Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its sixth year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

Comments, thoughts, or just a friendly chat, use the response box below or email me at patrickgroleau@gmail.com.

June 20, 2014

THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD

... awhile back adrien and i arranged for an outing on her days off ... earlier this week she called to ask if i'd like to take the cog railway up mount washington ... i agreed, of course, because she's my sweet daughter, in the process neglecting to inform her that i've spent the last forty years deliberately avoiding this experience ... simply, in the early 1970s i was standing at the top of mount washington when i observed the even then ancient steam engine huff and puff and groan as it chugged its way up the flank of the mountain ... as it pulled up to discharge its passengers, many of them white-faced, others covered with coal soot, i inspected the huge iron boiler, the seemingly homemade support structures, and what i thought to be the rather tiny gear that kept the whole contraption from slipping off the track, and i said to myself, "never, not ever, will ride in that disaster-waiting-to-happen" ...

... why didn't i tell her this before she bought the tickets ... because, as i said, she's my sweet daughter ...

... sarah joined us, which is interesting because she's seriously high-places and heights phobic ...

... a drive up through crawford notch and we were there ...


... while we waited for the descending cars to clear the track i confessed my feelings about the cog railway, and it became clear that for sarah this was clearly one of those "confront your fears" sort of things ... interesting, it turns out that they're using diesel engines now ... quiet, fuel efficient (16 gallons of oil vs. a ton of coal), and, a fact that i'm thankful i found out at the end of the day, the machines are "homemade in the shed down the hill" ...

... during the 4,000 foot ascent we enjoyed a spectacular view ...

... we were told it was "okay walk around and to stick our heads out the windows" ... memories of sitting glued to the seat of a big yellow school bus, i was overjoyed ... sarah, however, was comfortable limiting how far she stretched her boundaries ...
 

... as for adrien, well, you know her ... the queen of england could take waving-to-the-peasants lessons from adrien ...

... two-thirds of the way up the mountain the train broke ... while the engineer and brakeman found a fix, adrien taught the little children in the car her "stuck on a train" song ...

... soon, we were on our way ... at this spot the brakeman told us that where he stood at the front of the car was fourteen feet higher than the seat at the other end of the cabin ... a very, very, steep grade, such that walking inside the car was more like climbing a set of stairs ... 

... adrien jumped out and climbed the last 1,000 feet ... (okay, just joking) ...

... i mean, how could she do that when after the engine ran out of fuel she ended up having to jump out of the car and push us all up the last incline ... my dear adrien, what a girl ... !!! ...

... we stood in line braving the 60 mile per hour wind and 30°f temperature so that we could actually climb mount washington, or, as it was, the top fifty feet of the summit ... hard to believe that 15,000 years ago mount washington was submerged beneath a sea of ice, with only the hundred feet or so of the summit that you can see in this photograph exposed ...

... mount washington, by virtue of sticking up over 6,200 feet into the prevailing winds, makes its own weather ... we arrived at the top in clear skies, but within a few minutes the clouds began forming along the west side of the ridge ... the cairns are to guide hikers who find themselves suddenly in fog and mist so thick that visibility is measure in inches ...

... near as i can figure, between "the" and "highest" the word "second" should be inserted, since it seems that a steady gale in an australian cyclone (hurricane) was not so long ago measured at almost 250 miles per hour ...

... in hollywood the rich and famous pay big bucks to get their hair done like this ...

... adrien and sarah, hiding from the wind ...

... the sky cleared ...

... and adrien snapped a shot of me doing my photographer flop ...

... adrien models ma's favorite hat ...

... we traveled with people from all over the world, including a friendly group from ontario ...

... on the ride down sarah began to relax a bit ...

... the brakeman on the left was "teaching" the man in the blue jacket ... it turns out that over twenty years ago the "student" had driven the old steam engine up and down the mountain several thousand times ... now he was working to become certified on the new diesels ...

... "we can stick our hands OUT THE WINDOWS ... yaaaaaaaaa" ....

... "they let us RUN up and down the aisle ... yaaaaaaaa" ....

... "we can HANG OUR HEADS outside in the breeze ... yaaaaaaaaa" ...

... mount washington is a special place, and the cog railway makes it more so ...

... adrien said, "dad, this is your fathers' day present from liz and me" ...

... i am so lucky, so very, very lucky ...