Visiting spooky Neverland in Second Life

Neverland - Calas Galadhon Halloween
Neverland – Calas Galadhon Halloween

Once again we are entering the twilight months of the year when the celebrations start to stack up: Halloween, Thanksgiving for Canada and America, Christmas and then the New Year. With so much going on, and themed regions popping up across Second Life, a real highlight of this time of year is a visit to the Calas Galadhon themed builds.

Every October and December, Ty Tenk and Truck Meredith bring us fabulous themed builds under the Calas Galadhon name, which allow Second Life users to fully enjoy both Halloween scares and Christmas good cheer. And this year, we have something very special: not one, but two regions offering a spook-tacular visit for Halloween.

Neverland - Calas Galadhon Halloween
Neverland – Calas Galadhon Halloween

Neverland takes its name from J. M. Barrie‘s Peter Pan and gives it a decidedly dark twist. Yes, there are pirates, Lost Boys, fairies and mermaids, but so too are there spiders, alien-esque jungles, imps, and creepy caves, all wrapped up in a journey of discovery. Spread across the full and Homestead sims of Esgaroth and Erebor – the names continuing the Tolkien tradition of naming Calas regions – Neverland is a place to be experienced, not written about; but you will need time to do so, as there is a lot to discover – more than might first appear to be the case – and an expansive tour aboard an elven boat to enjoy.

As is common with Ty and Truck’s builds, the landing point offers plenty of advice to get you started, and the information boards should be read. You can pick up a torch here as well, which may prove useful in your explorations, and the boat tour is sited alongside the boards. Whether you take the tour first or come back later is up to you – but I do recommend you do take it at some point during a visit, as it will reveal sights and places you might otherwise miss.

Neverland - Calas Galadhon Halloween
Neverland – Calas Galadhon Halloween

Travelling on foot takes you through the Pirate Cavern – complete with the steady tick-tick-ticking of a clock, the shadowy form of an enormous crocodile close by – and then through a dimly-lit tunnel where creepy-crawlies lurk, before pointing the way towards the jungle. Your goal here is to find the Portal, the gateway to the Calas Galadhon Halloween events pavilion (where a whole range of entertainment will be taking place throughout October). Signposts will help you along the way, be sure not to miss the other locations the signs direct you towards, be they up winding paths or ladders, over bridges or across fields of rustling grass. And don’t miss the tunnels under the Lost Boy’s camp (and the Lost Boys themselves aren’t quite what you might expect!

There are numerous places throughout Neverland where you can simply sit and catch your breath: camp fires can be found on the edges of gorges, nestled under rocky overhangs or close to the mouths of shallow caves, benches and seats at the sides of pools or under faery canopies. Ty and Truck’s impish humour is also awaiting discovery, while the Mermaid Grotto and the alien gardens surrounding it offer a burst of colour and light in the midst of the darkness and mist.

Neverland - Calas Galadhon Halloween
Neverland – Calas Galadhon Halloween

While instructions on how best to enjoy the build are available at the landing point, I will re-state some of them, and add one or two of my own. If you take the “journey cloths”, with their Cthulhu-like images, keep in mind you may well hop past places to visit – and when taking the boat tour, keep an eye our for clues to places that might otherwise escape a visit on foot later. Do make sure you have local sounds enabled with exploring (there’s also a carefully selected audio stream), and keep an eye out for ladders and bridges and stairs; not all of them may at first be obvious, and some lead to interesting little spots, such as up in the temple ruins.

If you run the viewer with shadows enabled, you may want to flick them off when exploring, otherwise the performance hit can be pretty heavy. The lighting in the region is such that disabling them won’t spoil the visual ambience (just keep Advanced Lighting Model enabled), and should you need shadows for photography, you can always flick them on and then set them back to None when done.

Neverland - Calas Galadhon Halloween
Neverland – Calas Galadhon Halloween

All told, Neverland is another marvellous gift to Second Life residents from Ty and Truck, one in which it a possible to spend an enjoyable hour or two exploring and discovering the various routes around and through the regions. It is very much a destination one which should be on the list of places to visit for anyone who enjoys Halloween – and do please consider a donation towards both the regions and Calas Galadhon as a whole when you drop in.

News on events at Neverland can be found on the Calas Galadhon Park blog, and the regions will be open through until the end of October, after which they will be closed to be made-over for the Calas Christmas theme.

Neverland - Calas Galadhon Halloween
Neverland – Calas Galadhon Halloween

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Earth Day and Lindens at Calas Galadhon, April 22

Calas Galadhon; Inara Pey, Feb 2016, on Flickr Calas Galadhon – click any image for full size

Update April 20th: Xiola has now blogged on this get-together.

Friday April 22nd marks Earth Day, when events are held all over the world in support of  environmental protection.

First held in 1970, Earth Day is now  marked in 193 countries around the world, and coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network. This year, Earth Day will also be marked by the formal signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change, negotiated earlier in the year, is due to be signed by 120 nations.Earth-Day

I’ve had my little birds flitting around Second Life, and I’ve heard from one of them that to mark Earth Day in-world, the Lab is planning another Meet the Lindens event for Friday, April 22nd.

The get-together will take place, I understand from around 10:00 through until noon SLT at the marvellous Calas Galadhon Park.

For those who haven’t visited Calas Galadhon, it is a stunning vision of the outdoors, covering 10 regions, and as such is the ideal location in which to get together with staff from the Lab (and perhaps a few Moles). I understand – although this is subject to confirmation – the main Calas landing point will be used for the meet-up.

There hasn’t been an official blog post on the meet-up as yet, but I understand that Xiola will be producing one in the near future – so keep an eye on the official blog for the latest on the meet-up. I’ll be updating this article once Xiola has posted 🙂 .

Calas Galadhon; Inara Pey, Feb 2016, on Flickr Calas Galadhon

Travel to OZ and celebrate Oz in Second Life

OZ Nightclub
OZ Nightclub, Armenelos, Calas Galadhon

OZ Night Club, floating in the sky over Calas Galadhon park,  is one of the most popular romantic music venues in SL. Music in the high art deco-styled night club is from the late 20s, 30s, early 40s with more recent jazz, pop and occasional country to round things off nicely.

Now into is fourth year, OZ has just had something of a revamp, and to celebrate the new look Ty Tenk, Truck Meredith, Kerena, Alicia and Romie are throwing open the doors for a special Wizard of Oz celebration night on Friday, March 4th from 19:00 SLT!

Featuring the music of HammerFLA Magic, the Wizard of Oz Ball invites one and all to come in costume, and the Calas team can’t wait to see everyone. Not only is there music and dancing, there’s also opportunities for photos on the yellow brick road!. Simply step out on the terrace and find your way to the platform with a great OZ backdrop and poses for couples, singles, and groups!

OZ Nightclub
OZ Nightclub, Armenelos, Calas Galadhon

So – don your ruby slippers and click on the SLurl below.

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Calas Galadhon re-opens in Second Life

Calas Galadhon; Inara Pey, February 2016, on Flickr Calas Galadhon – Gulf of Lune (click any image for full size)

Monday, February 1st marks the official re-opening of Calas Galadhon Park after the New Year’s break the park’s owners, Ty Tenk and Truck Meredith, traditionally take following what is a hectic three months for them between October and December each year. Although truth be told,  “break” is perhaps not the right word, because while the parkland may well be closed, Ty and Truck, together with Rmoie and Kerena, are rarely putting their feet up – they’re generally hard at work making changes and tweaks, and generally preparing for the new season.

For those unfamiliar with Calas Galadhon, it is one of the largest, longest-running privately held parks in Second Life, open to everyone to enjoy and offering a marvellous range of attractions and events throughout the year. The park is completely non-residential, and supported entirely by donations and out of Ty and Truck’s own pockets. And it is, in a word, beautiful.- and you can find out more through the park’s website.

Calas Galadhon; Inara Pey, February 2016, on Flickr Calas Galadhon – new landscaping at the Main St. garden

Running an endeavour as big as Calas isn’t easy, and over the years there have been changes; some have been brought about by the economic climate, others for personal reasons.

The latter has played a part in Calas Galadhon’s new look for 2016, as Ty recently explained in a blog post. In sort, two of the southern regions of the park, Eryn Vorn and South Farthing have been “retired”, reducing the park to 10 regions. Glanduin had also been selected for retirement, but in the end, neither Ty nor Truck could bear to see it go, and so its pastoral setting has remained.

Calas Galadhon; Inara Pey, February 2016, on Flickr Calas Galadhon – the view along the revised coastline from Dimrill Dale towards Glanduin

This loss of Eryn Vorn and South Farthing means the southern coastline of Calas Galadhon has changed, and I confess I’ll miss winter walks through the deep snows of both, looking out over the narrow channel of water to the tall mountains of the region surrounds. but, in contrast, the broad bay which now replaces the two regions offers its own beauty and opportunities for photographs.

Other changes in the park, I understand, include some changes to Dimrill Dale, new landscaping for the Main St garden next to the Victorian Pavilion, a new Gallery Wine Bar and an updated balloon tour system. And of course, the favourites remain: horse riding, boating, kayaking, hiking, climbing, and discovering all the secrets of Calas Galadhon, spread right across the parklands.

Calas Galadhon; Inara Pey, February 2016, on Flickr Calas Galadhon – the pavilion

Music and live events will also be taking place throughout 2016 at both OZ Nightclub and the Dolphin Café. In fact, music it will very much be a part of the re-opening week, with Reggie Sunset performing at The Dolphin Café from 19:00 SLT on Monday, February 1st, and OZ Nightclub hosting HammerFLA Magic on Friday, February 5th, 2016 from 19:00 SLT, and Samm Qendra on Sunday, February 7th, 2016, again from 19:00 SLT.

Calas Galadhon; Inara Pey, March 2015, on Flickr Calas Galadhon  – Armenelos

I’ve always loved Calas Galadhon. Ty, Truck Romie and Kerena between them produce a marvellous environment we can all enjoy. What makes it especially enjoyable for me this year is that I’ll be able to share the pleasure in discovering Calas for the first time all over again, as it is somewhere Caitlyn has yet to see in all its glory.

So, once again, thank you, Ty and Truck for your generosity in giving us so much to enjoy.

SLurl Details and Website

A Calas White Christmas in Second Life

Calas Galadhon White Cristmas 2015; Inara Pey, December 2015, on FlickrCalas Galadhon White Cristmas 2015 (Flickr) – click any image for full size

Ty Tenk and Truck Meredith, owners of the marvellous Calas Galadhon park lands, have once again brought something very special to Second Life in the form of their season Christmas region. And this year taking the theme of White Christmas, it is something very special, even by Ty and Truck’s remarkable standards.

As suggested by the name, the land is blanketed in white, a rich carpet of snow which also clings to the trees and bushes even as more falls from the darkening skies overhead. Sleighs await visitors arriving in the region, offering a ground-level tour – and Caitlyn and I thoroughly recommend taking one to start your explorations.  The sleighs will take you around the region at a gentle pace, following snow-covered track around and through the island before depositing you at the Christmas Pavilion.

Calas Galadhon White Cristmas 2015; Inara Pey, December 2015, on FlickrCalas Galadhon White Cristmas 2015 (Flickr)

But that’s not the end of things; the Pavilion is open to visitors, and offers a comfortable room in which to sit before a roaring fire, while the Christmas tree awaits across the hall. Outside, and down the slope, a frozen lake and ice-skating await, while the paths and tracks offer plenty of opportunities to wander on foot and to find little spots to sit and watch.

And that’s not the end of things either. A short distance away from the pavilion sits a balloon ride. This will take visitor up, up, and away into the cold winter skies, all the way to the North Pole, by way of mountain passes and snow filled valleys, all the way to Santa’s HQ. Here, reindeer wander the fields below the village or keep an eye on visitors while Santa and his little helpers take a bit of a break between making toys and gifts and starting on their 24-hour delivery round.

Calas Galadhon White Cristmas 2015; Inara Pey, December 2015, on FlickrCalas Galadhon White Cristmas 2015 (Flickr)

While Santa and Co may be absent, that doesn’t stop people peeking inside the workshop, dormitory, local hostelry and Santa’s house, or from visiting the launch point for the sleigh of sleighs, and from even sneaking a little cuddle while sitting in it.  And once a visit is done, a nearby teleport stone will provide the way back to the pavilion.

In fact, for those in a hurry, teleport stones are scattered around White Christmas to help make getting around easier – but I would venture to suggest it’s better to avoid them and make your way on foot or via the balloon (in the case of getting to the North Pole), because there is so much to see and plenty of Ty and Truck’s wonderful touches and little visual jokes. And of course, there’s also the reindeer tour – and don’t forget to put the festive audio stream on as well when visiting. Specially put together by Truck and Ty, it is the perfect backing for a visit!

Calas Galadhon White Cristmas 2015; Inara Pey, December 2015, on FlickrCalas Galadhon White Cristmas 2015 (Flickr)

I could say more – but the joy of the Calas Galadhon seasonal regions is visiting and exploring them, so I’ll let you do that for yourselves, and instead leave you with a little video after the links.

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Cybele Moon (aka the dune mouse) has also produced a short video filmed at the Calas winter region – please take a look!

Enter Valyria with Calas Galadhon in Second Life

Valyria, Calas Galadhon Halloween ; Inara Pey, October 2015, on Flickr Valyria, Calas Galadhon Halloween (Flickr) – click any image for full size

As we enter the twilight months of the year, one of the things I enjoy doing is visiting the Calas Galadhon themed regions. Every October and December, Tymus Tenk and Truck Meredith have brought us fabulous themed builds under the Calas Galadhon name which have allowed Second Life users to fully enjoy both Halloween and Christmas. And October 2015 is no exception, the Calas Galadhon Halloween region having opened its gates.

Valyria is currently accessible to members of the Calas Announcement Group, and will be available to all in the first weekend of of the month. I’ve been fortunate enough to have special preview access over the last couple of days, and can say with hand on heart, anyone who loves Halloween, fantasy and the works of JRR Tolkien and / or GRR Martin, is not going to want to miss what is on offer.

Valyria, Calas Galadhon Halloween ; Inara Pey, October 2015, on Flickr Valyria, Calas Galadhon Halloween (Flickr) – click any image for full size

This is a region which draws inspiration from both of these great story tellers and mixes them together with Ty and Truck’s own unique vision, to present a seasonal environment which is simply stunning to behold and to explore. Spread across, under, and over the region are a series of environments which naturally flow one to another, presenting visitor with much to see and discover – so much so, that I actually don’t want to say too much about it, because I don’t want to spoil the joy of discovery.

As is common with Ty and Truck’s builds, the landing point offers plenty of advice to get you started, and the information boards are worth a read – then it’s a case of following the paths and seeing whence they lead.

Valyria, Calas Galadhon Halloween ; Inara Pey, October 2015, on Flickr Valyria, Calas Galadhon Halloween (Flickr) – click any image for full size

To further help you in your travels, there are also two tours on offer: one by boat – which you can join near the landing point – and the other by dragon, which you’ll have to make your way to. In doing so, you’re liable to find the path through the region offers many branches and splits, each one enticing you onwards into deeper explorations. Some might climb upwards into the hills, others may lead downwards and underground. For the latter, a flashlight is on offer near the landing point, so you might want to pick one up before setting out.

The dragon tour will also serve to see you started on a quest which is designed to help you find your way to parts of the region which you might otherwise miss; just look for the “journey cloths” after dismounting your dragon.

Valyria, Calas Galadhon Halloween ; Inara Pey, October 2015, on Flickr Valyria, Calas Galadhon Halloween (Flickr) – click any image for full size

The centrepiece of the build – at ground level at least – is a marvellous ruined city. It is here that the various touches from GRR Martin and JRR Tolkien seemed to fuse into one for me. Exploring it, I felt as if I was both walking through the remnants of Tolkien’s Osgiliath, now the haunt of Sauron’s fell creatures, and also walking amidst the destruction which befell the City of Valyria, after being struck low by “the Doom”.

It is within the ruins that the Portal lies. This will take you to a further part of the build, up high in the sky, and which has another nod to the lands of Westeros.

With caverns and builds hidden below ground, the wonders of the city above ground, the world of The North in the sky, all bound together with dragons, winged beasts, monsters, spiders and so much more – including touches of Ty and Truck’s wonderful humour, Valyria is not something to be missed. It makes for another generous gift from a partnership who have given so much to Second Life over the years.

As noted, members of the Calas Announcement Group can enjoy Valyria ahead of the official opening, and the rest of SL from the first weekend in October. When you visit, do please consider showing your thanks by donating towards the upkeep of the Calas Galadhon park and make sure you have the audio stream enabled; Truck has once more produced a superb sound track to enhance explorations.

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