COURAGE CANADA BLOG

Feeling The Finish Line (10 Days To Go)- Oct 6
This morning was a little different than most as I woke up from a great sleep with incredible soreness in my hamstrings. As much as my body has not always felt phenomenal in the mornings, considering the strain that I have put on it over the past 101 days I would say that I’ve been doing quite well.

Today, however, this pain in my hamstrings was excruciating. The backs of my thighs felt like they were wound together in a series of tight knots and big bruises. Luckily, after a solid stretch with PJ I was feeling in far better form and I was able to push myself closer towards Kamloops, BC, where I look to arrive tomorrow evening.

As much as the stretching helped me physically out on the road today, it was really the thought of being just 10 days away from my arrival in Vancouver that allowed me to block out the pain and focus on my skating.

JOIN ME

On October 16 @ 11:00AM Pacific Time, as I conclude my Quest to the West in Vancouver, British Columbia @ the Riley Park Community Centre (50, 30th Ave. East, Vancouver, BC, V5V 2T9) brought to you by the Canadian Blind Sports Association and the City of Vancouver Parks Board!

PLEASE COME OUT AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT on this monumental occasion! SPREAD THE WORD to your family and friends in the Vancouver area!

This will be a great celebration and I hope that everyone who is able to will come out and share in my journey along with me!

After nearly three and a half months out on the road it is hard for me to believe that the end is so near, however, I am more excited than ever to arrive in Vancouver and fulfill my dream of inline skating from my hometown of Toronto, ON to the home of the Winter Games in Vancouver, BC.

LET THE 10 DAY COUNTDOWN BEGIN!!!

Cheers,
-Mark
Wed Oct 07 2009 @ 3:41pm by Mark DeMontis

100 Days Across Canada - Oct 5
For one hundred days I have laced up my skates and taken thousands of strides along the Trans-Canada Highway. Along the way I have met hundreds of different people in hundreds of different villages, towns, and cities. For one hundred days I have pushed my body and my mind to 100% of my ability in order to fulfill a goal, in order to exercise my passion for hockey, and to prove to people all across the country that blind people can skate.

It’s hard for me to believe that this is the hundredth day since I departed from Weston Lions Arena, and I would consider this a seminal moment for me on this journey. There are not many cross Canada campaigns that reach triple digits and for me to have hit a milestone number such as this I have gained a real sense of accomplishment. It makes me proud to know that I’ve stuck with this for such a great deal of time and that regardless of how many tough days there have been there have been far more rewarding experiences to counterbalance the adversities.

I have spent a great deal of time over the past several days reminiscing with the guys about all of the experiences we’ve had on this trip, both good and bad. I’ve recounted the many special moments we have shared, the countless connections we have forged, and the impact that this campaign and the message of Courage Canada has spread across the country. As I have mentioned many times in past blogs, the past three and a half months that I have spent on the road have been the most rewarding of my entire life; it has been an experience that has shaped who I am and will continue to impact the way I view Canada and its people for the rest of my days.

After completing a day filled with far more uphills than I expected, and would have liked, the team and I headed over to the Boston Pizza in Salmon Arm for dinner. Celebrating the centennial day at the establishment of one of our sponsors made me feel more at home than one might expect, while being in a city I’ve never taken a stride in until this evening. It gave me a real feeling of support, and the Manager, Don, seemed really happy to have the guys and I at the restaurant.

Don is a big hockey fan and it was really great to sit down and chat with him about the new season and some of his hockey experiences over the years. He introduced the guys and I to some of his friends who were at the restaurant as well, Ron and Heather, who were really interested to hear about the campaign.

Today was just another reminder of how many genuine people there are throughout Canada, and how each little encounter positively affects my day, my week, and the overall experience that I have on this trip.

I am set to arrive in Kamloops, BC this Wednesday, which will kick off the official ten day countdown to my arrival in Vancouver.

I am anxious to see what the next one hundred days of my life will bring.

Cheers,
-Mark
Tue Oct 06 2009 @ 3:00pm by Mark DeMontis

Day 99 - Oct 4
Today I continued to skate towards Salmon Arm, BC with sunny skies and much milder weather. The temperature and the presence of the sunshine definitely helped the day go by and got me in a great mood going into my hundredth day on the campaign tomorrow.

Today was really a day of reflection for me. My mind kept wandering off, in a good way, while I was out on the road, just thinking about the journey and all of the great times that I’ve had out on the road over the past 99 days. The amount of people who I’ve met and the amount of places I’ve been is still a bit unbelievable even for me. This experience has just been so tremendous in so many ways, and now as I start to descend towards the Western coast of Canada it’s al hitting me in a very powerful way.

This was really just a day of thought for me, especially since we were without reception until we pulled in to Sicamous this evening. The guys and I had a great night hanging out by the campfire at the Eagle River Golf Resort which accommodated us for the evening in the RV. The team and I spent a good hour just laughing, sharing stories, and re-hatching the many memories that we’ve made thus far.

Tomorrow evening the guys and I will celebrate our hundredth day at the Boston Pizza in Salmon Arm, and, at that point we will officially be 11 days away from arriving in Vancouver.

I am really tasting the end now and with just 12 days of skating left on the trip it’s all becoming real. There is no doubt in my mind now that I will finish this campaign healthy and happy. This has been the most rewarding experience of my life, and reminiscing about some of it with the guys tonight really engrained that in my mind.

See you all in Salmon Arm tomorrow!

Cheers,
-Mark
Mon Oct 05 2009 @ 4:50pm by Mark DeMontis

Constant Trials, Current Solutions - Oct 2 & 3
The past two days have been very interesting as I continue to head west towards Salmon Arm, BC. Once again, the team and I have run into another large patch of this province that does not receive cell phone or internet reception and it’s leaving me feeling a bit isolated from the outside world. Especially considering that my Quest is nearing completion and there are many things that are on my mind, it’s a difficult time to be experiencing such a problem.

The downhills have continued to multiply as I skate further west of Revelstoke, and their steepness has become the biggest challenge for me out on the road. There are many cracks in the pavement as well as loose gravel from the edge of the shoulder that leave no room for distraction while I’m out skating. I’m constantly reminding myself to stay focused with every stride, making sure I keep a low centre of balance in anticipation of any small bumps and ruts in the road.

The weather has also continued to cool off as I skate in and out of the crevices of the mountains. The air has chilled out and I am certainly thankful for my new pair of gloves and my warm winter toque. Each day it seems that I layer up with warmer clothes as the frost tickles my nose hairs as I skate. I’m glad that I will soon drop to lower altitudes as I exit the Columbia Valley and push closer towards the much warmer coastal region of Western Canada.

The other constant in this stretch of the journey is the beautiful scenery that surrounds me each day. This is a truly magnificent and relatively untouched part of the country that leaves me with a real sense of serenity. The huge rock faces, tall trees, and blue waters have given me the sense of coming full circle on this trip after experiencing much of the same surroundings throughout Ontario.

Aside form the natural trials that the team and I face on a daily basis, the small physical feats that we must overcome, mainly in relation to the upkeep of our blemished RV, constantly keep us on our toes. Today (Oct 3) we encountered our second flat tire of the trip under much the same circumstances as the first. As I stopped to take a quick break roughly 20KM outside of Revelstoke Jason and I heard a loud hissing sound (the unmistakable mark of a leaking tire) as we hopped into the RV.

It didn’t take long to discover that our front left tire had a huge piece of shrapnel lodged in it and it was spewing air out quickly. We drove right in to Revelstoke with our hazard lights on and found the closest tire repair shop, Revelstoke Excel Tire, who got us back on the road in no time. Excel was even generous enough to provide us with the service free of charge as they had heard of us a few days ago and were pleased by what we were seeking to accomplish. Needless to say, we were equally pleased by their good nature and are very grateful for the complimentary repair.

As I have said many times before, the ability for those to contribute to the cause can come in so many ways, and each one of those ways in equally impacting and appreciated. This afternoon, Revelstoke Excel Tire acted out of sheer goodwill and genuine kindness by doing what they did, and really added to the already great impression I had of those in the area.

Each day really is a new adventure. Each day I am more and more humbled by the warmth, generosity, and positivity that I see in those I meet. Each day I am happier and happier when I think about what I am doing, and the impact that it not only has on other people, but, on myself as well.

I’m set to arrive in Salmon Arm on Monday, October 5th, where the team and I will be hosted once again by our good friends at Boston Pizza. Please come out and join the team and I for another great evening at the Salmon Arm Boston Pizza. I look forward to seeing you all there!

Cheers,
-Mark
Sun Oct 04 2009 @ 10:23pm by Mark DeMontis

Cold Weather, Warm People - Sept 30 & Oct 1
Today (Sept 30) started off as a frosty one atop Rogers Pass. All the campgrounds around this area have shut down for the winter (I guess because it’s already so cold up here that no one in the right mind would want to camp out) and so the guys and I spent the night in the RV at the Rogers Pass Centre over 4,000 feet above sea level. With no outlet to plug-in to, our auxiliary battery cut out about two hours into the night, shutting off our heat and leaving us to wake up to a near-sub-zero RV that morning.

The frost had melted but some light snow flurries had started as I began my descent from Rogers Pass at around 9:00AM. I’m already noticing a serious change in the grade on the road. The declines have certainly started to pick up over the course of the day to the point where I can usually carry my speed from a downhill the majority of the next uphill, if it should happen to be there.

As much as it’s tough to battle an incline, I’m quickly finding that it’s equally challenging to stay focused and properly take a downhill. I need to be much more conscious of my speed and the road conditions to make sure I stay on top of my skates and not flat out on the road. With that being said, I’ll take a downhill over an uphill any day; the fact that I’m now going to spend the next 500-600KM dropping to sea level gives me a real sense of the end.

Since fall has now hit us with full force the guys and I drove in to the town of Revelstoke, a beautiful mountain town with one of the most renowned ski hills in North America, at the end of the day to buy some much needed hats and gloves. The boys were also in dire need of a new haki sack after an unfortunate dog incident! Revelstoke Mountain actually has the most vertical feet of any mountain in North America, and has the third most vertical in the world, and so it’s a popular spot for winter sports enthusiasts to flock to. The boys and I soon learned that the majority of those around Revelstoke are not native to the area, coming from all over Canada and abroad simply for the love of the mountains.

After skating in to Revelstoke on Thursday (Oct 1) the guys made sure that we were ready in time to catch the first Leafs game of the season, hoping that there would be a spot to watch it.

Yesterday it was suggested to us that we try to go to a local pub called The Village Idiot, so just before 4:00PM the guys and I rolled on in, crossing our fingers that we would be watching the season opener between our Toronto Maple Leafs and The Montreal Canadians.

To be honest, the guys and I all half expected to have to ask the bar to put on the hockey game, not that we thought there wasn’t a big hockey following around here, but, that the Leaf game would be down on the list of games to watch. To our happy surprise, the first thing we saw when we walked in the bar was the bartender wearing an old school Doug Gilmour jersey along with a helmet with a Toronto Maple Leafs flag taped to it. We had clearly come to the right place!

Turns out that half the bar was actually from around Ontario; a few Torontonians, a large group of guys from Windsor, and a couple from the Collingwood/Georgian Bay area. It was totally wild for us to be sitting in a pub in the middle of British Columbia cheering the Leafs on with a group of fellow fans! We even discovered that Cam and I shared some mutual friends with one of the guys from Toronto who grew up right near us.

Overall, it was a fantastic evening of hockey and new friends. The guys and I shared tons of stories with those around the pub about what we were doing, and we were really well received by everyone there. The support that we received from those at the pub was really incredible and we felt so welcome to be in the company of fellow Ontarians and Leaf fans.

It’s going to be a little tough to leave Revelstoke after a night like this, however, tomorrow we’ll be back on the road pushing ever closer to Vancouver and the end goal!

I wonder who we’ll meet tomorrow?

Cheers,
-Mark
Fri Oct 02 2009 @ 5:29pm by Mark DeMontis

From The Top Of Rogers Pass - Sept 29
Today I spent the entire day climbing Rogers Pass; an exhausting 30KM uphill stretch that leaves me at one of the highest altitudes of the entire trip.

The internet has been incredibly sparse and, luckily I’ve hit a small section where I can latch on to a wireless connection. I wanted to let everyone know that I have reached the top and it’s essentially all downhill from here until I reach Vancouver.

This section of road is not only incredibly high up, but noticeably colder. I could see my breath out on the road and my hands and feet kept getting very cold while my body temperature remained quite high. This was a very big milestone on the trip for me and I am really anticipating the end now.

Tonight we are sleeping in the RV at the Rogers Pass Centre in Glacier National Park.

Only 17 days to go on The Quest!

Cheers
-Mark
Wed Sep 30 2009 @ 1:53pm by Mark DeMontis

Camping With A Champion - Sept 28
Today I woke up ready to go, anticipating my ascent up Rogers Pass. The start of this infamous stretch of highway proved to be challenging, yet conquerable at the same time.

Despite going uphill for the majority of the day, the mass of bends in the road kept things constantly fresh. As I climbed higher and higher into the mountains my field of vision also allowed me to get a sense of just how far up I was.

Overall, it was a very challenging day of skating for me and I reached my 50KM goal by the time it was over. The distance I covered happened to be just the right amount in fact, as I finished my skate at the entrance road to Kinbasket Lake Resort, clearly advertising RV camping, full hookups and hot showers. This little discovery worked out perfectly as we initially thought we would have to drive back east about 25KM to get to another campground.

This stream of luck continued when the guys walked in to the office to meet with the owner who immediately greeted them with the following: “I knew I’d be seeing you guys tonight. I passed by your RV on the road about 20 minutes ago.” This was great news to the boys, of course, a welcoming guy and a beautiful looking campground overlooking an aquamarine lake at the base of a mountain. The owner introduced himself as Rick, and after hearing what the campaign was about he told the guys that there was something they’d probably be quite interested in seeing, while removing a large gold ring from the pinky finger of his right hand.

He handed the ring over to Jason first whose eyes widened as he chuckled and passed the 1978 Montreal Canadians Stanley Cup Championship ring along to Cam and PJ. Turns out that this gentleman, Rick Chartraw is actually a five time Stanley Cup champion! Selected 10th overall in the 1974 NHL Entry Draft, Rick was the first American to be drafted in the first round. Winning hockey’s highest award four years in a row with the Montreal Canadians (1976-1979) and once again with the Edmonton Oliers in 1984, the same year he retired.

Before dinner the guys and I headed down to the bonfire that Rick had made and chatted it up with the former NHL’er for a while. It was truly incredible, especially considering the unexpected nature of this encounter, to get a chance to casually talk with someone who has not only played, but, succeeded in the NHL. Rick talked to a great extent about the legendary teammates he hit the ice with, including Marcel Dion, Guy Lafleur, Ken Dryden, Serge Savard, Paul Coffey, and Wayne Gretzky. He shared stories of his many years of traveling, and about the experience he had playing in the NHL, especially having spent so many great years with the Canadians.

He admitted that the two most incredible players he’s ever stepped on the ice with were Guy Lafleur and Wayne Gretzky. He made reference to one particular moment with each of them; he saw Lafleur once defy the laws of physics, and he saw Gertzky make the most incredible pass to the tape of Glen Anderson after going through the entire opposing team before reaching the blue line. The odds of meeting a hockey great like Rick are just beyond what I could have expected on this trip. At the same time, I think that it’s one of those elements of fate that brought the guys and I to Kinbasket this evening.

We enjoyed our time at the campground, and with you, Rick, immensely. I’d like to thank you once again for having us and for adding to the long list of great memories on the trip.

Tomorrow I will officially skate past Rogers Pass, so, I’ll catch you all on the downslope.

Cheers,
-Mark
Wed Sep 30 2009 @ 1:16pm by Mark DeMontis

Golden, BC - Sept 27
Today was a big day as the boys and I hit the official 3 month mark of the Quest, leaving just 20 days to go until I arrive in downtown Vancouver at General Motors Place! It’s astonishing for me to think that three months have already gone by on this journey, and that now I’ve cracked the final month; I feel like this stretch will be the most exciting of the entire trip.

The excitement has surely started to pick up already as I skated through the Kicking Horse Pass -one of the craziest bits of terrain I have encountered on the trip thus far, over the course of the day. The snaking roads wind up and down on mountain faces, with sharp corners, steep inclines, and some of the longest downhill stretches of the trip.

Just as I was starting one of the downhills, luckily not a very large one, I lost focus for a second, caught my wheel in a crack, and actually took my first spill on the trip since Manitoba. It can be quite mesmerizing to skate through this part of the country. Even with my peripheral sight I can make out so many different things around me, and it gets a little hard to concentrate on the road. Such was the case with this fall, however, I was quite lucky to come out of it with nothing more than a little scratch on my hand and my elbow. Fortunately for me, both of my little dives out on the road left me relatively untouched, nevertheless, I’m hoping there will be no more falling stories to share with all of you until the trip is over.

I suppose if my fall was the lowlight of my day of skating the highlight would have to be a car of good looking girls who sided up beside J. and I on the road this afternoon. Luckily I didn’t fall while we were talking with them, despite the fact that I was definitely a bit distracted. This pair of ladies was quite interested in exactly why two guys were rollerblading in the Rocky Mountains of all places. So in about 10 seconds of back and forth with them through their car window we explained what was going on and they wished us both “good luck” and said that they would for sure visit the website. I always really enjoy when people slow their cars to chat or show support out on the road. It definitely adds that extra element aside from just a honk or a wave.

This section of the journey takes me through a giant valley in the Rockies, finishing up in Golden, BC; today I went quite a ways down, and tomorrow will be very interesting as I climb right back up the other side of the valley on the infamous Rogers Pass.

After getting in to Golden this evening and cooking up some salmon steaks over the campfire, we headed out to the Golden Library to meet with the Lions and Leo Club of Golden. The Leo Club is a service club for youth from 12-18 years old that take on different initiatives and projects to better the lives of those in their community. After meeting so many great Lions Clubs over the past three months, it was really great to meet with a group of highly motivated youth.

These young leaders taught me a great deal about the area and what I am to expect over the next few days. Although I knew that Rogers Pass was going to be a challenge, they actually shed some nerve-racking insight about this stretch. Apparently it takes roughly 45 minutes to drive a car up Rogers Pass, so, I can only expect that it will be a tough day on the trip, as I climb to the top of what will likely be the biggest hill on my Quest.

After getting the logistical questions out of the way, I got a great chance to learn more about the lifestyle of those in the Golden area. I also got the opportunity to describe what life is like living in the big city, as many of them had never visited Toronto. I really enjoyed spending time with this Lions and Leo club; it’s nice to be in such a ‘laid back’ part of the country where everyone, even those who live here, appreciate the beauty of what’s around them.

After snapping a few photo’s with the Lions and Leo’s for the website and a very nice cheque presentation ceremony, the guys and I headed back to the Whispering Spruce Campground for the evening.

Nights have been unfortunately uneventful for me lately as my laptop has been broken for almost a week now. I’ve been getting the dreaded ‘blue screen of death’ and it’s become very frustrating for me as I am left with little or nothing to do in the RV at night time. I’m truthfully not sure if this problem will be resolved before the end of the trip, but, I suppose I can hope that one day I’ll turn it on and everything will be back to normal.

I don’t mind just relaxing and taking it easy tonight, as the day ahead of me is going to be long and tiring. I foresee it taking a great deal of patience for me to get through this one, and so once again, it’s time to wait and see what happens.

Just before I wrap up I need to give a special thanks to Scott Cooper for running in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon this morning in support of Courage Canada. On behalf of the organization, we truly appreciate your efforts in raising pledges and being proactive in your approach to support the cause. You’re a great friend Scott.

Also, another special thanks to Canadian beatboxer Scott Jackson and Tribal Conquest for leading the cheering section and to everyone who came out to support Courage Canada on such a great day for the “Neighborhood Cheering Challenge”.

I’ll report to you tomorrow from the top of Rogers Pass.

Cheers,
-Mark
Mon Sep 28 2009 @ 1:24pm by Mark DeMontis

T.E.A.M. Part 2 from B.C. - Sept 25-26
Although it’s been a long stretch since we’ve run into this problem, the past few days we have been completely without reception of any kind. Despite the uncomfortable feeling of not being able to get in touch with family, friends, and business partners, experiencing this little issue in such an exquisite part of the country isn’t as troubling as it could be.

The team and I spent an unbelievable afternoon yesterday canoeing on Lake Louise -one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited in my life. This entire area continues to blow me away and my expectations for today were exceeded once again.

Just before taking off this morning from the west side of Lake Louise, Cameron checked his GPS to see how far the British Columbia border was from where we were. While we had all thought that the border was over a day and a half away, it turned out that we were a surprising 9KM from the B.C. limits!

After a quick skate I crossed into the final province on my Quest just before 11:00AM Pacific Time!

I am now in the final stretch of my journey, with only 21 days to go until I skate into downtown Vancouver and arrive at GM Place.

With three weeks left, it’s time for another edition of the team blog. So, let’s hear what the boys have to say about their time thus far:

JASON:

This is what life is all about!

Three months ago when I skated off from Weston Lions Arena alongside Mark, Cam, and PJ, I knew quite well that I was in for an epic adventure. As one of four like-minded, yet, decisively different individuals, embarking on such a journey together was bound to yield more than just a few good stories.

Sure enough, over the past three months, a series of tremendous tales have ensued, running as deep as the waters of Lake Superior, and as long as the Rocky Mountain range. This eye-opening adventure, that I am so fortunate to be a part of, has changed my life in so many ways and will surely continue to do so until ‘our’ collective goal has come to fruition.

Since the last time I wrote a personal blog the guys and I have climbed the hills and passed the lakes in Northern Ontario, graced the flatlands of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and have now conquered a large part of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. A pinnacle moment in the journey occurred unexpectedly this morning as we hit the British Columbia border a day and a half before we initially anticipated. It’s the little surprises like this that continue to make this experience so exciting, and there is seldom a day that passes without one of these unforeseen curves in the road.

Each and every day is its own unique adventure; waking up in the morning to new places, new people, and a new perspective on Canada; figuring out how we will eat, where we will sleep, and what’s to be discovered. Most importantly, each new adventure, each small trial, and each decision is never made alone. The boys and I are as tight knit as ever, and despite the fact that we may have differing opinions at times, we remain a team through thick and thin.

The majesty of this country has continued to surpass any, and all of my expectations. The most minute detail can often seem to take on earth shattering importance; the realization that I am just one tiny individual in an endless expanse of nature, and that the world can operate truly independently of human cohesion. Be it the perfect placement of a cloud in the sky or the way the sun happens to dip down past the peak of a mountain, the montage of memories that I will take away from this trip are beyond what can be captured on film.

Beyond the physical appreciation that I have gained for this country, and the emotional connection that I have developed with those who live here, I have regained a sense of personal fulfillment throughout this journey.

I cannot recall a day on this trip where I’ve woken up in the morning and have been anything less than content with my life, content with where I am in the world, and content with what I am doing. I know that with each passing day the four of us are making a difference, whether it’s one individual or one community, one city or one province, Courage Canada and the message that we spread continues to touch those all across this nation.

With exactly three weeks remaining on the Quest I’ve got such a positive outlook on what’s to come.

This has been the experience of a lifetime. This is the final stretch. And once again, this is what life is all about!

Peace,
Jason

CAMERON:

Cameron’s Blog #2

Thinking back to June 27th when we left Weston seems so long ago. We just crossed into British Columbia, our final province, and I am filled with so many memories from the past 3 months on the road with ‘the boys’. I’ve seen an astonishing amount of the vast natural beauty Canada has to offer from a unique point of view, a pair of inline skates and a slow moving RV. From the elegance of the great lakes, to the vastness of the prairies and now the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, every bit as equally stunning in its own way, but I don’t consider any of it the greatest thing I’ve seen on this trip.

What I have seen that I feel is even more incredible is the perseverance, determination, and teamwork the guys display everyday on this quest. We have formed an incredible bond between all of us and become so close, we have so many inside jokes that only we will know. We have shared in so many memories that I will hold onto as long as I live and a few I hope I will be able to pass along to my children in the hopes it will inspire them as it has me.

Mark you have displayed some of the most honourable characteristics I have ever seen in a human and are a true role model for anybody. We’ve been through ups and downs, goods times and rougher moments all in the past 3 months and I don’t think I could have asked for a better friend through any of it. Thank you

PJ, you may be on the short side of a few height jokes but your personality and charm will take you so far in life. Spending so much time with you in an RV has made me a better person. It may go unnoticed but I have learned to appreciate so much more around me by just seeing your love for all life has to offer.

Jay, I know I can count on you anytime to give me a hand. With you I know whatever dilemma I face you’ll be there to offer an opinion and give me a helping hand dealing with it if I need it. You’ve taught me a lot so anytime I can repay the favour let me know.

I have learned so much in such a short time frame that I wouldn’t change anything for the World right now. Gazing into the Rocky Mountains, I have never been more happy with where I am and how I have got here. With less than a month to go and some of the toughest terrain to cover it almost impossible to know what else we can make happen by the time we arrive. I only have the highest hopes and expectations for Mark and the rest of us. I know we can do it and I invite you all to witness it cause it will be truly spectacular.

Until then,
Cam a.k.a Zio

PJ:

In the last two months or so since my first blog entry, we have traveled through Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, in doing so we have passed through countless towns, several cities and have covered three provinces in the process (as of this morning we crossed the Alberta border and into British Colombia!!). In just three weeks (21 days) we will be arriving at the GM Place in downtown Vancouver, and I can hardly imagine the emotions the four of us will be feeling upon arrival.

Every province has been unforgettable in it’s own way. I know that I am not alone when I say that the special moments and memories that have been gained will last a lifetime. I have been inspired by the continued support provided by people along the way, from Lions club members, hockey players, business owners, family, friends, and even complete strangers. I had the honor of meeting a handful of hockey players from the Calgary Flames, including a favorite hockey player of mine from back in the day, Theoren Fleury. I have witnessed firsthand the natural beauty of Canada while skating through the prairies, Banff National Park and the Rocky mountains, and spent a most memorable experience while canoeing with the team on Lake Louise.

Despite having a few years on these guys I have bonded with each one individually and developed friendships that will last for years to come. As a team we have gotten through long days on the road, a few bumps and obstacles along the way by means of “chirping” each other about our differences. We’ve all earned our nicknames, mine being “2-step” since I don’t like to rush, and generally move at a slower pace than the general population (I can justify it by having lived in Mexico for half the year). Jason has been nicknamed “Yeti” courtesy of an O.P.P. officer in northern ON, after Jason had finished describing to him the meaning of a ‘yeti’ being an individual that stands out on a ski hill like that of a sore thumb. Cameron has most commonly been called “Zio Commello” as a result of growing a moustache for a leg of this trip and consistently being in search of the perfect Espresso, somehow the name Zio Commello seemed like a good fit.

Mark or as I call him M.J., has gone through a handful of good names most notably “hotwheels”, amongst a couple others though none have managed to stick. No matter, at the end of the day he’ll be M.J. to me anyhow.

From the continued support, our evening celebrations with Glenn and staff at the Piapot Saloon in Saskatchewan, to meeting up with old friends and making new ones … to say that this trip has been memorable is simply not saying enough. This trip has managed to shift the way in which I look at life, the experience of traveling across Canada by means of inline skating and living out of an RV has proven to me that life is filled with unlimited possibilities.

The perseverance and determination to make this campaign a success that Mark, Cameron and Jason have shown has given me a sense of genuine pride to be a part of this team. With just 21 days remaining I am going to do all I can to make the most of our last days of living life on the road and by the end of it, I will be able to say “get me away from that RV!!”… The even funnier thing is that within a week away I know I’ll be missing it all and want to be back.

At the moment all I can say is, “Vancouver here we come!!!”

PJ Power.
Sun Sep 27 2009 @ 2:31pm by Mark DeMontis

I Love Banff - Sept 23 & 24
This is Canada at its finest!

I chose to hold off on this blog until I finished my time in Banff, AB, in order to properly encapsulate the experience that I’ve had in this magical place. The true beauty of this country is all around me; from the massive peaks of the Rocky Mountains, the turquoise mineral tinted lakes, the pointed fur trees, and the abundance of fresh air, Banff is one of the most incredible places I have ever been in my life.

This trip has taken me through nearly every facet of Canada, however, it is not until now that I have been able to appreciate the vast differences, and the unique beauty that each section has to offer.

As much as I was blown away by what I saw in Northern Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior, the cliffs around Thunder Bay, and the dense deciduous forest; I was impressed by the vastness of the Prairies, the endless sky, and expanse of farmland; now that I’ve reached the Rocky range I am almost humbled by the presence of what’s around me. To be one small person amidst these gigantic natural wonders, to see and hear and smell something different around every turn in the road, to be in a place like Banff, AB, is to begin to understand Canada in a more intimate way.

Aside from gaining a connection to the physical elements that surround me in this area, I have developed a real emotional connection to the people that live in Banff. Through my good friend Barb at the Weston Lions Club I have met some phenomenal people around the Banff area. One of Barb’s oldest friends, and a hometown Weston girl, Nancy, warmly received the guys and I on our first evening in Banff. After taking some time to walk around the scenic Banff Ave. strip and settle in to our incredible accommodations at the Fox Hotel & Suites compliments of some more of Barb’s hard work, we all met up with Nancy and a few of her friends, Jen, Mairaon, and Sue at the Rose and Crown. Sitting out on the rooftop patio and enjoying the sunny, record setting temperatures, with Mt. Norquay as our backdrop was the perfect way to start the evening.

After about an hour at the Rose and Crown we all headed across the street to Wild Bills Legendary Saloon for a night of great food, lively company, live music, and line dancing. The biggest surprise of the night had to be being invited up on stage and receiving a gift from City Councillor Chris MacDonald on behalf of the town of Banff. The extension of support by Councillor MacDonald and everyone at Wild Bills was quite unexpected, and it really added to the already great experience that I was having that night. After I stepped off the stage the band kicked things back off by singing “The Good Old Hockey Game”, and the nigh just seemed to flow so well after that.

This was really just the start, however, to a fantastic two days around the Banff area, as we got to know this great group of ladies better, and, were lucky enough to acquire them as our personal liaisons to the area as well as great friends.

After a well needed sleep in the comfortable Fox Hotel and Suites we stopped in to have a quick, and very satisfying breakfast with our new friends, compliments of Phil’s Restaurant, where Nancy works on Thursday morning. The past two or three days of skating, since hitting the Rocky’s, have been probably the most enjoyable of the entire trip. The weather has been exquisite and the scenery is, of course, beyond anything that I’ve ever encountered. The guys help me paint a better mental picture of the things that surround me on the road, however, the sheer pleasure that I derive from skating through Banff National Park has not been paralleled on this trip.

There is wonder around each and every corner in this place; even the wildlife has become more apparent. Today we actually ran in to two goats out on the road, just hanging out beside a small scenic lookout/rest-stop. Deer are everywhere as well. I think that since entering the park we’ve seen young doe on about six separate occasions, both out on the highway, and wandering the streets in the centre of Banff. The other thing which I found really fascinating is that there are hares everywhere around these parts. Apparently, in the same sense that back in Toronto we’ve got squirrels running around all over the place, around the Rockies, you can find hares hopping about the streets and parks just about everywhere.

Late this afternoon after finishing up another successful day out on this freshly paved stretch of the Trans Canada Highway the guys and I met back up with Jen and Mairaon to spend the remainder of the day relaxing by the aqua marine waters of Johnsons Lake. This quaint little lake about 10KM’s from the town of Banff was the perfect place to kick back for a few hours and really take it all in. There are very few opportunities on this trip when I get to just clear my mind of everything that’s going on and simply enjoy what’s around me. This afternoon allowed me to reflect on how fortunate I am to be in such a great place in Canada, at such a great time in my life.

Being in the midst of so many natural elements has put me in such a relaxed and optimistic mindset for the next few weeks to come. As I continue to weave in and out of the Rocky Mountains I know that my descent towards Vancouver is fast approaching.

As I expect to hit the British Columbia border this Sunday evening I feel like what’s still to come on this journey is nothing but the best. I have become so close to this Country and to my teammates who are here to experience every second of this venture along with me.

Still, I know that those back home, my family and friends, are beside me through this campaign as well. As I enter British Columbia on Sunday, The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (www.TorontoWaterfrontMarathon.com) will be taking place back in Toronto and Courage Canada needs your support!

There will be several ways for everyone to contribute to the cause both from back home in Toronto, as well as those of you reading from other parts of the country and around the world!

I am proud to announce that a good friend of mine from Weston, Scott Cooper, will be running the full 42KM marathon in support of Courage Canada. PLEASE go to the link below and put a PLEDGE on Scott. ALL money raised will go directly to Courage Canada!!

PLEDGE SCOTT COOPER HERE: http://www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com/en/nc/nc10.htm

In addition to the support that Courage Canada will be receiving through Scott, Courage Canada will also be a part of the “Neighborhood Cheering Challenge”.

If you are available this Sunday September 17, come out and join Canadian Beatbox Champion Scott Jackson, Tribal Conquest, and bring as many people as you can to cheer on Scott Cooper as he races, and compete against other cheering sections for BIG money that will go directly to Courage Canada!

Located on Eastern Avenue (just west of Logan St.) between 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (judges are expected to be by at approximately 10:00 a.m.). Lakeshore Blvd. will be closed for the race so you can park on Logan or Booth Ave. and walk down to Eastern Avenue to get to the cheering section.

This is YOUR CHANCE to leverage even greater support for Courage Canada to ensure that blind youth across the nation get a chance to learn and love the sport of hockey!

I wish to extend my most sincere thanks to Scott for thinking of me and Courage Canada and choosing to show his support in such a great way. Best of luck in the race, and I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with you back in Weston next month.

Tomorrow I’ll hit another one of the most notoriously beautiful parts of Canada, Lake Louise, AB. I know it will be hard to top my experience in Banff, however, if there’s a place that could do it I think Lake Louise just may be it.

More from the Rockies tomorrow, with the second team blog coming to you from Jason, Cameron, and PJ.

Cheers,
-Mark
Fri Sep 25 2009 @ 4:48pm by Mark DeMontis

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