Note: This FAQ is from many years ago. Information may not be current.
The questions below are mostly about my journey, which is on pause while I focus on writing. Note that this site is inactive and very old. Information here may no longer be accurate and links below may now be private. Here’s why.
What is this journey you’re on?
It’s my lifelong dream. I’m going from the US to the end of the Amazon River in Brazil. My goal is to cover the entire distance powered only by my own body—no cars, planes, motors or even sails. This involves crossing almost all of Latin America, for a total of at least 8,000 miles. So far I’ve bicycled 4,700 of them.
How long will that take?
Years! I travel slowly, learning from the places I go, the people I meet, and their traditions and beliefs. I often spend a week or more in a single town, and have stayed up to 9 months in one place. I’m not in a hurry.
Why are you doing this?
I believe travel is a practice that can change you as a person. Likewise, having an “adventure” or intentional challenge helps you expand your limits, and find your purpose in life. I want to experience a great journey, with all its joys and challenges, inspired by the heroes that I read about growing up.
So are you rich?
Then how do you support yourself on the road?
I’m an author. Originally, while I was traveling, I learned to write high-end web copy that helps businesses make money. I no longer do this, however. These days I am a journalist, I write articles and columns, and I run two online publications. As of 2020 I am working on a major nonfiction book that, I believe, will help a few people. I can do this work anywhere that I have an internet connection, so it allows me a fair amount of freedom in my travels.
For many years I worked a “normal” job and was not able to do this. It took years of planning and learning new skills to start my traveling lifestyle.
Do you travel alone?
I have mostly traveled alone, although I had companions on the last leg of the Mississippi River, in Texas and in northern Mexico. I love having traveling companions. It makes everything about the road more fun. (So if you’re interested…)
Do you know that Mexico is dangerous? Colombia?
I do. Adventuring experience has taught me that there are good people who will help you even in the most dangerous places. I prepared as best I could for each leg of the journey, and I accepted that I’m taking a risk. So far, this attitude, and a general openness and respect for people, have kept me safe in even the most dangerous places I’ve spent time.
Can I send you an article about an American who disappeared or was killed in Mexico?
(Yes, well-meaning people really did send me things like this when I was cycling that part of the world!)
What do your parents think of all this?
They worry. Overall, they’ve both been very supportive. My sister and I were raised being told we can do anything we put our minds to, although I don’t think our long-suffering parents expected us to take them quite so seriously.
So do you NEVER use any vehicles?
Not to advance my journey, no. I’ve literally gone hundreds of miles out of my way to avoid taking a 5-minute ferry, because it wouldn’t be powered by my own body.
However, I gladly use vehicles for other purposes: to jaunt back to New Orleans to see friends, to go off on side quests without advancing my journey, or to get around cities I’m staying in. The rule is that I always have to pick up where I left off vehicle-free. I have never broken this rule.
You say you’re a writer. Are you published?
I am! Over the years, I have gone from an indie (“self-published”) author to a “traditional” author with an agent and a publishing contract. Both paths have their advantages. When my next book comes out, I may update this space.
However, for many writers, this is our least favorite question. If you really want to get to know a writer, ask, “What are you working on right now?”
Can you teach me how to write/edit/market/publish my own book?
I can’t. I’ve learned a lot about the business of writing, but I try to spend my time producing work rather than teaching. And honestly, the best advice any author can give is just “write.” Write more often, more hours per day, more days per week. Writing is a skill learned through practice. Write lots of bad stories and you’ll start to write good ones.
Are you really a priest?
Yes! I’m a polytheist priest. That means that I believe the divine appears with many faces and that it’s best to recognize all of them.
During my travels I try to learn from many different religious traditions, respecting each one in its own right and not blending them. I like to go deeper than just a casual glance and truly understand each one. In New Orleans I initiated into Vodou, a beautiful tradition that has nothing to do with pins and dolls.
So what do you believe in?
Well… I don’t know.
I’m pretty skeptical about whether anything spiritual exists outside of our minds. What I do know is that people can have powerful, useful experiences through spiritual practice. So I meditate and perform other practices, and enjoy the benefits without getting hung up on what’s “out there” and what’s in our minds.
If the gods do exist I’d like to find them on my travels. In fact, that’s kind of my goal: to meet the gods. Here’s the latest report on how that’s going, one of my most popular articles ever.
Why Brazil? Don’t you think you could meet the gods somewhere else?
Absolutely. But to me, the journey is important. Travel can change you, open you to new ways of thinking, and teach you about humanity. And I’ve always been drawn to South America, so that’s where my adventure is headed.
If I was born in Brazil I’d almost certainly seek the gods somewhere else.
Can you help me find a monastery to live at?
No. Years ago, I spent a summer living at a monastery and I wrote about the experience. I didn’t expect this to be popular — who wants to live in a monastery? — but I get a steady stream of emails about it. Apparently, for a lot of people, this is their dream.
And that’s beautiful. Unfortunately, I have no contacts at any monasteries anymore and I have no way to help you find a monastery to stay at. I’m sorry. The best way to start is by googling or just asking clergy at a church, temple, etc. of a tradition you respect. Be aware that they are likely to be skeptical unless you are a member of their tradition.
Can I join up with you?
My journey is currently on pause, so I’m not taking traveling companions at the moment. When I do get back on the bicycle, I will likely put up an announcement to see if anyone wants to come.
Why is your journey paused right now?
One of the purposes of going on the journey in the first place was to find my purpose in life. It worked: I now know that I want to spend my life writing and learning to make great literature. To do this, I feel it’s necessary to spend time in one stable location, with reliable wi-fi and all the resources I need to focus on my career. As such, I’ll be on sabbatical from the Adventure until I have published more work.
There is no set timeline for resuming the Adventure (in many ways, I consider my current work as much a part of the Adventure as my travels are). I do plan to resume, however, even if I’m a gray-bearded old man when I do.
To everyone who has supported me and believed in me, you will never know what a difference you have made in my life. Thank you.
Can I contact you?
Unfortunately, due to my busy writing schedule, I am no longer actively answering questions about this journey.