Monday, January 16, 2012

Days 143 and 144 Dryden to Vermilion Bay to Kenora, Ontario

Day 143 of the relay, another chilly northern Ontario day. I was back driving the medal bearer shuttle with Kayla as the host. Our meeting point was at the Dryden High School.

More inspritational school hallways

Kayla and I were back in class today teaching the Rick Hansen story and about the 25th anniversary relay to the medal bearers and their families. We also spend a good portion of the meeting getting to know them and hear their stories of why they are here today, how they were chosen, and who influences their lives.

One of the teachers  at the school showed us a newspaper clipping from when Rick came through Dryden 25 years ago.

It was a full house in the gymnasium for our presentation.

So many students, the medal bearers had to grab a spot on the floor.

Barn was in charge of the technical side of the presentation, a shot of Rick Hansen on his computer was the next picture up on the big screen in the gym.

Outside, Jeremy and Marilyn fine tune the bikes for their medal bearer escort duties. So far they have been able to keep pedalling despite the weather.

We had four school stops this morning, the kids showed their support outside of the St. Joseph Catholic school in Dryden.

I love the effort the kids put in to make the signs to cheer on our team
They were lined up the entire block

Tyrone, medal bearer escort for the day,  and Kris, the medal bearer nominated by Open Roads school in Dryden head towards the school. 

Not to be outdone, the Open Road students lined up, waiting the arrival of the Rick Hansen medal.

It was pretty cold out, so we decided to get the medal bearers off of the shuttle bus to lead the students in our warm-up dance.
One of the bigger employers in the town is this Domtar pulp mill

The final medal bearer of the morning had a lot of people waiting for him at his insertion point.

Aaron was the the school choice at the New Prospect school in Dryden.

Here he comes with friends, peers and family in tow, making his way to the school.

That was the only medal bearer group of the day for Kayla and I, so after lunch (it used to be a Rueban sandwich, very good, indeed!), we decided to check out a place just west of town that was recommended to us.

down the road towards......
Egli's sheep farm, wool, and sheepskin shop.

This place was really interesting, the sheepskin is imported, apparently the sheep they have on the farm are for meat.

Forget the cold, it was still a beautiful scene at the farm.

The store had everything from sheepskins, to mittens, slippers, hats, clothing, socks, and on and on.  
Kayla bought some gloves and socks, my wallet stayed frozen in my pocket!

Back to Dryden for our last of two nights in town.

Believe it or not, restaurant food gets a little much every night, so Wendy (thanks for driving) Hank, Marilyn, Joey and I headed to the local grocery store to pick up some food to eat back at the hotel.

It was a good idea, we ended up having a little picnic in the breakfast area of the hotel. Nice change.

Day 144, one more day on Shuttle 1, I could tell we were heading west, I could see sun rising in my side and rearview mirrors.

Just outside of Vermilion Bay was this bigfoot statue, I remember this thing when we came through on the Olympic Torch relay. It even has it's own website here.

Our first medal bearer meeting was at the Woodland Arena in Vermilion Bay. I was kind of surprised to see an arena in a town of only 1200 people.

But, like in Ignace, a hockey dressing room makes a great place for a meeting.

I had to take a picture of the garbage can, I think it has been hit with a couple of pucks and sticks over the years.

Two of our medal bearers today were Scott and Keith, brothers that grew up in Vermilion Bay. Here is a picture of them with their family. Here is Keith's story:
I grew up in Vermillion Bay and have that small town mentality of supporting the community. I moved to Dryden in my late teens and started

working with youth in my early 20s. In 2004 we moved to Gatineau, Quebec to work with a youth group there. I also worked with Scouts

Canada while there. I love to teach and guide young people, to give them hope. My nick name is Papa Mick as I am father figure to many of the

youth I have worked with over the years. We have just moved back to Dryden and I would love to be part of this new journey. I had lunch with

Rick in Vermillion Bay on his first journey and he has inspired me to this day. I would love to do this for my brother Scott.

                                                                And now Scott's story:

I have been a vollunteer all of my life. My family was involved in helping to bring a covered ice surface to our town. When I was in my late
teens I coached Pee-Wee, Bantom, and the only girls hockey team. I joined The Vermilion Bay Kinsmen Club in 1987. I was injured at work on
May 19, 1989 and became a C5-C6 quadrapalegic. I was away for 6 years and moved back in 1995. I coached one more year and still might go
back. Since I have been hurt, I have gone to schools and talked to classes about being injured and what a person in a wheelchiar has to go
through. I have been involved in Kinsmen now for 24 years, and currently the president. On February 20th 2009 I received my Life Membership
from my club, and also on the same night the HOPE medal from the Vermilion Bay Lions' Club for service to the community. Our clubs have
contibuted to just about everything our community has needed in the past 50 years. My better half Lori and I have been together now for 26
yrs. She has been with me this whole journey. I am also an avid woodworker, fisherman and hunter. Thank You For Your Time Scott

Inside the arena was this autographed hockey stick that the town acquired from Bobby Hull, when he played for the Winnipeg Jets in the old World Hockey Association.

Hanging out in the arena, a place I have always been comfortable in.

Our endurance athlete Joey arrives on his hand cycle ready to hand the Rick Hansen 25th anniversary medal to the first medal bearer of the day, Shelly

The medal transfer is complete

There were only four medal bearers this morning, so they decided to walk together for their segments.
A glimpse of Vermilion Bay in the background

Yah, in a couple of years, I might just have to check this place out!

Heading into Kenora, our last stop in Ontario, a province we crossed into on Oct. 26, 2011, almost 3 months ago.

A lot of water around here, Kenora (originally known as Rat Portage) is on Lake of the Woods, an amazing body of water consisting of many islands and 65,000 miles of shoreline.

Heading downtown towards our 2nd medal bearer meeting point at the Thistle Pavilion

This was more of a information center and office, but we managed to accomadate everyone.

Our end of day celebration was next door at the newly (sept. 2011) opened Winkler Harborfront park

This was a super cozy briefing, but we still managed to find room to do the warm-up dance.

Back downtown to our insertion point (the start of our medal bearer group segments). It also just happened to be a McDonald's sponsor stop, and yes Ronald McDonald was in the house, but alas, I had to stay in the shuttle with the medal bearers

Natalie, who was our 2 hour advance person (making sure everything is ready for our scheduled relay stops), was directing the convoy traffic into the McDonald's parking lot.

And here it comes!

After we dropped off our final medal bearer, we headed back for the end of day celebration. Outside of the pavilion, there was a plaque to honor the 1907 Kenora Thistles, who actually won the Stanley Cup.

Another one of the places I need to get back to in the summer time. I was told the population triples at that time.

End of day celebration in the new pavilion. I think the turn-out would of been better if it wasn't so cold out, minus 20 celsius with a wind chill.
The end of day final medal bearer, Danielle. Here is her story:

My name is Danielle. I am 17 years old and have spina bifida. I am a highschool student at Wabaseemoong School in Wabaseemoong

First Nation in Whitedog, Ontario. I am the only student in my school in a wheelchair. I like to show the younger students I can be active and

enjoy all the same things as they do even in my wheelchair. I like to help out at the school dances for fund raising and I think I encourage some

of the older people in wheelchairs to come to community events like I do especially powwows.

A rousing rendition of O Canada

Day 144 Kenora medal bearers.

Kayla has found a new friend.

Lake of the Woods

Our hotel for 3 nights, kinda looks like the building from the space age cartoon "the Jetsons"

1 comment:

  1. What I love about this blog is that it continues to feature and capture all the little moments of the Relay that can only be seen through the lens of a (wildly handsome) travelling road team member! Keep up the excellent photography and detailed diary entries - I'm always checking your blog from Vancouver!

    Hearts and hugs from Monty's number 1 fan,