About

Once I was a cart-pushing suburbanite from New York. But then I fell in love with Alaska and Thoreau, so now I go on adventures and write about them. 

I originally started this blog to chronicle my "vandwelling" adventure at Duke University in January 2009. When I enrolled in a graduate program at Duke, I was nearly broke because I'd just finished paying off my $32,000 undergraduate student debt. So I bought a van -- a 1994 Ford Econoline -- and I secretly lived in it on campus so I could afford tuition and not have to go back into debt. 

In May 2011, after two and a half years at Duke, I graduated debt-free, with a little over $1,000. A book about my experiences, Walden on Wheels, will be published in May 2013.

This blog is also a place for me to share stories about my past. Before I enrolled at Duke, I'd been on a continent-wide "working journey" for two-and-a-half years to pay off my undergraduate debt. On that journey, I lived in Coldfoot, Alaska for a year as a tour guide. I hitchhiked 7,500 miles back and forth across the continent. I went on an 18th century voyage across Ontario, Canada. I lived in a ghetto in Gulfport, Mississippi. And I got a job as a backcountry ranger in the Gates of the Arctic National Park. Recently, I walked the 1,700-mile proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas. It has been a transformative journey that has changed how I think about poverty and wealth and everything in between. If I've learned anything, it's that a life lived not half-wild is a life only half-lived.

Happy trails, 
Ken Ilgunas

You can contact me at spartanstudent (at) gmail.com