Once upon a time there was a penguin named Magellan who lived in the little penguin village of Icicle Cove. Magellan was different from the other penguins. He liked to wear the clothes and hats he found that would drift up onto the shore from the winter cruise ships that passed by their town. Magellan also had dreams. He wanted to travel; to see the world and visit new places. The other penguins were happy to just eat fish and swim in the sea but Magellan wanted more. All of the other penguins in town did not like Magellan because he was different. All of them that is, except Peppermint. She was the prettiest penguin in the town and Magellan’s only friend. They did everything together, which only made the other penguins dislike Magellan even more.
You see, the Icicle Cove Winter Festival Fun-Time Extravaganza Yeah It’s Cold Here Party festival was just around the corner and for the men of the town this festival determined who would keep them warm for the rest of their penguin lives! At the beginning of the Icicle Cove Winter Festival Fun-Time Extravaganza Yeah It’s Cold Here Party festival each guy presents a rock to the girl they love and if the girl accepts the rock, then it’s love! Now not just any rock will do… The men spend hours looking over this rock and that rock until they find the perfect rock. So you can imagine that Peppermint, the prettiest penguin in all of Icicle Cove, will only settle for the most perfect rock; and Magellan knows this.
One day Magellan was walking along the shore looking at rocks and just being a penguin in general when he spotted something. A magazine washed up on the shore. Magellan walked over to the magazine and read the title out loud. “Beach Bum Lifestyle” he said. (Now you might be wondering to yourself how a penguin learned to read but let me stop your right there… If you cannot get on board with a penguin being able to read without any explanation then this may not be the book for you because reading is only the beginning of what this penguin can unexplainably do. Also, just go with it!) Anyways, back to Magellan who has most likely finished reading “Beach Bum Lifestyle” with guest editor Jimmy Buffet by now. Magellan was flipping through the magazine for a second time to appreciate the art design when he saw an ad for a souvenir shop. In the middle of the page was a picture of the most beautiful stone he had ever seen. It was pink in color and had a spiral shape. The ad read “Get your Conch Shells here in Key West, Florida.”
Now being from Antarctica and a Penguin for goodness sakes, Magellan had no clue what a shell was or that the Conch Shell was not a rock. All he knew was that he had to get to Key West, Florida and back before the Icicle Cove Winter Festival Fun-Time Extravaganza Yeah It’s Cold Here Party festival so that he could give Peppermint the most perfect rock for the most perfect penguin. But first he needed directions. Magellan had a cousin, Scarbeak who lived in the next town over that had done some time in a Zoo in Miami, Florida. So Magellan travelled to Snowflake Ridge to see his cousin.
After walking for a few hours, Magellan finally saw his cousin’s house come into view and saw that his cousin was busy working in the yard. Magellan thought it would be funny to try and scare his cousin so he crouched down behind the fence and crept closer to where Scarbeak was working. “Boo!” exclaimed Magellan as he sprang up from behind the fence and tapped Scarbeak on the shoulder. Scarbeak spun around with his shovel raised in the air and yelled “Say hallo to muh little friend!” as he swung the shovel down. Magellan cried out and his cousin realized who had snuck up on him in enough time to adjust his swing so that it would not hit Magellan. Instead, Scarbeak ended up breaking two boards off of his fence. “Sorry Scarbeak,” Magellan apologized. “Hey, I told you not to call me that anymore. That was my name back when I was smuggling mackerel in Miami. Call me by my real name now, Al Penguino,” replied Al. “Sorry Al,” said Magellan. Magellan then began to explain why he had dropped by and how he needed to know how to get to Key West. His cousin Al gave him directions and with that, Magellan set off.
He had been swimming for days, catching breaks on ice floes that drifted by in the colder water and then on small islands he found as the waters slowly became warmer. At some point, he must have gotten off course because he found himself in a much smaller body of water than the ocean. He had been in the zone so much that it had been hours since he last really looked around above water to see where he was at and did not notice until now that he had somehow ended up in a river. But not just any river, he was in the Alabama River. Now you might be asking yourself, “How in the world does a penguin all the way from Antarctica not only wind up in the Alabama River but also know the name of the river in which he is currently swimming?” Well the answer to the first part of that question is simple: he swam! The answer to the next question actually is where I come in to the story.
I work in downtown Montgomery, Alabama and just so happened to be eating my lunch down at the RiverWalk Amphitheater when I noticed a most peculiar sight. It was a penguin swimming along the river! I say he was swimming but he looked more like he was treading water and looking around frantically so I called out “Hey Penguin! Are you lost?” I’ll never forget what happened next. He answered me… In English. Who knew that penguins from Antarctica spoke English? I did not, that’s for sure. He replied “I am actually, can you help me?” Then he swam closer to me and offered me his flipper. I happily accepted and hauled him up onto the dock. I asked him what exactly he was doing swimming in the river and that is when he told me all about Peppermint and the “rock” he saw in the magazine and how he needed to get to Key West fast!
If it wasn’t fate that had me eating lunch down there at the river that day then I don’t know what else it could have been. As it happens, my boss was heading to Key West, Florida the next day to meet her family down there to spend the holidays at the beach. I told the penguin, who told me to call him Magellan, that I was sure my boss would have no problem giving him a ride to the beach. We walked back over to the office and I introduced Magellan to my boss, Vicki. She was instantly taken with him and after hearing his story she agreed to let him ride along with her to Key West. She spent the rest of the day talking to Magellan and telling him all about the different sites they would pass along the way and the explorer within him lit up with excitement. They agreed that they needed to stop and see these wonderful sites and take pictures so that he could tell Peppermint all about his adventure when he got back to Icicle Cove.
So that is where the story ends for now. Magellan and Vickie have hit the road and are now en route to Key West. They have promised to update us with photos of the journey and we in turn will keep you updated. We wish them safe travels and Happy Holidays!