Archive for May, 2007
Thursday, May 31st, 2007
It was nice to finish May strongly. There was nothing exciting to report about today’s skate. I started near Cole Island (roughly half way between Moncton and Fredericton). By lunch time, I had covered over 60 km! Ironically, I stopped for lunch at a gas bar in Oromocto where we had stopped on our way to Newfoundland nearly a month ago! After a short power nap, I was back on the smooth road with great conditions, once again. It was less than an hour before I arrived in Fredericton. Here’s where the story gets interesting.
Only a few days ago, my cousin, Jeff, in the Niagara region had sent me an e-mail asking me if I needed any connections in Fredericton. I thought Jeff should know by now that I need all the connections I can get! So it turns out that Jeff has a friend in the city who is a teacher. It didn’t take long before I got an e-mail from Cynthia introducing herself and letting me know that she was working on a few things for me. I was pretty excited to think that I’d have a place to stay and a hot shower when I got into Fredericton. But Cynthia’s subsequent e-mails astounded me. She had arranged for St. Thomas University to give us 2 hotel rooms for 2 nights with laundry facilities, free of charge. She had also arranged to have me meet with a few elementary classes (which will be tomorrow) to share my experiences, thus far. And to top it off, Cynthia’s cousin is the Promotional Manager with Boston Pizza for all of Atlantic Canada, and they were preparing a reception for me at the restaurant!
Since I was way ahead of schedule for the day, I figured I should stop in to Boston Pizza in the afternoon before coming back in the evening for the reception. I just wanted to meet the staff ahead of time and see what they had in mind for later on. After checking in at St. Thomas and having an extra long shower (I haven’t showered since leaving Charlottetown!), we headed back to Boston Pizza where the staff graciously welcomed me in. There was a table set up where customers could make donations and sign a message to me. I also setup my laptop so people could see my photos from the trip, so far. After a fantastic dinner, courtesy of Boston Pizza, Katie Chapman (Community Relations Co-ordinator) called me up on a chair so the entire restaurant could see and hear her as she presented me with the money donated by staff and customers. It was a significant contribution, and I can only imagine what it would have been like if my cousin would have e-mailed me weeks ago to let me know about Cynthia! Hopefully I’ll be able to arrange similar events in the various cities as I continue on. The more exposure and awareness I can create, the closer we all are to a cure!
Wednesday, May 30th, 2007
Looking back at today’s skate, I thought I would be able to sum up the events in a couple quick sentences. But a few things happened along the way that were pretty interesting.
The day started off in Moncton with a phone call from Radio-Canada (CBC). The name is deceiving, because they were actually calling me to arrange a meeting with a film crew for TV. So, while my parents were getting some groceries, I put my skates on and had CBC film me for a segment on tonights news.
I didn’t get out to the highway to start until nearly 10:00. But I can’t complain about my late start, because having CBC film me was pretty cool. And to make it even better, the camera man drove out to the highway and got some more footage a few kilometers down the road. I guess he wanted to get some more natural shots.
All the media attention in Moncton was great. The encouraging honks were occurring much more frequently. Now, if only I could convince the people of New Brunswick to pull over and donate! A couple of hours into my day, and someone finally did! I’ve now had vehicles pull over to donate in each province I’ve been through. I don’t know if any province will have as many people stop for me as I did on Newfoundland. Perhaps I should make a little challenge for each province. At this point, Newfoundland has a commanding lead for cash donations. I encourage everyone to donate however you can, but it would be fun to see if any other provinces out-do the generosity of Newfoundland’s cash donations.
Just before stopping for lunch, the second major event of the day happened. Most people have seen the cracks in the road that have been filled in with a tar-like substance. And if you’ve ever seen the tar in the summer, you know that it’s almost like a gum. Well, today was a relatively warm, sunny day. I’m usually pretty good at avoiding bad sections of pavement, but today I came across an area that I couldn’t get around. The wheels of my left skate hit the goo and came to an abrupt stop. As my momentum continued to carry my body forward, my right leg swung around in front of me to compensate for the sudden change in speed. But now I was almost sideways to the direction I wanted to be moving. My arms flailed around me trying to regain my balance. I tried to bring my left leg back around to correct the twisting my body had just experienced. My heart was racing and my eyes were bulging out of my head. But my cat-like reflexes saved me. A few more stutter-steps and I had regained my composure. Throughout my journey, I have hit thousands of little stones and had to struggle to hold my balance. but never before had I come so close to taking a nose dive to the pavement and possibly fall into the line of traffic.
The rest of the day was uneventful, but very enjoyable. The Trans Canada Highway between Moncton and Fredericton has a paved shoulder the size of an entire lane. There was a very slight breeze in my face, but it was not enough to be a factor today. All-in-all, the conditions today were some of the best I’ve had since starting on May 5.
I was nearly done for the day when the final intense event unfolded beneath my skates… literally. I was cruising along at about 20 km/h when I noticed movement several yards off the road to my right. It happened in a flash, and all I saw was a grayish-brown haze streaking towards me. It was too big to be a rat, but too small to be a dog or coyote. It was none other than a terrifying bunny (ironic, considering some of my good friends call me Bunny). I don’t know what spooked the rabbit, or what it was thinking when it charged towards me. All I know is that it was headed across the highway when it took a sharp left turn towards me with fire in its eyes. I’ve never been attacked by any animal, and I could hardly believe that my first encounter with a vicious creature would be at the hands of a wild rabbit. The bunny was now right at my feet and I had to jump to avoid skating over it. I was off balance for the second time today, but this time I was able to keep both skates aligned enough that falling was not a concern. I was concerned, however, of the lunatic rabbit which was now headed to the other side of the highway. Three cars and a transport came screaming past and yet the bunny still managed to sneak across the road unscathed. And just as quickly as it appeared, the little brown bunny vanished into the shrubs. What was going through its tiny, unusual brain, I’ll never know. But it definitely was an encounter I’ll not soon forget.
I finally reached my exit for the evening where we pulled into our typical Irving Gas station for the night. This Irving had one major difference, though. An amazing employee named Shannon had heard about me on the XL 96.9 in Moncton and offered to pay for our gas out of her own pocket! I hope we run into more people like Shannon. With the price of gas right now, this trip is getting quite expensive. And every little break we can get helps immensely. Thank you Shannon!
Tuesday, May 29th, 2007
Today I woke up knowing that I had a long haul in front of me. I first had to drive across the Confederation Bridge (unfortunately I was not able to convince them to allow me to skate across), then I had another 100 km to Moncton. And to make matters worse, I wouldn’t be able to get my skates on until almost 10:30 am.
Before leaving PEI, we had to pick up a few souvenirs, but the gift shops didn’t open until 9 am. At least this gave us an opportunity to sleep in a bit. Well, I tried to sleep in, but my dad seems to get up in time to wake the roosters. While we were browsing through the gift shops, I met a woman from North Bay, Ontario. She made a generous donation and told me that she had heard about me on TV back home! I was really surprised to hear that I had made TV in North Bay!
With postcard and gifts in hand, I hopped behind the wheel of the RV and headed to the toll booth for the bridge. I had to drive since dad feels a bit ‘uneasy’ driving on a road when you can’t see anything but water in the horizon. I jumped at the chance to drive. I thought that would be an amazing experience to drive across one of the longest bridges ever constructed. I’m also happy to say that the Confederation Bridge contributed to my campaign by waiving the toll for us!
Twenty minutes of driving finally got me over the bridge and onto the soils of New Brunswick. We pulled over for a quick photo and for me to lace up the blades. As I was getting ready, I few people stopped to ask where I was headed. As we got chatting and I told them ‘Vancouver’, 3 people told me they were from Victoria! I hope they remember me and come out when I get to Vancouver Island.
PEI was another very unique province. But it was nice to be back on the Mainland, yet again. As I headed down the TCH towards Port Elgin, the traffic was sparse, but I was still getting the occasional honk. One man even rolled his window down and leaned way out to applaud and cheer for me!
It seemed like a short morning since I didn’t get my skates on until after 10 am. I’d only covered 25 km when we stopped for lunch. I knew I had my work cut out for me in the afternoon. And I also knew I’d be facing the wind for the first 25 km after lunch. I don’t know if it was the adrenaline from being in a new province, or the fact that I had a day off in Charlottetown, but I felt great and was able to skate over 70 km between 2pm and 6 pm. I took a quick break near Shediac and did a radio interview with Melanie from Magic 104 in Moncton. My mom was also able to reach C103 and XL96.9 radio stations in Moncton who both asked me to come into the studios for a live interview in the evening! I was pretty excited when I heard this. Up until now, I’d only done phone interviews, and they were usually pre-recorded.
As I approached Moncton, the traffic got much more dense, but everyone was very courteous and many of them honked and waved. A few cops even passed me honking their horns! Just before I reached Magnetic Hill on the West side of Moncton, some heavy clouds began dusting me with some rain. It wasn’t too bad, but it was enough to convince me to quit for the day. So I hopped back in the RV and drove into town where we pulled into an ice cream shop called Mighty Scoop. They were happy to let us plug the RV into their electricity.
After dinner, we headed over to the radio studio where I did an interview with Matt from C103, and then with Shilo from XL96.9. Both guys were incredible and it turns out that Shilo is from Belleville (near my home town of Kingston)! It was my first time doing live radio, and they both made me feel very comfortable. I’ll be posting some pictures of my experience soon. Thanks for having me, guys!
There’s been a lot of fantastic development recently for my arrival in Fredericton. It looks like I’ll be having a reception at the Boston Pizza, I’ll have accommodation for my parents and myself, and I’ll have a few classes to meet. I’m looking forward to see how Fredericton welcomes me.
NEW PHOTOS ARE UP
Monday, May 28th, 2007
I don’t think I could have slept any better. My king size bed at the the Dundee Arms Inn provided me with the perfect rest I needed before heading for New Brunswick.
We had a few things to pick up around town before running out to Belfast Automotive to pick up the RV. Yes, we had to get more repairs, and there’s still some work that will need to be done. Thanks again to Leon Nicholson for the great work!
I rushed over to Glen Stewart Elementary School in Stratford where 107 grade 5 students were anxiously waiting for me to arrive. I showed the kids my website and pictures from my travels so far. At the end of my time, the kids presented me with a donation from the school and a few items to remember them by. It was very unexpected, but very appreciated.
It was now nearly 3:30 and I was lacing up my skates to head for New Brunswick. I was back at Margaret’s house where I had left off on Saturday. The only difference is that it was now pouring rain. But my spirits were high because I could tell the wind would be mostly at my back. And to make things even better, the rain stopped right when I started up the street! The afternoon went by fairly quickly and before I knew it, I was in Borden at Confederation Bridge! We’ll stay here tonight and head over to New Brunswick first thing in the morning.
Monday, May 28th, 2007
It feels like I just had a day off, but I’ve worked pretty hard to get where I am now, so I took another day to explorer PEI.
Margaret lent us her father’s car for the day so we wouldn’t have to fight through the streets of Charlottetown in the RV. I started the morning with a treat for my parents. They have sacrificed nearly as much as I have for the Skate For Hope, so I wanted to give them something I knew they’d love… I round of golf. We just did 9 holes in the morning because we wanted the afternoon to drive around the Island. We drove back to Eldon where Bobby Cooper recommended we try the Belfast Highlands course. It was pretty windy again, but the sky was clear and the backdrop for the course was spectacular. The lush, green fairways seemed to roll right into the ocean beside. With beautiful, bright red cliffs of sandstone towers above the water, the well-manicured greens were exactly what my parents needed for a break. I took a few pictures, but they just don’t do the scenery justice. I didn’t want to say anything, but I think it’s important that everyone knows that I beat my parents by at least 12 strokes. I’m lucky if I golf once a year, but I still managed to squeak out a respectable 46.
After the round, my folks wanted to drive over to North Rustico and Cavendish to show me where they have stayed in the past. We stopped at a few beaches where the contrast of white sand, red soil, green grass and blue water was incredible. We even found a wharf with ‘Richard’s Deep Sea Diving’. Unfortunately it wasn’t open on a Sunday, but I still got a picture.
As we were driving towards North Rustico, my parents began reminiscing about neighbours we used to have in Kingston when I was growing up. We had lost touch years ago, but my parents knew they had moved to PEI a few years back. They weren’t sure where on PEI, but they thought it was somewhere on the North-West area. Well, Jane Witheridge’s ears must have been burning. As we were just heading out of North Rustico, we passed a woman walking up the street. From the back seat of the car I heard my Dad say “That’s Jane!” What a small world. It really was her. We stopped and surprised her, but we could only stay and chat for a few minutes since we had to get back to Charlottetown for dinner plans.
It’s lobster season, so we’re treating ourselves to the delicacy as often as we can afford! This time, we had been told about a lobster dinner being put on by the Belfast Lions Club. This was going to be a true local experience. Just before pulling out of Margaret’s driveway again, her neighbour across the street strolled over to wish me well on my travels. It turns out he is an avid rollerblader and was very interested in the skates that I use. While we were standing there talking, his kids found their way across the street to meet me, as well. They even presented me with a donation. Thanks guys!
Then something unexpected happened (as if there hadn’t been enough surprises on this trip already). Margaret had managed to convince a local hotel to donate a room for me for the night! I was looking forward to this. My own room and a hot shower. Yeah, this would be nice.
We headed off to the lobster dinner at the Elementary School in Belfast. It really was a ‘locals’ experience. The gymnasium was full of people cracking open lobsters and mingling. After this, I think we should have our lobster fix for a while. When we leave PEI, I’ll be heading inland, so lobster won’t be as plentiful.
After dinner, I dropped my parents off at Bobby and Carolyn’s house where they would be staying with our dog for the night. I was pretty anxious to get to the hotel to relax for a while. Once I got there and had a much-anticipated shower, I took a walk around Charlottetown. It’s a very quiet city. Not much happening on a Sunday night. But I managed to find a pub that was open and seemed to be busy. I went inside for a drink and found everyone inside participating in a huge trivia game! I couldn’t really join in since I arrived half way through the game, but I whispered some answers to some people near me.
I headed back to the Dundee Arms Inn where my head hit the pillow on the king size bed and I was out like a light.
Saturday, May 26th, 2007
With the RV getting the oil gauge replaced, my mom and I borrowed Bobby’s Explorer and headed down the coast of the Island to look around. We stopped at the Vineyard where my cousin was married 4 years ago (Sorry I missed the wedding, Gord and Kathy), saw some amazing old buildings and beautiful seashores with lighthouses. When we got back to Cooper’s Store around lunch, the RV was ready to go. So we grabbed a quick bite and headed off to Charlottetown.
I think I’m starting to figure out the Weather Gods. I think they’re a lot like politicians… Every province seems to have they’re own, they seem to have a warped sense of humour, there seems to be no inter-provincial unity and they’ll give you a little taste of the good life before using their power to knock you back down to reality. Today I was hoping to reach Charlottetown in about an hour and a half. Two hours later, I was fighting a head wind and had covered less than 20 kilometers. If I had to rank the wind, today would be in the top 3 worst winds to date. That’s pretty impressive considered the number of battles I had on Newfoundland.
Nevertheless, I slowly plowed on until finally reaching Stratford where Margaret and daughter, Carolyn, had driven out to meet me at the side of the road. It was fantastic to finally meet the woman who had given me so much without ever knowing me. Since I was ultimately headed to Margaret’s house, we just had a quick ‘Hello’ and I was off again. I didn’t have far to go now. As I came into the big city, a car pulled over to donate. Now I can say that someone had stopped their car to donate in every province I’d been through, thus far. And then something happened that I’ll never forget.
As I crossed the bridge into Charlottetown, a man drove passed me, honked, cursed and made an obscene gesture towards me. I was stunned. there were 2 lanes of traffic so I wasn’t slowing down any cars. He had plenty of room and no obvious reason to be upset. But as quickly as it happened, he was gone. Normally I would be very angry with such an encounter. But all I really felt now was pity. I couldn’t understand why someone could be so rude to another person who is trying to do something good. I feel sorry for that man for being so unaccepting of others. I can only hope he never develops cancer and has to rely on the research and help of others.
I skated through town to Margaret’s house to find another delicious surprise. Her sister, Maureen, had brought over a lobster feast for dinner! Nothing can compare to the East Coast hospitality and their lobster dinners.
Tomorrow I am taking the day off. I know it wasn’t long ago I took a day off in Halifax, but having struggled my way through 3 provinces and still remained ahead of schedule, I deserve it. I haven’t been to PEI since I was just a boy, so I’m going to take in as much as I can before heading to New Brunswick on Monday.
Saturday, May 26th, 2007
Overnight, the Weather Gods had arisen and threw buckets of rain down to earth as if to say to me “You can’t beat us. We’re just giving you a break.” I’m not feeling triumphant about the recent stretch of calm skies. I am feeling lucky, though.
With another slight tailwind, I was back on the TCH for the first time since May 21. This time I was heading down a length of road that felt all too familiar. It was the same section of highway on which I had skated from New Glasgow to Truro. But this time I was heading back toward New Glasgow. It felt very counter productive, but it was necessary to reach the ferry to PEI. In my original estimation, I had given myself a little over 3 days to get from Halifax to Charlottetown. Today I felt like I was a bit ahead of schedule. And then I hit Mount Thom again. But my good fortune just kept coming. Heading East up Mount Thom was far more gradual than coming from the other direction. Before I knew it, I was at the top and cruising down the steeper side. I could tell I was reaching 50 km/h because my skates began to wobble. But when my dad later told me I broke 60 km/h, I couldn’t believe it! The speed was exhilarating, and only helped me get further ahead of schedule.
I got off the Trans Canada Highway at the exit for Salt Springs. At this point, I was trying to figure out if it was best to continue on the TCH or head north on the less-traveled highway #376. While we were parked on the side of the road analyzing the maps, a gentleman pulled up and offered assistance. He recommended the 376 through Pictou to the PEI ferry. His word was good enough for us. If you can’t trust the locals, who can you trust? I had originally been hoping to get to the ferry terminal in time to catch the 6pm sail. I was beside myself when I arrived at the docks at 11:45 am! Amazingly, I had covered about 60 km before lunch!
The ferry to PEI seemed to be a lot more laid back than the Newfoundland ferry. It was much smaller, no reservation was needed and they were fine with me skating directly onto the boat. As I skated through the parking lot towards the ferry, I noticed a woman get out of her car and come towards me. “She must have passed me on the highway and wants to make a donation now that I’ve caught up”, I thought.
“Excuse me. We were going to drive back into Pictou for lunch and were wondering what time we should be back to board the ferry?” she asked.
Here I was hoping for a little generosity, and this dear old woman thought I was a ferry employee! Maybe it was the orange safety vest I was wearing, but I would have thought the big RV with ‘Skate For Hope’ plastered all over it may have given her a hint that I wasn’t working. As politely as possible, I let her know that I wasn’t sure and she should check with someone who works for the ferry.
Now, I may have already mentioned that our RV isn’t a 2007 model. You may even remember me mentioning a few unexpected repairs that needed to be done along the way. Well, considering it’s a 1978, I guess the break-downs shouldn’t have been unexpected. We’ve decided to be a bit more proactive with respect to the vehicle performance. My dad had noticed the oil gauge had quit working. He carefully monitored the oil (and all other fluids) but was satisfied that there was nothing seriously wrong. However, he never felt completely comfortable without a functioning gauge. We knew that we would have a day or 2 on Prince Edward Island, so we thought it could be a good opportunity to have a mechanic take a look. And so begins the story of Margaret Bell.
Margaret is my cousins mother-in-law. Although I’ve never met her, she is undoubtedly my favourite Maritimer. When she first heard about that I was going to be coming across Canada and even stopping on PEI, she took the bull by the horns and started campaigning for me right away. We corresponded for weeks prior to me beginning my trip. She’s taken the time to work on posters, create her own flyers and even contact the local media and politicians to let everyone know that I was coming. So as soon as we knew we needed more mechanical work for the RV, Margaret was the obvious call. Before we had even set foot on the island, a mechanic had been notified and was on standby waiting for us to arrive. And as if that wasn’t enough, I then got an excited e-mail from Margarets daughter letting me know that she had arranged to have me come to Glen Stewart Elementary School in Stratford to speak to 107 grade 5′s. Margaret has been an unbelievable asset to me and I can’t wait to finally meet her.
Skating onto the ferry was fulfilling, but nearly as exciting as I had expected. It was quite anti-climatic, but at least I can say I have done it. The warm weather made for a very enjoyable sail. We sat on the upper deck in the open air. There weren’t too many people outside with us, but i couldn’t help but notice a group of 15-20 Chinese children running around playing. We got chatting with their teacher who had actually heard about me on the radio in Halifax. I met the kids and posed briefly for a photo with them all. With all the cameras flashing towards me, it must have looked somewhat peculiar because it wasn’t long before someone walked up to my mom and asked “Who is that man?” My mom just wasn’t quick enough. She could have told them I was Ed Norton, or Sidney Crosby. But she played the Honesty Card without batting an eye. The woman and her daughter were actually from Calgary. Kathleen had heard about me in Calgary and let me know that we were more than welcome to have a shower and do some laundry when we arrive out West.
When the ferry arrive in PEI, the ideal conditions continued for me. I bladed down the ramp onto the smooth asphalt and headed towards Charlottetown. There was almost no traffic on the roads and I had a nicely paved shoulder for the majority of the skate. After only an hour, I had arrive in Eldon where we would stay for the night. The Island was yet again different from any other part of the country. The stones and dirt almost emitted their own bright red colours. The sandstone cliffs looked so brittle that I expected to see them collapse as the waves crashed against them. Although I’ve seen a lot of farming communities, none were quite like the red soils of PEI. Now that I’m settled in Eldon, we’re staying at Coopers Red & White Store. Margaret’s son-in-law, Bobby, helps to run the store with his family. Their hospitality and donations were above and beyond anything we needed. And as for the mechanic who was on standby, he came over to the store to take a look at the oil gauge. He doesn’t think it’ll be a problem, but can’t fix it until the morning. No worries…. I’m well ahead of my estimated time of arrival in Charlottetown.
Thursday, May 24th, 2007
Having been to Peggy’s Cove with perfect weather, I woke up this morning to another cloudless day. As I stood there smiling, excited to get started on my way to PEI, I had a feeling that the Weather Gods had finally had enough. They had thrown absolutely everything at me that they could. And I had taken it. I had been beaten down, blown around and soaked. But they must know that I just won’t quit. The forecast for the Atlantic Provinces was for clear skies and warmer temperatures for the next few days. And by the time I was 30 km outside of Halifax, it started to rain. Unreal.
The first 30 km was fantastic! There was a slight breeze at my back and I was clocked at over 20 km/h for the majority of the leg. When the sprinkles started falling from the sky, I was determined to win this battle. I refused to change into my rain skates. The Weather Gods tried, and they threatened to open a faucet above me, but I held them off. The clouds remained for most of the day, but the sprinkles soon subsided and I continued making great time down the #2 highway to Truro.
Cars continued to honk with encouragement, and several people even mentioned that they remember seeing me when I came through here a few days before. I was skating along in deep concentration (well, maybe not that deep), when my 2-way radio crackled to life. I missed the first few words that my dad had said, but I was able to make out the word ‘money’. I glanced over my shoulder to see what he was talking about just as a car was passing by me. The passenger window was down and a sweet elderly woman had her entire arm hanging out with a bill clutched tightly in her fingers. It seemed like she wanted to hand it to me like a relay race. I reached out to take the donation from her, but the car accelerated slightly and sped past me. Was this some mean joke? Were they just taunting me? How could such an innocent looking couple be so devilish? Thankfully, it wasn’t as I suspected. The driver quickly realized his mistake and slowed so I could catch back up. We all chuckled as I thanked them and they drove away.
Coming into Truro, I remembered having skated past the Truro Daily News building. My dad made a quick call and had arranged to have a reporter meet us later tonight. But I knew we would be going directly past the building again, so when we got there, I just pulled into the parking lot and rolled inside to the receptionist. The reporter must not have realized I was so close, but she was appreciative that I did stop. I gave a quick interview and a few pictures before pushing on to get through Truro. The story should publish in the Truro Daily Newspaper this week.
I reached the other side of town and worked my way through a village called Bible Hill where cute little 5-year-old Mary had given me a donation a few days earlier. I finally arrived back at the Trans Canada Highway, at which point I had covered between 80 and 90 km today. There’s only 60 km to the PEI ferry from here, so I took the blades off here. The Weather Gods look like they want to toy with me a bit more right now, but the forecast for tomorrow is looking promising. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.
NEW PHOTOS ARE UP.
Thursday, May 24th, 2007
As I stood there gazing at the colourful old fishing boats, the pure tranquility of my surroundings gave me a renewed sense of pride. I live in the most diverse, beautiful and historic country.
It’s my first day off since starting this voyage and we drove to a tiny fishing village called Peggy’s Cove about 45 minutes from Halifax. The small inlet, the big white lighthouse and the amazingly preserved houses all had their own unique character and stories.
Before going to Peggy’s Cove, I had to first make a stop at Rockingham Elementary School in Halifax. My long-time friend, Trish (or Ms. Darnley, as the kids referred to her as), works there and had arranged to have me come speak to a couple of the classes. The grade 5 and 6′s were a great bunch of kids. They all showed a lot of interest and had some excellent questions for me. I knew this age group were getting into a stage of more social awareness because one little girl asked me “Do you miss hanging out with all your friends?” I explained to them that of course I do, but that I think it is more important to sacrifice a few months of my life to help make a difference. And I am fortunate to have the internet which makes communicating with everyone back home very easy. I could only imagine what it must have been like for someone like Terry Fox in 1980. When I was finished talking to the kids, a few of them hung around and donated a few dollars to help me out. I was even asked for my autograph! I just hope the rest of the country will follow the example set by these wonderful kids. If everyone were to donated a little change, we would all see a big change in the world. In fact, in order to reach my goal of $300,000, I only need 6,000 people to donate $50. That’s it. Less than a tank of gas. In a country with a population of over 30 million, there is no reason why I shouldn’t hit that mark.
Now it was off to Peggy’s Cove. I was fortunate to finally have a beautiful sunny day. Tourist season has not started yet, so we were able to witness the area in all its wonder without the hustle of other travelers. The little fishing shacks, the old boats, rock carvings, the lighthouse… it all contributes to make this tiny village as special as it is. I must have taken 100 photos, but I’ll be sure to post my favourites.
There is only one restaurant in Peggy’s Cove, and it is magnificent. The Sou’ Wester is only steps from the lighthouse and waterfront and offered some traditional seafood dishes. But what really made the experience memorable was the staff. They graciously took care of our bill, gathered a generous donation from the staff, and even gave me a few small souvenirs! It probably helped that an article printed in today’s Halifax Chronicle-Herald. The Sou’ Wester seemed very happy to have me there. And to make things even better, the people sitting at the table beside us caught wind of what I was doing and even made a donation as I was leaving. Things are really starting to heat up in the Halifax area and I have to leave tomorrow morning! I hope the good fortune follows us.
We drove back to Trish and Kyle’s house where we were greeted with another surprise… fresh lobster! My mom has been dying to get some fresh Atlantic lobster ever since we started our trip. We started cracking the shells and feasting on the delicious food. There was water and fragments flying all over the place. I even flung some lobster meat in Trish’s hair (by accident, of course).
As I was packing up the RV and getting prepared for the next day, a building inspector from the next door neighbour strolled over to chat. He told me about a bone marrow transplant he had endured a few years prior. He was very impressed with my desire to help battle against cancer and made an incredible donation. Sam from SafeGuard Home Inspections helped to make my last day in Halifax the most memorable day of all.
The rest of the evening we lounged around with Kyle’s cousin, Donald, and Kyle’s parents again. It was a nice relaxing night before having to lace up the skates tomorrow morning and heading north towards PEI.
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007
I was able to scout out my route for today’s skate since we had to drive back to the spot where I left off last night. It looked pretty good with the exception of a small construction area. The first 20 km of skating was great. Nice pavement with very little traffic. Before I knew it, I was only 10 km out of the city. We stopped at a gas bar for a quick break before finishing and I was surprised with a few donations from a sweet little old lady, as well as the gas station attendant. While we were stopped, I couldn’t help but notice that our cell phone was unusually busy. It was pretty obvious that the long weekend was over. The media was now starting to show a lot more interest. I received e-mails and phone calls from several radio stations, newspapers, and even television. I actually did my interview with the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on the phone while I was skating.
I then got an exciting e-mail from my friend, Trish. She was able to get in touch with a friend of hers who is a teacher at Sackville Heights Elementary school. She wanted me to come into her grade 4 class today! The timing was perfect! She wanted me to come in around 1:00 and I would be just arriving into the city at that time. So I changed my route slightly and skated to Old Sackville Road where the school was located. There I met Jackie Watson and her vivacious fourth graders. While I was in the school, another teacher approached me to let me know she had seen me a few days ago skating through Antigonish!
The reporter and photographer from the Chronicle-Herald came to the school to take some pictures and finish up the interview. The kids were fantastic. They seemed to enjoy listening to me speak and had a million questions and comments for me. The best part of the afternoon was when Jackie handed me a stack of ‘Good Luck’ cards made by each student in the class. It was a very touching and motivational gesture. I hope the kids will remember me as I remember them.
While all this was going on, my mom had stayed behind at Trish’s house in the city to get our laundry all done. It took her most of the day, but she was finishing up as we got back home. We spent a bit more time cleaning out the RV and preparing for the next leg of my adventure.
We spent this evening touring around Halifax with Trish as our personal chauffeur. It’s still pretty cold here, so we didn’t wander around too much. But we got to see some neat areas of the city. We went down around the Harbour, up through the Citadel and out past Dalhousie University. There’s quite a lot of interesting history in this old city. Tomorrow I’m scheduled to visit another school, meet with CBC television, and go check out Peggy’s Cove. After that, I’ll be ready to head towards PEI on Thursday morning. I hope to be there Saturday night.