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Vancouver Island Road Trip - End of the Road & New Avenues

Housekeeping Calls, Skiing & Slopeside Coffee

sunny 7 °C

After getting Bertha back from the Garage, we were on our way from Port Alberni to Cumberland further up on the east coast. Our road trip was coming to an end. We had not managed to find any work in the coastal town of Tofino as the lodges were quite due to it being out of season and winter. It picks up in the spring, so decided we would move on and search elsewhere. The winter season is not an easy time for job hunting and decided if I did not find anything in the next week, I would leave Vancouver Island and head back to downtown Vancouver on the mainland and try there.

Time certainly flies when you travel and I have already spent almost 1 month touring around Vancouver Island.

I have decided not to return to the Ranch. Time for a new experience.

We were invited back to stay with Randy and Carol at their country house in Nanoose Bay, so was looking forward to seeing them again and to be staying back in a homely environment again (if only for a few days). We had Sushi night the other night and they went all out with laying on a fantastic feast.

My aunt and uncle invited me to join them in Switzerland for a week of skiing and I was so looking forward to jumping on a plane to join them this week (if I had not started some kind of work by then) and to take a “travel break” and return to source work at the end of the month, but as it turned out, things changed.

I had secured a last minute interview up at a lodge in the Mount Washington Alpine Resort. It is a 1hr 30 minute drive up the North highway on the east coast of the island and located in the Comox Valley. It is a popular ski destination and has some of the best snow in BC. The island is so full of surprises and has such different terrain and variety of outdoor activities to keep you busy.

I decided I would try my luck and do the interview. Not exactly what I was hoping for but an interview nonetheless. I have been trying to land front desk, guest relations or some more office related work (marketing/sales etc), however the only department that had positions was housekeeping. We arrived at the lodge which is made up of Deer Lodge and Bear Lodge and situated right at the top of the ski hill and alpine resort. It is a 20 minute drive up the hill and you need chains on the tyres or very good winter tyres to get up there.
From the top you have beautiful views of the alpine valley while at the top of the ski lift, you can see right over the waters and Straight of Georgia onto the Sunshine Coast located on the west side of mainland BC and above Vancouver.

I had my interview and the manager had my resume printed out. The first thing she does is flips through the pages, looks up and almost with a laugh, say’s “All these qualifications and amazing work history and you’re sitting before me for this”. I laughed too and said Yes, I’m taking a year off, I’m very organised and I want to work at a ski resort to ski. She said “ok cool”, can I start the next day. I said “Yes”.

So, it is not exactly what I wanted and the pay is average (not fantastic) but fine. The main thing is; I have a job, my foot in the door and I would be doing what I wanted – to experience a season at a ski resort and to live the alpine lifestyle. The perks of being a Mount Washington employee include – free shuttle from town up to the lodge, season ski pass, free ski, board and gear rentals, the chance to do lessons, 50% off food, free coffee and hot chocolate and 40% discount on ski apparel. So that sounded good to me. I figured this made the job worth it.

So I would not be working full time as the schedule depends on the number of guests on a day to day basis. The lodges are privately owned condos in a lodge setup rented out to guests. We work in teams to service the condos and prepare them in time for the next check in. Sometimes you have as little as 8 other times as many as 35 check out’s to attend to. It is actually all very interesting to see what mechanics happen behind the scenes in the hotel industry and I certainly take my hat off to the linen and housekeeping departments. The work is not easy and the state that some people leave the apartments in is just amazing. Like a hurricane passed through. But it's great to be doing something that keeps me busy, as i get bored to quickly.

I have now done 3 shifts. The teams and staff are all very nice people and you basically end up socialising as you move through your work and rooms but have to work very efficiently and quickly to meet your time quota for each room. It is backbreaking work though and the bending and lifting leaves your back in need of a good massage. I have learnt some totally random stuff – like the art of getting a sheet perfectly fitted with neat “hospital corners” and a few tricks for making rooms look even more perfect – HAHA. We finished earlier on my 2nd day, so I was out of the office, headed for the alpine centre, grabbed some ski gear and hit the slopes and practice grounds. So great being on the snow again and to ski. I took it easy, as I last skied in 2010 and my ankle is still problematic after injuring it in the US last year.
What a ball and I did not fall once. I plan to spend any off days on the mountain and to do some ski and snowboarding lessons as well.
Having access to the ski-runs right next to the lodge is a huge bonus and standing on the slopes in the morning with a hot cholcolate, watching the sunrise over the mountains is spectacular.

The only problem is I have had to commute and drive from Nanoose Bay for 1 ½ hrs each way until I find something in the town of Courtenay, park at one of the mountain bus pickup points and ride up to the lodge . Sandra was nice enough to lend me Bertha, the campervan to drive up the last few days but after a long days work, the drive is a killer. I have searched craigslist for a place to rent and found a great house. The lady was renting out 2 rooms up stairs in her immaculate home in a great area for a price - $550 a month, including utilities. Believe it or not but you generally pay between $450 - $900 to rent a room in a shared place or a small studio or apartment. Larger apartments will go for around $1000 - $1500 per month. Just insane how expensive everything is. I was also limited to finding a place near one of the bus pickup points as I would not have car. Unfortunately it turns out the above place is to far to walk from the bus point, so I am heading up to the hostel in Courtenay which is directly across from the bus stop. Many mountain staff are staying there, particularly many Australian and UK staff working out here for a season and they have good weekly and monthly deals. I need to budget very carefully, especially since i am not sure how many shifts i will secure each week.

Once I have moved to Courtenay (25 minutes) from the mountain, it will make things easier. So tomorrow, I bid farewell to my travel companion - Sandra and Carol and Randy and move to Courtenay. I will not be leaving Vancouver Island and most likely staying until March. I have also sent off some emails looking for TV and Film gigs back in Vancouver afterwards.

Next Stop - Mount Washington ... Bring on the skiing.

Posted by TezaTravels 14.01.2013 16:00 Archived in Canada

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