Invermere


After I wrote the bus blog, I actually managed to get a bit of kip on the rest of the journey. Over the past 3 or 4 years I've spent a scary amount of time on Greyhound's, and I've figured out ways to actually lay down comfortably on those damn seats. Even if it does give me a sore back. As long as I have a double seat to myself, I'm golden. In 2005 when I went from Anchorage to New York by bus (not all Greyhound), I calculated at the time, that of the 4 weeks that it took me to make the journey, 1 week of it, so a quarter of the time, was spent sitting on buses. I thought that was a lot of time. Then on the way down here I start talking to this guy. He's an artist. And artists aren't the people I hold with the highest regard. This guy even looked like a damn artist. He had an artists beard and wore a berret for fucks sake. But I'm open to meeting people, so I spoke to him a bit on this journey. And he was getting the bus from Vancouver to Toronto. That's 3 days on a bus for fucks sake. And I asked him: "Why not fly?" He was all scared after 9/11. He didn't fly anymore. Fair play I guess. If nothing else, it's probably better for the environment this way. He might have been a dirty hippy artist, but he was one of the most intelligent people I've spoken to in a while. We shared a lot of the same views on topics such as capitalism. But then he told me why he was going out to Toronto. Something to do with his work, and because he has kids out there. All good, but then he tells me that this is the 5th time he's made the journey this year. 5th time. No flying. Do the maths there. It's a 3-day journey, one-way. So it's a 6-day journey, return. 6 days, × 5 times this year... that's 30 days this year spent sitting on a Greyhound bus. A month. A 12th of the year, spent sitting on a bus. I thought it was stupid when I spent one week of four sat on a bus. But this guy is spending a month of his year sat on Greyhound buses, because he's too much of a pussy to fly. Fuck me. You have got to be one dedicated pussy to make that kind of sacrifice. A month. Like I said, in terms of our political and world views, we shared many beliefs. But damn. I guess that's where our similarities ended. I always consider myself something of a hybrid person. In school, I was always friends with the geeks and the cool kids. You know, I've just never fitted into one category of what a person should be. Into any one demographic. I'm a hybrid of loads of different demographics in almost any category. So in me somewhere, I guess I share some of the mental traits of artists. Which is very depressing to me. But to find people, in Western countries particularly, who actually agree with my views; that's rare. It's just in his spare time he'll smoke weed and make penis shapes out of putty. Where as I'll go to the gym and stalk people. See, I'm hybrid. Just because I go to the gym, do you think I think like all of those egotistical idiots? No. They're all fuktards as well. I just don't fit into a category.

Anyway, that's enough time about dirty artists and steroid-monkeys. We get into Golden... there actually is a place called Golden. Why I'm not sure. And I get dropped at this gas-station, where I have to wait for an hour and a half for the connecting bus that will take me the rest of the way to Invermere. I say bus, when it finally arrived, it was pretty-much just a prison bus. I don't know the temperature outside at this point. But it was definitely sub-zero. And this "bus" didn't have heating. None at all. There were 4 of us on this "bus", plus a driver. All of us huddled inside Winter jackets, and whatever we had on us to keep warm. I was thinking through this journey, which was only a little over an hour and a half, seeing as we're all going to Invermere, it's pretty likely that we're all working at Panorama. And seeing as we'll all be working at Panorama, it'd make sense to talk to each other. But one guy was out cold. He was dead to the world. And the other 2 didn't seem overly willing to talk. You couldn't even make eye contact with them. So this was the way it stayed until we made our one and only stop at a place, maybe 15 minutes outside of Invermere. I took the initiative to start talking to one of them. He was an Aussie, who was coming to Invermere to stay with a friend. Wasn't even going to be working at Pano. In fact all he had, was an address scribbled on a piece of paper. Why his "friend" couldn't meet him as the bus got in, I don't know. But that was the way it was. He was just arriving, and had to find his way to this address. I never ended up speaking to the other 2.

As soon as we leave this place; I can't remember what it was called, I think it started with an R. As soon as we leave here though, we start getting hints that we're arriving in Invermere. Quite obvious hints like signs saying "Welcome to Invermere". And I'll be honest, I start getting a little nervous. So much has gone on in my life over the past few months relating to this place, and now it was finally here. The scenery was incredible. The mountain back-drop was something impressive. The town itself looked somewhat dreary though at first glance. This was truly a local town. The place really was tiny. The kind of place where if you do something stupid, like get drunk and accidentally rape someone, the whole town will know about it by the next morning. I'm not historically someone who keeps a low profile. Not that I do it deliberately, but historically, when I arrive in some place new, I tend to get drunk and do something that has people talking. And they never forget it for as long as you're there. When I was in Halifax and got excessively drunk a few times in the first couple of weeks, that reputation stayed with me for the whole first semester. I never do it on purpose, but I just don't keep a low-profile early on. Though it's not something I especially want this time. If I can keep myself as nothing more than another face in the crowd for a while, then I'll be happy. I just want to live here quietly, rather than get a reputation early and never be able to shake it.

Anyway, as the bus pulls into Invermere, the first thing I see is a Subway!!! I am going to like this place! I haven't eaten a Subway in a while, because when you're trying to save money, Subway isn't the best thing for you. But I'm never so money conscious as I have been, once I'm earning. So for the first thing you see on arrival to be a Subway... that's a pretty good start.

As the bus pulls into the Greyhound station; I say station, more hut, I see a red pick-up with a couple of oldish people sitting in it. Man I'm almost scared by this point. I kind of stall getting off the bus for a second, because I'm actually a little nervous about meeting these people. But my balls grow back after a second or two, and I get off the bus. The man old person has gotten out of the truck by this point and is walking towards me. So I pull a stupid are you looking for me face, and he comes over. "Are you Jethro?" Then the first thing I notice, is as we shake hands, he's missing a thumb. I grab my bag from the back of the bus, before throwing it in the back of the truck, and meeting the woman old person. Vic and Lil to use their actual names. At a guess, mid-60's. One of their grandkids works at one of the bars in town if that's any indication. As we're kind of stood there making small-talk, the Aussie who I'd met at the gas-station earlier comes over with his scrap bit of paper. "Do you guys know where this address is?" he asks them. They point him in the right direction, and then he starts talking to me as he walks off. All I am praying is that he doesn't do something retarded, and give me a bad first impression with my old people. Because even though I only met him really 20 minutes earlier, he's talking to me like a good friend. Which is cool. In fact I quite like that when in hostels and places like that. It normally takes a matter of seconds for my boundaries of what I will say to a person, to be broken down completely after I meet them, and I treat them like any friend. So in essence, he was doing just as I would normally do. It's just this time I had the landlords in front of me, and I really didn't want to make a bad impression. I think he was really just fishing for a lift. And fair play to him. As we got in the car and drove off, Vic and Lil were commenting that they felt bad that they couldn't give him a ride. And they did even pull over to him as he was walking, before realising there was no space in the truck, and driving off again. That's the kind of thing that I do if I have a car. Though they did it with good intentions. I just do it to give someone hope that they're going to get a lift, and then drive off again. Other people's misery amuses me. What can I say.

Driving through the town, they're pointing out everything to me. There's kind of just one or two of everything that you'll need. There's 2 stores. There's one pub where all the young people hang-out. There's one club. There's just one of everything. It really is a small town. And I loved it how they assumed they knew exactly how I'd be acting. This is where you will go in the evenings. This is where you will do you shopping. They had pretty much figured out the kind of person that I was going to be, and put me in the stereotype of all the young people that come here. And I have to say, they probably weren't too far wrong.

As we pull up to the condo, I start to recognise it from the pictures. For someone brought up in London, where every bit of space is at a premium, this was something of a polar opposite. There is space between every building, just for the sake of it. I think every person in this whole building could own 2 cars, and there'd still be space outside. We head upstairs. And there are no real surprises. It all looks as it did in the pictures. I get shown around the place in great detail. You wouldn't think it could take long to get shown around a 2-bed condo. But you'd be surprised. And everything looks good, so we start to discuss contracts.

This is the first time they've ever rented out a place. And you could tell. They had no idea what they were doing. I was exhausted by this point though, and I just wanted to get the damn thing signed. And to be honest, when discussing things such as the end of the tenancy agreement, I probably didn't push hard enough. My contract with Panorama ends April 15th. But I'd guess if the snow melts early this year, I could be out of work by March 31st. But the agreement we came to, was to be contracted until April 30th, then month-to-month from there. Though if I could have it back, I think I would have said March 31st, and then month-to-month. But fuck. I'd spent all night on a bus. I just wanted to get the damn thing signed. What I hadn't bargained for when I was withdrawing money by the $1,000 in Vancouver, was that I'd also have to pay for the remainder of this month. The maths of these people was something diabolical. I mean they really couldn't calculate the number of fingers on their hands. And their calculations of the daily rate differed greatly from mine. I don't think they did anything deliberately, but they were just very math illiterate. Even in counting the money that I gave them, they couldn't do that right. I had to consistently correct them and point out where their sums were wrong. In fact if I wasn't such an honest person, I could have easily screwed them out of money right there. But that's not really me. As it turned out, I had the correct cash on me, nearly to the penny. Definitely to the nearest dollar. Strange how that works out. They were expecting me to pay them a cheque. So when I pulled nearly $1,600 in cash out of my pocket, I think they were a little shocked. But as a demonstration of just how unprepared they were to rent a condo, they had just the one copy of the contract, and no recipts of any kind. So we went into town for a short trip. They needed a recipt book and to photocopy the contract. And I needed more cash because I was about to give all mine to them. And one of my fucking credit cards wasn't working already. I haven't tried it again since. I've updated my contact details and haven't heard from the bank yet, so fingers crossed it was a one time thing. But to have to go about rearranging a new credit card already would be a fucking hassle.

Eventually though, over 3 hours after initially getting off the bus, we got everything sorted, and I had the place to myself. Most people seem to think that to Christen a place, you have to have sex in it. Not me. Getting laid is just way too time consuming. To me, you just have to whack-off to have Christened a new home. And I had my new condo Christened within 10-minutes of having the place to myself. My main concern having got this essential activity out of the way, was to find some Internet. I wanted to update Greg on everything. I wanted to see if I had any message from Kirsty, because she was really the only person in town that I knew right now. And I also wanted to update my family on my status and new address, so I walked back into town. I went to this cafe that my landlords had told me had Internet. It wasn't wireless like I'd hoped, but it was a computer in the corner. So it was all good. No message from Kirsty though. Even in a small town, in Canada, they still manage to make every single waitress, hot. I was hungry, so I stayed in this cafe for a breakfast. Perv on the chics behind the counter for a bit.

For the latter part of the bus journey on this morning, I'd started getting something of a dry throat. I'd thought nothing of it, but it was sometime around right now, that I started feeling somewhat shit. Which is a shock to me. I'm not someone who gets ill. Getting ill is for pussy's. But I did start feeling rather fragile right around now. I haven't had a cold in years. But I guess a combination of a few things over the past week had weakened my immune system so much, that something just got me. Of the past 6 nights, one had been spent on a Greyhound bus, barely sleeping. One had been spent on a plane, barely sleeping. And one had been spent out clubbing all night, then having to go straight to Seattle the next morning. So to say my sleep was fucked up, is something of an understatement. Then after more than 4 months of sober, my body suddenly gets abused by an avalanche of alcohol. And if that wasn't enough, the main staple of my diet, was... pizza. I complained a lot about my diet before I left England. It wasn't good in terms of maintaining a decent physique. But in terms of giving my body the nutrients I need, it was a perfectly adequate diet. My diet of pizza and service station food, wasn't. And I guess all those elements just caught up to me. Sleeping in a hostel and wearing the same clothes for days on end probably didn't help either. It wasn't anything serious, but I just felt fragile. When did I become so much of a pussy?

Anyway, when I was done perving on waitresses, I walked down towards the Sobey's. I'd heard there was a library not too far from there, so when I spotted a building smaller than my condo that said library on it, I walked down. I wanted to see if they had wireless or not. They didn't. What they did have was one broadband cable. And you could plug your laptop into that. It was free to use, but there was only one. And there was no reservation system, so if someone else happened to be using it, you were fucked. And not that I needed it at this time, but there was someone using it. I did though ask them about wireless in Invermere, and they told me about a cafe. I was feeling pretty shit at this point though, so I got a few groceries from Sobey's and headed back to the condo, where it really wasn't long before I was crashed out, dead to the world, for about 3 or 4 hours. The landlords came by to drop of a spare set of keys, and I never even woke up for them.

By now, it was at a guess, about 6. I said in the bus blog, that if I didn't hear back from Kirsty, this night would be one massive anti-climax. Well I hadn't. But I think I was happy about this. I felt fucking shit. If she had text me, I would have gone out, just because it was my first night here, and that makes it pretty much compulsory. But thankfully she didn't, so I got to sit around the condo in ski-pants and thermal underwear. I was sat at my table, writing up the bus blog at this point. And sat there, I could hear some people talking outside one of the other condos. There were some girls introducing themselves to a guy. I heard this guys name was Brandon. And I heard these girls saying that they'd just moved in and were working at Panorama. It was at that point right there, that if I wanted to meet people and go out tonight, all I had to do was open the front door and introduce myself. But I felt horrible. Even if I did look good in my thermal t-shirt and ski-pants, I wouldn't have the sense of humour to make a good first impression. And I just didn't want to go out anyway, no matter how much I felt that I should.

You know, this was a pretty depressing start to my time in Invermere. But shit happens, you know. I went to Vancouver, with no real intention of meeting people or going out or anything. I just really wanted to go to a few places and reminise about 2005. But it ended up exceeding all my expectations. I had a damn awesome time. Even if my wallet felt it a little. I did have high expectations for arriving here though. And instead of meeting people, getting wasted, and having new best friends within 12 hours of arriving, I'd met no-one and felt ill. But you know how the old saying goes: Things turn out best for the people that make the best of the way that things turn out. Things could have gone very, very, wrong arriving here. I have a condo don't I? And if nothing else, I really needed to curb my spending, because in Vancouver, I spent like a mad-man. And I don't know that my body could have handled another night on the piss, after 4-months off. So it might not have been memorable, or provide much to really write about. But I'm actually quite content.

If there's any really, really observant people out there, you will have noticed that I managed to upload the bus blog last night, despite having no Internet access. Well it turns out there is a very, very, weak, unprotected wireless signal that I can pick-up from the appartment. It's so weak that it's not even always there. But press refresh enough times to find wireless networks, and it eventually appears. You sometimes only get a few seconds of wireless, so you have to be quick. But I can just about check my emails, and upload blogs to this website. Though the connection is somewhat sketchy to say the least. There is a protected wireless that goes by the name Brandon. One would assume that the wireless Brandon, belongs to the Brandon that was outside my condo. If I ever get around to meeting said Brandon, I wonder if I'll be able to persuade him to give me the password. Maybe offer him $10 per month for his wireless or something. Because the free wireless I can steal is, well, shit. And each time I go to an Internet cafe, I'll be spending $10 on food, just to use the computer. I suppose I could try and set up my own, but I don't even know if I can get wireless that's not on a 12-month contract. I did with my cell-phone, so I guess it's possible. But this is North America, so a privilege like not being on a 12-month contract will probably cost a few $$$. I've realised though, I definitely need Internet. In 2005 when I was travelling, I could survive with just going into an Internet cafe every 2 or 3 days to check my emails. Now, though, it's how I keep in contact with everyone. I have my own website. Internet once every couple of days just won't cut it for me anymore. I've become one of those people that need Internet in their lives.

Despite having a 3 or 4 hour sleep in the afternoon, I still had about 11 hours kip last night. I don't know if this 15 hour unconscious out of about 20, is attributed to how I was feeling. Or it's just an overall lack of sleep, but it didn't help me feel much better. I didn't even leave the condo today until after 4, rather using my time watching the Champions League and editing a video of the Seahawks game that I've made, of all the video clips I took. When I have a sustained Internet connection, I'll upload that video to the videos page. Though I'd expect it to take, maybe 90 minutes to upload, so that might not be for a little while. I did finally get around to unpacking in that time though. For the past 24 hours I'd just continued the hostel trend of living out of a backpack. Now I actually have a bit or normality in my life.

When I did finally leave the house, I headed to this cafe that the people at the library had told me had wireless. I noticed on the way there, that the pub that my old people had told me is where all the kids hangout, also has free wireless. So if I don't end up getting my own Internet sorted, it's quite feesible that I'll spend a lot of my time in the pub. I didn't go there on this occasion though. I don't know what kind of place it is. And I don't want my first experience in the only young persons pub to be the geek sat there on his laptop by himself whilst everyone else is doing shots. I'm not someone who generally cares what other people think of me. But in a town of this size, I think you only really get one shot at a reputation. There's not enough people that you can screw over one set of people, then find some new ones. There are no new ones dammit. I'm actually a little on edge, wherever I'm interacting with people right now. I don't know if I've spoken on Facebook to the person serving me behind the counter in a restaurant. And it's a rare time for me, in that right now, at least while I'm settling in, I actually care how people view me. So I'm nervous just going into the Sobey's and buying some food. Or going into a cafe and asking about Internet. Or just any kind of interaction. I'm just worried that I fuck it up somehow. I just want to remain anonymous.

There was one very key email that I had in my inbox when I finally got to check my messages, after maybe an 18-20 hour hiatus. And that's a long time by my standards. Actually there were 2. One was from Greg. He was just telling me where he is with his arrival plans. And he also assured me that he would have the money he owed me for rent, and the security deposit, as he arrived. That was key. Because I'm still at a point where he could royally screw me over. It's still only my signature on the condo contract, so I could be landed with a $950 per month rent cost, if he bails on me. I don't think it'd be too much trouble finding someone else, but until that time, I'd be paying double rent. And then, he could be one of those people who is really, really bad at paying back money he owes. So although him just saying he'll pay me back asap isn't the same as having the money in my hand, it is somewhat comforting to hear. Which sounds really gay.

The other, more important email, was from Matt Green; the "Lift Personnel Manager here at Panorama." He was giving details about the upcoming training we'd be having. I already knew that my orientation would be on the 4th December. I'd had an email sometime when I was in Vancouver telling me that. But now I have Lift training sessions. 8th, 9th and 10th from 08:30 to 17:00. To quote: "It is important that you bring your ski or boarding gear with you on the second day as we will be out on the mountain." This is all good and that. Except I noticed the number of recipiants for this email. I didn't count them, but it must have been 20. That means that when I go out on the mountain, for training, on December 9th, there is going to be 19 other people there, probably all who can ski/snowboard really well. There there will be me. Just happy to make it down the training hill in one piece. This could be one embaressing day. The letter then goes on to say: "It is your responsibility to have proper and reliable ski and snowboard equipment before the first day of training." Hmmm. I haven't had a chance to look around Invermere too much as yet because, well I've been asleep for most of the time that I've been here. But I haven't seen much in the way of ski-shops yet. So here's what I'm thinking. Greg is arriving on December 1st. I really need to be here when he arrives. Not only because I have his key, but it'd just be nice to be here to welcome him. Especially seeing as I'm all unpacked in one of the rooms etc. Which means that I have very little time to actually get all of this sorted. I looked today. A return Greyhound to Calgary will cost me about $70. Or a return to Banff will be around $40. And in the time I have, I've got to get some ski equipment, and learn to ski. I don't need weeks of practise or lessons or anything. But if I could just get a day on a mountain to refresh myself, then that might make the second day of training a whole lot less embarressing. So what do I do now?

It was about at this time, that I realised that I really fucking need Internet. Because I need to get something sorted. I think there's a mountain open in Banff already. But I can't check because I don't have Internet. And I can't check accomodation availability, because I don't have Internet. And I can't check if they actually sell ski equipment, because I don't have Internet. Then I could go to Calgary. They will definitely sell ski equipment. But will they have space in a hostel? I don't know, because I don't have Internet. Plus it's $70 on bus fares, and another 8 hours sat on buses. So what do I do now? It's too late for me to do anything tomorrow. I won't be able to find out what information I need to, tonight. Because I don't have Internet. So here's my plan. Tomorrow, I'm going to get up early. I'm going to have a proper look around Invermere, and really try to scout out if it's possible or not to get the equipment that I need here. If it is, then I'll probably buy it here. If it's not, then I'll need Internet, to look into Calgary and Banff. Or any local mountain that's open for that matter. And if I do need to head to Calgary, say, then I'd guess that on the 28th, 2 days from now, I'll catch a bus down there. Maybe have 2 nights there, with the sole focus of the full day being sorting out equipment. Then head back on the 30th. That would be equipment sorted, but what about learning to actually ski? I suppose that I have 4 days between my orientation and the start of my training. I could head to Banff then, and try and get a couple of days skiing in. If I do it that way, it'll be freshest for when I'm at this training. Alternatively, Greg will be in Calgary. Maybe I could give him his key, tell him good luck finding the place, and go to Banff for a couple of days on the way back from Calgary, arriving back in Invermere on the 2nd or 3rd. I don't know. I'm in a little bit of pickle though. My main task for tomorrow is to properly scout out Invermere. Try and find a place selling skis. You know they might even sell them at Pano mountain. Though I don't know that either. If all goes well, and I do find a place in Invermere that I can get my equipment, then I'm pretty much golden. Maybe head to Banff for a day to try out my skis. Or maybe whoever I buy them off can tell me of another place, that isn't fully booked, where I can go to ski. I just don't know. I'm in a bit of a pickle though. I was kind of hoping that the training wouldn't include any skiing. It would all just be being shown how things work for the bottom of the mountain. Or just getting a cable car up or something. Then I could just learn as I need it. I just don't want to look like a total dick in front of everyone else, when they can all ski and snowboard the black runs in 20 seconds. Then there's me, going down the green ones sideways. I'm not going to worry about it yet though. If I can buy some skis in Invermere tomorrow, there won't be so much of a problem. If I can't, then the next blog I write might be coming to you from Calgary.

I still wasn't feeling great at this point. So I made a trip on the way back, to the other supermarket (not Sobeys), to build up on my groceries. Not having a car, I kind of have to graduually build up the staples of a kitchen. Yesterday was cheese, cereal, pasta and milk. Today was pasta sauce, popcorn, frozen veg, rice cakes and steak.

You know one of the best things about Canada? The steak is so cheap. You know one of the shittest things? The cheese is so expensive. Let's just say I'll be living on a lot of steak over the coming months.

Once I got back, I actually sat in front of the tv eating popcorn. I've been in Canada less than a week, and I'm already turning into a woman. I'm sleeping all day. I'm moaning I'm ill. I'm eating popcorn in front of the tv. Last night, I even looked to see if the landlords had left me any bubble bath, because I thought that might make me feel better. Fuck me! This is what a week in Canada does to you. I need to fucking toughen up. If it's any consolation, I was watching the UFC whilst eating popcorn. That man's it up a little. But Jesus Christ! I'm turning into a fucking woman. Next I'll start turning mental once a month and moaning because some people just aren't paying attention to all my needs. This is a worrying state of affairs.

One final thing, is as I was writing this, I finally got a message from Kirsty. She's apparently been working a shit-load so isn't doing too much at the moment. But there's people going out on Friday. So I might actually get to meet someone. How exciting is that? Although there is now a chance I won't even be in Invermere anymore. That'd be an unlucky coinscidence. As soon as I'm about to meet people, I fuck off to Calgary. I'll never get to meet anyone at this rate!


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