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The Schoders

As I mentioned Ken Gavel on my behalf had negotiated for a location for the Stage 6 release.  He had explained to his neighbor Richard Schoder that we were looking for a better release point for the Le Tour birds.  I believe Ken had some explaining to do.  He did a good job because the idea of hosting a release intrigued Richard and his wife Judy but they insisted first to meet me, which is understandable.  So about 9:30 Friday evening Ken and I drove off to the Schoders for an introduction and a chat about racing pigeon.  Judy and Richard are originally from New York.  Richard is a mechanical engineer and about 20 years ago he and his wife moved to the Antigonish area to work for a local firm.  They both fell in love with the area and decided to make Nova Scotia a permanent residence.

As I drove up the driveway I knew this would be the ideal spot for a release.  Even at dusk the view was spectacular and hard to describe in words.  The Schoder's beautiful home was perched on top of a high hill over looking the Ohio Valley.  I immediately could picture how the release would look the following morning.  As I was viewing the surrounding area Richard came outside to meet us.  The first thing he asked was, "is the spot suitable".  I tried to curb my enthusiasm but failed.  He then asked us in for a beverage (I will let you use your imagination what it was.  This is Nova Scotia.)  Inside I was introduced to his charming wife Judy and some members of the family.  During the next hour I spent answering all kinds of questions about the hobby.  It was obvious to me that they were quite excited about hosting the release.  During the negotiations about the terms and conditions of the release I was informed what a sacrifice it would be for the Shroders to witness the release at 7:00 am.  Apparently they are both night hawks and probably haven't seen a sunrise since they moved to Nova Scotia.  Because of a rain delay the release had to be postpone until the following day.  It  went off smoothly and we all watched the birds circle down in the valley and then disappear over the horizon in the right direction for home.

Later in the day when Richard was informed of the results of the race he quickly dispatched this email to his friends throughout Canada and the United States.

Dear All,
 
As you know, I am always looking to broaden my interests and horizons.  So, when I was asked to host the take-off of the Stage 6 Le Tour Des Maritimes ( www.tourdesmaritimes.com ), I was thrilled.
 
My 'new' neighbor/friend Ken (Big Bird-a retired mechanical engineer) used to work in Bathurst, New Brunswick, and knew a fellow there Andy (Bird Man of Bathurst-a retired teacher) who has racing pigeons.  The Bird Man Andy runs 8 races over the summer.  Last year and again this past weekend, he launched the birds from the valley here in Ohio outside of Antigonish.  Last year's launch site was down the road from me, and apparently a better site for this year was hoped for by the organizers, since trees and the lay of the land quickly obscured sight of the leaving birds.  So, Big Bird Ken suggested my place for this year.  The Bird Man Andy checked it out this past Friday evening and thought it might be better (of course, God's country you know!).
 
And as the saying goes, the rest is now History.  The release was supposed to take place here Saturday 7am, but clouds and showers postponed it to Sunday am.  So, at a very early 7:10 am, after coffee, approximately 100 birds were let go here on Sunday.  It seems that my location afforded a better/longer view of the birds leaving.  After approximately 10 minutes, they were finally out of sight on their way home to Bathurst, NB.
 
After 7 1/2 hours of flying, the first bird arrived home in Bathurst, around 350 km (220 miles for my US friends).  By the end of Sunday, 56 racers had arrived home.  I understand that they are still continuing to arrive home this morning, Monday.  Good luck to all participants and safe home!
 
The next Stage 7 race is set to go in another week or two from the Canso Causeway in Nova Scotia - 400 km (250 miles), and the next race, Stage 8, is a week or two later with the release in Sydney/Glace Bay, NS - 500 km (310 miles).  The Sydney/Glace Bay race is the last of the year and the longest, I think.
 
It's still too early to say that this was the first of my Annual AMAZING Crossroad Ohio to Bathurst Pigeon Race , as future locations will be determined by the Bird Man of Bathurst-Andy and his buddy/my neighbor Big Bird-Ken.  By copy of this e-mail to Bird Man and Big Bird, I am therefore requesting consideration to again host the take-off of next year's Stage 6 Le Tour Des Maritimes from our valley here at 1212 Crossroads Ohio.  To enhance their consideration of my bid for next year's race, a full breakfast will be provided to Big Bird, Bird Man, Donna, guests, and birds, if my bid to host the take-off of next year's Stage 6 Les Tour Des Maritimes race is accepted.
 
For the Birds,
Richard/Dick/Dad/etc.

Rich got this very interesting reply.  Quite a coincidence I would say.

Hi Rich, it sounds like you had fun yesterday.  My brother is into racing pigeons also.  He has his own loft and participates in a lot of races.
 
The last race he shipped out 15 birds.  Some guy drove them to Ohio and I believe it was a 500 mile race.  He got all the birds back eventually.  One bird came in second.  Whitey took a week as usual because he likes to take the scenic route, never wins a race.
 
Another bird, which we should rename Big Ted, flew into the first feed store he saw with the door open!  He walked around in the store for a few days.  Then my brother was contacted because his phone number is on all of his bird's bands.  A local minister who also flies pigeons picked him up and sent him home via US Mail.  That was a good way of getting out of flying 500 miles and he got free food!!
 
It's a very interesting sport.  It always amazes me how they find their way back home.
 
Hope all is well with you and the family.
 
Patty

I thank the Gavels and Schoders for their hospitality and hope the negotiations for next year's release will come to a positive conclusion so that we can make this an annual event for many more years to come.

From left to right: Ken & Donna Gavel,  Judy & Richard Schoder and his daughter's boyfriend Stan.