Riddle Me This
Trip Start Jan 15, 2011
38Trip End Mar 19, 2011
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Our first stop was a bungy jumping bridge that rested right over the very river where Aragorn and friends passed through the "Pillars of the Kings." We looked around at the cliffs and river but couldn't see anything in that range of scale, but you have to assume that massive amounts of CGI were added to those shots. And no, we didn’t expect to see gigantic statues of kings, just perhaps an inkling of the grandeur shown on screen.
What we did see were bungy jumpers giving up $180 for three minutes of thrill. I’m not exaggerating – that’s how long the whole thing took
Despite the fear I saw on some of their faces and my own internal doubts when I looked at the drop, I did have a desire to try it. But $180 seemed too steep for me (so to speak). I think I’d rather skydive.
We departed and focused on our new destination. Because on that day we weren’t traveling just anywhere, no sir, we were headed straight for what may possibly be the most exhilarating, most stimulating, most mind-blowing place on the entire planet! You guessed it: Puzzling World!
We knew immediately that this was a "must-see" tourist hotspot when we noticed a whopping ten cars in the parking lot. On entering, we saw tables spread across a cafeteria-like room with mind-bending games laid across every surface. People scratched their heads while they puzzled away. We instantly took a seat and joined in. I built a pyramid while Katie worked on connecting links. After perusing the gift shop we were finally ready to pay the entrance fee and cross the threshold into a magical land of mystery and wonder!
The first mind-blowing spectacles we saw were green-tinged holograms and a plasma ball! We’d been sucked back in time to a gag gift shop circa 1990! Then we came across a wall that had black and white boxes painted in parallel lines with the boxes off-center from one another. Like a chessboard where the squares don’t line up. The effect made the rows look angled even though they were all perfectly straight. Weird. We toured through the “Hall of Following Faces” where inverted molds of famous figures followed us wherever we moved. This, evidently, is the largest room of its kind anywhere in the world.
Next was the “Tilted House” where the angle of the floor confuses your sense of what is flat and what is slanted. For instance: A mini pool table with a golf ball rolling uphill; a swing hanging at a 45 degree angle; people feeling balanced while standing on tilted stairs. The slope of the room and all its illusions got my inner ear feeling a bit wonky.
The exhibit ended with an “Ames Forced Perspective Room.” This technique was used to create the illusion of abnormal sizes between characters in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The shape of the room is trapezoidal, although when viewed from the outside through a window the room looks perfectly parallel and normal
Afterwards we set our sights on “The Great Maze.” It was like a human-size mouse maze, but instead of cheese we were hunting for four colored towers – yellow, green, blue, and red. The average time to completion: 30 min. to 1 hour. We set out on our quest without food or water; only our wits to keep us alive.
The wooden maze had no curves, only perpendicular turns, and it sometimes rose up with crisscrossing walkways resting atop the labyrinth walls. We quickly checked off the dead end pathways before running up our first staircase. We never looked down to try and decipher the best way to get to the towers; we figured the fun was had in living through all the twists and turns. We quickly found the green tower and moved onto the next corner. We hit the blue tower and then the red. Lastly, we had to get to the yellow tower which was closest to the start of the maze. Knowing it wasn’t back the way we came, we ran across the last couple of walkways and proceeded downward. Eventually we found the correct pathway to the final tower. We’d done it! I asked Katie how long it had taken us
Getting back to the start was, sadly, easier said than done. It was the hardest part! We tried to remember every turn we’d taken and ignore all those blasted dead ends, sweating for more reasons than the sun.
“How much more time?” I called out.
“3 minutes!” Katie responded.
I was getting frustrated. Time was running short and we couldn’t find the right path. Then Katie yelled “This way!” and we dashed forward, seeing the exit door just in the nick of — Noooooooooooo!!! We crossed the threshold in 30 minutes flat. We didn’t beat the time! We weren’t above average, we were just average. I slumped down in defeat, wallowing in mediocrity.
Later I rationalized that we DID beat the time
After such an exciting and stressful ordeal, we naturally headed to the “Roman-Style Toilets” to get some relief. (Don’t worry, the real toilets were behind the walls). An impromptu photography shoot later, outside of Puzzling World, gave Katie the power of fifty men in her one little finger!
By the end of it all I was feeling tired, hot, and hungry. Being thrown off kilter in dizzying rooms tends to slant me toward the wrong side of icky. We snacked on some Bumper Bars before picking up a bag of crazy Kettle chips at a gas station. We’d already tried Honey Soy Chicken flavored back in Christchurch. Today we chose Roast Lamb & Mint. The initial flavor was surprising, and definitely good (especially seeing as how hungry I was), but after a few mouthfuls the Roast Lamb & Mint potato chips tended to taste like…potato chips. Your mouth can only take so much salt before it all tastes the same: Bad for you.
Continuing on, our drive took us alongside another beautiful blue lake before delving into Mt. Aspiring National Park. We passed through the “Gates of Haast” and came out the other side to meet the sea. The drive north was long, curvy, and the roads weren’t in the best condition. In fact, we ran into a lot of construction along the way (which is often confusing for us motorists, I have to admit
Before long we were at Glow Worm Cottages in Franz Josef. We had just enough time to check-in and make dinner before hitting the hay. Tomorrow morning we had an early start with our all-day glacier hike. Exciting!
UPDATE! Alice and Katie are now embarking on a Round the World trip!
Visit aliceintraveland.com to follow along on their continuing