Hey, so I went up to the deepest wilds of Northern BC for work recently. First time being away from the baby, which was kind of weird but 100% fine. It helped that we had out last nursing session 3 days earlier (the milk dried up, and she was cool with it, reaching for a sippy cup when she found nothing else to drink). But really, it was bizarrely, totally fine to be away from the kid and the husband for 4 full days. It was a worthwhile trip, too. It’s one thing to learn about jointed tubing, and it’s another thing to stand on a drill floor 30 meters above the ground and see what the kelly floor looks like, and how the tubing gets there, you know?
It’s also just nice to get our of town for a few days. We flew up in a small commercial plane – small enough that there were propellers, and at row 5, I was halfway to the back of the plane. Nice smooth ride up – just bunnyhopping north and westwards.
Then the three of us (I was traveling with two coworkers) got to ride in a 4 seater chopper, and because I begged, I got to sit in the front with the super hot Australian pilot. (For some reason, in the bush, all the pilots are young Australian men? No complaints.)
I wanted to be in the front for the views – the cute pilot was just a bonus. It’s just so vast and empty, I can’t even tell you. There are occasional thin strands of “roads”, trails at best, made by energy companies, used by 4x4s, and quickly reclaimed by nature. Random rivers and lakes and creeks and oxbows and it’s like a geography lesson from above.
It’s really, really far north. Camp’s about 58 degrees north, and the Arctic Circle starts at 66 degrees. I was there a week before Solstice. The sun officially set around 11:30, and rose again around 3:30. It barely got dark. I found it hard to sleep, because at 12:30, it was still almost bright enough out to read by.
It also screwed up my schedule, because when someone said “Let’s go bear hunting”, it made sense to go, because it looked like 7pm brightness out all evening. Of course, it was actually 10 pm, but whatever, there were bears!
I saw 7 bears, and was thoroughly delighted. I’ve seen bears many times before, but it’s still a novelty. Even after taking the Bear Awareness course at work, and seeing videos of bears climbing trees and polar bear cubs covered in seal blood. Bears are still neat! (If, you know, super dangerous wild animals who under no circumstances ever should you attempt to pet.)
Seeing the site was great, getting to walk around unescorted was nice, getting the various companies to explain their processes to me was really helpful (and understanding at least 70% of what they were saying was even better!)… The food was excellent, as is always the case in dry, remote camps. (12 hour shifts, no booze, nothing to do but sleep and workout when not on site… the food HAS to be good to keep people happy.)
Flying home was a clusterfuck of epic proportions, but at least I was on a mostly empty 737, and so got my own row for all three hops. We were unfortunately grounded in Edmonton, due to lighting and tornadoes and shit. By grounded, I mean trapped in a plane for three fucking hours, while the plane was pulled in to the hanger. It was terrible. The 6 of us left on the plane could have rented a car and driven home faster, especially once they found a mechanical problem, and then had to wait for 15 other planes to take off in front of us. I was fine being away from the baby until then, and then I got twitchy and frustrated and really wanted to be home. (I should have beaten D and J home from work, not got there just before bedtime.) On the upside, I got to read 650 of the Dances with Dragons book, so that was nice.
When I finally got home, I had D bring J up to the main floor so that she could see me walk back in the front door, after watching me leave a few days earlier. She saw me coming up the walk and got frantic with excitement, and was pawing at the door while D unlocked it. I scooped her up in a hug and she nuzzled right in, for a second. And then refused to even so much as glance at me for the next thirty minutes. Wouldn’t let go of me, but was so clearly, adorably punishing me for leaving by purposefully refusing to look at me. It was cute. We cuddled and talked and then I read her a few books and then she was fine.
I’m glad I went, I was glad to come home. Which is all I ask of any trip ever, basically. Just nice that this one didn’t, you know, cost me cash dollars like all my other trips do. Also, bears!