By Alejandro Dominguez Herald Writer
EDMONDS — When Pierre-Jean de Stexhe was partially paralyzed from the chin down during a skiing accident, he wanted to keep his adventurous spirit alive.
A lifelong traveler, he decided he could continue his adventures on a Segway.
“It’s very reliable,” said de Stexhe, 27, who comes from a small town in Belgium. “I wanted to try something different.”
De Stexhe and brother Remy, 18, ended a cross-continent journey Wednesday in downtown Edmonds after riding down U.S. 2 and getting lost in Mill Creek.
The siblings started their 2,000-mile trip on July 10 in Omaha, Neb. The trip was the second half of a coast-to-coast adventure de Stexhe started in Virginia last summer with two friends.
He suspended that trip because he had to return to school, where he’s working on a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.
De Stexhe chose to do the trips in the United States because of the quality of roads and because he knew the language, he said.
This summer, the de Stexhe brothers traveled the backroads of states including Wyoming and Montana. More than a week ago, they reached Washington state.
During the trip, they spent nights at churches and in the homes of people they met.
“You have to trust strangers,” De Stexhe said. “We have been in strange situations, but people have always been nice to us.”
Their two Segways are decorated with mementoes. They carried clothes given to them as gifts, as well as a dream catcher and a cow jawbone they found in the desert.
Remy has been documenting the trip in a journal, including the names of all the people they have met. On their website, www.segwaytravellers.com, they have posted videos and photos.
They ended their trip at the home of Gregg Jantz Jr. because they had heard about his Segway business in Edmonds.
They got in contact with Jantz and his father through email and phone calls.
The Jantzes also saved the trip when it was just beginning.
In South Dakota, one of the Segways was malfunctioning. So the Edmonds family sent one of theirs to use.
“My son shipped the Segway so they could continue,” Gregg Jantz said.
Planning the undertaking was its own challenge. The brothers each had six batteries that could carry them 60 miles each day. They had to make sure they stopped at a place where they could recharge them at the end of each day.
They hope to see the Pacific Ocean before they return home to Lillois, Belgium, on Saturday.
Since his accident, this was De Stexhe’s third trip to the U.S. and fourth overall — all on Segways. His first trip was through the French Pyrenees in 2008. He also traveled from Montana to New Mexico in 2009.
This was Remy’s first Segway trip. It made him more open-minded, he said.
“If you trust people, people will trust you,” Remy said.
The trip has helped the brothers learn more about American culture, too.
“We met different kinds of people, like Indians,” Pierre-Jean said. “We had a lot of discussion of religion and about these weird political elections.”
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; firstname.lastname@example.org.