Trespassing Across America: One Man's Epic Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike Across the Heartland

While working as a dishwasher at a camp 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Ken Ilgunas (Walden on Wheels) realized that he needed to take a new direction with his life. He decided to walk the length of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, a route of nearly 2,000 miles that crosses eight American states and two Canadian provinces.

Starting in Canada, near central Alberta, Ilgunas hiked much of the Great Plains, finally reaching his destination of Port Arthur, Tex., 146 days later. Throughout his adventure, Ilgunas had plenty of time to contemplate the environmental impact of the proposed pipeline on the flora and fauna he passed, as well as the economic and cultural effects this tar-sands highway would have on the populations that lived in these otherwise desolate areas. Ilgunas has filled his soul-searching memoir with great descriptions of the prairie, the people who befriended him and those who didn't, the numerous herds of cows he encountered, his feet and even the oil pumps that he passed. "North of town were dozens of pump jacks, some white, bearing streaks of rust; others, pitch-black. Some were slowly dunking their proboscises into the ground, but most stood frozen, paralyzed, dead, having long ago sucked dry the pools of black nectar that once gave them life." Even though he interjects his own environmental opinions, Ilgunas doesn't try to change anyone else's mind with his thoughts on the Keystone XL Pipeline, allowing the reader to make up his or her own mind on this multi-sided, often contentious issue. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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