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Better 1 Year Late Than Never

Can you believe it? ONE WHOLE YEAR since my last post! How the time flies.

Currently I am living in Nanaimo, British Columbia, working at Coastal Resource Mapping (CRM) doing cartography and GIS work as a GIS Systems Analyst. Work has proved satisfying and rewarding. My next major project for work will be a teaching position through CRM at the University of Northern British Columbia teaching short, 1 to 3 week introductory GIS courses on contract at different campuses in Northern BC for different audiences. I am very excited!

Well there has been a whole lot in the Life of Matiss. Lets start at the beginning, at this time last year...

In October 2012 I was in Seaforth, Ontario, working on and off for the good folks at Lawn Master Landscaping doing carpentry and landscaping. I built a cabin and a sauna, and even got to use 'em! It was hard but rewarding work, and was enjoyable spending the fall in Ontario. I got a new mountain bike and enjoyed riding it around, especially using it to map with my GPS receiver the trails around my childhood home. Doing reno's there helped pass the time and proved fulfilling.

Christmas came and went with the usual festivities, friends and family. I enjoy spending time with my nieces Olita and Rasma (and there is another one on the way!) at Zanis' and Julia's in Toronto. Also of note was New Years at various venues in Hamilton, though honestly its a bit of blur by now, it was spend with the hip, poor, young middle class of intellectuals and artists of Hamilton and proved stimulating.

During the fall I also started doing some GIS volunteering for the Bruce Trail Conservancy. This was enjoyable, I learned a lot and proved invaluable in finding a career in the field, especially as I was experiencing a bit of an existential crisis by this point and was getting a little jaded at the lack of opportunity that was promised.

Soon I realized Ontario was not the place for me, I was getting eager to ski once more in the big mountains and snow out west as well. I packed up and jumped in the good 'ol Subaru and headed west in the winter. The drive proved fine and I again stayed with friends in Thunder Bay (THANK'S JESS! - it was fun checking out the student bar where the band got the crowd to hip-hop line dance), Winnipeg (THANKS MEAGAN! - Mitch wasn't there, and CONGRATULATIONS ON GETTING MARRIED! May your future be bright, as I'm sure it will be), finally ending up in Edmonton after blasting into 70 km/h winds that were blowing across the frozen prairie.

In Edmonton I stayed at Olivia's place and looked for work. We were in a relationship at the time, however (surprisingly) the GIS work proved to be fairly dry there. It may have been due to my BC oriented education, though the lack of experience probably contributed more to this predicament. I explored the frozen city a little and even ski toured right in the middle of it a little in the big valley slopes which proved to hold decent powder. I checked out a couple of local hills as well, which was fun, and good training, since I had decided to basically say "screw it" and go back to Revelstoke for a few weeks and get a season's pass.

There I stayed at my friend Reilly's place. I cannot thank him enough for the opportunity, and hope to return the favour to him somehow. There I got back into my passion of big lines, pow, silliness, fun, and of course applying for jobs. During skiing here I did big lines I hadn't done before, even doing a double eject down a cliff shute. That will make you feel alive. I also started doing a "Ski Vocab Daily" post of random skiing vocabulary on my facebook page. Gnar was probably my favourite word of the season.

The vibe wasn't quite the same for me compared with two seasons prior, mostly as I wanted to work and was feeling a bit jaded, poor, lost, homeless, but hopeful and stayed positive, if in a bit of a little bit of a nihlistic way. I kept applying to work and doing a few interviews, including a Skype interview with a little outfit called Coastal Resource Mapping, though honestly I thought the interview went poorly. However...

About a week after that Skype interview I was about to get off the Stoke chair and I get a call. Turns out its John from CRM, offering me a job, and he wants me there yesterday! AND MY PHONE DIES! Never have I raced to the bottom of the ski hill faster!

Two days later I was at work in Nanaimo.

I had been moving around a couple places in Nanaimo and have settled at the what I call Allison's Treehouse, a house with some of the wonderful family Roscoe. The house is perched at the top of a bedrock knoll on a hill, with a large deck to a nice view of Mt Benson, the great Mt. Arrowsmith in the far in the distance, and Long Lake, which is very close by. The swiming should be good there when the water warms. Oh and its a 10 minute walk through some woods to work.

For the rest of the ski season I skied at Whistler (even enjoying a very nice pow day on St. Patrick day Sunday (our theory why the powder hadn't been tracked out yet was that all the local yokels were too drunk, and all the hardcores ran far away. It was great.)), the wholly volunteer run Mt. Cain on North Island, Mt Washinton and Cypress, and headed back to Revy for a couple trips as well, including one memorable one on Easter which included a trip up a snow covered logging road to some hotsprings where the Subaru really shined. Its been fun shredding with Krystin, Krystin's Dad, Katrina, Katrina's Brother, Dave, (none of Dave's family), Leanne and everyone else, all the 1-2 rides with people and all the folks met on the lifts.

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A few of my co-workers were climbing instructors and I have been out with them, mostly at the local indoor climbing gym. It was always fun climbing trees as a lad, and holding on for dear life as you're jammed yourself in a crack on a cliff is almost as good as those childhood memories on tree branches. Mostly indoor climbing up to now, but I've gotten my belay and lead-belay tickets and look forward to more outdoor.

Another benefit of the Roscoes is access to kayaks. The little 9 foot boat proved worthy of the trip to Valdes Island and Pirate Cove on DeCourcy Island. I embarked on a Friday night, pulled into a bay on Valdes, explored a dock and set out again after dusk for a site across the bay. There is bio-illuminescent bacteria and krill here that reacts to movement in the water. Imagine a firefly or a small, bright glowstick that stays lit for 1-2 seconds. Imagine you're paddling in the dark. You think you see lights around your paddles in the water. You think you see lights on your paddle blades as you take them out of the water. Soon hundreds of these bacteria in varying brightness swirl in the underwater eddies of your paddles, lighting up the inlet floor. Disturbing the bay floor awakes thousands more. You paddle away to the other shore and for about 3 meters in all directions around the kayak the bacteria are agitated and you can see where fish deeper down dart through the water, only their trail lit up by the bio-luminescence like shooting stars under your boat. Then you start to stop and do a brake turn and see the glowing life swirl in the eddies behind your boat, water gradually calming and with it the glow, and you are left in the dark water again.

The next day checked out DeCroucy Island. This was the place that was the location of the strange cult of Brother XII. He convinced thousands of well-off Americans in the 1920s and 30s to give him their money and often to come with him to this place to start a new colony in rightous salvation from the second coming. There was the whip-wielding hench-woman of Madame Zee, guns and a fortress, a House of Mysteries, gold bars and more intrigue than is necessary to write here. Oh and it was gorgeous out that weekend too.

Other kayaking I've done this summer includes kayaking to the Baleanas Islands about 4 km off of Nanoose (north of Nanaimo) and going to some small pretty small islands off of the south shore of Gabriola Island with my girlfriend Ruth.

This spring my grandmother passed away, necessitating the flight back home. Despite the loss the trip proved up-beat. I visited many old high school friends at the Pink Flamingo as CEO (Franc, Greg and P's band) rocked out. Saw the stars at Brian's. The funeral reception was at our house, and it was genuinely fun talking with everyone.

In May Olivia visited. Her mother lives in Duncan (just down the road) which was convenient. We explored some logging roads and lakes, and checked out the amazing Saltspring Island.

I have explored much of the Van Isle, including Port Renfrew, Victoria, Coombs Market, Courtenay, Nanaimo Lakes, Witchcraft Lake and Westwood Lake.

For May long weekend I spent with Olivia and Revelstoke. As well I saw a couple other folks, though the town is quite this time of year. We checked out some hotsprings and the Enchanted Forest, which is definitely worth a visit.

At Soltice I met a couchsurfer and we ended up going to Duncan to a country yoga studio to some party and show, which is where I met Ruth. It was a low key weekend, but the place has a pond with an island and a row boat on it which was very, very pleasant to row into to the morning light with someone you just met...

For the rest of the summer I was a wicked weekend warrior, going camping, travelling around Vancouver Island and going to many music festivals, most of the time with Ruth. Here's the rest of the run down:

Lots of hiking: been up Mount Benson and gone into the legendary Strathcona Provincial Park, including staying at the best campsite I have ever been to: tarns (pools) of swimmable water pearched on a small plateau among the highest peaks of Vancouver Island. Also drove the old Legacy up the garliest logging road, getting to the side of Thasis Mountain, and climbed up the next day.

Travelled to Gabriola Island (off of Nanaimo) twice, its sort of like a little Saltspring Island. Ruth and I ended up stumbling onto its annual Theatre fest, which was fun. Done lots of road trips, including going to Gold River, Thasis (a place like its stuck in 1981), Sayward, Bamfield and gone on logging roads all over the island.

Music: Voluneered at the Tall Tree (in Port Renfrew) and Otalith (Uculet) music festivals, and also went to the Squamish Valley Music Fest, and Ska Fest and Riflandia in Victoria. Tall Tree was amazing! It has been very cool seeing popular bands from my more fomative years and those from more recently, including Outcast (Big Boi), Dan Mangin, Jurrasic 5, Hollarado, The Zolas, Mat and Kim, Dub Effects, A Tribe Called Red, Current Swell, Beats Antique, Maclemore, Queens of the Stone Age, Japandroids,  Rae Quan and many other very very good acts. Tall Tree was by far my favorite festival, perched on a mountain overlooking the ocean, and there were pretty much no assholes there, which helps. Also met my mechanic bud Eric there, amongst many cool folks.

Other details of the summer: Biking with Alison, Swimming, going to the hotsprings near Pemberton with Krystin (FUUUN), going hiking in West Sannich, Goldstream and everything else with Ruth.

Also got a new car: a 2005 Impreza Outback that Eric's helped fix up. Its veeeery fun to drive!

I think I've got it all now! See ya next year!

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