Week Three Wrap-up

Base of the trail

I spent most of my third week on my computer purging a lot of old unused files and reorganizing things. More than that, I was hacking away at this site and boning up on my dusty coding skills. I hadn’t concentrated on the site for a long time. Plus, I was going through the process getting the domain registered and set-up for the big launch. Unfortunately, there were a few snags in the works that delayed things. Other than that I was laboriously reviewing my code, tweaking things here and there, and trying to make sure I was producing good valid documents using proper Web Standards, but that’s enough of that.

Ali's brothers

I was still scooting around my new hometown and getting the lay of the land. I finally started doing some of the basic things, like changing over stuff and such. Of course being the bookworm that I am, I headed to the Waltham Public Library and got myself a card. There is a fantastic irony about the local library, however. After Ali’s first moved to Waltham she discovered that a distant family member worked at the library for years. Neither she nor her sister aware of the connection at all, until the name of the town prompted someone’s memory. Interestingly, both sides of her family pretty much hail from New Jersey despite having migrated all over in recent years. So, it was pretty much a surprise that of all the towns in the Boston area, a relation had beaten them to their own.

View from a vista

However, the peak of the week (pun deviously intended) was hiking Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. Ali’s dad and I packed up her little brothers and headed for the hills before they ventured back into the classroom. Apparently, it is a very popular summit in the New England area. Rumor has it Monadnock is the second most hiked peak in the world, but I don’t have any verification on that and probably doubt it. Regardless, this is not a hike for the weak.

The Crew

Having hiked extensively as an adolescent, I’ve spent time in the Rockies and along the Appalachian Trail. Anybody that has hike in both areas can relate to the enormous difference in ruggedness between East and West. Out West most of the mountains are higher but switchbacks climb you up to the peak. Usually they grade everything so that for every 100 feet you run the rise in elevation is only 10 feet. So, it takes a lot longer but the climb isn’t at all dangerous. In the East, the trails just head right up the side of the mountains. There is no method other than the straightest path to the peak. Even though the summits don’t reach as high, hiking in Appalachia resembles mountain climbing at times. It is rugged and borders on dangerous, at times. Mount Monadnock is no exception. There are a number of trails of varying difficulty, but they are all rock strewn ascents that require all your appendages working, as the pictures will attest. Ali’s rubber-legged brothers had no problem scaling the first half like a couple of mountain goats. However, on the way back down they started to run out of gas. It turned out to be a great day as the fog burned off and overall it was great fun.

Nik-Nik running on top of the summit

In looking up some things on the mountain, I discovered the origins of the word monadnock, which is rather interesting. A Native American word meaning “mountain that stands alone,” it makes perfect sense that the Chicago building bears its name. The Monadnock Building was the first skyscraper in Chicago, when it was built. Constructed with pre-skyscraper technology, all 16 stories rise from the street completely supported by brick. No steel reinforcements were used as a rule, yet. Thus, the walls grow thinner as all that masonry surges in the air. At the base the walls are 6 feet thick, making this an impressive throwback to turn-of-the-century architecture. It is a building that certainly would have looked like a mountain that stood alone, when it was built. It really is a beautiful building. I have been in it a number of times to visit my friend Bill who has an office there.

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