June 15th, 2007
I’ve been without an internet connection for a few days now. But I’ve been writing my journal so I could just import it onto the website as soon as possible. So, no I did not quit the Skate For Hope. No, I’m not injured. And no, I’m not lazy (regardless what my parents say). I know you’ve all been waiting eagerly for the next installment of my wacky life. So without further ado, enjoy!
Even though some television and newspapers in the Ottawa area decided against covering my story, I still feel Ontario is off to a fantastic start.
I was able to sleep in a few minutes later than normal, but I was scheduled to meet with CTV for a live interview on Parliament Hill at 11:50 am. I figured that if I waited until rush hour was over, I should have no trouble getting from Orleans to downtown Ottawa in time. I spoke to an old high school buddy of mine the night before who said he wanted to skate with me for the morning. Unfortunately, the timing must not have worked out well, because I circled around the Place d’Orleans Mall several times before I had no choice but to head towards town. I was really looking forward to having someone skate with me. I’m not too sure what happened, but maybe he’ll be able to meet up with me another time to skate.
The blade towards the city was awesome. I had a slight tail wind and the majority of the roads seemed to be down hill. While I was cruising along enjoying the morning, my dad relayed a message to me that A-Channel television and the Ottawa Citizen newspaper would both be meeting me at Parliament Hill with CTV! Now this is the sort of media coverage I’ve been working towards.
I was now getting pretty close. I crossed St. Laurent Blvd and over a bridge into a busier part of town. We pulled over to take a quick breather when a mean looking cop came by on his Harley with lights flashing. He looked like he was ready to throw me on the ground and wait wait for a cruiser to come pick me up. “I can’t be slowing traffic down that much, can I?” I thought. I couldn’t see his eyes, but I could feel their intense glare coming through his sunglasses and landing on me. Thankfully, it was only Kevin, my cousin’s husband. We had spoke to a couple different Officers, including Kevin, and the Police had arranged to escort me up to Parliament Hill through the busiest part of the city. We chatted with Kevin for a few minutes before his partner arrived on another motorcycle and off we went. It was my first escort, so I was on cloud nine. But as much as I enjoyed it, I think Kevin and his partner had fun, too. The had their lights flashing and would occasionally flip the sirens on. People were turning with curiosity as we plowed our way up Rideau Street to Parliament Hill.
Once I reached the Flame (name???), I could see the CTV and A-Channel trucks off to the West side of the court yard. Since I was ahead of schedule for the live interview, both camera men wanted to get some footage of me skating around the area. We shot a few different angles until they felt they had what they needed. I can only imagine what movie stars have to go through when they need to film one scene 45 times just to get the one perfect shot. We finished up and CTV pulled me aside to set me up with a wire and microphone for the live broadcast at noon. It was definitely nothing like I’d ever experienced before. I could hear the live broadcast taking place, but I could also hear a voice prompting me and letting me know how much time until I was live. It was a bit tough to decipher which voices were news anchors and which were producers talking directly to me. And then the moment of truth. Michael Burn(s) began talking about me and quickly lead into a few questions. Not being able to see what’s going on or what’s being shown on the television, I had to concentrate to make sure I was staring straight into the lens while I was talking. It’s funny how you tend to have a habit of gazing around at your surroundings while you talk on the phone. Well, this really made me aware of that tendency. All-in-all, the clip went well. It was an incredible feeling knowing that I had just sent my message to thousands of people on T.V.
After the camera man, Dan O’Connor, had unhooked me from the wires, Tony Lofaro from the Ottawa Citizen was waiting to talk to me. He waited patiently for me to finish with CTV, and I’m glad he did. The questions he asked were very thorough and thoughtful. We chatted for quite some time before he was satisfied he had enough details for his article. Then the photographer, Mike, lead me around Parliament Hill for nearly an hour to get the perfect shot to accompany the story. I tried to keep count of the number of pictures he took, but I lost track around 483. All kidding aside, both guys were amazing to work with and I can’t wait to see the Citizen tomorrow morning.
Throughout my experience on Parliament Hill, I had collected a small gathering of followers. I’d like to say they were strangers who had been drawn in to my charisma. But they were just friends and family showing support. I really appreciated having my cousins Pam and Angie, my Aunt Mary, my Mom and family friend, Peter Read all come out to see me. “But who is that guy peaking through the crowd from behind?” I thought. A young man named Jeremy was a representative from Peter Milliken’s office who had been sent out to track me down and present me with a letter congratulating me from the Government of Canada. For those who aren’t familiar with our politics, Peter Milliken is the Speaker of the House of Commons and also the MP for the Kingston area.
As an aside, I just want my buddies in Toronto know that Sean, a.k.a Bizerko, did manage to make it out to greet me at Parliament Hill. But unfortunately I was tied up with the media and didn’t actually get to meet up with him. thanks for coming, Sean.
By this time, I was starving. We grabbed a bit to eat before stopping by my Grandmother’s nursing home for a quick visit. Although it was a bit tough to see my Grandma suffering from dementia, I have to say that she was better than I expected. She may not have recognized me, but we were able to chat a bit and even take her for a short walk through the building. It was great to see the care she is receiving.
The afternoon was quickly escaping so I laced up and headed down the Parkway along the Ottawa River. There’s a beautiful bike path along the river which also follows the road, but I choose to stay on the street itself. I figured since I had just been on T.V., I should continue gaining exposure in the city however I could. The number of honks, waves and cheers indicated to me that I made the right call. One woman yelled out her window that she had just seen me on television. Another man pulled up beside me and told me he wishes he was skating with me. And one guy even flipped me the bird! Well, maybe that’s not the reaction I was looking for, but it was bound to happen eventually. Here I am skating a major road through Ottawa during rush hour. Of course some people will be upset. Actually, he’s the first person to show any kind of negativity towards me in a very long time. He was only the second person since I started this trip. So I just laughed it off. Every other car, truck and even bus was excited to have me on their roads.
I was now out of town and heading for Richmond, but the afternoon heat was wearing me down. As I pulled over to take a break, I saw a man and 2 young boys come charging towards me with big smiles on their faces. They had heard me on the radio and had also just passed me on the road. The boys were pretty excited to see me as they each presented me with a small donation. The father of the boys was just as excited and was actually video taping the entire encounter with his digital camera. “This is going on YouTube. Is that ok?” he asked as he and the boys got ready to leave. Of course it’s alright….but I’ll expect an endorsement check of no less that 6 figures! Only kidding, but I hope he remembers to send me the links so I can share them with everyone on this site.
Traffic had begun to lighten up. Either that, or I was just so far out of town that the only traffic on the roads were horse-drawn trailers! I still had no shoulder and the pavement wasn’t favorable on my feet. But I persevered yet again and rolled through Richmond where I called it quits for the night. We were only about 5-10 km from our good friends, Peter and Debbie Read, so I jumped in the RV and we headed over. When we got to their house they had the best surprise for us that we could ask for… they weren’t there! Actually, we knew they wouldn’t be there until later. Peter had a baseball game and Debbie was golfing. Sounds like pretty tough lives they lead. The quietness gave me an opportunity to change the wheel on my skates. I hadn’t replaced the wheels on my dry skates since starting the journey, so I figured it was about time. Heck, I’d done nearly 2000 km on them (and almost 1000 km on the wet skates). When Peter and Debbie got home, we were able to all sit around and catch up on the adventure I’ve been living. We talked late into the night, but since I had to get up to skate and Debbie had to work in the morning, we went to bed shortly after midnight. I guess we’ll see how I handle 100 kilometers tomorrow while I’m running off of 5 hours of sleep.