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EMMANUEL TODAY - Year by year

Last updated Sunday July 27, 2008


"Emmanuel at the Che Guevara Monument in Santa
Clara, Cuba. Spring Break 2007."

2000  2001  2002  2003  2004  2005  2006   2007  2008

God always gives us more than we can imagine.  Look at what has happened in my life since the completion of my trip.  

"Bike it Solo" by Emmanuel Gentinetta (that's me) is coming soon. 


My book:   I do not know when it will  be ready, but I am currently doing the final revision of the Spanish Version.  Once I  finish the revision, the book will go through correction. I will then translate it to English and be ready to  publish both "Bike it Solo" and "Solo en Bici" at  the same time.  The reason that I first wrote the book in Spanish  is that all my journals I kept in Spanish.  I handle both languages the same, but since most of my trip would be in Latin America, I decided  to write my journals in Spanish.  The writing style of my book will  be as the one which you can see in the  reports. I thank you all for your support and encouragement with my  goal of writing my book. Please keep in touch by emailing me at  emmanuel.gentinetta at bikeitsolo.com 


My presentations: I am still giving inspirational slide presentations and speeches at elementary, middle, and high schools, as  well as colleges, community clubs, churches, individual groups, and to anyone wanting to hear more about shooting for the stars and trusting in  God. For information on presentations email me  at hearthestory at bikeitsolo.com or call me at (815) 345-4902


1999 - Today: Achieving a goal is not easy, I know that. Remember that with God's help and determination, anything is possible. One pedal turn at a time, one page at a time. Continue on. With His help you will accomplish it, and on top of that, for trusting in God, He will reward you with more than you can imagine. God does give us more than we imagine. How great God is. I thank Him for everything He gives me. 


2000: After finishing my trip on March 9, 2000, I stayed in Argentina for a couple of months, visiting friends and family. In May I went back to California, to Sonora, where my parents live. I did a lot of work on my book, especially getting all of my nine journals into digital form. I had my first presentations in May of 2000.


2001: I spent the year in Sonora, spending time with my family and giving lots of presentations. I applied to University, and got admitted to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I planned on starting in the fall of 2001, but then deferred to begin in January of 2002 to spend some more time with my family.


2002: School started!! I began my university career studying Journalism at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. Cal Poly is on the quarter system (fall, winter, spring, winter). During this year I took classes all four quarters, taking lots of courses. I got a job making sandwiches for students, and on Thursday nights I was “quesadilla boy”, producing some 20 quesadillas a minute for the hungry students. During the summer quarter, although I was a Resident Advisor, I still found plenty of time to follow every world cup game, make lots of friends, and to go to the beach 49 percent of the days.


2003: At the end of January I found John filling out some paperwork to study in Italy beginning in the fall. I was planning on doing this in 2004, but had a slight something ask him “When is that application due?” “In two days,” he said. I went to the Study Abroad Office, filled out a lot of paperwork over the weekend, and a couple of months later found out that both John and I had been admitted.

I realized I was not really enjoying my journalism classes, but rather enjoying English courses I was taking, so I changed my major to English. Once I began to take some Spanish literature courses and to study Italian, I also decided to add Modern Languages as a second major. On top of that, I will be pursuing at TESL certificate (Teaching English as a Second Language).

I was a Resident Advisor again during the summer quarter, and then in August moved to Italy. I lived and studied literature and language in Florence. I also took some art classes.


2004: Here it gets interesting and I start jumping around... I was in Italy until May. There was a girl at school in Florence; an art student; Katie Andresky.

KT is from Chicago, but had been studying in Arcata in California, and so was able to be a part of the CSU Study Abroad Program in Italy. Toward the end of the school year, we were travelling together near Montecassino in Italy - where her grandpa fought during WWII - and I got a crazy ear infection. So back to Florence and the doctor says “You should go see a specialist; it looks serious.” The specialist says “It’s serious. You should go see Dr. Scaramella in CHICAGO.” So I go to an art show that KT was having and tell her “Hey, I have to to Chicago for my ear.” “You can stay at my house,” she says.

I got there before she did, had my ear fixed up, and hanged out with her mom, dad, sister, dog, and cat (Terrie, Andy, Sam, wishbone, blackjack). We drove out to Colorado to see her brother Joe graduate from the Air Force Academy and a couple of days later, while we were still in Colorado, KT arrived directly from Italy.

Somewhere between these winding mountain roads, ear infections, dread-lock-making and mate-sipping sunsets, drives across the middle third of the United States, flights to Italy, soon to come water sales, long distance phone calls, and plenty of long sighs westward, KT and I became a couple.

In July, after having decided I wanted to experience a different Italy, an Italy without school, a working Italy, and an Italy with lots of Italian spoken, I went back to Florence. I went back with 12 euro in my pocket. I sold cold water to thirsty tourists, drove rental cars around from city to city delivering them for tourists, sold cold beer to kids my age at night in Piazza Santa Croce, made tons of friends, nailed down my italian, and in October went back to California, with 6 euro in my pocket.

KT had moved to San Francisco to continue her studies at San Francisco State. I visited her during the month of November. In December I went to Argentina to work on my book, knowing that KT would come visit in just a few weeks....


2005: I was in Argentina, and KT came to visit. Chelsea, another friend of ours from Italy, was also able to come. Travelling in Patagonia during those three weeks I rolled the double cab 2004 Ford Ranger we were driving. Thanks be to God we were ok, with the most serious injury being two cuts of three stitches each on Chelsea’s right elbow. We still had a great three weeks in Argentina. With my finances hit hard after those two tumbles in Patagonia, I had to decide whether to go back to California to work right away, or to stay and work on my book until March, as planned.

I ended up staying in Argentina until the end of March, completing the first revision of the Spanish edition of my book. In April I went back to California, and got a job with Backroads, a company based out of Berkeley that does bike trips all over the world. Before starting with them, however, during the month of May I went to Italy, more specifically to the island of Elba, where I sat on an empty beach and completed the first 22 pages of my book, which were in my head but had not yet been written.

In June I got trained in California by Backroads as a trip leader, and then at the end of June went back to Italy to lead trips in Tuscany until the end of October. The nice thing was that during these four months I was sent to Alaska for three weeks to lead a couple of trips, so on my way there I visited KT in San Francisco, and on my way back to Italy I visited her again.

In mid October it was back to California, until the end of November, when I headed down to Argentina and Chile’s Patagonia to lead trips there for the “winter” season. Of course it meant I was going back to summertime, making it some two years almost without having seen winter.


2006: Again, I began the year in Argentina, this time working for Backroads in Patagonia during the months of January and February. KT came down for new years, and stayed with me for three weeks. During the first few days, I was still working, but we had a good undercover plan so that we could still spend time together without causing distractions to the guests, who actually never found out she was there!

In March I went to our family home in Córdoba, Argentina. It was fantastic to have KT come down again during the time, as well as our good friends John and Dorothy.

At the end of March I went back to California, to take classes and to await the arrival of my first nephew, William “Jameson” Baldwin, who was born on March 29th. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is still my home campus, but I did all the paperwork necessary to study in the Bay Area (CSU East Bay, Hayward) so that I could be close to KT during Spring Quarter 2006.

In June KT and I moved to the roof of the Art Collective (www.millionfishes.com) we were living at together since April and where she had lived for a couple of years already. And I don’t mean the last floor, I mean the actual roof, like you go outside and there are a bunch of little pebbles on the roof and there was our room, small but with a 360 view of our surroundings. Quite magical, I must say.

I took the entire three weeks of World Cup off to watch all the games, then in July went to Italy to work for a month. On my week off I went to Albania, to visit my friend Joey Deschenes, who is over there with the Peace Corps. We had a fabulous time and I drank plenty of rhaki!

Burning Man was at the end of August. I helped build Monticello, danced with the Royal Society of Powdered Wigs, experienced art in the vastness of the Nevada desert as the Marquis with the Mistress, lost sight of people who were two feet away from me when the dust storm came, and rode my bike-turned-steed circularly with no certain destination but gaining much travel knowledge. Burning Man was a fabulous travel destination.

For fall semester I again did a bunch of paperwork so that I could stay in San Francisco with KT while still advancing with my studies. This time I studied under my Modern Languages Major, taking classes at San Francisco State University (SFSU).

I did the impossible come November and December, when I applied for and got the position of Trip Specialist for Backroads’ Patagonia mountain bike trip. So now I am in charge of any changes to the itinerary, as well as being guaranteed work down there during the December to February “winter” season, which is summer down there.

I say I did the impossible because I flew down to Patagonia for 10 days in mid November, during my Thanksgiving break from school, plus missing a week of school, to set up the season. As I explored the arrayan forests of Patagonia, where lakes meet mountains in a shimmer of silver, KT decided to seek her independence. 

I flew back to California for two weeks to take all my finals, which I arranged to take a week early, said goodbye to KT, and then flew back down to Patagonia to lead trips and - while Orion would dive head first into the southern sky’s hemisphere - shimmer away myself into each sunset, moonrise, body of water, cloud and mountain air from above.


2007: The first two weeks in 2007 brought some big changes. After living in San Francisco for 9 months - tying my Florence record for longest time in one place in the past few years - I moved to San Luis Obispo, where I began my university career back in 2002. I was out of “study abroad” programs I could be a part of, and Cal Poly basically said “Hey, if you want a degree from Cal Poly, you have to study at Cal Poly!” So after more than three years of studying elsewhere, in early January I returned to Cal Poly.

I had no idea where I would be staying, and was blessed when my high school friend Kirk Vaughn said “Dude, I have an extra room and it is all yours until you graduate.” Kirk’s place is on the beach in Pismo Beach, with views of the Pacific from the upper floor. My room is downstairs, but if I sit up just right I can see the ocean too. Thanks Kirk!

I planned my classes so that I would study in the winter and the spring, graduating in June 2007 with a double major in English and Modern Languages. Winter quarter was quite insane, taking 7 upper-division college classes (28 quarter units). I read on weeknights, read on weekends, read, read, read. 

Over spring break I went to Cuba, visited my friend Kevin Repp, then hitchhiked around the island, met two Italians (Sergio and Melania) that I traveled with for two days, built a huge bonfire on a deserted beach with them when it got cold, and when we got hungry, I sharpened a stick and hunted crabs that Sergio cooked on the fire. What a trip!

For my final quarter, Spring 2007, I enrolled in 22 units. My senior project was a finalized version of the beginning of my book. Yes, I know, most exciting!

In mid May I moved to downtown San Luis Obispo, into a collective called The Establishment. It used to be an old hotel for the train station. Now it is a collective living space, with 19 incredible and unique people living there.

A week later, just three weeks before finishing my college career, I crashed my bmx bike after clipping a road barrier (or snagging my pants on the chain), went down hard, bounced my right elbow off the pavement and broke it (the elbow, not the pavement), had surgery, had three titanium screws put in, took Vicodin, stopped taking Vicodin after I realized it was making me stupid and that I could not concentrate, learned to write and draw with my left hand, showed my scar of 11 stitches off, learned how to throw a frizbee with my left hand, scrambled to type away my last college papers with one hand, and graduated with a double major in English and Modern Languages and Literatures on June 16th!!

Because of my injury I had to drop my summer work schedule leading bike trips in Italy for Backroads, so I simply relaxed and enjoyed summer, going to physical therapy twice a week and determined to regain 100% mobility and strength to my right arm, and a mean frizbee throw with my left. I also made a short two-week trip, first to Florida to visit my sister and Greg, then on to New Orleans to visit some family and my friend and ex-college linguistics professor and philosophy authority Aaron Nitzkin.

August and September I dedicated to regaining my arm strength, with a trip out to Black Rock City in the Nevada Desert with my trusty bicycle steed Galánt in late August to join the rest of the members of the Royal Society of the Powdered Wig, where I am the Marquis of Monticello (www.theroyalsocietyofthepowderedwig.com). 

Somewhere during these months I found out that one class I took up at San Francisco State University had not transferred over correctly to Cal Poly, and that I would not get my college degree unless I went back to Cal Poly for one more quarter. It was too late to enroll for the fall quarter, and I could not take classes during winter quarter because of work commitments down in Patagonia. So I made plans to return to Cal Poly in the Spring of 2008 to finish off my school once again, which made my friends very happy. I sublet my room at The Establishment so that I would still have it upon my return from Argentina.

So off I went at the end of November to the Lakes District of Patagonia, and fell in love with it all over again. Since last year I am in charge of the Backroads Patagonia Mountain Biking trip, which is a great position because not only do I get to work in this area, but I also get to make changes and improvements to the trip. It is a lot of hard work, but rewarding in the fact that I get to show people an area I really love. I worked all of December, glad to be working again after my months off work due to my broken elbow.

At midnight on December 31st, as I finished my 5-course, wine-paired, work-paid dinner at one of the best restaurants in Villa la Angostura with a group of 19 people who had been celebrating the end of the year for the past 5 hours, I lit a cigar to follow my uncle Gustavo’s end-of-the-year tradition, blew a couple of smoke rings, and nodded to my co-leader Florent, who toasted back in agreement. 2007 was, though tough, a year filled with accomplishments, which with the clinging of glass and the chatter of both friends and strangers, came to a close.

2008: Somehow Florent and I figured out a way to work and ride our bikes and take people around on January 1st, even though the day began with both of us waking up 4 minutes before we had to meet our guests, with no directions printed for the day, no bikes set out, no snacks, no water, and the two of us 2 blocks away from the hotel where our guests were staying. By 10:10 we had rock-stared-it, standing tall, ready to ride a trail which used to be the old road to Chile. It was my turn to ride. I fell asleep several times during the day.

I stayed in Argentina, mainly working, until the end of March. In January I had ten days off, and went to visit my family in Córdoba. Then back to Patagonia, where I kept pedaling, eating gourmet food, and staying at 5-star hotels. I also met a very fun and compatible girl while down there. Estefania is from Rosario, Argentina, but was working at a hotel in Villa la Angostura (no, not one of the ones I stay at with trips). Though I was only in Villa la Angostura for one out of every two weeks, we shared some very special moments together.

So of course, as always, I mixed work up with some other fun stuff, like going to the lake with friends after cleaning 20 bikes the day before a trip started, going on walks with Estefania, or, for an extreme example, kayaking across a large section of the Nahuel Huapi Lake with her illegally at 2 in the morning in order to catch the February lunar eclipse from a beach on the Quetrihue Peninsula, hiding the kayak so that the lake patrol would not see us, kayaking back at 6 in the morning, getting back to the shore of the hotel at 6:45, putting the kayak away by 7:00, preparing 20 bikes for the day’s ride with my co-leader at 7:15, pulling luggage at 7:45, getting guests ready for the short shuttle at 8:15, getting on my bike at 8:45, riding 100 kilometers on the Siete Lagos road - half of which is a mean dirt road – arriving to San Martin de los Andes with one of our guests, Gil, at 7:30 pm, having a toast at 8:00, dinner at 9:00, more toasting until 1 in the morning, and then sleeping a few hours before ending the trip at 9 am.

I don’t think I had ever had a day that I was so tired while riding my bike as that one. Luckily Gil was down to stop at pretty much every stream and lake we crossed to jump in before continuing, which was most refreshing and kept me going on the long ride into San Martin de los Andes.

For the ten days off in February I decided to stay in Patagonia, and had my younger sister Clarissa – who was expecting Massimo (born July 2008) – to come visit me. Clarissa and I travelled a bit of the Lakes District in Patagonia and then both relaxed in Villa la Angostura for my week off. I did some more kayaking and hiking with Clarissa and Estefania. Our highlight by far was taking 6 hours to complete the Peninsula Quetrihue hike, which normally takes 2 hours. We stopped to look at everything! And because we took so long, we missed the last boat back from the end of the peninsula, so we had to hike back the 12km. I kept telling Clarissa that when Massimo is born, he will for sure have some sort of special connection to this place.

In March I returned to San Luis Obispo for my last (again) quarter of school at Cal Poly. I had to go back after finding out that ONE class I took up at SF State had not transferred over. I took advantage of this and enrolled in more than just that one class. So I took: a simple computer science class, which is the class I needed; Advanced Poetry Writing; a Spanish literature class; and Modern Dance. Modern Dance was a fun challenge. I also learned how to work glass rods into works of art in a Flame Throwing class through the Crafts Center. I graduated (again) on June 14th. This time, it seems, it is official.

As always, since it seems I am unable to control this, I made a lot of new friends, and spent good time with older friends, too. I hosted Art Night every Monday night at my room at The Establishment, and hosted also the monthly homemade gnocchi dinner on the 29th. In May we had 35 people at the dinner table!

A huge highlight was on my 27th birthday, on June 18th, when together with my friends Courtney, Pete, Antoine, Chris and Jesse, we hiked to the highest mountain in San Luis Obispo the night before my birthday to catch the sunset, the full moon, and then the sunrise. Of course, it was more than just a simple little hike: Courtney did the whole thing on crutches (!!!) (she broke her foot in April after a bike accident, but we had still gotten excited about this epic hike), I did two trips to the top, first carrying a jet ski battery, and inverter, two stereo speakers, a sleeping bag, and jackets. For the second trip up, when I met up with the rest of the crew, we took up an entire stereo receiver, hooked up the whole system to run off of the jet ski battery, played dance music, threw a blue L-wire (a thin wire that lights up with a 9V battery) around the contour of my dragon kite, which I rescued from a tree last summer and has since hung from the roof of my room, tied it to the metal tower at the top of the peak, watched it soar and swoop down on us all night long, danced, chatted, watched Chris spin fire, said hello to the moon, and finally caught sunrise and Jessie’s arrival with homemade cookies. Thanks to all these friends for such a great and memorable birthday.

At the end of June I headed off to Italy for about 7 weeks to lead bike trips. I happened to catch the sunset / full moon rise again, this time sitting on one of the support columns of Ponte Santa Trinita in Firenze with friends and co-workers. After the sun set and painted the Arno a metallic blue, the full moon rose behind us, through the arches of the Ponte Vecchio, a soft yellow light competing over the street lights of Firenze.

I will be back in California for a month, at least, in mid August. During this time I will head out to Burning Man in Black Rock City, Nevada. The Royal Society of the Powdered Wig is not going as an organized camp this year, but I have many friends that are heading out.

In mid September I will, ideally, move to Patagonia, buy or rent a small boat, set it on the Nahuel Huapi Lake, and dedicate the entirety of my time to finishing my book, before working again for Backroads in December. Though I am not positive as to where exactly I will be mid September to the end of November, I do know that this time is set aside to complete my book. Working on it is a priority. As someone mentioned, this would mean completing what I have been calling the two big checkmarks on my to-do list in the same year: College graduation, and the completion of Bike it Solo.

I am still giving presentations, so if you want to know more about my trip, email me! Or check out the downloadable brochure from the 

presentations page

It looks as if though I will be spending the months of April and May in the United States. It is hard to know as I have had no set pattern to where I have been over the past 5 years. In fact, it is so confusing, even to me, that I have made this little chart to visually capture what I mean when I say “I have been living in Italy, Argentina, and California, but there is no pattern to the cycle.” I hope the visual aid helps. Click on it to open a printable Pdf version:

Up and off!

Thanks for catching up with Emmanuel Today! Let me know what you have been up to. Write me, or become a member of The Bike It Solo Club, as the book completion is truly near!!

- emmanuel



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