Forty-five-year-old Walter Baker, recently divorced and downsized out of his airline-pilot job, has elected to enter the wilderness, physically and metaphorically, to review and reinvent his life. The wilderness he finds is far less idyllic than he had hoped. Even before he can move into an isolated cabin near Klamath Falls, Oregon, he meets an attractive widow with a troubled past and a mental-health counselor disguised as a fishing guide, both of whom immediately insinuate themselves into his life. Next he learns that his landlord neighbors are hiding out in the US Federal Witness Security Program and that a new group of Muslims has taken up residence at a nearby ranch that had been a jihad training center in 1999. This diverse cast, plus a contingent from the Jefferson State Militia, eventually converges in Walter's front yard, where he is thrust into the role of peacemaker. The outcome is a surprise for all parties concerned. Scattered throughout the story are educational interludes in which Walter encounters a fiery fundamentalist preacher, a congenial Sufi, an aggressive nymphomaniac, a psychic duck, and various other local characters as he investigates interests such as fly fishing, Islam, New Thought, midlife transitions, nonviolence, vipassana meditation, and the local history of Klamath County, Oregon.