“Shaken loose from their Kansas roots by the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, the new age of psychedelic drugs and the incipient revolutions challenging America, Dick Russell and Steve Ewert embarked on their own challenge: hitchhiking 4,000 miles across the Algerian Sahara into the heart of emptiness. Their story is a riveting profile in curiosity, breakdowns and determination. The discovery at the end of their journey: all politics are personal.”
— Ross Gelbspan, co-recipient of a Pulitzer Prize and author of The Heat is On and Boiling Point
In 1971 in Accra, Ghana, Steve Ewert woke up in a cold sweat. Bugs crawled out his mouth. Fear gripped his very soul. “I’m losing my mind!” he cried repeatedly to his travel companion Dick Russell.
What started out as two young Kansas kids setting out to find themselves in late 1970, turned to disillusionment and danger. Photographer Ewert and writer Russell traveled across Europe experiencing the continent in Forrest Gump fashion — attending French President Charles De Gaulle’s memorial service at Notre Dame, meeting famed photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, tooling around Paris with writer James Jones (”From Here To Eternity”) in his convertible, hanging out with Dutch anarchist weed purveyors in Amsterdam and rubbing elbows with American diplomats in Brussels. Along the way, their car was stolen — twice — and they were almost arrested in Amsterdam. If they were looking for experiences, Ewert and Russell certainly found them.
But the most fascinating — and dangerous — part of the trip started when the pair crossed the Mediterranean and hitchhiked across the Sahara Desert, a 2700 mile trip that started in revolutionary hotspot Algeria (where they intended to meet exiled Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver) and ended in sub-Saharan Ghana. With Ewert taking numerous pictures with his Nikon F and Russell prodigiously writing on his trusty Smith Corona Skywriter, — and after they had spend 36 hours stranded in the desert waiting for a ride — the duo eventually took a ride with a multilingual Dutch revolutionary who would triumphantly quote ”Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung” (aka Mao’s ”Little Red Book’) and purposely ditch the van into the sand so he could smugly watch Ewert and Russell dig it out in the blistering Saharan heat. Eventually, they made it out of the desert despite being perilously close to perishing more than once. “Hitchhiking to the Edge of Sanity“ is their story of adventure, disillusionment and, ultimately, friendship.
“Hitchhiking to the Edge of Sanity“ is completed and the educational version is now available for purchase.
poster design by Hector Beleche