Why is Brett Anderson is spending eight to 10 months of his life traveling to 92 locations in North and South America on a motorcycle?
In a nutshell, he’s hoping to find a “deeper faith, thicker skin and a broader understanding of the world,” he said.
“I will measure this trip’s success by how it affects me,” said the son of Randel and Betty Anderson of Norfolk.
The 2003 graduate of Norfolk High School earned a degree in physics from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2009. He spent seven years working at the People’s City Mission in Lincoln before “semi-retiring” and working part time as a bus driver for Lincoln Public Schools.
On June 7, he embarked on a journey to visit every one of the 92 locations mentioned in the song “I’ve Been Everywhere” made famous by Johnny Cash.
“I’VE ALWAYS enjoyed this song. The variety is one of my favorite things about it. It features prominent locales, such as Chicago or Toronto, as well as the most obscure places imaginable, like Ombabika, Ontario or Diamantina, Brazil,” Anderson said.
“I’ve Been Everywhere” tells a story of a traveler who is picked up by a trucker. He tells the trucker of all of the places he has visited on his travels in four verses. It was written by Australian composer Geoff Mack in 1959 and was first recorded by an artist named Lucky Starr. This original version features all Australian places, though the chorus is the same as the versions most Americans are used to, Anderson said.
In 1962, the song was adapted to feature American places. It is unclear why he decided to include places beyond the United States. All told the song names locales in 38 states and 9 countries, covering almost the entirety of the Western Hemisphere.
The American version of “I’ve Been Everywhere” was first performed by Nova Scotian singer Hank Snow. Johnny Cash then recorded the song in 1996, 37 years after it was originally written, Anderson said.
“As far as I can remember, the idea for the trip came during a long day driving between Lincoln and Baton Rouge, La. Depending on the route chosen, one could potentially visit 10 of the places mentioned in the song on that drive alone. The process of actually mapping out all of the stops was both discouraging and alluring. The idea of a simple trip was destroyed, but the idea of a grand adventure was born,” Anderson said.
ANDERSON’S MODE of transportation is a 2012 Honda NC700X that is named for Annie Taylor, the first person to survive going over Niagra Falls in a barrel. He carries camping supplies, food, clothing and other essentials. While he would like to ride the bike the entire trip, he will probably have to take other forms of transportation to a couple of places, he said.
“Schefferville, Quebec, is an old mining town in Northeast Canada. There is no road that leads there. Train or plane are the only options,” he said. “There is a region known as ‘The Darien Gap’ between Panama and Colombia. There is no road through this mountainous, jungle region. Boat or plane are the only options for getting a motorcycle into South America.”
So far, he and Annie have had some challenges, including “lots of rain” and snow flurries in Northeast British Columbia.
“Tent camping is not a lot of fun when the temperature drops into the 30s,” he said.
But there have been plenty of highlights, including stopping at the Salmon Glacier near Hyder, Alaska.
“It was a really tough ride to get there, but the view was absolutely awe-inspiring,” he said.
One of the highlights, he said, was when he found a Swedish Dala Horse from Wausa on a sign post at Watson Lake, Yukon. He has since learned that the sign was placed by Don and Marilyn Hult, who were friends of his grandparents.
All of which proves that it’s a “small world,” he said.
WHAT HE’S enjoyed the most so far is meeting the people in the small towns.
“I have been treated so kindly in places like Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan and Chatanika, Alaska. They know they are in this song and are so excited to meet someone who is following its path,” he said.