John & Anne Wiley

2009/09/24

Big Adventure – Flying the U.S.

Filed under: Aviation,Big Adventure,Flying,Happiness,Random — John @ 22:36

Anne and I are ramping up for a round-trip flight across the United States in a Cessna 172 named Flash. The map above (click to enlarge) shows a direct line from San Diego, CA to Waterbury, CT in blue and our tentative route in green with dates. We hope to post frequent blog updates along the way, photos on my Photo page, and weekly essays on EdHat.com. Our current plan is to depart Santa Barbara for San Diego October 1. After a few days there, we’ll head for Moab, UT. We’re excited about continuing to discover the differences between the trip we imagine, plan, take, and remember.
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2009/09/26

Change is Constant

Filed under: Aviation,Big Adventure — John @ 20:30

The trip we imagine is shifting a bit. We’re now considering a quicker trip East so we’ll have more time there. To do that we’d skip Moab (saving it for a shorter future “western states” trip) going direct from San Diego to Santa Fe, and possibly also subtract the night in KS, then downshift to shorter hops east of the Mississippi. The longest flights would be two 3-hour hops in a day. Of course weather and any fatigue will have strong input on the trip we actually take! Once we’re in CT we imagine taking short day trips, hopefully including one to Maine perhaps staying overnight. Then we’ll make short hops down the coast to FL and then home across the south with some rest days as desired. Writing this now, it’s fun to wonder how the trip will actually unfold. What surprises will we encounter?

2009/09/27

Balloon Near Miss

Filed under: Aviation,Big Adventure — John @ 07:06

Just found out the Albuquerque Balloon Festival will be on when we pass nearby headed for Santa Fe. It’s such a fanciful thing (their motto is “Mass Happiness”), we have to skim the edge for a peek & pix.

2009/09/28

Chaco Detour?

Filed under: Aviation,Big Adventure — John @ 06:49

According to the ABQ Balloon Fest schedule, there aren’t any balloon activities planned for the evening we anticipate arrival in Santa Fe. We saw again tonight the amazing Mystery of Chaco Canyon docu on PBS, and are now wondering if we might detour at Gallup to gaze upon Chaco from a respectful distance. We once flew over Acoma, having visited it years ago, and enjoyed the different perspective and context from the air. Maybe we’ll get a raven’s eye view of Chaco, in the hope of going back to walk it in the future. Then we might also detour a bit south out of Santa Fe the next morning in time to see some balloons in the valley.

Any ideas or suggestions? Thinking about all this got me thinking about what else we might watch for along the general route. If you know of something that would be noteworthy from one or two thousand feet above, please let us know.

2009/09/29

Flying Boat & Bike

Filed under: Aviation,Big Adventure,Flying — John @ 05:05

We bought “Tippy Canoe” the inflatable Sea Eagle 330 “pro” kayak, inspired by our recent trip to San Miguel Island (see the Photos & Words links). Today we took her for “sea trials” on Lake Los Carneros. Anne doesn’t like her “tippy” personality, and the “pro” in me didn’t like how hard she is to hold on course. But Tippy did ok even with a fairly strong breeze, and she’s probably the best affordable inflatable (I did dream for a moment about those intrepid bush pilots who fly with a cargo canoe lashed to the plane, but I woke in a sweat). I think we can make her less tippy by putting less air in the seat bottoms and floor, and if not she’s tolerable as-is.

Now we’re thinking about bringing Tippy along on the flight, even though she gobbles 40 pounds of our precious target weight. We’re aiming 100# below maximum for performance margin, but that means not much luggage. Tippy was advertised as 26#, but maybe that was without seats and paddles. We decided she’s the last thing we’ll decide about bringing, after we’ve weighed and loaded everything else.

Another 40# item we’re “weighing” a decision on is “Bluey” my old bike (have you noticed how we name everything?). He’s a klunker 15-speed we bought at Alpha Thrift for $50 or so, and I’ve ridden him occasionally for probably at least 10 years. Now I’m trying to figure out a way we can both ride him. Turns out he’s a Diamondback mountain bike that was quite the ride in his day. For the weight he’s incredibly strong. We test rode him by putting Anne at the front of the rear rack and me at the front edge of the seat. With my feet on top of Anne’s he rode better than “Rosie” the Bike Friday Family Tandem we’d been trying to like. Anne could never get used to riding Rosie feeling like “hanging onto the tail on a kite” as she put it; assembly was rather daunting and took a bit of time; Rosie weighed the same as Bluey; she always felt unstable for both of us; and she had twice as wide a turning radius. Anyway, if I can figure out a strong toe cage or some way I can pedal full-power without mashing Anne’s feet it would be easy to get Bluey ready for flying along with us. I’ve figured out a way to have two comfortable standard seats, and he will fit in the plane with both wheels (and maybe one pedal) removed.

If we bring both Tippy & Bluey, we’d have a lot more exercise (and fun) on this long trip. Often the small airports like those we plan to mostly use, are 3 miles from town. It would be great having a way to get to & from a hotel or campsite (we’re bringing tent and airmat). If the airport’s near a lake, river or ocean, we can probably manage a few miles on the bike with Tippy in two backpacks either on us or hopefully somehow secured to Bluey. Might we even add the 20# of tent and airmat? Of course if the overload annoys Bluey we might end up carrying it all back to the plane. I’m hoping Bluey might put up with us because we’re buying him lots of new stuff like bulletproof Kevlar tires (for thorns, not hostile gunfire from outraged mobs).

We’ve nearly given up on this whole madness about Boat & Bike (and Tent) many times, but keep returning to our yearning for Exercise. I also wax lyrical on the experiences we might have with these extra options. Imagine tenting and canoeing on some placid lake just a short bike ride from the airport. Besides, we could always just end up leaving it all in the plane and getting taxis to 5-star hotels until the credit cards run out.

Should I add a Poll so folks can vote on this? Do we fly fast and light, gradually making up the 110# by eating ourselves senseless in fine restaurants? Would you like to see a blog from the other half of this aerial expedition, to get her perspective? Anne reads this, so let her know.

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