August 12

August 13th, 2007

100. Yes, that’s how many kilometers I average in a day. But today it is also the number of days I have been skating! It’s hard to believe, but I began the Skate For Hope 100 days ago in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The memories along the way, the good and the bad, have been unforgettable.


On our way to the University to begin my day, we stopped at a gas station for some fuel. The roads were nearly deserted since it was early on a Sunday morning. So it seemed unlikely that we would bump into another vehicle when we were filling up. The odds were even slimmer that the car beside us at the gas station was occupied by someone we knew. It was Suzie, the Manager from Boston Pizza! And to make it even more bizarre, today is her birthday! I don’t know why you’re up so early on your birthday, but enjoy the day!


Traffic wasn’t an issue as I left Edmonton and headed down highway 2 towards Calgary. The pavement was pretty good, but the scattered stones gave me a terrible flashback of River Raider. Not only did I feel like I was back in Northern Ontario trying to dodge the oncoming obstacles, but I’m pretty sure I was now facing level 90! Pebbles were everywhere. They were unavoidable. I couldn’t use a proper stride without stumbling and staggering across the ocean of rocks. And to add injury to insult, the traffic began to increase. After all, this was a major highway between Alberta’s 2 largest cities. I had managed to get about 20 km before deciding I’d had enough. We got off #2 at Leduc and tried our luck with 2-A. This road ran south, as well, but had more bends and turns which increased my total distance significantly. I was willing to take the extra distance than struggle with the stones and speeding traffic. The decision paid off. This highway was much more enjoyable…until I reached Wetaskiwin.


The conditions of highways have a tendency to deteriorate as you approach cities, towns or villages. Wetaskiwin was no exception. The road became painful, but I knew it was only a couple kilometers to the other end of town. After 3 or 4 kilometers, I started to get a bit worried. Once I was 10 kilometers passed the city, I knew I was in trouble. But I also knew I really had no choice. I hobbled along slowly until finally reaching the town of Hobbema. Thankfully there was some relief for me in the form of new pavement. I figured that this would be a great place for a break to rest my aching feet.


I sat in the RV contemplating what I was going to do if the rest of Alberta’s roads were as bad as what I had just come through when there was a knock at the door. Tina Bruno had just seen me on TV and was amazed when she saw me pull into Hobbema for a break. I had the privilege to talk with Tina and her son , DJ, for quite a while. They are both exceptionally wise, courageous, generous, loving people. Tina is a cancer survivor and has great ambitions to help bring more attention and awareness to the need for help with cancer care in Native communities. When I was getting ready to leave, Tina and DJ presented me with a beautiful gift. It is a Native necklace symbolizing survival, strength and courage. It is incredibly sentimental and something I will cherish. Thank you, Tina and DJ. (And thank you Cree Convenience and Subway for the water and food)


The necklace must also have powers to bring good fortune, too, because the fresh asphalt that lead me into Hobbema continued for 20 km all the way to Ponoka! And as an added bonus, the wind practically carried me for the last hour of skating. When I finished in Ponoka, I had covered about 105 km. I was happy with that considering the barriers I had to climb over today.


We stopped at the Frank Mickey Stampede Park in Ponoka to camp for the night. Here we met another fantastic couple, Fairlie and Morris Coates. They didn’t hesitate for a second to offer us a site and also make a contribution of their own. Ponoka is host to the second largest Stampede in Canada next to the Calgary Stampede. I’ve been to Calgary, so I’m anxious to check out the Ponoka Stampede sometime. The campground was immediately adjacent to the Stampede grounds. I can only imagine the parties that would occur there while the stampede was on. Fairlie, I’ll be waiting to hear from you about coming back for next years Stampede! After a gorgeous sunset and meeting with another great couple staying in the campground, Scott and his wife, I had a bit of time to catch up on some journals and photos. It didn’t take long after I laid down in bed that the only thing I could see was the back of my eye lids. It still amazes me how a day that starts out so ordinary can turn out to be so extra-ordinary.

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