Right time for a really great adventure | Life in Ludlow

Ned Luce
Posted 4/26/23

The social season may have hit the “post-COVID” stride with the return of the annual Ludlow Maintenance Commission reception at the Beach Club.

The reception is held the day before the …

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Right time for a really great adventure | Life in Ludlow

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The social season may have hit the “post-COVID” stride with the return of the annual Ludlow Maintenance Commission reception at the Beach Club.

The reception is held the day before the annual meeting and provides a nice crowd with some wine, beer, and a huge helping of hors d’oeuvre.

John and Nancy Bonderson are back from Hudson, Wisconsin with news that Nancy is, sadly, not going to produce another “Adorables” performance this year.

Our new neighbors, Lisa and Doug Ullmer spent time talking with the Bondersons since they had a relative who got married in a park near Hudson. I spent 45 minutes talking with Dave Jackson about cars and work with the Navy.

Bob Shaw promised he would say nice things about me and the LMC Finance Committee at the annual meeting the next day. However, I confess the most time was spent talking with folks about our upcoming departure for New Zealand the next day. Now this column becomes interesting!

A flight from SeaTac to San Francisco followed a less than appetizing cold salad dinner in the airport. Then it was a long walk to the Air New Zealand gate. Yeah, we couldn’t find the train.

One grain of absolute truth you can take to the bank. It is a long frigging plane ride to NZ which includes a real struggle to sleep, at least in “economy.”

As you may know, the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy was filmed in NZ and, yes, I did watch the second one, “The Two Towers”, on the flight. That viewing was followed by a tear-inducing documentary about the NZ World Cup Rugby team of 2011.

Our daughter and son-in-law are spending a six-month sabbatical in Christchurch so we decided we should favor them with “an adventure,” to quote Bilbo Baggins of the “Lord of the Rings.” It was “Kia Ora” to the land of the Kiwis.

We met them at the Auckland airport feeling about 50 percent and looking forward to about 36 hours to recover and become semi normal after driving to Rotorua, which claims to have some status as “RotoVegas.”

The next day, despite my pleas to join them, my son-in-law and two grandsons went off to a challenging zip line course without me. How could they?

BJ, our daughter and I went into Rotorua so I could buy a hat and we could have a nice lunch. Kathleen Warnock was in Rotorua recently and suggested we eat at the Pig and Whistle, so we did. It is a former police station and the restrooms appear to be former jail cells. I suspect Kathleen thought I might find them comfortable.

While BJ and daughter were shopping in the information center I engaged a young couple from north of Paris, France who were “WWOOFING.” They were working in “World Wide Opportunities for Organic Farming.” I wonder if we do that in Jefferson County.

The next day featured education and entertainment at Te Puia, the Maori cultural center and geothermal part of town.

Then there were hikes in a redwood forest, genuine sequoias, and crazy “luge races” down a local hill with folks from all over the world.

Except for the scenery and the people, the stage is now set for New Zealand’s best attraction, the village known as “Hobbiton.” It is the “Shire” and home of the hobbits in J.R.R. Tolkien’s epics “The Hobbit” written in 1937 and the “Lord of the Rings” written in the 1950s.

The place was actually destroyed after the LOTR and rebuilt in 2010 for filming “The Hobbit.” The attention to detail in the construction of the “Shire” bordered on obsession. I have included a picture of BJ, me, and our daughter’s family. The 14-year-old on the left is tall enough to be Gandalf, the third from the left is the 10-year-old who could join BJ on the right as a Hobbit, and of course it is Bilbo Baggins between the two boys.

Yep, it would have been helpful if you had read, watched, or even heard of the “Lord of the Rings”!

Love a curmudgeon and have a great adventure.

(Ned Luce is a retired IBM executive and Port Ludlow resident who is having a hot time on vacation, by Gollum. Contact Ned at ned@ptleader.com.)

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