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The Road and the River: An American Adventure Paperback – December 31, 2015
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About the Author
Originally from Western New York, Jon Penfold currently resides in Portland, Oregon. For more of his writing, visit his website at jonpenfold.com.
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Town by town, state by state, Penfold explores the land and records his experiences. He bikes through “endless green fields” and mountain passes, pitches his tent in parks and under bridges, and bathes under water spigots. Nature presents him not only with annoying rain, snow, mosquitoes, and poison ivy, but also with dangerous predicaments. A tornado, river rapids, and a forest fire kept me on the edge of my seat. The scenes are extremely suspenseful, as in a great action-adventure movie!
Penfold goes into wonderful detail about national parks, monuments, and tourist attractions he comes across, often weaving in interesting information and correcting misconceptions we were all taught in school. He brings to life historical figures such as Lewis and Clark and Theodore Roosevelt, yet I found the ordinary Americans he interacts with to be just as colorful. Jon’s sidekick Charlie Pepperspray is hilarious, and I laughed out loud when Jon and Charlie worry that a creepy, overly friendly man in Recluse, Wyoming, might poison them and lock them in his basement.
There’s a lot to laugh about in this book, but a lot to think about too. The author’s keen insights seem to be coming from a wise old philosopher, not a young guy. He feels a responsibility “to document our lives, to let future generations know what it was really like to live in this crazy world during these crazy times.”
While Penfold writes about everyday people he meets along the way, his own life appears to be more like Huckleberry Finn’s. “Where are all the other adventurers?” he asks, and later assures his readers, “If you really want the thrill, it’s there for the taking.” But most of us wouldn’t dream of embarking on a daring journey, as he did. We’re afraid to step out of our comfort zones—our hot meals, showers and warm beds. The closest we can get to a true adventure is to read The Road and the River.