October 4, 2022
On June 25, 2005, then 70-year-old Alex Nilsson began his roller ski journey across Canada to raise awareness for Type II diabetes. His trip ended on October 4, 2005…17 years ago to the day! Alex made the trip on V2 Aero roller skis. The original website created by Alex’s son Nick has been taken down, but Nick was kind enough to share some of the original blog with us. Some days are missing from the blog entries, but it’s still interesting to follow his journey.
Sadly, Alex passed away in June of this year. We thought we would publish the somewhat daily blog posts in Alex’s memory. Alex’ obituary has been included at the end. We think you will agree that Alex was an amazing human being and lived a very full life. -Diane
Distance Covered: 490 miles / 789km
Alex will be rolling into his hometown of Creston on Friday or Saturday, depending on distance covered! An update will be sent out on this. Alex and Terje found an injured fawn on the side of the road as they were skiing and stopped to make sure it got some help (Nicole drove to the nearest restaurant and the owner knew the owner of the house where the fawn was). They also met up with a 10 year old boy named Liam and his father who are cycling from Vancouver to Calgary! The local Overwaitea in Grand Forks gave a great discount on supplies (Nicole went for groceries while Alex and Terje put their feet up and aired out their socks) and the owner of the campground in Midway offered them a complimentary stay to support the cause!
When they arrive in Trail, Alex will be a doing an interview with the local KBS radio station.
Distance Covered: 535 miles / 860km
Special thanks to Johnson and Johnson “Healing Blister” for helping the skiers blisters heal up Biography Press and Articles Photo Gallery Ski Across Canada Community Work overnight! Great testimonial to them forthcoming. Duct tape also seems to be helping…Nicole was approached by a giant elk but was unable to get the camera in time (or was it hallucinations from being on the road for this long?) The Friday night plan is to camp out on the top of the Salmo-Creston summit then start heading down into Creston at about 7 am (walking the steep sections). They’ll probably be a welcoming committee at the Summit Creek Campground!
Distance Covered: 727 miles / 1170km
It’s been about a week since our last update (I’ve been out of town) so I’ve got plenty to cover! I’ll go day-by-day through the past week so you can catch up.
Nelson, B.C. – Overnighted at Gerrick Cycle parking lot. A couple of kids were rocking the RV and thumping on the sides. Nicole shooed them away as Alex and Terje weren’t waking up for anything! They all went to the Terra Nova for breakfast “with the civilized”. Interviewed with KBS (local radio station).
Salmo, B.C. – Bob and Donna Thicke met the group at Salmo. Bob cycled 25k along with skiers. His wife and two dogs kept Nicole company. Alex and Terje skied until 9:45 pm in the rain and pitch black to the top of the summit. Nicole was behind lighting the way and warning the traffic. It was “raining cats and elephants!”
From Nicole: “Terje and Alex were skiing in sync it was neat. I got mesmerized at times but Ididn’t run them over. When they reached the top they commented on the strange feeling. Alex asked how fast they were going – it felt like a flying experience. I had looked at the spedometer it stayed at 0. Honest, I was barely moving. So now I automatically say, you are going 0 km!!”
Creston, B.C. – Left the Summit at around 7 am and were greeted at Summit Creek Campground by a welcoming committee! Vera and Dick came partly up to be first to greet them. Christine Munkerud was there and with Bev Pozniak. They had hot chocolate for the group. The TAP ladies were there to greet, including Dorothy McEachern (92), who tried out the roller skis! At Millenium Park, they were greeted by Walt Pozniak, our favorite Polish mechanic. When he greeted them, Alex said he would kill for a feed of pierogi. Walt went home returned with dish of pierogi enough for 6 normal people. Alex and Terje cleaned up the dish and three bowls of fruit!
Alex, Nicole and Terje would like extend a big thank you to everyone who was there to greet them in Creston! By the end of day, they had 770 dollars for Team Diabetes! Note to Vera –the homemade bread and jam lasted until Yahk!
Yahk, B.C. – Arrived at 7:30 pm after leaving Creston at 2:30 on Sunday. Met Roy Johnson and wife at Goatfell. From Nicole – “We met our friends Mike and Marlene Mitchell, who own the Goat Mountain Soap Co. (makers of Beaver Butt soap). They also have ice cream (32 flavors). Great light meals. Alex had the biggest chocolate waffle cone – he wolfed it down then had supper. We spent the night. Marlene told me she also has sugar free ice cream for diabetics. We were parked next to ice cream stand with our diabetes prevention sign facing traffic! Not a protest we love ice cream!” Fresh coffee and shower luxury in the morning! Alex started at 6:45. They also met Annette Agabob, her mother and 2 boys heading for Saskatchewan. They will meet them when they come back in 2 weeks. Her 9 year old is a Type1 diabetic. His name is Austin.
Cranbrook, B.C. – Arrived at 4 pm with a welcoming committee! Left off at Gordon Armstrong’s then they met Marg Johnson (an E.R. Nurse from Creston working in Cranbrook). She said “you roll safely Alex. I don’t want to see you in the emergency room!” Doreen Roseberg (she brought them a linguini/meatballs sauce dinner with rhubarb for dessert) was there as well as Rose and Fred Stevens, Barb Lockhart (who donated some swiss skin care products and money), friends from speedskating Bob, Dave, Grayson, Ian, Barb with kids Andrea and Eric, Big Foot running club members (Alex and Nicole are members) Rose, Walt, Barb, and Gerry, Alex’s former boss Don Corrigal just out of the hospital (he had an embolism to his lungs – 50 year old karate teacher and lucky to be alive – he had to come see Alex his role model!) and his wife Wendy, Kathy from Environmental Health Officers office, Joan Currie (Nicole’s support person when with Continuing Care), Jill Johnson (started in Licensing after Alex retired), and Area Governor Toastmasters Arla Montieth. Hopefully, I’ve got everybody!
A Horse Pasture, B.C. – Travelling en route, they stayed overnight in a horse pasture on crown land (opened and closed the gate). Special mention goes out to Creekside Cabins – RVs in Galloway (Cheylene, Gracie and Champion the black lab)! MaryLou from speedskating dropped in, and Doreen Roseberg brought more food! Ed and Marion came over from the gol course to visit as Nicole and Alex were passing by.
Fernie, B.C. – Stopped by the police! For a chat…it was officer Clem Vanderhorst, Commercial Vehicle Safety Officer. He is a runner with the Big Foot Running Club and been looking out for Alex and Nicole. So no speeding ticket for the skier! Alex broke the 1000 km mark at Wardner. The skier completed 92 km today before settling for the night. Sparwood, B.C./Alberta Border – Alex and Nicole visited the Sparwood Wellness Center and met with Betty Downey – diabetes nurse and pain management consultant. They did a live interview with her. Nicole has been practicing her taping skills at the Alberta border! The last stretch has been rumble strips and very little shoulder but he made it.
Brockett, Alberta – Nicole parked at the Brockett gas station. The native fellow (Brockett is a reservation) was very friendly said his people are getting diabetes from too much sugar. As Nicole cycled back to Alex, a mad dog came chasing after her, running up and down the side of the road! The dust was flying – he didn’t get on the road – smart enough for that. When Alex came by, the gate was closed – no doggie! Nicole had Alex prepared to use his poles as self defense! Alex is learning French as he skies – one sentence every day. He practices as he skis – the first was “Je suis foux.” Today is “je m’appelle Alex, je suis la mari de Nicole.” Not a moment of wasted time, even while skiing across the country!
A phone update from Alexis Virginillo (Alex and Nicole’s daughter and my sister): Alex covered more than 100 km today, with a great Alberta tailwind. He’s even considering rigging up a backpack frame with a sail (I’m not even kidding) to take full advantage of the wind. If that happens, I will DEFINITELY get pictures of that! Alberta also has much larger paved shoulders on the roads than B.C. (a full lane) as well so traffic is not a problem. Alex has been praising Alberta all day!
“He’s sounds great. He’s feeling good and eating well. He’s recovering well after each day. He said that mom is taking great care of him. Mom’s complaining that she hasn’t had any junk food in a while. They’ve been eating pretty healthy. She hasn’t had an opportunity for a Tim Horton’s coffee fix. He says he’ll be in Saskatchewan by Saturday. They are moving now!
Distance Covered: 1017 miles /1637km
The province of Alberta has been conquered! Alex completed a record 121 km on his first full day through Alberta (nothing like a good tailwind to help things along). They camped at Coalhurst at Miners Park – nice with showers! Upon arriving in Lethbridge, Alex and Nicole stopped at the public library to send along a batch of pictures with great help from librarian Deb Smith. Thanks for the help! Alex survived #3 Truck Route through Lethbridge. In retrospect, they realized it would have been better to walk – busy road! They camped that night in a Safeway parking lot.
A Quote From Nicole About an Experience in Trail, B.C.
“I had to call the RCMP when Alex and Terje were not showing up. I was waiting for them 7 km from Trail for 2 hours, asking people if they had seen skiers on the road. They looked at me funny and drove off quickly! The police said no incidences reported but they will send a car. Meanwhile, a Cominco trucker stops. I ask him the same questions. He said on his first trip out to Salmo they were at Fruitvale – “the guys with skateboards on wheels and ski poles.” Bingo. They were already at Salmo by the time I cancelled my police call and took a few deep breaths and drove to them. They knew I hadn’t seen them on the left side of the highway. The bleepingwalkie-talkie did not work until I was a few feet from them. We learn.”
A BIG thank you goes out to Barb Lockhart for her donation of Arbonne International skin care and sunscreen. It stopped Alex’s bad subburn and red nose! The foot care creme is excellent also (especially after skiing 120 km!). She has generously sent along another batch for the road ahead. Be sure to check out her website: www.barbs.myarbonne.com 40km out of Medicine Hat. Great weather and excellent roads. They got a bit of shopping done and dined at Perkins –took home apple pie! Wunderbar! They met up with a fellow by the name of Ron Smyth, a cross-country skier who owns a lawn and garden business in Medicine Hat, Alberta. He wanted those skis! It’s a quiet Sunday and they are at Irvine, Alberta, only 16 km from the Saskatchewan border.
Irvine, Alberta- They left Irvine at 6:30 and went to tourist info at Walsh, Alberta. “There were two cyclists (Graham and Kyle) that we had met at Mission BC. They had one damaged wheel. We offered to drive them to Medicine Hat. Very grateful young men. They could have been stuck there for days. So that’s our good deed for the day. We dropped them off at a cycle shop. They just graduated college, from Burlington, Ontario.
Saskatchewan Border- The TV isn’t working out here and Alex is missing the results from the British Open golf tournament! Alex is experiencing spastic arms from poling all day (and even at night when he’s sleeping!). Thanks to Dr. John Berardi, sports nutritionist, for suggesting a large dose of calcium/magnesium. That did the trick!
July 19th – finished 80 km on the way to Swift Current!
Distance Covered: 1380 miles /2221 km
“Forever in Saskatchewan! Yesterday was a difficult day for Alex – that means bad roads, no decent shoulder or no shoulder – cursing the Saskatchewan Government! Alex is wearing out his ski tips on this pavement.” Alex and Nicole stopped in in Herbert, SK, and visited Max and Hedi Gossweiler at the Lone Eagle Motel for laundry. They also raise alpacas (www.swisslinealpacas.com) and are considering moving to Alex and Nicole’s hometown of Creston in the future (this was even before Alex and Nicole visited). Also, thank you to Brandine Allen (she is a gestational diabetic) for her generous donation to the cause!
Regina, SK- “We are sailing! Strong tail winds since Moose Jaw. Met Alison from Vancouver, B.C. and Rob from Brandon, Manitoba. They taught english in Taiwan. They are cycling from Vancouver to New York City. Got their picture. Then a guy from Sundance/Calgary area with a camper and three teenagers heading to Lake Superior. That was before Regina. When coming into Regina, I flew around the Ring Rd. I missed the exit to #1 Winnipeg but Alex was ahead and there he was turning right – I thought what is he doing then I saw the sign too late to exit. So four km to the next exit back-tracked and found my skier!”
Balgonie, SK – “We just had a few hours visit with Cheryl Solvey (family friend who lives in Fort Qu’Appelle, near Regina). She and her daughter Kirsten found us on the road at Balgonie, fed us supper at Subway and gave Alex a haircut in the Subway parking lot (ed. note: Cheryl is a hairdresser)! The neighbours were looking but we didn’t care! Haha. Got a picture of that. So we are overnighting in the school yard off the highway.”
Indianhead, SK- “We had lunch at Indianhead. Fish and chips, hamburger and chips – what a treat! When I was cycling along with Alex, we had a cow herd staring at us – great fans! We talked to them and they jogged along with us…we actually started a stampede out in Saskatchewan! We are really losing it here. Nobody but cows to talk to!” “We also saw two solar cars or electric cars (not sure what they were)? They were shaped like jets with the head of driver showing up in a dome. They were speeding along. One said Missouri on it. Not a hallucination… They’re from the Auburne University of Calgary. Supposed to be 10 more on their way through here. Did I tell of the duct tape around the wheels? The back ones extended their life span by 500 km! 3 cheers for duct tape! We are now onto brand new pavement – great for the skis, hard to pole on the smooth surface. They never thought a skier would be out here!”
Distance Covered: 1646 miles /2650 km
Just out Grenfell, SK – “We caught up with a family from Brandon, Manitoba who were stranded out of gas just 2 km out of Grenfell. So I drove him to pick up gas and then caught up to Alex. Our good deed for today. Not moving so well today. Alex put new wheels on – he had one ski going left on him. His shoulders are talking to him so we will propably take a couple of days off [Editors Note –that couple of days ended up being the next afternoon!].” “There’s a team of chiropractic students who left Victoria, June 17 to cycle to St Johns. They are ahead of us. Their website is www.unleashcanada.com. Check it out! All kinds doing the Canada trek.”
Whiterood, SK – July 26th – Happy 21st Birthday to Nicole!
“Having a leisurely day. Breakfast at Lee’s Chinese Diner. They had hotcakes and sausage on menu but she had never heard of it – we asked for scrambled eggs over easy on plate – that was an experience. An old guy, Walt, kept us entertained he remembered the 1950 flood in Manitoba – the boat was just outside your kitchen door. The ladies coffee group wanted to know where we were from/going where.” “We went to the library to email pictures. There was a group of summer program for kids. The librarian asked Alex to give a talk they were a very quiet 8 kids. Again, very helpful ladies at the Whitewood library. We went for groceries at Coop Food Store. There was a lady following meat Co-Op who gave me her membership number – she was a Finlander. The lady ahead in line said she was Swedish, last name Berg. We were stuck there for a while! We also found an article on the solar-powered cars we saw heading for Calgary from starting in Austin, Texas. We saw them first!”
Red Jacket, SK- “It was difficult to find an overnight parking spot that is not mosquito infested! Got a thunder/rain storm after we got back to the RV. Well planned! We met Dominique & Alexandre, French immersion teachers from Abbotsford. They are cycling to Montreal and he has his black Labrador, Betsy, riding in the trailer! Dominique carries most of load and she said he got Betsy to walk up those mountains and lightened his load by 83 lb but not her load.”
Twin Creek, Manitoba- “We hit some highway construction – great new pavement but Alex got his ski wheels tarred and graveled. We went to a car wash and soaped them up (didn’t get pic!). It all coagulated and he scraped it all off. We have been breakfasting out on most days and love it. And salad for supper – I just have to plan foods for 5 meals in between for Alex! We had breakfast at Virden with the RCMP – no problems! Friendly fellow belongs to the Lions Club. He had to go do some thrashing today. Another guy talked to Alex for about 1/2hr while he was checking the RV oil. I was tempted to hit the horn!”
Carberry Junction, Manitoba- “Alex started with a 5 km walk due to road conditions. We were at Carberry Junction overnight. We found a spot at a Conservation corridor fenced off area. We were getting ready for bed when we suddenly had a herd of cattle mooing at us. They wanted to visit! They eventually shut up. We are using the walkie-talkies. They apparently work in Manitoba. Portage Prairie will be next milestone.”
Portage La Prairie, Manitoba – You know he’s hungry when Alex is eating French Fries!!! “We found Portage La Prairie covered 71 km. I cycled maybe 35 km altogether. The pavement improved…but on the other side of the Highway! So Alex faced the traffic. The last sign said 75 km to Winnipeg so we hope we make it tomorrow. We had take-out dinner…chicken ceasar… as the restaurant was closing and lots of fries the skier craving fat. Must go to bed now. Mosquitos find their way in here.”
Winnipeg, Manitoba – “Dining out on Greek food! We are staying at the Boulevard Motel. Alex is worried about his skis so we brought them into the room!” “Great to hear from all the people with the well-wishes! The sign said 235 km to Kenora, Ontario, so we are gearing up again. The Winnipeg bypass is a quite isolated way out of Winnipeg. We had turned at the second exit (Roblin) and searched for a motel. It was a long drive right into downtown with our rig – no motels! It’s amazing…when you don’t want one they are everywhere. Good thing it was Sunday.
Distance Covered: 2013 miles /3220 km
There’s been no email service for most of the trip through Manitoba and Ontario so I’ve got a phone update to pass along from my sister, Alexis Virginillo (see below). They’re doing quite well and should hit Thunder Bay on August 11th.Phone Update: “They are now passing through Dyden, Ontario, en route to Thunder Bay. They are happy to be out of Manitoba. The mosquitos were insane! The roads weren’t much better. The roads in Ontario are pretty good. Alex is enjoying the scenery. Lots of lakes and bushes. They are eating well. He even had a Kokanee beer yesterday. He’s so tired of drinking water that Nicole is giving him Perrier carbonated water just because it tastes a little different. Ginger Ale is his drink of choice also. Alex said he’s like a furnace right now. Throw anything in there and he’ll burn it off. He said from the neck down, he looks 17, but from the neck up, 100. HaHa.” “They’ve found the truck drivers in Ontario to be so polite. The drivers for Bison Transport have been wonderful. They are blowing their horns and giving them plenty of room on the road. It’s basically the same drivers who see them on their routes as they go back and forth. The drivers for Yankee Transport have been great also.” “They had an interesting experience at their camp ground last night. A black bear invaded the camp ground and had to be shot. The people staying in a tent were pretty freaked out and worried they’d be his next dinner. Apparently, the bear broke into the local liquor store the night before. No word on what he consumed after breaking in.” “They are in good spirits and keeping up a good pace. They’ve had some pretty hot and humid days, which has made it more difficult. But, they are hanging in there. People continue to be supportive along the way.”
Distance Covered: 2460 miles /4176 km
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.
Letter To Bison Transport (Trucking Company) From Nicole Nilsson:
Subject: Most courteous drivers on the ROAD!
My husband, the Rollerskier, and I want to thank all your drivers for being so respectful and always driving safely around us. Your truck drivers really stand out as the most professional on the road. We have encountered Bison trucks from Alberta to Ontario on our trek across Canada from Victoria BC to St. Johns NFLD and we commend them for being excellent drivers. Presently we are heading to Sudbury and the road shoulders are not great for rollerskiing so we are trying not to impede the truckers. Just wanted to get word to your drivers that they are doing excellent work!
Sincerely. Nicole and Alex Nilsson- Ski Across Canada
From: Don Streuber, President of Bison Transport
Thanks for taking the time to affirm our professional drivers and their conscientious efforts to drive safely and courteously. I will be sure to pass on your email to them through our monthly newsletter. Safe skiing!
President & CEO
From here, I will start back from where we left off on the previous update and work forward to where they’re at right now.
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 roller skiing through Norway. He said they think they are the first to roller ski 2000 kmwww.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 overnight 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 skiingall 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 – 200 people. 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 overnighted 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 photographer 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, someone 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 sanitized 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. Overnight 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. Overnight 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.
Distance Covered: 3280 miles /5278 km
Picking up on the updates from Sudbury, Ontario: Just met a couple from Creston, Bridgit & Duncan Currie with two kids. They were looking out for us along the way. Had a visit on the roadside. Bad shoulders, or rather none, so Alex walked 15 km. We are now at the four lane area – yea! Arrived at Richie’s (nephew) in Sudbury at 7pm. Met Jane his girlfriend. Edwina (niece) was leaving for work. We had a great pasta dinner and Jane made blueberry/apple pie. Great visit. The fella we had met near Ignace, Vic, came over for dinner. He’s planning to cycle with Alex this morning out of Sudbury.
Leaving Sudbury, Ont.- We had a great send off from Edwina, Richie & Jane. Richie had a pair of x-country with poles on the front lawn. They were original back country wooden skis with original antique bindings – very valuable! He was proud that he paid ten dollars at garage sale for them! Had about 30k new pavement up to Hagar. Stayed at RV motel field with picnic tables. August 29. Started at 8:30 in heavy fog but it is lifting. Alex has flashing lights on fanny pack so he is visible.
Big Thanks for hospitality to Richie, Jane and Edwina. We really enjoyed our stop in Sudbury.
Big Thanks to Steph, Jacinthe, Sue, and Mike for the welcome to North Bay. Had a great time!
Thanks to Vic Del Bosco for meeting up with us in Sudbury. We had met him on Aug.7th near Ignace. See you in BC sometime!
Thanks to Doug Winters for trying to get his North Bay Jr Ski Team to meet with us. Sorry it didn’t work out! Good Luck to these future Olympians!
Near Hagar, Ont.- Roads are baaad but can’t turn back! Very few pullouts so I parked at the Saphire – Spur motel at Warren. I asked if was ok to be here for a couple hours. The manager, a retired trucker, was very accommodating. A few retirees were sitting having coffee and cigarettes and shooting the breeze – nice little community. At the viewpoint of Lake Nipissing, we met a Vancouverite, Kevin Melanson, originally from New Brunswick. He works as engineer in Vancouver. Stayed overnight about 15km from North Bay.
North Bay, Ont.- North Bay is about size of Cornwall, which was a surprise to me. I remember going to visit as a child ma tante (aunt in French) Rhea and family. Called her but we had no time to visit. Skied 28 km only. Steph (nephew) met us at the turnoff to Corbeil where they live. We went for lunch and Jacinthe (his fiancee) joined us. Then Suzanne (Nicole’s sister) came along. Sue and I went shopping – yea! It’s sad to be shopping deprived!! Steph whipped up a Gourmet meal. We checked out the site for the Log home Sue and Mike (her husband) are setting up. The lake view is out of this world – wonderful location! Had a good nites sleep in a normal bed no trafficwhirling by. GAS prices are going UP – yikes to our budget.
Leaving North Bay, Ont.- Meeting with NB Jr Ski Team didn’t happen. Ok. We had a leisurely visit with the Bouchers before they gear up for the wedding! Plan remains flexible here. We will decide which way to go in Pembroke – will be visiting Patrick (nephew) Norm’s (Nicoles’ brother) son – hope he knows condition of roads. We are looking at Hwy 148 through Quebec. See Alex coming up the hill. Huge hills in ON. Time for canned lasagna cold of course and coleslaw!
Deep River, Ont.- RAIN! A BIG Thank You to Craig Storey of XCOttawa.com for posting a request for road recommendations on his forums. And a big thank you to everyone who replied with advice! It always helps to hear from people who ski in that area where the best routes are.
Skiers from the group will be joining Alex as he goes through the Ottawa area!
Matawa, Ont.- Was a great visit with the Bouchers! Headed to Matawa. Met a young couple from Niagara Falls, spending summer holiday at Dunlop Crescent. Their names were Shelby and John – good visit! Had an IGA grovery store manager deliver my groceries to the RV – 3 blocks because of no parking for BIG me. His brother is diabetic. We talked BORDERLINE diabetic – who thought that up – you are or aren’t.
Overnite outside Matawa – no name pullout
SEPT. 1 Weather was good. Almost uneventful day – we need some of those. Got lot of cycling in – maybe I will get fit TOO! Found the perfect camp spot parked and cycled back to Alex 5 km. When we returned, excited scared people were throwing their picnic and their kids into their van and yelling at us “there’s a BEAR breaking into your RV!” Another couple got out of their vehicle and said its only a small bear! With all the noise we were making the young bear was unable to get to Alex’s old sardine can in our onboard garbage. He took off like a bullet – it sure can move fast! I was glad it was AWAY from us and no Big mother bear with him! The garbage was dumped in bear proof container pretty quick. Surprisingly no bear nightmares! The couple made a donation to the cause – Paul & Muriel Lariviere from Quebec
Distance Covered: 3653 miles /5,879 km
We are beyond Quebec City. Levis is right across the St .Lawrence River from Quebec City. I took pictures of Chateaux Frontenac from Levis when we did the 13km Parcours des Ances last evening (ski/cycle) and 13 back to RV. We are very impressed with the beautiful countryside all along the St. Lawrence. Alex wishes he was fluent in French. People want to talk to him about what he’s doing. Le skieur! After that enjoyable 26km we went for fish & chips and parked at the Metro shopping centre.
Today Sept. 17th – Rainy dull day all day. Left Levis at 8:00 am in the rain. We are heading on #132 to Riviere du Loup then we head across to New Brunswick. Met Herb Maguire from Saint John, New Brunswick in the rain today. He was heading home from a few years living in Ottawa. He was home sick so got on his bike and headed home. Very fine fella – he was happy he wasn’t the only crazy person out on the road in pouring rain and wind beating on you! He visited with Alex then with me and again with Alex when he caught up. Gets lonely on the road in the wind and rain. So we found a great RV park and we got power/sewer/laundry/water. Luxuries of home and shower! Almost happy it rained today. Picking up the updates from Pembroke, Ontario (backtracking to catch up the most current update above).
Pembroke, Ontario- Gas up to 1.20 ouch! Traffic not too bad – we are getting acclimatized. Made a call to Patrick and Bonnie, my nephew. We’ll stay with them in Pembroke. Outside of Pembroke, we met Sylvie Dubois from Sturgeon Falls. She is a French columnist for their local newspaper. Her husband is Norm Gareau, their son Alex. Took pics. They have a bilingual newspaper in Sturgeon Falls. They are heading to Hull. Sylvie/son Alex will parachute for 1st time. Good visit with Pat & Bonnie, Madison 3 and Ashley 18mths. Lots of fun till their bedtime.
Thank you for the hospitality!!
That was day 68 on the road. And to date 4,602 km.
Met Kem Holtz from Cobden. He gave me samples of the Gasoline Pill add to your gas tank and increases your mileage up to 20 percent! I will try when I gas up. Website is www.kem.rainbowrush.ca. Order from Nutrition store, it says on his card. I bought some meal replacement packs called Pure Trim – no soy no whey no dairy no aspartame no sucrose. Awareness Corporation out of Langley BC. Got a bottle of Complete and Harmony. All herbal and veg. See if our skier gets better mileage with that in his tank!! Would you add his website to our list of sponsors. I may become a distributor- dad said you haven’t joined that one before! Went to the Info Center at Cobden, a couple originally from Holland were working as volunteers – it runs with volunteer manpower!
Overnite in Renfrew Walmart park. Had a hot chocolate at Tim Horton’s – that is luxury!
Kanata, Ontario- From Renfrew we got to Kanata eventually. On #17 until it became #417 aaaaaah. Expressway! We knew that. Met Harris Kirby son Nathan and friend wearing Fernie t-shirt (sorry forgot name). He was followiing our progress through the xcottawa.com link. They were rollerskiing on backroads – gave us Backroads of Eastern Canada and a donation to cause. He warned us about the beginning of the expressway. At the right time we had a backroads book! There was a 3 ft smooth shoulder for about 15km. Could not get Alex off the Queensway! OPP gentleman policeman stopped Alex between Antrim & Panmure and questioned Alex. He said all the safety precautions and clothing lights, etc. Ok to continue but have bad news – it ends in a few km. Then this nice man said “I wish you a HEROES welcome somewhere along the way!” Alex of course was mad as a hornet when the beautiful paved shoulder ended! Also the Sturgeon Falls couple & son Alex stopped to talk to Alex then to me. They had parachuted – they were thrilled and wanting to take lessons. On their way home, they invited us for dinner, bed and breakfast in Sturgeon Falls. Lovely people!
Alex walked last 5km into Kanata – Day 69 and to date: 4669km. Overnight at Walmart.
September 4, 2005
We want to dedicate this day to my dad. Its 7 years today since he died. He would have thought it’s a crazy way to get across Canada. We think about him a lot as we meet people on the road asking if we are diabetic. No, my dad died of complications of diabetes, I tell them. That we are close to Cornwall (where he lived) on this day is weird and wonderful. A Comment On The Trek From An Elderly Italian Grandmother
From Alexis Virginillo’s (Alex and Nicole’s daughter) husband’s grandmother
“I told mom about my conversation with my husband’s grandmother. She immigrated to Canada from Italy in the 1960’s and is now 87 years old. When she heard about dad’s journey, she said (translated from Italian) “God must have told him to do this and is continuing to push him along. No sane person would do this.” Alex laughed so hard when he heard this that he insisted it be posted on the website.
Ottawa, Ontario- We had to get lights checked brakes & emergency this morning. Betty Ruda escorted us to the RV place. Met Albion Road Trailer Sales Ltd. Mervin Sheldrick. What a great guy! Got photos. Betty lead us into Quebec to #148 la Route Verte. Big THANK YOU to Betty for hospitality, food for 4 days (possibly!) Escort out of the Capitol and a generous donation! Can’t beat that! The Route verte is ideal Alex is in heaven has plenty of room. There is traffic but not a problem. 9:30 started out with Craig and Pierre on roller skis with Alex. They are from Ottawa ski team xc. Pierre’ s father Jean-Louis is in the follow-up vehicle with me. Estimate 30km paved cycle path including the Ottawa Western Parkway – just great. I got to cycle the last 10km with the ski athletes!! Welcomed to Parliament Hill by Betty Ruda, Marg & Bernie Becker. And we later went for Italian dinner at Robbie’s. The bartender had heard about it on the late news on his way home yesterday – no discount but great food. Betty treated us to dinner, bed and breakfast. Wonderful friends we have and we met Beula & Peter, friends of Beckers. They joined us for dinner – talked fitness. Beula is fit but the rest of us are starting a jogging program tomorrow!!
Thanks to the XC Ottawa team! Many thanks for escorting us to Parliament Hill! We are veryappreciative of you joining us on the Ottawa Western Parkway from Kanata. We wish you well for the upcoming ski season. We will look for your name in the sports headlines!
All the best.
Gatineau, Quebec – Today we are having trouble remembering Alex said I thought you were behind me when he got his FIRST flat/blowout. I was ahead! Fortunately we had our walkie-talkie ON! Back to crossing into Quebec at Gatineau, densely populated all along. Very friendly people. Drivers are little more intense here so I I pull over quite frequently. The skier has been rewarded with wide shoulders off and on. La Route Verte is great for skiing & cycling. Montebello stands out as a great vacation spot beautiful! Got to Lachute on Sept 7th eve. We walked a few blocks to have breakfast. The skies opened up on the way back- raining rest of the day. We covered 17km that day and my dear sister Mireille came to pick us up to take us to Cornwall to visit my mom and then head to North Bay nephew’s wedding. Could not miss when we were in vicinity and had transport!
THANK YOU’S From Nicole and Alex
Mireille Roderick for being the caring person that she is and providing R and R (rest/recuperation) for us.
My dearest maman Thank You.
To Carole/ Claude, our roomies in North Bay – generous beyond words. Appreciate it.
Again, big thank you to the Bouchers – great wedding!
To Lise and Ted Rudolph greatly appreciate your support. Lise it was wonderful having you share our trek – some stressful moments for sure! I need you with me for your clear thinking!
We are near Joliette. Settled for nite in truck pullout.
(skipped 9th, 10th, 11th ) we are at 4,869km. Getting there surely!
Maskingonge, Quebec – Made it to Maskinonge – that was 80km for today. This village was flattened by a tornado in 1991 and no deaths. It has been totally rebuilt. We are staying in the Harnois gas station parking lot. The kind monsieur said fine. Had 2 “angry dog” encounters. Alex had to use his ski pole to prevent dog from biting his leg. The lady was calling dog but he was determined to bite the skier, no injuries to skier or dog. The other incident was when I parked off the road at an abandoned looking car parts shed. When I closed the RV door this German Shepherd came charging at me going for my legs I ran across the Hway. The dog stopped right at middle of road I was screaming like a mad woman. A truck slowed up to see if I was okay. The owner of the dog came out and dragged his dog away and pointed to RV – like get out of here woman. I was very lucky. I drove out of there again like a mad woman. Oh mother!
Becancour, Quebec – Had a good shoulder off and on today. Alex wanted to cover more kms today but we drove through Trois Rivieres to check out the continuation of #138 but it was a horrible 15 kms through the city so we crossed the bridge #55 with help from a kind pedestrian who directed us. So we restarted the skier near the bridge on #132 which becomes autoroute #30. This goes right to Quebec City. St. Angele de Laval and Becancour are lovely villages on the St. Lawrence River south side. Picked up a book called La Route Verte looks good. We find most people we ask never noticed shoulder or pas d’accoutement! So we are happy with 3 Rivieres behind us! Two fellas stopped to talk to dad. When he said he had done 5,000 km, one fella would not believe him. Impossible! C’est pas possible. Dad laughed. The fella said I guess because you are in your forties it is possible! Another laugh! Dad never got to reveal his age.
NOTE FROM Nicoles’s Sister, Mireille Roderick
It was great to have Alex & Nicole with us on the weekend Sept 8th-12th. Although busy as it was with a wedding & family visits Alex managed to convince his wife & his sisters-in-law Carole & myself to walk back from the North Bay Country Grill restaurant to our chalet Terrace Suites. Sounded & looked easy enough (why didn’t I notice the steep inclines of the hills or the length of the trek?) Could it be that I was tricked into being more physically fit and once I found it to be enjoyable would pursue this as a daily activity? Time will tell! I think for that day the company I was keeping kept me motivated to complete the 4km walk.Easy as 1-2-3 for Alex when He has already covered at least 6,000km or more by now. Love you guys & wish continued success in your conquest to reach the Newfoundland tip of what we call ‘ Our Canada’.
We had to drive to Victoria because there no bikes or pedestrians allowed on Autoroute #30. We were told not a problem but we didn’t want to proceed there. So Alex has been on the Route Verte – nice packed gravel path off the highway. So I meet him every 10km. This time about 20km. Less stress for me. Send him off with sandwich and water and I drive a few towns ahead. I will get more cycling this way too. Met a Montrealer cycling from Sherbrook to Quebec City. Said a couple sections not good but from here to Quebec, pas de probleme!
The roads in New Brunswick are excellent so we’re moving right along! We left the church parking lot (where we were camped out) early – we didn’t want the minister chasing us off – just kidding! It kinda looked abandoned. We had a warm sunny fall day. The red leaves are brilliant colors. I got cycling about sections so approximately 30 km. Gorgeous day. The Hwy #2 bypasses Moncton but it was sure a busy area. By 7pm we were at Memramcook exit so we drove there. Chatted with a few residents, the gas station guy, his friend Peter Goddett who was a meteriologist. They gave us some history of the Acadians. Then we asked another fella directions to the only open restaurant in these parts – also very friendly and interesting. His name was Marc Goddett. He said Peter was his neighbour but no relation. So we ended having cheese and jam sandwiches because it was too late for the restaurant! Very historical area. The Memramcook means the crooked river. We are parked in huge parking lot next to the museum and info center.
Catching up on previous days updates from just outside Quebec City
Montmagny, Quebec- We left Montmagny early from a campsite called Camping des Erables de Montmagny. It was a better day but still hefty winds against Alex. We are on the shores of Fleuve St Laurent. I’ve been using my French a lot since we’re in Quebec. “Ou est la piste cyclaire? New words for me. We stopped at the IGA for groceries and met Jocelin Boisvert from Berthier. He was wanting to know if we are getting media coverage – “what you are doing is amazing!” Lots of huge home and manicured properties and NO garbage on sides of road like all other provinces. Alex was intercepted by a lady policeman questioning his mode of transportation. She had never seen anything like that before! All the way from BC! Her English was good. So they had a good talk. Her name was Isabelle of the QPP, Unit #5127. We saw hundreds of Canada geese on a trial run south. The sun was shining on them – it was spectacular. When we were ski/cycling at 6pm, the fog rolled in. Poor visibility… not for us at our SPEED but other vehicles so we got back to RV p.d.q. And it suddenly got very cold too. We found another campsite. The owner was away so this cute little old lady who has a trailer here and comes for 5 mths of the year for past 20 yrs. said “park anywhere you want the boss is away – no charge!” So we are here with power so I made TOAST and TEA for bedtime. Luxury again! Got an email from Liana Holesek Keller [former neighbor in Creston – suffering from thyroid cancer]. She is back working and coping. Best wishes to Liana! We love her quote – she said she now LIVES IN THE MOMENT not FOR THE MOMENT. That’s exactly what we are doing. So thanks. Liana, you are a courageous gal!
SIDE NOTE for Sept 9th:
In Cornwall, we went to Bicycle World to have 5 tires changed for the skis. A young man named Shawn was great and very patiently changed the tires. He said – 15 minutes should be done. Not so easy! Took a couple of hours. That’s why we had change of tires at a Bike shop! Big THANK YOU to Shawn of Bicycle World in Cornwall!
Camping de Aulnaies, Quebec – Day 81 and we are doing absolutely incredible! Started at 5,194km this morning. The little old lady from last night at the Camping de Aulnaies (camping is a french word now), her name is Jeanine Michaud. She came to say goodbye to us at 8am. We gave an envelope with a 20 and our card to her for the owner of campsite. Then we got her life history. Her husband passed away last year. Her first summer at trailer park on her own. Very courageous lady. We met the other two people – a couple from Montreal. Everyone’s gone home. Maybe one hundred trailer/campers all closed up for season. Back to the story – as we were leaving the owner drove in, so we visited with him. He was happy we had gone ahead and parked for the night and he spoke English with difficulty but he did so Alex would understand. Nice people. It is sunny now. Alex is shedding clothes. At 11am, he ate 2 Egg McMuffuns! Healthy and rapide!
Riviere du Loup, Quebec- Today we did 60 km from Notre Dame de Portage to Riviere du Loup then Alex was on Route Verte cycle path, which is compact gravel but not as smooth as the other section to Quebec City. It rained mostly all day. Even thunder and one lightning strike, which sounded pretty close to where Alex was. I asked if he dropped his poles – he said he just skied FASTER! God that guy! I parked near the cycle path and biked 20 km to Alex. He had enough food and water, but his waterproof stuff was wet on the inside. So I cycled back at top speed to bring dry clothes/power drink etc. I decided to drive close to the last 5 km of the path which crossed the road – follow me so far? I parked at the entry to thepath. I was getting my waterproof stuff on when he skied up YEA! He got dry stuff on took the mud and gravel off his skis and completed the last 5km. On his own – I would not get wet again! We looked for a camping site but there were none so we are at Rest Area near the cycle path. Wet stuff is hanging all around us. Hope it dries ! We use newspaper in boots and runners to absorb the dampness – a Terje Munkerud tip. Thank you Terje!
NO OTHER humans on the cycle path though we did see a deer.
St. Louis de Ha Ha!, Quebec- Alex skied 18 km on the cycle path while I dried the wet stuff from yesterday. Ugh! No camping or laundromat – only one Auberge closed for season! Told Alex we have to move faster! We’re now 15 km from New Brunswick border. We are on the only Highway that takes a person to NB so it’s busy but everybody is courteous…mostly! We made it to the New Brunswick border by 6 pm. We had supper at the Irvine truck stop (backtracked appoximately 2km into Quebec to get to the truck stop!) No beer available to celebrate so peppermint tea – why not! Interesting people yesterday – a Quebec Hydro employee gave me directions to the meeting area of Route Verte at St. Louis de Ha Ha. We chatted about diabetes – his 2 brothers are diabetic and he said it’s not gonna happen to him. He donated a twonnie – all he had on him – his wife holds the purse strings which is only right!! Once at a checkpoint there was a well driller standing around as the machine did its work. Once he started chatting, there was no stopping him – so we got his history, family history, etc. Nice fella from St. Louis de Ha Ha! Alex did not socialize along the way – he has his nose to the road. We are on a mission. We are the only 2 white haired people to cross Canada in this manner! We met a lady from Toronto at the “Welcome to NB” Info Center. They were heading to NB, Nove Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. We spent the night at the Irvine 24/hr Truckstop. Quite chilly this morning – fall is in the air! We got started real early with breakfast then get on the road. We are on #2 Hwy near Edmundston NB. Alex said this was a very small province. I said “yes, it looks small on the MAP!”
St Leonard, New Brunswick- The rain has let up. All’s good. Just left St Leonard’s library. Big thanks / merci beauoup to the librarian and her assistant for helping me send pictures along. They send their prayers and bon voyage! We need all kinds of prayers – gotta to complete this trek!
Beardsville, NB- We are in Beardsville – we passed Perth-Andover 5km ago. We found 24 hr Gas station – not a problem to spend the night. We had a late start – lots of things to disconnect when you have an RV. There was a bit of light rain then it cleared and we had sunshine. Turned out great. Alex skied 64km brings us to grand total of 5,576km to date. This afternoon a school bus was coming out onto the highway. When the driver saw Alex, she got all excited – the kids were all cramming in front to watch the skier! All of them were waving and the driver was giving the thumbs up. I was behind on the bike – they just looked at me – no hoopla! A lady stopped Alex and wanted to take his picture. She had seen him in Grand Falls earlier in the day. She wanted to know about the skis. Her husband is a trucker so we got good info on the roads. It sounds like pretty smooth sailing to Nova Scotia. Better day for me. Was able to cycle about 30km. Staying cooped up in RV in the rain yesterday was not good. “My mother said there would be days like that but she didn’t say HOW MANY!” It was nice to run into a restaurant for breakfast! Very cool to cold. A cattle truck parked a little too close to us last night – it just like living on the farm! It’s 9:50 am, Atlantic time, I think it is called. The next big town/city is Hartland and we stay on Hwy #2.
Long’s Creek- We accomplished another 71km yesterday. We were overnight at Longs Creek at a deserted RV park. It was open and the power was on so we made ourselves comfortable! Slept well but woke up to a rainy day! Yesterday, we gave a diabetic pep talk to a few employees at an Irving gas station. They were having their cigarette break. I didn’t see any cigarettes, to be honest. The manager was very friendly and said that all donations in this whole town POKIOK were going towards this young girl who came tenth in “Canadian Idols.” So maybe the girl from Pokiok, NB will make it big! Alex saw this car on the shoulder of the road – the drive shaft was down on the road. He asked the young girl if he could help – there was a baby in the car too. He got her mother’s name and # and when I got to Alex with the bike, I called her mother and left a message. Then I called 911 – pretty neat. The RCMP said they would take care of it from there. That was near Oromocto. So we keep moving across towards the ocean.
So we are at Gagetown at their one and only campsite. It is pouring rain and the wind is rocking the rig! The manager gave us discount. And he got a FREE lecture when he told me was Type 2 diabetic! Completely DONE!!! St. John’s, NFLD and back home in Creston!
Total Days Roller Skiing: 95
Total Distance Covered: 3790 miles/ 6,100 km
More detailed updates from Nova Scotia to St. John’s, all the way back to welcome to Creston!
Springhill, Nova Scotia- Crossed that BORDER to Nova Scotia. Alleluhia! Only covered 53 kms. It was a battle all the way with strong winds. Alex was exhausted. A trucker stopped to ask Alex if his RV back there had broken down (when Alex was walking). A nice guy! Springhill is 5km from Hwy#104 which leads to Halifax. We stopped in at Irving gas station. I asked if we could park overnite. Sharon, nice lady, tried to call her boss. He was not home so she called the RCMP – they said at Information Center it is well lighted and next door to the Police Staion. So we have their blessing. Raining now and still windy. We pray for better weather tomorrow.
Brookfield, NS- Left Walmart/McDonalds at 835 am. Tried the Scenic trail on old #2. No shoulder and we were aggravating the yard sale people (buyers and sellers!) So we did 15km of that until Brookfield then got unto the freeway #102. The truckers returning from Halifax are giving happy toots (is there another word?) Alex called them “hooters” – had to correct him about hooters. Anyhow, things are going well. We are exactly 80km from Halifax.
Dartmouth, NS- We are settled for night ata 24 hr truck stop. We have 35 km into Dartmouth – a change from Halifax because of the bridge to cross to Halifax allows no pedestrians. To Dartmouth is directly to the Atlantic Ocean!! Met this friendly fella Andy Frosst who told us about the bridge. He offered to have us park at his place on Monday and he will drive us to the Airport and pick us up the next day. He looked at Alex’s attire and said “you are just an ordinary guy” and could not believe he is 70! Then he looked at me he said “I know you’re NOT 70” – I thanked him for that! He said to Alex “you don’t look rich who is paying for this trip?” Alex said we just on pensions. The guy asked his ladyfriend for 20 dollars to give to us!! We have his business card Frosstie’s plumbing! Also had a fella stop behind RV and he asked what Alex was THAT for! He is a truck driver and saw Alex on Cobequid Pass yesterday. He donated to the cause. Made it to Dartmouth harbor. YeaYeaYea. Checking out the ferry which crosses over to Halifax. Will take a quick tour of Halifax.
Arrival time 1:10pm NS time.
St. John’s, NFLD- Just highlites as others are waiting to use this computer in the lobby of the Quality Hotel. Wonderful to have normal environment – no transport trucks whizzing by! Met at the airport by VOCM reporter – checkout his website www.vocm.com – write up about 70yr old guy! I talked to CDA regional director Carolann Smith – they (her, Debbie Team Diabetes rep and Darren) they will run with Alex skiing to City Hall which is Mile 0. In the morning at 11am. Telegram reporter Tara did a phone interview with us and sent a photographer to our room – done. In the paper in the morning, he thought. All for now as it happens! St Johns is a very old and interesting city!
The Next Day
We have made it! The last km was with three reps from Candiana Diabetes Association. We are heading to Signal Hill then to St Johns airport. NTV coverage and Telgram newspaper had an article today. We just called KBS so the Kootenays know.
A big thank you to our children Alexis & Nick for taking care of their parents! And to family, to friends and new friends we met!
Here’s what has appeared on today’s VOCM radio website:
Roller Skiing Odyssey Ends
October 4, 2005
A 70-year-old BC resident, who ended his cross-Canada roller skiing odyssey in St. John’s, says he hasn’t let age become a barrier to a healthy lifestyle. Alex Nillson says it was his goal when he left home in June to draw attention to healthy living and diabetes prevention. Nillson says he doesn’t have any aches or pains after thousands of kilometres on the road. He arrived in St.John’s yesterday. He flew in from Halifax, because time constraints prevented him from roller skiing across the rest of Nova Scotia and the island of Newfoundland.
Epilogue – The Trip Home
Can you believe no email from your parents for 12hrs! We had a great visit with Dave and Ann Harris, formerly of Creston now living in Baddeck NS. Luxurious B n B! Tour of Baddeck, the best clam chowder in NS and a quick visit/photo for local newspaper. Too quick a visit. Now back on road. Have to catch up on my trip log today but not right now! This nice man Andy Frosst picked us up at the airport. Our RV was safe in his yard while we were away. So early to bed start off early towards ON! Traded in RV for Ford Ranger with cap(canopy) 4Å~4. Nice. Busy with that today. Last night dinner in our honor organized by Mireille (sister) and Lucy from my nursing class. We were met at door of the Cornwall Golf/Country Club by reporter of Seaway News. There was about 35 people there, including grandmaman. It was wonderful evening. Mireille is a great emcee and Alex and I gave speeches. Well done, if I can say so. There was a gal from Cornwall CDA Branch coordinator Linda Rodgers at the dinner who was very impressed with our achievement. The couple with her, he is diabetic and going to Honolulu for marathon with Team Diabetes. His wife writes scripts for murder mysytery dinner theater. She offered one to us as a fundraiser for us free if it’s for Team Diabetes. May take her up on it. Then caught up with how my nursing friends are doing. And family my uncle JeanPaul/wife Claudette from Ottawa were there and some cousins. Don and Robert were there they are working on sugar shack. Ginette is at Germaine/kids. We are 700 dollars closer to our goal of fundraising! Can you check were we are at or tell me how to find out. Monday we meet with Carolyn Waldo (was synchronized swimmer Olympian) with CJOH. Going to Ottawa for the interview. We are having a packing day. Now Chinese food for supper – yum yum.
Welcome Home to Creston!
Karl Alexander ‘Alex’ Nilsson
December 13, 1934 – June 30, 2022
In Loving Memory ~
Alex Nilsson passed away on June 30, 2022 at the Creston Valley Hospital at the age of 87. He was born in Sweden and traveled the world before making Creston his home. Alex was predeceased by his parents, three brothers and his wife Nicole. He leaves behind his children Alexis (Doug) and Nick (Kelly), his sister Ella, his partner Serena Naeve and his close friends Terje and Christine Munkerud.
Alex had many interesting jobs in different parts of the world before arriving in Creston as the public health inspector for Creston and surrounding areas from Kootenay Lake to Moyie Lake for almost 30 years. Alex dedicated a tremendous amount of time and effort to the betterment of the town of Creston. Up until his passing, he was still a member of a number of community boards. At his peak, he estimated the number to be over a dozen at one time. Cresteramics, Kootenay Employment Services and Spectrum Farms are only a few of the organizations that benefited from his knowledge, leadership, generosity of spirit and kindness. He saw people who needed his help and didn’t wait for an invitation. He just did it. Alex was also well known in the Creston sports world. If a club didn’t exist, he started it. From soccer to cycling to skiing to tennis to golf. You name it, he played it. His feats of endurance are the stuff of legend, both organized and of his own invention. He cycled from Creston to Calgary in 24 hours with his friend Terje. They then cycled from Creston to Vancouver in 48 hours. His crowning achievement was his roller ski across Canada adventure from Vancouver to Newfoundland in 3 months. Alex was an extraordinary man who lived an extraordinary life.
In lieu of flowers, friends wishing to make a memorial contribution may do so to the Nicole Nilsson Memorial Hospital Fund c/o Creston Valley Community Foundation Box 701 Creston, BC., V0B 1G0 or to the Creston Hospice Society, PO Box 612, Creston, BC V0B 1G0.
Celebration of Life was held September 17, 2022 at 11 am Creston Room in the Creston & District Community Complex.