August 11

August 13th, 2007

The extra few minutes I was allowed to sleep in today was a small taste of bliss. Not only did I get to sleep ‘in’, but I also got to sleep ‘inside’. It was nice being able to sleep in a house rather than my regular bunk in the RV. Don’t get me wrong, the beds in the RV are very comfortable. But I enjoy the feeling of knowing that I don’t have to worry about sitting up in bed and smashing my head off of a bucket that has been duct taped to the ceiling to catch water when it rains.

 

I’ve bladed about 8000 km now, so I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my day off than to go for a skate! Blaine picked me up and headed across town to a park in the River Valley where we were to meet the other skaters. We made a quick stop to get Emily, Blaine’s daughter, who was also joining us for the skate. Ivan, Don, Willem and Phil were all ready and waiting when we showed up. I don’t think we could have asked for better weather for the tour across Edmonton that I was about to have. We skated around some beautiful paths along the shore of the North Saskatchewan River. At one point, we came across thousands of people walking towards us! It only took me a second to recognize the sea of pink braziers and realize it was the Weekend To End Breast Cancer.

 

Once we had carefully worked our way through the crowd, Don came up with an idea. He made a quick call to his son, Evan, who was working at the Edmonton Folk Festival. Before I knew what happened, Evan had arranged for an All-Access pass for me and 2 general tickets for my parents. As if that wasn’t good enough, he had spoken to the organizer of the event and somehow convinced him to allow me to go on stage between bands tonight! At this point, I had no idea what the Festival was all about, but we skated over to the grounds so I could pick up my pass. A quick glance inside the gates and I realized the amplitude of what I was about to do. I would have an instant audience of 25,000 people listening to my message and seeing my pearly-whites on giant screens positioned around the park! I thought the crowd of 300 at Innisfree was big! This is undoubtedly the largest crowd I will have ever spoken to.

 

When Blaine dropped me off back at Mark’s house, I had a bit of time to relax and let today’s development sink in. Mark and Christal (mostly Mark, I believe 🙂 ) spent the afternoon preparing a succulent prime rib feast which was better than any restaurant could ever cooked. The meat was perfect, the vegetables were delicious, and the potatoes were amazing. The only thing that could have made it any better would have been if we didn’t have to rush. Unfortunately I had to be back at the Folk Festival around 6:30, so I requested an earlier dinner than originally planned.

 

We collectively decided that Mark and my Dad would use the tickets for the Festival. The plan was that I would announce to the crowd that they could donate to myself, Mark or My Dad. We came up with a unique idea to each carry a rollerblade with us and let people throw their donations into the boot. So there I was, backstage, rubbing elbows with artists like Blue Rodeo and City & Colour. I met with the event organizer, Terry, and the Emcee. Now I was actually on the stage mingling with crew as they adjusted equipment and wires. A band was playing to the crowd only a few feet from me. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sweating a bit. But to be honest, I was too overwhelmed to be nervous. when the artists on stage finished their set, the emcee headed out to the microphone and gave a brief introduction for me. I strolled out as casually as possible but tripped over a cable and fell flat on my face! Only kidding. I walked up beside the emcee and answered a couple quick questions he gave me and then encouraged everyone to donate. It was an unusual, but incredible feeling to have that many people staring at you and listening to your words. I walked backstage and back to the Performers lounge area. A woman called over to me. “Hey! I’d like to donate.” I wasn’t sure how effective my presence would be. I knew it would be great to get my message out, but realistically, I didn’t expect too many people to donate on the spot. So I was pretty happy when this woman called to me right away. However, I felt a bit foolish at this point. I was still recovering from the shock of being on stage and didn’t recognize the woman in front of me as Buffy Sainte-Marie until she introduced herself to me! I couldn’t believe that my first donation tonight was coming from Buffy Sainte-Marie! I didn’t hang around too long because I had to go out to the audience to help collect more donations. The response was unreal. People were coming from all directions to stuff coins and bills into my skate. Mark and my Dad were having the same happen to them. At the end of it all, the 3 skates we had with us were over-flowing with cash. Thank you, Edmonton! And especially Don and Evan Colpitts, I don’t know how you did it, but thank you!

 

The adrenaline was running on an all time high now. I needed to find away to bring my blood pressure back down. So when we got back to Mark and Christal’s house, we enjoyed a snack, some beverages, and a couple mellow games of Wizard. Well, as mellow as Wizard can be. Sometimes it can pretty intense. If you’ve never played the card game, Wizard, I strongly suggest looking into it. Good times.

 

I’ll be leaving Edmonton tomorrow and heading towards Red Deer, then Calgary. I’ve completed over 8000 km now and finally feel like I’m on the home stretch. I’m sure that feeling will deteriorate as I make my first ascent into the Rockies.

Posted in Daily Journal | 2 Comments »

Comments

2 Responses to “August 11”

  1. Alex Says:

    Wow, Rich it seems like the donations are picking up! What was the total for the Folk Festival? What a great opportunity! You are amazing! Keep on truckin’!

  2. Diane O'R Says:

    Congratulations on your windfall at the folk festival, Rich. How great it must have been to meet Buffy Sainte-Marie and see Blue Rodeo ‘up close and personal’. I can’t believe you’d go rollerblading on your day off….that’s a bit like the electrician finally fixing the lights in his own home. Slow down a bit so I can get the time to email ahead of you……

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