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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fixes and a Better Ferry Experience

 Coming back to the van after a day on the mountain, we noticed drips from the holding tank again. We cleaned it out in Vermont yesterday at a municipal waste facility and thought the problem was solved. From Mt Washington we drove to three places hoping to find a new valve. The third place had one and we bought it and headed to a campsite in Vermont to dump our tank and replace the valve. After dumping, the valve seemed to seal fine. We added clean water and nothing leaked out. Decided to take it to the repair shop tomorrow as the tech said he could see us at 8:30. I suspect something was damaged on that less-than-graceful ferry dismount in Michigan last month. 

Enjoyed a quiet night at Pleasant Valley Campground in South Ryegate, Vermont. 

The campground sits on a hill overlooking a little farm pond. The park is primarily permanent campers, nicely maintained, and reasonable at $27 for the night.

Steve Dana of Dana's RV in Monroe, NH replaced our black tank valve this morning in under an hour and for less than $50. For our tire deflation problem, he recommended Aarons in Whitefield, New Hampshire, so we headed over there next. 

Aarons, like three other tire shops before them, didn't find anything wrong with the tire. The owner agreed that it would make sense to switch rims, so they put the spare rim on the current tire and switched the valve stems. We are hopeful that will fix this intermittent deflation syndrome. All the testing and switching around of wheels and tires was only $51.49! 
update: Our tire leaks no more. We love honest New England small businesses.

After looking at forecasted overnight lows in the 30's, and knowing campgrounds are booked for the holiday weekend, we headed West to New York to join Brenda & Lisa at Fern Lake. 

Parked in St Johnsbury to sample some Maple Candy. I remember stopping here in the station wagon on family trips between New York and Maine. It hasn't changed, and is still too sweet for my tastebuds. We did pick up a list of "best" places to see moose for future adventures.

The old Sugar Shack remains, though it is no longer used. A looping video shows how maple syrup is produced.

Montpelier was another short stop where we walked around the nicely kept town,

visited the Vermont capital,

and peeked into a local craft gallery. A culinary institute next door was tempting, but it was between mealtimes.

A walking trail around the town will, eventually, repurpose this old railroad bridge.

Crossed Lake Champlain on the Essex Ferry. The boarding layout was much better than the Canada-Michigan crossing. This one had long ramps with an easy slope. 

The lake was a little blustery as north winds kicked up a chop. 

A video does a better job of demonstrating the experience:

Despite the clouds and intermittent sprinkles, the views of the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondacks of New York were awesome.

Looks like we need to spend some time cleaning svIntuition's roof. There might be room for a solar panel up there too...
Revolutionary era stone houses came into view as we approached the Essex ferry landing.

By nightfall we were safely parked on familiar ground at the family camp in the Adirondacks.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Mount Washington Cog Railway

Forty-five overnight was a tad chilly, but worth it to be ready to ride the rails. Boondocking here, we were toasty warm after running the built-in propane heat.

Our camping spot overlooked the engine & car shops.  The engine house is served by a transfer table instead of a turntable.

Only one other rig was here in the morning. Another great reason to belong to Harvest Hosts.

Deflategate recurred overnight with that same outside rear tire down to 12 pounds when it should be at 61. We've taken it to three places and no one has been able to find a problem. It just occurs with large overnight temperature changes. Pumped it up and drove up to the train station. There were high clouds, but no wind and 80-100 mile visibility, so we bought tickets. 

Beth handled topping off the tire while I went to take pictures of the only steam train of the day.

Here's a view of the tracks built almost 150 years ago.

We decided to ride a diesel and take photos of the steam train running. The little offset engine was all fired up with 6,000 gallons of water and a ton of coal. 

It will need to stop for another 4,000 gallons of water to complete the hour-long, three mile trek to the top. 

I think I can...

Coal smoke really darkens the skies. Biodiesel for most of the runs minimizes the pollution, but I'm happy to see the old steam technology running.

We followed 30 minutes later pushed by a biodiesel fueled engine that would only need six gallons of fuel. 

The trip was very cool, especially considering the inaugural run was in 1869. 

Rails are, sort of, straight and attached with spikes and tie plates in most places. 

Views are spectacular, especially as it crosses the Appalachian trail and climbs a 37.5 % grade on a wooden trestle. It was the first mountain climbing railroad in the world!

Turnouts along the way allow trains to pass.

Even with cars constucted on an angle, the grade doesn't always match the window frames.

We had an hour at the top where the weather station has recorded the highest wind on our planet, something like 227 mph. 

Great views of the Presidential Range, we could see mountains in New Hampshire, Vermont, Quebec, and Maine. 

The weather station at the top isn't a place for those with an aversion to cold or wind.

Tip-top house, built in 1853, was a respite for hikers reaching the summit.

Thick rock walls and small windows helped it survive the fire of 1908 that destroyed another hotel and weather station at the summit.

More train photos and the trip down the mountain follow...

Electric eyes are supplemented by a railroad employee to insure the mountain top turnout is aligned before trains are allowed to descend.

Sound and smoke are subdued on the way back down the mountain. Gravity provides the power while the steam engine uses compression to keep the descent under control.

Turnouts and their controls are designed and built in-house.

Passing a summit-bound train.

After looking at the condition of tie plates on the passing track, we're glad the trains move at slow speeds.

Beth was calm as the engineer and brakeman controlled our descent.

As we landed in base camp, two more trains were waiting to ascend the mountain.

Our engineer checks the diesel engine after a successful descent.

If visibility is clear, we would highly recommend riding the railway. It is a unique piece of history and a great way to see the White Mountains.

Here's a video showing one of the steam engines departing the base station to whet your appetite.

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