June 26

June 27th, 2007

Knowing today was going to be a day off helped me sleep a little better last night. I’m sure the air conditioned room helped, too. I spent a bit of time in the morning trying to respond to e-mails, messages and work on my journal. I’m only a day behind now! But the site still has a lot of updates that need to be done.


My concentration was interrupted by the phone on the desk. It was Uncle Ron and he was ready to go! It was about 10:30 and I was scheduled to be at Boston Pizza in Welland from 11-1. On our way back to pick up my parents, we made a quick stop at Chippawa Park were I was introduced to Frank. Frank is an incredible athlete who is constantly competing in insanely long runs and marathons. He was telling me that he often participates in races up to 160 kilometers long! I couldn’t imagine. the longest I’ve gone so far is 130 km…. and that was with blades strapped to my feet.


I wasn’t too sure what to expect at the Boston Pizza today. After all, the only people I know in Welland are my Aunt and Uncle. But it wasn’t long after we sat down that a familiar voice came from behind me.


“Are you Rich Ralph, the famous rollerblader?” she asked.


I turned to see a face that I didn’t reconize. But that voice… I knew that voice. The woman standing in front of me smiling was not someone I’d met before, but I do know her family. This was the older sister of Wilma Hopkin who is my neighbor at my cottage (you may remember her from previous journal entries). Wilma had called her sister up to let her know I was in the area and she was able to track me down to the Boston Pizza today! It was a great surprise to meet her.


My meal was interrupted again by a phone call from another radio station asking for an interview. But these are the interruptions that I’m happy to have. Just as I was finishing up on the phone a man walked up to me and introduced himself as John Maloney. He is the Member of Parliament for Welland. I was honoured that he would take time out of his schedule to stop by Boston Pizza to meet me.


Trevor from Boston Pizza was pleased to let me know that he would be donating 10 % of the sales to my cause while I was there. And as an added bonus, Trever generously double the amount when he wrote the check! I can’t emphasize enough how amazing all Boston Pizza’s have been to me. Thanks, Trevor!


We had a few quick erands to run before heading over to Zehrs to pick up some groceries. I walked into the bank and handed the teller my card so she could call up my account. “Hey, you’re the rollerblader!” she said to me happily. She had read the article in the paper today and recognize my name when she called up my account.


We headed over to CAA to grab a few maps of Southern and Northern Ontario. When we walked in, the woman behind the counter was thumbing though a newspaper. She glanced up at us, then looked back at the paper. She looked up at us again, but this time more inquisitively. An then back at the paper. The double-take was priceless. She came over to us and simply said, “You’re Richard, aren’t you?”. My Uncle Ron has been instrumental at getting me enough media coverage and donations from Welland that people are beginning to recognize me. It’s a weird feeling.


Zehrs was in important stop for us. The store was donating an entire grocery cart full of food to me, as well as 10 cases of water! The Welland Tribune even showed up for another quick photo and a few more questions while I was picking groceries off the shelves. Thanks, Zehrs! I’ll be plenty hydrated in this ridiculous heat wave we’re in!


My mom and I decided we’d drive down to Niagara Falls to be tourist for the afternoon. We walked along the river in awe of the incredible power and speed of the flowing water. I got a bit trigger-happy with the camera, so I have a lot of work ahead of me to pick and choose the best photos. We went up to the new casino to check it out and see the view of the Falls from higher above. Just as we were walking into the casino, the cell phone rang. Suddenly my day took an ugly spiral downwards. It was my Dad. He needed to let me know that carborator in the RV had been cracked while it was being worked on at the mechanics, so it wouldn’t be ready for me tomorrow morning. And that’s all the details I got. I’m not a car guy, so I had no idea what this implied. I didn’t know how bad it was crack, if it could be repaired, or if it had to be replaced. My head was spinning. It’s just one thing after another. But it was completely out of my control, so I tried my best to shrug it off and headed in to play some slots.


A good friend of my Uncle runs a sports bar called C.C’s Dugout in Welland. Domenic Aiello was gracious enough to collect donations from his patrons and even treat us to a fantastic pasta dinner. During supper, my Dad and I discussed the implications of the RV’s mechanical troubles. We were both feeling pretty down until I had a brainwave. The biggest headache was not the fact that the RV was having problems. It was the fact that it was making it hard for us to plan ahead to other cities. I was trying to find a way to get us to Brampton for the weekend, but now it wasn’t looking to good. However, I just realized that this would be Canada Day Weekend. So that gives us the Holiday Monday as a small buffer. So if they can get the RV fixed late tomorrow, then things should be ok. I will be updating my estimated arrival times soon.


My parents and I were joined at C.C’s Dugout by my cousin, my uncle, and a couple of his friends, Murray and Janice Mulligan who made a wonderful contribution, as well. When we all left the restaurant, Jeff and I decided to head back over to M.T Bellies for a couple late night beverages. It was a mentally tough day trying not to be discouraged by the bad news about the motor home, so I thought it would be nice to unwind a bit. It was also nice to chat with my cousin since I don’t get to see him very often.


Jeff dropped me off at the Best Western where I am now. Hopefully I’ll sleep well. The plan is for my dad to call me at 8 am if the RV is ready to go. Otherwise I told him not to wake me up. I’m hoping I get the early morning call.

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