Every couple weeks I search out more and more odd things just to give the couple dedicated readers I (probably) have yet more insights into everything that was quintessential me as I was growing up. Nothing quite says "8yo Me" like the excitement of a gondola ride up a mountain, for the highlight of any trip north to the White Mountains all those Precambrian years of my life was undoubtedly the five minute ride along those waves of cables and towers.
If I'm not mistaken, I believe Mount Canon was the one with the tramway, which was like a bus-sized lift bringing people to the summit and back, and Mount Loon had the more intimate gondolas, which I liked better. I remember the tramway actually had only one big tower post in the middle doing all the heavy lifting while the gondolas had them marching up the side like a ski lift. Mount Wildcat also had the gondolas, but that was more of a skiing destination, so we didn't ascend that one much. Ironically the biggest one of them all, Mount Washington, is a drive up, which is also the most harrowing ascent of them all for reasons those of us in the know will know! "This Car Climbed Mt. Washington" is a popular bumper sticker up here for all those who've done it and survived. But at least they give you an audio tour guide when you're driving up that is both informative and hilarious to play along the way if you should ever find your front end dangling off a ledge! "Make sure to take this opportunity to view the beautiful vista to your left..." Ahhhh!
When riding the gondola though, I actually wasn't so much interested in the views my dad was constantly trying to get me to "stare out at." Like most boys, I was way more interested in the mechanism of the actual lift itself, its lonely outpost towers sticking up the blinding-white snow slope like advancing high-tension lines every here and there, that slight "bump-bump" I'd hear every couple minutes, and of course all the waving at the other gondolas passing on the way down. Once at the top, the excitement cooled as we'd enter that Enterprise docking bay, although coming up on it was always a contest of "who could spot it first." "Oh I see where we're going now!" I'd usually spend the whole time at the top just dreaming of the way down, and at the bottom be all like "let's go again!"
Now all this was rather odd because I had a deathly fear of heights, but something about taking off in one of these guys was more exciting than fear-inducing, probably because I figured if they ever fell off at least the enclosure might break the impact a tad. This love of riding the lift itself (and never the actual skiing experience, for I have never skied) may seem rather trite now compared to all the grandeur going on around it, but you got to imagine what these things were to the proverbial 8yo Me. When these guys came sliding down the line into place and those futuristic doors opened, they ceased being a mere lift device and became Enterprise shuttlecrafts! You step in and it's nothing but "God help us in the hands of engineers!" and "warp speed ahead!" It was nothing but a little futuristic escapism in the great middle of nowhere.