July 6

July 7th, 2007

Yup, Northern Ontario was starting out just as I thought it would. With lots of mosquitoes. As I sit here typing with one hand and scratching with the other, I can’t help but look behind me at the ground I’ve covered in this huge province already. Here I am in Espanola, and just last night I was sleeping on Manitoulin Island.


Having the beach front campsite last night made for a spectacular view of the thunder storm that rolled across the water. I laid in bed watching the flashes and listening to the distant rumbles Until they faded into my dreams. It was a very serene evening.


This morning I had been asked to stop at the radio station in Little Current which was only 10 km up the road. After a quick visit and an unexpected interview with the local newspaper, The Expositor, I headed out of town and over the swing bridge towards the mainland. I can’t remember ever seeing a swing bridge before, but it was pretty cool to see it pivot around when boats need to get through. Almost the second I was across the bridge I was suddenly skating on a huge paved shoulder. It’s been a long time since I’ve had such a luxury, but it was fairly short-lived. A few kilometers down the road I saw a car pulled over waiting for me to approach. When I reached them, the woman greeted me with a “Hi Rich! How’s it going today?” It took me a second but then I realized I had just met this woman the day before in Manitowaning. It was Dawn Kerr from the Information center. And she was accompanied by her daughter. I twas nice to see them again and they surprised me with a fantastic early morning donation. What a great way to start the day and finish Manitoulin Island.


Even though I was beginning to face some rolling hills, it was impossible to ignore the beauty all around me. The rocks, the hills and the clear lakes all combined to create a landscape that can’t be duplicated.


The incredible visual stimuli seemed to compliment the audible stimulus being emitted from my Ipod. But I got into a situation where I was being exposed to a bit more culture than I had anticipated. They say listening to Classical music helps to improve your IQ. Well, my IQ must have gone up a couple points today because I couldn’t escape the sound. I was only a quarter of the way up a fairly long hill when my Ipod managed to find some Tchaikovsky. I guess I still have some classical music left on there from my university studying days. Well, when I’m going up a steep hill, my arms are pumping pretty fiercely. So I couldn’t break my stride to reach behind my back and change the song. My daily dose of classical music was being poured into my ears whether I liked it or not. It wasn’t that bad, though. Just unexpected.


The pristine landscape continued on, as I imagine it will for the remainder of Ontario, and gave us a very scenic setting for our lunch break. We stopped and ate in a little village called Whitefish Falls. And the Falls didn’t disappoint. Everything just seems so peaceful and clean. It’s hard not to go trigger-happy with the camera when you have so much around you.


One thing I’ve found humourous in almost every part of the country so far is the egocentrism. People constantly warn me about ‘the big hill just outside of town’. But no one seems to realize that I’ve rollerbladed almost 4500 kilometers. Do you not think that somewhere in the past 2 months I may have encountered a hill just as big as this one? It’s pretty funny that people tend to only think about the treacherous roads in their area. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the heads up about what’s coming up. But trust me when I say it will be tough to surprise me at this point.


I started to get a bit uncomfortable as the road conditions deteriorated rapidly. All of a sudden I had no shoulder, terrible pavement, a lot of traffic and winding roads. We did our best to let traffic pass, but even our best efforts aren’t good enough for horrible drivers. As we came over a small hill and around a bend, I could see a line of cars coming towards me. My dad could also see the vehicles. So he did as we always do when it’s not safe for cars to pass us. With 4-ways flashing, he pulled out further into the lane to block cars from getting around and held his arm out the window to also signal that it was not clear to pass. But some people are just too impatient or just completely clueless. I think this one woman in particular was a bit of both. She pulled out to get by us and got far enough past that I could see her in my peripheral. It caught me completely off guard because I knew there was oncoming traffic. So I wasn’t expecting to see anyone coming up beside me. I glanced over my shoulder in confusion and curiosity since I knew the driver definitely didn’t have time to get by me. I could see the panic in her eyes as she was trying to compute the situation. A normal person with regular reflexes would have hit the brakes and pulled in gently behind the RV and waited for another opportunity to pass. But this woman’s instinct was to slow her car slightly and pull even further to her left putting herself on the gravel shoulder of the oncoming lane. At this point I was in complete awe. Part of me felt bad because she was trying to get past me. But another part of me just shook my head in disbelief with the stupidity and lack of patience that some people display.


Not long after this mind-boggling experience, I pulled over to let a line of cars pass. But one car stopped behind me. The occupants of the car got out carrying a piece of cardboard. As they walked up to me, I could see the cardboard had “Go Rich!” written on it. I was only minutes out of Espanola, so this had to be Penny and Keith. Sure enough, it was. Penny and Keith are the parents of Kim (you may remember Kim who I mentioned in my journal the same day I arrived at my cottage near Lansdowne). They wanted to come out to cheer me on as I rolled into Espanola. They welcomed us into their home where they even arranged to have the local newspaper meet me. And after my interview, Keith fired off some delicious chicken breasts on the barbecue for dinner. The entire meal was amazing. Especially the blueberry crisp for dessert! Thanks guys!


So here I sit, scratching the mosquito bites on my ankles and trying to ignore their terrorizing hum. I’m looking forward to tomorrow even though the forecast is rain. I think Sudbury should be fun.

Posted in Daily Journal | 2 Comments »


2 Responses to “July 6”

  1. Jewels Says:

    There’s nothing wrong with a little Tchaikovsky to add to your beautiful surroundings! keep on blading! it’s fantastic to read about!

  2. Troy Says:

    I am 10 years old and I read your journal and I think that it is fantastic what you are doing!!! I missed you in Owen Sound but I read about you in the newspaper. I will continue to follow your journey across Canada and I will be forwarding your website to all my friends. Keep up the good work, Rich! =)

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