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  • It's the day before my departure- what I am thinking will take four months (it ended up being five) to loop around the US and Canada (I never estimated the distance, but it clocked just over 15,000 miles).

    But now I am talking to my irises.

    For some reason, these bulbs really thrive up here in the high dry forest. They were here when my ex and I bought this place, and I have spread them and nurtured them- it pays off each May when they erupt into wild explosions of deep purples, pastel blues, rust reds, somber yellows, brilliant whites. I water them when I am here, and in the fall, I trim back their leaves so they focus on their roots.

    I can count on them. Every year.

    It makes me pause to think of not only the irises, but my pine, aspen, apple, juniper, plum trees- how will they survive with no extra care? Will they stand the long June stretch til the rains come?

    Red Dog, my trusty (and she was) Ford F-150 is loaded up with my supplies, clothes, everything I think I might need for a few months. It was surprisingly not overly full; once I add my road bike and guitar in the back, I bet I could still sleep in there if I had to (I never did sleep in the truck).

    What would I forget?

    What would it mean to get up tomorrow, lock the door, and not see my place for such a long time?

    The irises only wave.

    As it turns out the next day comes like clockwork, and I am out the door as planned around 9:45am. I have a long day planned to get to the southwestern corner of Colorado, where I plan to camp somewhere near the Dolores River.

    Looking back, I cannot remember how I propelled myself out the door, doing the last minute mental checks (water OFF, hot water heater OFF, all doors LOCKED.

    Mostly, I was welled up with sadness, why? This was my grand adventure! I should be skipping out the door, yet I am almost in tears about the thought of not being in my special little place. Maybe its too comfortable.

    But its all in motion, somehow I manage to turn on the ignition, and back out slowly of te driveway (I would return in the dark in November). Driving up the steep grade of AZ 87, climbing the familiar road to the top of the Mogollon Rim, looking over the edge at the familiar Strawberry Valley, mind is racing "WTF am I a doing?"

    I am a mess.

    But I keep going.

    After I climb the Rim and the road levels out, my phone beeps, there is a short stretch here with reception works (the towers are nearby).

    I pull over and call my girlfriend and tell her of my sadness.

    She listens, comforts, and reminds me of all the adventure ahead of me, but mostly, that at the end of the road is her, and the new life we have planned together.

    And I am lifted. And I drive on. I go 15,000 miles.

    I return.

    To a different end of the road.

    Not. What. I. Had. Planned.

    At all.

    But- I am better for all of it, the joy, the pain, the discoveries, the loss, the people met, friends made, love found.

    And if I had written myself a letter from the future and told myself on that morning all that would happen, I would disregard it as unbelievable. I was that sure of my path.

    This trip now unfolds again here on Cowbird, me looking at it a year later, with the perfection of hindsight, but also seasoned with experience.

    This is my Odyssey. This will define who I will be.

    And I will came back with stories to tell those irises.

    I am using Cowbird to share the story of a 15,000 mile road odyssey I took in 2011, which started with me quitting my job in March and setting out in June for a loop around the US and Canada. It's less of a day by day narrative and more of an attempt to tell a story of the story, with some amounts of imagined bits that emerge on looking at the media from the trip, including the more than 1400 images, videos, and audio files collected in my digital time capsule, the Storybox.
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