Violin Santa!


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First day in Hawaii

We’re in Hawaii for the next 10 days. The trip here is on my top five worst travel days ever list but waking up here made up for a lot.

Clint got lei’d last night:

This is Diamondhead from our balcony:

The ocean from our balcony:

and this is Loni the surfing Guinea Pig:

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My apprenticeship is over! The last check in my book was completed Feb 6 and the board signed me off last week. At the annual station meeting I will be assigned my own stations to maintain over the 2012/2013 fiscal year. This is gonna rock.

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This is the one we can’t figure how he got that far in.

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Close to Home Doesn’t Mean Uneventful

The plan: Drive to Red Earth, install new cell modem, drive to Whitecourt, sleep, fix wind sensor, drive to Edson, do semi-annual maintenance, drive home, victory!

What actually happened: Winter noticed us for a minute so the drive to Red Earth was slightly treacherous. One hazard we encountered was hundreds and hundreds of little white and black birds were sitting on the road. I almost missed them all. We got one on the windscreen and two in the grill. Eventually, we made it safely to the station and installed the new cell modem with no troubles.

We headed out to Whitecourt happy and proud of ourselves. It always feels good when new (to us) technology works.

Sadly, every room in Whitecourt was booked. Granted we didn’t try the sketchy motels that look like they’re from a Stephen King novel. Whitecourt is only an hour and a half from home so we just called the trip over. We’ll do Whitecourt, and Edson next week on the Hendrickson Creek trip.

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Christmas Baking

Me: dum-de-dum.. baking baking baking
Gravity: aha! got some!
Kody: Look at me sitting! I’m being good! Noble German Shepards deserve cookie dough!
Me: where’d you come from? weren’t you upstairs?
Sonic boom: bang
Me: oh, ok, go ahead.
Kody: om nom nom nom

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Three hour tour

The busy season this year seems to be stretching out. This week was supposed to be Monday to Friday based in Norman Wells with day trips by charter air to the surrounding settlements. Normally we would have done this in September but my journeyman was pulled to some other duties then so this got pushed back. The difference in the weather here between September and October is remarkable.

Monday morning we flew to The Wells same as always, no problems there. We sorted out our kit, checked in to the hotel and generally got prepared for the work.

Tuesday we got on the first charter of the week booked for 3 hours in Fort Good Hope (ZGH) then 2 in Coville Lake. Tuesday morning was beautiful for flying. After that it all went wrong. We were supposed to upgrade the ZGH station. Adding the new stuff turned out to be the easy bit. The wiring was a mess and it took us an extra hour to get everything sorted out. The good bit is that the station’s up and running (yay J!) The unfortunate bit is that it had started to snow and the visibility had dropped below safe levels to fly. The really unfortunate bit is that my backpack contained stuff for a day trip.

Fortunately, the local bed and breakfast had beds for us (and breakfasts too!) Thank you Douglas!

Wednesday, the weather in Fort Good Hope was worse than it had been on Tuesday afternoon so we explored the town a bit, bought shirts, socks, toothbrushes and some essentials at the Northern Store and watched Doug’s movies.

Thursday morning things started looking up at Good Hope so naturally the weather in Norman Wells turned bad. We spent Thursday hanging around the airport, which was under construction, waiting for word we could take off. After a while the air company said that as plan B we could get a ride on the scheduled flight which would be a bigger plane with different instrumentation. Plan B couldn’t take off either. We watched more movies.

Friday morning Fort Good Hope was gorgeous, there was fog in the Wells but it looked like it would burn off over the day. At 1630 we finally got on the scheduled Twin Otter to go back to Norman Wells.. at almost exactly the same time our charter got clearance to go.

Here it is, day 5 of the trip and we’ve got one station done. The other two charter locations are going to have to wait. Tomorrow we’ll get the Norman Wells Upper Air inspection done, including getting the electrolyser fixed. Hopefully after that we’ll get the Norman Wells auto-station inspected and then we’ll fly home Sunday(or Monday)

My lessons for this trip so far:

1: I’m glad I live in Canada. My biggest problems while being stranded in a small remote settlement were boredom and dirty socks.

2: Take clean socks everywhere, even on day trips.

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Marmot Basin

Thursday morning saw us finishing the last two stations in the park. (sniff) I thought nothing could compare with being paid to fly around Jasper in a helicopter. I don’t know if driving up a ski hill beats it, but it comes darn close. Most of the skiing I’ve done has been at Marmot Basin. Until now I didn’t realise there were two weather stations up there. I know it seems weird but it was foggy in the morning. We drove up anyway.

Ski runs look different without snow

Breaking through the cloud.. in an F250

oooh.. pretty

Marmot Triple

This is a video from the triple, it goes around 360(ish) and it was shot on my phone so it’s a little shaky. Consider yourselves warned.

me up a mountain


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Wednesday morning

was still foggy and rainy. We met the Park warden (or whatever his job title is now) at 8 and he asked us to delay until later. That was no problem. We still had the Jasper Warden site to do. That took most of the morning. The fog had started to lift but not quite enough so we went for lunch. It was a good thing we ate when we did because just as we pulled into the hotel to check our e-mail we got the call to fly. (YES!)

We did 2 fly in sites. The first one was Willow Creek (I might have the name wrong)

on the way to Willow Creek

Willow Creek Station

Willow Creek Area

More Willow scenery (and my finger)

yep, scenery

Then we flew to Devona

en route to Devona

The view from the ridge we landed on

The view the other way from the ridge

Devona Station

Somedays my job doesn't suck at all


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Other stuff we saw while being fogged in and rained on

Considering we were right near the Sunwapta falls when we finished the Sunwapta station we stopped in to have a look.

Me on a bridge at Sunwapta Falls

Trees on an island at Sunwapta Falls

Since we had falls on the brain and the Athabasca Falls were  on the way back to town (sorta) we stopped there too. On the short walk into the falls my buddy spotted a chipmunk. Actually the chipmunk was already spotted (and striped), James just saw it.

The top of Athabasca falls

more at the Athabasca Falls

still more at the Athabasca Falls

That was Tuesday. It was a nice Tuesday.

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