May 25

May 26th, 2007

Overnight, the Weather Gods had arisen and threw buckets of rain down to earth as if to say to me “You can’t beat us. We’re just giving you a break.” I’m not feeling triumphant about the recent stretch of calm skies. I am feeling lucky, though.


With another slight tailwind, I was back on the TCH for the first time since May 21. This time I was heading down a length of road that felt all too familiar. It was the same section of highway on which I had skated from New Glasgow to Truro. But this time I was heading back toward New Glasgow. It felt very counter productive, but it was necessary to reach the ferry to PEI. In my original estimation, I had given myself a little over 3 days to get from Halifax to Charlottetown. Today I felt like I was a bit ahead of schedule. And then I hit Mount Thom again. But my good fortune just kept coming. Heading East up Mount Thom was far more gradual than coming from the other direction. Before I knew it, I was at the top and cruising down the steeper side. I could tell I was reaching 50 km/h because my skates began to wobble. But when my dad later told me I broke 60 km/h, I couldn’t believe it! The speed was exhilarating, and only helped me get further ahead of schedule.


I got off the Trans Canada Highway at the exit for Salt Springs. At this point, I was trying to figure out if it was best to continue on the TCH or head north on the less-traveled highway #376. While we were parked on the side of the road analyzing the maps, a gentleman pulled up and offered assistance. He recommended the 376 through Pictou to the PEI ferry. His word was good enough for us. If you can’t trust the locals, who can you trust? I had originally been hoping to get to the ferry terminal in time to catch the 6pm sail. I was beside myself when I arrived at the docks at 11:45 am! Amazingly, I had covered about 60 km before lunch!


The ferry to PEI seemed to be a lot more laid back than the Newfoundland ferry. It was much smaller, no reservation was needed and they were fine with me skating directly onto the boat. As I skated through the parking lot towards the ferry, I noticed a woman get out of her car and come towards me. “She must have passed me on the highway and wants to make a donation now that I’ve caught up”, I thought.


“Excuse me. We were going to drive back into Pictou for lunch and were wondering what time we should be back to board the ferry?” she asked.


Here I was hoping for a little generosity, and this dear old woman thought I was a ferry employee! Maybe it was the orange safety vest I was wearing, but I would have thought the big RV with ‘Skate For Hope’ plastered all over it may have given her a hint that I wasn’t working. As politely as possible, I let her know that I wasn’t sure and she should check with someone who works for the ferry.


Now, I may have already mentioned that our RV isn’t a 2007 model. You may even remember me mentioning a few unexpected repairs that needed to be done along the way. Well, considering it’s a 1978, I guess the break-downs shouldn’t have been unexpected. We’ve decided to be a bit more proactive with respect to the vehicle performance. My dad had noticed the oil gauge had quit working. He carefully monitored the oil (and all other fluids) but was satisfied that there was nothing seriously wrong. However, he never felt completely comfortable without a functioning gauge. We knew that we would have a day or 2 on Prince Edward Island, so we thought it could be a good opportunity to have a mechanic take a look. And so begins the story of Margaret Bell.


Margaret is my cousins mother-in-law. Although I’ve never met her, she is undoubtedly my favourite Maritimer. When she first heard about that I was going to be coming across Canada and even stopping on PEI, she took the bull by the horns and started campaigning for me right away. We corresponded for weeks prior to me beginning my trip. She’s taken the time to work on posters, create her own flyers and even contact the local media and politicians to let everyone know that I was coming. So as soon as we knew we needed more mechanical work for the RV, Margaret was the obvious call. Before we had even set foot on the island, a mechanic had been notified and was on standby waiting for us to arrive. And as if that wasn’t enough, I then got an excited e-mail from Margarets daughter letting me know that she had arranged to have me come to Glen Stewart Elementary School in Stratford to speak to 107 grade 5’s. Margaret has been an unbelievable asset to me and I can’t wait to finally meet her.


Skating onto the ferry was fulfilling, but nearly as exciting as I had expected. It was quite anti-climatic, but at least I can say I have done it. The warm weather made for a very enjoyable sail. We sat on the upper deck in the open air. There weren’t too many people outside with us, but i couldn’t help but notice a group of 15-20 Chinese children running around playing. We got chatting with their teacher who had actually heard about me on the radio in Halifax. I met the kids and posed briefly for a photo with them all. With all the cameras flashing towards me, it must have looked somewhat peculiar because it wasn’t long before someone walked up to my mom and asked “Who is that man?” My mom just wasn’t quick enough. She could have told them I was Ed Norton, or Sidney Crosby. But she played the Honesty Card without batting an eye. The woman and her daughter were actually from Calgary. Kathleen had heard about me in Calgary and let me know that we were more than welcome to have a shower and do some laundry when we arrive out West.


When the ferry arrive in PEI, the ideal conditions continued for me. I bladed down the ramp onto the smooth asphalt and headed towards Charlottetown. There was almost no traffic on the roads and I had a nicely paved shoulder for the majority of the skate. After only an hour, I had arrive in Eldon where we would stay for the night. The Island was yet again different from any other part of the country. The stones and dirt almost emitted their own bright red colours. The sandstone cliffs looked so brittle that I expected to see them collapse as the waves crashed against them. Although I’ve seen a lot of farming communities, none were quite like the red soils of PEI. Now that I’m settled in Eldon, we’re staying at Coopers Red & White Store. Margaret’s son-in-law, Bobby, helps to run the store with his family. Their hospitality and donations were above and beyond anything we needed. And as for the mechanic who was on standby, he came over to the store to take a look at the oil gauge. He doesn’t think it’ll be a problem, but can’t fix it until the morning. No worries…. I’m well ahead of my estimated time of arrival in Charlottetown.

Posted in Daily Journal | 1 Comment »


One Response to “May 25”

  1. Brenda Turple Says:

    I saw you cycling down the transcanada right before the Saltsprings exit going east in Pictou County. I was going west and saw you blading with the van with your website trailing behind you. I was very intrigued, what the heckis this guy doing…The Friday before I saw you I had the good fortune of meeting a cyclist from Belgium who is cycling around the world in support of homeless children in Bolivia. You guys are priceless!! keep up the great work!! Happy skating. PS my daughter is 3 years old, I just bought her her first pair of roller skates, she loves it!!!

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