Benjamin Jenks was burnt out on his job and looking for an adventure to recharge. After reading a book by Steven Newman — the first person to walk solo around the world — and thinking back on his limited experiences with hitchhiking, Jenks set off on a journey from Venice, Calif. to Portland, Maine.
On his three-month odyssey, Jenks met and photographed nearly 1,000 people who helped him along the way, including comedian Tom Green, the guys from the TV show “Pawn Stars” and a group of fearless skinny-dippers. (That’s them, modestly covered with black censor boxes, at the 2:21 mark.)
Benjamin Jenks: I had finished up a stressful and draining job helping troubled teens and I was ready to do whatever I wanted to do. When I read Kerouac and Kesey in college and heard a quote in “Pulp Fiction” by Samuel L. Jackson’s character, “I just want to walk the earth.” I wanted to do that. I also read a book by Steven Newman about him walking around the world because he thought people were not as they were depicted in the media.
BJ: I had hitchhiked out of necessity a few times and every time things just seemed to go a lot better and were more interesting than if my car hadn’t broken down. I really loved it. I figured that I had all the social skills to deal with difficult people (after years of working with at-risk teens) and I wanted to give it a shot.
BJ: I started in Venice Beach then headed to the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Las Vegas, The Hoover Dam, Phoenix, Tucson, Amarillo, Austin, Houston, New Orleans, Mississippi, Memphis, Knoxville (where a lady I met bought me a Greyhound ticket to DC, which I classify as hitchhiking), Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, Oneonta, Vermont, and Portland. With numerous tiny towns in between.
BJ: To name a few, the Buddhist priest and Tantric healer who invited me to stay at his off-grid “dream house” on the border of New Mexico. Tom Green, the comedian, as he walked by a bar I was at in Phoenix. The artist, Julianne, who was doing an art show naked in Austin. (She’s the naked girl dancing around me at 1:47.) And the five women who tentatively agreed to skinny dip with me in Portland. Up until we got naked it was not a sure thing.
BJ: I got a fisheye lens and flash in California. I had a Nikon D70 I was using already. Then wherever I went, I would wear that same sport coat I bought at a second hand store and a head band I got off Ebay and ask people to take a photograph with me. When I was inspired, I’d ask them to do something. Most people were pretty receptive.
BJ: To make the New Orleans scene, I recruited some couchsurfers, asking for help walking down Bourbon Street. I took pictures with new people every step that we went, probably around 200 steps in all. In Portland, Maine, I wanted hundreds of people for the final shot, so I was handing out flyers trying to convince people to skinny dip with me. I ended up with five. I had wanted more people, but this was perfect. I really admire them for having the courage to do that.
- Young man of 7, hard disks Twenty miles, striking speeds associated with 50 miles per hour
- Former NBA Player, Darius Miles, Busted With Gun At St. Louis Airport
- Young mother’s dismembered body found in creek 1,200 miles from home after ‘she was killed by ex-boyfriend and his wife’
- Wonder goal scroes by naqbe juqqles from distance
- This car can go 3 million miles
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