Not bad for such a leisurely stroll.

Littleton from the top top the crags.

Kilburn Crags

Outside of Littleton, New Hampshire, and just a short drive from our Vermont HQ, is a pleasant path that leads to an ridge that has fantastic views of the town on Littleton.  On August 8, my wife and I ventured to the top of Kilburn Crags (there is handy map!) to catch this view.

As far as these things go, this was an easy hike.  The trail is wide and gradual the entire route.  There is about 540 feet of elevation gain and the out-and-back trip is about 2 miles long.  We took a leisurely pace and enjoyed the view for a good while - but we did not eat a meal on the route - which would have been nice.  The entire trip took us about an hour.  So - this is a great one if you have a dog in tow or kids who want to hike or you just want a quick, fairly easy hike, with nice views nonetheless.  We were also lucky because the weather was nice.

On Route 18 (also called St. Johnsbury Road) near its intersection with 135 (North Littleton Road) there is a small parking area with a handy sign for reference, though it is easy to drive right on past.

Though the sign says the route is .7 miles, my GPS suggested it is a bit longer.  Nevertheless, the 30 minute time prediction proved accurate - and that was with a bit of time soaking in the view at the top.

Somewhat oddly, the trip begins with a (recently, thank goodness) mowed path in a field next to a private house.  This short jaunt leads to the trail proper.  And I wondered if the guy who owns the house just mowed this for folks out the kindness of his heart.  I would have liked to donate some money to his gas fund!

The trail is well defined and rather easy going - wide, well-worn, and gradually up hill.  Nice way to travel if you can find it!

Finally, after a nice, well-shaded walk, you get to the crag, which is defined as a “steep or rugged cliff or rock face.” From there, you can see Littleton, New Hampshire sprawled out below.

Not bad for such a leisurely stroll! There is also a hand picnic table at the top, but we did not pack lunch.  Would be a great spot!  By the way, when you are done with the hike, you should head in to Littleton and reward yourself at Bishop’s Homemade Ice Cream - it is fantastic, and I personally highly recommend the cotton candy flavor. I know, it seems wrong, but trust me - fantastic!

And finally, here is a map of the hike as we did it:

A view on the way up. I think the road below is I-93. The trailhead is just a minute off of the highway.
A view from the top. Echo Lake is nestled in there. To the left is Mount Lafyette, one of the White Mountain’s 4K peaks.

The Day After Thanksgiving

I’m grateful for Thanksgiving, but what I really like is the day after Thanksgiving.

This day, there is nothing that must be done. Their is usually food leftover from the day before, so in the unlikely event that you do get hungry again, no problem. Everyone is recovering from the antics of the day before - cooking, eating, socialzing, arguing, drinking…etc.

So, the day after, you can do what you want. We went on a little hike up Bald Mountain, a short, easy hike in the northern White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Just off of I-93, right across from the Cannon Mountain ski area, you can quickly bop up to the top of Bald Mountain for some reaonably nice views. The payoff for the effort is quite high.

The hike up Bald Mountain has a modest stretch of rock scrambling, but it isn’t bad. It is very windy however, and you should be prepared to put on a jacket and hold on to your hat. After the peak, we came down and cruised over to Artist’s Bluff, which offers another nice view. After that, we turned back and returned to our car…a nice way to spend the day after Thanksgiving. Oh, and did I mention that after that, we ate pizza and drank excellent beer at Schilling in Littleton. Oh yeah, that was nice too.

A Lectionary Browser

Recently, I have been working on an interactive Lectionary Browser. A lectionary, in case you do not know, is a collection of scripture readings used in the planning of Chrisitan worship in some Christian communities. The most common lectionary is the Revised Common Lectionary, which is the focus of my little app.

The RCL consists of a three-year cycle. Each year contains a year’s worth of readings for every Sunday of the Christian Year and also some special days. And each day is part of a particular season that corresponds to the time of the year. The seasons are the same every year, but the readings for each day are different.

The RCL names it’s years with a complete lack of creativity. The first year is named “Year A.” Guess what the others are called? Year B and Year C! So clever. But they are somewhat thematic as each year tends to focus on one of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) and all of the years turn to John for special days.

The seasons used by the RCL are Advent, Christmas, Season After Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Season After Pentecost. The Season After Epiphany and the Season After Pentecost are somtimes referred to as “Ordinary Time” but the use of the word “ordinary” is confusing. It does not mean that they are dull. Rahter, it means they are “ordered” or “ordinal” and thus follow the pattern prescribed by the lectionary.

For my app, I first created a Ruby on Rails back end that served as an API for the lectionary readings. My application supports muliptle lectionaries, though I only modeled the RCL. In the future, I could add additional lectionaries easily. The Lectionary Browser also provides a RESTful interface, so resources are found via logical URL structure. All requests made to the RESTful API are responded to with standard JSON responses.

For the frontend of my app, I wrote a React app that uses Redux for state management. Redux was the most difficult part of this project for me because it is conceptually a little complex, but as I build the app and started using it in a real application, I started understanding how it works.

I made a nice video to show you how the app is supposed to work:

The hardest part of this project for me was getting my head around Redux and how it is supposed to work. Redux is a tool for managing state, which is something React does natively, but the React model is somewhat limiting. With Redux, you can provide pieces of your state to your components as you need to from a centralized store where all your state is stored. In order to accomplish this, the Redux packing provides tools for creating your store and manipulating it. Another package, called “react-redux” makes Redux integrate nicely with your React components by connecting them to your Redux store - with a function cleverly called “connect.”

Once you have your components thought through, and the data they will need discerned, you can connect them to your Redux store and retrieve the data you need for that component. Changes can be made, but you have to be careful that you don’t mess up your state, so Redux uses Actions and a Dispatch function that manages your changes to your state. Your actions are simple functions that describe your changes, and dispatch is a function provided by Redux that safely updates your state. While it sounds complicated, and it is a bit, it actually makes state management much simpler.

I hope to continue working on this project, adding a user model and note taking capability among other features. So, perhaps, if I find time, I will make this app more useful.