Stopher the Gopher

It was another beautiful hot sunny July day at Kayley and Hannah’s house.  There was a slight breeze blowing, just enough to cool things down a bit as they played in their backyard. It was nearing lunch time and their mom yelled out the kitchen window to the girls, “Lunch is ready, come and get it.  You can either come into the house to eat or have it outside on the lawn in the shade.” Kayley yelled back, “Out here please, we will set up a blanket on the grass.”  Within minutes their mom brought out to each of them a big plate of sandwiches, cookies and large glasses of milk. “Oh boy!  My favourite kind of sandwiches.  Strawberry jam and peanut butter and look, oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies too!” smiled Hannah.
“Wow, this is my favourite lunch too,” said Kayley as she reached for a sandwich.  Both girls lay back on the grass, gazed into the bright blue sky and munched on their lunch.
Then Hannah turned to pick up another sandwich and said, “Hey, did you take my other sandwich Kayley?” “No, I am still eating the one I’ve got,” remarked Kayley.
Just then Kayley glanced over at her plate of cookies and yelled, “My Cookies are all gone!  Hey Hannah did you eat my cookies?” “No, I never touched them, but look, now my cookies are all gone too!” shrieked Hannah, looking very puzzled. “Where did they go?” the girls said together. Just then, Hannah felt the ground vibrate a bit, close to where she was sitting.  Then the lawn opened up revealing a small hole in the grass.
“What the heck is going on?” thought Hannah.
Then Kayley yelled, “Yikes! What’s that?”  Two tiny eye balls peered out of the ground and up into the bright sunlight.

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Both Hannah and Kayley jumped up and walked slowly backwards towards the house, keeping their eyes directly on the thing in the hole. Without warning the creature in the hole jumped out and stared directly at Hannah and Kayley.  It was a little brown animal of some kind, something neither girl had ever seen before.
Then it opened its little furry mouth and said, “Good Afternoon, hope I didn’t scare you.  My name is Stopher, I’m a Gopher.” Both girls, now feeling a little less nervous, slowly made their way back to the blanket and area where Stopher was now sitting.
Hannah sheepishly said, “I’m Hannah and this is my sister Kayley.” “What is a Gopher?” quizzed Kayley. “Well to put it bluntly, I am a burrowing furry little rodent, cute one too, if I say so myself.  I just love to dig and make tunnels all over the world.  I was actually heading from Port Hardy, BC, down Vancouver Island to Nanaimo, when the battery went dead on my GPS navigation system.  I got lost and had to surface.  But boy I am glad I did!  I came up with a mouth full of dirt and dust in my eyes and found a plate of delicious sandwiches and cookies.”
“That was our lunch,” Hannah politely said. “Oops!  Sorry about that.  I guess I never saw you guys as my eyes were still full of dirt and dust.  You wouldn’t have a nice glass of ice water would you?” asked Stopher. “Sure, I will go get you one,” said Kayley as she picked up the empty dishes and took them back to the house.
“You girls must have been really hungry.  You ate up all the sandwiches and cookies and even finished your milk,” commented their mom. “Oh, by the way, could I have a glass of ice water please,” asked Kayley. “Sure, but you must be pretty full.  I guess it is hot out there and it is good to drink lots of fluids,” said their mom. Kayley then hurried outside and handed the glass of cold water to Stopher.
“Ahhh!!  Pretty smooth, thanks,” said Stopher. Then Hannah asked, “What is a GPS?”
Stopher answered,” It’s a Gopher Positioning System.  That is how I find my way around when I am down under the ground.  I just enter my current location and the place that I want to go to and it directs me to the exact spot.  It works great so long as the batteries don’t die.” “Wow, it sure must be fun and exciting travelling all over the world through your own secret tunnels and going anywhere you want,” said Kayley.
“Well it is interesting for sure.  Would you girls like to come along on my trip to Nanaimo?” asked Stopher. “Do you know anyone down there you would like to visit?  I was heading down there to see a couple of my friends for a few hours then head back up this way,” said Stopher.
Hannah then said, “We would never fit in that hole and how could we breathe in all that dirt.  Wouldn’t it take a long time to get there?” “Well you know, for a few more of those good oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies, I could tell you a little secret,” hinted Stopher. Like a flash Hannah darted into the house and came out with a big pile of cookies for Stopher. “Oh, thank you, thank you Hannah,” said Stopher as he gobbled up all the cookies.

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Then Stopher reached into a small pocket under his left arm and pulled out a little sack containing some brown powder.  He said, “Inside this sack is some Magical Burrow Bits.  If you want to come along, all I do is sprinkle a few bits on you and then you shrink down to my size until we get to where we are going.” “Then to come back, I do the same thing.  It helps to make you travel faster through my narrow tunnels.  It should only take about five minutes to get to Nanaimo using my GPS and special turbo thrusters.  I have a tunnel mask for you to wear to help you breathe and keep clean.  Hannah could just hang on to my tail and Kayley hang onto Hannah’s leg and we will get there quickly,” said Stopher.
“So, do you young ladies want to go?” asked Stopher.  Hannah and Kayley looked at each other for a moment and said, “Sure, but where in Nanaimo could we go?” asked Kayley. “I know, let’s visit Elsa and Kamma, and then if we have time go see Grandma.” said Hannah jumping up and down.
“Done Deal,” said Stopher as he reached in his pocket again and pulled out his Magical Burrow Bit Sack. “Mom is in the living room reading and Dad is at work now, so as long as we are not too late we can go,” said Kayley. “Ok Kayley.  I will need your address here and the address to where you want to go in Nanaimo, so I can program my GPS,” explained Stopher. Kayley wrote on a piece of paper the information Stopher needed and handed it to him.
“This will just take a minute,” said Stopher.  He reached into his hip pocket and pulled out a little shiny black box with flashing lights on it.  The solar battery was now recharged and the unit appeared to be working good again.  His little claw like fingers danced over the various buttons and dials on the GPS and soon he was finished.
“Done, are you ready for the ride of your life girls?” asked Stopher. “I guess so,” quietly whispered Hannah and Kayley, really not knowing what to expect.
Stopher sprinkled some Magical Burrow Bits on the girls and told them to hang on tight.  He slowly walked to the top of the hole that he came up in.  He nosed into the hole with Hannah grabbing tightly to his tail and Kayley holding on tight to Hannah’s leg.  Suddenly there was a puff of white smoke and the trio disappeared into the hole.
The trip through the dark tunnel was quiet but very windy.  Stopher looked back at the girls and said, “Don’t be scared, hang on tight, we are almost there.”  Minutes later Stopher and the two girls surfaced in a big hay field in Nanaimo.
The bright sun made it difficult to see anything for a few seconds.  “Wow! What a ride! This is it!” screamed Hannah.  “There’s Elsa and Kamma’s backyard of their house.”
Kayley wiped a little dirt from her hair and said, “Thanks for the ride Stopher.  awesome!” “Ok girls.  I will be back in about an hour to pick you up at this same spot.” said Stopher. Both Hannah and Kayley quickly grew again to their normal size as they walked down the field towards Elsa’s house.  Suddenly there was a slight vibration on the ground and Stopher was gone out of sight down the hole.
As Kayley and Hannah approached the backyard they could see Elsa and Kamma playing near their swing set.  Hannah yelled, “Elsa, Kamma.  Hi!” Elsa and Kamma turned and looked at them in disbelief.  “Where did you guys come from!” said an excited Elsa. “You wouldn’t believe it if I told you, as I can hardly believe it myself.” said Kayley. Then all four girls hugged each other and played together in the back yard.  “We can only stay for a short while, as our mom doesn’t quite know we are down here,” remarked Hannah. “Oh.  Oh, my mom is out shopping and dad is busy working in his office, so maybe it’s best if he doesn’t see you as he might ask how you got here.  How did you get here?  Really.” said Kamma.
Kayley was about to explain about Stopher when suddenly she heard him calling them to come back quickly to the hay field as they had to leave right away.

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Kayley said, “Sorry guys, but Hannah and I have to go right now as our ride is here.”  All girls quickly hugged good bye and Hannah and Kayley ran off into the hay field and out of sight.  Elsa and Kamma remained in their backyard somewhat in a state of shock and wonder.
As Kayley and Hannah approached the hole that they arrived in, they met Stopher. He said, “Quick, bend down and I will sprinkle some Magical Burrow Bits on you.  We have to leave now as I have a Gopher Convention that I have to be at in Gold River, BC.  I will drop you off in Campbell River at home, on my way through.

Hold on tight, and away we go!” Kamma and Elsa were still looking out to the hay field where they last saw Kayley and Hannah.  Soon they heard a faint little rumble and saw a puff of white smoke then all was quiet. Elsa turned to Kamma and asked, “What really just happened here?”  Kamma put her arms in the air and said, “Your guess is as good as mine.  Were Kayley and Hannah really here?” “I think so, unless we have been playing out in the sun too long,” said Elsa with a smile.
Minutes later the tunneling travelers arrived back at Kayley and Hannah’s house and came up the same hole they went down.
“It’s been great meeting you two but I have to go.  Hope you had fun and maybe see you again sometime,” said Stopher. “It was a real adventure meeting you too Stopher.  If you are ever by this way again, drop-in for a cookie and sandwich,” said Hannah.
Then with a puff of dust and a rumble of dirt Stopher was gone back down the hole.  Just then Hannah and Kayley’s mom was heard calling them.  “We are over here Mom,” said Hannah. “Oh, I have been looking for you, how did you get that dirt all over your face and clothes?” asked their mom as she walked over to them.
“Oh, we were just doing a little gardening and cleaning up your flower beds,” said Kayley. “Well that was very nice of you, thank you, but come on in and get washed up now, it is almost time for dinner.  I guess at times it must be a little boring for you two playing out in the backyard all by yourselves.  Maybe one of these days a friend will pop up for a surprise visit.”
Then Hannah said, “Maybe they did already?” Kayley glared at Hannah and shook her head as if to signal to say don’t tell mom about Stopher.  Their mom looking surprised said, “What did you say?  Maybe they did already?” “No mom, Hannah just said maybe dinner is ready?” said Kayley. “Oh, not quite yet,” said their Mom as she stirred the spaghetti sauce.

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