Just so we are on the same page, my trip to New Zealand was not a gift from The Make-A-Wish Foundation. I had it planned well before I was diagnosed with breast cancer!
New Zealand is a magical place, and the South Island of that country is almost mystical. We journeyed to the world-famous Milford Sound in the Fjordland National Forest, traveling through the small towns of Five Rivers, Mossburn, Manapouri and Te Anau. Every turn in the road delivered an incredible new view. Hundreds of miles of magnificent glacial mountain ranges, millions of acres of posh green open farm ranges, breathtaking glacial fjords, subtropical rain forests, a collection of the largest lakes, rivers and waterfalls in one location, and a year-round temperate climate. And baby seals and dolphins to top it all off.
This country is a national treasure, if only based on its sheer beauty and magnitude. When you add in the royal blue skies and the fluffy white clouds, this is one of the most scenic places I have ever visited on my travels.
And while all of this was amazing, there was a place in the southern part of the North Island that left us with an equally magical feeling. It is the location where parts of The Lord of the Rings trilogy were filmed – yes, there is a real-life Hobbiton in the Shire. The original movie set has been recreated in exquisite detail as a permanent structure for Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans to visit and photograph.
The tour guide is quick to remind everyone that the structures are facades, and that the characters playing the Hobbits were not filmed in the tiny huts, and that they are always uninhabited. With all due respect, I think she is wrong. I am pretty sure, at dusk, when are the tourists are gone, the real Little Folk come out to do what they do best – frolic and play.
When I returned home from our journey, I immersed myself into 10 hours of Lord of the Rings, and five hours of The Hobbit. I was hoping I would discover that I was just like Gandalf the Great, but alas, I think I am not. Perhaps in my next incarnation.
I am really more like Frodo Baggins. One person taking their own heroic journey, not really understanding what it is all about, yet willing to take on the challenge. The solution is not always obvious, and the outcome is never certain. Frodo had to deal with the Dark Lord of Mordor. I have to deal with cancer.
I like what J.R.R. Tolkien said – “Hobbits, although small in size, are sturdy of body, determined in their actions, and capable of the grandest of deeds.” So now, when I go through periods of uncertainty, fear and not knowing, I go back to New Zealand, in my mind, and think about what Frodo would do.
Yeah, I’m a hobbit!