“A Walk Across America 2: Two wonderful people on the journey that captured a nation’s heart”
I first came across the writings of Peter Jenkins as a college student, restless and bent on broadening my horizons with my own future travels and adventures. A Walk Across America was my first taste, and the pleasures of that book quickly drove me to read Across China just nine months before I actually moved there. Since then, I had kept my eyes open for anything else that Jenkins had written (unlike most readers, I generally don’t make purchases at bookstores but rather enjoy finding hidden gems in thrift stores and garage sales). Over the years I’ve come across The Walk West, Close Friends, Along the Edge of America, and Looking for Alaska, and I look forward to eventually enjoying each of them individually. But as Part 2 to A Walk Across America, The Walk West certainly landed first on my agenda.
From the very beginning pages, I knew that I would enjoy the twist to this second book, that of inviting his new bride to join him both on the walk and in recording their experiences. I knew that I would love meeting the people that Peter and Barbara met and I’d love finding out about parts of my own country which I’d never seen before. I knew that I would love picturing myself taking the same risks they took, sometime and somewhere, and feeling the same exhilaration of finally reaching my destination when all the pains and adventures were past. The Walk West didn’t disappoint.
Following their trek from their home in New Orleans, LA, to the Pacific shores of Florence, OR, Peter and Barbara record their scrapes and joys over a three-year period of walking and resting. It’s an inspiration to wannabe traveler or writer to simply slow down and pay attention to what’s going on around you, the sights and small and tastes of wherever you are. Peter Jenkins has the unique ability of whittling three years of experience down into a single book, while at the same time also taking one small experience from that time and turning it into three whole chapters! He knows how to draw out the subtleties of a conversation for all to see and hear as if present in the room, and he also knows how to make his readers taste every bit of every meal which he chooses to record. He’s got a fascinating and engaging writing style, and he’s fit for any reading tastes.
I appreciated the lessons that Peter shared and the glory that he gave to God for the beauty of our nation and the safety and adventure of his walk. It was a refreshing account, one I’d recommend to anyone. Incidentally, the copy of The Walk West that I found at a thrift store in Venice, FL, back in 2009 is an autographed copy, which is a fitting piece for my favorite-authors library. It’d feel more personal, of course, if my name were “Mildred” and if I hadn’t been only 19 days old the day that Peter Jenkins inscribed it. Oh well, thrifties can’t be choosers.