Jedidiah Jenkins’ parents once walked across America, ending their journey in Oregon. Now, Jedidiah is on an extraordinary journey himself, picking up where his parents left off and traveling south to Patagonia, Chile — by bicycle. His is an adventure of dreams and beauty; of strength and resilience. Read about it here.
Describe the adventure you’re on: Where did it start? Where does it end?
I am on a 16 month bicycle ride from Florence, Oregon to Torres Del Paine, Patagonia (Chile). I started in Oregon because that is where my parents finished their five year journey of walking across america in the 1970s. I wanted to pick up where they left off, and travel to the bottom of the world. My route is whatever looks best day by day, road by road. I listen to what the locals tell me and follow their advice.
What was the motivation behind this adventure?
I decided at age 27 that I would do something radically different when I turned 30. I wanted to begin the new decade of seemingly true adulthood with a wake-up call to my urges toward comfort. Once I had it in my mind that I would take a huge trip, I discovered the pan-american highway and the cyclists who spend years traveling it. I knew immediately that that was what I was supposed to do.
And more than just the trip, I knew I had to begin my 30s chasing the dream of becoming a writer. So I committed to writing a book about the trip.
What challenges have you faced thus far and how have you overcome them?
Countless popped tires, bike maintenance, language barriers, one bout of food poisoning, the Andes – the horrible, beautiful, endless Andes, thin-air at high altitudes, nasty trucks blasting black smoke in my face, and ATMs eating my debit card. How do I overcome them? Laughter, photos, and more laughter. It’s the only way and the golden ticket to life.
What has been the most stunning moment thus far?
It’s hard to say. Cycling in the mountains north of Mexico City, seeing the Monarch Butterfly migration, and riding from colonial town to town was breathtaking. Biking on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca looked like Big Sur. And sailing through the San Blas islands of Panama to arrive in Cartagena Colombia. Those moments stand out as moments of such intense beauty that I was at a (rare) loss for words.
What were your expectations going into this, and have those expectations been met, unmet or surpassed?
I expected to see beautiful scenery, meet lovely people, and eat lots of different food. But expectations are abstractions built on memories and things we’ve read or hoped for. The real thing is always full of surprises, smells, temperatures, and tastes that we couldn’t have imagined because we didn’t know what to imagine. So in that way, my expectations have both been met and exceeded. I will say I am a bit surprised that I haven’t had one scary, dangerous encounter. I’ve only ever met people who were eager to help and share their country with me.
What do you hope to gain from this experience? Do you suspect that it will change you and if so, how?
I hope to gain wonder, a re-awakening of my childlike attention to detail and mystery, and the framework of a novel that will be based on this trip. I have already felt it change me over these past ten months. I am braver than I used to be. I am more confident. I am wiser in some ways, though I’m not sure how yet. I have a lot of floating thoughts that have yet to settle. Maybe they won’t, but I hope they will when this trip is over and I’m sifting through sixteen months of rich, colorful, wild, cold, and lovely memories.
Where can we find more information about or follow along on your journey? And when do you think we’ll be able to get our hands on your book?
I post my journey on Instagram; you can follow along @jedidahjenkins. Some extended writing can also be found at oregontopatagonia.tumblr.com.
I will return to the US at the end of this year and will spend 2015 writing my book. It should come out at the end of that year, or sometime in 2016. I’m going to put my all into the writing of the book; I already have so many stories to tell.