We Didn’t Know A Wild Cougar Was Stalking Us…

I have an admission to make…

I’m crap at keeping my friends and family updated about what I’m doing in my travels. Like, pathologically bad. So I wanted a space to be able to update everyone easily on my adventures and misadventures; a part diary part article. This post marks what will be the first of a random yet hopefully entertaining smattering of updates about my travels and tales. What I’m doing, seeing, feeling, wanting, etc. I’ll be emailing these out too, so if you want them in your inbox just sign up here.

So without further ado…

 

Where I Am

I’m living in Victoria, which is a small city on Vancouver Island in BC, Canada. It’s the mildest place in Canada, which is fantastic for an Aussie like me who’s totally unprepared for a Canadian winter. AKA I’m a total winter pansy.

I made a suspiciously high number of friends while I lived in Koh Tao who were from Victoria, and Chloe had a good amount of mates here too. So when we had to work out where we wanted to move to in Canada, Vic ended up being the logical choice.

 

Where I’ve Been

Recently my travels have had a distinct Canadian theme to them. And honestly, this country is so vast and beautiful that I’m okay not having travelled internationally for a while.

  • Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. Chloe and I went for a road trip up island recently, because we were feeling claustrophobic from being in a city again and needed a bit of a nature hit. But we forgot to check the weather, not realising the rest of the island was still covered in snow… Silly Aussie rabbits! We persevered anyway and got to the last option on our list for a campsite for the night. It was way past dark, below freezing and we were getting tired. We jumped out of the van with head torches on to inspect a section of the road to see if it was passable or not, deciding it was too dangerous. We got back in the van, and I did a U-turn and BAM. Right in front of the Susan Savandon, illuminated perfectly by the headlights and staring straight at us, was an enormous cougar. He looked 100% calm and unphased by our presence, but we lost our shit in excitement. It was our first cougar sighting ever, and he was BEAUTIFUL.  It wasn’t till we calmed down that we realised he’d been watching us from the dark while we were out of the van looking at the road. We were mere meters away from a fully grown, 80kg+ predatory feline killing machine. Ooopa!
  • Nanaimo, also on Vancouver Island. Instead of camping as we had planned in Port Alberni, we ended up on a self-prescribed quest to find the best Nanaimo Bar in Nanaimo. What’s a Nainamo Bar? Did we succeed? And wasn’t this just making us easier and tastier targets for cougars? You’ll have to wait to find out.
  • Vancouver, 4 times over the last month. I had to head to the mainland for a job interview (nailed it!), then to get Chloe’s new passport underway (FINALLY), and also to head to Toronto. Vancouver is like a big Melbourne, but with just a little less soul (in my opinion). It’s a lovely city, but not so much so that I’d live there.
  • Toronto, over the other side of Canada. On a work trip, I spent three days in what Canadians adorably refer to as ‘The Big Smoke‘. Meeting up with an old friend from Thailand was terrific, and although I didn’t get to explore the city much, it felt great to get back into the swing of things business-wise. The trip also crystalised in my mind that working in the industry I used to focus on isn’t the one for me long term. It was an unexpectedly cathartic experience.

 

Where I’m Going

The next few months include some pretty exciting trips for me. They’ve all come together in the last few weeks, and I really can’t wait to get on the road again. As much as I like Victoria, I’m getting real antsy having stayed here ‘this long’. And if you’re not sure where the places below are in the grand scheme of things, the name of each is a link to Google Maps. Yeah yeah yeah, I’m too kind, I know.

  • Kauai (Hawaii) on March 24th – April 6th. Mum and I haven’t seen each other in nearly a year. So when we were scheming how to meet up and worked out that Hawaii was our cheapest halfway point. No complaints from sun-starved me! I’ve never been, and am beyond excited. Hiking, freediving, spearfishing… And quality Mum time. It’ll be bliss.
  • IT’S A SECRET (MWA HA HA HA HA)
  • Saskatoon (Saskatchewan, Canada) in April some time. I have to head out there for a client, and honestly, I’m not looking forward to -30C.
  • Victoria (Vancouver Island, Canada) on April 26th – May 20th ish. I’ll be back after a secret trip for a few weeks to tie up some loose ends before I head out to Haida Gwaii.
  • Langara Island (Haida Gwaii, BC Canada) from May 10th – September-ish. I’ll be working up at a fishing lodge for the season, and am so excited to explore this pristine part of the world.

 

What I’m Doing

There are a few things that I keep putting off learning for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s time, others it’s laziness. But this is the year I pull my finger out of my theoretical ass and stop being a lazy shithead.

  • Freediving – I dabbled in it in Thailand, but I’m going to get my freediving ticket in Kauai finally. After that, I have some pretty stellar places to practice (the surprise place, Haida Gwaii if I get a 7mm wetsuit, and then Malta).
  • Surfing – Another bucket list item I’ll be smashing in Hawaii. I’m always ashamed to tell people I bump into in my travels that they’ve officially met the only Aussie who can’t surf. So it’s time to change that. And as a bonus, Mum’s agreed to learn with me. Yeowwww!
  • Guitar – I bought a guitar, and have been teaching myself for the last few weeks. I figured the downtime I’d have between shifts up at the fishing lodge would be the perfect time to learn to burn the time. But holy fark, my fingers tips are killing me! But just the tips 😉
  • Getting fat – Seriously. While I’ve lived in Victoria, I’ve packeddd on the kgs. It’s terrifying. The excuse I tell myself is that I went from diving every day for a year in Thailand, to hiking places like El Capitan in the US, to just working from home and doing nothing in Victoria. But really, I’ve just been lazy. So the next few months are going to be all about eating fresh, hiking & diving.

 

What I’m Reading

  • I’ve just finished Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. Yes yes yes, I know, this book’s been around for ages, and its rep is a bit corny since the movie was made. But since I’ve been travelling, I’ve barely read anything – I can’t justify lugging books around with me. So I finally put down the cashola for a Kindle Paperwhite, and haven’t put it down since. Wild was the first book that came to mind, and it was bloody good! I’ve had hiking the JMT (aka the John Muir Trail, a 340km/211 mi long-distance trail in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California) on my mind for a while now, so this just got me all amped back up about it.
  • The next book I digitally picked up was You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. I’m only a few chapters in, but her style of writing is mesmerising. She’s funny, brutally honest and totally upfront. I’ll keep you posted on how this one pans out.
  • I’M NEARLY 31. Ughh. This tragic fact means that most working visas in the world will no longer be available to me – and I only have the opportunity to get one more. So after not much deliberation, I chose Malta. Yup, Malta. The little island nation wedged between Italy and Algeria. So I’ve been studying up and got all jazzed up reading this seemingly unbiased ‘Pros and Cons of Moving to Malta‘ list. Now only if the Maltese Embassy in Australia would reply to my email where I asked a million questions about the incredibly vague and poorly written application form…
  • Although living in Victoria has been awesome, it’s also had a pretty shitty side effect – I’m depressed as fuck. I was having trouble figuring out why, but today I finally worked it out. Lack of exercise (it’s too cold to hike/run, and I can’t afford to join a gym), and Seasonal Affective Disorder. This article does a pretty good job explaining it and has been a real wake up call for me. “The first step to getting over any mental illness — to admit that it exists”. So there ya go. I’m depressed. But I know it’s a widespread side effect of life, and I’m gettin’ through it 🙂 And don’t worry, this isn’t my call for help or anything. It’s just another facet of life I’m dealing with right now. And I hope anyone else dealing with it knows that talking about it really does help. Promise.

 

What I’m Watching

  • I’m so solidly obsessed with Sailing La Vagabonde. I don’t know if hearing their accents helps temper my homesickness, or if watching their awesome dynamic makes me lust for the sea. But whatever it is, Elayna & Riley are absolute gems, and totally watchable.

  • A friend I saw in Toronto recently told me I should start watching this show Working Moms on Netflix. I was a bit confused about why a 20-something dude would recommend a show with that title. But holy moly, it’s bloody hilarious. And Canadian, eh! Highly recommend you give it a watch.

 

What I’m Writing

My job has had me flat-chat these last few months, and because of this, I’ve been pretty shit at writing anything for von kita. But in saying that, these are a few articles coming up. Working titles obviously!

  • Nanaimo Bar Crawl – Finding The Best Nanaimo Bar In Nanaimo
  • 10 Best Cafes To Work Remotely Or Study From In Victoria BC
  • The 20 Best Hikes Within 30 Minutes Of Victoria BC
  • 10 Best Travel YouTubers (Who Aren’t Wankers)
  • Why Long-term Travel Isn’t A Holiday
  • That Time We Needed A Doctor In The US – And Couldn’t Get One

 

 

Don’t forget to take a moment for yourself to zen or whatever. Life can be stressful sometimes, so try to remember every now and then what an awesome world we live in.

 

 

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