Elkhorn man hitchhiking to Alaska
To follow Kedzie's adventure, check the website thumbsoutalaska.com.
Click here to read his posts on Gazettextra. He will post daily or as often as he gets phone and Internet service.
Kedzie is accepting contributions through Thursday at kickstarter.com. To make a contribution, type "thumbsout" in the search box.
ELKHORN Is there a positive relationship between hitchhiking and humanity? Ryan Kedzie is convinced there is.
On the surface, Ryan's plan to travel to Alaska sounds appropriate for a young man who just graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth with a degree in graphic arts.
Before settling down to a career, Ryan wants to see what life is like on the open seas as a commercial fisherman. His goal is to work on a fishing boat taking sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska.
His mode of travel from his hometown of Elkhorn to Alaska? An outstretched thumb.
"It's all part of the plan," Ryan said sitting at his parents' dining room table making final preparations for the trip. "I'll be filming the trip for a documentary. A fishing job will help me financially while doing something I've always thought about."
Clearly, this is not your average trip to Alaska. Some might classify it as a parent's nightmare. That's not the case for Neal and Kerrie Kedzie.
"My first thought was, 'He can't do that,'" Kerrie said. "Naturally, I had concerns about his safety."
After Kerrie heard more about Ryan's plans, she began to get more comfortable with the idea.
"I knew there would be concerns when I first told them on Christmas break about my plans," Ryan said. "I knew I'd have to slowly convince them that I had it all planned out."
Ryan has meticulous plans regarding his route, food drops, communications and other travel plans, including checks with government officials on crossing the border by foot or vehicle.
"You have to know Ryan to understand how we have confidence in him," Neal said. "He's been an adventurous person all his life. He's the one of our three children who had the broken bones and stitches. But he's always found a way to get things done"
Asked to provide examples of Ryan's "adventures," Neal recalled Ryan riding his bicycle off the end of a pier "right into the lake" and always needing to climb the highest tree, not always successfully.
Ryan has convinced his parents he can safely hitchhike to Alaska.
"He's a mature 25-year-old who has demonstrated that he's taken precautions and planned for a safe trip," Neal said. "There's a time when your boy becomes a man, and that's the case with Ryan."
"Hitchhiking has so many negative connotations associated with it, but I plan to break those stereotypes and prove a person can still rely on the kindness of the common man or woman to help out when needed," he said. "I'm convinced of that, and I'll be documenting my interactions with people all along the way."
Hitchhiking has legal implications. In most states, including Wisconsin, it is illegal to be "on a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride."
"I have researched the laws and concluded that I'm OK if I'm off the roadway, not on the roadway," Ryan said. "I'll be well off the road in places where there is plenty of space for motorists to pull off."
Ryan will begin his trip June 1. He has raised about $1,400 through pledges and contributions for equipment such as a smartphone and camera. He is accepting additional contributions to buy an international data plan so he can file reports from the road.