A Journey North

My second trip to north this year has come to an end and I’m back to sunny Vancouver. Sunny you say? It is actually beautiful and sunny as I write this on the 9th of November and I can barely believe my eyes.

This trip was longer than usual – 3 nights instead of 2 – and was great. Things got off to a good start with an uneventful trip to Ft. Nelson. While cool, at -12, it was sunny and clear.

I had the pleasure of driving to camp with Ginette, one of our PCPs. She has been a regular in camp for the past year and knows the road well. She handled all the radio duties while I drove. The road conditions could not have been better for gravel roads. They are frozen solid and very firm. With little snow on them, I had to be conscious of my speed. 80km/hr is the max and after all the emails I’ve sent reminding people not to speed it was time for me to walk the walk.

When we finally made it to camp, some 2.4hrs later, it was almost time for dinner. We greeted the other members of the team and found our rooms.

The food in camps can be interesting. Because the workers are typically doing labour intensive work, there is usually lots of food available and there is usually gravy! This night was no different – gravy was on order. I’m afraid it wasn’t my favorite meal but it was quickly forgotten with a prime rib dinner on day 2.

The next day I had my first rig tour. It was fascinating to climb the stairs to the rig floor. We were lucky enough to be there when the action started. The drill bit had to have a bearing replaced. As the drill was removed, the men got to work. This is not a job for those afraid of getting dirty! There is black colored fluid everywhere.

The guys move quickly and efficiently to replace the broken part and within a few minutes the bearing has been replaced and drilling resumes. If you ever get a chance to tour a drilling rig don’t pass it up.

The following day I headed was due to head to Ft. St. John. I good drive out and was in Ft. Nelson with plenty of time to spare. I visited the local library to get internet access – Rogers doesn’t work in Ft. Nelson – and reconnect to the world. After a couple hours I headed to the airport. The first thing I did was drop my rental keys in the drop box.

At check in, I was notified that the plane was going to be 2 hours late and did I want to leave the airport? Yes, I’d love to leave the airport but sadly I don’t have access to my truck anymore. Oh well, I guess I had better get comfy.

The plane arrived ‘early’ when it landed after 1.5hrs instead of two. The fun continued in Ft. St. John when the rental agency was closed. After a wait someone arrived and I was off to camp again. This drive was not as idyllic as my drive with Ginette. It was dark (8pm) and snowing. What a great combo! The good news is that for the most part the snow was not sticking to the ground and I made it camp. I had a good visit with Mark, the night ACP.

This morning started with breakfast with the whole team – night and day medics. We had a good visit and I had a chance to catch up with a safety advisor I had met nearly 5 years ago on my first trip to camp. By 10 in the morning it was time to hit the road again for the airport. I’m happy to report that my flight back to Vancouver was uneventful.

While I always enjoy my trips up north, getting home is even better.

Until the spring!

– Tom

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