I was born in Bristol, Connecticut. After a stint in the U.S. Air Force I moved to New Hampshire with my wife, Jane. Never living very far from the Appalachian Trail, there was always the seductive siren's call to hike it. In 2007 I set out to hike the whole trail, but had to interrupt the hike for a six-artery heart bypass operation after 600 miles. I took three hundred days to recover and in 2008 went back and finished all 2,176 miles (3500 km) of the trail. This resulted in my first book, THREE HUNDRED ZEROES.
To support my hiking habit I've spent most of my life working as an electrical engineer. I'm an avid ham radio enthusiast and have authored numerous pieces for magazines such as the amateur radio journal, QST and other technical magazines, as well as motorcycle adventure articles. When not off wandering in the woods I live in Sarasota, Florida.
Watch for the upcoming book: A Few More Zeroes:Lost with the wind and the stars on the Camino de Santiago
What are you working on next?
I'm currently working on two books. One, A Few More Zeroes: Lost With The Wind And The Stars, is inspired by the success of my first book, Three Hundred Zeroes: Lessons Of The Heart On The Appalachian Trail. It tells the story of my hike across northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago.
This hike is very different from the Appalachian Trail (AT); there are no bears, rattlesnake or banjo players. Everything about the Camino is steeped in history; the scenery, infrastructure, the food, even the people. After the AT it was a culture shock. Staying in hostels most nights, eating and drinking in cafés along the way, and seeing dramatically more hikers takes a little getting used to. The multi-cultural atmosphere and the multi-lingual aspects of the hike make for numerous humorous situations and encounters. This book is nearing completion.
The other book, Where Dad Dropped In: A WW II 82nd Airborne Paratrooper's Adventures, is about my father's exploits in WW II. In all, he parachuted into four combat jumps, and also fought in North Africa, The Battle of the Bulge, and in Germany. My father had a wonderful sense of humor, and even though the topic is certainly serious, there are plenty of light moments to enjoy.
This book is far from finished. I've been working on it for several years now and the research has proven a daunting task.
Who are your favorite authors?
I like to read authors that have a sense of humor. One of my favorites is Bill Bryson. Of course, his most famous work is A Walk In The Woods, about his attempted thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He brings careful research and very good writing to the reader. He can be very funny, and sometimes acerbic in his humor, but he really hits the funny bone. All of his books are loaded with great historic and educational information, but you never realize that your being educated. I love his style.
Another humorous writer that I love is Dave Barry. He has a witty style and can be very irreverent, especially when it comes to politics. My family is actually annoyed when I'm reading his stuff because I laugh out loud so often, it distracts their reading. I recommend not reading his stuff in a library, you could be thrown out!
Other authors I favor are: Stephen Ambrose, General Gavin, Cornelius Ryan, James Burke, Bill "Skywalker" Walker and Alistair Cooke. Of course my bias shows if I mention my wife, Jane V. Blanchard.
Most of my favorite authors write non-fiction, but there are a few exceptions. One of my favorite fiction writers is Carl Hiaasen. I live in southern Florida and Carl's books evolve around the corruption, rednecks and wackiness that makes Florida a crazy place to live. Every now-and-then I will read a classic, such as Huckleberry Finn, Catcher in the Rye, The Sun Also Rises or The Great Gatsby. One needs to read a breadth of topics to hone their writing skills.
Full of hard-won, practical advice for novice and experienced hikers alike, this story contains many unexpected twists and turns. The co-authors (Jane and Dennis Blanchard) explore the nuances of hiking solo versus hiking as a couple with candor and wry wit and poke fun at themselves and their relationship. A must-read for everyone contemplating a long-distance hike.
A promise to his brother haunted him for over forty years. Finally, Blanchard set out on the Appalachian Trail with his brother's Purple Heart Medal to fulfill that promise. He learned that the wilderness and solitude can reconnect one with a Norman Rockwell America that at times seems long lost and forgotten. This humorous story demonstrates that adventure truly begins in the heart.