Last weekend my friend Nicola and I went to New Forest, a National Park located southeast of London. Even though it was about 4,000 miles away from home, being there reminded me of home in Minnesota. The giant pine trees towering above, the big green fields full of untamed, overgrown grass, or the countless streams trickling that provide the perfect background noise. But one thing, actually 3,000 things to be precise, made New Forest much more majestic than Minnesota’s northwoods; amongst these tall trees, spacious fields and calming rivers were 3,000 wild ponies wandering about. I felt like I was transported into a fairy tale. Every direction I would turn, there was no doubt I’d see another pony.
Here’s a couple pictures of these friendly, fuzzy animals.
Our adventure started as soon as we hopped off the train. Eager to see as many of these majestic ponies as possible, we spontaneously decided to rent a tandem bike so we could travel throughout 20 miles of the park instead of the mere 6 miles if we would’ve spent the day walking. Riding on the back of the bike, I put my complete trust in Nicola as she steered us around the thousands of potholes, muddy puddles, down winding hills and even through shallow river crossings.
Within the first 10 minutes of our ride, two donkeys nonchalantly began to meander down the side of the dirt road in a perfect single-file line. Despite Nicola and my excitement and giddiness of riding a tandem bike together, the donkeys paid absolutely no attention us. They just continued walking in their straight line—as if they were just too cool for us. I hopped off the bike almost immediately to take in this oddly wonderful moment. Right away, Nicola’s excitement about these two casual donkeys got the best of her. She managed to fall off the bike (though it wasn’t even moving) onto the soggy, muddy ground. At this moment, I captured this absurd picture. I chuckle every time I look at it. The donkeys clearly weren’t as amused as we were.
After a few minutes of laughing at our own ridiculousness, Nicola proceeded to join this donkey line—which is when I captured another bizarre and lovely picture.
“Bizarre” seems to be the perfect word for describing this tandem bike adventure of ours. I love that absolutely any experience can be made bizarre and memorable, and I’ve always had the richest appreciation for moments like these. When I came to study in London, I would’ve never guessed that I’d find myself surrounded by miles of pine trees, stuck on a bike with my friend for 20 miles and sharing my leftover carrots from my picnic lunch with herds of ponies. The randomness in it all is what I love the most, and I can’t wait to carry this love of spontaneity with me throughout all my future adventures—while I’m in London, but also each day onwards as well.