Mobilize March -- Travel Blog

Day 29 — Gonna feel THAT ONE in the morning…

So I had just written up a beautiful and lengthy entry about how our day was today, which was both eloquent and elaborate, but apparently the wireless internet in this hotel decided it wasn’t meant to be read and instead transmitted it into the aether, never to be seen again. Unfortunately, it’s now getting late and I’m really feelin’ the drive today so this is going to be a shorter post than originally intended. Don’t worry, I’ll attempt to recreate it tomorrow when I’ve got some time and a shoulder that doesn’t feel like it’s been smacked around with a baseball bat.

Knowing we had a long drive ahead, we got an early start this morning, hoping to get some kilometres under our belts before to phone interview. I was full of spit and vinegar this morning, ready for anything. Part of this was from the warm sun that greeted me this morning. However, today was going to be tough–it was the first time we’d be doing back-to-back drives, leaving Oshawa the day after arriving. Not only that, but this would also be a loooong drive, over 50km. We managed to get to Bowmanville by the time Rogers TV called, which worked out nicely because it meant we could do the interview from a quiet parking lot rather than from the side of the road with cars whizzing past. After the chat with the hosts from Daytime it was time to get back to the drive. In the interests of speeding things up (and preventing Sam and Pete from going crazy with inner-city driving) I decided to zip down the sidewalks through Bowmanville and meet the crew at the far side of town. This worked out pretty well and definitely alleviated a lot of stress. One of the goals of this trip has been to try and minimize our impact on other commuters and keep the flow of traffic going unobstructed whenever possible because I know what it’s like to be held up by a terrible transportation system and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else. While this strategy helped keep traffic moving, Bowmanville is way wider than I expected. So wide in fact that our walkie talkies couldn’t reach from one side of the city to the other, meaning that we lost radio contact for a majority of our time in the town. This wasn’t such a big deal though and the warm sun was keeping me in great spirits.

After Bowmanville things got really interesting. As I was driving along I was joined by another visitor–no, Kathy didn’t make the trip again today. Instead, a man and his young boy followed me on a mini-ATV. They saw me coming and decided to take a bit of a ride with me to hear what I’m up to. As it turns out, this gentleman has a relative with MS and knows how tough things can be to get around. After some laughs and a handshake it was all ahead full speed.

The roads we used became less and less active and before long we found ourselves alone on what may or may not have been the path to Narnia. The rippling meadows of green grass got taller and taller and the bending shady trees got closer and closer. This path was absolutely stunning–best route choice EVER. I can only describe it as being surrounded in a tunnel of deep shimmering greens, soft baby blues and warm golden beams. Before long we had to stop and grab some food, so we chose a nice side road to stop and eat. By this point it was getting a little warm so I began shedding layers and stripped down to only a t-shirt for the first time in the trip, sporting my spindly white little arms for the world to see. I slapped on a bunch of sun tan lotion and was ready to go again (although I missed the spot on the back of my arm…whoops…little burnt). I should also mention that the bugs came out in FORCE during this stop and without even realizing it, we were almost eaten alive by an army these tiny little black flying bugs. I have little bites all over my arms…but they don’t itch really, so I’m not too concerned.

The drive kept chugging along through this beautiful country, leading us down rocky dirt roads, bush paths and over a rickety wooden bridge (my favourite part). Before long we finally made our way to Port Hope and were almost there. Once again we decided to split up with me on the sidewalk and Pete and Sam going to the other side of town. Unfortunately, the plan didn’t work out so hot this time around. Shortly after leaving radio silence, I began having some wheelchair problems going down the big hill in downtown Port Hope. I know what the problem was (fast hills+hot motor=shut down), but it held me up just long enough that I would lose radio contact with Pete and Sam when they discovered the sidewalk only continues on the left side of the road, not the right side that I was currently driving on. I eventually discovered this myself and had to turn my wheelchair into a tonka truck and climb some crazy curbs and roll over some surprisingly deep grass. After fighting my way through Middle Earth, rescuing the princess, and taming the mystical dragon, I finally made it to the far side of Port Hope and was ready for the last 8km of the trip.

By this point, my shoulder was absolutely raw, my legs hurt from the bumpy road and my neck was screaming for rest. By the time I crossed the line in Cobourg I could barely sit up and was breathing really heavy. Today was a huge work out and really draining, so I’m heading to bed as we speak (might stay up a biiiiit longer to watch the game…go pens go?). I’m sore and cranky but we’re here in Cobourg and can’t wait to meet some great people around here over the next few days.

More tomorrow, I promise. For now, I rest!

– Jeff

By Jeffrey Preston

Born with a rare neuromuscular myopathy, Jeff has spent his life dedicated to advocating for himself and others with disabilities. With a PhD in Media Studies from Western University, Jeff's research focuses on the representation of disability in popular and digital culture. Jeff is currently an Assistant Professor of Disability Studies at King's University College @ Western University in London, ON.