Author's disclaimer: All characters are owned by Disney and are used here without permission. Please note that this story is not canon with other existing fanfics, nor is it meant to embellish upon stories created by other authors. The Chip and Dale who appear in this story are not 'Chip Maplewood' and 'Dale Oakmont'.
Away From it All
Part 1 – 'You mean my rear end might show?'
Chip's Travel Journal
Somewhere in the Great Redwood Park, Day 1
Well, this is it – we've finally arrived. As I write this by the light of my little electric pen light, I am tucked into my soft blue sleeping bag, listening to the faint rasping chirrups of crickets and the wind rustling the sides of our tent. Pale moonlight glows on the roof as though it were shining through watery milk, casting gnarled shadows from the branches above. I am also listening to Dale sawing logs beside me in his favorite green sleeping bag, that one with pictures of spaceships all over it. I swear, he sounds like a little chainsaw when he snores.
There's not much room in our tent, crammed as it is with all the junk that I told Dale not to bring with him: Six pairs of swimming shorts (honestly I don't know why he bothers to put them on… we don't wear pants!), an inflatable rubber inner tube, a rain coat, a hammock, twenty feet of rope, a stack of comic books, a pickaxe, a compass that's almost as big as he is, a yo-yo, a lightning rod – you'd think he's never gone camping before. I mean, the whole point is to get away from all the clutter, not bring it with you. You should have seen him earlier today, stumbling up the trail under a backpack so overstuffed it looked like it had sprouted little chipmunk arms and legs and was dragging itself along.
Even still, I am glad we were able to get away for a few days. I don't like to admit it, but sometimes the constant daily task of being a Rescue Ranger kind of wears me down – just now and again, mind you. It isn't easy being a hero, you know. You're constantly in demand. Only the other day we barely escaped from a firey doom, cleverly played two rival gangs of cutthroat thieves against each other with the help of Gadget's new holographic whattayacallit, foiled the plans of an insane rodent mastermind, rescued six little orphan mice… and that was just the afternoon. It's weird, how stuff keeps happening to us.
Anyhow, like I said I'm really looking forward to some R&R with my fellow Rangers. If you don't count that extra day we spend in Key Largo after solving the 'Case of the Invisible Dirigible', we haven't really had a vacation in a long time (and I don't count that extra day because none of us could agree on what to do and we ended up spending the whole time by ourselves… I hate to say it but beachcombing is no fun without Dale. He finds all the cool shells.)
Tomorrow will be our first real chance to kick up our heels and have a good time… we spent so much time just doing busywork today; packing the Ranger Wing, flying out of the city, navigating our way over the park to our landing site, unpacking, hiking, arguing with Dale over the best spot to set up our tent (he wanted to put us right in a dry stream bed… I asked him if he wanted to wake up getting swept away in a flash flood, and he just got that weird gleamy look in his eyes, like maybe he thought that would be fun.) The sun was going down by the time we were all settled in, so I didn't have a lot of time to get the lay of the land. Still, what I did see was impressive – all those massive redwood trees towering overhead, so high their tops were lost in the encroaching evening gloom.
Tomorrow I would like to lead everyone on a hike. I've brought along a few nature guides, so we can identify plants and interesting critters. I know it's not really Gadget's speed – she's probably already missing her workshop – but I'm hoping Monty, Zipper, Dale and I will have such a good time that she'll have no choice but to join in.
Alright, time for bed.Chip's Travel Journal
Somewhere in the Great Redwood Park, Day 2
Today didn't exactly go the way I'd hoped it would.
Things started off okay… you should have seen the sunrise, splashing over the mountaintops like an explosion of molten gold and turning the clouds into a candy-striped riot of strawberry and orange streaks in the sky. And the air! One deep breath fills your lungs with a cool, misty fragrance, like new leaves, rich soil, fresh sap and rainwater all mixed together. I may be a city chipmunk at heart, but there's definitely something to this whole get-back-to-nature thing.
I was the first one awake, so I climbed halfway up the oak tree beside our tent and watched dawn break over the park's central valley. The hillside drops away fairly close to where we've set up, so that you can see through the trunks of the nearby redwoods and out over the forest as it stretches away like a vast green blanket. I'm sure glad I've got my jacket and hat – the morning chill is enough to put quite a freeze on your eartips.
Looking down onto our campsite I could see our three tents set up in a row; our dark green one, Monty and Zipper's blue one and Gadget's weird silvery one that she made herself out of some kind of stuff she says can withstand up to 1800 degrees Farenheit. I dunno, maybe she's worried about forest fires.
It wasn't long before the others started stirring. I could hear Dale first, flopping around in his sleeping bag and yawning dramatically. Then Monty and Zipper started rustling around – I heard Monty grumble something about "Where'za cuppa?" and Zipper buzzing lethargically back at him. Then Gadget appeared; she just sort of popped out of her tent fully dressed, her goggles perched on top of her head and a bright smile on her face as though she hadn't even slept. Who knows, maybe she hadn't.
Soon everybody was up. Monty made his way right to the camp stove and started boiling a pot of coffee, shoulders slumped like he was sleepwalking. Gadget stood beside him with a skillet in her paw, chatting away about how her new stove is better than the old one because it's self-cleaning… I don't think he heard a word she said.
Suddenly Dale popped his head out of the tent flap and started looking to and fro, eyes wide. "Chip? Hey, Chip? Where's Chip?" he called. I was just about to yell down to him when he got a panicked look on his face and leapt out into the morning air clad only in his orange stocking cap. "Chip's been kidnapped! Abducted!" he cried, jabbing his finger upwards as though he were making a proclamation. "Villains! Evil raccoons! Ransom-demanding bears! Aaaaaaliens!" he yelped. Then he started running in circles around the tent. Gadget and Monty just sort of looked at him, then shrugged at each other with little smiles on their faces. It was all I could do to keep from falling off the branch, I was laughing so hard.
After a few moments Monty walked over to him and clapped a paw down on his shoulder, effectively stopping him in his tracks. "Oi, take a breather, mate. I'm sure Chip hasn't been kidnapped. He's probably just off for a morning hike, or gatherin' firewood or something. Now, why not pop back in yer tent and put some kit on before ya catch a cold?"
Dale didn't exactly look convinced that I hadn't been taken away by supernatural forces, but he did at least stop running in circles. Monty seems to have two modes when it comes to dealing with Dale; either he fans the flames and jumps headfirst into chaos with him, or he manages to cool his jets with a few remarkably well-chosen words.
There was a sudden buzzing sound in my right ear. I glanced up and found myself face to face with Zipper… how he knew I was in the tree I don't know. He gave me a broad smile and waved – I gave him a thumbs-up in return. Then he spun and zoomed down to hover beside Dale, tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention, and pointed up at me.
Dale did a double take when he looked up and saw me, his eyes going wide as saucers. "Chip!" he called. "Why did the aliens leave you up in a tree?"
Breakfast consisted of cheddar biscuits (Monty considers these his 'specialty', though really his special touch in the kitchen means applying heavy amounts of cheese to whatever he's cooking, including corn flakes), some of those fruit-marshmallowy cereal bars Zipper likes so much, and a few strips of that fake bacon they make out of tofu or something – we don't tell Dale that's what he's eating because he probably wouldn't touch the stuff otherwise. I swear he never learned that he's not a carnivore.
Monty offered us some of his coffee, but Gadget doesn't like the taste and Dale and I… well, let's just say that caffeine and chipmunks aren't such a good combination. Memories linger of that time he and I accidentally ate two espresso beans because we thought they were dark-roasted peanuts. How I ended up on the ceiling, quivering and hanging upside down by my clawtips, I still to this day do not remember. So it was hot chocolate for us this morning instead.
As we ate I started dropping little hints about going on a hike. Gadget didn't seem all that interested, but Monty said he and Zipper would be up for it if everybody else was going. I was counting on Dale to cast the deciding vote, but he said he wanted to go swimming instead. I should have anticipated that, since he brought along all that swim gear, but even still I was a little disappointed. Early morning is the best time to go hiking, when all the wild critters are still stirring and the air is fresh and crisp. 'Ah well,' I thought, 'maybe a cool dip would be nice too.'
But first, I organized the cleanup of all the dirty dishes and things from breakfast. Naturally nobody wanted to deal with the mess (especially Dale, who I caught trying to slink away behind Monty's tent), but it still had to get done. There was quite a bit of grumbling from everybody as I assigned tasks – Dale on washing, Monty on drying, Zipper on putting the plates away, and Gadget on re-packing the food in the ice chest. "But Chip, we're camping!" complained Dale, as though that somehow exempted him from having to do a bit of work. "It's supposed to be messy!"
"Too right," agreed Monty. "We ought to be relaxin', not worryin' about a little clutter."
"Just because we're on vacation doesn't mean we shouldn't be clean and organized," I informed them. You should have seen the looks they gave me when I told them they'd missed a spot on one of the cups.
There's a small creek not far from where we're set up, and since everybody seemed to like Dale's swimming idea better than my suggestion of a hike we decided that after we'd cleaned up breakfast we'd spend the morning there. I can't say as I was too thrilled about it, but I figured after everybody got tired of splashing around they'd want to do something more interesting.
Once the cups and dishes were properly scrubbed and put away, everybody went to their tents to get their swimming stuff. Well, everybody except me… I honestly hadn't thought to bring any. Dale darted into our tent and emerged in record time, waddling from side to side in a pair of ridiculous bright orange flippers that made him look like a furry brown duck with a pair of goggles and a rubber snorkel strapped to his head. Apart from that he was clad in a pair of the most ludicrous, eye-sizzling atomic red and yellow swim shorts I've ever seen, his little tail wagging through a hole in the back. "Hey, don'tcha want to get ready for our swim?" he asked.
"I didn't bring any shorts," I shrugged, and he just shook his head at me as though I was the most clueless being he'd ever seen.
"You can borrow a pair of mine, then… but not the black ones with the green zigzags, 'cause I just found out they've got a big rip in the back."
"Golly, you mean my rear end might show?" I rolled my eyes, though of course he didn't get the sarcasm and just nodded, grinning. I sighed, "That's okay, Dale, I think I'll just dip my toes today."
"Suit yourself," he shrugged, then tilted his head to one side and giggled. "Or rather, don't suit yourself. Hee hee."
The sun had risen up over the far-off jagged mountain peaks and was sending bright yellow spears of light through the last dregs of morning mist by the time we got to the creek. We quickly found a pleasant little spot where a tree root poked halfway into the burbling water and formed a natural inlet, its sides surrounded by a carpet of soft green moss. Gadget was wearing a one-piece bathing suit that looked remarkably similar to that purple-grey jumpsuit she always wears, except this one had some odd kind of metal utility belt too. Monty, on the other paw, had gotten decked out in a red and white striped thing that wouldn't have looked out of place on a turn-of-the-century carnival strongman. Zipper too. Seriously, all they needed to complete the image was a pair of cannonball dumbells and maybe some wax for Monty's moustache.
Monty gave us all a wave and marched out into the water, quickly sinking in up to his ample belly. "Brrr-r-r-r-r!" he shuddered, then grinned. "Now that's better than coffee! Come on in, mates, the water's freezing!"
"You guys are crazy," I said, though I was careful to keep it under my breath. I walked along the top of the tree root that formed the natural border of the inlet and sat down, letting my toes sink into the water. Monty has a gift for understatement as well as bizarre forms of self-torture – the water was so cold I was surprised there weren't chunks of glacial ice bobbing in it.
When I looked back over the water to the sandy shoreline, I saw Gadget dipping one foot into the water, then withdrawing it, then dipping it in again as if she was checking to see if it was still cold. 'Good, at least Gadget's with me on this one,' I thought to myself. 'Maybe she and I can go for a walk while the others swim…'
But then she reached a paw down and began fiddling with that odd belt around her waist. "Compensate for temperature drift, plus or minus four degrees," she said to herself as she twiddled a little gold dial. "There, that ought to do it!" Suddenly her suit hummed and flared up with a network of glowing streaks that looked as though lightning had somehow been woven into the fabric. Even Monty and Zipper stopped splashing at each other and turned to stare. She slid her goggles down over her eyes – I noticed they were different ones than this morning, with black bubble lenses – then walked out into the water as though it was as inviting as the Caribbean seashore. She waved at me, then popped a little hose into her mouth and slid under the water.
Monty and I stared at each other while Zipper buzzed in circles around the little patch of bubbles that marked the spot where she'd disappeared. "Uh, Gadget, love…" Monty said with rising concern. I have to confess I was getting ready to dive in, frigid water or no, and perform an impromptu rescue if need be when Monty stuck his head down into the water, then popped back up and gave me a hearty laugh. "Crikey, she's breathin' underwater like a fish!"
A moment later her paw rose up out of the water, gave us a thumbs-up, then disappeared again like the Lady of the Lake or something. I smiled in spite of myself and shook my head, leaning back on my paws. 'Let everyone have their morning fun, then,' I thought. Speaking of which, it had occurred to me to wonder where Dale had gotten to when from somewhere behind the shrubs, like the blood-curdling battle cry of a Viking berzerker, came his high-pitched yell:
I looked up just in time to see a furry brown streak dart out of the woods, orange flippers slapping madly at the ground, and leap into the air. "Oh, no!" I yelped, throwing my paws in front of my face. A moment later Dale smacked into the water like a chipmunk-shaped meteor, sending a great spume of white, icy-cold water right at me. "Arrrrgh!" I heard myself cry out a moment before I was drenched. The water immediately soaked right through my fur while my poor sopping hat drooped down over the sides of my face. Forcing myself to stay calm, I gripped my paws against the tree root and gritted my teeth, waiting for Dale to resurface so I could yell at him, or maybe throw something.
Somebody surfaced right next to my feet, and I was just about to let go with a stream of insults when I realized it was Gadget, not Dale. She looked like a giant yellow-haired bug with those weird black goggles on. Spitting out her breathing tube, she stared up at me quizzically. "Golly, what was that? Oh, Chip… did you decide to come swimming after all? You should have taken your jacket off first."
I tried to explain, but all that came out of my mouth was a little spurt of water. Nearby, I could hear Monty and Zipper struggling not to laugh.
Dale, meanwhile, finally popped his head up and shook it so that the little frizz of fur on top stuck out in all directions. "Wowie… cold," he chattered.
"No kidding," I snapped, but I don't think he heard me.
Feeling a bit defeated, I stood up and walked back down the tree root, then up a ways from the water where I slipped out of my soggy jacket and hat so I could hang them on a low branch to dry.
It was lunchtime by the time my things had dried out. The others had long since had their fill of swimming (Monty, for all his bravado, had been the first one out… I swear his nose had started turning blue), but instead of heading back to the campsite they all sat around on the moss and chatted. I joined them, naked as a jaybird and still pretty damp, but my heart wasn't really in the chit-chat and I couldn't think of much to talk about.
This was not a problem with Dale, of course. He regaled us all with florid – and highly questionable – accounts of his personal heroism in the face of danger. Once he was finished, Monty chimed in with a few tales of his own adventuring exploits around the globe.
Monty's stories were even more absurd-sounding than Dale's, but over the years I've learned to suspend at least some of my disbelief… just the other week we were all skeptically shaking our heads over one of his tall tales about the lost tribe of mystical mountain-dwelling gerbils of el Valle Perdido del Fuego, and wouldn't you know it but we ended up in Brazil on a case and who should we meet but the High Gerbil himself, who greeted Monty like a long-lost brother and asked him how the Dodgers were doing.
"Boy-oh-boy, I'm getting hungry," said Dale after a while. He always pats his belly when he says this, as if words alone can't truly convey the depth of his appetite… actually they probably can't. Everybody else agreed, so we picked ourselves up and began to make our way back to the campsite.
I hadn't been getting anywhere with my subtle hints about going on a hike, so I decided to just try the direct approach. "You know what would be nice after lunch?" I asked as I grabbed my now-dry hat and jacket from the branch.
"A nap?" asked Gadget.
"Dessert?" asked Monty.
"Bzzz?" asked Zipper (I think).
"More lunch?" asked Dale.
I think I did an admirable job of containing my frustration. Shaking my head, I said, "No, a hike."
"Oh right," said Monty, apparently remembering our early morning conversation. Everybody else just sort of nodded and made little 'mm-hmm' noises… honestly, you'd think I was asking everybody to go to the dentist instead of on a nature walk. Still, I was pleased that we were all finally agreeing on it, and just chalked their lack of enthusiasm up to being hungry.