August 4

August 5th, 2007

My hear sank a little bit this morning when I looked out the window. I looked up at the trees and could see the leaves blowing in the wind. It was only 6:30 am and already I could tell the gusts would be a factor today. Typically the wind will pick up in the afternoon when the air starts to get hotter. But the elements were against me today for some reason. Was it payback for my previous day of 150 km?


I tried to make the best of the situation. My pace was slow and steady. I was working harder than yesterday, but I was only managing about 10-12 km/h. My slow speed must have presented a threat to the local wildlife, because it wasn’t long before I was face to face with an extremely irate animal. With a piercing screech, the animal closed in for the attack. I was unexpecting, unprotected and vulnerable. But my cat-like reflexes allowed me to dodge the first onslaught. What made the situation even more difficult was that I was facing an aerial attack. The animal was some unusual species of ferocious bird. Either I was too close to a nest, or the bird just didn’t like the cut of my jib. Whatever the case, he was some pissed off with me. The squawking continued as he bombed towards my head. Again, I was able to roll out of range. I was now flailing my arms in a sad attempt to deter the bird from attacking again. No such luck. He came at me once more with claws drawn. As I veered out of his sights, I now realized that I had an additional concern. I was paying so much attention to the bird that I wasn’t aware that I was wandering out into the lane with speeding traffic flying past. I had no choice but to stop and grab my only line of defense. You may remember it from my encounter with the vicious dogs near Welland, Ontario. Now that I had the infamous Oscar broom in my grasp, I was fearless. I swung it a few times in the direction of the bird to show him I meant business, and before I knew it the battle was over. The bird knew he was no match and retreated to the trees.


I was staring down the long, straight, flat highway when something unusual caught my eye. There was a formation off in the distance that I wasn’t used to seeing. As I got closer, the structure began growing. By the time I was directly adjacent to it, it was towering above me. Believe it or not, I was looking in awe at a downhill ski hill! Being from Vancouver, I’ve become a bit spoiled by Whistler, Big White, and some of the other larger resorts around BC. But this monster was incredible. I can only imagine the amount of man power it must take to operate its single lift. It was truly a funny and unique vision to see this weird little hill sticking up in the middle of a field. Mount Blackstrap… THE Saskatchewan ski hill.


The wind still hadn’t let up by the time I was within reach of Saskatoon. In fact, my struggles were amplified with each passing transport as they hurled a cyclone of spiraling air directly into my path. Now I had to battle the fierce winds in my face, as well as hold my balance from the unpredictable gusts generated from vehicles going by. All-in-all, not my most enjoyable day. It was down right miserable.


At least one good thing came out of my skate today. CTV came out to interview and film me for the afternoon news. I also gave a quick phone interview for the local newspaper, too. Other than my media coverage, these are the days of my journey I dread. Hate is a very strong word, but I’m comfortable saying that I really do hate these days. I work 10 times harder than normal and only cover half the distance. It’s mentally and physically exhausting.


From the edge of the city, I could see that Saskatoon had a thick smog looming over it a lot like Toronto usually has in the summer. But this smog seemed a bit different. I could almost see it moving. Some areas appeared to be more dense than others. As I got closer I noticed that it wasn’t smog at all. It was dust. The area is so dry and dusty that any traffic moving on the dirt roads around the city stirred up a billowing cloud of brown. They combined to make it look as if the city was one giant blowing dust bowl. But once I got into the business and residential areas, the dust settled and wasn’t an issue.


We weren’t sure if the Police would be able to provide an escort for us since it was a Holiday weekend and they were short-staffed. So we were pleasantly surprised when 2 cruisers and a motorcycle all showed up to lead us through town. It’s a really good thing they were there to help us, because many of the streets were blocked off for an event called the Fringe Festival. But they got us across town with no issues.


We stopped at Diana (another cousin of my mom) and Neil’s house briefly before we all headed over to Boston Pizza for dinner and reception. The managers at the store were well informed and enthusiastic. They were happy to make an announcement to the entire store so people were aware that I was there. I still love the simplicity. It always works well.


After dinner, Diana and Neil walked us down to Broadway Street to check out the Fringe Festival and some of the Street Performers. It was funny and a nice change from our regular routine of sitting around the RV all night.


Since I was able to arrive in Saskatoon earlier than expected, tomorrow will be a nice chance to sleep in and get some more errands done. But I anticipate leaving late in the afternoon to get a few kilometers in before the sun goes down.

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