Mobilize March -- Travel Blog


Wow. That is the only way I can sum-up today’s experience…”wow.” After about 8 hours and 74km, I have officially completed “Operation: Epic Drive” and lived to tell the tale. I am pretty sore (not nearly as bad as expected) and really, really tired, but everything went according to plan today.

We began the huge drive from Kingston this morning around 9:30am, making our way to Gananoque for a mid-day lunch/rest. This drive went off without a hitch, absolutely flying by–I was full of energy and ready to tackle this huge day of driving. Moments after leaving Kingston, the unbelievable scenery began to unfold. To my left, I had beautiful trees and rock formations and to my right I had variations of lake front, forest, and wetlands. About halfway to Gananoque we came across a fellow traveler who had lost his way–a surprisingly large turtle who appeared to have fallen asleep on the road. As we drove past I radio’d to Sam to ask if she thought we should save it, as it was sitting right in the road. She was down with a little game of Rescue Rangers, so we pulled over and did our best emergency crew impersonation, transporting the wayward turtle from one side of the road to the other. Nice try Darwin, you can’t have this one! Just as we were laughing and watching the turtle crawl back toward the pond, another turtle bolted from the trees and tried to make it’s way across the road. This one, luckily, had the wherewithal to make it across the road so Sam didn’t have to cradle it across, but we thought it was pretty hilarious that all of these turtles were crossing the road at the same time. We would later come across actual “turtle crossing” warnings later down the road–I guess it’s more common than I thought. I also came across a field full of sheep with one donkey standing in the middle (one of these things is not like the other) and a Ram who I think wanted to fight me…he was definitely giving me the challenging eye! This trip was like an episode of Wild Kingdom, it was pretty funny.

Arriving at Gananoque in good time, this is when our plan kind of fell apart. We parked the van and got out to find some food but unfortunately very few places downtown were wheelchair accessible. In fact, the only accessible eatery we found on the main strip was in the process of being sold–ugh. We kept walking down the road when finally we found a nice little deli-looking place that, while not wheelchair accessible, did in fact have a wheelchair accessible patio. Oh well, beggers can’t be choosers, right? Boy oh boy were we in for a treat! The little diner had the nicest staff ever with a very “small-town” feel–very personal and accommodating. Our culinary assistant for the afternoon explained that his shop has the best quesadillas in town and we thought, who are we to argue? Low and behold, he was right–these were probably the best quesadillas we’ve ever tasted. They were unbelievable! So good, in fact, we lost track of time and spent an hour on the patio stuffing our faces. I should add that the weather was really bizarre today, although mostly sunny, we got a BIT of rain while sitting on this patio.

After letting the food digest a bit it was time to get back on the road–we still had close to 55km to dominate! We set off again along a beautiful stretch of road called the “1000 Islands Parkway.” If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend checking out this stretch of road! Why go on the 401 when you take a little bit longer and have this type of scenery!? It was absolutely gorgeous. It is also home of some of the funniest street names ever. While I cannot remember them all, my personal favourites were “Smuggler’s Bay,” “Butternut Bay,” and “Horse Thief Bay.” I officially petition the City of London to change Dundas Street, where I now live, to “Horse Thief Way” or perhaps “Horse Thief Crescent.” How in the world does somewhere get named “Horse Thief Bay”??? I honestly spent an hour after seeing this sign wondering what in the world could have happened there (aside from some good ol’ fashion Grand Theft Equestrian) that could possibly land it such an amazing name. Think about it for a moment–not everywhere in this world where horses are stolen get named “Horse Theft Road” and not everyone who steals a horse gets their street renamed to “Horse Thief Lives Here Road.” How many horses do you need to steal to get the name? Or is it the number of horse thieves that live on the street? Furthermore, if everyone who lived on the street stole horses, wouldn’t they be sent to prison, meaning there wouldn’t be any active horse thieves still living on the road? These are the questions running through my mind most of the drive. It’s a conundrom.

All in all, this drive was amazingly long and difficult: the last hour is a complete blur…I didn’t even see the “Welcome to Brockville” sign! The last hour was definitely pretty grueling and I just kept reminding myself of the Stars lyric “Live through this and you won’t look back”–if I can make it through this drive I can do anything. When all is said and done I did exactly that: I’ve definitely survived and I’m ready for more. From the comfort of my hotel room I can say that it wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life (spinal chord surgery takes that cake) and I’m pretty sure I had another 10 or 15 kilometres left in me, but the story might be a little different if you had asked me during that last hour. But now that I’ve been able to sit back for a few minutes and eat some food, I’m already feeling a lot better!

Well, I’m pretty tired and have an early interview tomorrow on The Beach so I’m going to wander off to bed. I got some good news today that Christina and Natalie are hitchin’ a ride with Duncan Hawthorne to Ottawa, so I will get to walk the last kilometer with at least two very special people!

Can’t wait!

– 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.