a thousand lazy snowflakes over the clear blue waters south of Bermuda.

“Good riddance to bad garbage!” GP declared, looking out over the vista of sinking, sodden homework.

But Kip had a problem. While she could live without homework (and certainly a freak squall in the Bermuda Triangle was a pretty fair excuse for losing it) she could not live without reading. And dull and dry as Miss DeMeara’s worksheets might be, they were, at least, reading. Continue reading “Voyage of the Ballyhoo (Part Two)”