Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Little did I know that the Calgary Stampede was in full swing as I arrived in this part of Alberta. It is a huge festival. The sidewalks are crowded with families dressed up in their finest Western clothing strutting their way over to the fairgrounds. I see fancy braids, buckles, bandanas, beads and butts. Under cowboy hats tilted downwards, I see faces of people who know about horses, hay, and a "hell of a time," a world so different than my own.
I have to admit that I am feeling tired and dirty today, which is understandable since I've been on the road for over two weeks and haven't had a shower since Sunday. My beard has grown into scraggly tumbleweed. I probably appear as an old cowpoke from the bunkhouse who has spent too many years sitting evenings on cheap tavern bar stools and standing during the day in too much cow shit .
I have seen so much since I last wrote. Memories and thoughts are stacked up in me like cord wood and are ready to be burned for anyone who cares to listen. My travels have taken me through the amazing and desolate landscape of Northern Montana, where dinosaur fossils slumber beneath the surface and the "Big Sky" stretches like a magician's cloak over verdant rolling fields of grasses and wildflowers. Under thunderclouds I spent an afternoon in Browning, MT, the heart of the Blackfoot Nation and hung around the trading post. I talked with people who spoke much with their hands, laughed toothy smiles, and told me jokingly the heavy weather was sent by the spirit to scare the tourists away. Undaunted, I moved on further north and found a quiet section of Glacier National Park in a rustic campground to overnight. I knew that grizzly bears were foraging nearby since a couple who arrived shortly after me saw one in a meadow a mile away. In my imagination I referred to her as Ursula, a sow, who had lovely ears and a great digging nose. I decided not to hike until I had purchased "bear spray"-not hair spray- which of course I hoped I wouldn't ever have to use.
I have run out of time to continue writing. I must leave Calgary now and drive many miles or resign myself to find some campground nearby replete with RVs, trailers, and noisy people. I am at the northern and eastern end of my journey and, by heading west, I am on my way back toward my journey's end . After noticing the names of Red Deer and Saskatchewan on a road sign, I felt drawn to abandon all reason and give into the lure of turning East and exploring further. After much consideration I thought better of it. My mother advised me to eat smaller portions and claimed the food tasted better. With her words forever hanging around my neck like a mezzuzah, I may already be stuffed. It is time to digest this sumptious meal and head home.