Journeys To Home

A review of The Circumference of Home: One Man’s Yearlong Quest for a Radically Local Life by Kurt Hoelting
In an effort to quit being a tourist in his own community, Kurt Hoelting, a commercial fisherman and wilderness and kayaking guide, details his attempt to live locally in The Circumference of Home: One Man's Yearlong Quest for a Radically Local Life (Da Capo Press, $25). Coming to terms with the impacts of a fossil fuel-based lifestyle, Hoelting decided to spend a year exclusively rediscovering his immediate surroundings in Puget Sound, Washington. "For a year I am pushing "pause" on travel to far-off places in order to renew my relationship with the place I actually live and to rediscover the art of homecoming in an increasingly homeless culture," Hoelting writes. Travelling by foot, bike, kayak and public transportation, he explores nearly every cranny within a 60-mile radius of his home, venturing through cities, mountains, suburbs and national parks. "The image of "circling home" inscribed itself on my mind as a scope for the adventure," he writes.

Hoelting's outings are interspersed with historical and factual details, and his journey gives readers a sense of what it means to truly know one's home and to live sustainably. "Somewhere along the way," Hoelting writes, "our affair with cars turned into an addiction."

Lynn Schooler embarks on his own journey from the homestead in Walking Home: A Traveler in the Alaskan Wilderness, a Journey into the Human Heart (Bloomsbury, $25). Whereas Hoelting sought to rediscover his surroundings, Schooler looks to rediscover himself, by venturing up the coast from his hand-built cabin in Juneau, Alaska. Schooler takes readers along on his solo journey into the wilds, which he explores by boat, inflatable kayak and foot, recounting his adventures with asides on the history of the Alaskan coastline, tales of the local Tlingit Indians and memories of the life he temporarily left behind.

During his journey, Schooler comes to understand that within wilderness one finds not only complete solidarity and peace of mind, but also the lines that link the human to the natural world. "What I didn't know was that the sum of the whole experience would turn out to be one of the best things that had ever happened to me," he writes. —Rebecca Webster