A group of us were enjoying a picnic lunch on a perfect fall day in Telluride, Colorado in 2016 when my son Jed’s friends, television actors named Aaron and Sophia, suggested I write my story. They said it would make a great movie.
“Maybe so,” I smiled.
I was sure actors said things like that to people all the time but because of them, a seed was planted. Five years later, when my granddaughter Josephine asked if I really walked across America, that seed began to grow some roots.
For twenty-five years, people have asked me to write my memoir, but I didn’t want to, wasn’t ready, or didn’t believe anyone would be interested. The story you are about to read is my version of a walk across America and my journey before and after. It is how I experienced people, places, and circumstances. Boxes of my hand written journals, original notes and thousands of slides helped to recall my adventures and untold stories because memories can grow hazy over time. I have been silent for almost forty years, until now.
Why would a woman working on her master’s degree drop everything to walk across America? The thought was outrageous. It had to be true love, pure insanity or a higher calling, people said. They weren’t entirely wrong, but they were missing something. This is a winding tale of adventure, self-discovery, and personal and spiritual growth. It is the deeply personal journey over America’s prairies, under purple mountain majesties, through ecstasies and agonies to find my way. Mine are hard earned lessons. I faced devils on the road and devils after the walk ended. Not to mention devils before any of it began.
During the 1980’s, I was half of America’s sweetheart couple. Before the internet, Peter Jenkins and I appeared in newspapers and magazines, we were interviewed on national radio and television stations. We were on the cover of National Geographic and our story became one of the most popular in the publication’s history. Money and opportunity fell out of the sky. I had never been so rich in my hillbilly life, and life with Peter was a bowl of ripe delicious cherries. Until it wasn’t and I vanished, millions of readers captivated by our adventures in A Walk Across America, The Walk West and The Road Unseen were asking, “What happened to Barbara? She walked across America, too.”
I hope this book answers that question and more.
"God never made an ugly landscape. All that the sun shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild." John Muir was an influential Scottish-American naturalist, explorer, writer, and advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States in the late 1800's.