- Audio CD: 1 pages
- Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.; Unabridged edition (April 19, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1504690931
- ISBN-13: 978-1504690935
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 5.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 65 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,868,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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So he decided to hike the length of it—walk 1,195 miles from Hardisty, Alberta to Port Arthur, Texas. He has produced a truly brilliant kaleidoscopic portrait of America and our neighbor to the North. Here are unforgettable images, brushes with danger and death, and parade of motley characters. Many are salt of the earth. Others might be called Epsom salts.
One of the many benefits you’ll gain—painlessly and pleasurably—from TRESPASSING ACROSS AMERICA is deep knowledge of energy, fossil fuels and climate change. When Ilgunas started out, he assumed he would be virulently disparaging of big oil. He writes:
“Was I anti-oil? The tar sands and the Keystone XL struck me as a pretty terrible idea. But how could I be anti-oil when all of my gear, clothes and food were made with, made of, and transported by oil? I was wearing nylon pants and a polyester shirt, which were materials made from oil. Oil was in my pack, my shoes, my trekking poles. I’d originally wanted to travel the XL without using any oil. But where would I, for instance, get shoes that weren’t shipped with oil. How could I get food without any trace of oil? I could bring a rifle and hunt rabbits and deer, but what oil-run machine had cut the wood for the stock? What fuel ran the furnace that shaped the barrel? Where did the lead come from? Oil was everywhere and in everything.”
Another gift Ken Ilgunas gives the reader is a slew of easy-to-understand quickie factoids that you can gleefully drop at dinner parties. For example:
• I didn’t know this at the time, but there are 150,000 miles of oil pipelines in the United States alone. Add gas pipelines, and we have more than 1.7 million miles of pipes. These are our veiled veins, silently moving fossil fuels beneath the ground like blood beneath skin.
• Currently, there are 1.4 billion cows on Earth whose farts make up the world’s largest source of methane, a greenhouse gas 105 times more potent than carbon dioxide. A 2006 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report found that cows generate 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases—more than worldwide transportation.
Cows were a big part of Ilgunas’ struggle with nature. He had to deal with thousands of cows in his footslog across the plains of two giant continents:
“To me, cows were not docile bovine creatures that they were to most people, but, potentially a swarming herd of ill-tempered water buffalo that could fend off a pride of lions with their organ-rending horns and flank-to-flank formations. The very last thing I wanted was to end up on the news as the cultural spectacle of the latest person killed by an amiable animal in the once-every-few-years ‘Man killed by goat’ story.”
Etched in your memory will be mental images of Ilgunas’ lurid descriptions of what oil exploration does to the ecosystem such as this $200 sightseeing flight he splurged on for an overview of Fort McMurray, Alberta.
“But the autumnal wonderland came to an abrupt end as we approached and then passed over an enormous tailings pond—a lifeless gray sea of sludge, the liquid residue of the bitumen-to-oil refining process. The ponds, which are more accurately described as lakes, bore no sign of bird, wind ripple, or fish. They were still, silent, dead. And they were everywhere. After the refining process, the oil industry creates these giant man-made lakes to store all the toxic fluids. As of 2010, the tailings ponds covered about seventy square miles of northern Alberta, with some ponds as big as 7,500 acres, or half the size of Manhattan. Migrating ducks are known to rest on the ponds, and because the ponds have killed thousands of them, the oil industry had placed scarecrows (dubbed ‘bit-u-men’} wearing orange HAZMAT suits in the middle of them. Beyond the pond was one of the pits, a breathtaking mud crater that was of such breadth it almost stretched to the edge of the viewable earth.”
Above all, you savor dozens of delicious cameo portraits of myriad characters—some wonderfully warm, others not so. One of my favorites:
“When freezing, saturated, and exhausted, I got to Antlers, Oklahoma, (which boasts of being the Deer Capital of the World), I went straight to the local pizzeria and changed into my dry clothes in the bathroom before ordering myself a supreme pizza. A family with two little girls, who’d seen me come in, was curious what I was doing in Antlers. So they came over and asked. I told them tales of charging moose, stampeding cows, and crazy Nebraskan cops. I left out the dilapidated homes, crazy dogs, and strange men walking toward me at night, thinking that I had a good reason to remember the better side of Oklahoma. The girls posed for pictures with me, saying they were going to talk about my trip with their class, and the grandfather left ten dollars on the table, went to the register, and paid for my pizza.”
In short, you will adore TRESPASSING ACROSS AMERICA as will everyone you recommend it to. It is life changing.
In my opinion, every citizen of the world should read it.