Category Archives: Vacation

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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This and That

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Aaahhhhh.

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Aaarrrghhhh!

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Flowers…

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… and trees.

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The ocean in our backyard…

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… the Arctic in our backyard.

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Shall we grill up some salmon on this fine Hawaiian evening?

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Maybe not. (Yes, that’s the grill).

It’s been a harsh winter this year, made all the more harsh by a blissful week in paradise.  All anyone wants to do is hibernate, yet work and school and band and piano and appointments and life keep getting in the way!  But never fear – Spring is around the corner.  Each day the sun shines a little brighter and a little longer.  I think we can make it!

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Thomas Jefferson

I had never been to the Jefferson Memorial – just seen it on TV and the movies.  The last time we were in DC, it was so unbelievably hot, we couldn’t even imagine walking all the way over there.  It’s really not that far… but somehow when it’s 90 degrees with 90% humidity, mileage gets multiplied by at least 10.  Anyway, I really wanted to see it this time, and I’m glad we did.

The building itself is beautiful.  It’s very classical looking, and open.

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The statue of Jefferson is situated in the center of the rotunda.  He’s larger than life, and you can walk all around him.  There is text that runs around the inside of the rotunda, all the way around, that reads, “I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

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Aaron in particular was captivated by Thomas Jefferson.  He carefully took pictures of him from every angle:

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No, he’s not taking a selfie. He’s 7.

I was actually quite moved by this memorial.  More than any other, this particular memorial made me proud to be American.  There are four quotes from Thomas Jefferson’s writings about the birth of our nation positioned on the walls around the rotunda.  This one in particular caught my attention:

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In case it’s too hard to read in the photo, here is the text:

I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions.  But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.  As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change.  With the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.  We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

What incredible foresight.  There’s no way Jefferson could have envisioned the scientific and technological advances that have occurred since he helped author the declaration of independence and the constitution.  The International Space Station!  A map of the entire world that fits in your pocket!  Yogurt that comes in a pouch!  But nonetheless he acknowledged that our society would always be changing and evolving and that our laws and governance would have to be flexible to accommodate that.

I know I don’t often wax political on my blog, but I can’t help contrast the intelligence and foresight of Thomas Jefferson with the right-wing norms of our day.  The rigidity, the thought that a certain population knows what is best for everyone, the lack of learning and understanding about the scientific truths evident in the world.  All of that flies in the face of what our founding fathers intended.  I keep thinking about the “originalist”  method of thinking about constitutional law.  These are the people (some of them on the Supreme Court) who believe the Constitution is a static document that should be adhered to exactly as written.  This flies completely in the face of what (at least one of) the Founding Fathers intended.

I think it’s time for  a Supreme Court field trip to the Jefferson Memorial!

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Our Nation’s Capital

My schedule at work is a bit different this summer.  One of the great things about my current employer is that they allow me to be very flexible with my work week.  As long as I somehow work my 30 hours, they aren’t particularly concerned with how I do it.  So, I’ve arranged to have Mondays off over the summer, working longer days on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  So, I happened to have a Friday through Monday off of work a few weeks ago.  Nate got the same days, and we decided on a whim to go to DC with the kids for a mini vacation.  One day of driving, two days of site-seeing, and then the drive home.

It had been four years since we were in DC, so the older kids had hazy memories of it, and Aaron didn’t remember it at all, being just three the last time we were there.  We stayed (in an economical fashion) on the outskirts of DC and took the metro in.  And then we walked, and rode the hop-on hop-off bus, and walked some more, and ate, and went to museums.  It was hot, but not overwhelmingly so.  Here is some of what we saw:

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The Washington Monument

This is one of the few views of the Washington Monument that doesn’t include a giant construction crane.  I searched long and hard for a good shot of the monument.

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The Lincoln Memorial from the Potomac side.

I think the Lincoln Memorial is one of my favorites.  The structure itself is nice and very classical looking, but there’s something about the sculpture of Lincoln himself that is very calming.  Even with the incredible bustle of people and voices magnified by all those hard surfaces, when you’re standing there, you almost feel like you are somehow connected to that piece of stone.  I don’t know how the sculptor did it, but wow.

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We ended up taking a river cruise down the Potomac, and got to see the monuments from the other side, which was fun, and a nice way to rest our feet for awhile.  Here are Nate and Jake enjoying the cruise:

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Is that a monument behind you or are you just happy to see me?

We had never been to the FDR memorial before.  It’s actually quite large, with many different sections commemorating his different terms as president.  Here is Aaron with his likeness.  Apparently, there was quite an uproar with the memorial was designed because they didn’t show FDR in his wheelchair, so the statue was redesigned, seating him in the wheelchair that he designed himself:

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Aaron begged to climb up in his lap, but I wouldn’t let him!

Here is Lydia cutting to the front of the bread line:

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Bad Lydia! No cutting!

 

We had also never seen the Dr. King memorial – it’s new since we were last there.  It’s quite impressive, with a massive Martin Luther King, Jr. sculpted within a giant chunk of white granite.  You walk through a huge rock with a fissure through the middle, and then there he is.

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The beauty of the hop-on hop-off bus is that it went a lot of places that we wouldn’t have ventured if we were limited to our feet.  We decided to go to Arlington Cemetery.  I’ve only seen it in the movies and on television.  It always looks so quiet and peaceful.  Apparently they aim their cameras away from the mobs of tourists.  And there were a lot of them (us!).  But, if you look past the tourists, you can see how beautiful it is:

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The Eternal Flame, which I can’t say without turning it into a Bangles song.

One more shot – I took this from the bus, and I LOVE the picture.  This is the Old Post Office, with Benjamin Franklin, the original postmaster general, standing guard outside:

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A bit more to come next time…

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