It is November 20, and the snow is falling beautifully outside and the temperatures are dropping consistently. With the colder temperatures arriving and being in a transition period from our first successful summer and fall, we find ourselves in a time of reflection and calm as we wait to see what old man winter will bring us this upcoming season. A season we have not yet had to brave in our first year of business.
Over a month ago, just as the temperatures were changing and the best fall mountain biking had begun, we received a phone call from Cycle Path…a place of all things cycling located on the opposite side of town. A cyclist originally from Red Lake, who spent the summer in Anishinaabe, that biked across Ontario from Montreal… was now in our city looking for a welcoming accommodation to stay in. Gordon showed up on our doorstep a few hours later with his bicycle and trailer.
We quickly started learning about Gordon as he had no agenda, was more than happy to stay until he figured out his next move, and had a very refreshing trait about him.
We soon realized over many cups of coffee that he was completely disconnected from the digital world. He had no cell phone, no ID, no email address. Rather, he would bike every day to the library and employment center to check the job boards and get another book. I would see him every morning writing something in his journal in our little shambhalic corner hang out, jotting down notes for a new song, scoping out the condition of his guitar strings, reading, and most importantly… taking care of his bicycle.
A man of few words, it was a pleasant surprise once we all started having beautiful conversations and learning about one another. There is something funny about us nomads, you really don’t have baggage when you travel to a new place, so what is the harm in talking about our craziest times, history, where we have been and where we might go.
This might have all started once Gordon became aware that Paul had the right gear and space to allow him to work on his bike. Of course he was generously offered to use the tools he needed as he needed them with no hesitation. This small tiny gesture, along with keeping him happy and healthy over hearty breakfasts with a never ending supply of coffee, allowed our new friend to really show us how amazing he is. Over these tiny givings and short conversations it became clear he was extremely organized and dependable, offering help to put away breakfasts, clean the floors, share little snacks he would bring back, maintain some of the gear from the gear shop, and even walk our little Boss Lady – our baby golden doodle.
As Gordon was turning into a long term resident with his bill always paid in full and his generosity showing on his sleeve, we knew we had to work something out and that his good tidings were not to go unnoticed.
Sure enough, our most frequent guest, my Grandmother B, caught onto this intriguing new friend of the hostel. She has always been the most giving and caring human I know. There has always been something about her that attracts younger people. She has never had anything herself, yet finds a way to give anything she finds to others if it means making them happy and comfortable; that is all she needs to be happy and comfortable herself.
Gordon easily became part of our family. We realized it was time to follow the model of most hostels and create a work trade.
Being the seasoned shoestringer this was always a top priority while traveling. Whether it be Wwoofing, working at a hostel, helping out a family with house keeping for a place to stay, anything to help cut down on travel expenses while enjoying and contributing to a new experience; and for much longer than is normally possible. As long as everyone is happy and equal this is a great way to travel and get to know a place. However, this was not something I had in my mind at the beginning of March this year being on the other side of the ticket. We were just getting established with so many other things to worry about!
Now we sit and are taking it all in and planning for our next season. Especially with our new friend Gordon who is here to stay for a while and be our new maintenance man and inspiration for a more organic lifestyle. My family is happy, our staff and the boss lady are happy, and Gordon is happy. We putter here and there, we share food, have some laughs, and soak up eachother’s knowledge to run this massive machine called The Haven.
Next season we will welcome at least 2 volunteers to work and stay while enjoying our amenities, new garden, bicycles, and the like. We welcome unique and dedicated individuals to apply. Everyday something amazing happens, and who knows what else this unique artistic downtown project will have to offer to our guests… but we will for sure fill you in along the way.
Buy the ticket, Take the Ride.