Category Archives: Travel

City People Visiting Country Cats

Cats header

In my previous post I took you on a tour of Meadow K View farm, where we stayed in the guest house for two lovely days last August (Cats and Cows and Cats and Cows). And I think I might have mentioned that I took one, or two, or maybe more like a million photos of the multitudinous felines that roamed the farm.  There were cats and kittens of all colors and sizes.  Though none of them were pudgy, these are working cats.  They were lean, mean, mousing machines.  Emma and Sam and I had a great time naming them all.  The cats were one of our favorite parts of going to the farm.  If you like cats too, you will love this post!

Click on photos to enlarge

Let's start with my favorite color for a cat.  This is Sky.

Let’s start with my favorite color for a cat. This is Sky.

Midnight napping.

Midnight napping.  Look at those adorable big kitten paws!

Soulful Ash.

Soulful Ash.

Momma cat, who I could never get a picture of by herself, as her kittens were always nearby.

Momma cat, who I could never get a picture of by herself, as her kittens were always nearby.

See!

See!

This is Mama's Boy.  He was ALWAYS nursing or trying to nurse.  But what a beauty.  Probably the most photogenic cat on the farm.

This is Mama’s Boy. He was ALWAYS nursing or trying to nurse. But what a beauty. Probably the most photogenic cat on the farm.

Shy Cat.  He was pretty wary, which is a more typical farm cat personality, from what I've seen.  The Meadow K cats were a really friendly bunch in general.

Shy Cat. He was pretty wary, which is a more typical farm cat personality, from what I’ve seen. The Meadow K cats were a really friendly bunch in general.

Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Don't ask me which one is which.

Thing 1 and Thing 2. Don’t ask me which one is which.

Lily had the most amazing markings.  She also had a very strong personality.  As in, "Don't mess with me unless you have some treats to bribe me with."

Lily had the most amazing markings. She also had a very strong personality. As in, “Don’t mess with me unless you have some treats to bribe me with.”

Chicken Stalker.  This kitty like to mess with the chickens.

Chicken Stalker. This kitty liked to mess with the chickens.

Dusty.  Guess how he got his name.

Dusty. Guess how he got his name.

El Mustacio was one cool cat.

El Mustacio was one cool cat.

The Ghost.  This cat was super stealthy, and only came out in the milking barn when it was very quiet.  I got this photo when I went up there by myself after dinner.

The Ghost. This cat was super stealthy, and only came out in the milking barn when it was very quiet. I got this photo when I went up there by myself after dinner.

Twilight.  Look at those green eyes!  This kitty needs a witch to hang out with.

Twilight. Look at those green eyes! This kitty needs a witch to hang out with.

New York Cat.  This guy lived in New York for awhile, and was having a hard time adjusting to being a farm cat again.  He kept trying to get in the house.

New York Cat. This guy lived in New York for awhile, and was having a hard time adjusting to being a farm cat again. He kept trying to get in the house.

Stormy was Emma's favorite.  A super pretty kitty.

Stormy was Emma’s favorite. A super pretty kitty.

Snow Field was Sam's favorite.  He is partial to white cats.

Snow Field was Sam’s favorite. He is partial to white cats.

This cat was Hobbes, because he looks like Hobbes.  But he was much better behaved.

This cat was Hobbes, because he looks like Hobbes. But he was much better behaved.

This is Blaze, for the blaze of white on his forehead.

This is Blaze, for the blaze of white on his forehead.

Cats washing and playing.

Cats washing and playing.

Cats racing!

Cats racing!

Big cats, little cows.

Big cats, little cows.

Table and chairs = cat beds

Table + chairs = cat beds.

Cat relaxing.

Cat relaxing.

I could put even more cute cat photos on this post, but if I did I think the internet might explode.  Hope you enjoyed seeing all this feline goodness.  Now go pet a cat!

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Filed under Arts/Crafts/Photography, Travel

Cats and Cows and Cats and Cows

Header.farmWe go to the East Coast a couple of times of year to visit my husband’s family, who live near Philadelphia.  We haven’t been in the summer before, and we thought we would take advantage of the warm weather to visit south-central Pennsylvania for a few days.  Andrew worked his usual magic, and found us accommodations in the guest house of a working dairy farm.  I am from Wisconsin, so it wasn’t hard to sell me on the concept.  I remember visiting the dairy farms of my relatives when I was a kid.  Emma and Sam were very excited about the idea of a farm; not just milking cows but collecting the eggs from the chickens also.  What we didn’t realize it that the farm would be chock full of cute cats and kittens.  There are some cat pictures in this post, but I am saving the majority for the following post, which will be all cats, and nothing but cats.  Cats, cats, and more cats.  Yeah!

But back to the farm.  Sharon and Barry are farmers who rent out their guest house on Meadow K View farm.  We spent lots of time on their front porch petting cats, which also gave us a chance to chat with them.  They were lovely hosts, taking us on a tour around the farm, and allowing the kids to “help” with the milking.  Check out the photos below to get a virtual tour of their farm, complete with big animals, small animals, new barns, old barns, solar panels, and corn.  A heady mixture indeed!

Click on photos to enlarge

This is Sharon and Barry, the owners of Meadow K View farm.  Both cats and people love to hang out on their front porch.

This is Sharon and Barry, the owners of Meadow K View farm. Both cats and people love to hang out on their front porch.

When we arrived there were cat greeters.  After we settled in, Sharon took us on a tour of the farm.

When we arrived there was a greeter cat. After we settled in, Sharon took us on a tour of the farm.

This is the new barn.  I would like to point out to my sister Melissa the cow in the upper right corner.

This is the new barn, all nice and shiny. I would like to point out to my sister Melissa the cow in the upper right corner.

The farm has a large solar array, which reflected the cloudy afternoon sky.  It made for nice photos.

The farm has a large solar array, which reflected the cloudy afternoon sky. It made for nice photos.

Our next stop was the milking barn, where we all got to try milking the cows by hand.  The kids helped to hook up the milking machines also.

Our next stop was the milking barn, where we all got to try milking the cows by hand. The kids also took a stab at hooking up the milking machines.

Milk maid Emma.

Milk maid Emma.

Milk master Sam.

Milk master Sam.

The cows were cool, but I kept getting distracted by all the cats!

The cows were cool, but I kept getting distracted by all the cats!

More cats!  This was the gang that hung out at the milking barn.

More cats!  This is the gang that hung out at the milking barn.

One of my favorite photos from our stay.  Cats drinking milk from a giant bucket.  This is what cat heaven must be like.

One of my favorite photos from our stay. Cats drinking milk from a giant bucket. This is what cat heaven must be like.

We headed out to the chicken coop, to gather up some eggs.  Several of the barn cats headed over with us, checking out the cows and chickens on the way.

Next we headed out to the chicken coop, to gather up some eggs. Several of the barn cats headed over with us, checking out the cows and chickens on the way.

Gathering eggs, which we then cooked up in the kitchen.

Gathering eggs, which we then cooked up in the kitchen.

The kids also got to bottle feed baby cows, and visit the older babies outside in their pens.

The kids also got to bottle feed baby cows, and visit the older babies outside in their pens.

There were many barns and outbuildings on the farm, each with their own personality.

There were many barns and outbuildings on the farm, each with their own personality.

Now we now the answer to "Where does all the poo go?"

Now we know the answer to “Where does all the poo go?”

All around the house colorful flowers were blooming.

All around the house colorful flowers were blooming.

The kids kept creeping away to find cats to pet.

The kids kept creeping away to find cats to pet.

At twilight we went out to hunt fireflies.  We never get to see them in San Diego, so that was a real treat.

At twilight we went out to hunt fireflies. We never get to see them in San Diego, so that was a real treat.

Relaxing.  Finding fun things to do.  Admiring the twilight.

Relaxing. Finding fun things to do. Enjoying twilight.

This is the house cat gang.  They hung out on the porch, in the yard, and around the big tree.

This is the house cat gang. They hung out on the porch, in the yard, and around the big tree.

More house cats.

More house cats.

I hope I gave you a good sense of how enjoyable our time on the farm was.  We are headed out there again this summer for a few days of down time.  It will be fun to see how the cats have grown and changed.  I have A LOT more cat pictures (which won’t surprise anyone who knows me), so my next post will be devoted to the cats of Meadow K Farm, in all their adorable glory!

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Beach Tableau: Kite and Kelp, Stones and Sea Foam

Beach header

December 26th, 2014.  San Diego, California.  A spectacular winter day in southern California.  Recent rains have scrubbed the sky and land clean, and the afternoon sunshine glazes everything with a bright, clear, yellow light.  Seeking fresh ocean breezes, we pack up the kids and head to a local beach.  Some moments from a few hours at at Torrey Pines.

The beaches in North County don't have as much sand over the winter, and instead are covered with beautiful smooth stones of all colors and sizes.  The waves make a wonderful shhhshing sound as they pull back and roll the rocks with them.

The beaches in North County don’t have as much sand over the winter, and instead are covered with beautiful smooth stones of all colors and sizes. The waves make a wonderful shhhshing sound as they pull back and roll the rocks with them.

Emma always brings a bag to the beach to collect stones and shells.  We are never disappointed with the discoveries we make.

Emma always brings a bag to the beach to collect stones and shells. We are never disappointed with the discoveries we make.

Sam found a clear stone the size of a small egg, Emma found a piece of green sea glass.

Sam found a clear stone the size of a small egg, Emma found a piece of green sea glass.

Sea foam left by the ocean waves collects on rocks, where it slowly dissolves, or is washed away by the next wave.

Sea foam left by the ocean waves collects on rocks, where it slowly dissolves, or is washed away by the next wave.

Sam takes a break from hunting to fly his kite.

Sam takes a break from hunting to fly his kite.

Kite is waggling in the sky, in front of the coast highway bridge.

Kite is waggling in the sky, in front of the coast highway bridge.

Not too much kelp on the beach, but a few of the small leaf floats were artfully arranged on the sand and rocks.  Below is a large piece of kelp, the squiggly structure in the front is the hold fast, which the kelp uses to anchor itself to the ocean floor.

Not too much kelp on the beach, but a few of the small leaf floats were artfully arranged on the sand and rocks. Bottom right is a large piece of kelp; the squiggly structure in the front is the hold fast, which the kelp uses to anchor itself to the ocean floor.

Emma's foot prints in the sand.  The sand on the northern beaches has a fair bit of black mixed in, which makes for beautiful swirling patterns.

Emma’s foot prints in the sand. The sand on the northern beaches has a fair bit of black mixed in, which makes for beautiful swirling patterns.

Heading home.  A quality afternoon's endeavor.

Heading home after a quality afternoon endeavor.

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I Walked on an Ancient Sea Bed, and Didn’t Even Get My Feet Wet

At one point on our hike, we climbed up a cliff that was once the bed of an ancient sea.  The ground was littered with invertebrate fossils.

At one point the ground was littered with fossils, lying on the bed of an ancient sea.

Fall has returned to San Diego, and that means the season for desert camping in the Anza Borrego Desert has also returned.  On our latest adventure with Sam’s Boy Scout troop, 27 boys and parents set off on an overnight backpacking excursion to the Domelands in the Coyote Mountains Wilderness.  The hike in was 5 miles (we went the long way and had a lovely walk through desert washes and along ridge lines), while the hike out was a leisurely 3 mile trek.

Our destination was the New Wind Caves, which are ancient fossilized sand dunes that rise up from the desert floor.  Wind and water have carved out caves of all sizes, some large enough to sleep a dozen scouts!  Our troop calls this trip the New Wind Caves, to distinguish it from the Wind Caves, another area we camp at nearby (see my post A Desert Sunset, Moonrise, Moonset, and Sunrise).

Besides being a beautiful desert and badland landscape, this area is renowned for the many fossils that can be seen, literally littering the ground.  About 5 million years ago what is now desert was covered by the warm, tropical Imperial Sea, which was full of abundant and diverse marine life.  By about 1 million years ago, after the sea disappeared, the land was dotted with lake, grassland, and stream environments.

The Domelands are an amazing place to observe the remnants of this life, though collecting is prohibited.  Some of the fossils we saw were cemented into fossilized reefs, while others, such as sand dollars the size of your palm and other invertebrates like oysters, scallops, clams, snails, mussels, and sea biscuits, were scattered loose on the ground or embedded in sandstone.   A photo gallery of our trip is below, full of inspiring views, astounding fossils, tenacious plant life, and adorable Boy Scouts.  And some crusty parents too!  Click on the photos to get a better view.

Our group of 17 scouts and 10 adults looking fresh.  Not for long.

Our group of scouts and adults looking fresh. Not for long.

A line of hikers heading into the desert.

A line of hikers heading into the desert.  Our packs are full of delicious snacks and refreshing water, while our eyes are full of panoramic views of the surrounding desert.

We continue our trek.  Some desert plant life, which survives with almost no rainfall.

We continue our trek. Plant life in the desert, which can survive with almost no rainfall, has my undying respect and admiration.

Down in the washes and canyons we began to find our first evidence of fossils.  On the top is a fossilized reef, while boys hold fossil clams and oysters.

Down in the washes and canyons we began to find our first evidence of fossils. On the top is a fossilized reef, while boys hold fossil clams and oysters they found on the ground.

After heading down washes for awhile, our fearless leaders decided we needed head up, so we did.  We scurried up a loose hillside, the kind where it is a good idea to keep going forward so you don't start slipping down!  Oysters anyone?

After heading down washes for awhile, our fearless leaders decided we needed head up, so we did. We scurried up a loose hillside, the kind where it is a good idea to keep going forward so you don’t start slipping back down!  There was a nice breeze and great view at the top.  Oysters anyone?

Rest stop

After several hours of hiking we found a nice little rest stop, complete with fossils (of course!), caves, and even some patches of shade. We rested, ate, and explored while Mr. W. and Mr. M. ran ahead to get a feeling for how much further the caves were.

Ancient sea bed

Time to move out!  As we hiked out of the canyon where we had rested, up another ridge, we were captivated by the number and diversity of fossils right under our feet. We were climbing up an ancient sea bed. When I mentioned how cool this was, Evan replied that he wished he was an ancient fish so he could swim up the sea bed to the top of the ridge.

The view from the top.

Desert view.  Washes are below us, more ridges above.

I know it seems like we keep having to climb up ridge after ridge, but we are intrepid scouts!  This really was the last one though.  You can see my Sam up there waving at me.

I know it seems like we kept climbing up ridge after ridge, but we are intrepid scouters! This really was the last one though. You can see my Sam up there waving at me.

When we arrived at the Wind Caves we hunted around for a nice spot.  Sam and I found one that was shaped like a bathtub, and was pretty sheltered from the wind.  Fossils are lined up on a shelf in another cave.

After we arrived at the Wind Caves, everyone hunted around for a nice spot to settle in. Sam and I found one that was shaped like a bathtub, and was pretty sheltered from the wind. Fossils are lined up on a shelf in another cave.

Home sweet home, for a night.

Home sweet home, for a night.

Night falls fast and hard in the desert in November.  We had a few hours to relax and explore, before we got out the Jetboils to make our delicious ramen.  Nolan works on his shadow puppetry.

Night falls fast and hard in the desert in November. We had a few hours to relax and explore, before we got out the Jetboils to make our delicious ramen. After dinner Nolan worked on his shadow puppetry.  Sam and I snuggled down into our cave at about 7:30!  Good thing I brought a book.

We were up with the sun, and the wind that started to blow pretty hard the night before was still at it.  It made for a hazy, dusty, blustery hike out.  It made us appreciate the crystal clear weather we had on the hike in.

We were up with the sun, and the wind that started to blow pretty hard the night before was still at it.  We had a quick breakfast, packed up, did a head count (we are supposed to come back with as many scouts as we start out with), shouldered our packs, and hit the trail.

hh

The windy conditions made for a hazy, dusty, blustery hike out.  It made us appreciate all the more the crystal clear weather and gorgeous views we had on the hike in.

Sam and Mo, Mo and Sam.  We had a splendid adventure with our scouting friends, and are eagerly awaiting our next trip to the desert in December.  Until then, the pictures and memories will have to carry us through...

Sam and Mo, Mo and Sam. We had a splendid adventure with our scouting friends, and are eagerly awaiting our next trip to the desert in December. Until then, the pictures and memories will have to carry us through…

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Filed under Boy Scout Troop 985 Adventures, Travel

Asian Money Sure is Purty

Ben, a family friend, recently got back from a trip to Asia.

One of these illustrious Bens is our friend Ben.

One of these illustrious Bens is our friend Ben.

His daughter lives in China, so off he went to visit her.  After catching up, he took the opportunity to gad about Asia a bit.  His itinerary included, besides China, visits to Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Ben's trip to Asia

We have a collection of foreign money that friends and family have given to us.  I wrote about the coins in a previous post – Naked People on Coins and Other Fascinating Numismatic Discoveries.  Ben was nice enough to bring home a handful of paper money for the kids, in duplicate even (so there would be no fighting).  I couldn’t believe how vibrant and colorful the money was!

Rainbow money

I decided this pile of rainbow money was blog worthy.  And since I am writing a post, why not turn it into a contest?  I am not running a suburban soccer league, so not everyone will be a winner.  Of course, there is no prize or even recognition beyond the microliter of fame awarded to those currencies mentioned on my blog, so the banks of the countries that lost have nothing to fear.  But if it does get back to the Prime Minister of the Philippines, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, that I voted his country’s currency my favorite out of all 6 that Ben brought back, maybe he will send me a postcard.  Or even better, a nice plate of lumpia!  So let’s get to it.  The winners are…

1.  Volcanoes and Parrots and Whale Sharks, Oh My!

The Philippines won because of the awesome things they put on their currency. And the wonderful colors, they must have one hell of a colorist in their mint! I did NOT give the Philippines the gold medal to curry favor with my friends Arnel, Rowena, or Danielle, in the hopes that they also might give me a lovely plate of lumpia.

The Philippines peso won because of the awesome things they put on their currency. And the wonderful colors; they must have one hell of a colorist in their mint! I did NOT give the Philippines the gold medal to curry favor with my friends Arnel, Rowena, or Danielle, in the hopes that they also might give me a lovely plate of lumpia.

2.  Kiss My Bhat.

Thailand won the Silver, because they have made no concessions to the billions of people on the planet who don't speak Thai, or are even unable to recognize the Thai alphabet.  Are you having a hard time trying to figure out where the hell this bill is from?  Too damn bad.

The Thailand bhat won the Silver, because on their money they have made no concessions to the billions of people on the planet who don’t speak Thai, or are unable to recognize the Thai alphabet. Are you having a hard time trying to figure out where the hell this bill is from? Too damn bad.

3. Smooth Like Buttah.

Okay, the Vietnam dong has had some serious work done.  No, I'm not kidding.  It's called the dong.  Anywho, these are the smoothest, softest, silkiest bills I have ever felt!  I want to have jammies made out of them.  And they have these cool peekaboo windows on them, that are see through.  Kinda kinky.

Okay, the Vietnam dong has had some serious work done. No, I’m not kidding. It’s called the dong. Anywho, these are the smoothest, softest, silkiest bills I have ever felt! I want to have jammies made out of them. And they have these cool peekaboo, see through windows on them. Kinda kinky.

4 -6. Thanks for Participating.

Like I said, someone had to lose.  Actually, there were 3 not winners.  The fact that the Cambodian riel puts "Bank of Cambodia" on all the bills was very persuasive, as was the big, brown elephant wearing a nice set of pearls.  And the caligraphy, pagodas, and pictures of Mao (which is just one letter off of Mo) also compelled me, but not enough to sway my vote.  But still, lovely currency, all of it.

Like I said, someone had to lose. Actually, there were 3 not winners. The fact that the Cambodian riel puts “Bank of Cambodia” on all the bills was very persuasive, as was the big, brown elephant wearing a nice set of pearls. And the calligraphy, pagodas, and pictures of Mao (which is just one letter off of Mo) also compelled me, but not enough to sway my vote. But still, lovely currency, all of it.

So there you have it, the first and last Asian currency contest.  I know many countries were missing, but you will have to take that up with Ben.  I could be persuaded to have a second currency contest, but that would require many many many more examples of currencies to cross my palm.  My greedy, sweaty palms…

 

 

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A Day Spent at Chanticleer Gardens

Chanticleer blog header

Five years ago when we were visiting relatives in Philadelphia, we visited Chanticleer Gardens, which are about 30 minutes outside the city (www.chanticleergarden.org).  The gardens were originally the Rosengarten estate, which was built 100 years ago, and were turned into public gardens 20 years ago.

To say that Chanticleer Gardens are stunning is an understatement.  We went in the spring, and though it was an overcast day, everything was bursting with color and spring vigor.  The trees, flowers, and plants were all pulsing with life.  The gardens are also sprinkled with sculpture and other whimsical art, which made exploring them with three kids terrifically fun.  So let’s head in, but first, meet our cast.

Sam, Emma, and Max

Sam, Emma, and Max.

And now, off we go…

Flowering trees.

Flowering trees.

Purple flowers

Grape Hyacinth.  What an amazing color.

The big head with a little girl.

The big head with a little girl.

Running down the green carpet.

Running down the green carpet.

Let's explore the fountain!

Let’s explore the fountain!

Exploring the fountain

Yellow trillum

Yellow trillum

Fun around the stream.

Fun around the stream.

Emma in the ferns.

Emma in the ferns.

Finding treasure.

Finding treasure.

Low red tulip (I think!).

Low red tulip (I think!).

On the couch with Dad.  There's even a stone remote!

On the couch with Dad. There’s even a stone remote!

Relaxing on wooden chairs with Mom.  A little more comfy.

Relaxing on wooden chairs with Mom. A little more comfy.

That was our day in Chanticleer gardens.  If you are in Philly and have some time, they are well worth a visit.

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My Friends Visited the Set of Hobbiton in Matamata, New Zealand, and All I Got to Do Was Write About it in My Blog

My friends Matt and Vanessa went on vacation to New Zealand recently.  I didn’t get to go.  I’ve got 2 kids, and I think it is like a 4 day flight.  At least it would feel like 4 days if I tried to do it with my 2 kids.  Vanessa and Matt don’t have any children yet, so I am living vicariously through them.

I like to live vicariously through Vanessa, because she doesn’t have any gray hair or wrinkles yet.  Except those cute little wrinkles around her eyes when she laughs.  My wrinkles aren’t cute.  You can see what I mean below.

Vanessa

Vanessa with my daughter Emma, on a field trip to Las Vegas.

Vanessa with my daughter Emma, on a field trip to Las Vegas.

Me

Me and my daily stogie

Havin’ my daily stogie

Anyway, back to the New Zealand trip that I didn’t get to go on.  I am a bit of a J.R.R. Tolkien geek.  I own all the movies and books, read The Hobbit to my kids and am currently reading them The Fellowship OTR.  I own one or two action figures (Treebeard! Bilbo! Gandalf!), Lego sets (really, the Bag End set was for the kids), and I have the key to the back door of the Lonely Mountain that leads to Smaug’s lair hanging from my rear view mirror.  So when Vanessa posted on FB that she was off to New Zealand with Matt, I asked about their plans to visit Hobbiton, which I was sure they must be doing, since who in their right mind would fly all the way to New Zealand and not visit Hobbiton?

BTW, I know that it’s not really Hobbiton, but until I see it for my own eyes that it’s not real I’m going to pretend that it is.  Same goes for Hogwarts.

When Vanessa and Matt got back I asked to see their pictures from Matamata, which is what non believers call Hobbiton.  The scenery was gorgeous, which makes me regret AGAIN how far way New Zealand has the temerity to be from me.  I also noticed that there were some odd people hanging out there, besides Vanessa and Matt.  Look at some of their photos below to see what I mean.

On their drive out to Matamata it got a bit foggy on the road.  It was all well and good, sort of atmospheric really, until this weird guy, dressed all in black, sitting on horse, kept popping up.  Asking for Baggins.  Matt told them they hadn’t done their shopping yet, they didn’t have any bags (he thought that baggins was plural for bags Down Under), and that they couldn’t help.  Even the black rider’s horse looked confused.  So Matt and Vanessa kept going.

Foggy road.rider

Then this kind of crazy, old, homeless guy with a giant Q-tip thought they looked a little lost, and was helpfully pointing the way to Matamata.  It was kind of annoying the way he kept screaming, “This way, YOU FOOLS!”  Whatevs.  Some people just like getting worked up.  But his directions were spot on!

Gandalf

Soon Vanessa and Matt emerged from the fog into a beautiful glorious day!  The sun was shining, the sheep were grazing, and WHAT THE HELL?!?  What are they doing here?  No, no thank, no Tubby Toast for us.  Hobbiton is waiting.  No, we don’t want to rub your tummies.

Sheep+TT

Well, that was unexpected.  Anyway, back to Matamata.  After arriving Matt and Vanessa headed off on the two hour guided studio tour (insert Gilligan’s Island theme song joke here).  The original Hobbiton set used in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy was not preserved, and had to be completely rebuilt for The Hobbit.  It will remain as it is now, so hopefully, eventually, sometime before I shuffle off this mortal coil, I’ll get to visit too!  A peek at the tour brochure.

Hobbiton.tour.brochure.2

Matt and Vanessa got on the bus to take them to the set.  They were really happy, so excited to be off on this great adventure together.  It would have been a totally perfect moment, except for Mr. Bad Naked, who you can see over Matt’s shoulder.  A few ideas for you dude.  One, take a shower, a long one.  Two, cover up!  Three, muttering about lovely fishes and preciouses being stolen and how you hates Bagginses forever makes other people who are stuck on a bus with you really, really nervous.  Just saying man, just saying.

V+M.bus

Actually stepping out of the bus, onto hallowed ground, made all the uncomfortableness disappear.  HOBBITON!  HOBBIT HOLES!!  ROUND DOORS!!!  CABBAGES!!!!

Hobbit holes and gardens

Here is Vanessa by the Party Tree  And views in the village of Hobbiton.  It’s all so green and lovely.

Hobbiton village

After the tour it was time for a drink.  Vanessa made the acquaintance of two shortish guys who kept calling themselves “The Sexy Dwarves.”  They were handsome, if hairy, but Vanessa already had a guy of her own, so they left for greener pastures.  Even if she wasn’t with Matt it’s not like she’s that kind of girl anyway.  Two dwarves are not always better than one, no matter what Fili and Kili were telling her.

Shire's rest

Well, Matt and Vanessa had a tremendous time visiting New Zealand, and made tons of new friends while they were down there.  They were married just a few months later in San Diego.  Some of their new friends became so close to Vanessa and Matt that they flew in for their wedding!  Fili and Kili were not invited.

Wedding with hobbits

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