Things just got real.
Bucolic countryside; soft wooded path; meandering river flow; fresh clean air. We take our time to absorb all the beautiful nature surrounding us as we hold each other’s hand and leisurely walk from our starting point toward a barn 4km away. “This is nice,” I say, as my son and I smile at each other happily. All of a sudden… The sound of horse’s hooves clopping, racing from the distance, growing louder; shatters our placid moment. “They’re coming!” He quietly screams, as we dart into the bushes. From out of nowhere, they appear like the Black Riders from Lord of the Rings. We’ve been found.
Through dark woods and heavy breathing, we move like commandos along the ground, the tall grass and the muddy ravine. We have to be so quiet. They cannot catch us again. We’re on our last life. This is serious. “You go that way.” My son whispers out to me. “Shh!” I reply back. How they found us before, I have no idea. But we are their prey, relentlessly pursued. The terrain changes like stages in a game. We cross a river that, were it not for the fact that we’re being hunted, would be really pretty.
We move strategically, stealthily; we stop only to catch our breath, and then move on, quickly and quietly. We chart our course by noting every freshly broken blade of grass, every hoof print in the ground, and if we stay by the water, maybe that will throw off our scent. We hear faint trotting in the distance, and change direction. Ok, we’re safe now; we’re in the clear. We can see the barn on a hill beyond a dense undulating stretch and, if we can make it through that, we’ve got this thing in the bag. Together, as father and son, we plan our every step, our every breath, where and how we’re going to move—like cartoon characters tip toing between trees, standing still behind them, and then inching along the ground. The end is in sight.
“Oh, come on!” I gasp. From out of nowhere that haunting clopping of hooves thunders out of the thicket behind us. We’re running for dear life as our Mantracker has us in her cross hairs. But, like velociraptors hunting in tandem, a second horse charges out of the bushes ahead of us. We’ve been ambushed. We jump off the trail in separate directions as I scream out to my son, “They may take our lives, but they’ll not take…Our freeedom!”
It’s no use. I get caught, and seconds later so does my child. Wow! What a totally out-of-the-box experience. Cathartic, exhilarating, and two hours of so much fun. For us, what a great bonding opportunity. For families, friends and couples in teams, what a great adventure!
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Publisher of DINE and Destinations magazine.