Thursday, August 21, 2014

Travelogue – weather 99% perfect

Wednesday, August 20

No way to know when I bought my ticket for the Mt. Washington Cog Railway what the weather would be like two weeks later. But the guidebook said reservations are recommended, so I bought online. The railway's website said there is no refund due to weather. So if it is so foggy at the top you can't see beyond your hand, well, too bad.

But it wasn't foggy, or cloudy, or rainy, or cold (though I put my jacket on), or snowy (yes, I'm told that happens year round), or windy, or otherwise stormy. And visibility was quite good! The train staff complemented us on bringing such great weather with us. So why isn't my weather rating 100%? Well... it was a teensy bit hazy. And we can probably blame that on pollution from Buffalo – or maybe Detroit. Yes, I'm aware how lucky I was.

I got to the Cog Railway base station at 10:15, later than the website suggested, but in plenty of time to change my reservation for a ticket and be on board for the 10:30 departure. Two trains spaced about a minute apart, each with about 100 passengers, went up the mountain at 5 miles per hour, covering the 3.5 miles in 40 minutes. We then had an hour at the top to gaze at the scenery and eat lunch (I brought mine, a snack bar was open). The ticket also came with a pass to the extreme weather museum at the top. I thought why would I want to spend time there with so much fantastic scenery to see? So I didn't bother. Then again, if the weather was extreme during my visit (and it is known for its extremes) it might have been better to see extreme weather in a museum than be out in it.

A view of a train. They still run a steam engine once a day. But the one I rode is less than 10 years old and runs on biodiesel, including used oil from area restaurants (though not enough to smell like French fries).

On the way down the brakeman explained that the engine and passenger coach are not coupled together. There are two reasons. First, the grade is so extreme the pieces of the traditional coupling would come undone. Second, if the engine become a runaway no one would want the coach to follow. So if the engine lets go, the brakeman can stop the coach.

A view from the top.

As the track was being laid the workers built sleds that fit over the cog-path. At the end of the day they would sit on the sled and swoop to the bottom. Most of them would do the 3.5 miles in 4-5 minutes. The record was 2 minutes 45 seconds, or 60-80 miles per hour. Better than a roller coaster because it was all downhill.

When I was in college there was an art sale – students were able to purchase posters of famous paintings. I think I spent $25 (big money on a student budget at the time) for six posters. I had them mounted on stiff backing and hung them in my room. I still have some (maybe all?) of them and at least one is on display in my house. One of those is a 19th Century painting of Crawford Notch.

I passed through Crawford Notch today. This is what I saw from a scenic overlook.

I also saw Flume Cascade and Silver Cascade, both conveniently viewable from the road and less than 0.2 miles apart. I did get out of the car to see them. This is the Silver Cascade.

Then I went on to Arethusa Falls. This wasn't so convenient. The falls were almost 2 miles from the road and the trail was steep. I certainly got my exercise. The whole hike was 2.5 hours. And at the top I saw this:

I had supper at a nice, yet funky, place. I'm currently sitting in a laundromat – 2 weeks done, one to go.

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