Dennis Blanchard was born in Bristol, Connecticut. He and his wife Jane moved to New Hampshire in 1980 where he has climbed thirty 4000-foot mountains, biked the trails and enjoyed the wilderness. Never living very far from the Appalachian Trail, Dennis was always aware of the seductive siren’s call to hike it. Dennis is an electronics engineer who has freelanced for amateur radio, technical and motorcycle adventure magazines. He now lives in Sarasota, Florida.
Mt. Hood certainly was majestic flying into Portland, Oregon yesterday!
The bicycle finally arrived today, at 15:15 (3:15 PM for you civilians). It was in good shape and Sarasota Cycle did a great job of packing it. I took a few hours to get it all assembled. Tomorrow morning, after a quick test-ride I’ll actually start heading east.
My destination for the first day’s ride is Rickreall, Oregon, which is about 45 miles away. With a fully loaded bike, at 70+ pounds (32 kg) I don’t want to push too hard. The profile map shows one 600 foot (182 m) climb, but doesn’t look too challenging.
I’ve written to someone there that is on WarmShowers.org about possibly staying there for the night. If not, there is supposed to be the Polk County Fairgrounds that has showers and camping for $10 a night.
I went out to dinner with my hosts that have been putting up with me and helping with receiving packages, etc. They’re so helpful and wonderful. As an added treat, their little Yorkie dog, “Piper,” is a real joy. I’m going to miss her.
Here I am at 32,000 feet, over South Dakota, cruising along and writing this on my computer. When I think back to my younger years, so much has changed. In my youth, I was building radios with vacuum tubes that were bigger than my current cell phone and consumed much more power. How far we have come. I’m writing this on my Chromebook, which is miniature compared to my early computers.
It looks like I am on my adventure, riding across the United States by bicycle, from Oregon to Massachusetts. It doesn’t seem real yet. There is still the issue of getting my bicycle, on time, in Lincoln City, Oregon. At last check, it was in “transit,” somewhere in Wyoming. Update: we are currently over Wyoming, maybe I’ll see my bike down there?
FedEx really has dropped the ball on this one. Twelve days to ship a 42-pound box from Florida to Oregon is unacceptable. Apparently, FedEx isn’t keeping up with the technological advances I mentioned earlier.
Jane dropped me off at the Sarasota airport early this morning, around 05:00. She seemed to have her emotions in control, but I suspect it was difficult for her. At one time, we considered doing this together, possibly on a tandem bicycle, but now was not the time. I promised her we will do the Camino from Rome to Santiago, in Spain. Now I am committed.
This flight is scheduled to land in Portland, OR about lunch time. I’ll get something to eat, catch the HUT shuttle to Salem, OR, and then meet my new friends, Neil and Claudia and they will then take me to their place in Lincoln City. They’re both ham radio operators, KE7XL and N0JRU. I can’t thank them enough for putting up with the schedule changes and for helping out.
The bicycle is scheduled to arrive, at the latest by tomorrow. Once I can unpack it and reassemble it, this show can get on the road!
After jumping through hoops, I was able to reschedule (for considerable money!) another flight to Oregon. I will fly to Portland, Oregon on 11 July.
I’ll finally set off on this adventure. My son, Tom, offered to help set me up with some friends of his in Portland. Unfortunately, I had already changed the flight plans. It may have been fun to see more of Portland, but too late now. Maybe next time?
Back in 2013, Jane and I were headed to Europe to ride a bicycle Camino, from Barcelona, Spain, to Santiago de Compostela. We arranged with the cruise line to allow us to take our bicycles onto the ship. They were going to keep them with the crew member bicycles.
Everything was in place and the day before we left Jane called the cruise line, just to confirm all was still okay. If it wasn’t, we would have to very quickly find a way to leave the bikes in Miami.
When she reached the cruise office, nobody there knew anything about the arrangements. The person she had arranged everything with was off that day and left no record. Panic!!!
Since we had to leave very early the next morning, there was no way to contact the person responsible. The only alternative was to take off all of the bicycle equipment from our bicycles, such as luggage racks, panniers, tools, spares, odometers, bells, in essence, everything. I rushed out to our bicycle storage shed and spent several hours taking everything off and finding sufficient old suitcases and bags to put everything in. This amounted to an additional seven large bags we had not intended on bringing, 11 bags in total.
We ended up having to buy two bicycles in Barcelona, Spain when we arrived. Expensive? Yes. We didn’t have much choice.
Later, after the cruise, we did contact the person responsible and there was a document allowing us to bring the bikes, but it was a little late at that point.
Tonight, I checked the tracking number at Fed-Ex for my bicycle that I shipped last Friday, five days ago. For reasons I cannot imagine, even with the holiday, it didn’t go out until this morning. This means it won’t arrive in Oregon until July 12th. This leaves me only a few choices:
Change my flight that leaves in a few hours, early tomorrow morning. Delta will charge me $200+ to change the flight.
Take the scheduled flight and hang around in Portland, Oregon for five days. No offence Portland, I hear you’re a nice city, but that could get expensive, even more than the $200+.
There is no “third” option, at least not one that I can think of.
Two of the boxes that I shipped via USPS to a wonderful couple in Lincoln City, OR arrived today and they were going to pick me up tomorrow afternoon. I had to contact them and let them know I won’t be there. Bummer, I feel like an idiot.
How I miss those carefree days, back in the sixties, when one could just run into the airport, grab a ticket and hop a plane. Some things have just not gotten better with time and flying is one of them. As I write this, I have a call into Delta to speak with a representative. The automated answering service told me there is an “over” two-hour wait for the return call. Two hours! If they’re that busy, they might consider hiring more people to answer phones. Two hours.
I’ll be posting from a long bicycle ride that I’m taking in July/August/September of 2016. My intention is to ride from the coast of Oregon to the coast of Massachusetts. Tentatively, I will be riding across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
From Wisconsin, I will take the ferry across Lake Michigan. After that, my plans are not definite, but I will probably ride across Canada for a few miles and then re-enter the US at New York, then traverse New Hampshire, and finish at Newburyport, Massachusetts.
A lot could change along the way. If I get too behind in my schedule, I could head south from Missoula, Montana and go down through Colorado, and head through Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama and into Florida and home.
In any case, I will be carrying a ham radio with me, since I never leave home without it. I will be active on Morse code, single sideband and a digital radio mode known as PSK31. This will prove useful in places where there is no cell phone service. There are still vast areas where there is little or no cell service. In the summer of 2015 Jane and I hiked the length of Vermont and for most of the hike had very little phone service.
Follow along here as I post when I can. It should be quite an adventure, a proper way to celebrate turning seventy!