Monday, August 29, 2005 - Ski Across Canada
Rollerskiing Canada Day 61: 2460 miles / 4176 km covered

- By: www.fitstep.com

Alex Nilsson is roller skiing across Canda. Alex's wife, Nicole Nilsson (who has the patience of a saint), will be driving the support vehicle (a motorhome) for the duration of the journey, at times following Alex and at times driving ahead and parking, going back to meet him on a bike and ride along with him. Walkie talkies will allow them to be in constant communication.

Alex is planning on covering about 100 km (60 miles) per day, depending on weather and traffic conditions, starting in early in the morning and roller skiing until about noon, to avoid the heat of the afternoon. He will be travelling primarily on lesser-travelled roads and skirting major cities to avoid heavier traffic.

But Alex is determined to overcome all of this and make a successful trip across the country! Here are his latest updates:

Iron Bridge, Ontario
As Alex was rolling along in Thessalom, a lady stopped him and gave him 10 dollars. Her name is Janet Hoyle. Then the day moved on and a black government truck whipped around to Alex. Two people got out and waited for him to catch up. It's Richie (Nicole's nephew and my cousin) and Karen, his coworker. They are heading to a staff meeting in Sault. As I drive by, Richie waves at me and smiles - what a surprise ! They will see us on way back to Sudbury after meeting. We hope to be in Sudbury by Saturday.

Dryden, ON
Alex said this was the best day so far. Wide shoulders, great weather and the friendliest people including truckers heading back to BC and Alberta. They toot and wave and get all excited to see us. Dryden is a very clean city with a big pulp and paper mill. They will be cutting jobs. We went to Wabigoon (correct spelling), which is a mostly native community. Found a quiet campground - only us there. We saw deer, canada geese and a huge bird (maybe a falcon). I had seen this very old little man at a Dryden cemetery, sitting near a recent grave with tons of flowers around. He had a giant brown umbrella shading the grave site and he had parked his old decrepit Volkwagen van next to the place. A real sad picture it made.

August 7. Alex changed some wheels. We started at 2945k this morning. The shoulders are a little skinnier but still they are so safe for us. I've already cycled 15 km. Got take out breakfast with Finnish pancakes and strawberries. I said to the owner, the Swedes also make those. He said my wife is Finnish, so they are Finnish pancakes. Okay with me!

A fella from Sudbury, Vic Delbosco, stopped to talk to me at the RV asking if that was my husband back there. He was impressed as he is also a cyclist/skier. He has a daughter in Fernie with an Aussie guy - they work at the ski hill. We'll see him in Sudbury. He mentioned a shop called the Outside and that we should stop at there. That was the second time he saw us. We ended up in Agnace and went for dinner at The Burger Scoop. They make their own burgers and home fries and sell wild blueberries. Those little berries are labor intensive! The owners knew Bill French, the Cranbrook health inspector. He had worked in Dryden and met his wife there. Petite world. Slept outside town in bear country I hardly slept - every little squeak I heard I figured the worst.

English River, ON
Hit the 3000k today! Are we almost THERE! There is a place called English River coming up - we will overnight there. Two interesting cyclists stopped to chat. The 25 year-old is Vox from Austria (they must be promoting Canada over there!) Quite the athlete. He is going Victoria to Halifax then Newfoundland if he has time.

He met this retired fella from Quebec City, Richard Hebert, who recently retired from Indian Affairs and his dream was to cycle from Vancouver to Quebec. His wife let him go for it and he said she's probably enjoying every minute! The two are like father and son having great time - they met in Kenora. Vox has a website: www.voxgoescanada.tk. He told us about 4 guys rollerskiing through Norway. He said they think they are the first to roller ski 2000 km www.nordicmonsters.at. They were 4 guys - 1 drove and 3 skied, taking turns driving. They were sponsored. We took pics and they took pics! We are invited to overnite at Richard's when going through Quebec City.

Alex will walk last 5km of the day because of sore toes. Nothing new just pressure from skiing all day.

Upsala, ON
I'm at a pullout which says "No Parking Snow Plows Turn." Not expecting snow today. There is TONS of garbage at these spots - mattresses, baby diapers etc.

Had an officer visit on board here while I was fixing Alex toes. OPP - his lights were flashing but we hadn't noticed him. He said, next time you pull over make sure that you're not so close to the end of a curve. I said I would be more attentive of that for sure. Then we had a little visit so the police know we are there now!

The sign in front here says Upsala 40 km we are in Scandanavian Canada. We are progressing. Heading to Raith. We had breakfast in Upsala and tried to get a little history of the settlers. An older lady, Cecile Kenuck, had been there 59 years. No phone, no power, and dirt roads when she and her Polish husband moved there from Thunder Bay. She gave a generous donation to Diabetes. Her husband is a serious diabetic and her son, too. She wants a postcard from Newfoundland. She said CN Rail was the big attraction for the immigrants - Polish, Swedish, and Finnish. They all homesteaded huge parcels of wilderness! She said Upsala was big in the old days - 200people. She remembers a Mr. Karlsson - no Swedes left here now.

Later in afternoon, I saw Alex talking to a cyclist. I was at a pullout. Talk, talk, talk, then he cycled to the RV. His name was Greg Dawson from England. His website is www.transcancer.com. He been sponsored but he said this so great, he will pay for his trip and donate all the money. Got to know all about him in short time!

So we are off again just passed Raith maybe 10 people live here! There is time change here? Doesn't matter to us. Overnite at Shabaqua in Hydro station. We are getting bold. But this was a safe place

Thunder Bay, ON
Did our shopping and tourist thing. We went to the Marina info centre - the oldest in the world, they say! Alex walked the 8 km out of Thunder Bay to the Terry Fox monument. It was a very moving experience to look up at this life-like sculpture. Dozens of people came and went while I waited for Alex so I was asked to take lots of group pics. A couple from Lloydminister, Alberta asked about our trek. Turns out their son and family live in Cranbrook [about an hour from Creston, where Alex and Nicole are from]. He's a Harley Davidson dealer. I asked if it next to Tim Hortons and she says yes! We chatted for quite a while. Their name is Crockett.

Back to shopping - we went to the Nutrition House. Josh Kolic, the manager, was extremely helpful. His website is www.nutritionhouse.com - Thunder Bay. Alex sat on his glasses last week so I brought them to Shoppers Optical. Gail Johnston straightened them out, no charge. Thunder Bay is a great city, friendly people. the Librarian was very helpful also!

I noticed we had an extra passenger on board this evening. I don't know exactly when that happened but a little field mouse was darting about trying to escape. I left a piece of cheese out in small box we have. It was still there untouched but no sign of any mouse. So the passenger disembarked in the nite! Paving for 15 km and Alex had to walk. We overnited with bulldozers/paving equipment at rest!

Terrace Bay, ON
Lots of beautiful scenery. I remembered all this from 35 yrs ago when Suzanne and I crossed Canada in a Volkswagen. The roads are good - I cycled up those mountains and down. We overnited at Gravel River. Still have Mr. Mouse on board. Trying to lure him off! The roads were great for Alex, great scenery now that we have rocks and trees. Big improvement from the swamps and lonely cows of Manitoba!

Aug.15th - very gorgeous. We are at the head of Lake Superior. Stopped at a beach - nice to relax. There was a gal from Kimberley, B.C. heading home - we gave her our business card, so it is heading to the Kootenays. She is a phographer and was in Whistler for 15 years - making a change in her life! Another couple there were from Ottawa. We talked about Diabetes with them. We had a spaghetti feed in Scrieber then went on to Terrace Bay - it was a neat/tidy town. The library was open so I checked my email. We slept at an abandoned baseball pitch.

At 5 pm, the bugs come out and so did the insect repellent. I repaired one screen with, guess what, duct tape on the inside and outside. No mosquitoes getting in here tonight! Impressed Alex with my repair because I used duct tape!

Marathon, ON
Another day. Slept poorly. The mouse is getting to me. Either he goes or... This weather is holding out cool nights and warm days! While at the pullout 5 km from Terrace Bay, somone flung a plastic water bottle at our RV! I looked out the door and saw two transport trucks. I said. "You bastard!" I checked for damage - the smashed bottle had a 5 dollar bill in it! It was clear water but I sanitzed the 5 and hung to dry! An anonymous donor!

Talked to a flagman - he was waving the SLOW flag at Dad. Got his pic. Got to Marathon. Groceries at Extra Foods. I was desperately searching for a solution to the mouse situation. Canadian Tire was closed. Library too. A nice lady at Can-OP had mouse traps. Overnite at the Marathon entrance. LAST NITE for Mr. Mouse. Less than an hour after I set trap. Sorry mouse.

White River, ON
Left Marathon at 8 am. Good day for rollerskiing and cycling. Stopped at Dunclake - yes, that's how it was spelled! Nice fella, slightly challenged, very interested in our trip. Went by two huge mining areas. Williams Mines and David Bell. They are making an actual mountain from the rocks they excavate. Camped at Pic Mobert place run by First Nations. Dilapidated, but we had power etc. Water not safe for drinking. Next stop is White River.

Aug.18th at White River Home of Winnie the Pooh. A fella from Winnipeg captured this bear Winnie. It ended up in the London Zoo for its remaining years. The story must be available somewhere! Went to Med Clinic for Robaxisal - still muscle spasms in Alex's arms at night. Dr Taylor gave me Flexiril - it has some sedation but the doctor thought he would not fall asleep skiing! (Alex out there skiing loves doctors!)

Food stop at H/C Family Lodge. Henri and Carole are great people - they take foster teens and try to get them in the working force. Pretty tough. Carole's mother has Alzeheimers. Henri treated us to a supper of homemade soup and blueberry pie with ice cream for me. Overnite between White River/Wawa.

Agawa Bay, ON
We are slowly getting down to the Sault. The elusive Sault. Up the mountains, down the mountains. Alex doesn't want to say mountans in ON but they are big hills, he said. The provincial park is beautiful. We stayed at Old Woman Bay. Last nite and tonite at Agawa Bay. All pretty routine today. Got 61 kms for a grand total of 3753 km to date.

Pancake Bay, ON
Pancake Bay was named by Voyageurs who only had flour left when they got to this bay, so they only made pancakes!! Roads are in rough shape - hope they improve soon. Not safe for me to cycle today but Alex says no problem. He's challenging the traffic. It's a shame the roads are in such bad shape. We are 25 km from the Sault!

Thought the Provincial Park would never end - it was 83 km! Left Agawa Bay early still lots of huge climbs/descent! Lake Superior has surf but we don't see any surfers! Gas price is $1.09 here, the highest so far was $1.12 not good for our budget! Anxious for Sault Ste. Marie as it's a pretty isolated park and not many pullouts. Found takeout fish/chips very good. Camped at Pancake Bay real nice park showers.

Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Leaving the Sault. Ah, got to move on before the snow flies. Very late start at 2pm. The good news is WIDE shoulder for past 20 km. Hope it continues!

Remembered one odd encounter on Aug 18th. His name was Albert (French). He showed up in the middlle of literally nowhere with just the clothes on his back - no pack no water. He was wearing a clean checkered red jacket, good walking boots. It was like Albert dropped out of the sky. Alex was taking a break so Albert got the folding chair - we gave him water, potato salad, cole slaw and a bag to carry it all. He had been in Sault at the Salvation Army and heading for Thunder Bay 250 km for him. He said he had a friend there, no family. Poor devil! Still wonder what happened to him. He left us walking straight as soldier with his pack. We gave him some money of course!

Bruce Mines, ON
This day 57 and we are at 3936 km. We will break that 4 thousand today! All's well, I think! A couple from Ancaster near Hamilton ON asked for our card for where to donate. "This is the second time we see on our holiday. You are amazing - we want to donate to your cause!" Brand new pavement right now after Bruce Mines as we head to Thessalom.

Alex's updates are provided by www.fitstep.com. Please visit his site for more information and photos.


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