Archive for May, 2007

May 11

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

Not a terribly eventful day. But I was definitely put through a mental test.

 

I laced up my second pair of skates for the first time this morning and decided it was time to break them in. As good as they were, they were no match for the wind slapping me in the face. I felt like I was trying to run under water. You know that feeling when every movement seems to take twice as much effort but only gives you 1/3 of the result. Well that pretty much sums up my entire day.

 

I managed to fight through the wind and reach Grand Falls-Windsor for lunch time. This is basically the halfway point of Newfoundland. It felt good to finally be here. If I had to rate the road quality and conditions throughout the province so far, Terra Nova Provincial Park would rank as number 1, and from Bishop Falls to Grand Falls-Windsor would rank the worst. The shoulder was rough, cracked, narrow and scattered with gravel. It was only about 20 km, but it was the most frustrating section so far.

 

After some food and another nap, I was ready to go battle the elements again. The road conditions had improved and the wind had slightly shifted. So, although I still had some head-wind, I felt much better.

 

I was planning to reach the town of Badger before turning in for the day. When I arrived in Badger, the road took a hard turn to the North. Now the wind was directly behind me. It was almost 5:30pm, but the wind was too good to resist. I decided to push on for a few extra minutes. With the wind pushing me along, I was able to get a few extra kilometers before calling it a day.

 

It was a mentally tough day, but I knew Newfoundland would test me. Looks like a cold rain is moving in for tomorrow, but I’m feeling good since I’m over half way across this island!

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May 10

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

What a day! I’m just shy of half way across this Island!

 

This morning when I woke up, the clouds had rolled in. By the time I had my skates on and was ready to go, the rain had started. It’s a good thing I trained in North Vancouver, because the first half of today was just like that! A cool, drizzly rain with some pretty good sized hills.

 

I started feeling some pain in my right foot. There was a pressure point hitting a sensitive spot near my ankle. I had to stop a couple times to adjust my skates and re-tape my ankle. But I got it under control and it started feeling good again.

 

I got in touch with my feminine side today, too. Up until now, I have been wrapping my foot with a light gauze before taping. But the gauze was difficult to keep in place. Today I used my former Engineering abilities to come up with a new solution… panty hose! Simply brilliant! We picked up a few pairs of knee-high panty hose and I slipped them on very elegantly. I felt very sexy and sleek until I stepped out into the rain and reality set back in. But the hose did the trick.

 

When we reached Gander just after noon, another fantastic family was waiting for us with open arms. Bob and Kay Gover are the in-laws of Anjenett, who I worked with at Hostway. I’d never met Bob and Kay, but they quickly welcomed us in. They let me have a much needed shower and do some laundry. Then they surprised us with a magnificent meal! Unfortunately we couldn’t stay too long since I’d only covered about 40 km so far. So after a quick power nap, I had to say my goodbye’s.

 

At this point the sun had managed to fend off the clouds and the roads were once again dry. There was a bit of wind, but nothing like yesterday. The conditions were about as good as I could ask for, with the exception of a few hills and a breeze in my face. The weather allowed me to notch off an additional 40+ km in the afternoon. We decided to drive a bit north for the evening to Lewisporte since there wasn’t much else on the Trans-Canada where I left off.

 

All-in-all, a fantastic day after yesterday’s wind fiasco.

 

*NEW PHOTOS TODAY*

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May 9

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

I wasn’t planning on waking up quite so early today, but I was up by 6:30. We took our time getting ready and having breakfast. After yesterday’s 130km, I deserved to relax a bit. It was a nice change to see the sun streaming through the windows in the morning.

 

My skates were on and I was in my shorts by 8:30. Such a beautiful day. We entered Terra Nova Provincial Park first thing in the morning. The road through the park was 50 km long, so I was hoping to get through it before lunch.

 

The roads inside Terra Nova were perfect. Well maintained with a 6 foot paved shoulder. I was warned ahead of time that I would face a few challenging hills. And I wasn’t disappointed. The longest incline of my journey so far was about half way through the Park. It was a 4km climb. Fortunately, the amazing conditions and beautiful weather helped me to the top with no trouble at all.

 

About 3 or 4 km from the end of the park, a small SUV went flying past me honking like mad. I watched them drive away as I was coasting down a hill. But then they stopped. When I caught up to them again, a couple from St. John’s got out to meet me. It turned out that they had heard about me on the radio a couple days earlier. They felt compelled to stop and offer a donation. They were great people and very encouraging.

 

When I finally reached the end of Terra Nova Prov. Park, there was a sharp turn in the road to the West. The instant I came around the bend, I felt like I skated into a brick wall. A sudden gust of wind almost stopped me dead in my tracks. But the ‘sudden gust’ wasn’t a gust at all. It was a long, sustained wind that wouldn’t let up the rest of the day. But I had reached my first goal of the day… 50 km through the park before lunch.

 

I had lunch and a nap and was back on the road around 2:45. My dad was pretty excited because our generator had been stalling and he finally found the problem (low oil).

 

So off I headed into the hurricane-like winds with 70 km to Gander (my original goal for the day). It only took me a few minutes to realize I wasn’t going to reach Gander today. The wind was atrocious. I have never experienced such a constant powerful wind. People call Chicago the Windy City, but it has nothing compared to Newfoundland. I’ve been to both, and Newfoundland wins the title hands down. I was only able to skate about 5 km at a time before needing a break.

 

During my last break, we had our first run-in with the law. A cruiser passed us going the opposite direction but quickly flicked on the lights and turned around. When they pulled over behind us, my dad seemed a bit on edge. Were they going to tell us to get off the Trans-Canada? It turned out that they had passed us earlier while I was on a break and they just wanted to make sure everything was ok. Again, really nice Newfoundlanders. I shook their hands and was on my way.

 

When I reached my final destination of Gambo, I had only managed to cover 20 km since lunch. I was extremely disheartened and exhausted. But after relaxing a bit and having dinner, I feel much better. Gander is still 40 km away, but I can make it there by lunch (as long as the wind lets up a bit for me). It’s a good thing I did the 130 km yesterday, because I only covered 75 today. I suppose I could have gone another 10-15 km today before the sun went down, but I was on the verge of a mental meltdown. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m just looking out the window of the RV and the wind has almost completely died down.

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May 8

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

I woke up bright and early behind the gas station in Whitbourne.  I had my ankles taped and my skates laced up by 7am. I wanted to get an hour in before breakfast. The sky was gray and looked like rain was coming, but the weather was forecasting that the clouds would pass and the sun would break through. Sure enough, the rain started just after breakfast. The reliability of the weather predictions makes me feel like I’m back in Vancouver! It didn’t rain too hard though. Just a constant drizzle. I didn’t get too wet, but my skates spit quite a bit of mud up the back of my legs.

 

When we stopped for lunch about 10 km short of a town called Come By Chance, I decided to have a nap before starting again. When I woke up, the roads were dry! On came the shorts.

 

As I continued on, I noticed a car off in the distance sitting on the opposite side of the road. When I approached, two women got out of the car and flagged me down. They had passed me earlier and pulled over to wait for me so they could make a donation! Another prime example of the Newfoundland people.

 

I finally arrived in Clarenville around 4:30 and was greeted by a local reporter with the Clarenville Packet. I welcomed Kathy into our RV for a quick interview and a photo. She’s hoping to print an article later this week.

 

I had now reached 100 km for the day! My first 100 K day! But for those of you who know me well, 100 km just wasn’t good enough. I was feeling good, so I choose to move ahead for a little longer. The next town was Port Blanford. But it was 30 km away. I was thinking about going about half way and driving in for the night. But again, my stubbornness came through. I fought through my exhaustion and made it to Port Blanford just after 7 pm. And I’m glad I did.

 

The first gas bar we stopped at was the Cornerstop. They offered to let us stay there and plug our hydro in. And on top of that, a few locals began showing up and offering donations! The highlight of the evening was a donation from a couple of fantastic kids, Nicholas and Jillian. I hope I’ve inspired them in some way.

 

Now that I’ve had my bison fajita dinner, I’m just about ready for bed.

 

130 km today.  That’s more than I thought I’d ever do!

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May 7

Monday, May 7th, 2007

Things are getting better every day now! A lot has happened in the last couple days. After my 70 km start on Saturday, I was forced to rest on Sunday while we waited for the ignition switch to arrive from Toronto. This gave me some extra time to catch up on some e-mails and make some new media contacts. The ignition switch was to be flown in on Monday morning, but we were warned that if it was too foggy, the shipment would be delayed until the fog lifts. Our recent run of luck had us concerned that we would be stuck in Harbour Grace for another full day. That would put me almost 5 days behind schedule by the time I got on the road again. Fortunately, the sun was shining down on us today. The ignition switch arrived with no problems.

 

On my day off yesterday I made a trip into the local Shoppers Drug Mart to ask if they would donate some tape for my ankles. I went over to the store just as it was opening. I was shocked to see a lineup of people waiting to get. This struck me as odd considering the town of Carbonear only has 5,000 residents. What could be so incredible at Shoppers that people would wait in line on a Sunday morning to get in? AS it turned out, 2L bottles of pepsi were on sale for 97 cents. I was actually disgusted to see the amount of bottles people were buying. Some people were walking out of the store with as many as 32 bottles! And of course anyone who buys pepsi has to have chips to go with it. So people were buying just as many chips.

 

Once I regained my composure, I found a clerk who let me know that unfortunately the owner was not in until the following day, so I’d have to come back.

 

Back in Harbour Grace, Gerri was busy preparing a feast fit for a king. When I sat down at the table to eat, a puzzled look came across my face. I was staring at what appeared to be 2 plates of freshly carved roast beef. But why 2 plates? My question was quickly answered. One of the plates was actually moose meat! But Gerri wouldn’t tell us which was which. I’m an adventurous person, so I was keen to try both. There was really no noticeable difference in the flavour, but I correctly guessed the moose because it was slightly darker. It was very good, and slightly more moist than the beef.

 

Later in the evening, Bill told us we should call his favorite radio station and tell them about my Skate For Hope. So my dad called the VOCM station and was put through to the talkshow host almost instantly. It made for some fantastic provincial publicity! Within minutes, I had messages from people who heard about my on the radio show (including another radio station CHRM from Memorial University).

 

This morning, my dad decided to call VOCM and mention my skate again. And once again, he got through to a different host who was very receptive. This time, my dad even gave a great plug to Hostway!

 

With the ignition switch now in Newfoundland, we were ready to take the RV to the mechanic to have it fixed. We weren’t sure how long it would take, but we were hoping he could be done by 4pm so i could get an hour or 2 of skating in before nightfall. Sure enough, the RV was ready for action with enough time to hit the road.

 

Just before leaving Harbour Grace to head back to the Trans Canada Highway, we stopped into the Carbonear Shoppers Drug Mart one last time. I met the owner and he was very happy to contribute by donating a much needed heating pad for my aching muscles. We also stopped at the Walmart in town and were pleasantly surprised to receive a donation of several rolls of tape for my ankles! I’ll miss the people of Newfoundland when I get back to the mainland, but I won’t miss the cold wind!

 

So we bid Bill and Gerri a farewell. They’re hospitality over the past few days has been outstanding. We were only expecting to stay with them for a day before I began skating, but that day quickly turned into half a week. Thanks again Bill and Gerri!

 

By the time we got to the TCH to start skating, it was around 5pm. I knew I had 20 km until the next town, so I figured I should be fine. Although it was quite windy, the road conditions were great. We were in Whitbourne in a little over an hour. We actually stopped at the same gas bar where the RV originally broke down. But this time it was on good terms. And the locals welcomed us with open arms. When we pulled into the gas station, cash donations were being thrown at us hand over fist! Such an overwhelming and gratifying feeling. One woman even got out of her car to tell me she saw me on the Weather Network and read about me in the newspaper. She gave me a donation and a big hug. If anyone else saw me on TV, let me know! Unfortunately I missed it.

 

And with that, our day came to an end. The gas station let us plug in to their hydro so we’ll have a comfortable night. I’m looking forward to putting the RV debacle behind me and pushing forward. I’ll be able to make up the lost time.

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May 5

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

And so it begins…

 

We got up nice and early (6 ish) so we could get to Mile 0 before 9am. We drove down to the harbour in St. John’s where I strapped my skates on beside the water. I actually started at a small park called Harbourside Park (where inline skating is prohibited). But since it was very early on a Saturday morning, I figured I could dip my hand in the water and get out of the park before anyone even noticed I was there. When I left the park I headed to City Hall for a few more photos of me standing at the Mile 0 sign. While I was standing there, I heard a car honk form the road. I looked over and saw a local couple (Deanne and Steve) who I met on the ferry to Newfoundland. They didn’t have time to stop, but they shouted words of encouragement as they drove by.

 

And just like that, I was on my way through St. John’s towards Paradise (literally). There is a small suburb of St. John’s called Paradise.

 

As I skated along with my parents trailing, I was over-whelmed by the people of Newfoundland. I wasn’t too sure how I would be received since many people set off from St. John’s each year on cross-Canada adventures. But I guess my idea to rollerblade has turned some heads. People were honking, waving and encouraging me. It didn’t matter at all to them that I was slowing traffic down. They seemed as excited as I was. Some people even stopped their car in front of me and handed me cash donations on the spot! It was fantastic!

 

All was going as well as it could until we reached a small town called Topsail about 20-25 km out of St. John’s. As I was coming down a small hill, I notice one of my wheels seemed to be sticking a bit. This has happened to me before so I needed to stop and tighten the screws. No sooner had I let my parents know that I needed to stop for a second did the front wheel on my left skate lose it’s screw completely and pop off! The sudden siege sent me flying. Thankfully I walked away with only a small scratch on my finger. But I think my mom had a mild heart attack. I looked down at my skates only to see that frame had been slightly bent, the front wheel was no where to be seen and somehow the front wheel on my right skate had been busted. These seemed like a good time to take my first break of the day.

 

All was ok, though. I was able to bend the frame back into place and replace the 2 broken wheels and barrings. I had fixed my skates, eaten lunch, and was back on the road within the hour.

 

I pushed on for another couple of hours until I reached a small town called Holyrood on the tip of Conception Bay. At this point I had covered about 50 km. But since this was my first day, and I really haven’t been able to train much over the past week, I decided I needed another break. Nap time!

 

Just a quick snooze (30-40 minutes) and I was ready to go again. I grabbed another quick snack and strapped the skates back on. I had noticed a few points on my feet that were hurting a bit, so I thought I would tape them up to help prevent blisters. Unfortunately we didn’t have any good tape with us, so I used what and true Canadian would use… Duct Tape!

 

Now I was only a few kilometers from the Trans Canada Highway (TCH). As I was making my way towards the highway, a car came up and began to pass me, but then slowed down almost to a stop. I glanced over my shoulder to see what the driver was doing since she was now blocking on-coming traffic. The passenger-side window rolled down and the driver leaned over to me (I was still skating and she was still driving) and handed my a donation and told me how happy she was that I was doing this. The people of Newfoundland are setting a high standard for the rest of the country with respect to friendliness.

 

Just as I reached the TCH, a couple from Langley, BC were bicycling past. They stopped to see how I was doing. Another really nice couple who had just begin their own journey from St. John’s to Vancouver. After a brief chat, we were all on our way. I was able to keep up with the cyclists for a little while, but they soon vanished in the distance. I hope to meet up with them and exchange stories when I arrive back home.

 

I was a bit nervous to be on the TCH on my rollerblades, but it was actually the best road of the day. A huge paved shoulder for me, and traffic could easily get passed me since it is a 4 lane highway. The thing about Newfoundland that not many people realize is just how many hills there are. To be honest, the hills wouldn’t be that bad if it weren’t for the wind blowing in my face. The last 20 km were grueling. But I pushed on with the help of the occasional encouraging honk from drivers passing by. Before I knew it, I had reached my 70th km of the day. This is where I decided to quit for today for several reasons. First, the mechanical issues with the RV are not yet resolved. This means that my dad drove all the way into St. John’s and followed me all day in the RV while holding his hand on the ignition to stop it from turning off. It doesn’t sound like much, but you try squeezing a key all day and see how your hand feels. Second, I didn’t want to push myself too hard on the first day. I may have only covered 70 km, but there were some long hills, and I have planned my time on Newfoundland under the assumption that there would be many days in which I won’t reach 100.

 

And with that said, I’m back in the RV ready for a good night sleep. Day 1 is under my belt.

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May 4

Friday, May 4th, 2007

The months of preparation have come down to this day. But no matter how long I had to get ready, nothing could prepare me for this.

 

A lot has happened in the last 2 days. I don’t even know where to start.

 

I should be out skating through the streets of St. John’s right now, but due to a very minor setback, I won’t be starting until tomorrow morning. Don’t worry, though. Nothing major has happened. The delay is due to a very minimal vehicle problem, but somewhat time consuming.

 

I’ll begin with our ferry ride to Newfoundland. For those who have never been on a 6 hour ferry, it’s quite a unique experience. Once on board, we had to leave Winnie (my parent’s dog) in the RV while we went to the passenger decks. Poor Winnie didn’t sleep well. But then again, neither did I. As comfortable as the passenger areas are, unless you have booked a cabin or bunk, you have to sleep in a chair. Fortunately the ferry was not full so we had plenty of room. Once the Canucks game ended, I was able to sleep a bit. I tried sleeping in the chair for a while, but couldn’t find the sweet spot. So I grabbed a blanket and curled up in a corner on the floor. It wasn’t too bad. I was pretty comfortable, but the floor got really cold, so I moved back to the chair. I think I managed about 30 minutes of shut-eye before we finally arrived in Port Aux Basque.

 

I was finally in Newfoundland! I haven’t been on the island since I was very young. My first thought was how desolate it felt. There were barely any trees, and the few trees that I could see were only about 5 feet tall. Thankfully the entire province is not like the first few kilometers. Once we got moving, we started seeing more vegetation. It’s a very different landscape than anywhere else in Canada. I don’t think many people realize the size of Newfoundland. I felt so close to St. John’s, yet I still had nearly 900 km to go!

 

Hours and hours of driving, but we were determined to get to our final destination. You seem more willing to drive further when you can almost touch the finish line. We made it to within 45 minutes of St. John’s and stopped for gas one last time. With a full tank of gas and less than an hour to go, my Dad hopped in the driver’s seat and turned the key. The engine roared to life in an instant, and then died just as quickly as it started. Again, my Dad turned the key, and again the engine refused to stay on. We fought and cursed the RV for 20 – 30 minutes before finally giving up and calling a mechanic. Within minutes, a local man, Edgar Power, arrived to help figure out the problem. It didn’t take long for a diagnosis. We were expecting the worst, but Edgar told us that it was only the ignition barrel. The engine was fine, but the ignition switch just didn’t want to stay on. It was a good thing we were ahead of schedule at this point, because the part had to be flown in. I supposed that is to be expected when you’re driving a ’78 Ford.

 

We were able to keep the engine running simply by keeping our hand on the key. We decided to move on and drive the last leg of the trip holding the key. So we finally made it to our friends house in Harbour Grace (a small village not far from St. John’s).

 

After a good night’s sleep and a hot shower, I was ready for the last couple days before I start skating. We found a great local mechanic who was able to get the part we needed, as well as give us a quick oil change. Steve, from Superior Auto in Carbonear has been great. He juggled his schedule so he could squeeze us in. Although the part we need only arrived today, I feel very fortunate that I’m only delayed one day. Catastrophe averted.

 

I think I’ve already mentioned that Staples has been great in providing a few posters for free. Well, I was able to get in touch with a printer in St. John’s who has offered to print 100 copies for me for free! Thank you, Print Three! For anyone interested in having posters to put up in your city, you can get the PDF file at:

 

www.SeeTheEnd.com/poster.pdf

 

Try contacting a local Print Three or Staples to see if they will donate any prints.

 

Hostway shipped me some amazing clothes to help keep me dry, warm and stylish while I’m skating. Thank you, Hostway. Everything is great!

 

Since we have an extra day before I strap on the blades, we’ve decided to head in to St. John’s to do some site seeing today. I’m sure I’ve forgotten to mention some details from the past couple days, so I will add some more after I tour St. John’s today.

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May 1

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

Last night we couldn’t find a hydro hook up, so we ran the generator for a while before going to sleep. Once the generator was shut off, the RV cooled down pretty fast. It wasn’t too bad, but I woke up pretty cold. My parents were fine, but I didn’t have any body heat to help.

When we start driving into Fundy Bay National Park, we actually came through some flurries. I hope this cold front doesn’t last long! It was another rainy day, but the views around Fundy and Hopewell Rocks were amazing. I’ll be sure to post a few photos soon.

The sun finally poked through about an hour from the Newfoundland ferry. It’s been a long time since I have been out East. Some of the scenery is phenominal.

I was able to get some more posters printed from a Staples in Nova Scotia. Staples has been great for donating their printing services.

When we finally reached the ferry terminal, we were about 4 hours early. So I took the opportunity to strap on the blades and give my legs a quick stretch. It didn’t last too long, though because I was quickly chased down by a ferry employee who casually pointed to a sign indicating “No Pedestrians Past This Point”. Oh well. At least I was on the skates long enough to snap a couple pictures!

While waiting to board the ferry, we met a couple from Conception Bay (near St. John’s). Really nice people. After talking to them and giving them a couple posters, I think I may alter my route slightly so I can skate through their area.

I’m now on the midnight ferry to Newfoundland. We have about 6 hours until we reach land, but the Canucks game just started, so that should kill a few hours for me. I’m guessing I’ll fall asleep pretty soon, though.

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