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.

Cusco-Peru-Jed-Jenkins
Cusco, Peru
Abancay-Peru-Jed-Jenkins
Abancay, Peru

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.

Lake-Titicaca-Peru Jed-Jenkins
Lake Titicaca, Peru
Boquete-Panama-Jed-Jenkins
Boquete, Panama

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.

Bogotá-Colombia-Jed-Jenkins
Bogotá, Colombia
Cuenca-Ecuador-Jed-Jenkins
Cuenca, Ecuador

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.

Oaxaca-Mexico-Jed-Jenkins
Oaxaca, Mexico
Quito-Ecuador-Jed-Jenkins
Quito, Ecuador

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.

Medellin-Colombia-Jed-Jenkins
Medellin, Colombia
Mexico City-Mexico-Jed-Jenkins
Mexico City, Mexico

What do you hope to gain from this experience? Do you suspect that it will change you and if so, how?

Related:  Journey to Colombia

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.

Bogotá-Colombia-Jed-Jenkins
Bogotá, Colombia
Baja-Mexico-Jed-Jenkins
Baja, Mexico
Morelia-Mexico-Jed-Jenkins
Morelia, Mexico

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.

Lake-Arenal-Costa-Rica-Jed-Jenkins
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

17 COMMENTS

  1. WOW. What an amazing story! What do your parents think about your journey and the idea of you “picking up where they left off”? Can’t wait to continue following along.

  2. I’ve been following you on Instagram ever since the beginning of your trip and I’m so happy that you’re featured on PP! Can’t wait to read your book 🙂

  3. what a beautiful and inspiring story. hope I’ll hear about the book ! and great photos by the way !
    courage on writing the book
    carine

  4. Hi Jedidiah

    I just learned of your travels today and was struck by how effectively you expressed my own feelings on the passage of time and a life well lived. Moments later I recognized your surname and read that your parents had walked across America. I can only assume that your father is Peter Jenkins, whose books helped ignite my wanderlust. It is strangely satisfying that the son was able to so beautifully articulate feelings planted many years ago by his father.

    Safe travels, brother. I look forward to reading your book.

  5. Ay, ay, ay my friend, your trip is really fabulous, you are a brave, but you must study a little geography, Patagonia territory is in Argentina not in Chile and exist a big difference. I am argentine citizen and for work reasons I have traveled countless places in Patagonia. Is a beautifull land. See my facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carl.stanley.77985
    Best regards. Carl Stanley

  6. First read “A Walk Across America” while feeling alone when I moved to Bogota, Colombia. Hated to read before that. Now I love to read ordinarily people’s stories. I look forward to reading “The Ride South” or what ever you call it. By the way your parents stayed with one of my childhood friends in John Day.

  7. What an incredible journey! I’m starting my 20th year of life by spending five weeks crossing the USA and back again, and I hope to have an awesome adventure like this when I turn 30! No, I’m GOING to have an awesome adventure when I turn 30! Way to go! You’re living life the way it should be lived.

  8. This has brought an air of relief…
    This past summer I’ve decided to walk the Inca Highway… Looks like April 2016 will be the month to head South.
    I’m terrified and excited!

    Your wisdom and experience I would love to hear.

    My most sincere appreciation.
    Thank you for showing up in your life!
    I see no other way!

  9. Wow, what an adventure and truly inspiring. We will follow your journey and looking forward to read the book once it’s finished. ☺
    Safe travels and thanks for sharing your story.
    Cheers,
    Reni

  10. This is fantastic! Have always dreamed of going on a bike ride to some out place country side. And you also pitched a tent!? That is like checking off another thing off my bucket list. Wish me luck as I plan a bike trip for new year this year. Yay!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here