Luling man, Australian duo set to bike across country

Kelly Ford and Jo and Steve Smithwick are headed to San Diego this month via bike.

Kelly Ford is off on another adventure – but this time he’s still not quite sure where it will take him.

The Luling resident tackled the Appalachian Trail – yes, the whole thing – in 2021. The 2,190 mile journey took him 5 months and 18 days to complete, and it was on that trip that he met Jo and Steve Smithwick.

The Smithwicks are from Queensland Australia. They left their home in February 2020 to hike the Appalachian Trail, but they haven’t been able to return home since leaving nearly two years ago.

“We’ve been locked out because of COVID,” Jo said, adding she and Steve have been biking and hiking across the world since.

Jo said their trips have taken her and Steve to Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, West Virginia, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Mexico so far, and this week they are embarking with Ford on a biking trip from Luling to San Diego.

“It should take about six to eight weeks,” Ford said, adding the crew will tent camp and stay in hotels along the way. “But we may go into Mexico for a while … we don’t like the cold.”

Ford said the three friends would like to hike the Pacific Crest Trail once they are in California if they are able to get the needed permits.

“It starts right around San Diego,” Ford said. “We may just ship the bikes back home to Louisiana and buy hiking bags.”

Ford fast-tracked his retirement from Bayer last year to be able to spend more time backpacking and biking – a decision he said he doesn’t regret at all.

“I was ready,” he said of retiring. “I feel like the past year with the pandemic really showed everybody that life is short and anything can happen … go enjoy it while you can. Meeting people that are living the dream is the greatest part of it all … we would like to go to Spain and hike the Camino Trail and New Zealand if COVID clears up.”

To follow along on the biking journey, follow the Smithwick’s Instagram feed @slowroadtoanywhere.


About Monique Roth 919 Articles
Roth has both her undergraduate and graduate degree in journalism, which she has utilized in the past as an instructor at Southeastern Louisiana University and a reporter at various newspapers and online publications. She grew up in LaPlace, where she currently resides with her husband and three daughters.

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