Monday, September 7, 2015

plans changed

So off we went on day three of our DART trip thinking we knew where we were going and what we were going to do...LOL.  And isn't that always the best way to ensure that things will change? We drove north into the scenic White Mountains and our first destination was the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tram located in the Franconia Notch State Park (a AAA "gem" LOL)

The view of Echo Lake from the tram during ascent...

looking back on everything now I see our plan was perhaps overly optimistic...

51*F and just  smidge over 10*C-

at the snack bar - some lovely flowers - to enjoy with my hot chocolate (LOL in August) while waiting for TB to return from his hike....

cars come and go every 15 minutes -

the view on descent - not much improvement on the ceiling...

so we had hoped that by mid day the cloud cover would burn off- the old coot at the top nixed our plans for the Mt Washington Cog RR for the afternoon- said it would all be in the clouds - being 2200 feet higher than Cannon's summit... so we went down to the base and regrouped...

meanwhile- I spotted a poster about "the GUY whose face fell off"... along the way we of course had seen many state route signs and I kept saying to TB- isn't that "the guy whose face fell off" and they just decided to leave him on the state route signage????

believe it or not- TB had (being from way out west) never heard of the GUY... so here's the poster from Cannon Mountain tram base- probably there because the GUY whose face fell off was located in Franconia Notch.... but we will cover that it a bit...he is actually named the Old Man of the Mountains...

closer in on the profile photo-

so this was a HUGE story when it happened which is why I even heard about it--- here is the USA Today story from 2005 (the date of the "death")

N.H.'s 'Old Man of Mountain' falls, saddening locals

New Hampshire awoke Saturday to find its stern granite symbol of independence and stubbornness, the Old Man of the Mountain, had collapsed into indistinguishable rubble

Turnbuckles that held New Hampshire's iconic symbol of independence and stubbornness gave out in Franconia, N.H.   The fall ended nearly a century of efforts to protect the giant mountainside landmark from the same natural forces that created it. Only stabilizing cables and epoxy remained Saturday where the famous ledges had clung. 

"There's only so much you can do," said Mike Pelchat, a state parks official who hiked up the mountain Saturday to make sure there were no signs of foul play. "With heavy rains and high winds and freezing temperatures, the combination was just right to loosen him up," he said. "We always thought it was the hand of God holding him up, and he let go." It was unclear when the outcropping actually fell from Cannon Mountain because clouds had obscured the area Thursday and Friday. A state park trails crew reported Saturday morning that the Old Man of the Mountain was gone. 

The Old Man is a natural rock formation that was created by a series of geologic events beginning an estimated 200 million years ago. Over time, nature carved out a 40-foot-tall profile resembling an old man's face, and it soon became New Hampshire's most recognizable symbol. The face appears on the state quarter, state road signs and countless souvenirs and tourist brochures. 

Millions of tourists have traveled through Franconia Notch to view the profile, 1,200 feet above Interstate 93 about 65 miles north of Concord. In the 19th century, the profile inspired New Hampshire statesman Daniel Webster to write: "In the mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men." 

Dick Hamilton, president of White Mountain Attractions, a tourism group, has commuted through the notch every day for more than 30 years, and said goodnight to the Old Man every night when he drove by. On Friday, with his view blocked by the clouds, he said, "Good night, boss, wherever you are." "I've just lost my No. 1 attraction," he said Saturday. 

The state had used cables and epoxy to try for years to keep the rock profile from falling from erosion and the natural freeze-and-thaw cycle. Those who did the work had warned that a collapse was inevitable, but few thought they would live to see it. 

Gov. Craig Benson quickly declared that the face should be "revitalized" and said he was meeting with state officials to determine how it should be done and planned to form a fund to take donations. 

"This closes a very long chapter in New Hampshire history, but we'll begin a new chapter immediately," Benson said. "The old man is counting on us not to forget his legacy, and we won't let him down." 

David Nielsen, whose father was the profile's official caretaker for decades before passing the job on to his son a few a years ago, had tears in his eyes as he looked at the mountainside Saturday. "The oldest person in my family just died," he said. 

So there is the sad tale of the GUY... but on we went changing our afternoon plans to the following morning and changing tomorrow's afternoon plans (all very loose to begin with) to we are headed to Conway or Bartlett to catch up with the Conway Scenic RR- which does NOT go up a cloud covered mountain but through scenic valley landscape....

Along the way - just outside of Bartlett we spy a now abandoned tourist "court" worthy of a few photos- 

after stopping at the train station we found we had two options - a 55 minute trip from North Conway to Conway and back - leaving in 10 minutes or a 90 minute trip to Bartlett and back leaving in an hour - so we picked the longer one- and hightailed to get something to eat - finding a cute bagel/sandwich place up the road -

then we returned to the station to await our journey-

because we purchased first class tickets (fewer screaming children) we fell into some good luck - getting to ride on the Gertrude Emma - a restored Pullman Parlor car with wicker seats and an outdoor platform (reserved for a fee) with four seats for viewing out the rear (in this case, on the way back)

Off we went on our journey - with only five others in our fine parlor car- a couple and a set of grandparents with one child... most of the photos are from the return when we rode in the open air porch of the Gertrude Emma... just the two of us! 

here the Crawford Notch train goes by while we sit on a siding- you can see the waaay coool dome car in the middle-

and here comes our engine - now doing its end around move-

TB relaxes on the "waving platform from the whistle stop political era"

Detail of the woodwork on the Gertrude Emma-

the ceiling above the outdoor platform where we rode the return trip-

the view before the engine end around- while we were headed on the outbound portion of the trip-

some scenes from our return trip -

the history of the Gertrude Emma- 

So we really enjoyed our ride - returning to North Conway late in the afternoon and making arrangements to take the longer Crawford Notch tour two days later (along with lunch and a view from the "dome car").  We had heard from the old coot at Cannon Mountain that tomorrow would be the clearest day and so we were completely scheduled for two Mt Washington things for that clear day. Meanwhile- we went to check out accommodations for the following night nearby before heading off north to the town of Gorham (hop off town for the Mt Washington Auto Road) - where we are booked for the night at the Top Notch Inn...

So all in all a good day- despite the change in plans- dinner at a local pizzeria and back to the Inn... tomorrow the Mt Washington adventures!

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