A Train, A Mysterious Hill and a Grandchild

The wife and I celebrated the July Fourth pre-week in grand style, taking a couple of side trips to regional touristy things that are of at least some marginal interest to fans, so I thought I’d share them in a round-up.

I also wanted to mention that we are now Grand Parents for the fourth time with the arrival of Carter Ryan Edwards, who is now a couple of weeks old.  More on that in a moment.

Karen and I took two day trips to central/northern New Hampshire this past week.  The first should delight all Train fans (of whom there are quite a few in fandom).  We took Bo the Wonder Dog along for a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad.

It was a short trip – 55 minutes in duration at speeds hardly in excess of 12 miles per hour – but it was an enjoyable, relaxing and – despite the rain – even scenic ride.  Oddly enough, the passenger compartments were very familiar to me.  The reasons why were revealed by an historical info plaque posted in our car;  these were the same style of passenger cars that were used on the Eerie-Lackawana run from Northern New Jersey into Hoboken, for transfer to trains running under the Hudson and into Manhattan.  (The same trains I used to board in “College Station” NJ and walk through until arrival at the PATH station.  If you timed things just right, you could walk ahead of the conductor collecting fares and avoid paying one – an important trick for poor starving college students who wanted to attend Fan Club meetings and conventions in NYC.)

The engines used (I know this specificity is important to train buffs) were Diesel-Electric, from the 40s and 50s, I believe.  They’ve got a 1921 steam engine, but it’s off the tracks this season.

I’ve included some pics in a gallery.  North Conway runs two different scenic tours, the one we took (55 minutes, pets allowed) and the 5 hour dinner cruise.  If you’re interested, book well in advance as they are apparently pretty popular during the summer months.

The other trip we took should appeal to horror fans and in particular, lovers of Lovecraft.

We trundled off (sans Wonder Dog) to America’s Stonehenge, formerly known as Mystery Hill.

According to the font of all wisdom (Wikipedia), the site was way popular in ancient times and may have been constructed and/or occupied by Irish Monks, Chinese explorers, Phoneicians, Iberians, ancient stone worshipers and perhaps 18th and 19th century farmers.

The claim for the site is that it was an ancient megalithic structure used as an astronomical calendar in much the same way that it is believed Stonehenge was used.

However, when one reads a line like this “…to move the stones to what they considered their original locations…”, one should give pause.  Especially when one sites along the line supposedly aligned with the Summer Solstice and realizes that there’s about a hundred stones that could be markers and that the “alignment” depends almost entirely upon what the viewer wants to see….

But there is a Lovecraft connection.  Old H.P. supposedly visited this site in the 1930s (when the owners were considering where the stones used to be) and was inspired by a hilltop surmounted by megaliths that was supposedly a sacrificial site.  The location is believed by some to have inspired scenes in The Dunwich Horror.

Alas, even this story seems to have been made up of wishful thinking and an inability to reconcile dates.

Anyway, H. P. Lovecraft almost certainly never visited Mystery Hill, which was not a tourist attraction at the time Lovecraft lived. It was private land in those days. The site did not open to the public until 1937, when William Goodwin purchased it, rebuilt it to resemble a European megalithic site, and gave it its longtime name. (It was renamed America’s Stonehenge in 1982 to differentiate itfrom other attractions with the same name.) Lovecraft was dying of intestinal cancer in 1937 and would not have been able to visit before passing in March. As I’ve reported before, many authors claim Lovecraft based the standing stones of The Dunwich Horror (1928) on Mystery Hill, but there is no evidence that he ever visited the site at all, let alone prior to 1928, when it was just some rocks in the woods.  From Jasconcolivto.com

On the other hand, it was possible to squint real hard, ignore history and publishing dates and imagine that this place might be the kind of place that would have inspired H.P. Except for the Alpacas. There are several on site and to be quite honest about it, I found them more interesting than the tree roots and boulders we tripped over for a couple of hours.

Pictures of this excursion are included in another gallery.

And now the moment I am sure you have all been waiting for, the advent of Carter Ryan Edwards, my family’s latest addition to the human race.

A couple of things:  I’ve got a typical “new” American family.  I married a divorcee with two adult sons (best way to start a family in my humble opinion.  About the only thing I have to worry about is saying “yes dear, we can lend them the money” a couple of times a year).  The oldest – Scott – then married Liz, a woman who already had three children, the lovely and incomparably noisy Dylan, Andrew and Monica.  I’ve taken to calling them the Step-Step Grandkids.

Eric the younger spent a little longer finding a lifemate in Sarah and about nine months ago announced that they were pregnant.  Then things developed as they normally do and in due course, Carter arrived.  He’s the Step Grandkid.  (I make no distinctions here.  I’m an adoptee, so little things like inherited grandkids don’t phase me.)

I have already informed the proud parents of two very important things.  First, Carter shall be nicknamed “John” Carter Ryan Edwards (and I’ve already set aside my Barsoom books for bedtime reading) and second, I fully intend to corrupt that child in every way possible.  All he’ll have to do is complain that Mom or Dad or Mom and Dad won’t let him…and it will be off to the races with Grandpa Steve.  (Grandpa Steve?  How in the name of all the odd gods of the galaxy did that happen!?!)

I admit that this piece has little SFnal content, other than the debunked Lovecraft connection.  But us fans are supposed to be forward-thinking focusers on the future, and what’s more futuristic focused than a new mind that will be drowned (drowned, I tell ya!) in science fiction lore?  When I’m done, John Carter Edwards is either going to hate science fiction with a passion second to none, or he’ll be taking home the Hugos before he’s twenty!

Save your sympathies, he’s probably going to need them!

“John” Carter Edwards

Conway Scenic Railroad

America’s Stonehenge (Mystery Hill)

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