The Rescue Mission
“I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story.” – C.S. Lewis
The kidnappers’ trail was easy to pick up the following morning, drawing our party north into the Big Levels Wildlife Management Area off the Coal Road. Trash was everywhere, and my oldest discovered a few clear signs of struggle. We were hot on their tails, and they knew it.
For the farmers’ sakes we needed to press on despite the Wizard’s poison ivy being everywhere, not to mention the faint smell of fire on the air. This was no campfire aroma though…best I could guess, it reeked of dragon breath…or a controlled Forestry Service burn (which it was). Yet there was a more pressing issue demanding our immediate attention this late morning…
These hobbit boys, like any army, move on their bellies, and our Montero is therefore a rolling cafeteria most days. Food, drink, and even an easily deployable picnic blanket are a must for any trip, even somewhere as simple as the grocery store. I’d reckon that even if we were to forget to pack a snack, despite my best attempts to keep the Montero halfway clean inside, these halflings could live at least a day or two off all the Cheerios and Ritz crackers fallen down between the seats.
Parents of the world, can I get a witness?
After filling up our bellies I walked the boys around a little and tried to fill their minds and hearts full of disgust. I couldn’t believe all the trash we saw everywhere. We filled a plastic bag, but honestly could have spent the day picking up the scattered rubbish spread everywhere. Nasty trolls, these, but my junior rangers were learning why we need to tread lightly. One day they’ll be daddies themselves, and their children will need a place open for them to dream, play, and wonder.
A Bald Mountain Full of Trolls
The trolls were NOT treading lightly, and our pursuit pushed them to take a much tougher path than the Coal Road we were currently on. In their attempts to shake us they scurried up the Bald Mountain Jeep Trail (FR162). I guess they didn’t notice that we’d brought along our seven-consecutive-Dakar Rally-winning off road ogre, equipped with its fancy all-terrain battle boots and Mitsubishi Active Skid Traction Control II (some kinda elven magic from Japan that’s supposed to be super great).
I looked over to my clearly apprehensive wife and asked, “Are we ready for this?” An enthusiastic smile from her and I was shifting into 4H. Then, a quick look back to the boys with the same question. They all brandished their water guns with gritty resolve. Let’s go rescue these farmers.
A quick note about trolls for anyone unfamiliar with how things work in Middle-earth. They’re not exactly overfond of direct sunlight seeing as how it tends to turn them into stone. And wouldn’t you know it, this morning the sky was blue as a robin’s egg, and our trolls were therefore hard as rocks. Being a Jeep trail meant that these trolls were everywhere. Small ones, flat ones, large ones, and fat ones. As the Montero rolled over most the boys picked off the stragglers through the windows. It was a merry, bumpy affair, unless of course you were a troll.
The rusted remains of previous adventurers were hung from the trees in an attempt to shake our courage, and with that failed they flooded the road at certain portions. “No snorkel, no follow us!” was their twisted logic…I guess they spent too much time reading “To Snorkel or Not To Snorkel” forum debates on the interwebs.
Cautiously we pressed through, slowly making pursuit as if we were the Dread Pirate Roberts. Though only ten miles long, when you’re bouncing around at two to three miles per hour the trail seems to go on and on and on and…unfortunately some in our party fell victim to this sleepy time trick. Then again, maybe it was the comfy combo of independent front and rear suspension.
Hours into our pursuit we finally came upon an obstacle worthy of serving as our trolls, a pair of large rocks blocking the trail. Alone with a car full of kids, and being a novice off-roader, we tactically took the bypass. Flanking the fiends we pounced upon them from the rear with our water guns.
Trolls vanquished, farmers freed. Rescue mission accomplished…right?
Yet, before we could celebrate too much we began to notice a change in the air. The blue skies that had lent us so much good fortune with the trolls was filling with the voice of a grieved sorcerer…fog and the rumble of distant thunder, sent from Saruman himself. Time to get back to basecamp before the weather broke for the worse, though we were forgetting an even more pressing matter directly at hand…
ELEVENSES! Hobbit boys gotta eat.