July 24

July 26th, 2007

As I bladed out of the Kenora city limits, a surreal feeling swept through my body. In a couple of hours, I would be in Manitoba! Ontario has provided a lot of unforgettable memories over the past month and a half, but it’s finally time to move on. I grew up in Kingston and went to school in Hamilton, so I know all about the hot humid, stick, sweltering heat of the Ontario summers. But I was very fortunate that I managed to squeak through the province without having to take a day off due to heat. But then again, I still had a few hours in front of me. Who knows what the Weather Gods were holding up their sleeves.

 

With every stride towards Manitoba, I could feel the temperature rising. The Gods weren’t happy. They knew that I’d survived the rugged hills of Northern Ontario. As if the sun alone wasn’t bad enough, the wind that was being thrown in my face felt like someone had an industrial strength hair dryer aimed at me on high heat. I tried pacing myself, but the sweat was rolling down my face. I had to stop every 15 kilometers an make my dad start up the generator so I could get out of the heat for a few minutes. Score: Northern Ontario 2 – Rich 2. Low and behold, I came up to a huge blue sign towering down over me, but gave a sense of welcoming at the same time. If fact, it even said “Welcome to Manitoba”. I’d done it. I had face Goliath head on and chopped him down at the knees. I gave myself an extra point for conquering this seemingly impossible province. Final score: Rich 3 – Ontario 2.

 

I took a much deserved, extra long lunch break at the Manitoba border. But I couldn’t rest too long. We had been told that we must have permits to be on the highway in Manitoba. So I had to reach the RCMP office in Falcon Lake before they closed at 4pm to pick up the papers. Falcon Lake was only about 12 km from the border, but it took me nearly an hour. Sure, the hills were officially behind me (and I wouldn’t be seeing them again until late Alberta), but the heat today was borderline unbearable. I actually got a picture of a thermometer that was in the shade and read 100 degrees Celcius. And there was humidity on top of that.

 

Once we arrived at Falcon Lake, I’d only done about 65 km. But I had no choice to to take another long break. I decided it would be in my best interest to wait until the heat began to let off in the evening before skating anymore. So we headed down to the water and went for a swim to cool off. I spent another few hours relaxing in the shade and then went out for dinner to an awful restaurant. I can’t even remember what it was, but it was in a hotel. Who knew that a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich could get screwed up? I thought they just dropped in in the fryer, through on a bun and put some sauce on it. It was 7:30pm when I strapped the blades back on and headed down the long straight highway towards Winnipeg. The temperature had dropped significantly which allowed me to keep a comfortable speed of about 20-25 km/hr. By 9 o’clock I had nearly reached Prawda and decided to stop. With the insane heat I’d experienced all day, I was very satisfied to have skated 97 kilometers.

 

After being denied campground donations from Prawda and Hadashville, we came across a place called Riverside Pines Resort. They took us in without hesitation. The owners were very encouraging and friendly. We told them all we needed was hydro, but they insisted we take their last camp site. I was pretty excited to have a shower having soaked in my own sweat all day. Not only were the owners amazing people, but the other campers were incredible, as well! My Dad had wandered over to the next site to ask for an opinion about an old breaker switch that we’ve been having trouble with. Within minutes of his return, the campers came knocking on our door and handed us over $50 in donations that they had quickly managed to collect! I’ve said it before, but the generosity of the Canadian people continues to astound me. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the prairies will be like.

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One Response to “July 24”

  1. Robert Werner Says:

    Welcome to Western Canada, my friend!!!

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