July 4

July 4th, 2007

A quick note to the avid readers, followers and lurkers. Can you believe that I’m finally up to date on my journal! If all I had to do was rollerblade and write about it, it wouldn’t be so hard to keep on top of things. Just a heads up for the next couple weeks, as I head into Northern Ontario and even Manitoba, my internet reception could be limited. I will continue writing my journal, but I may only be able to upload it occasionally. So if you notice a few days with no updates, now you know why. Hopefully it won’t be an issue.


The slapping sound of rain on the roof woke me up around 5:30 this morning. I still had morning vision, but I tried to quickly check to make sure I wasn’t sleeping in a puddles. Everything looked fine so I tried to catch a bit more shut-eye. It was still raining when I got up for breakfast, but it was starting to taper off. I wasn’t concerned, though, because I hadn’t skated in the rain in a long time. Other than some strong winds, I’ve been pretty spoiled by the good weather. I think the horseshoe strapped to the front of our motor home has really had an effect. And today was another good example. When I stepped onto the asphalt to start skating, the rain completely stopped.


Maybe it’s the horseshoe, maybe it’s because today is the 4th of July, or maybe it’s because today is my brother-in-law’s birthday, but the elements are falling in my favour right now. I’m not sure if I’m more excited that Greg is now 30, or that I’ll be in Northern Ontario tomorrow, but I’m in a pretty good mood.


I had the pleasure to have one of the most memorable police escorts today. It was one I’ll never forget because it was one of the shortest in terms of distance, but one of the longest in terms of time. I couldn’t go too fast because of the slippery, wet roads, but I think the officer also under estimated my potential speed. I’m not complaining, though. It was nice to cruise through Owen Sound at a casual pace. I could also tell that Mix 106 had aired my interview from the night before because pedestrians on the streets were acknowledging me. On my way through the city and even on the way out of town, I accepted several hand-off donations.


I was about half way to Wiarton when my Dad pulled me over for a radio interview. But this was a special interview. It was my first call from a Vancouver station! And not just any station. It was the The Kid Carson show with Nira and Amy on The Beat 94.5. It was a pretty good interview and I know a lot of people heard it because I instantly had some e-mails from friends back home. While I was on the phone with The Beat, a vehicle stopped on the road and the driver came up to talk to me. My dad had to keep her occupied until I was off the call. He explained to me that before we had left this morning, he had gone into Tim Horton’s for a tea and been chatting with a gentleman about my adventures. The woman now standing in front of me was that man’s wife. When he had told her about me, she immediately hopped in her car and headed out to hunt me down. She finally caught up to us on Highway 6 going into Wiarton. She was very enthusiastic and happy to meet me. It’s always amazing to have people come out of their way and track me down to meet me. Noreen and Diane are pro’s at that by now!


While we were chatting, another car stopped and a young woman got out and walked towards us. at this point I was thinking “I’m in the middle of no where and this is the busiest I’ve been in weeks!” But I recognize this girl. It was Tara from the Owen Sound Sun Times. She wanted to meet up with me again today for a couple more questions and some action shots.


I was finally able to continue on my way and made it to Wiarton in the late morning. If you’re from Ontario, you know Wiarton for the groundhog, Willie. Well, I couldn’t pass up the chance to meet another celebrity. So we took a break in the village and headed over to the complex where Willie is kept. It wasn’t quite as exciting as meeting Walter Gretzky because Willie was sleeping in a dark tube. I could barely see him. But the town itself was very nice with gorgeous bluffs overhanging the water. I did manage to snap a couple pictures of a statue of Willie as well as a monument for the former Willies. Apparently there have been 2 other Wiarton Willie’s prior to the current.


Not too far out of Wiarton I had another brush with death. What start out as a harmless donation nearly ended in catastrophe. A mother and son came up beside me from behind and the boy had his arm out the window to hand me some money. They over shot me slightly so I tried to speed up to take the donation from him. As I crept closer, I realized the mother had started slowing down to compensate and then started to ease towards the gravel shoulder. I glanced over my shoulder to evaluate the situation and check for other cars coming from behind. In a split second I turned my head back to the front to see the car almost at a dead stop inches in front of me! but my cat-like reflexes allowed me to jump to the right missing the back end of the car and skid through the soft shoulder. Dangerous situation averted.


The farm land along the Bruce Peninsula was very scenic. The conditions weren’t perfect, but they were good enough that I was able to enjoy my surroundings. I wish I could say the same for my parents. Every time I talked to them, they complained about the horse flies that were getting into the van. And then something happened that hasn’t happened to me since I was on Newfoundland. I noticed a police car coming towards me. As soon as he saw me, he threw his flashing lights on and gave me a big Don Cherry-style thumb’s up. It’s always nice to have the support of the officials.


Not long after my encounter with the law, I could see a few people standing at the side of the road off in the distance. As I approached, it was obvious that they had cameras and were aiming them at me. My guess was they had passed me and found a place to stop so they could get out of their car to grab a photo. But when I stopped I was amazed to hear that these women had heard me on the radio this morning and had been waiting for hours in a little restaurant in the village of Mar for me to come skating by! It was very flattering to know that they had taken so much time out of their day just to see me.


I was starting to get discouraged when the pavement became extremely rough. It was bad enough that my entire body was starting to ache. Fortunately it only lasted about 15 km before improving near the Bruce Peninsula National Park. As my mood improved and the feeling gradually came back to my feet, I skated passed a little store where I heard a few people begin to clap when they saw me. I looked over and saw another familiar face. Earlier today when we were in Wiarton, I had met a family who told me they had seen me skating through Toronto near their house. They were pretty impressed to run into me again in Wiarton. It was late in the day, and here they were again up in the Bruce Peninsula National Park cheering me as I rolled by them for the 3rd time.


I reached my goal today just before the Tobermory Ferry and completed nearly 110 km! We were lucky enough to have the Tobermory Village Campground donate a night for us so we can catch the ferry tomorrow. Time to indulge in the luxury of a hot shower. But not too hot because I got a slight sunburn on my left shoulder today 🙁 I’m mad at myself because I’ve been really good with wearing sunscreen twice a day. Not sure what happened today. But it’s definitely not the worst burn I’ve ever had. I’ll just have to be a bit more careful. Silly Rich.


I’ll ‘possibly’ make it to Little Current tomorrow and Espanola for sure on Friday. Then off to Sudbury to see the Big Nickel and of course the Boston Pizza on Saturday night!

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