Have violin, dog, will travel

L.A. woman on global odyssey

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For Jasmine Reese, it took a dog named Fiji and a bicycle for her to change her tune.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/08/2016 (2287 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For Jasmine Reese, it took a dog named Fiji and a bicycle for her to change her tune.

The 27-year-old from Los Angeles dreamed of going to music school but never did. All that changed six months ago when Reese gave up her old life, jumped on her bicycle and headed out on the road with Fiji, a five-year-old boxer-basenji-whippet mix, and her violin.

Her goals are to learn the violin on five continents, spread joy through music and volunteering and live a healthier life.

ZACHARY PRONG / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Patti Kusturok (left) gives Jasmine Reese a fiddling demo. Reese is on a bike trip around the world with her dog Fiji.

Reese was in Winnipeg for the past three days for a lesson with Patti Kusturok, Winnipeg’s internationally renowned fiddler who was recently inducted into the North American Fiddle Hall of Fame.

“I decided to give everything up, and pursue my dream of going to music school in a unique way and to live a different lifestyle that would challenge me mentally, physically and spiritually,” said Reese, who cycled across the U.S. in 2013 before a hiatus in Indianapolis.

“I brought my violin along and said I’d turn the road into my personal music school, meeting musicians and letting them be my professors. I also wanted to not just bicycle and play music, but live on the road, giving back, inspiring others and transforming.”

She has lost nearly 40 pounds in the six months since she and Fiji hit the road. In June, their cross-Canada journey began in Victoria. In Winnipeg, she’s been saying with a volunteer from Strays Who Can’t Pay and Gooch’s bicycle shop gave her a discount to buy new tires.

Reese met Kusturok at a Saskatoon fiddle competition being judged by Kusturok.

On Friday, Reese got together with Kusturok for her Winnipeg fiddle lesson. Reese practises on her violin every day, even if it is on the roadside.

“I love Jasmine’s goal of learning violin on five continents. It’s every aspiring musician’s dream to travel the world with our instrument on our back. Language barriers mean nothing when you share and learn music,” Kusturok said. “If anyone can make this happen, from what I’ve seen and heard of Jasmine so far, it’ll be her.”

Reese said her strength comes from Fiji, a high-energy, 21-kilogram dog she got as a puppy from a rescue shelter. Fiji rides in a trailer behind the bike when she isn’t running beside Reese’s bike on a harness-and-leash attachment that keeps her away from traffic. Fiji can now run for about 40 kilometres per day, with plenty of rest and water breaks.

“Fiji is an amazing dog who is fearless, protective, loyal and loving,” Jasmine said, adding her blog is called FiJaPAW.com, an acronym for Fiji and Jasmine Pedal Around the World. They also have a Facebook page. “She’s also highly intelligent and perceptive. I couldn’t ask for a better companion.”

Reese expects it will take about six years for her to complete her journey. Already she has had a cornucopia of musical and philanthropic experiences, staying with musicians, attending fiddle camps and fests and volunteering where she can to help raise funds for the fight against Alzheimer’s in the U.S. and animal rescue groups in Canada.

Next, it’s on to Nova Scotia. She’ll cycle to Florida where she will work at a violin shop over the winter. After that she plans to travel by ship, so Fiji won’t be put through an international flight, to continue her journey in Asia, Europe, Africa and South America.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Saturday, August 27, 2016 8:25 AM CDT: Photo added.

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