Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Land of Shadow

A few weeks ago I did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing here in New Zealand. The Crossing is, of course, internationally famous for being the filming location for Mount Doom and Mordor in Peter Jackson’s film version of The Lord of the Rings. It’s one of the big reasons that I wanted to visit the Tongariro National Park and do the Crossing for myself.

Before the crack of dawn, my friends Tina, Will, and myself rose from our slumber and set about preparing to trek across Mordor in the footsteps of Frodo and Sam. The bus arrived at 5:20am to take us to the departure area to start our hike and we were on our way.

The hike itself was around twenty kilometers (20kms) long and took us from roughly 7:30am to 3:15pm to complete with a nice little stop for lunch at the base of Mount Ngauruhoe (also known as the famous Mount Doom).

Not long after lunch, we came upon the spectacular Emerald Lakes and the Blue Lake, all of which are ‘tapu’ (sacred) to the Maori people of New Zealand and sit at about the halfway point on the hike.

The weather for the day that we went was absolutely gorgeous with nice clear views pretty much everywhere you looked. That unfortunately wasn’t the case for a couple of friends that did the Crossing the day before, when all they could see was cloud.

The last three kilometers (3kms) of the hike is actually the worst part. It just seems to go on forever through a forest and when you’re thinking that you’re nearing the end, you turn a bend and realize that you still got a ways to go.

All in all, it was a pretty amazing day and well worth it, regardless of how sore my legs and feet were for the following couple of days. If you want to know more about it, check out the website HERE.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Concerning Hobbits

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Ah, Hobbiton. What can I possibly say about my visit to Hobbiton? Besides awesome, I’m not quite sure how to define it. It really is an experience, especially if you’re a fan of The Lord of The Rings movies and/or books. Even if you aren’t, it is definitely worth going. In fact, the tour guide who directed us through the set had mentioned that roughly forty percent (40%) of the visitors that go haven’t read the books or seen the movies. That number struck me as quite high, but I don’t know how anyone can come to New Zealand and not go to Hobbiton. It truly is an amazing place to visit.

The attention to detail that went into the creation of the set is nothing short of fantastic. You can tell that Peter Jackson is an amazing fan of Tolkien’s work and set out with a vision in his mind that he made sure he achieved. Even if it involved attaching fake leaves to some trees that are only seen in the extended versions of the Fellowship of the Ring for a grand total of three (3) seconds during the movie.

The tour caps off with a mug of ale, which is brewed specifically for the Hobbiton Set Tour, surrounded by a very characterful atmosphere inside the Green Dragon Inn. It really is a great finish for the two (2) hour tour, and the interior gave me a great experience of a fantasy tavern that I’m hoping to use in my writing. It was definitely a win/win situation!



Saturday, December 2, 2017

Ever Wandering

Oh, it’s been far too long since I’ve put pen to paper fingers to keyboard for the purposes of a blog post. Well over a year, in fact. I felt like I didn’t do anything interesting enough to write about, but that’s not entirely true. I’ve travelled. I’ve done a bit of adventuring. I’ve made great friends, and told my share of stories.

The Land of the Rising Sun

My travels so far this year have been to spend an amazing month travelling around Japan with nothing but a backpack and a sense of adventure. The friends I’ve met there coloured my experiences, and I couldn’t wish for more. Well, I could wish for more time there, but I will just have to return one day.

Currently, I’m sitting in a hostel in Auckland, New Zealand. And when I have some interesting material for you, I’ll type it up. But until then, enjoy some pictures (in no particular order) from my time in Japan!