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  • It's too late to be huffing up this trail. By the time I did today's drive and stop and take pictures and wander, and got set up in a camp site at Glacier National Park (the Canadian one), it was maybe 4:00 pm when I got to a trail with some promise of seeing a glacial lake.

    I am imagining one of those above tree line scenes where it is a scene of naked granite and a dark blue pool of water sipping at the edge of a 50 foot face of dirty glacial terminus.

    The trail is steep and never quits in its ascent, must less switch-backing then in the US National Parks (also fewer Interpretive Signs and virtually no trash. Good on ya Canada).

    The trees part somewhat with teasing views of stark, jagged alpine peaks.

    After an hour of pushing hard, I reach a crest (or a fake one), still in the trees, but with a sign pointing left to the lake. A pair of EuroGals (that is not meant to be disparaging, European women from some indiscriminate country I could not parse from accents. And they seemed to not be as out of shape as me) had told me to bear right to the view.

    But at the top I ran into something unexpected.


    It was a couple, I grunted a hello. The man, mid 60s said in a crisp (Australian? New Zealand? British?) accent that the found the path to the right to be too steep and dangerous.

    I nodded.

    And turned right.

    And walking away, I realized I had totally passed up on an opportunity to ask strangers to reply to the prompts I was using to record people for the Storybox. Why do I heistate?

    The light had faded by the time I got to the view, it was still utterly impressive. I was atop (or at least partly up) a piece of the Canadian Rockies.

    I doubled back, and found the lake. It was more of a pond in the forest. Yeah, glacial in origin.

    Daylight was maybe another 90 minutes, but I could not see much use in going up, so I started boogie-ing back down the trail.

    Sure enough I caught up with the couple, and this time, I stopped to chat and ask my question that I wanted to record.

    And this was so worth it. The man had just retired from a career that spanned almost his adult life-- and he spoke of how rare a thing that might be going forward with the way society, culture looked at the idea of work. But he was not dismissive of younger people (like "Oh these spoiled kids, they never will know real work") he was just observing how much the world had changed in his life time.

    His wife had a moving story of her own of overcoming physical challenges and how happy she was just to be out there hiking.

    Were I on my normal mode of "not bothering people" I would have totally missed these two stories.

    And that is the point- to just ask.

    That is- the point.

    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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