Author Robert (Bob) Downes has been inspiring readers to pursue their dreams of travel and adventure for more than three decades.
The author of four books and the co-founder of Northern Express Weekly, his own life has been a bit of an adventure. A veteran of two extended trips around the world, Downes has traveled to more than 70 countries as a backpacker, with destinations ranging from the supercities of the Third World to the heart of the American wilderness. Last summer, he cycled more than 2,700 miles across America, over the Rockies and across the Great Plains to his home in Traverse City.
Driven by curiosity, his passion for adventure has been reflected in his writing. His novel, “Windigo Moon,” about life among the Ojibwe Indians in the late 1500s, will be published nationwide this September by Blank Slate Press.
A graduate of Wayne State University’s school of journalism, Downes served as a reporter and editor at Detroit-area newspapers before moving to Traverse City to work in public relations at Munson Medical Center.
In 1991, he and his best friend George Foster launched the alternative newsweekly, “Northern Express.” The paper went on to become northern Michigan’s largest weekly newspaper with a readership of more than 75,000.
Following the sale of the paper in 2013, Downes, 64, pursued a new life as an author. He has published three nonfiction books: “Planet Backpacker” (2008),” Biking Northern Michigan” (2014), and “Travels With My Wife” (2015). Another book, “Bicycle Hobo,” is waiting in the wings with his novel, “Windigo Moon.”
He and his wife, Jeannette, have two grown children and six grandchildren. The couple make their winter home in Mexico and Central America.