Archive for August, 2007
Friday, August 31st, 2007
I’ve been in the Lower Mainland for a few days now and I’m starting to get anxious to get home. So you can imagine my frustration of being so close but not being able to actually sleep in my own bed! I woke up in Abbotsford today and we drove back to Mission where I would be starting my skate for the day.
Exposure has been getting better as I get closer to the finish line, so I was caught completely off guard when an irate motorist screamed out the window at me to “Get Off The (fill in blank here) Road!” I hadn’t been on my skates for more that 25 seconds when this man decided to express his opinion of cancer research. Obviously this guy was immune to cancer, I guess. To make my day even more surprising, yet another angry driver yelled at me as I came through Aldergrove. The weird thing about both of these encounters is that the drivers were both in the on-coming traffic. I can see why drivers behind me may get impatient if they get stuck behind me, but these guys had no excuse. I’d be lying if these type of situations weren’t disheartening. To think that I have come over 9,000 km on nothing more than my inline skates and managed to raise nearly $40,000 towards cancer research and people still show animosity towards me can be very discouraging. Especially since I’m finally coming into my home area.
Fortunately, the encouraging honks, waves and cheers greatly out-numbered the scoffs. I even had 2 wonderful women stop and donate today at the same time. The first woman to pull over told me that she missed me in Abbotsford and wanted to catch me today! The second woman had actually crossed my path in Northern Ontario and couldn’t pass up a second opportunity to help me in my cause. It’s people like these ladies who make it easy for me to forget about the very few jerks that I run into along the way.
40 kilometers after starting, I rolled into Boston Pizza in Langley on the Langley Bypass and it was only 2:30 in the afternoon. In order to kill some time I headed to the bank to deposit some donation money. I got chatting with some of the tellers who had heard about me on the radio. They were all so excited to meet me that they now plan to collect donations at their pot-luck lunch tomorrow! Great ladies at the BMO!
It was a quiet night at Boston Pizza, but the staff and owner, Ken, turned it into a great experience. Everyone in the restaurant, customers and staff, knew I was there. And as a result, the evening was very successful. It doesn’t take much…it’s all about awareness. Thanks for everything Ken, Rod, and the rest at BP! I tried to get a photo with Ken, but he insisted I take some shots with the staff instead. I even got one picture in which I’m having a sword fight using my skates with one of the servers!
Rather than pulling into a campground tonight, I figured that we were close enough to my friends’ place that we would just drive over and park there for the night. Although Kent, Matt and Chris weren’t home when we got there, Louise was there to welcome me home. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen my friends, so it’s an amazing feeling to start seeing them again. To make the evening complete, Crystal came over to see me again, too! Since we weren’t far from her office, she decided to have a trial night with us in the RV and she could just go to work from here in the morning. You’ll be spending a week in these tight quarters with us, so I hope you can handle the smell of my skates!
Friday, August 31st, 2007
I stretched my arms up satisfied with another chance to sleep in a bit. It’s a good thing I got some extra rest, though, because the rest of the morning I was busy booking ferries, calling media, arranging escorts and confirming Boston Pizza’s. By the time we were finished calling, I felt like I had skated 50 km! I needed a nap already.
We headed back to Abbotsford where an Officer met us to lead me to Mission. This would end up being my shortest day of skating ever! 30 minutes later, I rolled into the parking lot at Boston Pizza in Mission. I barely had time to work up a sweat. It was only about 15 kilometers.
Everyone at this restaurant was well informed and enthusiastic about my arrival. We were very early, but they welcomed us in for a quick snack. Our server, Olga, was ready for us and told us that she would also be our server tonight when we came back for the reception at 6 o’clock. I was impressed to see many of my posters up all around the store before we even showed up! They had even taken the time to create their own sheet which they posted telling customers about my journey. Yup, very impressed.
There was still a lot of time to kill which I spent in the RV catching up on journals. I know what you’re thinking. “You always seem to be spending time on journals. So why are you always behind?”. Well, my answer should be quite obvious. I’m lazy. Actually, I hope everyone understands the amount of time I need to spend on every other aspect of this journey to help make it run smoothly. This has become a full-time job that requires me to work 7 days a week, 15 hours a day. It’s been tough. But I can almost taste the finish line!
When we came back to Boston Pizza at 6:00, Olga had undergone a metamorphosis. She still looked the same in appearance, but her name tag now read ‘Alisha’. A strange transformation that requires an explanation. Apparently all the servers were given a European nick name for a themed evening. I guess Alisha really liked her name, so she continues to flip-flop her name tag. Whatever keeps you going, Alisha/Olga.
Over 9000 km are behind me and countless Boston Pizza’s. I thought I’d seen it all. But I suppose I should never make assumptions. The girls of the Mission location surprised me with 2 ‘firsts’. During Alisha’s announcement to the restaurant, rather than standing up on a chair, the 2 of us actually climbed up on the bar! I felt 12 feet tall and bullet proof as Olga bellowed to the customers about me. Very unique. Thanks, Alisha!
Then, just before leaving, a group of servers wanted a picture with me outside. But rather than taking a typical group photo, 3 of them picked me up and 2 of them started chewing on my skate! I can’t imagine my boot tasted good. I know what my feet smell like. And I’m pretty sure the girls that were holding me were groping me inappropriately. But I’ll let it slide. It’s not everyday you have 3 cute girls clawing at you like that!
Driving back to the campground, I looked around at the mountains with a big smile on my face. I was feeling what I can only describe as pure contentment. Mount Baker was directly in front of me dispalying it’s snow-covered peak proudly. I could stare at Baker for hours. I’m always amazed by it’s sheer awesomeness. And tonight it felt even more significant to see her. I know I’m getting close to home, but seeing these sort of familiar landmarks makes me feel like I’m already there.
Wednesday, August 29th, 2007
Nearly 10,000 kilometers have been covered and not too much has changed. The RV needed some tending to. Fortunately today’s work wasn’t as serious as some of the repairs we’ve needed in the past. Kirkpatrick Auto Repair in Chilliwack donated an oil change and maintenance to help us on our way! Thanks guys. That will definitely put my Dad’s head at ease.
While the RV was being lubed, John showed up and insisted we all go out for some breakfast. Sounded good to me since it was only 8:00 am and I hadn’t had a bite to eat! I’ve become so accustomed to my traditional breakfast that I wasn’t sure what to order. But it didn’t take me long to find something I liked.
The rest of the morning was full of media calls, interviews, PR work and route mapping. I’m convinced now that blading for 6-8 hours a day is easier than all the extra leg work and calling that has to be done. I really don’t know how my parents and I managed to pull together such a successful campaign, but it’s satisfying to see our hard work paying off.
From Chilliwack to Abbotsford, I wound my way across several back roads to avoid the busy Trans Canada. I was worried that these roads would be in rough shape since they are all mainly farm roads. But they turned out to be impeccable! Traffic was quiet and respectful, the pavement felt like it had just been put down a year ago, and the weather was sunny and mild. I even took in a few hand-off donations from cars who must have heard me on the radio. Once I got through the Rockies and the torturous weather that was strewn upon me, I think the Weather Gods finally figured out that I cannot be beaten. They seemed to give in and have provided me with what looks to be an entire week of gorgeous summer weather. I guess I’m going to arrive in Vancouver just in time for the beginning of the Summer weather that failed to appear this year!
We showed up to Boston Pizza in Abbotsford a little earlier than expected. So we killed some time with some more phone calls and planning. While we were in the RV a woman came up with an envelope in her hand. Danielle had read about me on Facebook and knew I would be in the area today. She had gone out of her way to stop by and give me a beautiful card of encouragement and a wonderful donation. Thank you so much for your support Danielle!
Once inside the restaurant, we were back in our element and our typical evening routine began. The announcement went over well and several customers walked over to talk to me and donate. The night was a bit more memorable than others due to an unexpected visitor. Charlotte had received a phone call earlier in the day from my friend in Winnipeg, Randy. I had never met or even heard of Charlotte before now, but her and Randy have been long-time friends. When Randy told her what I was doing and that I was in Abbotsford, she actually left her son’s soccer game to come meet me! It takes a special person to realize that I am more important than their son! Only kidding. It was great to meet you, Charlotte. Thanks for stopping by to support me!
We decided to drive back to Chilliwack to spend one more night at John and Deb’s house. Their hospitality is just too good to ignore. But tomorrow night we’ll be staying near Mission so that I can get up and head for Langley the following day. I’ve now posted some maps of my exact routes on my homepage in case you haven’t seen them. I’ve also listed the remaining Boston Pizza appearances. I’ve said it before, but I’m going to continue mentioning it… Please come out on September 8th and join me on skates or even your bike for the last few kilometers of my journey.
Tuesday, August 28th, 2007
I’m starting to get into a new pattern lately. Sleeping in. It’s a theme I could get used to! Realistically I could be in Vancouver in a day, but in order to arrive on schedule, I’ll be zig-zagging throughout the Lower Mainland with stops in Abbotsford, Mission, Langley, Surrey, and White Rock. Since the distance between cities isn’t very far, I’ve got some extra time on my hands so I can tie up some loose ends.
Today I spent the morning getting my journals published so all of you vultures can have your daily fix. So I’m now pretty much up to date, as are the photos. I hope everyone is still enjoying my chronicles. I haven’t had too many e-mails or messages lately, so I’m not sure if people are still following my progress.
I also had some time to re-organize and clean the RV. It was nice having a day with Crystal, but she’ll be joining us for almost an entire week while I’m on the Island. So I need to make some cupboard space for her. And word on the street is that she’s got a lot of new shoes and clothes since I left in April. Only one pair of shoes allowed in the RV, Crystal!
After lunch, we met Officer Kurt of the RCMP in Aggasiz who would be escorting me through Chilliwack to Earls restaurant. The weather has greatly improved, so I was able to cruise along the road and over the Fraser River with an enjoyable speed. It only took about an hour to go nearly 30 kilometers into town. These short days are quickly becoming my favorite part of my trip!
Earls restaurant graciously welcomed me into their establishment, even on such short notice. It was a bit stressful for us trying to arrange an alternative location after the owner of Boston Pizza in Chilliwack indicated they did not wish to accommodate me. I’m still a bit surprised that my journey is almost over and this was the first BP to refuse us. Nevertheless, Earls was a fantastic option! The staff were well informed of my arrival and management eagerly helped set up. And of course the food was fabulous! I’ve always been a fan of Earls, so it was a nice change for us.
Having John and Deb join us for the meal was also a great addition to our evening. I love my parents, but it’s nice having other people to converse with over dinner. Thanks for everything, John and Deb.
Monday, August 27th, 2007
Thanks to Holiday Motel and RV Resort, I was able to sleep in this morning, with Crystal in my arms, and without having to listen to my parent’s dog pace back and forth in the motor home all night. After breakfast, we convinced Crystal that we should all drive back to the Toll Booth so she could join us for my descent out of the Rocky Mountains. Mom even let her ride shotgun!
It was still pouring rain when we reached the top, and the forecast for the rest of the day wasn’t looking any better. There was still some wind, but nothing like my descent into Merritt a couple days ago. Being Sunday afternoon, the highway was becoming busy as people were heading home from their weekend getaways. It was after lunch when I finally started my last leg of the Rockies. I had a short climb from the booth to the summit, and then a 50 km drop to Hope. The wind held me up just enough that I could maintain a steady speed of about 35-40 km/h. I’m sure I could have gone faster, but when it’s puring rain, that’s as fast as I feel comfortable going. With the exception of 2 transports and one coach bus, all traffic was very respectable and encouraging with honks and waves.
I had done it. I had conquered the Rocky Mountains and everything they could throw at me. People said I couldn’t do. Some said I shouldn’t do it. But here I was entering the Fraser Valley and leaving the mountains behind me. I rolled back into Hope at 2:30 pm. On a normal day, I would just be starting my afternoon at this time. Crystal was shaking from the intensity of watching me speed down a slippery, wet mountain. She decided it was time for her to head back to Vancouver to get organized and ready for work tomorrow. Chilliwack was still 50 km away, so I didn’t think I’d be able to reach it today. But I’d give it a shot. I headed down highway 7 since the Trans Canada was just a bit too busy for my enjoyment at this point. Luckily, #7 had just been paved last year! The rain was also subsiding now, too! It was almost as if Mother Nature had realized She wasn’t going to win. She knew that nothing was going to stop me from reaching my goal, so She gave me a peace offering in the form of sun and smooth, flat ground.
My day ended in Agassiz. Considering I had started after lunch and managed to complete about 90 km, I felt satisfied stopping here and driving the few kilometers to our friend’s house in Chilliwack. John and Deb had a steak and corn dinner waiting for us which I devoured in minutes. A tender t-bone was a fantastic finish to a roller coaster of a day.
The Weather Gods took one last shot at me. I had left my wireless network card at the hotel in Hope, so John offered to drive back to get it. Since Hope isn’t far from Chilliwack, it wasn’t a big deal. It was dark when we headed out. The moon was glistening above us and the stars were sparkling. But the hillsides must have been saturated from the ran over the past 2 days. Perhaps you heard about a late night rock slide on Highway 1 between Hope and Chilliwack? Well, I’m happy to say that I escaped unscathed. The slide must have just missed us as we returned back to Chilliwack from Hope.
Don’t forget about Earls in Chilliwack tomorrow night. And Boston Pizza Abbotsford on Sumas on Tuesday night. There will be other locations announced shortly throughout the Lower Mainland including Mission, Langley, White Rock and Surrey. but I won’t be hitting Vancouver until I return back from the Island on September 8th! I hope everyone will come out and skate (or cycle) with me that day. Tell everyone!
Monday, August 27th, 2007
Of my entire 10,000 km journey across Canada, I knew that the Coquihalla would be one of the toughest sections. It was about 115 km from Merritt to Hope, and the first 70 km would be uphill. Looking at the forecast, I knew the Weather Gods weren’t going to offer any support either. I got up earlier than normal so I could begin the climb before the winds and rain hit. Well, at least it wasn’t raining yet. But even at 6 am, the winds were already howling.
Before I even reached the highway, donations had begun to pour in. One man had excitedly honked his horn as I rolled past him at a gas station in town. A few minutes later, he came barreling up the road and pulled over in front of me. He was so happy to meet me and donate. I wish everyone could share his early morning enthusiasm.
Let the fight begin. The Coquihalla was physically demanding and exhausting, but I was more mentally prepared today. Even though this climb was tougher than yesterday, I was expecting this. I tried to focus on my music and take one small stride at a time. During my first break, there was a knock at the door. I looked out the back window to see the flashing lights of a Police cruiser. We weren’t sure if I’d actually be allowed on the Coquihalla on rollerblades, but we had been seeing signs that it is a bike route. So we felt confident that it wouldn’t be an issue. It turned out that the officer had received a call saying that our flashing lights were not functioning. But the policeman laughed a little as he came up to our door, because it was obvious that the complainee wasn’t paying attention. Our lights had been on the entire time and the officer had even seen us on his way into work this morning. He wished us well and sent us on our way.
Another expected obstacle in my way was a short construction zone. Traffic was reduced to one lane in either direction while crews were repairing a couple of bridges. Since the oncoming lanes were closed to traffic at this point, I hopped over and enjoyed the freedom of two large lanes to myself. When I reached the first bridge, the construction was apparently finished, but the surface of the bridge was fresh concrete. I analyzed the situation and could only see 2 alternatives. One – go back to the traffic and carefully cross the bridge on a narrow shoulder with cars and trucks speeding past. Two – tip toe across the fresh concrete. Fortunately, the new concrete had been covered with a strange, wet cloth material. I stayed close to the edge and held most of my weight off the surface by pulling myself along the rail with my hands. I wouldn’t be so lucky to have a choice at the next bridge. Construction on this one was in full force. I had to cut back across traffic and sprint across the overpass when I felt it was safe enough. Let me tell you, sprinting on skates in gail-force winds is not an easy task.
It seemed like a good time to stop for another break. As I was gather my gear and getting ready to head back out on the road, I saw a little red car pull over in front of us. It took me only a second to realize it was Shawn and Melissa, the friends who had come out to see me in Calgary! They were on their way back to Vancouver and stopped to see how I was doing. Don’t take this the wrong way, Shawn, but you guys never should have stopped! When they got back in their car to leave, the engine wouldn’t start. We tried everything to get it running again, but it just wouldn’t go. I felt bad having to leave them there, but CAA was on the way. We later found out that it was the starter and Shawn and Melissa were forced to spend a night in Merritt so the car could be repaired. Look on the bright side, guys. You made my journal again!
I kept pushing hard through the swirling wind and up the tormenting hills. The rain had held off until a mere 2 kilometers before reaching the toll booth near the summit. A quick skate change and I was back at it. I can only imagine what the toll booth operator was thinking as I skated up to him in the pouring rain. He didn’t seem to care too much, though. We asked politely if they would donate the $10 pass for the highway. His only response was “Nope. This is B.C……Bring Cash.” I was in no mood to argue, so we paid the money and parted ways.
Just as we pulled away from the booth, my mom told me that we needed to stop to let the dog out for a break. I was just about to get in the RV when I heard a voice behind me. “Hey! Can I make a donation?” a girl’s voice said. I turned with a smile intending to accept the donation happily. But my smile quickly changed to confusion, and then awe. My jaw dropped as Crystal came running towards me and leaped into my arms! Four months. I haven’t seen her in four months and she managed to work with my parents to surprise me here. WEll, it worked. I was clueless. I never expected to see her until I was at least in the Lower Mainland. It was a teary, emotional reunion as we embraced and kissed in the rain.
My plans for the rest of the day took a sudden change. Instead of rolling into Hope today, we were now going to drive down and come back to the booth tomorrow to carry on. Holiday Motel and RV Resort in Hope donated a site and a room to us for the night. I’m not usually an easy person to surprise, but Crystal pulled one over on me good today. It couldn’t have come at a better time, either. I was prepared to skate another 50 km to Hope, but realistically, my body was battered and beat from climbing the Coquihalla Pass.
Monday, August 27th, 2007
It’s been a couple years since I was last in Kamloops. If memory serves me correctly, I had a difficult climb away from the city (which I had already completed half yesterday) followed by a bit of a plateau before descending into Merritt. The sun was shining and there was barely a breath of air blowing as I began the trek upward. I had just made the turn onto highway 5 when I finally saw a Vancouver distance sign. It was a great feeling having my first visual taste of the finish line.
The road continued to take me close and closer to the sky. After 20 km of steady climbing, my spirits began to sink. With every tiny stride towards the summit, my expectations of finding level ground drifted further behind. How could I have not known this climb was so long? The hill was unforgiving. My body was exhausting rapidly and I was being mentally drained at the same time. As if I wasn’t being punished enough, the winds began brushing across my face like a stream running the opposite direction.
It was a good 50 kilometers from where I started when I saw it. Surrey Lake Summit – 1444 meters. Finally! It was recommended that I tie a rope around my waist and attach it to the RV to slow myself down for the descent into Merritt. But after the rough morning, I was looking forward to holding a bit of speed. Sure enough, a sign indicated that the next 20 km were down hill with a 6% grade. Yup, this should be fun!
The breeze that had made an appearance picked up its intensity as I started downward. It felt like every foot closer to Merritt I got, the wind would blow an extra km/h harder. I wasn’t given an opportunity to enjoy a single minute of coasting. I was working equally hard as I had all morning during my climb. But now I was struggling to push my way through the currents down a steep hill! It just wasn’t fair. The winds were relentless and showed no signs of weakening. At one point, I stopped striding and the wind literally brought me to a stop.
In an evil twist of irony, I received an e-mail today from someone in Newfoundland. The irony was that he had stumbled across my site randomly and is a resident of the Wreckhouse area. If you don’t remember the Wreckhouse from my earlier journals, it is a section of highway which regularly records wind gusts up to 200 km/h. So here I am thinking to myself that the winds I’m facing right now rank among the top 3 or 4 worst that I have seen on my journey when I get reminded about the Wreckhouse. Ironic.
I rolled into Merritt, the Country Music Capital of Canada, and was fortunate to have Claybanks RV Park donate a site for us. Completely exhausted, I had to put on a smile and head over to Boston Pizza where newspaper and television reporters were waiting for an interview. But it wasn’t hard to put a smile on my face when I saw the reception this restaurant had organized. Even on short notice, Leanne had made sure all the staff was aware I would be arriving. She welcomed me in from the parking lot and made an incredible announcement to the patrons inside. To make things even better, Leanne told me that her store would be donating a percentage of the sales from this evening to my cause! It’s been a while since a BP offered this, so I was very impressed. I also had the chance to chat with a family sitting nearby who were from the Victoria area. It was a great conversation and I hope that we meet again when I reach the Island! My night was capped off with a very meaningful gesture from the Kitchen manager, Steve. He took special care in preparing our meals and then presented me with a bracelet to help me with endurance. Thanks, Steve! It may come in handy as I tackle the Coquihalla tomorrow!
It was a tough day with a good finish, but I had one final surprise waiting for me. We received a message from the Chilliwack Boston Pizza indicating they did not wish to accommodate me when I arrived. I was in shock! Boston Pizza has been supportive all across the country. And they continue to be a great help. I couldn’t believe that I was now in my home province and approaching the finale on the Lower Mainland, and this owner showed no sign of wanting to contribute in any way! I’m not terribly concerned because I know there are dozens of other restaurant owners who would be happy to provide a helping hand. For everyone in Chilliwack who wanted to come see me at BP, you can now either see me at Earls on Monday night, or in Abbotsford at Boston Pizza on Sumas on Tuesday. It’s not a far drive to Abbotsford.
Friday, August 24th, 2007
Skepticism. It’s a word that’s come up far too often on this trip. Even before I began blading across the country, my campaign was surrounded by skeptics. People thought I was crazy and that I wouldn’t actually go through with it. Well, here I am in Kamloops and now I’m guilty of displaying skepticism.
We left Pritchard with the sun shining and no wind in the air. Although the media seemed to be keen about my story, I felt a cloud looming over my head. The Kamloops Police had told us that we must apply and pay for a permit in order to be escorted through the city. This wasn’t the first time a city has told us that, but it is the first time a city has not been lenient. I was a bit surprised since I’m over 8,500 km into the trip and haven’t been denied assistance from Police yet. I suppose it’s my own fault for assuming an escort would be no problem since they haven’t been an issue across the entire country. So this little scenario put a bad taste in my mouth about Kamloops before I even arrived. Like I said, I am guilty of being skeptical.
On top of various phone interviews for radio and newspapers, Shaw TV sent a crew out which caught up with me right at the ‘Welcome To Kamloops’ sign. So I’m impressed with the media coverage in Kamloops, but I’m still not too happy with the lack of support from the cops. And the citizens of the city seem to be very welcoming, too. As I arrived into the town and headed up the steep incline towards Summit Drive, the honks and waves were coming at me from all around. I even had two vehicles pull over on the highway to donate! I haven’t had that in a while.
I rolled into the Boston Pizza at Columbia Mall to a very warm ambiance. They had already hand drawn a sign letting their customers know about my arrival today. Nicole was very energetic and excited to have me stopping in. She had created a contest for all of the servers to see who could raise the most donations for me! What a neat tactic! Definitely a first.
It was still early and we had some errands to tend to before returning to Boston Pizza for the main event at 6 pm. On the way out to the RV, I had an opportunity to meet a few amazing people. First was a man with a million stories. The most impressive of his tales was that in 1991 he rollerskated, yes I said rollerSKATED, from Winnipeg to Victoria. Can you imagine making that trek on those old school, 4-wheeled rollerskates?! Needless to say, I could have listened to him talk all day about his experience, but it was time to get moving.
Just before we pulled out of the lot, a woman came up with her 2 young girls to make a donation. I don’t know how she knew I was here because the media had been telling the public that I would be here at 6. But she tracked me down. She had specifically come to find me to donate because her brother-in-law is currently battling cancer. It was an emotional experience, but one that will be remembered. It is these types of encounters that help me when I have bad days. Knowing that I am giving people hope is more gratifying than anything else.
After having some extra posters printed at Office Depot, getting my license renewed at ICBC, and giving a couple more newspaper interviews, we headed up to the campground just south of the city. The site they donated to us was beautiful. It was very secluded and quiet. We’ve become accustomed to sleeping beside late night speeding trains, so this will be interesting to see how well we rest tonight. The best part about the campground is definitely the name. I can’t help but laugh every time I say it. Knutsford RV Campground. I love it! Knutsford.
Back at Boston Pizza, the waitresses worked diligently to raise as much money for me as possible. The restaurant was pretty busy, so I was anxious to have our server make an announcement to get everyone’s attention. Some of the servers in the past have been soft-spoken and the entire store hasn’t been able to hear. When I saw Stephanie some to our table, I was a bit concerned the same would happen. This sweet looking, petite girl stood up and bellowed like no one I’ve heard before! Her voice thundered through the store as everyone stopped what they were doing to listen…including all the kitchen staff. With out a doubt, this little blonde fireball helped bring a lot more awareness and donations to my cause. However, Rayel was the server who won the contest. I never found out what the prize was, but as since she personally raised the most money for me, I thanked her with a Skate For Hope t-shirt. If every Boston Pizza were as successful and enthusistic as this one, I probably would have hit my goal 3 weeks ago! Thanks Nicole, Stephanie, Rayel, and all the other hard workers there.
Skepticism. It should be one of the deadly sins. I had low expectations for Kamloops because of the Law Enforcement. But it turned out to be one of the best cities in B.C. so far.
Thursday, August 23rd, 2007
The warnings from locals continue to flood in. Sure, we’ve hit some bad and dangerous roads, but nothing that we haven’t been able to handle. This time the danger zone was the winding section of pavement leading into Chase. The quality of asphalt was hit and miss today. I would come across great areas and terrible parts. For some reason, anytime the road curved to the right, the surface is always extremely rough. I haven’t figured out why this is, but maybe it has something to do with the way the rain water rolls down the road.
The highway did start to weave and bend as it snaked it’s way around the base of the mountains and the shores of the river. But I was lucky enough that I always had a shoulder to roll on this time. Yesterday was far worse and scary.
Just before I made it to Chase, a television crew from Kamloops showed up. They took me through the typical interview and a bit of general skating footage. Then they wanted to get some shots of me skating while they drove in front of me. This is when my day got a bit interesting. As their SUV drove cautiously with the hazard lights flashing and the camera man hanging out of the back of the vehicle, a line of traffic was passing me on the left. No big deal. There was a passing lane at this point, anyway. Then a woman driving on old Ford Tempo decided to pull in front of me but behind the TV crew. At first I thought she just wanted her 15 seconds of fame, but I soon realized that she didn’t want to be there. Now she was stuck in front of me driving 15 km/h and trying to merge into the cars zooming past her at 90 km/h. The situation went from weird to hilarious when I noticed that the sound of her engine suddenly stopped. She stalled! I rolled past her in tears of laughter. I had to keep glancing back to see if my dad could get around her. But after 30 or 40 seconds, the woman managed to restart her car and continue on her way. I’m pretty sure the television crew will edit that entire part out. The crew was almost ready to leave when a car pulled over behind me to donate. The couple in the car had heard me on the radio and wanted to make a substantial donation. Oddly enough, their last name is the same last name of one of my best friend’s from high school. Rozon. But we chatted for a while and determined there was no relation. I hope to see you guys again at the finale!
It was pretty exciting for my parents when we made it to Chase. This little mountain town is the old stomping grounds of our friends, the Darnley’s. Although they only spent a year here, my parents thought it was amazing to be back and snap some photos to send back to Bruce. I don’t know if much has changed since you worked in Chase 27 years ago, Bruce. But I know there’s a new stop sign on the Main street now! There’s also a Subway restaurant in the Chase Plaza which provided us with lunch and also made a donation. The girls even let me come behind the counter for a picture!
The media attention I’m receiving is starting to grow. Today alone I had interviews with Vancouver, Merritt, Kamloops and Abbotsford stations and/or newspapers. The exposure has been great and will only get better as my finale approaches.
I don’t have to be into Kamloops until tomorrow, but I wanted to get a bit closer so that my blade into town would be easy. So I finished my day around Pritchard, BC, at a campground called Ponderosa Pines. Without hesitation, they offered us a site here for the night. Tomorrow I’ll only have about 40 km to Kamloops. Hope to see everyone at Boston Pizza tomorrow night!
Thursday, August 23rd, 2007
Today I was just heading into Sicamous and then to Salmon Arm. We’d been warned, like so many times before, about dangerous roads ahead. But I figured that there was nothing to worry about since I was only doing about 50 km today.
As luck would have it, the advise we had received was pretty accurate. The pavement quickly morphed from silky smooth to borderline unskateable. The pain from the vibrations created by the terrible surface slowed my pace to almost a stand still. I was hurting and frustrated when I finally made it to Sicamous. It had taken a little over an hour to travel only 10 kilometers. But It seemed like the asphalt was beginning to improve. Maybe the stretch from here to Salmon Arm would be better.
Think again. As we were about to leave, we were given yet another warning from locals about the next few kilometers. This time, the pavement wasn’t as painful as the morning, but the shoulder suddenly vanished! Now I was weaving my way along the water and through the mountains and had to contend with impatient traffic. It was next to impossible for cars to pass me since we couldn’t see what was coming around the next bend. Occasionally I would find a patch of gravel wide enough that we could pull the RV off the road so cars could scoot by. The only condition really going my way was the fact that I was going down hill for the most part.
I don’t know if it was just a coincidence or if the Salmon Arms newspaper photographer is telepathic, but he had explained to us that there had been about 9 accidents on this part of the highway in the last few days. No sooner had my Dad hung up the phone did I come rolling past a collision. There was no room and no time to stop to see what was going on, but it was obvious that it had happened only seconds before I appeared. Hopefully everyone was alright. Fortunately I wasn’t far from Salmon Arm at this point.
When I finally reached the city, I’d completed just under 50 km. But this was my stopping point for today and I was quite content with that. I was in no mood to face any more rough or windy roads today.
Pierre’s Point Campground offered us a site for the night which we gladly accepted. This campground was like no other I’ve ever seen. The facilities and amenities were wonderful, but I’ve never seen a busier campground in my life! I can’t even begin to estimate how many people were there, but I felt a little sardine-like being crammed in with so many other people. I also met a great woman, Anna, working at the concession who told me that her daughter works at the Boston Pizza in Kamloops that I will be going to. I’m looking forward to meeting her.
It’s been a few days since our last Boston Pizza visit, so the withdrawal symptoms were screaming in full force when we walked into the restaurant in Salmon Arm. The store gave me a very simple, but very successful welcoming. With the help of Cheryl, Angie and Katrina, The Salmon Arm Boston Pizza turned out to be one of the best stops! And as if the donations weren’t enough, Cheryl contributed to my license plate collection that I have been accumulating along this trip. I now have a Yukon plate with all my others!
When we got back to the campground, tragedy stuck us. Someone stole our extension cord! We had left the chord at the site so people would know that it was occupied. We never expected someone to walk by and take it. But the chord had an adapter on the end of it which we badly needed. Dad was running around to our neighboring sites to track down any witnesses. He was about to start interrogating another family when a man came over and explained that his wife had picked up the chord and was going to take it to the office. Hmmm. Sounds suspicious to me! Regardless, we were relieved to have the chord back so we could sleep easy.