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Where the Caribou Still Roam
Guy Mueller, author
Where the Caribou Still Roam chronicles Guy Mueller's travels in the northern reaches of the wilds of North America. More than an adventure travelogue, Caribou is a weave of personal memoir, environmental and cultural commentary, and even some spiritual inquiry. It is also about coming to terms with middle age, a story that Mueller tells with warm wit and wisdom, from the aft end of a red canoe while paddling down the Thlewiaza River in Nunavut, Canada's newest and most northern territory. Mueller shares his concerns about the struggle of our planet and humankind to coexist. He pays tribute to North America's last free-flowing rivers, laments the ruin of others, and takes the reader on a quest to learn about the peoples of the Far North, including the Inuit, a people formerly known as the Eskimos. Mueller tells how these northern hunters, whose Siberian ancestors crossed the Bering Strait thousands of years ago, have persevered amid changes of staggering magnitude. Few have experienced the phenomenon of culture shock more recently or profoundly than the Canadian Inuit. Where the Caribou Still Roam is a story about the author's home continent of North America, but it is also a story about the search for both individual and cultural identity, a search that never ends but one that links us all in shared humanity.
In this earnest, well-intentioned debut, a retiree searches for adventure and answers for himself and the planet during a rafting trip in the Arctic. After selling his family’s business, Mueller, in his mid-50s, joins a friend on a three-week, 200-mile trip down the Thlewiaza River in Canada’s Northwest Territory. Despite fears of bears, injuries, and isolation, he embraces his new pursuit, beginning with researching the area and uncovering the unique aspects of the Arctic’s ecosystem and the looming environmental threats posed by mining, oil extraction, and global climate change. Weaving in tales of previous explorers to the region and describing local indigenous cultures, Mueller juxtaposes the territory’s inhospitable terrain and weather with its life-sustaining waters and wildlife. Academic jargon—such as “debitage of predecessors”—finds its way into the narrative, but so do vivid descriptions and turns of phrases such as “library of places,” “tongue of boulders,” and the “McDonalization and Disneyization of society.” Reflecting on humans’ place on Earth, he writes, “We share this world together, and somehow, we must learn... to coexist more gracefully among our selves.” The result is a thoughtful and vivid, if sometimes scattered, off-the-grid travelogue. (Self-published.)