Islands Apart: A Year on the Edge of Civilization

Shambhala Publications

Author Ken McAlpine stands in his front yard one night in Ventura, California, trying to see the stars. His view is diminished by light pollution, making it hard to see much of anything in the sky. Our fast-paced, technologically advanced society, he concludes, is not conducive to stargazing or soul-searching. Taking a page from Thoreau's Walden, he decides to get away from the clamor of everyday life, journeying alone through California's Channel Islands National Park. There, he imagines, he might be able to "breathe slowly and think clearly, to examine how we live and what we live for."

In between his week-long solo trips through these pristine islands, McAlpine reaches out to try to better understand his fellow man: he eats lunch with the homeless in Beverly Hills, sits in the desert with a 98-year-old Benedictine monk, and befriends a sidewalk celebrity impersonator in Hollywood. What he discovers about himself and the world we live in will inspire anyone who wishes they had the time to slow down and notice the wonders of nature and humanity.

To learn more about the author, visit his website at
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About the author

Ken McAlpine is an award-winning travel writer whose work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Outside, Reader's Digest, and the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of Off-Season: Discovering America on Winter's Shore. He lives with his family in Ventura, California.
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8 total

Additional Information

Shambhala Publications
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Published on
Jul 14, 2009
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Nature / Ecology
Sports & Recreation / Camping
Travel / Essays & Travelogues
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Ken McAlpine
An engagingly told novel that draws you in immediately Book clubs take note: make this your next selection.

Lori Stacy, Editor, Celebrated Living Magazine

A coming-of-age novel of a different sort, this heartbreakingly tender story of love and hope shows us all that it is never too late for a second chance. Pogue Whithouse, an ordinary, extraordinary man, takes a road trip across America in his classic 67 Mustang. Hoping to heal memories and reconcile a past filled with life-altering love and loss, Pogue encounters a colorful cast of characters along his way: a spirited woman who rescues horses, a pierced-lipped romantic, a rattlesnake wrangling recluse and, most important, a little girl who loves bullfrogs and baseball. Pogues inspirational journey across the country and through life reminds us that the human heart and spirit are forces as unpredictable as they are powerful. Together We Jump is poetic testament to the power of belief and the possibility of redemption at any age.

A deft exploration of the complexity of love and memory that will stay with you long after you turn the final page. McAlpine is an eloquent storyteller who has created a magnificent novel.

Dallas Woodburn, author of 3 a.m. and three-time Pushcart Prize nominee

A roller coaster ride through the mind and soul poeticMcAlpines tale is inspirational.

Vincent F.A. Golfin, Ph.D., The Los Angeles Review

Emotionally moving a riveting plot a rich history of real-life events (World War II, Japan), Together We Jump is a real treat.

Denise Turney, author Love Pour Over Me and Off The Shelf talk show host

Ken McAlpine
No Longer the Forgotten Season

Just after Labor Day, Ken McAlpine said good-bye to his family and began a drive up the East Coast, from Florida to Maine, on a one-man quest to capture the elusive “forgotten season” of beach towns shuttered until the return of warm weather. Off-Season is a moving portrait that brings to life the magic of the sea and shore in winter, the charm of beach towns emptied of summer crowds, and the warmth and eccentricities of year-round coastal residents who revel in small-town spirit.

McAlpine skipped the more popular destinations like Nags Head, Virginia Beach, Cape May, and the Hamptons, opting to visit lesser known locales like Sharpes, Florida; Tangier Island, Virginia; and Montauk, New York. There he found people who celebrated the departure of the tourists with the cautious hope they’d return next summer. He encountered fishermen struggling to make a living, a former playboy lifeguard now ministering to the elderly and ill, a marine policeman both reviled and respected, a lone kayaker paddling away his grief, a couple fighting to save the world’s coral reefs, divers searching for everything from false teeth to dead bodies in dark waters, and deserted snow-covered beaches more beautiful than anyone could describe.

More than a travelogue—and a whole new breed of beach read—Off-Season is a stroll off the beaten path and a look at the people and places in our country that keep the spirit of community alive.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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