Thursday 12 December 2013

Employ Emergency Manoeuvres!

Well... I had started to write a post about Laura and I's imminent departure for the next exciting leg of our trip-skiing in Canada. I was going to tell you about the epic, back to back ten hour days of driving we did to get to and from Fernie for the jobs fair, which culminated in driving through fog so thick you could cut it with a knife in the middle of the night while singing slightly hysterical renditions of Sound of Music songs trying to stay awake and alert, but how it was all worth it because we were both offered our first choice of jobs. I was going to mention something about how great and convenient it was we were able to leave our skis up there so we wouldn't have to haul them up there with our other luggage come moving time. But that was all before the Canadian immigration department decided to frown upon us.

It's not that we won't get our Canadian work visas, oh no, it's just that we won't get them until the ski season is almost done; and while that's disappointing enough, there are so many more layers of disappointment and hassle. It's an onion of bad news. There's the fact that we didn't find this out for certain until about two days before we were supposed to be leaving for Fernie, the fact that to find this out we had to visit the Canadian consulate in Seattle, be directed to the L.A. Canadian consulate, who have a policy of not answering telephone inquires or e-mails about the subject (yes, seriously, they will not speak to you), call the Canadian consulate in Sydney, and finally drive up to the Canadian border where we ping ponged back and forth between Canada and the U.S. about six times in less than an hour, all to finally be told there was nothing to be done and our visas would not be processed in time.

So we went into crisis mode, executing a very hasty back up plan of applying to jobs at Steamboat Resort in Colorado and changing all our travel plans into an elaborate squiggle across the states to Colorado. The squiggle was elaborate because of a very unfortunate "great convenience". Our skis were in Canada. It would have been bad enough to not be able to go to Fernie for the winter, but to have to arrange to get all the way back up there, get our skis, and see exactly what we would be missing for the winter was just the sad, sad icing on the cake.

So we rented a car, drove all the way to Fernie, spent a night, were reminded just how nice a place it is when the man in the repairs shop adjusted my ski bindings for free, just because, defiantly skied for the afternoon in -21 degree weather, which resulted in a moment of me going from outdoors to heated indoors too quickly, taking my boots off, and being hysterically convinced that my toes were being slowly cut off despite them being right there in front of me, as they warmed back up and feeling returned to them, then we drove all the way back to Coeur de' Alene, Idaho for the night.

The next day we drove to Pendleton, Oregon, a town which seems to be full of some of the nicest people around, where we dropped off the rental car, a man told me I was a free spirit because I was going to Colorado to ski at a moments notice and had no where to live and no job waiting for me (I'm not sure that's the term I would've used...but I'll take it), and a kind man at the Greyhound office pretended against the formidable real evidence to the contrary, that we were only checking two bags each onto the bus and only carrying on one each and a purse so he didn't have to charge us as much. An attempt to honor the kind man's voluntary blindness as much as possible resulted in me spending an hour squatting in the snow rearranging and repacking all our possessions and taping my skis to another bag with copious amounts of packing tape to make it into "one item" while Laura went on an amazing race to return the rental car and catch a taxi back in time for the bus, a taxi ride during which the driver told her all about how his night vision wasn't great (it was nighttime) and about the various people he knew who had recently had heart attacks, including the guy that was supposed to be driving that night that he was filling in for. 

Laura made it back in time and we caught the Greyhound for our 21 hour trip across bits of four states, which involved one transfer of buses at Salt Lake City and a moment where Laura and I were certain we had just walked into a movie as we ate chili and cornbread in a trucker rest stop diner, with snow swirling outside in the night and a waitress coming around asking "how ya doing hon? Can I top that coffee up for ya?". When we arrived in Steamboat we got straight on the free bus service and the friendliness continued with two men on the bus helping me get the tape off my skis, one was so dedicated he tried to break it by biting it with his teeth, quite the introduction. We checked into our hotel, the cheapest one we could find in a town with no youth hostel, and that's where I'm sitting writing this right now. We almost found an apartment to move into with two guys also looking for a place to live, but it fell through when one of them, the ultimate snow bum, lost his job (his second one in two weeks, looks like we dodged a bullet there) and left without warning for California in his van with his two dogs, named Queen and Love ("because (and I quote) love, you gotta have it!"), and the other one stopped texting or calling us back.

So here we are, being all 'free spirit-y'. Laura has a job with the resort, working in the childcare centre, though it hasn't started yet, and I am still unemployed, still waiting to hear back from the myriad of jobs I have applied for and we're both semi-homeless and verging on destitute. But the irrational optimists in us believe it will all work out and the Whidbey islander part of us is focusing on sending positive vibes into the universe. It would be really, really great if it could all work out very soon, but we know that what seems like the worst or weirdest stuff at the time always makes the best stories later. So we're making stories.