May 18

May 18th, 2007

It was no surprise that we parked at another gas bar for the evening when we departed the ferry in North Sydney. It was a surprise when I opened my eyes in the morning and saw my watch reading almost 8:30 am! Most days I’m up around 6:30 and on the road by 8:00. But for some reason I had a feeling of unusual calmness. Maybe it was the air. Maybe it was the water. Or maybe it was the fact that I was about to begin skating in a new province!

 

By the time we were up and ready to get started, it was going on 10:00am. So I set out from the ferry terminal and headed into the Nova Scotian horizon. Initially, the highway shoulders were very narrow with a lot of loose debris, but this quickly improved as I left North Sydney. Something felt different today. Not just the fact that I was off the Island. As I looked around at the landscape surrounding me, I felt like I had stepped through a portal to a different realm. Only a few hours ago, I was skating through a desolate area with rugged, snow-covered mountains, battling horrific winds, rain and snow. Now I was blading across a soft rolling hills with warmer weather, very little wind and plentiful traffic. I even passed a hitch-hiker. I was completely enthralled by my surroundings. Before I knew it, I was coming down another hill towards a bridge which spanned Bras D’or lake. “How could I be here already?”, I thought. “The map said this bridge was 27 km from the ferry terminal.” I hadn’t even realized I was coasting along the smooth hillsides at a blistering 25 km/h. Having survived the roads of Newfoundland, I was now on cloud nine.

 

Just before the bridge, I passed another hitch-hiker. The bridge was a perfect place for me to have a quick break and a snack. Immediately on the north side of the bridge was the beginning of a mammoth hill called Kelly’s Mountain. Locals had been warning me about facing this daemon. I was told the climb would take me forever since the elevation was so extreme and the distance so great. As I came over the bridge, there was a notice at the bottom of the mountain warning motorists of the incline they were about to embark on. The sign read as follows:

 

“You are now at the base of Kelly’s Mountain. You will climb 240 meters in the next 7 km”

 

I couldn’t help but chuckle. Had these people ever seen a ‘mountain’? But I decided to take the advise of everyone and proceed with caution. I’m sure that at some point during the climb, the grade of the road must be quite steep. The kilometers passed by one at a time. I then passed a third hitch-hiker. Wait a minute… This was the same guy I passed before. In fact, all three times it had been the same guy. That must have been discouraging for him to get passed by a rollerblader 3 times in an hour. A few minutes later I came to another sign:

 

“Top of Kelly’s Mountain. Elevation 240 m”

 

Nova Scotia was going to be nothing like Newfoundland at all!

 

As I continued on, I was making better time than ever before on my trip thus far. The kilometers were flying past me. Then a funny thought came to my head. I actually felt like I was not skating any faster than I had while on the Island. I came up with a hypothesis as to why I’m covering more distance but still travelling at the same speed. I figure that a Newfie kilometer is actually 1200 meters. That’s why every km seemed to drag on forever while I was there!

 

Around this time, I made a comment to my dad about how great the conditions were and how good it felt to finally be on the mainland. “Carefull what you say’, he said. “Cape Breton is still actually an island”. Whatever, the conditions were fantastic.

 

I rolled into a town called Baddeck around lunch time which was over 50 km form North Sydney. Baddeck is a town of 900 residents and was made famous in the early 1900’s by inventor Alexander Graham Bell. I actually got to see his estate where he is buried. The entire area had a very historical feeling to it.

 

After lunch, we decided we would make Whycocomagh our final destination for the day. It was about 45 km form Baddeck. As I continued along the highway, I had a brief flashback to the morning… “Careful what you say. Cape Breton is still an island”.

 

And just like that, my day spiraled downward. The sun disappeared and the rain began spitting. The wind picked up. The shoulder became rough. The terrain suddenly had more hills. And to top it all off, I had gone almost 80 km and not had a single donation. All of this can be summed up in one simple word… Ugh.

 

I tried to look on the lighter side of things. The town name, for example. Why-coco-magh. Well, this is why. Just before I came into the city limits, a woman finally pulled over to donate. A sigh of relief. I know the Newfies set a high standard for the rest of the country, but I figured the Nova Scotians would give them a run for their money.

 

When we pulled into the Esso gas bar for the night, I noticed a flyer inside advertising Wing Night at Alice’s Restaurant. Wings sounded great to me, but the sign said 9pm to midnight. I wonder if they’d make an exception? We headed over to Alice’s and pulled into the parking lot. My dad hadn’t even shut the engine off when a young man came right over to the RV. Jason introduced himself and told us about his successful battle against lung cancer. He was an incredible man with so much enthusiasm toward what I was doing. It’s people like Jason that make my journey as memorable as it has been.

 

Dinner was great. But what was better than the food was the staff at Alice’s. Not only the waitresses, but the owner, herself, all showed great interest and admiration for my efforts. They all made contributions of their own to help in my cause. Thank you ladies!

 

A last thought before turning in for bed. Many people have been asking about various aspects of this website (updates to the donations page, photos, the addition of google maps, etc.). I wish I could meet the demands for everyone. But I just ask for a bit of patience. The donations report only comes to me every couple of weeks. And when I do finally get it, I have to find the time to make the updates manually. But please continue to e-mail me with questions, concerns or recommendations for the site. I love hearing form everyone.

Posted in Daily Journal | 2 Comments »

Comments

2 Responses to “May 18”

  1. Robert Werner Says:

    Rich,

    Worry about your health – physical & mental – first & foremost. Then worry about your mission. Then worry about the people who are with you. Don’t worry about anything else.

    You have a long list of people who say they’re part of your campaign. Delegate the work to them. It’s what they signed up for. All the menial update stuff must be done by others, not you.

    If there are other technical things you need done, give me a list and I’ll see what I can do myself or through my many contacts.

    Rob

  2. Matt Perreault Says:

    Richard! I’m proud of you buddy! You’re doing a hell of a job! Tell Brian I think it’s a hell of an achievement to get that old RV across Canada. Keep on blogging your journey us Nat and I are having a laugh reading it here in Italy…

    -The Cha

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