Update: Season’s Cove appears to have closed.
One type of region we’ve always enjoyed visiting is the type that feels TARDIS-like; that is, when exploring it, it feels much larger than its individual map tile / 256m-on-a-side would suggest. There are many such regions scattered across Second Life, but one of the most imaginative we’ve recently visited is that of Season’s Cove.
Designed by Muira Mingann (Angelique Vanness) with assistance from Takoda Mingann (Mingann), this full region design ticks a lot of boxes for the avid Second Life photographer. The design is rural / coastal with a strong twist of fantasy, hints of magic; a place where wizardly towers overlook tumbledown dance halls, beaches sit above undersea gardens and tunnels with multiple rooms vie with surprise portals to carry you to places in the sky that further extend the feeling of being in a place that’s much bigger that its physical constraints should allow.
A visit begins innocently enough: a large terrace towards the centre of the region, cliffs to its back, water below its stone walls. It is home to a little café, a carousel and the first hint of the more mystic elements: a fortune teller’s tent. Two wharves sit below the terrace, each offering a way down the water’s edge – and one allowing visitors to travel much further.
Multiple paths lead away from this terrace. Some go around the plateau that sits above it, running south then west. Others point north and then east, promising to perhaps circle the land and meet with their brethren further around the region. Some climb the shoulders of rock to reach the plateau above, others dip down to the water’s edge and promise another means to circumnavigate the island, or to pass by bridge and track to its eastern lowlands, where beaches face the sea, water cuts a winding channel from the large inlet below the landing point terrace to a small pond, all watched over by the ruins of another tower.
A further path leads inwards, under the high table of rock, to where a labyrinth of tunnels connect rooms one to another as water drips from arched stone ceilings and stone cisterns sit with backs to the walls, offering the weary a chance to drink the water purified by its travel though the sandstone. The rooms within these tunnels offer a mix of interior settings, from small bathing pool to rooms clearly intended for more adult pursuits.
The terrace facing entrance is not the only route into or out of these tunnels: wander far enough around the island or within them, and you will find others. One of these is a wooden walkway that spirals up an open hole on the region’s north-west side. At its top lay numerous further paths waiting to be followed, including one running up to the remains of the old dance hall / theatre which, despite its decrepitude, still offers a place for music to be enjoyed within, complete with tables set for romantic dinners for two.
This is another aspect of the delight found within this region: around every corner, at the end of every path is something new and perhaps unexpected to find. Take, for example, the ruins of a Catholic / Orthodox church, complete with confessional, sitting within the low woodlands, or the quaint traveller’s caravan tucked into the lee of the main plateau and looking west to where a tall, rugged island is home to another ancient tower, more ruins lying below it.
Nor is exploration limited to using your feet. It you have a wearable Bento or Animesh horse, you can wear that and take to the paths and trails whilst exploring – most of the routes through the region avoid stairs and steps (although there are some steps and stairs scattered around, to be sure).
And when it comes to horses – keep your eyes open for pointers to the riding trail. They show the way to what initially appear to be paths passing through rocky arches. They are in fact teleport portals leading to points in the sky – in this case, either the “Season’s Cove Stables” or a riding trail in the sky (just be aware the latter including a giant tree house that is a private residence). Several such portals exist within the region; we found two more (one to a lover’s tryst, another to a “BDSM Dungeon), but there could be others that we might have missed!
Using the portals to connect with these skyboxes will require accepting the region’s experience on the first attempt – but thereafter they should be automatic unless or until you revoke the experience. Be warned, as well, that finding your way back to ground level might take a little work, as some return portals are intentionally hidden. Also, some of the return portals may rotate your direction, with the result yo might step back into the ground-level portal as you try to move clear on landing.
Another element of Season’s Cove that makes a visit a pleasure, is the care with which the design is curated. There is a lot going on the ground, in the air and underwater (look for the steps near the landing point terrace for a way down to the underwater gardens and their delights), neither Caitlyn nor I found our computers under any strain from the load. Yes, fps for me with shadows enabled did drop to the low 20s / high teens, but this can happen elsewhere, and certainly didn’t spoil the visit.
With places to sit and / or dance throughout, dozens of opportunities for photography and the chance to really explore a quite unique and details setting, Season’s Cove present a genuinely worthwhile and engrossing visit. Should you enjoy your visit as much as well did, do please consider a donation towards the region’s continued presence as a public space.