The first was from a very good family friend named Jenna Moore. Jenna has been like a little sister to us for her entire life and is one of the sweetest and cutest girls you will ever meet. Completely surprised by the email, Jenna mentioned, “She was following our blog, was wishing us luck and thought what we were doing was really cool” Before Jenna emailed I had an OUT! I could have said something had happened and bailed halfway through the trip, now with our little sister cheering us on, I finally realized I have to FINISH, my legs will hurt for another 32 days. Thanks Jenna. (Ha ha)
The second was from a lady named Rosemary Parr from Scotland. We have zero idea how our story reached her across the water in the motherland but it was touching to read her email about her vested interest in Parkinson’s. Rosemary’s father has had Parkinson’s for 20 years now and possessed all of the same attributes that Baha did. She spoke of her opportunity to watch how strong the human spirit can be and what her experience as a primary caregiver has been like with her father. Her email touched all of us. Being that Baha’s heritage (Munro), Grandma Mary’s heritage (McFarland) and our father’s heritage (Mackinnon) all stem from Scotland we thought it was pretty fitting that our first international contact was from the land of Kilts and Haggis. Our father an avid Scot spent years shocking us all with his horrifying chicken legs every Robbie Burns Day. Hughie Mac patented getting married in a kilt in the Canadian Mackinnon Clan and it has been mentioned a few times that if we do not get married wearing our pladed colours there is a possibility of banishment from the family.
I feel as though we are being tested. That my brothers and I are placed smack dab right in the middle of a video game and are trying to conquer it. Every time we pass a test or level we move onto the next with, Halifax being the culmination and the final step. Each level gets harder and more complicated, with different settings, Natural Elements to defeat and challenges. For example:
Level 1 (BC to Waterton): Imposing mountain passes thrash your legs as you gain elevation and the temperature drops, potential Bear attacks keep you on your toes at all times. When you finally complete this level we feel like a voice over plays ominously “Proceed to Level 2”
Level 2 (The Prairies): Alberta and Saskatchewan turns into a land of false hope. Mirages of towns far off in the distance never seem to get any closer, at anytime you can feel the winds shift and begin to continuously hammer your mind and body, imaginary animals like Buffalions and Moomels begin to tease you, there is zero greenery which means the bland colors begin to wash together and all you see is farm fields, “NO MORE EARTH TONES” and finally the horizon looks like it falls off the end of the Earth. “Proceed to Level 3”
Level 3 (Manitoba and Northern Ontario): Prairie thunderstorms roll in exactly when you cross the border pounding you with rain drops the size of the bug bites on Sean Neville’s forehead, but these are not your average rain drops, They are intelligent rain drops that seep into every crevice you have in your rain gear and bags soaking everything you own. The landscape turns into an abyss of wilderness of the everlasting boreal forest and a land of a thousand lakes. The rolling hills have zero pay off like the mountain passes of BC as you know there are about 5,000 more to come. Northern Ontario then decides to combine all of the elements of the previous Levels adding Head Wind that somehow whips through the narrow road and acts as a wind tunnel.
I assume Level 4 in Southern Ontario will be a task of zero possibility, something that is terribly difficult to achieve. I am guessing something like being the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and actually leading them to a playoff spot. ZING!!!!
Basketball and Hip Hop Music go hand in hand. It doesn’t matter if you are a baller from New York City or from Mortlach, Saskatchewan if you are a bball player stereotypically you end up liking Hip Hop Music. I was no different. In high school being 6’4, 155LBS I was not the most intimidating person. (Being nicknamed Mcskinny did not help either) So I ultimately adopted a different self proclaimed persona, a crazy bad and tough, Rapping/MCING big dawg named “Scotty Mac” As I had zero rapping skills, could not rhyme, stuttered on my words constantly and had no idea what a kid from middle class Vancouver Island should be rapping about, I began to sample famous rappers lines and just input my name where theirs was. Counterfeiting their work as my own. One such rapper was named Obie Trice (A Detroit native, prodigy of Eminem and Dr.Dre). One of his famous lines at the beginning of the Eminem song “Without Me” went like this “Obie Trice, Real name, No Gimmicks”. In typical Scotty Mac fashion I creatively adopted this to “Scotty Mac, Real name, No Gimmicks” and used it on everyone, professing it as mu own and so our story begins.
Wrapping around one of the endless hills between Kenora, Ontario and Dryden (Home of Chris Pronger). Tired, confused and rattled we looked up to see a massive touring bus with a large container of equipment attached to the back parked on the side of the road. At the lake to our right are four guys pretending to fish and laughing contagiously. Immediately my spirits are picked up as I am tired of hearing Russ sing songs to do with rain and just want to speak with someone else. Pulling up along the side of the lake we exchange waves and Russ and I slow down to speak with these guys. Ryan in full on Ox mode plows past grunting to himself “Pump, Pump, Pump” while Sean Neville stops in the middle just excited to finally have sometime to eat. (The kid has a hollow leg) Within seconds our four new buddies go off excitedly telling Russ and I about the Moose, Bears and MOUNTAIN LIONS they have just seen ahead. Russ and I begin to speak with them and immediately find out they are from Detroit and headed to Winnipeg. They are extremely interested in our crew and why we would be on our bikes in the middle of nowhere in Northern Ontario. For the next 15 minutes I honestly feel like I am part of a Saturday Night Live Skit that went on something like this.
4 brothers who are inexperienced touring cyclists from retiree Comox Valley meet- 4 Hardcore Hip Hop Artists from Detroit CITY!
Something both groups are unfamiliar with, how about Northern Ontario a land of a thousand lakes, zero people, Moose, Bears, Cougars, endless rolling hills, pouring thunder storms and seriously condensed trees.
AND SCENE BEGINS
The four of them pepper us confused with what we are doing, why we would choose to cycle across the country, where we sleep at night and if we are afraid of wild animals. Russ and I answer as best we can, generally not knowing the answer as we know about as much about the wilderness as they do. Finally Russ asks a brilliant question, “ Did you guys rent that touring bus.” “Where did you get it from” Still not knowing who the four of these Detroitonians are, the talkative one of the bunch steps up and says, “ Actually I am a hip hop artist and we are on a tour, I am…” Before he can finish, I interrupt him knowing who he is because of seeing an advertising poster in Lethbridge, Alberta and watching him live in Australia 8 years earlier. I yell directly in front of him in my best hip-hop, shower rapping, tough hip-hop voice, one hand raised in his face “Obie Trice, Real name, No Gimmicks”. The look on Obie’s face of bewilderment, confusion and then recognition was something I will never forget. He gives me a nod of respect and goes in for the intimidating handshake, chest bump. For those of you who know me, you know I am probably the most awkward person in the world. Anytime I try and be smooth I mess it up, especially with handshakes. I am notorious for screwing up the Handshake/Chest Bump. Without any preparation for Obie going for the handshake, I immediately decide that I am going to let my hand go limp and not try not to do anything at all. Obie grabs my hand and flips it 2,000 different directions in a wickedly cool succession of snaps, daps, fist pounds and finally culminating in a serious full on chest bump. If you have ever seen Austin Powers when he gets his mojo back, that happened at that exact moment to me. I walked away from Obie with more swagger than at any other moment in my life. As the only experience with celebrities in my life was meeting hockey legend Howie Meeker and having him demand that my Dad and I open a door for him, it was really cool to see how genuinely nice, considerate and interested in us Obie was. As different as our lives are, he really wanted to see where we were coming from. The same can be said for us as we all wanted to know was “What life was like on the road”, “What it was like to be a rapper”, "How cool is Eminem" “If 8 Mile was really like they described it in the movie”? Russ was convinced he was hiding 50 Cent in the trailer.
Our conversation ended with Obie referring to us as “ Real (Insert Bad Word here) G’s” I would say Obie calling us “G’s” is the equivalent to Prince William calling someone royalty. For the first time in my life I had the street credit that I deserved.
“Scotty Mac, Real Name, No Gimmicks!”
P.S. When we left them Russ had a smirk on his face, I asked what was up and he told me he was seriously considering asking Obie to have a freestyle rap battle with him. And so goes the life of Brother Rusty.