Good news and bad news

The good news is, that after more than 6 months after initially making contact with a company in Canada, I now have a job offer on the table. The bad news is that the contract doesn't start until December 03rd, which is about 3 weeks later than the date I had in my head. That's all good though. I have emailed back a signed copy of the contract accepting employment, and now I know what is happening, I can start planning in earnest.

My first thought, was how the fuck am I going to make the Hawks-Eagles NFL game in Seattle on November 2nd? Well I'm not. I'll be listing my ticket on the ticket exchange when I get a chance. Luckily, when creating the fixture list for this year, the NFL and the Seahawks obviously planned for such an eventuality, and there are home games versus Arizona on November 16, and against Washington on November 23. I'll lose my claim to have been to consecutive NFL games the furthest distance apart now, because the Wembley game will be 3 or 4 weeks before the game I go to, but that is an insignificant inconvenience. One word about this, I don't know why NFL teams, not just the Seahawks, say on their official website, that single game tickets are fully sold out for the full season. When in reality, you just click onto Ticketmaster, and there are plenty there. I've never quite understood the marketing there. To quote the Hawks website for example, "Single game tickets for the 2008 season went on sale on Monday, August 4th. All regular season games are SOLD OUT." Yet I looked on Ticketmaster yesterday, and there were still tickets for both games I was looking at. I've noticed it for other teams as well. It always pays to double-check eh?

Anyway, although I didn't check my inbox again until the next afternoon, it was only minutes after I posted my last blog entry, which included having a go at this company for not contacting me, that I received the email with the job offer. However, I've had over 24 hours now to digest any changes to the plans in my head, and this is what I'm thinking. Depart London on November 19th. I know for sure there will be a SWAP orientation on the 20th, which is something I need to attend for admin such as sorting out my National Insurance number. I know from going to Canada in '05 under the same scheme. Then have a couple more days in Vancouver, just to reminisce about when I was here previously. Ever since my time here in '05 that I talk about a lot in the 'Before I left' page of this website, it's been a pretty special place to me. So to get a little time here, to do my own thing, and look back into the past, has always been a part of my plans. On the 23rd then, I'd get a Greyhound down to Seattle in the morning for the Hawks-Redskins game, and come back up the same day. I've been to Seattle once before, and although it was an alright place, thinking about my wallet, I'm going to limit my spending so I won't be spending any nights here. I'd then be leaving Vancouver the next morning, on the 24th. That would total at 5 nights in Vancouver. There's a new hostel here that Jen's told me about (she was in Mexico), that's only $10 per night. Compared to around $25 per night when I've stayed in Vancouver before. It doesn't appear on any of the hostel comparison websites, but I've checked everything out, and it all looks good. Jen's stayed here and assured me its not too shit, and the website actually makes it look a pretty fun. So having accomodation so cheap means 5 nights in Vancouver isn't too excessive. The hostel in question is American Backpackers to anyone who's interested. Their website is acually full of pictures of my sense of humour, which include: (I hope they don't mind me taking these from their site)

Sex room:
American Backpackers hostel Vancouver, Sex room

Torture room for drunks:
American Backpackers hostel Vancouver, torture room for drunks

The free spaghetti:
American Backpackers hostel Vancouver, the free spaghetti

Our clean kitchen:
American Backpackers hostel Vancouver, Our clean kitchen

The keg night:
American Backpackers hostel Vancouver, the keg night

After keg night:
American Backpackers hostel vancouver, after keg night

So that looks a pretty cool place to stay. I love the I don't give a fuck attitude. This website is their main portal of selling themselves to the world, and they put a load of pictures of people drunk on the homepage. These are the kind of people I could definitely get along with. And did you notice how many of those pictures had drunk people in? I'm going to be parched for a beer by the time I arrive in Vancouver. If I don't drink until I leave, which I don't plan on doing, that would be 123 straight days without a drink. A place like this could get me back on the straight and narrow soon enough. Get me practiced again, so I don't turn up to the first night out when I arrive for this job, and get smashed on one beer and look like a nob, because I won't stop drinking. I know me too well.

So that would be Vancouver. I've provisionally told Intrawest (the company I'll be working for), that I'll be arriving on November 29th. This was on an accomodation form, but with them only being able to house less than 50% of their staff in staff accomodation, it might not matter anyway, and I might have to find my own place. I hope not. Hopefully they'll see I'm a poor lonely foreigner travelling from far, far away, and take pity on me and give me somewhere to stay. We'll have to wait and see though. Fingers crossed. If I haven't heard anything in a couple of week re: accomodation, then I'll send off an email.

Those of you who for some reason are still reading at this point, and are actually paying attention, will realise that that would give me 5 nights between leaving Vancouver, and my planned arrival at Panorama. My outline plan in the back of my mind now, is a couple of nights in Whistler somewhere, and then a 16-hour bus journey (overnight to save on accomodation costs), then 2 nights in Banff. I got a message this morning from someone else I know who has just gone out to Canada. He'll be in Whistler at the time, so maybe I'll be able to get a floor for a couple of nights if he has a place sorted by then. Then Banff, which isn't far from where I need to be, always shows off stunning photos and hiking opportunities when I read about it, so a couple of nights there would ease my curiosities. Apart from anything else, I'll have a big expensive camera by then, so I can take my own shots of Banff. The closest I've been to here in the past, is Jasper. If Banff is half as scenically stunning as Jasper, then it won't disappoint. Though by all accounts it may well exceed Jasper. So although I'll be working nearby and will probably have the opportunities to visit Banff on my days off, I think I can afford a couple of days here on the way.

If I didn't have enough reason for this little expedition through the Rockies on my way to Panorama, the job I have been offered, is 'Lift operator', as in 'Ski-lift operator.' Those of you who've been reading my blogs regularly, will know that when I was interviewed about working at Panorama, I may have, not-lied, but exaggerated my skiing ability, to be considered for the position of lift operator, which requires an intermediate level of skiing to be able to get to the lifts. Going through Vancouver, and then Whistler, maybe I'll have the opportunity to have a day or two of skiing, so I can get a little much-needed practice in before I arrive. I don't know how much snow will have fallen by mid-november, but if the opportunity is there, then I need to take it. The reason I said to them I'd arrive on the 29th November, rather than on the 2nd December, right before I start work, is mainly to get a chance to settle in, and have a chance to look at what is offered in the local area. But it will also hopefully be an opportunity to do a bit of skiing as well. Make it look like I wasn't lying in the interview, and hopefully be able to give the versade that I actually can ski. A couple of nights in Whistler should be good for this too.

So that's my plan as I see it in my head right now. As always, money will be an issue. With Zoom now bust, the cheapest flights from London to Vancouver that I've found after minimal research, are a whopping £284. That's nearly double what I was hoping to pay. One thing I have noticed is that the nearer the flight, the cheaper the price. I'm not sure if that is because airlines are lowering costs near to departure to fill up planes, or this time of year is just the down season. There might be more demand in mid-November, with people flying out for Winter sports. I'll keep an eye on things, and maybe just hedge my bets and book a flight sooner rather than later. On top of this though, total accomodation costs staying at the cheapest places in Vancouver, Whistler (if I can't find a floor to sleep on) and Banff, total at $152, where as the total costs for Greyhound buses (to Seattle and back, to whistler, then to Banff), total at $239.85. I'm not sure if there are cheaper services, but with many of those costs being unavoidable, regardless of whether I do this expedition through the Rockies or not, it may be sensible to minimise travel where possible. On the other hand, what did God invent credit cards for?

So that's my thinking. Just before I move on from this, this job may well pay shit. It does. $8.73 p/h. But listen to the perks. Free ski pass. Subsidised housing. Discounts at bars and restaurants. Staff parties and trips, to quote: "The Winter trips to other resorts are becoming things of legends, and our parties... all I have to say is, we hosted a Vegas night and sent one employee to Vegas for a few days, flight, hotel, and over $1,000 in spending money - Our year end party had a live band, free food, and a couple of drinks, plus you get to ride the hill all afternoon with no guests on it." Reciprocals at 31 other mountains. Staff access to the swimming pool, hot tubs, saunas, the new Panorama Springs water facility and the fitness room. I might be getting paid peanuts, but it sounds fucking awesome!! Now I just need to learn to ski, and the get there. (There is also discounted ski lessons for staff, though seeing as I may have implied I can already ski, I probably won't be able to take advantage of these.)

So that's where I am right now. I finally have a date of arrival, if a little later than I had hoped. So now the planning proper can start. I can get flights booked. I can sort insurance. I can plan for any pre-arrival travelling. And I can work out how I'm going to learn to ski before arriving. It's like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and I can finally move on.

I don't really have too much more to say today. The main reason I'm writing is because I'm so damn pleased I finally have a job. This is day 60 of no alcohol, but my other challenge, the no-wanking one, is over. Emphatically. It got to the point it was not only really, really damn frustrating. But also, it was dangerous. I mean that seriously. If I was cycling down the main road, it would only take a semi-hot chic to walk passed me, and I couldn't help but stare, even when she was behind me. I kept on nearly cycling into things because I couldn't look where I was going. So on the grounds of safety, that stupid idea is explosively over. I still don't plan on drinking until Canada though, which like I said a minute ago, now looks like it may total at 123 days. That's more than 4 months! Over a third of a year. That's incredible. Literally. I don't think anyone has ever gone that long before. But that's what I do. I do the impossible. With those extra weeks here, I'm wishing I'd made more of an effort to find a job for this Summer. I think my money is probably up on what it was when I got back from Mexico, simply because I've sold so much crap, and I've been living on nearly nothing. But still having about 9 weeks until I now plan on leaving, as opposed to 6 like I was hoping, I really could spend the time a little better. It's not like I'm going to be short of things to do now, with sorting everything out for this trip, and working on getting this website to a travel ready condition. But it definitely isn't a full-time job. I'll keep an eye out on Gumtree and similar places to see if anything comes up. I doubt it will though. I think I'm stuck in the middle a little bit. If I had a job, I would be short of time, especially seeing as I want to spend so much time exercising before I leave. But if I don't have a job, then I'll have too much. I probably just should've made more of an effort when I got back from Mexico. But then I knew that at the time I guess.

Also, I sold a book on Amazon this week. I took it to the post-office and there's a new girl working there, with probably both the biggest-rack, and the lowest-cut top I have ever seen. I never thought sending a package could be a jaw-dropping experience. It was awesome. I'd send loads more packages if it was always that good. On that sophisticated note, that's me done for today.

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