Taking the Long Way

local author recounts globe-trotting trip in Leaving Detroit

Tori Johnson, photos by Andrea Paulseth

DROP EVERYTHING AND GO. Louise Barfknecht recalls the story of her and her husband’s trip through the Far and Middle East to Italy after leaving Detroit.
DROP EVERYTHING AND GO. Louise Barfknecht recalls the story of her and her husband’s trip through the Far and Middle East to Italy after leaving Detroit.

The story of adventure told in Leaving Detroit is all the inspiration you need to pack up a bag, and begin a journey of your own. Local author Louise Barfknecht recounts her remarkable decision to travel from Detroit to Italyin the late 1960s, requesting to her husband, Bob, that they take the long way around. The story begins with an explanation of why and how the couple decided to leave their home. The move, both planned and spontaneous, was exciting for a young couple looking to explore new corners of the world.

The reader enters a story of alluring chaos. Louise and Bob found themselves on a train as it was derailed, catching rides through the Far East and Middle East on a battered mail bus for three days, finding food to eat during Ramadan, and much more. Carrying one backpack each, Louise and Bob were set on a mission to appreciate cultural and geographic beauty and make it safely to Italy. During their six-month travels, Louise and Bob each carried a Pan-American ticket, which would allow them to fly out whenever they chose, in their pocket. However, they were committed to the journey and determined to make it to Italy by means of backpacking.

Louise and Bob finally arrive not speaking much Italian but end up living in the country for 10 years. The author shares the difficulty of establishing a life in a new place and the excitement of settling successfully. Louise and Bob eventually moved back to the United States, and have lived in the Chippewa Valley for 25 years. They take yearly trips to Italy to visit their friends, who now are more like family.

Leaving Detroit leaves no room for excuses; traveling is do-able. If you find yourself on an adventure of your own, Louise recommends that you be flexible and try to keep an open mind. She describes the best part of writing this book to be “creating an image for the reader to fit themselves in.” If you aren’t able to pack a bag on a whim and hit the road, reading Leaving Detroit will send you on a worldly adventure from the comfort of your home.

Leaving Detroit is available for purchase on Amazon and at the Local Store, 205 N. Dewey St., Eau Claire.

Press and hold the up/down arrows to scroll.