September 5

September 8th, 2007

Four months ago today I strapped my skates on and dipped my fingers into the icy waters of the St. John’s Harbour and took my first strides of an epic adventure which took me across the entire country. Four months ago. The number sounds staggering. Over 9,000 kilometers. The distance sounds unachievable. One in 3 Canadians will develop cancer. Four months of my life and 9,000 km suddenly seem like a small, insignificant sacrifice when you look at the bigger picture. If I had really wanted to, I could have finished the journey in less than 4 months, but as it would be, I still have some ground to cover.

 

I back-tracked slightly towards the ferries to begin skating today at Royal Oak Drive. I was met by a small procession of Police motorcycles. The 2 officers were ready to lead me out towards the University of Victoria and down along the water front until I reached Mile Zero. I had just started blading when an A-Channel cameraman caught up to me for a quick roadside interview. We’ve worked incredibly hard to get media coverage to help spread awareness about what I’m doing. It always feels great when television, newspapers or radio stations put out the effort to let the public know. I have to rely on the media for exposure. Without the them to let people know what I’m doing, I wouldn’t have raised over $40,000 from individual donations to this point. I only hope more media will see the significance of my efforts and run a quick story. I’m very grateful to A-Channel in Victoria for taking the time.

 

The police escort wound me through Oak Bay and down to Beach Avenue. I’ve been warned about the drivers on the island but I was still caught off guard not once but twice today. Even with the Police in front of me. Both incidences involved drivers who were completely oblivious to what was going on around them. It was quite apparent that these people had severe tunnel-vision. They had only one thing on their mind. Fortunately I’m a superb athlete with cat-like reflexes. So I was able to react to the carelessness unfolding in front of me and avoid any catastrophes. I’m not sure if the sweat rolling down my forehead was from the beautiful morning sun, or from the near misses with traffic.

 

With the sun shining down and a thick, low fog rolling across the water, I was able to lose myself in the majestical setting of Vancouver Island. The gorgeous houses, the lush golf courses, the haunted cemeteries and the ocean breeze all contributed to make this morning one of the most enjoyable. I worked my way along the water until the moment of truth was upon me. “It’s just ahead,” the lead officer called back to me. I came around Beacon Hill Park to an open grassy area. And there it was. A big wooden sign. “Mile ‘0’ – Victoria, BC”. It was hard to believe that I was actually there. I had really done it. I was the first man to in-line skate successfully from Mile Zero in St. John’s, Newfoundland to Mile Zero in Victoria, B.C. But it was a very odd feeling. I thought it would be much more emotional. I think knowing that I still have over 100 km before I finish my trip prevented me from absorbing the significance of what I had just done. And to make it even more weird, the water wasn’t accessible from this point, so I had to skate an extra 2 kilometers past Mile 0 so I could dip my fingers in the Pacific Ocean. 4 months to the day, and I had gone from one side of the country to the other.

 

After a short break, Crystal laced up her skates and started from Mile 0 with me towards downtown Victoria. As the 2 of us headed away from Mile Zero, it almost felt like we were at the beginning of a journey back to Newfoundland! I think once across the country is enough for me, though. Just get me back to Vancouver and I’ll be content.

 

Crystal was 98% excited and 2% scared. Or maybe it was 2% excited and 98% scared. That’s what makes it so intense…the confusion of it all! But I’m happy to report that even with her gitters, Crystal was able to skate smoothly with me, hand-in-hand, all the way up Government Street and out of Victoria and almost to Langford! She even got to experience what it was like to skate on the Trans Canada Highway for a while.

 

While we were making our way out of the city, a car pulled over in front of the Police officer and jumped out with a bill in her hand. “Do you remember me?” she grinned. Last night when we had stopped for gas, the attendant had donated all of her tip money to my cause. She was now standing in front of me again with another donation! Another multi-donater! It’s people like her that make me proud to be Canadian.

 

We arrived in Langford and stopped by the Boston Pizza quickly to meet Janice before heading over to the All Fun RV Park. We still had a while before we needed to be back at the restaurant, so after a much-needed shower we drove back to Victoria. Jess from the Saanich Boston Pizza had asked us to stop by if possible to pick up another donation that had been dropped off. Of course we’ll take any opportunity to go back to his store, so we swung by for a few minutes. Just before we had to leave Victoria and head back to Langford for supper, we made another quick stop. This time it was a request from Crystal to stop. She was pretty excited to find out that there was a pizza place called The Joint on Wharf Street which makes specialty gluten-free pizzas! It’s been torture for Crystal to watch us eat pizza at the various BP’s. So she was in heaven when she found this place.

 

Back in Langford, there was a familiar face smiling at me in the parking lot when I arrived at the store. The woman standing in front of me was the same woman I had met at the Boston Pizza in Merritt a couple weeks ago who had suggested I stop in Langford! She runs a dance studio across the road and brought her daughter and 2 other dancers over to meet me and make another substantial donation. Thank you to everyone at the Westshore Dance Studio!

 

Inside the restaurant, I was able to meet a lot of amazing people. I young boy named Chris walked up to me to congratulate me and handed me an incredible donation. Rhea and Sawyer were another couple of great kids with their parents. Sawyer, don’t worry about the chocolate stain on your shirt. I know it wasn’t you. I saw your Dad drop the ice cream on you! And of course Janice, Vic, Mark and everyone else at BP…Thank you. The Boston Pizza’s on the Island are stealing the thunder from all the rest! You’ve all been fantastic.

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