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Into the Hills and Hollows

In North Dakota, the route ahead seemed obvious enough. Spin 365 degrees out on the open prairie, and fields and pasture spill toward the horizon. It creates a sense that everything, on the surface at least, is known.

One of the interesting things about walking across landscapes of fuel in America is that – in addition to the fuel, the climate, the culture of each place – the terrain itself is different.

A Pennsylvania native, I know well the winding roads of hills and hollows of the eastern woodlands. Even in farm country, things are quickly cloaked by thick stands of trees, especially in the full leaf of summer.

That will impact both a state of mind and a sense of the scene during this second walk, through the Southern Tier of New York and into the natural gas fields of northeastern Pennsylvania. As one local lawyer, who has logged thousands of miles meeting with landowners across the southern edge of New York state, noted in a phone conversation weeks ago, this walk will be more two dimensional: “You only see what isn’t blocked.”

Back road in Tompkins County, New York.

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