Trinity University Press

Getting to Grey Owl

Journeys on Four Continents

Kurt Caswell (author)

More than a dozen essays covering one man’s journey across four continents as he reflects on the pleasures of the wandering life

Writer, teacher, and adventurer Kurt Caswell has spent his adult life canoeing, hiking, and pedaling his way toward a deeper understanding of our vast and varied world. Getting to Grey Owl chronicles over twenty years of Caswell’s travels as he buys a rug in Morocco, rides a riverboat in China, attends a bullfight in Spain, climbs four mountains in the United Kingdom, and backpacks a challenging route through Iceland’s wild Hornstrandir Peninsula. Writing in the tradition of such visionary nomads as Hermann Hesse, Robert Louis Stevenson, Bruce Chatwin, Paul Theroux, Pico Iyer, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and William Wordsworth, Caswell travels through wild and urban landscapes, as well as philosophical and ideological vistas, championing the pleasures of the wandering life. Far from the trappings of the everyday, he explores a range of ideas: the meaning of roads and pathways, the story of Cain and Abel, nomadic life and the evolution of the human animal, the role of agriculture in the making of the modern world, and the fragility of love. 

Ultimately, every road leads the traveler back home, a return to origins that centers and prepares the wanderer to wander again. Though Caswell advocates a life spent challenging the complacency that comes with staying in one place, in many ways Getting to Grey Owl celebrates the way we mostly remain the same. 

In the final piece in the collection, Caswell returns to the American West, not far from where he grew up, and accompanies three Peruvian sheepherders, their dogs, and 4,000 sheep. They trek across a mountain to seek shelter as a storm approaches. Along the way Caswell wrestles with the burden of carrying a lamb out of the storm, and comes to the realization that while the object of love may be transient and fleeting, love itself endures.


“Kurt Caswell is a man with an unrequited wanderlust.

Barbaraq blog

“Kurt Caswell is an ideal traveling partner: humane, knowledgeable, and profoundly empathetic. These essays take you from Japan to Morocco to the American West, among other places, and there's not one that doesn't leave you feeling both smarter and more curious. Anyone who loves travel, whether literal or literary, will be enriched and moved by this fine book.”

Tom Bissell, author of Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation

More reviews »
Getting to Grey Owl cover
  • Price: $18.95 buy »
  • Pages: 240
  • Size: 6 x 9
  • Published: Jul 2015
  • Status: Available
  • ISBN: 9781595342614
  • Price: $18.95
  • Published: Jul 2015
  • Status: Available
  • ISBN: 9781595342621


Biography, Memoir