September 2

September 4th, 2007

The stench of garbage didn’t bring me out of my sleep today. Instead, the sound of yapping dogs directly beside our RV acted as my alarm clock. It’s not uncommon for campers to have dogs with them, but it seemed disrespectful to stand around in a group talking, laughing and letting your dogs bark at 6:30 am only a few feet from someone else’s motor home. Our neighbors seemed to be lacking any common human courtesy. I’ve never been a morning person, and waking up in this manner sure didn’t help matters.


The overcast sky and the misty rain typical of the Lower Mainland really made me feel like I was finally home. I laced up my rain skates and hit the pavement rolling. But something wasn’t right. On every stride, I could feel my right leg jerk backwards as if I’d just skated through a tar patch. The same thing had happened to me just the other day as I was leaving Langley, but I didn’t take the time to figure out the problem. The only way I can describe the sensation is that it felt like my brake would spontaneously rub against the wheel, but only when I took a stride. If I was coasting, it seemed to be fine. I had a ferry to catch, so I couldn’t take the time to determine what was impeding my progress. I had no choice but to wear my dry skates. I wasn’t happy about this, but I figured I only have a few days of skating left, so it’s not that big of a deal.


I headed down a wet highway 99 towards the Tsawwassen ferries. We weren’t intending on having an escort today since it was Sunday morning of a long weekend. So it was a pleasant surprise when we were offered our most unique escort of the trip. I was about half way there when a big yellow road-work truck pulled in front of me and came to rest. The driver got out and walked towards me. He just wanted to check if I was planning on blading through the Massey Tunnel. I explained that I wasn’t and that I was on my way to the ferry. Impressed with my efforts, the man offered to follow behind us with a huge flashing arrow warning drivers to merge left around me. He told us that he’d take us as far as he could, but we figured that meant just until we got off the highway. I couldn’t believe it when he followed us all the way to the ferry terminal! I’ve been given many escorts across the country, but this was the first time from a road-work vehicle.


There I stood on the bow of the ferry with Crystal at my side staring out at the Pacific Ocean. It’s still hard to grasp the fact that I was dipping my hand in the Atlantic Ocean 4 months ago and after nearly 10,000 km, I was making my way to Vancouver Island. Oddly enough, I’ve been in Vancouver for 3 years and never made my way to the Island. As if my experience onboard wasn’t exciting enough, the captain took the time to announce to everyone that I was on the ship. Although most people wouldn’t recognize me as ‘The Rollerblader’, when we got of the boat, it was quite obvious that everyone had heard the announcement. The honks during the first few kilometers on the Island were more abundant than ever before! But I have to admit the highlight of the ferry ride came about half way across the trip. About 5 months ago, Crystal and I had gone whale watching in these same waters and came out empty-handed. No whales to be seen. So I never expected to actually see a pod of Killer Whales while crossing on this boat! They weren’t exceptionally close, but it was impressive to see the tall, proud dorsal fins glide gracefully through the waves.


The clouds still hadn’t broke when I took my first few strides on Vancouver Island, so I thought I should give my rain skates another chance. The buggers still didn’t want to work for me. This time I couldn’t stand it, so I spent some time trying to figure out the issue. I removed the stopper, but that didn’t help. I changed the bearings, but that wasn’t it. I put a new wheel on, but it was still happening. Finally I tried changing all four wheels on the right boot. And that’s when I figured it out. The second wheel from the front was clearly rubbing on the bottom of the boot itself, but only when I apply extensive pressure to the boot….like the pressure of a full stride. The only thing I can think of is that the material of the boot has weakened from the constant exposure to rough weather. All the rain must have made the structure deteriorate to the point that it sags down when pressure is applied and rubs against the wheel. You can actually see on the boot where the wheel has begun to grind into the sole. After brainstorming with my parents and Crystal for some time, the only solution we came up with was to put 90 mm wheels on instead of the 100 mm wheels I’ve been using all the way across. It will be interesting to see how this works out.


On my way down Highway 17 towards Victoria I came across an advertisers nightmare. There’s a stretch of road a couple kilometers long with more billboards than I’ve ever seen in my life! Every 20 feet is a new sign with a different ad. It seemed pretty distracting to me. I’m surprised there aren’t more accidents along this road.


Not including the ferry ride, I’d covered over 50 kilometers when I arrived at Island View RV Park in Saanich. We were right on a beach with a gorgeous view and incredible driftwood scattered everywhere along the water’s edge. We hadn’t started our dinner yet when the owners of the neighbouring RV pulled in beside us. Janine and her son, Brenden came by and shared some amazing stories and experiences. Janine is a golden ray of sun and Brenden is an all around great kid. They are both wonderful humanitarians…and Brenden even has the certificates to prove it!


It was nice having some extra time with Crystal and my parents without having to rush off to Boston Pizza for a reception. We took the time to bond over a peaceful game of Wizzard. I’m not going to take the time to explain how Wizzard works, but it’s basically a card game with euchre-like rules. And there’s nothing peaceful about it. It’s every man (or woman) for them self. To make a long story short, I destroyed everyone!


Tomorrow will be a short day since I’m not scheduled to be escorted through Victoria until September 5th. But I will skate down to the Boston Pizza. For now, I’ll just enjoy our quiet campsite near Sidney.

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