We caught Brett Fox for a quick phone interview a week before he was heading out on his journey by motorcycle from Mexico to Patagonia and back. He had just completed the first leg of the trip from Washington, D.C., to Texas, with his 2-year-old Siberian husky, Kiti, and was running around making last minute preparations for his departure.
Fox had been deployed all over the world as a security guard for the Marines, and after finishing his in active military duty in 2011, he found himself struggling to enjoy life at a normal job. He starting working more and more on motorcycles in his free time, and in 2015 he took the leap on a decision to change his whole life. He quit his full time job in DC, sold (almost) everything he owns and decided to see all of South America by motorcycle and even throw in a quick jaunt to Antarctica along the way. “I’m expecting it to take about a year,” he said. “It could be done in six months, but I’m just going to take my time, zig-zag here and there.” He’s planning to be in Ushuaia, Argentina, by New Years so he can hop a ship to Antarctica, one of the two continents he has yet to set foot on. “The goal is to show up and talk to one of the local cruise agents and try to get an open discounted spot.”
As to the itinerary of the trip, he claims it’s nothing new or spectacular -- “nothing that others haven’t done” -- but it’s something he deeply wants to do for himself. He hopes it will also inspire others to take risks like he has toward living a happier life. “I think the leap of faith is just in my personality,” he said. “When I say I’m gonna do something, I follow through. I think it comes down to just doing what you want, what makes you happy. If you can’t do the big things, do the smaller things.”
He talks fast, the excitement of his upcoming journey pulsing through the receiver, and you can see how a guy like this could inspire others to pursue lifelong dreams. At 28, he’s had more life experience than many people decades ahead of him, but he’s relaxed and humble when he talks about his plans and the places he’s been. His military training lets him examine every possible challenge ahead of him tactically -- all the things that could go wrong and all the different ways he might need to handle them -- but there’s no fear in his voice when he talks.
“I think the hardest part will be the Darien Gap [the connection between Central America and South America],” Fox said. “There’s no legit roads that connect Panama into Colombia.” He said this was done purposefully by the governments to prevent drug smuggling. “You have the Pan-American Highway, and it just stops and there’s the jungle. It’s 60 miles that’s just dangerous. People go out there and get killed.” He pauses for a minute, possibly imagining what that jungle would be like to drive through. “You can go through it and it’s very difficult, or you can ship your bike or put your bike on a sailboat. I have no plans other than to show up and figure it out.” Without giving it another thought, he moves on to one of his favorite subjects, traveling with Kiti.
“When I got Kiti, I joked with my friends I should get a sidecar for my motorcycle,” Fox laughed. “And sure enough, about 6 months later I got one.” Over Christmas, he decided to dress up as Santa Claus to drive around DC to bring joy to others. With his motorcycle in garland and Kiti in an elf costume wearing her “flashy” Rex Specs, Fox said people got quite the kick out of them. “And why not?” he said. “I have a sidecar with a dog on it. You throw in the goggles and people lose their minds, it’s ridiculous. Having this dog with goggles just opens people up and breaks down barriers. I enjoy making people smile and laugh from it.”
Though Kiti’s Rex Specs draw extra attention to the pair, and people often come bounding across busy streets just to get a picture of the two of them, Fox is clear that he got them because they’re absolutely essential for Kiti when riding. “Rocks, bugs -- everything gets kicked up in her face,” he said. “These protect her -- it’s definitely a functional piece of gear.”
Traveling with Kiti also helped Fox learn to take his time on his journeys. Having a dog means making sure they don’t get dehydrated and letting them out to run in the midst of long days on the bike. For the trip from DC to Texas, Fox tacked on three extra days to allow for Kiti to join him, making it an eight day trek. While he won’t be taking Kiti along with him to South America -- "it's too dangerous" -- he’s looking forward to traveling most of North America with her when he returns.
For now, he’s focused on peeling out to Mexico in the next week. He said he’s less worried about problems with drug cartels than local government issues. “With a lot of these countries, they’re going through recessions,” he said. “I was worried about El Salvador because they’re the murder capital of the world, but right now I’m actually more worried about Venezuela. Their economy is crumbling. They’re upset with their president, there’s probably going to be a coup, and they’re desperate. They have no food. And desperation brings out the worst in people.” He also knows he’ll have to deal with corruption and bribes along the way. “There’s going to be a lot of small instances,” he said. “You just have to deal with it and figure it out.”
You can follow Fox on all of his journeys on his website www.asphaltandbeyond.com.