August 15

August 17th, 2007

Even with a police escort, the swarms of pedestrians on the Calgary streets were a tough obstacle. It was pretty obvious that it was lunch hour in the business district and everyone was outside to enjoy to warm summer day. As I rolled through the heart the city’s downtown core, I looked around and couldn’t help but wonder if any of the people walking around had seen me on television today.

 

This morning we had to drive from Balzac to the City TV studio at the corner of 5th St and 7th Ave. They let us pull the RV up on the sidewalk right in front of the building. I met a lot of people from the show and was introduced to the host, Dave. When my time came for my live appearance on Breakfast Television, Dave and I stepped outside in front of the RV for the interview. Everything went great and the response was amazing. Once my short segment was done, I stuck around and did another interview which was pre-recorded for the evening news. City TV has given me some great exposure along my travels, and I can’t wait to see them in Vancouver too!

 

We headed back to where I had left off last night on Country Hills Blvd and Harvest Hill Blvd. Here we had a police meet us who would escort me through the city to Boston Pizza and then out the west side of town. With a City TV camera man popping up sporadically along the way like the Prairie dogs from yesterday, I worked my way downtown via Center Street. Since it was lunch time, everyone was out on the side walks which was incredible for recognition, but lousy for navigating. Several times, the police cruiser would clear a path for me and I would sneak through the people at a crosswalk. But my Dad would get stuck behind in the RV. It seemed like everyone was either on a cell phone or just not paying attention. They didn’t realize the giant “Skate For Hope” motor home was with me. However, I know one girl saw me and new right away who I was. It wasn’t until later in the day that I found this out from an e-mail, but a friend of a friend who lives in Calgary had heard about me a while ago. She sent me an e-mail today to let me know that she was one of the thousands of pedestrians on lunch break. She had been on her cell when I rolled right past her so she was caught off guard. She was only able to manage an awkward and muffled squeak when I went by, so I unfortunately didn’t hear her. But I’m glad she saw me and let me know.

 

Calgary has a surprising number of good sized hills. I had to climb a doozey as I headed up Bow Trail to the 33rd Street Boston Pizza. I paused briefly to drop off some posters at the store before heading over to Sarcee Trail and out towards the Trans Canada. I had an enjoyable decent down Sarcee Trail and was clocked at 60 km/hr again!

 

After checking in at the Calgary West Campground (Thanks again for the donated site), we had the afternoon to take in some of the city’s offerings. First stop… Canada Olympic Park. It’s amazing how well the facilities get used in the summer even though they were built for the 1988 Winter Olympics. I was given the opportunity to take a ride on the Luge practice run. The Icehouse, so it’s called, has a few indoor luge runs for training. I couldn’t pass up this chance. I pulled a helmet over my head, threw a luge sled onto the ice at the starting gates and hurled myself down the slick surface. When I finally reached the other end of the track, 3.5 seconds of my life had just rushed past me. It was a short ride, but a neat experience.

 

I had been contacted yesterday by a woman from the Olympic Oval, Bridgette, who was sending out an e-mail to all the athletes letting them know about me. I decided to pop into the Oval at the University of Calgary to meet Bridgette. She was very welcoming and took the time to tour us around the Fastest Ice in the World! I saw a few athletes training, but I was told that I had just missed Cindy Klassen. Her coach was still there working with another girl. Nevertheless, it was still awesome to be down by the ice and see some real speed skaters, unlike myself.

 

There wasn’t much time before we had to be back at Boston Pizza for dinner, but we thought we would get some groceries first. We actually parked in the Boston Pizza parking lot and walked over to the mall. My parents went and got the food while I checked out another cool store called Harmony. The owner helped me pick out a gift for Crystal and I’m fairly confident that it is the best present I’ve ever bought for anyone!

 

While I was sitting in the motor home waiting for my folks to get back with the groceries, there was a knock at the door. I opened it half expecting to see the Manager standing there and telling me that I should be inside by now. So It was a great surprise when I saw the smiling face of my old friend, Tiffany, staring up at me! Tiff had lived in Calgary but recently moved to Vancouver. So I never would have guessed she would find me here. But apparently she landed a role in a movie which was being filmed in Calgary. She’d heard I was around and tracked me down. We didn’t get to spend too much time, but it was so good to see a familiar face.

 

Although the restaurant was quiet (it was only a Wednesday night), the reception was very memorable. I finally had the privilege to meet Nicole and her dad. Nicole has been working hard for months building support for me and my arrival in Calgary. I know she is specifically to thank for a few of the interviews I received in the area. She even brought me a care package, a poster she made herself, and even a donation. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done and continue to do, Nicole.

 

Another old high school friend stopped by with his girlfriend, too. I’m glad I got to see at least one Bonaparte on this trip! Justin was telling me about a client of his who he had just met with for lunch today. Justin had to laugh out loud when the client began to rant about an encounter he had just had the day before on Deerfoot Trail with a crazy guy rollerblading down the highway! Justin’s response was simply, “I’m having dinner with that crazy rollerblader tonight”. Hilarious. Thanks for coming, Justin. It was great to meet Angela, too.

 

As we sat there eating, a woman came up to me with her 2 daughters. The one girl looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place her. Then the mother told me. I had met Alyssa at Eagle Canyon near Thunder Bay! She’s been following my progress ever since and wanted to come see me again. Her and her sister, Samantha, are sweet girls. As if they weren’t nice enough to come see me, I then found out that Alyssa has been saving all of her babysitting money and donated it to the Skate For Hope! It’s people like Alyssa who will help make the world a better place.

 

The final surprise visitors of the night were Melissa, Shawn, and Melissa’s brother, Mark. Melissa and Shawn live in Vancouver but are back in Calgary for the summer. I met them through my friend, Kirsten. I wasn’t sure I was going to see them tonight since today is their Mom’s birthday. But I guess Rich Ralph is more important than the woman who raised you, right? To make it even better, Mark plans to meet me again tomorrow morning and cycle along side me out of Calgary towards Banff. I’m looking forward to the company, Mark. An Ipod can only entertain me for so long.

 

When we were done at Boston Pizza, I headed down to a pub with Justin, Angela, Melissa, Shawn and Mark. My parents went back to the campground and Justin offered to take me back later. It was nice to sit around with friends and just hang out. It’s been tough to sacrifice my summer and miss all the nights with my friends. Tonight was a nice reminder of what’s waiting for me when I get home.

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