I’m really sorry it happened and really glad I survived. Notes on the flabbergasting climax of an Alaska road trip that changed my life.

After 6 years mired in political turmoil, the controversial pipeline proposal could be concluded this year.

The crude that would feed the XL pipeline comes from a once pristine part of Alberta that now resembles mining operations on a sci-fi planet. At places like Fort McKay, home to First Nations people who've lived there for centuries, the money is great but the environmental and health impacts are exceedingly grim.

Thirty-five years ago, a national recession and high fuel prices led to the opening of the massive, controversial Trans-Alaska Pipeline System—and a host of problems and pollution that came with it. Sound familiar?

They say you can't go home again—to the strange, remote, threatened South American jungle where your larger-than-life, field-scientist dad discovered an extremely rare, weird-looking species called Lophostoma schulzi. They're probably right. But we did it anyway.