Trip becomes feat of a lifetime
Book chronicles 8,000-mile trek along United States rivers
It took former Tonganoxie resident Jared Jellison about two and half years to complete his 8,000-mile adventure on the rivers of the western United States, and just about twice as long to write it all down.
In May, Jellison's book "Fighting the Current, There and Back" was finally released.
"It's been getting good reviews; everyone who has read it has been pretty pleased," Jellison said. "The general public really related to the story because we were not trust fund babies. We did not have a sponsored vehicle or a vehicle following us along feeding us. We were just a couple of guys that quit their jobs, sold everything and took off. It's the Huck Finn story."
Jellison's book, which chronicles from the time before he and Robert Carpenter started their adventure on the banks of the Missouri River, to after the two ended their trip early two and a half years later for financial reasons and everything in between. The trip began in 2000.
Jellison's mother, Julia, and his father, Larry, still live in Tonganoxie. They were always big supporters of Jared's dreams and ambitions, even if it meant going on this wild adventure. After reading the book, they and the rest of his family have a better understanding of how hard the trip actually was, which made it hard to read at times.
Julia said some of the harder moments were when she read how hungry her son would get especially when Jared's body was using around 6,000 calories a day. Julia also said that her mother and sister supported Jared, but said they would tell her, "If we had known it was so hard, we would have made him come home."
Since the book's release, Jared said he has been getting a lot of that from his family. Part of the whole adventure was being able to survive on what he was able to get and not rely on donations - even from his family.
"Now that they are reading the book, several of them are mad at me and say, 'Why didn't you ask me for money? I would have given you money. If I had known you were suffering like that I would have come and got you.'"
From the beginning, Jared knew he was going to write the book, so while on the trip he would write in his journal and take several pictures.
"The main objective for the book was to have a book that anybody can read, from a young person to an adult, and to have them enjoy it," he said. "I know I'm not going to get rich off of the whole project, but I'm able to share this incredible journey and hopefully open some people's eyes to what is possible out there, get people outside and help some people to learn something from it all. I know I did."
To ease the burden of a deadline, Jared went through Lulu, a company that lets authors publish the books themselves but helps them get global distribution.
After spending a few years in Tonganoxie after his journey, Jared moved to the Ozarks where he went back to work in construction. He said it was difficult to juggle coming back to a full-time job while trying to write his story.
"I have thousands and thousands of hours on that book. There was a long time when I didn't even paddle water or entertainment was very minimal as I was trying to get that book to market," he said.
The book, which is dedicated to Jared's younger brother, Tony, who died while he was away, is available at Lulu's Web site for $16.49.