White Mountains Part 4

Our vacation wound down as the impending weather closed in.  Our last stop of the Lost River.  How did we find the Lost River, you ask?  Turns out it’s right on the map!  We got there just as they were starting to close up, so we assured them we wouldn’t dawdle and ran in.  I expected it to be just like Flume Gorge, but it was really very different.

The concept is kind of the same – a wooden boardwalk that follows a river, but the riverbed is strewn with boulders that have forms caves which are marked so that you can climb through them.  Lucky for (claustrophobic) me, the boardwalk went around the caves, so I waved them into each of them and met them on the other side!

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See? River – check. Boardwalk – check. Yet not remotely like Flume Gorge. Go figure.

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Let’s go find some caves!

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Aaaahhhh… smiling faces. We must have had fun!

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Our last view of New Hampshire before it started to pour. Goodbye until next time!

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White Mountains Part 3

Zip line!  Jacob had done a zip line last summer while on a weekend trip with his grandmother, but the rest of us were newbies.  Rather than do a zip line tour, we thought we should start small just in case it was so terrifying that some of us chickened out.  So, Loon Mountain, has a “small” zip line that goes about 750 feet over a river, and then send you back.

It was absolutely terrifying simply stepping off a platform and trusting this little wire to hold you up and whiz you along, but lo and behold, it worked and we all lived!  I offered to go first so that I could run for the camera and take pictures of everyone else:

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All in all, we decided that we were all courageous enough to try it again, and next time we’d do a tour…

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White Mountains Part 2

The real purpose of visiting the White Mountains was to ride the Cog Railway.  We’ve talked about doing it for years, but never got ourselves together to actually make it happen… until now.  We found out that the first run each day is with a coal-fired steam engine rather than diesel.  Who could pass that up?  So we got up early and made our way to the base of Mount Washington.

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This is the coal tender.

So the route is pretty much STRAIGHT up the mountain.  The average slope is a 25% grade (the steepest portion being 37%), so the steam engine is tilted at a 25% angle to promote optimum steam production.  But when it pulled up, it looked like it was broken!

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Ummmm… your engine is sagging.

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These are the actual cogs that the gears grab as they go up the mountain.

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Yes, that’s actual coal.

On the way up, we were allowed to wander around the passenger car.  There wasn’t actually far to wander – it’s just the one passenger car pushed by the steam engine.  But walking down toward the back is hilarious, because it almost feels like you’re falling down the aisle, and the way back up to our seat is like walking up an incredibly steep hill.

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Check out the mountains behind the engine… Beautiful!

We made it to the top just before a storm was settling in, so we got a beautiful view of the mountain range capped by storm clouds.

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Obligatory summit shot.

The trip back down was a bit more subdued, mostly because it was scary.  The seats turn around, so you are facing down the mountain, and they are tilted back slightly, but not nearly enough to make you feel that you don’t have to brace yourself or you’ll go sliding right off your seat and onto the seat back in front of you.  The brakeman is in the front of the car working furiously to keep our weight from putting too much pressure on the engine.  We all stayed seated, and breathed a sigh of relief, and a round of applause when we reached the bottom!

 

 

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Here’s a diesel engine coming up as we were going down.

We all agreed that we want to ride the railway again someday, and one 14 year old young man is determined to hike up the mountain next time!  We’ll see!








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White Mountains Part 1

Speaking of exploring new places, this year, we took our Welcome-To-Summer mini-vacation in Lincoln, New Hampshire, on the western side of the beautiful White Mountains.  Nathan has fond memories of visiting the area in his youth – we thought it was finally time to get up there and do some exploring.

Our first stop was Flume Gorge, a beautiful, natural gorge cut into the mountainside.  There is a boardwalk winding it’s way up the river, and then a nice trail coming back down.  Despite the fact that two out of three of the children are not the most happy hikers, we heard absolutely no complaints during the hour and a half or so we walked in the gorge.

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We did a lot of holding up boulders.

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… and climbing among boulders.

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Another friendly hiker offered to take a family shot. This proves I was actually there.

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Rainbow at the water fall!

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Climbing up and up and up. It was beautiful, cool and breezy, and LOUD!

Stay tuned for more New Hampshire adventures!

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New Horizons

Now that summer is really here, we have a little more time to relax and enjoy our surroundings.  As always, we’re looking for new things to try.  Last year, a friend told me about a bike path in Brattleboro that was relatively flat and good for young riders.  We decided to give it a try a couple weeks ago.  The entrance to the path is located just behind one of our favorite Brattleboro spots, The Marina Restaurant.

It’s really a nice trail.  There are a two difficult hills, one up and one down, but most of the trail is a nice and flat, following the West River.  There are lots of different terrains – meadow, woods, rocky cliffs.

The trail also goes by the huge construction project on Interstate 91 – they are replacing the bridge over the West River.  It’s taking forever for them to do it, but it’s really cool to see it from below.

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Here are Jake and Lydia biking through one of the most picturesque portions of the trail. Isn’t Vermont beautiful?

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Miss Lydia exploring:

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We followed up our ride with lunch at The Marina and frozen yogurt downtown… a lovely family day!

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We Made It To Summer!

 

I look forward to Spring every year.  Not just the warming temperatures and the return to green, but the renewal of family activity.  We go back outside, we get moving again, we work our way toward the end of June, when summer begins.  Even though I look forward to it, getting through the Spring season is hard.  Everything heats up, and I’m not just talking about the weather.  School, music, and sports all meet in a terrifying miasma and end in a crescendo of exams, concerts, recitals, and tournament games.

Aaron excelled at Farm League baseball this year.  His hitting and throwing have improved amazingly, and he’s starting to figure out what to do with the ball when he gets it.  His team was a bit of a challenge this year – he was one of the oldest, but he soldiered through, and I think the odds are good that he’ll go on to Little League next year.

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Jacob is a trumpeting machine.  Despite a mouth full of braces, he works so hard.  He was second chair this year in his middle school band, and also played in the jazz band.  He moved on to the high school next year, and is excited to get the opportunity to play in the marching band.  These pictures are from their end-of-year concert:

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Last but not least, Miss Lydia is a softball machine.  She loves the game, and takes it very seriously.  She recruited several friends from school to play this year, so they had a big team filled with friends old and new.  She hit, she fielded like a pro, she pitched!  I think there is a lot of softball in our future.  :-)

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IMG_6533All in all, it was exhausting, and wonderful.  As they get older, I realize more and more that there will be a time when I’m not running around like a crazy woman and shoving frozen pizza down my gullet so that I can drop Jake at band and go to Aaron’s game for two innings before I dash across town for the end of Lydia’s game.  And that thought makes me slightly sad.  That being said, I’m so glad that summer is here!  Let the long days and warm nights begin!

 

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Learning to Fly

Doesn’t it feel like with your first child, you’re always just a little bit behind the curve?  Everything that happens is brand new, and we have to write those chapters as we go.  When the younger ones get to that age, we think, “Oh, yeah.  We’ve been here – we know what this is…” but with the oldest kid, we’re constantly guessing and wondering and thinking and hoping.

One thing that we constantly bump up against with Jacob is the idea of nurturing his passions.  When he was little, his passions were pirates, and then Thomas, and then Star Wars… easy.  Now that he’s going on 14, his passions are fewer, more private, and harder to facilitate.  But one that we recently discovered was flying.  Our local middle school hosts an extracurricular flying program.  You have to apply to get in, be in academically good standing, and be willing to devote an afternoon every week for 12 or so weeks.  There is book learning, lectures, and few field trips, all culminating in “Flight Day”.

Jacob started out interested in the science of flying, and was unsure if he’d even be all that crazy about flying an actual plane, but as his knowledge increased, he got more and more excited about the idea of going up.  Flight Day happened a few weeks ago… students flew with a certified instructor in groups of two.  The pilot takes off and lands, but the students did all the in-between flying.  They went from our tiny local airport to another tiny local airport about 40 miles away, flying over the middle school in between.  After landing, they switched students so that the other one could fly back home.  I, of course, was there with camera in hand!

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Pre-flight… slightly nervous smile.

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At the controls.

 

 

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Coming in for the landing!

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So proud of himself!

Jacob’s first words upon exiting the plane and hugging his very relieved mother were, “I want to take private lessons.”  So – we’ve found another passion that we can start to nurture and see where it goes.  I don’t think it necessarily means that he’ll end up being a pilot any more than I thought his love of Thomas would drive him to be a train conductor, but we’re excited to support him and see where it goes.  Jacob is signed up for a week-long intermediate flying camp this summer, and we’ll be looking into private lessons after that if he’s still enamored.  We can’t wait to see where his next passion goes… up, up and away!

 

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