This was a great year for us! We got to go see our great friends, Ralph and Susi Coley, in their new home in Scituate, Mass. It is brand-spanking new and best part is it comes with a live-in attached set of Kids and Grandkids. Jen and Marty Geoghegan, along with their two boys (!) built the big house that Coley’s cute little bungalow is attached to. It looked like an arrangement made in heaven to us—but we only observed for a week…
The New Mansion
Plenty of room for two—two families, that is! And Pops Ralph gets a shop in the garage, and the boys get a big yard to mow! Winners all the way around!!
Family Fun with the Geoghegan Athletes
Both the boys, Finn and Owen, are involved in track and had a competitive track meet while we were there—so we bundled up and checked it out. It was an evening track meet and Owen ran early enough to allow for a couple of marginal photos. Finn ran later and there was no chance of getting a photo of him—until he and Owen stopped momentarily for a group photo.
And here we have two more athletes gearing up for the big meet. The estimated attendance in athletes alone was estimated at 4,000 people, so seating or standing proved to be a crowded process.
Our Big Outing to Mount Washington
We stayed here at the world famous $700 per night Mount Washington Resort—we stayed just long enough to have a nice meal and great local beer. Then, we moved on to cheaper accommodations!!
This is where we actually slept—and had another beer or two, and hung out. This was a comfortable ski lodge built to accommodate participants in one of the area’s favorite sports..
There is plenty to do in this area, even when it is the off-season as it seemed to be at the time we were there. So we decided to take our lives in our own hands and ride the Cog Railway to the top of Mount Washington. This railway was the first mountain-climbing railway in the world and it opened for its first trip in 1869. Originally, wood fired engines were then, and later converted to coal. It took a ton of coal and 1000 gallons of water to make the trip up and back. Now most of the locomotives have been replaced with bio-diesel engines that only take 16-19 gallons of fuel to make the trip—and no water. The special cog drive that enables the train to make the trip is still the same design as it was on Day 1.
The day we chose to take the trip found the top of Mount Washington closed to train travel, so we had to settle for going three fourths of the way up to the turn-around at Skyline, approx. 4,700 ft elevation. We started at 2.700 so the total elevation change this trip was about 2000 ft. Also note that the train does not actually turn around at this stop. The engine and car are not technically connected, so the engine must always be on the downhill side of the passenger car.
Here is our cute little combo of engine and passenger car. This thing worked like a champ and rattled our teeth all the way up and all the way back. Did I mention that the Cog train is a rough teeth-rattling train to ride!?
Here’s another train returning to the station on the new Iron Bridge over the Amonoosuc River…
Remember, these trains weren’t born yesterday. When it comes to brakes, the system is “tried and true” but not necessarily a 21st Century design. The two wheels shown below are for the brakes on the passenger car we were in. Of course, they are only needed when the car is going down—but they need to work! These did. The Operator wound the wheel one to tighten and the opposite way to loosen, and the ride down was well controlled. It was still bumpy, though, even when the cog drive was not working to push us up the hill. Not to mention those beautifully straight tracks!
Here is the cog system that we were betting our life on. It isn’t nearly as big and beefy as I would have expected but experience has been kind to the current design and the few accidents that have occurred are not blamed on the cog drive system. The first two photos are the tracks and the puny little cog system in the middle. The rail is classified as a “Narrow-Gage” track so it is not full width of a major freight train. The first photo is one from the Cog Railway website, showing the actual drive gear that engages the cogs. Do you see why the ride might not quite “jet smooth?”
When you are only travelling at about 3 miles/hour, you apparently don’t really need super-straight tracks.
The average slope of this Cog Railway is about 25 deg, and this photo shows the effect. These photos were taken from the train at 25 deg and then straightened to show the mountain as it really looked.
This is the Cog Railway Train Station where we bought our tickets, ate our “last” meal, and made a final trip to the restroom. No more food or bathrooms until we made it up and back. This trip favored those who could think ahead!
Here we are-wobbly legs and all, after an exciting trip. Ralph took his poles in case we ran into snow and had to ski out. No such luck! The Brave Bold Survivors–We rode (most of the way up) the Mount Washington Cog Railway and lived to tell about it!