Friday, September 14, 2007

Alaska - Pt. 1

Hey folks. Nice to know a few of you complain when I am lazy and don’t blog. I’m in Alaska finishing up my 3rd of 4 weeks of work. Currently sitting in a coffee shop on Saturday morning - I do have internet at the apartment, but my roommates girlfriend just flew in so I’m being scarce.

And yes, apartment... usually I stay in hotels for fieldwork, but the company has rented 4 apartments for the project. Which is very nice since we have a per diem and are able to eat at home. Might be the first bit of field work where I loose weight! And a good crew out that all gets along and takes turn grilling fresh salmon on the hibachi and such. Life is tough...

The work started off a little funny. Was supposed to be installing wells and doing soil gas sampling in basements, etc. But delays in approvals and such meant the first week or so ended up being mostly hand auguring soil piles. Though I’ve been doing a lot of GIS and GPS work too - mostly tracking down as-built AutoCAD drawings, compiling in GIS (ArcInfo), uploading to a GPS (Trimble unit that does real-time corrections to ~2ft accuracy) and then field locating pipelines, drill locations, etc. etc.

So Alaska and you think cold, but temperatures have been high 20s (Celcius that is), even pushing 30 a few days (mid 80s F, which if I’m doing my conversions correctly, is about 30 C?). Apparently this is quite nice weather for this time of year. If fact, I nearly got heat stroke one day while auguring a tad too fast, but I digress…

So what's up besides work? (before you fall asleep)... last Sunday morning a handful of us drove to Chena Hotsprings about an hour east of Fairbanks. Was a nice hotsprings, definitely developed, but done somewhat tastefully. Though I only took photos of somewhat interesting things in the front...

In the afternoon after the hotsprings we did a hike up Angels Peak, where we got rained and hailed on just as we reached the peak. I really wasn’t expecting much of a hike so I was wearing sandals, jeans and a cotton t-shirt (the hiking shoes, gortex jacket, etc. were in the car). Oh well, since the weather here has been warm, the hike down was muddy, but not too cold despite looking like drowned rats. Side note, And we saw a moose and a bear in the same day too.

A less exciting day was a trip to the north pole. Funnily enough, one must go south to get to the North Pole. The North Pole is actually a town with a ridiculous amount of Christmas theme stuff for everything. We had also thought about driving to the Arctic Circle (ummm… is it the 15th or 30th parallel)? It's a bit of a drive though, and not necessarily nice rounds along the Alaskan Pipeline (which I saw last week as well - not very exciting, but...). Isn't the 2nd photo of Santa strange... almost like if one were to rearrange the letters in Santa one would get Satan!! HMMMM???

Well, that’s a quick update. I’ll be finished here on Sept 9 and then taking a few days to get to Anchorage - get to drive past / through Denali Natl Park, Mt. McKinley (tallest mountain in North America), etc. etc. – Then looks like I’ll be heading to Seattle for a day or two, then Montreal for a week or so and then off to Edmonton for a repeat of some work I did last fall. I had no other plans after Edmonton (even Edmonton still hasn’t 100% confirmed) until 2 days ago and then things went crazy. I got 2 emails in the morning trying to get me on a project in Nevada and then that would conveniently start near San Francisco the following week. I was contemplating how to make these fit in with Edmonton when my OL (operations lead – sort of my boss) called asking if I wanted a 2-4 month placement in Honolulu and he needed to know ASAP. What was I to say? But just as quickly, things aren't looking as good. So looks like my surfing skills may remain poorly developed :(