Sunday, October 19, 2008

Columbus Day weekend

The air in Maine is starting to become crisp, but the colors of the landscape are glorious. My lifetime friend Laura and I decided to escape to the White Mountains for the weekend and have some fun. Laura and I have been friends for over thirty years and closer than most sisters. We began by going to my favorite auction house (I'm not telling where it is!). Laura had never been to an auction before and enjoyed it so much that she wants to go again. I found some things that will find nice spots in my home, including some old niddy noddys.We stayed overnight in a small motel, and started out early Sunday morning for our busy day. We had a bite to eat at Peaches in Conway, NH. Their fresh peach coffeecake was a wonderful was to start our day. After breakfast we meandered on our way enjoying the magnificent foliage and scenery of the mountains.
The weather was spectacular. We had an early reservation on the Cog Railway, which has operated continuously up the side of Mount Washington since 1869. The coal fired steam engines are antiques, but are quite adept at making the steep climb to the top of the highest mountain in the North East US.
Our locomotive had three trainmen working on it...the engineer, the fireman and the brakeman. We liked the brakeman a LOT because it was a steep grade and he kept us from rolling backwards. The fireman had to shovel the coal to keep the steam up, and the engine uses over a ton of coal and 1,000 gallons of water just on the ascent. Halfway up we came to the water tank where we refilled our tanks. It reminded me of Petticoat Junction. The guy in the doorway is our brakeman and best friend on this trip.
Because this railroad is so remote it does not have any of the modern ameties that railroads have, nor do they have the ability to make repairs as easily as most railroads due to the steep incline and the harsh weather. There were 5 track switches, and each switch has to be set by hand. They allow one train to move off of the main track so that another can pass either up or down. We pulled off to let another train pass.Many trails go up the mountain, and due to the harsh weather most of the year several series of cairns have been set on the trails. Cairns are piles of rocks that will guide hikers when visibility is poor, such as in a thick fog or blizzard. Just keep following the piles of rocks! There is a small colony of year round scientists who live at the top of the mountain and operate the weather station. The weather here is considered to be the harshest on the North American continent. The highest wind speed recorded was here...231 mph in 1934. Hurricane wind velocity (over 75 mph) is recorded on over half of the days during the winter months here. The highest temperature? Only 74 degrees. We were lucky as it was in the 40's on the morning we arrived at the summit. The few buildings are either made on concrete pilings imbedded in the ground or chained down. One year the summit house blew right off the mountain so they decided to chain everything to the ground. And yes, that's a shot of me enjoying the day. Laura wouldn't let me take a shot of her for fear it would end up on my blog!

That was fun! After we came off the mountain in the afternoon we had a bit to eat, then headed over to hill and dale to Brownfield for a concert. We saw some wonderful fuzzy cows along the way and this guy posed for a picture:The Stone Mountain Arts Center is a hidden gem in the boonies. It was the dream of local woman/ entertainer who wanted to turn her barn into a performing arts center. It is the most charming venue, and the acoustics are amazing. We went to see Kathy Mattea perform and as usual got seats next to the small stage. Laura and I have been to so many of her performances that she has gotten to know us. One of the local farmers was giving carriage rides before the show, and Kathy came out to say hello to Donner the Belgian horse.

If the air had been warmer she would have come along for the ride, but of course she had to protect her vocal chords. She put on a wonderful show as usual and agreed that this area is very special in many ways. It was a great ending to a terrific weekend shared with a wonderful friend.


WoolenSails said...

What beautiful pictures of your trip, making me want to be up there right now. I never knew about the train, we always drove up. Someday I will have to try it.

Thanks for sharing


JoJo said...

Lauri, your pictures make me want to be back in Maine. For the most part, I enjoyed the 5 years we were stationed in Maine and still enjoy making trips "home" to see my husband's family. But I just couldn't handle the winters. Too long, too cold and too snowy for me.

The next time we make the trip, I'm going to have to check this train out. It seems to be really neat!

Kristine said...

That looks amazing! Would love to visit there with the kids. Sounds like quite an adventure! Beautiful pictures and scenery!

Miz T. said...

Thanks for your comments Krissy, Jojo and Debbie. I think we were lucky with the weather, as it is already starting to close in and was 18 degrees up there this morning with a 30 mph wind. I am so lucky to be able to see the ocean every day and live near the mountains too. Life is good! Although I won't feel the same in February when the snow is up to my hoo-ha's and I have to drive to work each day!

Rag-a-Muffin Collectibles said...

Thanks for the trip up the Mount Washington Miz! Wow, that's some neat old train! Incredible views and pictures! I'm enjoying YOUR blog and your UFO challenge blog. Love it. Good inspiration!

Jacque said...

WOW, Lauri...what a gorgeous trip up the mountain! Thanks for the photos!