Having completed our preparation, we dined at one of Middle Earth’s finest taverns in the historic mining district of Arrowtown. The next day we bid sad farewell to the South Island – already recognizing the powerful call to return – but knowing the journey was not over. Our overland travel took us to the base of North Island and Middle Earth’s leading city, Wellington, which was beautifully situated on the bays, hills and coastlines of the Southern Quarter. This was our departure point for the journey north – into the heart of Middle Earth’s land of fire and ice – where we took up lodging along the shores of Lake Taupo (Middle Earth’s largest lake), which filled a huge volcanic crater from the time before men. Knowing the competition loomed, we remained in the Taupo region for a day which was highlighted by the tumbling Huka Falls and a walk along an ever-rising and falling river in a beautiful gorge. The day of the Competition we traveled down off the volcanoes of Taupo to the cities of Napier and Hastings – situated along Hawke Bay on the Eastern Coast. In the early morning hours, throngs of competitors (perhaps 300??) assembled at the Field of Competition (the area’s premier rugby practice field and facilities – which, by the way, is a sport taken VERY seriously in Middle Earth). Competitors included those who had accumulated the wisdom of years, the youthful, and those wishing to prove themselves to the wizened veterans of previous competitions. It was a beautiful day and the course was set through the rural farms and fields of the Hawke’s Bay region. Initial hills proved challenging to all competitors (especially those two or three of us pushing prams); later in the race the sun took its toll. Despite the challenges, we completed the course set before us (no doubt finishing first among non-Middle Earth participants – although not recognized as such) and marveled at the post-competition feast of biscuits, water, tea and an orange beverage strangely reminiscent of colored water. However – the Competition was successfully completed and should the call of other lands beckon us, we will have a second of the seven major Lands completed.
Before returning to our lodgings, we traveled to the tip of Cape Kidnappers – a remote, but starkly beautiful promontory of towering cliffs overlooking the South Pacific Ocean and Hawke Bay and home of several Gannet colonies – and then to the quaint village of Napier, which boasted an architecturally unified art deco downtown, rebuilt after nearly total destruction from an earthquake nearly a century ago. We had completed the Competition. We were ready to continue our journey through Middle Earth to its ultimate conclusion and our return to our homeland.
Father of five; husband of one! Grandfather of twelve. Twenty-five years of commissioned military service, then nine years working on a government contract to destroy a portion of the nation's chemical weapons and munitions stockpile. Have lived in Europe eight years, on both coasts of the US and several places in between. After running our second half-marathon together in March 2007, Karen and I decided we enjoyed it and the associated travel enough to set out on a quest to run a half-marathon in all 50 states. We completed the quest in January 2012 in Hawaii - with the entire family there and many participating with us. We've now also completed running a half-marathon together in each of the 10 Canadian Provinces. Like to run and it often gives me time to think - and some of those thoughts need a sounding board or just might be worth sharing.
Recently hired to be the Orchestra Teacher at Timpanogos HS in Orem UT. Looking forward to starting in Aug 2014.