As you have seen if you follow our blog, our plans go wonky very quickly. We bounce back, but at no point do our goals ever stay static simply because life throws us too many curve balls for that to ever be a thing.
Case in point, our trip to Vancouver Island last winter.
We weren’t sure if we were going to try to stay on the Island or not. Going back and forth is expensive, especially with the ferry fee. But we don’t have a setup capable of handling Manitoba’s frigid winters.
We started on the Island volunteering. But the trip had been far more expensive than planned. Right away, though, I was able to land a job with an arborist. Even though I was also supposed to be volunteering, I couldn’t very well turn down a steady paycheque. I managed to handle both for several weeks.
Unfortunately, shortly after leaving our volunteer opportunity, I was released by the arborist for not being in good enough shape and because I can get back pain. This left us in a lot of trouble as we were now paying rent and had no one to take care of Aurora if we both wanted to work.
I managed to snag a job in the Wal-Mart auto shop and Lyndsay managed to get hired at Costco. We were scraping by but managed.
I was then offered an opportunity at Canadian Tire and a possible apprenticeship. This seemed to solidify our stay on the Island. We began looking for a place to stay for the summer, as the RV park had no space and would be far too expensive anyway. We were hoping to trade volunteer work on a farm for stay; or at least pay less rent.
I guess people must have sensed something coming. The entire time we were looking, no one would take us. We searched for months but could find nowhere to stay.
At the same time, the local economy started to suffer. The logging industry had been on strike for 7 months. When I was initially hired at Canadian Tire, I was busy all the time. Only 2 weeks later, I was lucky to work on two vehicles each day. My inexperience combined with lack of work led to my release.
Thankfully, I was able to get on EI. But I had been keeping an eye on the situation in China since January, and it was March. Covid-19 hit. I have Asthma and so am at relatively high risk should I contract the disease. I couldn’t work. But we still needed money, so Lyndsay was still working at Costco (where she was high risk to get it and transfer it to me).
Lyndsay stayed on at Costco until CERB was made available, then got layed off. With everything that was happening, we were out of options and decided to leave the Island and head back to Manitoba where we at least had family, friends, and an RV park that would cost us less than a third of living on the Island through the summer.
We tried our best to get online income going during this time, but alas I guess we just aren’t popular enough. I’ve written a book and several short stories, but I have a long way to go before that will make any money. I’ve encouraged Lyndsay to make Redbubble art and have a Patreon going, but with how controlled the art world has become under new political realities, she just isn’t as interested and hasn’t been able to create like she used to.
Thankfully, I landed a job at a landscaping company.
While the work is hard, I am in the best shape I’ve been since I was a teenager. I can even feel the D’Angelo V forming on my lower belly. Lyndsay says she likes my dad bod, but she seems to get rather excited about my muscles these days.
The company I work for is helping me to get my air brake endorsement. I already have a Class 2 License (all vehicles busses and smaller), so the air brake endorsement will open up a lot of opportunities. Upgrading to a full Class 1 (tractor trailer) may be in my future; for now I lift a lot and drive dump trucks.
With everything that happened, we mutually decided that the best thing for us would be to buy a house. Not to live in all the time, but at least to have a stable house if needed in an emergency and some place we could rent out to earn money while not there. We did the math and if we bought in the country, it would be feasible to be full time working part time and online. Our loans would be readily covered.
Unfortunately, having loans on a truck and trailer significantly harms your mortgage prospects. I spoke with a broker, and she flat out told us it wouldn’t happen without a large down payment; something we don’t have and won’t have for some time. (Multiple mortgage brokers effectively said the same thing, only one was blunt with us.)
Landscaping or another construction trade in Manitoba may turn out to be an ideal job. As it is seasonal, that means I have the opportunity to go on EI through most of the winter. This gives us the opportunity to head back to Vancouver Island. We are in talks with a farm through WWOOF near Nanaimo, where I can volunteer in exchange for our stay. Lyndsay will work part time to bring in extra money to pay down debt. They have children, so Aurora will have playmates.
Since we can’t get a mortgage (or at least won’t be able to for many years to come) we came to the decision that we will buy empty land instead. We can stay near the cabin country we’d been looking in and build up as we can afford rather than go into more debt. A used mobile home, RV hookups and potentially even campsites all provide potential income opportunities to help further. Hopefully, the future will include market gardening and homesteading, our winters spent away from home.
The last year has been a hell of a roller coaster ride. But that just seems to be our lives in general. Maybe things will smooth out a bit someday soon.
But for now, the adventure continues.