Unplanned Adventures, Winter Weather & Fantastic Experiences
16.02.2013 3 °C
Sunday 17th February 2013, marks the third month I have spent in Canada already.
Time really does go by quickly, that you need to make the most of each and every day here to ensure you get the full Canadian Experience within the time you have.
It all happened so quickly and started out as a whirlwind trip - like me taking part in my own Amazing Race to CANADA.
6 Cities, 5 Countries, 4 Continents, 6 Flights, 31 hrs flying time transiting through 7 Airports in only 5 Days after having only just finished work a day prior before heading off.
Cape Town – JHB – Istanbul – Frankfurt – Istanbul – New York – New Jersey – Vancouver.
Now, I am already writing and reminiscing about the first 3 months of this amazing adventure.
I can also say that I have Survived 3 - months in the cold with endless snow.
Given that I was a little hesitant about the Canadian weather at first, I can now say I have loved every moment of it.
To recap in brief here are the sites visited and a few things I have done and achieved in this time frame.
Downtown Vancouver Skyline & Stanley Park
1. Downtown Vancouver
2. Capilano Suspension Bridge
3. Stanley Park
4. English Bay & Coal Harbour
5. Gas Town
6. Granville Street
7. Canada Pacific Centre and Waterfront
8. Sea Boat across to the North Shore (North Vancouver)
Gold bridge & The South Chilcotin Mountain Ranges
Spent a month in the Remote Canadian Back-Country working as a volunteer on a Horse Ranch and Hunting Lodge with other liked minded travelers from Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Poland and Switzerland.
Primarily worked in the office as the 5*Program Manager responsible for booking guests for ranch stays, outback wilderness trips and outrides, cabin rentals and other ranch based activities. Mainly admin, office, PR/Social Media/Marketing type work but also had to get involved with on the Ranch Activities which resulted in me doing a host of random things and acquiring some new skills; such as ranch maintenance, horse care & feeding, wood chopping, chainsaw operation, logging operations, wood logging machinery driving and usage, back-hoe tractor driving, welding, horse saddling and preparation for outrides, horse veterinary care, animal tracking, archery, target practice, outdoor wilderness and bear/cougar safety, dog walking, housekeeping, cooking and cleaning, grocery inventories from the nearest town, assisting hunt guides with bringing in “the kill”, snow shoveling.
Considering I had no initial plans to land up here it was a treat and something completely out of this world. I met some good people and really had some “out there” experiences living the true Canadian wilderness lifestyle.
Over Christmas me and a fellow colleague from the Ranch decided to travel and do a little road trip to get out and see a little more the than remote back-country after a month of complete isolation in the wilderness and so after much deliberation of whether to head to California or stay in Canada, opted for a road trip to British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, located 2 hrs off the mainland coast of BC by Ferry. We put the van (named Bertha) on the boat and headed off to explore the massive island.
Vancouver Island Road Trip
6. Port Alberni
9. Mount Washington Alpine Resort & Strathcona Provincial Park
We saw some amazing sites that really showcase Vancouver Island in all its glory. The island has such diversity; different terrain and eco-systems as you cross west to east to the northern parts of the island.
We took in the following during our trip:
1. Spent Christmas house-sitting at a friend’s home in Parksville; a housing estate surrounded by forests and nature trails.
2. Rathtrevor Beach
3. Nanoose Bay
4. The small country town of Coombs. The local market store and restaurant is known for its goats, which run around on the roof.
5. Notch Hill with amazing views over Nanoose Bay
6. Cathedral Grove McMillan Provincial Park
7. Cameron Lake, Kennedy Lake & Sprout Lake
8. Little Qualicum Falls
9. Pacific Rim National Park
10. The Surfing town of Tofino where we stayed for almost 10 days and explored many of the beaches and nature trails; Tonquin Park, Middle Beach, Cox Beach, Long Beach, Wickeninnish Beach, Chesterman Beach, Mackenzie Beach
11. Did the Wild Pacific Trail and Lighthouse Loop in Ucluelet
12. The small town of Ucluelet where we saw deer in the town and sea lions at the waterfront. The town has views onto the Barkley Sound and Broken Islands group.
13. Canco Bomber Plane Crash in Tofino Forests – hiked for 3 hours there and back through rugged terrain and marsh to find this hidden off the map, plane crash.
14. Tour to Hot Springs Cove in the Maquinna Provincial Marine Park by Boat– spotted Orca Whales, sea otters, Bald Eagles and sea lions enroute.
15. Left Tofino after not finding work to go back to Nanoose Bay and got stuck in a snow storm in Port Alberni. Had to overnight as Bertha the van was in shop for the night after dying on us at a traffic intersection during the storm. Had to find a motel to stay in.
16. The towns of Cumberland and Courtenay located on the upper North East coast of the island in the Comox Valley.
Planned to move back to Vancouver after our trip and not securing work on the west coast of the island. Stayed at friends of ours back in Nanoose Bay for a week.
Landed up doing a random interview for a lodge located at Mount Washington in the Strathcona Provincial Park.
Accepted the job, started the next day and a week later found myself moving from Nanoose Bay and living in the small town of Courtenay in the Comox Valley.
What started as a 2 week trip to Vancouver Island has turned into an almost 4 month stay. Sometimes luck and life leads you in its own direction. Either way I was happy to follow, take the chance and setup home (at the hostel) in Courtenay for the Winter Ski Season.
Started my job, which is totally random and again not something I imagined I would be doing – Housekeeping. But I am still taking part in a winter ski season and working on a mountain surrounded by snow, beautiful alpine valleys, forests and snow-capped peaks. So my goal has been met.
Got two additional Jobs doing server/bar/fondue co-ordinator work at another lodge and further part time work at the mountain center.
Spend most of or any additional free time I have on the slopes.
Have done loads of skiing, picked up some snowboarding and taken a Nordic Cross Country Skate Ski Lesson. Currently I am sitting on 20 days of skiing thus far.
Not bad at all!!
Have lived in the cold and snow for 3 months which is quite an achievement all on its own, given I have not had a winter in 3 years and often try to avoid any semblance of winter back home. Stepping off the bus each morning and onto the icy slopes with a winter view over the alpine valley is nothing short of breathtaking and beats any office job or the stress of sitting in traffic to get to work. It has been the best experience ever!!
I will be riding out the winter ski season until the end of March, when I begin the next stage of my trip and Canadian Adventure.
All in all it has been nothing but fantastic and I have loved each and every day and look forward to the next few months and unplanned adventures to come.