The Circumference of Home

Kurt Hoelting

Farewell my Subaru

“When I was twenty-eight years old I rode my bike from Eugene, Oregon, to Port Townsend, Washington, for the only serious road trip I ever took. I was moving back to Puget Sound after six years away from home, and this bicycle trip up the coast seemed like the perfect way to commemorate my return to the sound. It took me four days to pick my way north through the farming communities of the Willamette Valley, the mill towns of the lower Columbia, and the back-road timber towns of Southwestern Washington. When I got my first whiff of salt water and tide flats in Olympia, I knew without a doubt I was home.”

So writes Kurt Hoelting in this month's literary selection, The Circumference of Home. Subtitled One Man's Yearlong Quest for a Radically Local Life, it's the story of an experiment undertaken by the author during which he spends a year without a car, traveling on foot, by bicycle, or by kayak, within a radius of 100 kilometers from his home in Puget Sound.

“Last month, I followed my first bicycle trip around the inner sound with a second, longer tour of the region covering five hundred miles, tracing the outer edge of my circle. Where mountains hemmed me in, I pedaled as far out as I could go into the foothills of the Olympics and Cascades, on a route that took me from Victoria, British Columbia, to Enumclaw, Washington, and from Hoodsport to Bellingham. I pushed myself hard physically, and I continue to be surprised by how responsive my body has been to this challenge. In the process, I crossed every major river that reaches the sound inside my circle, weaving myself more consciously into this place where many rivers meet.

With summer coming on, I will be slowing down even more, shifting focus from the spoke to the paddle in a kayaking circumnavigation of Puget Sound. But first, I have one more expedition that beckons, this one combining both the spoke and the boot. From the beginning, I knew I had to attempt the highest points on my circle, from home to summit, under my own power. I could not imagine this year without a pilgrimage to the peaks of circumference.”

If you've ever contemplated doing without a car for some period of time, or wondered whether you could, this beautifully-written book should interest you. Be sure to read all about it.

Copyright 2009, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.