Monthly Archives: March 2013

Urban Explorations: The Manchester Ledge pulls us in

Disapproving of the "art" that now covers the ledges.

Disapproving of the “art” that now covers the ledges.

“Ugh, it smells like sewage combined with that Massachusetts seashore smell,” Janelle says.

I have to laugh. “What, like dead fish?”

She nods and holds her nose.

We are deep in the man-made slash that used to be the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company quarry. They smashed granite out of this earth to build their mills 150 years ago. It is a strange, mysterious place, a football field worth of ravine carved out of the granite. The chopped walls, now covered in graffiti, rise up around the bowl. In some places, like where we were able to scramble down into the ditch, the walls are only six or ten feet tall. In other places, the cliffs are sheer and easily 50 or 60 feet high. According to the history of this place (or legend, in a place like this the difference between history and legend is thin) the bottom of this pit was much deeper once. It was filled in about 30 years ago to keep kids from diving into the sitting water from the cliffs above; keep them from doing this because there were drownings.

This is a scar, still fresh and angry. This is the place where the city came from, where after the quarry closed a swim club called the Brownies would perform dives for crowds; a place where teenagers did and do come to play and sadly sometimes die, and now nature slowly, painfully stretches out to try to reclaim what we took.

It could be a beautiful place, like a mini Flume Gorge. It has that potential, that air of natural wonder, even despite its proximity to a ski hill and reservoir. But instead, typically, Manchester has left it to its own devices. After removing the stone and filling it in, after shutting it down and off, after trying with no success whatsoever to keep people from coming here, the Granite Ledge struggles once again against encroachment; this time against graffiti and litter. Piles of spray paint cans and energy drink bottles are strewn throughout the ravine, floating in green slimy outflow bubbling up from some hidden cavern below and trickling down toward the row of homes that line the western end of the gorge.

Janelle and I swing around the eastern side of the bowl. Looking up from the bottom we can see the electrical wires and tow lines from the ski area. The pool of sitting water that remains is mostly slush now, and the retreating winter is uncovering all manner of peculiar objects: tennis balls, paint trays, brooms, a football. We pick our way to the other side of the ravine and look up at the cliffs that give The Ledge its moniker, and I talk to Janelle about The Brownies. The daredevil divers would leap from the cliffs above into holes cut in the ice below. Their strange antics caught international attention and crowds in the thousands would gather along and around the cliffs to watch their ice shows.

Now, just ghosts. And litter.

After a while, we scramble back up a short section of wall, complete our circuit of the ravine and leave The Ledge to time once again. Along the way, we fill our daypack with as many empty bottles and as much garbage as we can safely tote out. We stop at the playground to toss the garbage and Janelle makes a beeline to the monkey bars. I join her and we swing around for a while, filling our lungs with spring air, considering the place where we just came.

“Not bad being out here,” I say hopefully, “any woods is good woods?”

She smiles. “Hey, for a Thursday after school, I’d say it’s pretty great.”

Inside the bowl

Inside the bowl

Tagged ledges

Tagged ledges



Categories: Urban Explorations | 7 Comments

Updates, events and more… Buffalo and Tough Cookie are once again hitting the road!

Little climber, big views near the summit of Mt. Chocorua.

Little climber, big views near the summit of Mt. Chocorua.

Things are happening fast now as we approach the two month count-down to the release of the book! Here’s some updates.

Edits done: The final edits are complete and the book is moving on to the design stage. An extra bit of good news is that it looks like there will be more photos included than we originally thought, which we think will be a great addition. Also, it appears that readers will have the ability to pre-order the book in mid-April. That’s only two weeks away, wow!

Events: On April 21, Buffalo and Tough Cookie have been invited to St. Paul’s Church in Concord, NH to give an Earth Day presentation. We’re thrilled to bring our story of outdoor celebration to the folks at St. Paul’s. And even though the event will be specifically for congregants at the church, we’ll have some open invites to give to friends and followers. Details are still being worked out and we’ll let you know as soon as we’re ready to go.

More events: The interest in the book and in us (even though I’m certain people are much more interested in Janelle than myself!) has been heartening. The result will be a series of talks and events and it appears they will be happening all over New England! Keep your eye on this site or our Facebook page for details as they happen. Suffice to say that we are going to be road tripping all over New Hampshire, Mass. and Conn. and that’s just the beginning. Hope we find some time to hike in there!

More Dan related news: I’m working on some Kindle-exclusive fiction that will be online and ready to download by the time the book is released. There may also be some extra Buffalo and Tough Cookie trail reports as a special little tidbit for our fans. All I have to do is get good enough at html to make it all happen, but it’s looking good so far!

Hiking: In all the excitement leading up to the release, Janelle and I have had pathetically little time to get out there and do what we love, what this is all about to begin with: hike. We hope to change that in the next few weeks and have some jaunts in our sights. All marketing and no play make Buffalo and Tough Cookie very agitated!

Here we go! Stay with us, it’s getting awfully exciting!

Categories: Press and Promotion, Updates and Plans | 11 Comments

Don’t let the sea urchin beat us! Vote!

Please vote for us! Thanks!

Please vote for us! Thanks!

Janelle and Dan have submitted one of their favorite photos taken of them (above) to the Outdoor Nation Outdoorsy contest and they are looking for your vote to put them over the top. They are currently in third place, sneaking up on second, but have a ways to go to catch up to first. Don’t let that first place sea urchin beat them! Click the link below and vote. Hint: Every computer can cast a new vote! We’d love to win some outdoorsy gear and take down that sea urchin (though we admit it’s pretty cute!).

Thank you! Here’s the link: Vote for Buffalo and Tough Cookie

Categories: Press and Promotion | Leave a comment

A FREEBIE to our fans for all your support!

Our new bookmarks are out and we think they look pretty nifty! They are full color, glossy and a nice thick paper stock. And you can have them, FREE! How is this possible you might ask? Easy… just send a SASE to Free Bookmark, 696 Hevey Street, Manchester, NH 03102 and we’ll get yours right in the mail. There’s a limited number right now, so hurry. If demand is high, we’ll make more.

Our new bookmarks are out and we think they look pretty nifty! They are full color, glossy and a nice thick paper stock. And you can have them, FREE! How is this possible you might ask? Easy… just send a SASE to Free Bookmark, 686 Hevey Street, Manchester, NH 03102 and we’ll get yours right in the mail. There’s a limited number right now, so hurry. If demand is high, we’ll make more!

Categories: Press and Promotion | 1 Comment

To be a tourist, one must tour…

Sometimes it's about the hike. Sometimes, it's about the fort.

Sometimes it’s about the hike. Sometimes, it’s about the fort.

… and so, tour we did.

This weekend, under bright blue skies fit for the finest of above tree-line hiking, we shunned the trails and made like tourists. With temps in the 40s, we took the twins up north for a weekend of shopping, eating, fort building, star-gazing and general laziness. And you know what, it felt pretty good!

And that’s it. Nothing else to report today, no grand adventure besides the joy and happy triumph of being with each other in the mountains on a warm weekend that felt like spring.

Some book updates: The book edits came back from the publisher over the weekend and they look pretty manageable. Looks like the book will include not just trail information about our own hikes, but a wide variety of info on trails and history of each of the 52. Very cool! Also, it appears that there will be many more photos than we originally had anticipated. Also, great!

The timing of the book drop still appears to be on schedule for sometime in the second half of May. We’re currently negotiating for a couple more events prior to the drop, and then a whole host of readings and presentations after. Stay tuned!

Meantime, we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves monopolizing the Sunday Magazine section of the Nashua Telegraph yesterday with a wonderful and kind feature penned by reporter Teresa Santoski. We’ve been humbled by the amount of interest the media has shown toward our adventure and were thrilled beyond words to see this story appear. Teresa really captured Janelle’s feisty spirit. Please give it a read and let Teresa know how you feel as well.

Here’s the link: Love of hiking bonds pair, spurs book

As always, thanks for digging what we’re doing. Spring is in the air and Janelle and I are itching to get our feet back on the trail soon. So, the countdown has begun. Onward we go!

Categories: Press and Promotion, Updates and Plans | 2 Comments

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