COURAGE CANADA BLOG

Welcome To Western Canada! - Sept 11
It’s 5:00PM and I needed to get on the wire as quickly as possible to announce my official arrival in Alberta!!!

The day went so much better than I expected and I’m ecstatic to finally be in Alberta, “Wild Rose Country”. Cam and I had a great skate this morning, knocking off 30KM much faster than I realized. The final 20KM this afternoon I was just pumped full of excitement and before I knew it I had left Saskatchewan behind me.

I already get a different sense of Alberta and I am anxiously looking forward to seeing what’s in store for the team and I in Calgary.

I can’t wait to spend the weekend with my friends and family and get a taste of what like is like in Western Canada.

Its bound to be a great few days. Yeeehaw!!!!

Cheers,
-Mark
Fri Sep 11 2009 @ 7:56pm by Mark DeMontis

A Taste Of The West - Sept 10
I was well rested as I left the Piapot Saloon this morning, and, despite a considerable sidewind blowing from north to south I had a great day out on the road. The solid day of skating left me with 50KM ahead of me tomorrow to the Alberta border.

As much as the day on the road was worth mentioning, today was all about Piapot, SK!

The guys and I were invited back this evening to the Piapot Saloon by our friend Glen (the owner), and after hearing J., Cam, and PJ, rave about the amazing night they had there yesterday making our return was all I could think about this afternoon. Tonight I would get the opportunity to experience Piapot in all of its glory.

The village of Piapot was established in 1885, and named after Chief Piapot who camped out on the C.P.R. (Canadian Pacific Railway) line and refused to move. It took two R.C.M.P constables from Fort Walsh to come out and forcibly remove him from the site. He and his tribe relocated North East of Regina on the present Piapot Reserve, however, the village which resembles a scene out of an Old Country Western film is still named after the native chief.

The Piapot Saloon was built in 1929, and after being shut down for about two years, Glen, who hails from Ottawa but had been living in Calgary, stumbled upon the once thriving saloon and took it over a year ago. The majority of the saloon’s authenticity has been perfectly preserved; from the plaques that border the walls, displaying various brands from each cattle ranch in the area, the rugged wood plank flooring, deer heads, bear and coyote skulls, as well as old school rifles and muskets, adorn the inside of the bar and create an atmosphere that’s just swimming with character.

When I arrived back at the Piapot Saloon, Glen, had just picked up his brand new Harley Davidson from Medicine Hat, AB, so he was riding a high note just like the rest of us, and expressed his excitement to have us back at his place for another night.

Jason, cooked up a delicious steak dinner with the help of PJ and Leslie (one of the bartenders) once we got settled in and after refueling we got down to the ‘real’ fun. Tonight felt like a real celebration of Saskatchewan. Even though we were hanging out with people we had just met, it was like Glen, Nicole, Pearl, and Leslie, were old friends.

We all danced, sang, laughed, played shuffleboard, and, had probably one of the best nights overall so far in the prairies. I got a change to flex my jukebox muscle tonight, playing out all of my favouite tracks. We even took some classic ‘Old Western’ style photo’s of the guys and I that Glen printed off for us. Pearl even taught me how to “two step” (to country music) so I’d be ready to flaunt my cowboy styles once I hit Alberta.

I can’t thank you guys enough, Glen in particular, for making this night so incredible. I know that the whole team was in need of some time to let loose after a hard few weeks in the prairies. I’m confident that we will all carry this energy with us into Calgary and throughout the province of Alberta. Stay in touch and never forget how much of an impact you’ve made on our time in Saskatchewan. Paipot rocks because you guys rock Piapot!

The next note I’ll write to you all will be from a new province, filled with a new landscape, new experiences, and new memories!

Cheers,
-Mark
Fri Sep 11 2009 @ 6:14pm by Mark DeMontis

A Touching Time In Tompkins - Sept 9
From the skating to the support, today was a great day from all ends. While the wind continued to blow with considerable strength I have not only started to expect it, but, I’ve also gotten somewhat used to skating against it.

As the day unfolded I felt both more relaxed, more energized, and more focused then I’ve been the past few days. I have found new ways to cope with the wind conditions, such as skating behind the guys and catching a bit of their slip stream, and after today I feel as though I’ve put myself in a good position to reach my goal of arriving at the Alberta border by Friday evening.

I got an unexpected phone call from Ron Ellis this afternoon literally just as I stepped back in to the RV. He was just calling to check up on me and see how things were going. I still find it really surreal and a bit amusing at the same time to be getting casual phone calls from hockey greats. Catching up on the phone with a guy like Ron always puts a big smile on my face and helps keep me motivated on the road.

The positive day turned into a positive evening as well, as the boys and I headed in to Tompkins, SK to meet with the Lionesses for dinner. We’ve been meeting so many Lions Club members throughout this trip so far, and as you all know their support has been phenomenal, however, spending the evening strictly with the Lionesses is something we have yet to experience.

I was all a little unsure of how the night would unfold, knowing that the guys and I would be surrounded by 20 women at the dinner table, but, as soon as we sat down we knew the night was going to be a blast. We had such a great time laughing and joking throughout the meal and sharing our experiences from the trip, and the ladies invited us back to their meeting afterwards so that I could get a chance to share my story with some of the Lionesses who couldn’t make it out for dinner.

Just before the meeting began the guys and I got an invite to quickly check out a cattle ranch that belonged to one of the Lionesses. We’ve seen so many cows on this trip so far, and its been somewhat of a dream for all of us to one day visit one of these places where the cows call home. Being from the city none of us had ever really been on a farm or a ranch so it was really a special experience for all of us to get a first hand look at how they’re operated.

I learned so many things that I thought I would never learn about a lifestyle that is so foreign to me. Being around these Lionesses gave me a distinctly warm feeling; everyone was so friendly and kind, and it gave me the true sense of what it’s like to live around a small community like Tompkins. I say “around” Tompkins, because Tompkins just happens to be the closest town for everyone to gather from their various 1,000-plus-acre farms and ranches.

Days like today are what this journey is all about, and it’s hard for me to express the amount of joy that these ladies brought to my day, especially coming off a few tough ones. They’ve enlightened me to a whole new side of Canada, and a way of life that is both new and exciting in my mind. A big “thank you” must go out to all of the Lionesses of Tompkins for such an enjoyable evening, as well as your generous donation to Courage Canada. I speak on behalf of all of the guys in saying that the time we had with you tonight was truly memorable. Also, I must give a special thanks to Lion Barb from my hometown Weston Lions for arranging this evening for us.

The team and I called it a night at the Piapot Saloon, just a touch west of Tompkins where the owner, Glen, provided us with complimentary accommodations. I know that the boys are having a blast downstairs right now with Glen and some of the locals because I can hear the jukebox cranking out some of their favourite tunes. I cant wait to close my eyes in the comfortable bed and gear up for another day.

Just a few more skates until the Alberta border!

Cheers,
-Mark
Thu Sep 10 2009 @ 1:33pm by Mark DeMontis

Coming To Terms With The Inevitable - Sept 8
The wind was back with vengeance. As much as I have come to understand some of the scientific reasons behind this phenomenon I think that I need to start accepting the fact that the fall is fast approaching.

The issue of wind, and my assumption that the cold weather will start to increase as well, has lead the team and I to sit down on break this afternoon to strategize about how things will have to be dealt with over the next month. We’ve decided that the best way to go about things is to make sure I am getting out on the skates earlier in the morning, while taking shorter yet more frequent breaks throughout the day. This way I will give myself more opportunities to regain my strength and avoid the risk of overtiring myself while battling for longer stretches in the wind.

Today was once again a very tough day for me physically, but, I feel as though my mind has taken the brunt of the blow. It was really hard for me to come to terms with the fact that these types of issues (the wind in particular) are things that I’m going to have to deal with on a daily basis.

My goal right now is to battle through the next 150 or so kilometers to ensure that I arrive at the Alberta border by Friday evening. I have long since planned to head in to Calgary for the weekend (as we’ve done in every major city thus far) to spend some time with my family and friends who are flying in from Toronto.

I couldn’t be looking more forward to taking a nice break with them and beginning next week with a fresh mind, and a fresh body, in a new province.

I’ll be up at 6AM tomorrow to get things going. The next few days are going to be a tough battle.

Cheers,
-Mark
Wed Sep 09 2009 @ 12:57am by Mark DeMontis

Windstruck - Sept 7
Wind, wind, and more wind. The constant westwardly gusts were vicious throughout the entire day, especially in the morning. For so long I’ve known that the wind factor would eventually catch up with me, but until today I didn’t fully comprehend what kind of a challenge these headwinds could pose.

Moving further west in Saskatchewan I am now climbing into higher altitudes, which is one factor that has definitely contributed to the intensity of the wind today. Also, the lack of trees and the small but copious amount of valleys seem to channel the prevailing winds directly into my face. Not only did it make it very hard for me to skate, but, it also severely hindered my ability to communicate with the guys on the road. We were forced to scream in order to hear each other as the wind whistled in our ears.

As I struggled to maintain a consistent pace, I was constantly forced to change up my stride in order to adapt to the conditions. Even on downhill stretches, which have increased somewhat over the past few days, I felt like I was getting a workout. The hardest hit to my ego was the fact that by the end of the morning I felt as thought I had put in a normal 30KM, but when the boys read me the count on the odometer, I found out that I was a mere 10KM from where I started off. Putting in the work without seeing any results is one of the hardest things for me to deal with and after the morning was over I was really broken down both mentally and physically.

I unfortunately only made it to the east side of Swift Current by the evening and decided that it would be best to head to the Trail Campground to make an early dinner and try to refocus my thoughts. The Trail Campground was generous enough to provide the team and I with a second free stay and I was relieved to know that I had somewhere to go after the day was over to collect myself and prepare for tomorrow.

As tough and as draining as the day was I am really eager to get back on the road tomorrow. Unfortunately, I don’t anticipate that the weather will have entirely turned, however, at least I now know what I will likely be up against.

If only the wind blew East to West.

Cheers,
-Mark
Tue Sep 08 2009 @ 1:59pm by Mark DeMontis

Making Waves in Swift Current - Sept 6
Today was a big change of pace compared to the past few days. As successful as our recent events have been, our need to arrive on time posed a few challenges, forcing us to cut skating times short. Right from the get go this morning, however, my desire to put in a hard day was at the forefront of my mind and I was able to get back into a good groove.

The pavement has been really rough lately as well, taking quite a toll on my joints and making it hard for me to keep mentally positive. The fresh pavement that I started out on today was a huge relief. It felt like I was skating on a roller hockey rink again and it allowed me to get a really good stride in and take advantage of my ability to put in a longer morning, and make up for some lost kilometers.

The weather was also just the way I like it to be in the morning. The clouds were out keeping the temperatures comfortably cool and the sun from my eyes. While hot sunny days are perfect for the beach, I find that the ideal weather to skate in is warm and overcast. The sun tends to bother my eyes and make it harder to see some things on the road and the heat when the sky is clear can be incredibly draining.

Over my lunch break I got a chance to do a great interview with a writer from the Southwest Booster, a weekly newspaper that circulates around southwestern Saskatchewan. He asked me a lot of questions about the receptiveness of those around the province and my experience in Saskatchewan so far. In all honesty, I didn’t have one bad thing to say about the province and the people I’ve met over here. The receptiveness of those in Saskatchewan has really blown me away, and their outward kindness and ongoing generosity has continued to astound me.

I shared one particular encounter that stood out in my mind that exemplified the willingness for those around the province to support the campaign. Last night at the hockey game in Moose Jaw as the guys and I were setting up our information table a woman walked through the front gates and dropped a donation in the donation bucket without even knowing what she was supporting. Later on I got a chance to catch up with her and talk about the campaign and my story, and I asked her what compelled her to show such great support before she even knew what we were there for? Her answer was simple, and very reassuring to me. “Why not” she said, “If you guys are here at the arena, it must be for a good reason. And now that I know what I contributed to I am all the more happy that I did it.” She continued, “You and your friends are doing a very noble thing and I wish you all the best on your journey.”

Well, I must say, that it’s people like you who make all the difference on this campaign and will have an impact on blind youth all across the country who aspire to engage in the sport of hockey.

At the end of the day the boys and I headed back in to Swift Current to enjoy a great meal provided by Wade Jensen at Boston Pizza. Our friend from the Swift Current Broncos, Derek McKie, came out to join us for supper and we had a really excellent evening. It was nice to have another hockey brain around the table, especially someone who has been around the administrative side of the hockey world for a number of years.

We retired for the night at the Trail Campground in town who provided us with complimentary accommodations.

All in all this week has been filled with great support and has put the whole team in such a positive mindset. I’m personally hoping to carry this positive mentality into next week as I skate closer to the Alberta border.

Looking forward to more days like this.

Cheers,
-Mark
Mon Sep 07 2009 @ 2:13pm by Mark DeMontis

Scoring Big in Moose Jaw - Sept 5
Tonight would mark my second appearance in two nights at a WHL hockey game, getting back out on the ice and giving me to opportunity to spend some quality time in my favourite type of venue, a hockey arena. Knowing that I would be back on my skates to perform the ceremonial puck drop this evening at the Moose Jaw Civic Centre really helped me get through a day filled with more unfortunate road conditions and scorching heat.

The middle of the day really got me going after taking a break for lunch in a small town called Bridgeford Briercrest. The guys and I unexpectedly stumbled upon a small farmers market and cruised around there for a bit, chatting with the locals. I was quite surprised to find out that a number of them had heard of me and the campaign, which was really encouraging. One of the stands actually refused to let me pay for some food that I wanted to purchase, insisting that she wanted to donate it on behalf of the cause. I was very appreciative of her gesture and although I shouldn’t be eating them, I have to say that the chocolate chip cookies she made sure we tasted were some of the best I’ve ever had! Knowing that the word was getting out to the small towns, and not just to the larger communities is something that is very important on this campaign in my mind. Especially because of the importance of hockey as a binding force for community activities and involvement in small towns across Canada it is always a pleasure to hear that the Courage Canada message is getting out to these areas.

This evening unfolded in much the same manner as yesterday, however, the thrill of being back for the second game of the home-and-home series between the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Swift Current Broncos was really great. The overall atmosphere at the game was very similar in terms of the excitement of the fans; everyone was super pumped for the start of a new hockey season, and the reception that the guys and I received was more positive than I expected.

Tonight we ran a raffle for an autographed Moose Jaw Warriors jersey (the former junior club of Chris Chelios, Ryan Smyth, and Theoren Fleury) with the proceeds going directly to Courage Canada. Adding this extra element and incentive to those already very willing to donate made a noticeable affect on the outreach, especially when it came to the younger kids. I am really happy with the amount of exposure that Courage Canada has been receiving over the past few days and this evening was certainly no exception.

I got a great chance to share my story with many people who have a genuine love for the game of hockey, which is one of the most important parts of this campaign. Getting the opportunity to enlighten hockey fans to the idea of blind youth engaging in the sport is of the utmost importance, and the past two nights in Swift Current and Moose Jaw allowed me to share this dream of mine with so many people who are already involved in the hockey community.

I need to extend a special thanks to Corey Nyhagen of the Moose Jaw Warriors organization for helping put the evening together. I am looking forward to more nights like this to come, and more opportunities to work alongside the WHL in the future.

One more great evening coming up tomorrow at the Boston Pizza in Swift Current! See you all there at 7:00PM; I hope that everyone reading in Swift Current can make it.

Cheers,
-Mark
Mon Sep 07 2009 @ 12:32pm by Mark DeMontis

Dropping The Puck On A New Season - Sept 4
This morning started out average, and, as the day progressed just got better and better. The boys and I woke up real early to make sure that we would get a long day of skating in and headed out from the Prairie Oasis Campground to get back on the road.

Before leaving Moose Jaw we made a quick stop across the street from the Prairie Oasis to check out Mac the Moose. I guess Mac would be considered the mascot of Moose Jaw. Standing a good 20-feet tall, we spotted him from the highway yesterday afternoon. Given our fascination with moose and the unfortunate fact that we haven’t seen too many, we made sure that we caught a closer look at him before leaving town.

While weather was in our favor once again, the road conditions on the shoulder were just awful. The bumpy conditions were endless, making it tough for me to get into a good stride. Also, when the pavement is rocky and uneven the vibrations on the souls of my feet don’t ever stop; it feels like someone is putting one of those electric massage machines at the bottom of my feet and it shakes the joints all through my legs. This of course, is the equivalent of a very bad massage, and there’s unfortunately no way of stopping it.

It was a bit tough to get through the morning given the seemingly unrelenting roads, however, in the early afternoon I received a last minute invite to a very special event.

Tonight would be the first pre-season game for the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League (WHL), the former club of Joe Sakic, and I was invited to perform the ceremonial puck drop! What’s more, the Broncos would be playing a back-to-back, home-and-home games with their close rivals, the Moose Jaw Warriors and I was invited to do the ceremonial puck drop at the Warriors game back in Moose Jaw tomorrow night as well! I had never been to see a WHL game before, so to get a chance to attend two in a row, and in this fashion, was just awesome.

The opening ceremonies kicked off just before 7:30PM, when I got the opportunity to strap on my ice skates and skate to centre ice to drop a blind hockey puck. It felt really strange to be back on ice skates after so many months on the blades. Being back in a ice hockey arena for the first time since my Streetsville stop of the trip felt great, and to be lacing up my ice skates made it even better. It was a real rush in many ways to get back out on the ice to the sound of cheering fans; it made me think about how much I love the game of hockey and how amazing the feeling is to play the game.

The team and I also got to set up an information table in the concession area where fans would hang out during the period breaks. The guys and I got a chance to engage in a lot of great conversation with the fans, familiarizing everyone with my story and the goals of Courage Canada. One particular encounter I really enjoyed was a conversation that I had with an older gentleman, about 80-years-old, who had driven over an hour to come watch the game. He was a farmer who said that he came to watch the Broncos play every Friday despite his considerable distance from the rink. I asked him what kept him coming back? He did not have a TV to follow the NHL and I was curious where his love of hockey stemmed from.

“Around here this is hockey at its best.” he said, “There’s nothing that can compare to the lever of play that these boys exhibit and the excitement that it brings to the town.” This gentleman proved to me that young or old, no matter where you are from, the game of hockey provides joy to so many people across this country. It also reassured me that I was doing a good thing by embarking on this journey. That soon there would be blind youth all across Canada who will get the same chance that I did as a kid, to grow up with the game of hockey in their lives.

Especially considering that this was such a sudden invite, the success of the evening was phenomenal. We sold lots of hats and received tons of donations from kids, parents, and grandparents. Overall, the response from the Broncos fans was really incredible and I’d like to thank Derek McKie, Marketing/Game Day Coordinator for the Swift Current Broncos, for making tonight possible.

After the game we packed up our info booth and spent the night in the parking lot of the Credit Union i-Plex in our RV.

I’m sure that tomorrow will bring many new memories and another great experience as I drop the puck back in Moose Jaw. The Warriors beat the Swift Current Broncos by one goal tonight (4-3) so it’s sure to be another great game!

See you all at the Moose Jaw Civic Centre for the 7:00PM puck drop tomorrow evening!

Cheers,
-Mark
Sat Sep 05 2009 @ 3:25pm by Mark DeMontis

Food For Thought - Sept 3
Today was an exciting day for the team and I as we got geared up to arrive at the Boston Pizza in Moose Jaw, SK this evening. It had been nearly two months since our last Boston Pizza visit in Gravenhurst, ON, which was a huge success thanks to the hard work done by Rob Carleton. The prospect of another great evening definitely put all of us in a good mood and another day of beautiful weather only added to that.

Goldenwest radio (800 CHAB) in Moose Jaw was running continuous coverage of an interview that I recorded with them yesterday, letting the public know of my arrival. These types of efforts on the part of the media, and our partners at Boston Pizza always give me that extra bit of excitement and anticipation for an event.

When the guys and I arrived at Boston Pizza just after 7:00PM we were greeted by the staff, the manager Peter, and a reporter from the Moose Jaw Times Herald (newspaper), welcoming us all to Moose Jaw. As we entered the restaurant the guys began to notice these red pieces of paper taped up all over the walls of the entrance. After taking a closer look, they realized that each of the papers read: “Boston Pizza Supports Mark DeMontis’ Quest to the West & Courage Canada”. There were hundreds of these sheets of paper covering the front of the reception area, each one signed by a Boston Pizza patron who made a donation to Courage Canada!

Peter explained to the guys and I that over the past week, the servers would ask the customers after their meal if they would like to donate $1 to Courage Canada along with their bill. The support from the community was overwhelmingly positive and the money raised through this Boston Pizza was so much more than I could have ever imagined. I’d like to thank Kelly Miller, owner of the Moose Jaw Boston Pizza, for organizing this evening for us and for contributing to such a great deal of funds and awareness raised this week.

After leaving the Boston Pizza that night and heading over to the Prairie Oasis Campground, who generously provided us with a complimentary campsite for the evening, I started thinking about the value of a dollar, and how far it can go. I imagined how many blind youth would have the opportunity to get out on the ice if each individual from my home town would donate one dollar towards Courage Canada. Tonight really helped me realize how far one dollar can go, which is why, no matter how big or how small a donation may be, each an every dollar that is donated to Courage Canada will help make a big difference in the lives of blind youth who aspire to learn the sport of hockey.

This was a great experience for the whole team this evening, and it has definitely gotten me even more excited for our next event at the Boston Pizza in Swift Current, SK this Sunday, August 6 at 7:00PM!

Swift Current, here I come!

Cheers,
-Mark
Fri Sep 04 2009 @ 6:49pm by Mark DeMontis

Summer in September? - Sept 2
The string of good days has continued as I rolled through the core of Regina this morning to a echo of honks and cheers. After the great media coverage I received in Regina this past weekend and our presence around town it seemed as though the community really caught word of what I was doing. From people yelling words of encouragement from the streets and through their car windows to those who hadn’t heard of the campaign and were curious to know more, the reception I got was just phenominal.

After skating 35KM in the morning and finishing on the west end of the city the guys and I took a nice long break. The sun was scorching and I was hoping that the heat would die down a bit before I got back on the road for the afternoon. While I haven’t mentioned it up until now, the past few days I have been getting a very strange light-headed feeling. I’m not sure if it’s because of the heat, but, I feel sometimes like I’m lacking oxygen and I get really weak. I have been talking to a few people about it and they suggested that it may be due to depleting electrolyte levels in my body.

This afternoon I made a conscientious effort to drink lots of electrolyte supplements before getting back out on the road and it made a big difference in the way I was feeling. My energy levels were right back where they should be and I am going to continue to monitor how my body is feeling in that respect to ensure that I don’t run into this type of situation in the future.

Also, in terms of my diet, I am going to really start to pay attention the types of food and the sizes of the portions I am eating. It’s no secret that I love to eat; when I do eat, I don’t feel satisfied unless I am very full when I finish. The problem with feeling this way each time I am done a meal, or even a snack, is that I inevitably need more time to digest and it can slow down my pace on the road. While the food I’ve been eating is very healthy (lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) I am going to start to concentrate on eating smaller portions, and if I need to, just increase the frequency at which I snack throughout the day.

Getting back to life out on the road this afternoon, I’ve got some funny, motivating, and annoying anecdotes to share.

I’ll start off with the funny one, which was actually a little bit scary as well. Often while the guys and I are skating we’ve got all sorts of animal life around us. Whether it’s a frog, snake, grasshopper, dog, cow, bison, or whatever else, there’s usually not much more to report than the fact that they’re there. When it comes to dogs along the road, they’re always barking at me and I usually ask the guys if its coming towards us. The answer is always along the lines of: “No, Mark it’s chained up” or “Don’t worry Mark it’s just not used to seeing things like this going by”. Today, however, I heard the barking of two dogs and I didn’t even think much of it until Jason mentioned that they weren’t chained up, and they were definitely running in our direction with no signs of stopping.

I figured maybe the dog was trying to steal my Reeboks or something and so I tried to stay calm and shoo him away saying, “Get back, get back”. The thing was nearly nipping at my ankles when I heard the owner call it back from the road. Both me and Jason had a good laugh about it, but, I gotta say that I was close to having to bust out some Chuck Norris moves on that dog if it got any closer.

My inspirational tidbit came in the form of a great donation that was made by a gentleman named Wayne Hiebert. Wayne is a good friend of Jason’s aunt Deborah who lives in Saskatoon. Deborah had told him about the campaign and he has been following the journey, hoping to catch us on the road. Today he found us on the highway around 20KM west of Regina and pulled over to introduce himself and pass us a cheque. I have to say that I was very touched that he drove all that way just to find us on the road and wish us well. Thank you for your support Wayne, it really means a lot.

Now, for the annoying part of the afternoon. This little issue that I’m about to mention has seemed to become a reoccurring problem in this province. To try and beat out the intense mid day heat I have been skating into the later parts of the evening over the past few days, however, the downside of this strategy is that the mosquitos start to come out in full force after around 7:00PM. Tonight, the mosquitos were so bad that I was actually forced to stop a little short of what I wanted, because they were mercilessly attacking my legs and neck. Hopefully their presence will die down as the September nights get cooler.

As the month of September is getting under way I have been getting a very different feeling of what’s to come over this next stretch of the journey. I remember as a kid, September always meant that it was time for a new school year. Essentially for my entire life up until now, September has still meant that the summer was over and it was time to get back to the ‘real world’. This summer, however, things have been very different for me. This is the first summer of my entire life that I’ve been away from home. This is the first summer where as soon as September hits, it’s not over. This is the first summer where I haven’t been in the city with all of my friends, but instead, I have been in a multitude of cities I’ve never been before, making tons of new friends.

This has been the best summer of my life to date, and I know that it’s going to be tough to top the experience I have had on this trip so far. There are still many days ahead of me, and each day I am learning more about my body, my self, and my country.

Tomorrow night I will be in Moose Jaw, SK for a reception at the Boston Pizza. I hope that everyone reading from the Moose Jaw and surrounding area will come out to say hi and support Courage Canada!

Peace out from the prairies.

Cheers
-Mark
Thu Sep 03 2009 @ 6:11pm by Mark DeMontis

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