One morning, at the age of eighty-three, Etta wakes up and decides she wants to see the ocean. She packs a knapsack, grabs her husband’s rifle, and leaves Otto a note;
I’ve gone. I’ve never seen the water, so I’ve gone there. Don’t worry, I’ve left you the truck, I can walk. I will try to remember to come back.
Etta then sets off walking the 3,219 kilometers from Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia. Along the way she ends up with a coyote for a companion that she names James.
Meanwhile, Otto finds Etta’s note and understands why she has left. So Otto waits patiently for Etta’s return, writing her letters and finding things to occupy his time.
Eventually Russell, who has long standing ties to both Etta and Otto stops in for a visit, and upon finding that Etta has left, he is determined to set off after her.
The story weaves in and out from past to present, tying the relationships of all the characters together, and creating a wonderful novel about family, friendship, love, hope, honor, memory, and last adventures.