August 8

August 9th, 2007

Every time I’m about to enter a new province, I get excited as a little school girl. The feeling of accomplishment and the sense that I’m getting closer to home gives me an unexplainable rush. Today’s rush didn’t last too long, though.

 

Although this was the first time I received an escort from an RCMP, it was one of my least enjoyable rolls through a city. I didn’t have far to go, but I was crossing from one province to another. I struggled to keep up to the officer as my feet rattled helplessly in my boots from the extremely rough asphalt. I had a bit of relief when we reached the far side of town and I stopped for a break at the ‘Welcome to Alberta Sign’. Many people have been telling me to expect great things about the roads in this province, so I’m patiently waiting to see the improvement. I’m only a couple of kilometers in, but I would have hoped I’d see a change by now.

 

It wasn’t until 35 kilometer into Alberta that the road conditions finally improved. It felt like the pavement had been summoned by my negative energy. I was angry and in pain, but I could now take comfort and regenerate on the soft, placid shoulder. My relief was joyous but short-lived. Road Gods shall giveth, and Road Gods shall taketh away. Jerks. The pins and needles I was feeling through my entire lower body prevented me from reaching my full potential. By the time I stopped for lunch at 12:45, I only had 40km behind me. Things weren’t looking good. At this rate, I’ll make Edmonton just in time for Labour Day.

 

The one glimpse of optimism on the day came in the form of my first Alberta roadside donation. But, alas, it came from a car with a Saskatchewan license plate.

 

The head wind and horrible road held me back to a measly 78 km for the entire day. I was only able to muster a few kilometers at a time before I was forced into the RV for a break from the elements. I ended my day near a town called Mannville, which is about 150 km East of Edmonton. I’m sure a lot of you are getting sick of my rants about the lousy conditions I have been faced with. But I need to elaborate a bit more about today. You all know the feeling of pins and needles in your feet. Well, imagine that sensation for a few hours straight. Now imagine that sensation AND rubbing your feet continuously down a washboard. Now add in the feeling of sweaty socks that start to chafe. Being subjected to all of this at the same time forces me to hobble down the road awkwardly. I have no choice but to alter my stride (if you can still call it a stride at this point) to the point that I look like I’m tip-toeing in agony. As a result of this form, I have to shift my weight from side to side in an unusual way that my body doesn’t appreciate. My back begins to ache and sends shooting pain all the way up to my neck. The only way I know to avoid the pain is to correct my stride back to my typical gate. But unfortunately that is not always an option. I have to determine which pain is worse and which I can handle. So hopefully this gives you a bit of insight into my trials and tribulations.

 

I’ve noticed a strange difference in the drivers of Alberta already. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a complaint. It just strikes me to be weird that there are distinct differences between the driving habits through the various provinces across the country. The majority of transports, cars and trucks who are passing me while I’m skating seem to have a tendency to veer to the left as far as physically possible without steering into the ditch or median. There usually is a shoulder for them to drive on, but I find it funny because I have more than enough room for them to get past me if they just stay in their lane. Call it courteous, call it over cautious, call it what you want. I can’t help but notice these simple provincial obscurities.

 

Having survived what was potentially one of my top 3 worst days, I was looking forward to a hot, home-cooked meal. And where else would I find that but at the Rec Center in Innisfree, Alberta! Innisfree was about 25 km down the highway, but we had been specifically invited to the community dinner thanks to my mom’s cousins, Marnie and Harvey. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew it would be a nice change for my mom not to have to cook, or from the usual Boston Pizza. The population of Innisfree is about 150, so I was dumb-founded when I walked into the hall to see over 300 people eating and waiting in line for food. What I hadn’t been told was that there was also going to be a country entertainer performing after supper. I was introduced to Brett Kissel while he was doing his sound checks. I never could have imagined that one of my worst days so far could also end up being one of my favorites. Before Brett started his set, he called me up on stage and introduced me to everyone. Throughout the rest of the night, Brett continued to include me in his show and call me up to the stage. The exposure was incredible and the locals seemed genuinely impressed. I was more impressed with Brett’s talent. This kid could sing. I couldn’t name the last CD that I purchased, but I was happy to pick up Brett’s at the end of the night. Remember the name. Brett Kissel is a rising star. And the Canadian Country Music Awards agree. He has been nominated for the second year in a row as a rising star. What makes him special, though, is his kind heart. With his help, the little town of Innisfree combined to donate over $800. If everyone in the country were to follow this example, I would surpass my goal by a long shot. It only takes a loonie or toonie to make a huge difference. Thank You to all the people of Innisfree for making the highest contribution per capita of any city in Canada. A special Thanks to Brett, Lucy and Kevin.

 

I will be arriving in Edmonton on Friday and will be making a stop at the University Of Alberta and the Student Center to present the school with a donation of the money I have collected so far. I will then make my way across the city to Sherwood Park where I will be at the Boston Pizza on Broadway. Hope to see everyone there!

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