Meet Ben Bachelder

Ben Bachelder is a contributor to the Europe From a Backpack series. His most recent story, "Looking for Lava," appears in Italy From a Backpack. Prior to that he wrote, "The Other Side," about his trip to Morocco. You can find that story in Europe From a Backpack.

Ben was born and raised in San Francisco's Bay Area and called Berkeley his home for his university years. His hippie-ish parents (they won't admit to it) raised him to be a free thinker and Berkeley reinforced that. At the age of 17 he discovered electronic music and the rave scene and became a DJ, which helped put him through school and boosted his ego much more than he really needed. It was after graduation that he finally left the US and experienced Europe and the glory of hitchhiking. He also fell in love with volcanoes, and parked himself in Hawaii to commune with the goddess Pele. However, the song of the road beckoned and drew him as far as India on a fourteen month bare-bones journey. By that time, his girlfriend back in Hawaii threatened to disown him, so he reluctantly returned. That lasted for a mere twelve months, until the shores of Southeast Asia drew him in. A few months bouncing around there gave him a good feel for the region, to which he vowed to return as soon as possible. Now, after crisscrossing the US numerous times and poking around in Central America, he's made his way to Antarctica and will be in New Zealand and Oceania soon after. He has committed himself to experiencing all seven continents by age thirty, when that happens he'll reassess his life and figure out what to do from there.

A word from Ben about his story:

I chose Italy for my first first stop outside of the United States because I was already in love with its volcanoes. Little did I know that I would have such an intimate experience with one! I compiled a geologic history of Mt. Vesuvius for one of my college classes and went to Naples to see the mountain "in the flesh". While hanging out in the hostel, I read about the Isole Eolie, the island group near Sicily that Stromboli is a part of, and decided to head down for a visit.

My experience atop Stromboli convinced me that I wanted to learn all I could about volcanoes. When I got back to the US from my European trip, I headed to Hawaii to enroll in a Master's program studying volcanology. I ended up dropping out before I even started because all I really wanted to do was hang out on the Big Island, poking around the lava flows that Kilauea has been producing for the last twenty-odd years.

These days I'm in the shadow of yet another volcano, Mt. Erebus in Antarctica. I'll be in the Andes soon, and out to Africa's Rift Zone before too many years pass. Hope to see you on the road!
View Ben's Travel and Hitchiking Photos on Flickr
Read more of his stories at Digihitch.com

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