Thursday, May 25, 2006

In the Great White North....

Hello from the Great White North!! I've been up in Calgary for a couple weeks now, but somehow blogging seems like so much effort. Yes, I think the pace of my life right now can best be described as lazy? lacsidaisical? restful? Okay, let me take a step back.

Paul and I made it out of town on Sunday night (April 30). We only made it a bit past Sacramento, but it was a mental success getting out of town on the weekend and also meant no Bay Area traffice to deal with Monday morning. UHaul screwed up and it worked to my advantage. We ended up getting a truck with a trailer for the car. This meant there wasn't quite the same pressure to get rid of everything as there was lots of room in the truck. Though it was the plan to get rid of a lot of stuff because of my desire to simiply my life (i.e., make myself more mobile). Anyway, Paul and I made steady progress (well, if you call 35 mph up hills "progress") and arrived in Calgary on Tuesday night. It was all quite easy and uneventfull including quite a simple border crossing (luckily they didn't search the truck and find my 40 some bottles of California wine stashed in the UHaul - oops, did I just confess to a crime online? oh well, come arrest me!!).

I was back in Calgary for about 4 days before I picked up and went back to the US for a couple weeks of field work (a couple hours south of Vegas). Was pretty crazy with 110 degree heat, 12 days straight, and 12 to 16 hour days. It was good work with the USGS out on site and some fun times with friends in Lake Havasu and then a fun evening in Vegas for the last night (I would tell you about Vegas, but happens in Vegas....). The other good thing about this work is that I just got my pay check today and it is just shy of being twice my usual paycheque!! This is good as my clutch is on its very very very last legs :(

So, now I'm back in Calgary and homeless. Well, sort of. I'm living at Carole's condo in Calgary (she's off in Algeria working for the next month or two or three?) and what I didn't sell of my possessions at the garage sale are in her basement. Pretty sweet to just be hanging out here - being in Calgary is kind of like a vacation, kind of like couch surfing, kind of like being back home (I did live here for 6 years). The condo is sweet (you're great Carole!! though do you think you could get cable? just kidding!!!). I've got hi-speed wireless at the condo so I can continue to work, although I've only billed 2 hours this week. I guess that's where I started this blog off... life is lazy. I did some of my taxes today, wrote a couple emails, watched the first period of the Edmonton-Anaheim game (Game 4 with Edmonton losing today, but still up 3-1) and then went climbing for the first time in Calgary. Wow, one rough day!!

For the next part of the summer (which could be tomorrow? next week? or next month?) I'll be heading to Winnipeg to spend time with the family. All this while I'm still working a bit for the San Fran company - have laptop, will travel. They're happy keeping me and giving me hours where ever I am which is really sweet. If I keep working as hard as I have this week I'm either going to go broke or start dipping into the savings I'm trying to keep tucked away for overeas travelling - so I'm going to have to work on the self motivation skills!! Winnipeg is going to be all about family - spending time with the folks including some sailing with my Dad, playing computer with my Mum, and spending time at the cottage with all my nieces and nephews. Apparently I'm booked to build a tree house with Jack? And maybe some building a bathroom on the old A-frame cabin.

I'd also really like to do a road or train trip out east either this summer or this fall. I've got a few friends in Toronto & Montreal I'd live to visit and I'd like to check Montreal out a bit more (foreshadowing later years of my life maybe?). VIA Rail has a 30 day pass and I'm thinking of taking 30 days to make it to Halifax, then spend a week there (and maybe PEI?) and then fly back. Just thinking out loud here. I have to be back in Calgary for the August long weekend (for a wedding) and back in San Francisco for Labour Day (for Burning Man), so not sure when it will fit in. Also Carole and I were talking about maybe me coming to Africa (she even suggested she has the air miles to get me there - did I mention she's a damn good friend? I think we'd all agree). This is very tempting...

With this all said, where I'll be at the end of the summer/fall is an unknown. Only a few months ago I was predicting London, but then I spent some time travelling in SE Asia and now I'm hesitant on London (not saying not, but contemplative). A few other overseas jobs are also popping there heads up. My company just had a big win in Italy and there's some 3rd world stuff (groundwdater stuff, that's what I do) that might be very tempting (there's lots of work, but much of it doesn't pay - seems lots of people around the world want drinking water, but many don't want to pay $150/hr for a consultant to come find it for them... go figure). And if Ben, one of my best friends from Calgary, carries through on his move to Thailand, it might be tough for me not to join him. Or maybe I should... like I said, I have no idea. I'm open to suggestions!! And also very open to being spontaneous....

Thursday, May 04, 2006

the final weeks in SF

The final weeks in SF involved too much work, too much play, and not enough sleep. It's tough trying to say goodbye to everyone, wrap things up at work and plan for the move all at the same time. Needless to say this wore me down and a 3 week long cold still persists.

The 2nd to last weekend was a house party which was quite good. Paul flew down from Calgary and arrived an hour before the party so that was great (he then stuck around for the week and helped me pack and move making him either a great friend or a sucker!!!). I guess we shouldn't tell the landlord that the apartment can fit close to 100 people (including the band). Did some good damage on the bar and the remenants of the alcohol were sold for $45 during the garage sale (Paul thought no one was cheap enough to buy open booze - was he wrong or what!!). The night following the party Lisette was in town for a show at the DNA Lounge. Because I got so much sleep the previous night, I thought why not work the merchandise booth for the show (Sunday night) and stay up late again! Let's just say Monday morning wasn't exactly an early one. And surprisingly, the cold still persists. Go figure...

The last week in town was hanging out with Paul, various friends, a fun messy night at El Rio on Friday, and then packing, packing, and more packing. UHaul screwed up and never got the trailer hitch for my car. But they gave me a good deal on a truck and tow dolly for my car, so all worked out okay. But I'll save details of the move for a soon-to-be-blog.

visitors from up north

There were only a few days of work after I got back from Thailand before my sister (Robyn), niece (Emma) and nephew (Jack) arrived for a week in San Fran. We were only in the city for an evening before heading up to Tahoe the next day. We were lucky and got very nice weather for the drive up and didn't have to put chains on (okay, technically the sign said we should, but unless there's someone there telling you I interpret it as a consideration only). We checked in at a lodge in Kirkwood across the street from the lifts. This is definitely the way to go - espectially with kids. Putting on your boots and walking across the road to the lifts is sweet! We did a couple days of skiing, loads of scrabble, several hot tubs and in general, a very good time.

The condo was also very nice with a fireplace and a entertainment unit with a good selection of movies. Unfortunately the movies were all R rated so the kids are now talking with foul mouths and know all about prositutes, drugs, etc. etc. What can you do? The kids also took to Scrabble playing probably a dozen games (sshhh, don't tell them it's educational!!). We had a boys versus the girls game and the boys lost by a few points because we couldn't get rid of a tile and probably becuase the girls cheated too!

On the 2nd skiing day, Robyn read in the morning while I took the kids skiing. This of course was my opportunity to take the kids to the top of the mountain and do some black diamond runs (what the mother does not know can't hurt anyone, right?). The kids did very well and we all made it up and down the black diamonds several times with no problems. Robyn joined us in the afternoon and that's when the snow started coming down. It was whiteout conditions at the top and raining at the bottom by 3 and and we called it quits (the hot tub was calling). And given that they were prediction a lot of snow, we returned the rental gear (no need to deal with white conditions in the morning). However, this was a mistake because the next morning was one of those perfect powder days with blue skies and warm temps. Oh well. As it turns out, we had another perfect drive out of the mountains with no chains (always makes me happy when I don't have to leave my seat).

On the way home we stopped off at a abandoned gold mine near Jackson and did a tour for a few hours (educational and entertainment all in one!). Also had another Mexican dinner (Robyn is an addict). And Emma got her guacamole she'd been craving. Of course not as good as CanCun on Mission St., but sometimes you have to take what you can get!!

The downside to the visit was that their flight arrived during my hockey playoff game (we lost without me) and their flight home was early early which they had to be at the airport by some ridiculous time (I forget what time as my brain does not function that early in the morning).