Home Base in the Comox Valley, Vancouver Island
15.01.2013 - 16.01.2013 4 °C
On the Tuesday 15th November, I left Nanoose Bay, said goodbye to the friends and people I had met along the way and moved to the town of Courtenay.
Courtenay is a city on the east coast of Vancouver Island and is the largest city (and only "city") in the area commonly known as the Comox Valley. The other neighboring towns of Cumberland and Comox, which are much smaller, are just a short distance away. It has ocean, forests, farmlands and mountains and the Strathcona Provincial Park with Mount Washington is a highlight in the area.
After having had people around me for sometime while traveling, it was a strange experience being dropped off in a town you don’t know and having to very quickly situate yourself in it and call it home, all in a short space of time before starting work at my new mountain job.
I checked into the hostel I had heard good things about – The Cona Hostel, situated right in the centre of Courtenay. The hostel is a very relaxed place and I have met some cool people. Many of the people here are all working on Mount Washington in some capacity as well – Lift operators “Lifty’s”, Ski & Snowboard Instructors, Retail and Gear Outfitters, Waiters and Bar Staff, Housekeeping and Kitchen Staff and most are from Australia, Germany and the UK, all here for a season or doing random work that allows them time to enjoy the mountain and access to a Season Lift Pass.
So it is like our own mountain community down here which is nice because you always run into the same people up on the mountain and have the same things in common. The hostel offers mountain staff a monthly discounted rental price which is cheaper than what you would be able to get if you were renting a studio apartment or even doing a house or room share. Rentals are extremely expensive in Canada and I did not want to land myself in a situation of not being able to cover rent by doing a private rental, especially without knowing how many shifts you are guaranteed each week. I now have to focus on every penny and making sure that Dollar stretches just a little further.
I immediately went around town seeing what other work might be available – restaurant and café work and retail work at one of the many ski apparel shops here so that I can try and secure extra shifts in the week when not working at the lodge. I have even done an interview at a restaurant here and may have some evening work from February.
The town is easily walkable, which is great in the absence of a car. I have all the amenities I need within a block or two. The nearest Mountain Staff Bus Pickup point is a 2 minute walk away which was the main reason for choosing this location, which makes life so convenient.
The town has a small village feel to it and feels very community oriented. The weather here is mainly rainy, drizzly and overcast. Even if the weather on the mountain is sunny and warm (as you are above the cloud line once up there) it is dull and overcast below or snowing and chilly up top and foggy and rainy below once you return from work. The hostel is situated right next to the river and there are also many farms just outside of the town - one which is full of giant Canadian wild geese foraging for grubs in the meadows every morning. I have also spotted many Bald Eagles and the ubiquitous black ravens which can be seen throughout the area in abundance.
I have found a gym at the community centre 2 blocks away and signed up for a monthly membership. It is so nice to be able to do that again (after no gym for 2 months) and you feel so much healthier. The community centre is always filled with people and different events and activities taking place; from squash, martial arts, dance, yoga and youth activities. I did a boxing conditioning and fitness class the other night at the other fitness gym, which was the hardest workout I have ever had but good fun, even though my legs are killing me. Trying to work on the legs, ankles and general fitness, especially with all the skiing I am doing. I will continue doing a some of the boxing and fitness clasess each week.
All in all I would say I feel rather setup and comfortable here and have met some nice people from the mountain and town which makes a real difference too.
I will not be heading back to Vancouver just yet and will be calling Courtenay & Vancouver Island home for the next 2 and half months while I work the winter ski season until the end of March.
Looking forward to new adventures, random different seasonal work, lots of skiing and snow and hopefully making some money to continue onward with my next adventures.