Friday, May 11, 2007

On the Trail

Still in Nelson as Jenifer wraps up her teaching responsibilities today, and I have a bit more of New Zealand under my belt. On Thursday we hiked the park at the so-called Centre of New Zealand, wending our way up the switchback and then around Walter's Bluff. On one side, the bulk of Nelson's housing and commercial districts, as well as the marina; on the other side, a confluence of valleys and ridges sheltering a handful of farms. This land of geographical contrasts and strange, quick, and striking weather again confounded easy description. It feels reassuringly familiar -- the park reminding me of the woods of Connecticut -- but then the palm trees and unusual rock formations quickly remind you that you are indeed in a strange land. Of course, experiencing both the familiar and unexpected could be a result of stepping into May and autumn at the same time.

Yesterday's big event was riding horses at Stonehurst Farm. Except for a pony ride at the Hamilton Park Festival at the end of my street years ago, I'd never ridden a horse before. I was a bit nervous initially, but Rodney took care of me, and for the last hour I felt in complete harmony with the rhythm of his gait, the winding trail, the rain pelting our western-style dusters. The scenery was again stupendous, with rivers of jade, grassy mountain passes, and the silent witnesses of curious sheep and mountain goats. As we headed back to the farm, we could see the blue sky chasing the storm clouds above us, and soon the white New Zealand sun burst through the darkness and cleared away the rain. We actually rode through the wide arch of a double rainbow. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect ending.

After the ride we got to meet Percy, one of the equine stars of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. He played Snowmane, the horse of King Theoden, and also Arod, the horse of Legolas. He was a gracious star, and if the experience of bearing Orlando Bloom affected him at all, he hid it well.

That evening we dined at the cozy Turkish Delight and had the good fortune of running into our new friend Kate, an Australian and brand-new Nelsonite. So far good luck and wondrous connections have been the emerging themes of our stay in Nelson. Indeed, the son of the restaurant's owner, a Turkish immigrant, could be mistaken for Jenifer's brother, his blonde hair a lingering testament to the Varangians' presence in Constantinople a thousand years ago. One wonders if all roads lead to Nelson.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Eric said...

Awesome...I am glad you experienced something from LOTR firsthand, mate. Lightfoot's foal and master's bane!

I finished your screenplay and my comments will await your return.

Oh, okay, I'll tell you now that I liked it very much - it is far superior to the treatment of the Vinland-centered script that I read.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

Glad to see you are having a good time on the bottom of the world.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Ryan Rasmussen said...

Thanks, Eric! No time to blog at the moment, but I will say that we did a Wellington-based LOTR tour yesterday. Tremendous experience, the guide knew almost as much I as I do (heh!), and the sites were thrilling even with the sets long gone. More to come.

9:47 PM  

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