June 13th, 2007
It’s not easy to sleep in past 6 am when the morning sun comes beating in the window, you’re dog is pacing up and down the aisle, and there’s an eerie silence that’s almost unsettling. It was a different sensation sleeping in a peaceful campground rather than a busy truck stop or gas bar. I don’t think I slept all that well due to the lack of noise. But it was a nice change.
The goal for the day was to reach Orleans so I could arrive on Parliament Hill earlier the next day. It was obvious very early in the day that heat was going to be a factor. Fortunately I didn’t have far to go, so I could roll at a pretty casual pace. I started off towards Ottawa down a country road along the Ottawa River. It wasn’t the worst conditions I faced, but there was practically no traffic which made for very little exposure. We ended up back on Highway 17 when we reached Alfred. I became apparent that I was already getting more media coverage in Ontario than I had all throughout Quebec. People were honking and waving more than I’d seen in a long time. I was clipping along at a pretty good rate when my dad asked me to stop for a minute. The radio station 580 CFRA just called and wanted a quick interview. As I stood there at the side of the road giving the DJ the details about the Skate For Hope, a young woman came out of her house which we were parked in front of. “I hope she’ss not going to tell us to get off her driveway,” I thought. But it turned out she wanted to make a donation. My first ‘on-air’ donation!
After lunch in Rockland, I only had about 20 km to Place d’Orleans Mall where I was planning to stop for the day. What I was expecting was challenge of rollerblading without a paved shoulder. The entire stretch of highway from Rockland to Orleans had a 6 inch shoulder which was cracking badly. This wasn’t ideal considering I have a 5 foot stride. I had to alter my gate so my left leg wouldn’t swing out into the passing traffic, and so my right leg wouldn’t run over the cracks and gravel. It was a tightrope act if I’ve ever seen one. By the time I finally reached Orleans, my body was aching. Changing my stride forced me to use many different muscles in an unusual way. Normally, when the shoulder gets narrow, my dad and I will play a game of Chicken. I’ll sneak out into the lane so I can skate at my regular pace. And whenever a car comes up behind us, dad beeps me on the walkie talkie so I know to get over. Today this wasn’t an option. I was skating through Rockland/Orleans at rush hour. It was solid traffic.
The hot afternoon created some big black clouds above my head. It was deja vu to yesterday! By this time I was only about 5 km from the Mall. One droplet hit my face, then another. I really wasn’t in the mood to change into my rain skates just for a few kilometers. Time to turn on the burners. I pushed hard and ended up arriving at Place d’Orleans just as the rain really started coming down. Perfect timing.
We drove up the street to my Aunt Mary and Uncle Ron’s house where we were greeted and treated to a big pasta dinner. It was great to see a bunch of my family who I don’t see too often. They had generously held a garage sale a week or 2 ago and gave me all the earnings. Incredibly, I’ve only been in Ontario for less than 2 days and my media exposure and donations have already surpassed that of the entire province of Quebec. I took a couple quick pictures with my cousin’s kids and was soon ready for bed. It was a pretty long day even though I only skated 75 km. My parents worked exceptionally hard today contacting the media, too. Without them, the Skate for Hope would not be a success.