Tuesday, February 4, 2014

05 Feb 2014

I'm working on a field project for Canshale and I want to document my experiences out here so I can look back and remember the field projects I've worked on and my first trip to Canada.

I have been in Canada now since February 2nd. I probably should have started this blog then, but I have been quite busy so I'll give a quick recap of what occurred on those days.

I left Salt Lake at around noon. I had to change flights in Denver and ended up on a smaller plane than I am typically comfortable with. I sat next to a nice lady who had been on a ski trip in Denver. We talked about the differences between Canada and the United States. I then landed around 7pm in Calgary. After getting off the plane I had to go to immigration. At immigration I applied for and was granted a work permit. There wasn't really much hassle with that. The only minor snag was that I should have brought a copy of my diploma, which I did not, but the immigration officer was not very concerned. After receiving my permit I noticed my last name had been spelled wrong. Lager instead of Alger. Sure enough, Canadians do always have beer on the mind. I got this changed and got a shuttle to the hotel I was staying at. Acclaim Hotel. It was nice. The shower had a full body sprayer and the coffee machine used K-cups. I met the project manager for dinner that evening at the Italian place in the restaurant. Good food, not the biggest portions, but good nonetheless. I had trouble sleeping that night, but I eventually got to sleep around 1 am.

The next day I woke up early to take a cab to a winter driving course. The course was all right. A good refresher on how to be a safe driver, but not terribly useful as I drive in winter conditions every winter. I passed with no problem and went to the Calgary office for a project orientation. Before the orientation we got lunch at a local marketplace that was in one of the high rise buildings. Downtown Calgary is beautiful and all the buildings are connected with skywalks that the locals refer to as "Plus fifteens" meaning they are 15' (or meters?) off the ground. They connect 2nd floors, so I'm going to go with feet. That evening I had dinner with two fellow geologists and Skyped with Jes for a little over and hour before getting to bed. Once again sleep did not come easily.

The next morning I awoke tired and made my way to the airport via shuttle. After being told my carry-on was too big I had to go back and check it. United airlines had no trouble with my carry-on size, but Canada Air has a much tighter restriction on carry-on size. After boarding a propeller plane we had to taxi over to an area where our plane was de-iced. It was cold. They told me -25C, I think that translated to roughly -15 F. We picked up our rental trucks, which were a fleet of white Ford F-150s and go on the road to Hudson Bay, SK.

Along the way we stopped in a small town and got lunch at a gas station. I was told it was a really good restaurant. I'm not exactly sure what Canadian standards for a "really good restaurant" are but this was garbage. I'd have preferred to eat at Burger King. Actually I would have probably preferred to eat cat food. I ordered the "special" it was lemon pepper chicken. The lemon pepper tasted like crushed up lemon candy and the pepper was light while the added salt was heavy. I ate about two bites of it. I had maybe 15 kernels of corn as a side. It was obviously frozen corn. And some instant potatoes. Those really weren't any good either. Honestly this was probably the worst plate of food I can remember ever being served.

Upon arrival in Hudson Bay I was told to get some sleep as I may be working 4 hours later. As with any time I'm told that I need to hurry up and fall asleep, I didn't fall asleep. I slept maybe a grand total of 15 minutes of that 4 hours. I woke up dreading heading out to the field site on 0 sleep, because remember I've slept like crap the previous two nights too. I was informed that instead we would be waiting a few hours and starting work in the morning. This is great for me as I don't work until the following evening. My other night-shift counterpart and I are not intentionally sleep depriving ourselves (it is currently 1:30 am) so we can get good sleep during the day and be well rested for our night shift tomorrow.

I got dinner at the diner in the motel tonight. It was about 1000x better than the place I had lunch. This isn't to say it's incredible. I'd give it maybe a 6/10, but for a small little town it's really good - better than I expected. I ate their "Chicken Deluxe" which was just chicken with cheese, mushrooms and onions on it. It came with mixed vegetables and a fresh baked potato. It was really quite enjoyable after my previous meal. After this we sat down for a one hour safety orientation. Two hours later it was done.

I was asked to get a remote desktop and the printer working and given 0 instruction on how to do so. I love how people who are 40+ just assume that because I'm 28 that I can do wizardry with computers. I never got the remote desktop to auto-connect like the project manager wanted, but I was able to get the file he wanted to a cloud drive and download it from the cloud drive onto the harddrive of the computer in the field. This made it possible for me to print it. To get the printer working, which they'd been fooling with for two hours, I simply turned it off then back on. I really wish I could claim some sort of computer wizardry for that one, but it was kind of just the standard troubleshooting. Doesn't work? Reboot it! Still doesn't work? Try rebooting again!

After that I was able to give Jes a call on Skype, but because I am sharing a room with my day shift counterpart who is sleeping I wasn't able to chat in my room. The other night shift guy and I are hanging out in the "office" which is just another room with a printer set up. I didn't want to bother him with Jes and I being obviously in love newlyweds, so I stepped out into the hall and sat in a chair next to a VERY noisy ice machine. We only were able to chat for about 15 minutes because my computer was ready to die, but it was worth it. It just made my evening to see her beautiful face and hear her for a little while.

Field work sucks. There is really no way around that. Like there are parts I like, sure. Being in a new area of the world that I would otherwise never visit is pretty great, but it's 1:30, I've not slept well in 3 days, I'm incredibly tired and I'm having to force myself to stay awake so I can sleep better after the day crew leaves for their shift. But that's not even the worst part. The worst part is I am 21 days out from seeing my wife. I really miss her already and I've only been in Canada for 3 days.

Oh well, I guess this is the life of a young professional geologist. Maybe I should consider a new career... nah...

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