We made our way past Lake Taupo to the slopes of Mt. Ruapehu, an active volcano on the North Island. It is a desolate moonscape lined with rough volcanic stone and formed of weird, otherworldly rock formations. It was beautiful in its way, of course, but it was indeed a harsh environment. One can see why PJ was inspired to realize his vision of the darkness of Mordor in this area.
We were able to see places where specific scenes of the movie were filmed, and even reenact the moments that were important. That brings to mind something about this tour I want to talk about a bit. The people here are wholly passionate about these stories we love. There is no self-consciousness or embarrassment about wearing costumes or speaking openly of meaningful scenes. It is making for a very uplifting environment. There is a powerful kind of honesty in living one's passion. Some of us are not wearing costumes or participating in all the same ways, but there is room for that as well. There is no judgment or sorting in this group. We are all friends under the banner of good stories brought to life. I actually love that. Anyone who might mock or belittle such a group should look to their own passions. I'll bet that those interests have a similarly unique language, awareness and way of being. Music, fashion, a particular sports team, and other interests give us a powerful sense of belonging and help us decode life. There is room for all of us to be geeky in some way, and we can be geeky and proud of it (whether we call it geeky or not), rather than worrying about what someone else thinks of us. We all go to extremes in one way or another, and I found this group of extreme fans to be extremely delightful, even in the moderate stress of major travel. Always, someone has been willing to help, to encourage, to talk. Always there has been humor to defray tired tensions and huzzahs to celebrate victories.
So together we climbed up the side of a volcano and lived some more of our dreams. And here are the pictures to prove it.
|The group traversing their own private Mordor. |
We call ourselves The Fellowship.
|The summit of Mt. Ruapehu in pale contrast with|
the black rock of its lower slopes.
|As usual, if you look, there actually is beauty all around. This little blossom is|
about 1 cm in diameter.
|It really does bring to mind Tolkien's descriptions of those black lands.|
|Yes, Gandalf was with us, wearing slightly more|
practical attire, but still recognizable.