August 13

August 14th, 2007

Red Deer wasn’t very far from my starting point near Innisfail. But as we left Ponoka I knew the frigid temperature would be a factor today. My breath was fogging up my sunglasses, but I really couldn’t complain. At least it wasn’t raining or snowing, and the wind was at my back. Other than being bundled up to avoid frost bite, the morning skate was fairly uneventful.


Highway 2-A had turned rough again, so I decided to try my luck on the main Highway again. Just before I began down the on-ramp, I stopped for a break and was bombarded by media calls. I gave 3 quick phone interviews and setup an appointment to appear on Breakfast Television in Calgary on Wednesday! I’ve done a few TV interviews, but this will be my first experience in a studio.


I took another break when I reached the town of Lacombe. We pulled into the Petro Canada since we needed gas, too. My Dad and I proceeded into the store like we have a hundred times before. I still had my skates on since I rarely take them off during the day. Having received so much great media attention lately, the public is beginning to recognize me a bit more often. So it was quite a shock when I heard a voice telling me to get out of the store. I tried to explain to the man that I was blading across the country for cancer research and we were just stopped for a break. But he wouldn’t hear anything I had to say. He hastily motioned me towards the door and continued to tell me to get out. As surprised and angry as this man made me, I couldn’t help but see the humour in it. This guy was so out of touch with the world that he refused to even listen to a word I said. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a knock at Petro Canada. in fact, many Petro Canada Managers have donated a considerable amount to my cause. However, this man’s lack of compassion and human decency could use some work.


For all the golfers who are reading along, you’ll be happy to know that I rolled past Canada’s Longest Golf Hole today. Total distance…782 yards! I didn’t get a chance to see or play the hole, but I got a picture of the sign.


Just before I arrived in Red Deer, CH TV came out for an interview, as well. It was a media frenzy today! The girls did a great job and hopefully got some excellent footage for their story.


If you ever need an escort through a city, I recommend asking the police if they can provide a Newfie Officer for you. I was lucky enough to have one take me through Red Deer. With lights flashing and sirens wailing, we rolled through intersections and grabbed the attention of the entire town. She took me right to the Boston Pizza on the south end of the city. I’ll never forget the Newfoundland hospitality.


While I was standing in the parking lot of the Boston Pizza, a young fellow named Ryan came riding up on his bike. He was pretty excited to meet me because he told me he had just seen me on TV. I had passed him coming through town and he was trying to keep up, but I guess I was clipping along at a pretty good pace. I always love meeting and talking to kids, so I was happy to autograph a card for Ryan to take home.


It was just after lunch now and we had all afternoon to kill. My Dad wanted to have the brakes checked before we tackle the Rocky Mountains. So we headed over to KalTire where they took the RV in and donated a complete inspection for us. It also gave me a chance to have my afternoon nap! Everything looked good, and we still had time before we had to be back at Boston Pizza. So I thought I would lace up my skates and get in another hour on the road. This way I may be able to reach Calgary tomorrow night. I still don’t remember Alberta having so many rolling hills (other than the foothills of the Rockies). I clambered to the top of Antler Hill on the North side of Innisfail before calling it a day. I was within 120 km of Calgary now. So it is possibly within reach tomorrow.


Back at Boston Pizza, I was met by a Shaw TV reporter, a newspaper reporter, a few kids who wanted an autograph, and an old friend from Kingston who I haven’t seen in years. After my interviews and signing session, I finally had a chance to sit and relax with Chris McNichol and my parents. Chris was a neighbor of ours in Kingston years ago and now lives near Red Deer. The evening was great. Our server, Felicia, gave a great announcement to the restaurant followed by a big High-5. That was definitely a first for me. We tried to re-enact the high-5 moment, but the camera just didn’t do it justice. you’ll have to take my word for it that it was funny.


The Westerner Campground was kind enough to donate a site for us just down the road from Boston Pizza. I spent a bit of time doing e-mails, journals and photos, but it didn’t take me long before I was on my back counting sheep. I’ll have to have a big day to reach Calgary tomorrow, but I’m up for the challenge.

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