When Ty Rettke, 27, was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, he was a senior in high school in Ketchikan, Alaska. He had a condition similar to Crohn’s disease, that destroys the intestines. Six years later in 2009, while still in Alaska, he had a bad flare-up.

“I had been fighting with the disease, and it was determined that surgery was necessary,” said Rettke.

In February 2010, they started surgery and removed his colon. They then created a fake colon, with the small intestines, and reattached it. Essentially, everything worked after that. No medicine. No flare-ups. For the first 10 months, Rettke did have an ileostomy, but three surgeries later, he was semi-healthy again.

That offered Rettke a resurgence of energy and purpose...he wanted to explore and really enjoy life! There were many things he had dreamt of doing while experiencing his health problems, subsequent surgeries and treatments. But now that he was better, what was next?

As a photographer, he hoped he could see more of the world, and document his journeys, both through written word, as well as photographic images.

“My story wasn’t complete – leading to an apex, “ said Rettke. “There was no big end to what had happened to me. I needed the big adventure! I needed to do something random, force myself to slow down and enjoy life, and be adventurous.”

Road trip!

With supportive parents, Dave and Patty, who had subsequently moved from Alaska to Nevada, Ty Rettke set out to discover the world, starting with the United States! His tour began on the ferry from Ketchikan to Oak Harbor, Washington.

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Rettke’s Kanab connection came about when he was asked to house-sit in Kanab. “It fit into my plans, since I wanted to explore this area more. It’s so beautiful here.”

The Rocking V Cafe became his home away from home, where the wait staff became his good friends. He entertained them with charm, quick wit, card tricks, and tales of his travels.

Rettke has enjoyed the area – hiking, writing, performing at the open mic, and getting to know people here.

“I’ve been treated very well. I didn’t know anyone or have family here,” said Rettke. “The people in Kanab have been wonderful.”

To follow Rettke’s adventures, visit his website at www.tysworldtrek.com.