Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A New Adventure

Well, I'm not sure this blog has been so much neglected as it's been abandoned. A month is the longest I've gone without posting since I started it back in 2005. It hasn't been for lack of time: now that the summer is over and things are settling back down, I've been attending to such pressing matters as catching up on my reading. It hasn't been for a lack of subject matter: while nothing earth-shattering has happened on the line, there have been little incidents here and there that, at the time, I thought might make for a good blog posting. I can't say I'm suffering from writer's block because I've been making decent headway on my other project (although I won't come even close to making the goal I set last New Year's Day).

The problem, I think, is that I've lapsed into a sort of inertia where my flying life is concerned. With eighteen months in the left seat, I'm getting comfortably settled into Captainhood. The JungleBus hasn't been holding any major surprises. I'm still learning things all the time, but they tend to be small tips and tricks that make the job go smoother, no big revelations that make for interesting stories. Except for the occasional trip through Atlanta, I'm intimately familiar with the routes I've been flying. With little movement at my airline, I've even grown used to flying with the same group of FOs in my seniority bracket. I'm still enjoying my job, but it's an enjoyment more akin to sinking into your favorite couch to watch a favorite movie you've seen ten times already, as opposed to the sort that goes with strapping on boots and a pack and heading down an unexplored trail into the wilderness. I'm content with my job - just placidly, quietly content to coast along.

This isn't to say I'm bored with life right now, simply that most of my adventures as of late have taken place here on terra firma. I'm blessed with a wife who shares my hereditary wanderlust, and we've had a great year of traveling. We took major trips to Greece, Norway, and Italy this year, with shorter forays to Mexico and London. Of course, the more we see and do, the longer our list of "must-go" places grows. We're already planning 2010's Spring Break trip to go backpacking in Patagonia, and lately we've been getting a strong hankering for an Africa trip, too.

Motorcycling, too, has provided a lot of enjoyment this year. Last October, I bought a 1985 BMW K100RS, which I rode from Colorado to Minnesota before storing it for the winter. After retrieving it from storage this spring, I rode around Minnesota and Wisconsin for a few months before putting on a new set of tires and heading out west. I rode 1800 miles to Portland over three days; my longest day, from Wheaton MN to Three Forks MT, set my new one-day record of 920 miles. Over our anniversary, Dawn and I took the bike on a 800 mile trip through Washington's Olympic Mountains and San Juan Islands with our friends Brad and Amber. We'd been meaning to visit both places when we lived in Washington, and never did until now.

On the way back into Portland, the BMW developed an internal transmission problem that's common to the type. The shift selector shaft has a grub screw that tends to back out if its not secured with loctite, causing excessive shift lever play and, eventually, transmission failure once the screw drops into the gears. It's a simple fix once the transmission is off the bike and taken apart, but that's no easy task. The bike sat at the Portland airport for a few months until I had the time off to fly out, tear out the transmission, take it to a local mechanic for overhaul, and reinstall it. Twelve hours of labor and a few hundred dollars later, I have a 24-year old bike that shifts as smoothly as the day it was born. By the time I got it back together, it was too late in the season to bring the bike back to Minnesota via the northern route. I considered leaving it in Portland for the winter and riding back next spring. Then I came up with a better plan:

View 2009-2010 Round Robin in a larger map

I'm going to continue riding the bike throughout the winter and spring, completing a 8500 mile circumnavigation of the United States in seven legs, including the two I've already done. When I'm done with work tomorrow, I'm flying to Portland, and from there riding to Los Angeles via the Coast Highway. Later legs include LA-Dallas in January, Dallas-Atlanta in March, Atlanta-Cape Cod via the Blue Ridge Parkway in April, and Cape Cod-Minneapolis in May to have the bike back in MN as riding season gets underway. Dawn is joining me in San Francisco on Friday night and may ride along for portions of later legs, and my good friend Brad is planning on doing the Atlanta-Cape Cod-Minneapolis portion with me. In between legs I'll leave the bike stashed with friends, in storage, or at motorcycle-friendly airports.

I've already been on a good portion of the roads I'll be riding out west, but most of the southern states and east coast will be relatively new territory for me - at least from the groundbound perspective. The Appalachians, for example, I cross and crisscross on a weekly basis, yet I haven't driven through them since I was seven. Three of the four states I've never been to are in New England (the other is Alaska, a truly appalling omission). As I prepare to start this trip, I'm excited in a way that flying has not excited me in a long time.

No, I'm not abandoning the blog as I take off on my new adventure. I'll even keep writing about airline flying when I have good material - hopefully more than once a month! But you may have to bear with me for a few months as it also becomes a motorcycle, photography, and wanderlust blog.

To start off, here are a few pictures from the previously mentioned trip to the Olympics and San Juans.



Wayne Farmer said...

Consider taking US 180 from El Paso to Dallas. I did that in 1984, and enjoyed seeing Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Carlsbad Caverns. East of Hobbs, though, I remember the land as being dry, dusty, and unscenic.

Aviatrix said...

Your posts are always well-written and interesting, so take your time and publish them when you will.

Your motorcycle idea is awesome. If I had airline flight privileges I would do the same with a bicycle, or maybe a crazy combination of bicycle walking, horseback, canoe and pogo stick. Has anyone ever crossed Saskatchewan on a pogo stick?

Anonymous said...

Other than visiting a cool new (to you) foreign country I can't think of too many thing as exciting as what you have planned here. Ride safe.

Ron said...

Perhaps what you need is something to put the excitement back into flying. When you roll through southern California, drop me a line and I'll take you for a ride in the Pitts. That outta shake things up a bit. ;)

Dan in ALB said...

Sounds like a great adventure that you have planned. Just so you know, I found this blog because of the aviation stories, but I enjoy your posts about other activities too. It would seem that you had some material for "Where's Sam?" posts.

Capt. Schmoe said...

Photography, wanderlust and motorcycles. Sounds good to me. 60% of my favorite things. Add flying and you got 80% of my top five.

Thanks for the post

Cloudesley Shovell said...

Deception Pass Bridge . . .brings back some memories.

Tracy Workman said...

Lucky for you many of us use RSS Readers! Thanks for the update!

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

When in Tucson, you're required to stop and have Mexican food at one of our fine carts or at Mi Nidito. Ride safe.

2whls3spds said...

Shoot an email when you get close to the NC/SC area. Covered storage and airport rides available if needed. We are close to RDU, FAY, CLT, FLO and ILM.

Glad to see that things are working out great for you. Enjoy the Ride!


GreenPilot said...

what life on the line may lack you more than make up for it in adventure. be advised: don't ride from El Paso to Dallas. there's nothing down here.

safe skies man,


Sam said...

Gabe, I gotta get to Dallas somehow

Aaron - Thanks for the offer! I have a friend who lives right on the MARTA in ATL, am going to store the bike in his garage. If I end up needing something further north, though, I'll give you a shout.

Ron- I think you hit the nail on the head, a ride in the Pitts sounds like just the ticket! My bike is stashed at LAX now, I have to go out in a week or two to make a minor repair before my next leg, I'll drop you a line.

Wayne - I was on that section of road in NM when I was 15, I remember it being quite scenic. We'll see how much time I have, I may have to interstate it from ELP to DFW.

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