So It Begins…

Picture Credit Raphael Orlove

Fool of a Took!

This little hobbit guy named Peregrin Took once said, “The closer we are to danger, the farther we are from harm.” Wise ol’ Treebeard, who happened to be carrying the young hobbit, responded with a puzzled, “Hmm. That doesn’t make sense to me. But then, you are very small.”

I think that if I were to have had a similar conversation with my Montero at this point in our trip (in my head of course, cuz only Shia Labeouf actually talks to his car…and he’s crazy) it might have gone down similarly. “Um…you do see these warning lights, right?” But like Pippin I assumed it would be the last thing our adversaries would expect, so south we went, seven rings in hand.

On the more adult side of things, thank God I didn’t have the same conversation with Gandalf the Grey. As I turned the Montero right, commencing our south-bound journey, he probably would have gotten all shouty with me, saying something to the effect of “Fool of a Took! At least go to AutoZone and read the blasted MIL codes!” Alas, he was not there to suggest something so rational, and besides, by our first stop the warning lights had gone away on their own (fortunately never to return all trip).

Magic, I guess.

ARB Doesn’t Sell Imagination

There was something “magical” about the weather, though not the good kind. As mentioned earlier we were passing through various stages of rain, from thunderstorms to heavy fog to light drizzle, all ever-changing.

My well-laid plans, schedules, and agendas were already in jeopardy by the first stop at the Humpback Rocks. The prospect of lightning and slick rocks made our original plan to hike up these impressive cliffs a no-go.

A shame too, since the boys were eager to see their trip’s first dragon, the Humpback Rock Dragon. Terrible wyrm, that one. We could just catch a glimpse of the granite beast’s jagged outline from the old Appalachian farm we’d stopped at. I’d have to come up with a different use for him that was more in keeping with the weather. If only there were a tool for that…

I’m pretty sure ARB doesn’t sell imagination, but every adventurer needs it (dare I say more than four-wheel drive).

The imagination is one of God’s greater gifts to mankind, and I love to see it at work in my boys, even my youngest who’s not even talking yet. Every evening when I get home from work, as soon as I pull off my boots, he’s climbing into them. But his imagination has him climbing into a world that he isn’t yet ready for, isn’t yet able to understand. For a brief moment he’s a man, a working man like his dad. I love that he sees it, and he wants it, and that the imagination opens up the door for him to experience it long before his little feet are ready to fill those boots.

Little feet, big dreams.

All my boys have it in spades, and they get it from me I guess. Tolkien called it the faculty of the “sub-creator”, whereby men make and shape worlds all their own. With proper use, and some careful guidance, it may even help them become men that find joy in making and shaping the real world someday.

As it pertains to adventuring, imagination is indeed something every adventurer needs, and fortunately already has to some degree. It’s that extra ingredient to quick-thinking that adds a smile to whatever solutions or detours you cook up. Almost anybody can solve a problem, but it takes some imagination to have fun doing it. And with the dreary weather like it was, we needed some smiles at this point…or maybe something fun, even scary. Trolls are scary…

We walked around this recreated Appalachian farm for a little while, making sure to knock on every door in the village. Strangely nobody answered, nor did we see anyone around. I asked the boys, “Where is everybody? You don’t think maybe they’ve been kidnapped do you?” My oldest picked up the magic right away, enthusiastically shouting, “Trolls!”

Indeed. I bet the bad weather had brought the trolls down out of the mountains, hauling off the imaginary farmers to only-dad-knows-where. That’s something we’d have to look into tomorrow. For now though we needed to find camp before the weather got any worse.

Paper Maps FTW

In planning for this trip I’d purchased a few of the Nat. Geo. Trails Illustrated topo maps. Map #789 in particular was perfect for helping me find our way off the Blue Ridge Parkway and onto the dirt roads hidden from the Google Maps dependent travelers. The goal was to snake back and forth across the blacktop, staying off of it as much as possible. SR814 took us down to our first base camp, downstream from the Crabtree Falls.

Because it was so early in the season we had the entire campground to ourselves, save a few Appalachian Trail hikers. The boys ran around while my wife cooked dinner (deer steak tacos) and I set up camp…side note: setting up camp for six when the kids are too young to help sucks. But it’s part of the experience, and you learn how to deal with it. Haha, anyways…

Putting Saruman On Blast

A brief break in the weather coupled with the extra hour of daylight (this was in March, right after daylight savings) meant we had a little more time to kill, and maybe a window to destroy our first ring. Since our basecamp was a stone’s throw from the Crabtree Falls we scurried over.

Here’s where a little silver lining dawned on us…while the heavy rains and mist would normally make for poor camping conditions, for an adventure centered around destroying dwarven rings in waterfalls you couldn’t ask for better. All the waterfalls would be at their grandest, and Crabtree did not disappoint. It also meant we’d have everything to ourselves, which isn’t too shabby either (popular sites here in the East can get pretty crowded).

In the twilight hour one of my boys cast the first ring into the flood. It was now official. The white wizard Saruman had been chosen as our primary nemesis and scapegoat for any troubles we’d encounter during this trip, and we just put him on blast. We headed back to camp for some rest, for tomorrow would be a big day, hopefully beginning with a rescue mission.

One down, six to go.

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1 Comment

  1. Brian

    YES!

    The adventure continues! Thanks, John.


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