Mandaree 3D project

Hello, hello!

Life was pretty b.o.r.i.n.g especially the first week I was in WC, ND. Nobody paid attention to me, nobody bothered with me, It was just me, and my laptop in the hotel room. I spent the first whole week doing tutorials and reading up on stuff that could help me in my field assignment topic. Morning, till night that was my only activity and also I got the chance to finally update my blog.

One fine night, my CM, Craig called me up in the hotel room and asked me if I could come to his room. There was a bunch of the crew there too, collecting their allowances. Lol. So, as bored and as clueless as I am (imagine spending a whole week, practically not doing anything!), I questioned Craig as to when I will be starting work with the crew. Well, apparently, they are still waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive so Craig asked the clerk to bring me out to the closest town to get some field gear for me!

So the next day, Michelle called me up in the afternoon (lucky for me, can still sleep late) and we headed to Williston, remember, that other small town an hour's drive from Watford City.

The roads there are endless and they look something like this. It's very cool, hardly no pressure in driving. But the scenery can get pretty boring after a while. Also, the reflections of the sun ray on the snow can really hurt your eyes. My eyes tend to narrow to reduce the light and I end up feeling pretty sleepy...

We went to Wal-mart first and couldn't manage to find anything that either
a) fits me
b) suitable for the cold and work in the field.

We did get a ski mask though, those that you sort of see in the movies where those burglars have them on, neh, the 3 lubang for the eyes and mouth.

Headed to the next shop, I think it's called Penny's, but the good news is that, finally we could get a pair of overalls (huge and damn thick!) and also a jacket (also damn thick and bulky!). We were again, unable to get a decent pair of snow boots. They either have sizes that are too big otherwise the sizes that are available might not provide enough warmth.

Later, Michelle said that we should have gone to her hometown, which is Dickinson and there would probably be more choices there. Oh well! But she did however said that she will ask a friend of hers to have a look if they have any decent boots there on my size.

Came back, and it was half past five, so I went over to Dakotan (again) to get dinner. Got myself roast Beef with fries.

It's a huuuge portion. The vegs look overcooked and they certainly are. This main came with a salad side which I didnt take pics of cos they all look the same anyways. By the way, this load of meat and carbs was enough to provide me 3 meals.

Oh, I forgot to mention that while in Wal-Mart, Michelle also said that I should get a backpack for me to put extra socks, and carry my lunch in. I was a bit apprehensive as I have purposely gotten a (bigger) backpack (those sort for camping ones) for $39.90 at The Academy. But Michelle said that, no, that'd be too big and if I am working in the field I might want to carry something smaller and that is comfortable and my shoulders.

Good thing was, she paid for all of them :)

My heavy duty jacket and overalls. Michelle commented that with the jacket at least the crew won't lose me there, to which I answered, not funny at all :o lolz. Then she was apologizing and saying it was honestly a joke hahahhahah. Btw, she watches Bleach also lol.

A few days later, sick with staying in the hotel, I decided to walk into town to get some groceries for a few reasons, my food supplies are kind of running low and 2, my sister advised me to get some frozen dinners which would be much convenient to me, and 3, I needed to get another bottle of contact lens solution as I'm paranoid that the small travel bottle I have with me may not be sufficient to last for 3 weeks.

My sister was pretty worried for me lol, she helped me search for marts and groceries stores around the area and checked how long it would take for me to walk there.

We found out that there was this store, Mike Supervalu (yes, without the 'e') is within 7 minutes of walking. Then Su Jen also started giving me advise on what to get, which dinners are nicer, etc. I really appreciate all the effort she put in to teach me all these things. She also taught me how to use the dryers lol, and how to get my laundry done. I sort of never really understood those labels on clothes where it says warm wash, or tumble dry low and shit like that, but i think i damn pro now. And also, I didn't want to just simply experiment with the stuff I have because I have materials like wool and polyester which, in the wrong washing or drying method, could melt or damage them.

Picturesque shots I took along the way.

It was damn freaking cold and I think it took me roughly 10 minutes to reach that damn store. By then I was almost freezing, I did spend a fair amount of time there deciding on the frozen dinners. Then out I headed again, wanting to have a good lunch at the Outlaws, another restaurant in the town, sad to say, it was closed!
So... Dakotan (again again).

I ordered the breakfast meal, 2 eggs with sausages and toast.

The sausages are damn freaking oily!! I finished all but 1 sausage which I wrapped in napkin (and hope to soak all the fat and oil) back and threw it in the fridge.

Dinner that night: frozen frozen!

Pretty easy enough, just microwave 4 minutes, stir contents, microwave and additional 3 minutes, eat.
Seriously, the US of A is in danger of having an overflowing amount of obese and unhealthy eating citizens. Everything is so damn oily (oh yea, on a side note: the sausage that I brought back? Microwaved to re-heat and the sausage soaked the paper plate through with more excess oil.) and instant in this country. No wonder they are huge and fat.

Tastes good, comes with wild rice and spring vegetables.

The frozen broccolis and carrots are my favourite! You dump the whole packet into the microwave and heat, it actually steams the vegs and has its own sauce. Yums! (microwaved 3 mins)

Day 1 out with the crew!
Finally I got news, and that was also accidental. Craig forgot all about me so I actually missed out the first day the crew started work. I was doing my tutorials and just quarrelled with TY, so feeling pretty pissed, I wanted to go out and have a breath of fresh (icy) air. Bumped into Michelle smoking at the entrance (there is a law here that says no smoking within 15 feet from all entrances). She told me that the crew already started this morning and yea, I could join them tomorrow, just gather at the pool 7am where the rest of the crews will be there for safety meeting.

Set my alarm to 5:30am so that I could poop and stuff before I join the crew cos I was told by Scott (the land acquisition supervisor back in Houston) that there would be no loos and we had to do our business behind a bush or something.

The ride on the bus took us roughly 45 minutes there. I was the only gal there and the crew's made up of mostly Mexicans. The project is held in this area called Mandaree. Apparently it's a reservation for the American Indians. These people are taken care of by the government, they are paid $2000 per person each month. Imagine that, their houses are also built for them. The govt seems to be doing this in return of resolving a bad history when the Americans took the natives' land away from them.

The cables for geophones and receivers in huge quantities. These are arranged into bags which are then transported to the exact location at the site by helicopter.

Craig told me to stick around the staging truck where all the coordinating's done. I met Junior there, the coordinator. He's a pretty funny guy and asked me if I would be his girlfriend lol. He was kidding of course. I bombarded him with loads of question but he's cool and tries to answer everything. He asked me how did Asians manage to stay slim (generally anyway) but Americans are so damn fat. I answered, our diet is probably more healthy, we eat in smaller quantities. The Americans deep fry every single thing under the sun, but we Asians actually know how to 'steam'. Then he went like, oh yea, so I gotta be his wife so he can lose weight and go like, oh, honey, no, don't eat that, have something steamed. Lol. Joker.

He coordinates with the heli pilots and sends them mission on where to drop the bags whereas some of the crew will grab the bags and start laying out the geophones, cables, the whole lines at the exact particular position (by using GPS) and then report back to Junior, who does a summary of lines that have been laid out.

A good amount of people showed up at the truck, I met Aaron, the guys who does the 'bidding' of the project, he's one of the big shots there, bids the project and ensures the everything goes smoothly. Also the project manager, Richard poked in. Richard's role is to ensure that everything from the start of the project till the end gets done (permit, surveying, drilling, and recording), so you could say that Craig's crew is a sub team of the entire project.

I got pretty bored in the truck and so I told Junior that I'm gonna get some pics of the Vibrators there. The Vibes are huge trucks that have a thick metal base plate on its centre where at the correct position, these base plates will be lowered and pressed down the ground until the tires of the trucks are lifted. Then the base plate will vibrate and send acoustic wave into the earth where the signals will be reflected by the different layers underneath.

I got really cold on the way there, it was really windy! I met a group of the crew there and started questioning them. They were funny, thought I was the client's representative cos I was asking them all these questions in an interview-ish sort of tone.

One of the guys there, Joe was super nice! He offered to show me the insides of a Vibe and then brought me out for a drive. He's also pretty funny and one of the friendliest people in there.

It's pretty cool to ride on the vibe, but it can only go slow! At highest gear (4), it can go up to probably 14km/h? But Joe says that the vibe can't go on gear 4 because the tracks can't rotate fast enough so the vibe will end up hopping up and down. -_-

Thickly wrapped like a dumpling.

Joe was driving the vibe to help another vibe that got stuck in the ice. Along the way we saw some horses hehehhe... I was pretty 'sua ku' and wanted to take pics of those lol. But Joe was too nice, he stopped the vibe so I could take a good shot.

What happened to the vibe that got stuck:
There were 3 vibes in total going on the same tracks. The first 2 vibes got good snow and could go smoothly around this curve that was kind of sloping down towards the left. When the 3rd vibe was going to pass through, the tyres couldnt grip on snow but instead got ice, so it slipped, and slipped...

No fear, we got the Cat(erpillar)! This truck has metal tracks that could cut through ice, so this thing that is much smaller than the vibes are actually pulling those giants out.

Anyway, after that slip, our vibe approached from the same way. Guess what ? We got stuck too. Hahhahahha. And the 2 vibes that went past earlier, same case on their ways back.

Glorious sunset on the first day of work :) Then it's back on the 45 mins ride...

Day 2: Damn, why they have to get to work so damn early?
1 great fact about these people on the crew. They are always happy to explain about their work and what they do. Most of these people with kids, they are so damn proud of them! hehehheh, starts to take out their wallets and show the pictures of their sons and daughters. I guess I am very lucky and I do not get much work at all. In fact, I do not get work at all! These people are being such nice gentlemen and they won't let me do their stuffs. They are amazing, funny people, poking fun at each other and cracking jokes :)

I get to drive the vibe!!!! hahahhaha... But it gets boring after a while... I requested to drive it after Craig sort of came up with the idea, of cos I had to do it! But the pedal was kinda long and my boot was not flexible so I sort of have to hold on to this really uncomfortable position to go forward. Finally I get to see the vibe do their sweeps too. It was really cool, you could feel the ground shake under you.

There was this other truck where the data goes to, it's the recording truck. That top device there controls and detonates whichever selected dynamites! Hope I will be around to see that!

Nothing much happened on the 2nd day... that's just me standing beside the vibe's huge tracks. Followed the Vibe operators around and also even managed to steal a nap hehhehehe, that's what they do anyway :)

Watford City, ND

Departed from Houston at 11.45am on United Airlines. My assigned field work is to be in a place called Watford City which is roughly 43 miles south east of Williston. I will be here for 3 weeks to work with the crew and also get enough information on my topic. I was the only one lone person to come to this town whereas some of the others have company. Shifa was assigned to Louisiana along with Omon and Wen Ting, Shangar to Alaska!, Alvin to Oman and Jocelyn offshore in a vessel... So.. yea, need to pay friggin' $15 for check-in luggage! I'll tell you why later that is so unjustified...

Anyway I reached Denver International Airport, CO at 1 something (my watch says so) and the airport is huuuuge! I walked around trying to look for something nice to eat. Didn't want to just go anywhere, being the cheapskate that I am so I can avoid tipping hehehhehe.

Ended up in a Mexican restaurant. I ordered Taco Salad, where they took some kind of deep fried shaped bowl and started tossing salad, chicken and beans in it with some spicy sauce. Didn't taste all that good :( I think it's the beans though.

Anyway I finished my lunch and took out my laptop to go online, at 3.45 I checked my watch and decided to head for my next flight to Williston which is to be boarded at 4:20. Was confused along the way with the train and terminals (airport damn huge! Wait, I said that already?) At 4:15pm I reached the gate and enquired about the flight and the lady said sure 4:20 will board, so I went to the loo and drank from the water fountain and went to the gate again. The lady repeated, sure 4:20 only board and I said, yea, well it's 4:30 now. The lady looked at me semacam and said, no ma'am it's 3:30. Aiyoh!! Damn stupid didn't check the local time and rushed to that bloody place. I apologised hurriedly and backed off to use my laptop again...

At about 4:40 (local time) the was still no announcement for us to board the plane and all of us kept waiting and waiting.... Finally an announcement came but it was to say that our plane were having some problems and we need to wait for a while. About 30 minutes later, it was announced that we may board, hurray! That was about close to 5:30pm already. So all of us walked through the terminal outside (it was freaking freezing cold!!! Everyone was shivering) and into the plane. The plane was so puny! It has only 2 columns of seat, 1 column on the left and 2 columns on the right with about 10 rows. Settled down and I was seated to a black fellow whom I found out to work in Williston for another oil company and he's from West Africa! We talked for a bit and the whole time the plane was still stationary.

10 minutes later, the stewardess apologised for the wait and told us that there were some problems with the gauge or some sort on the plane so all of us have to collect our stuffs and wait in the terminal. WTH!

So back through the cold and in the terminal we went... All of us were looking moody, but apparently there was another plane to the same place at 6pm. After a bit my name was announced to approach the desk at the gate. The lady in charge there told me that they are going to put me in the next flight and asked me if it's alright I take the flight but my luggage will have to wait till the next flight cos they can't put it in. I was adamant about having to separate from my luggage and told them no, I need that luggage so they said ok, I'll just have to wait for that initial flight to work out and in the mean time my seat will be given to someone else.

So, there I go... waiting again. The reason I need my luggage? Well, all my stuff like my contact lens solution and so on are in there. Not to forget that I'm going to a cold, cold place and I am sure as hell to need whatever extra clothes I can have!

Waited and waited and waited.... Finally at 7.30 they announced that we are getting into another plane in about 20 mins! Which was a good thing as I will very much feel unsafe in that initial plane that was not right... Went to the main part of the terminal and grabbed a sandwich there.

Oh yea, while I was there, I had my first encounter with a brunette bimbo. She was dressed in this leopard print jacket and was right in front of me in the line. I recognised her as a girl who approached a man sitting beside me while I was waiting at the terminal. She asked from the man whether she can use his phone because her phone went out of battery.

Anyway, it was her turn at the line and she was so goddamn indecisive on what to order! She was like, errrmmm, what's the chicken like, oh, and the turkey? Damn stupid, in the end she made up her mind and was going to pay but she didn't have enough cash (after taking some time to rummage her purse), then she took out her credit card (which took some time to process right) but that too didnt work so she turned around and asked me if I could borrow her 64cents. I was already damn pissed and on the point of wanting to go somewhere else cos she was taking such a freaking long time and her request threw me off guard and I just obliged lah what to do. Damn idiot... Then later as I was about to order she had the nerve to ask the lady behind the counter whether her sandwich has cheese and whether there is extra charge. Stupid.

So we took off on that puny plane. I was just sitting right behind the wing and my, the engine roars!! Damn loud that you couldnt even really have a proper conversation. Anyway, my seat could not be adjusted to an angle because the seat behind me was close to the emergency exit :( so you can imagine the discomfort I had to bear with throughout the whole journey...

Reached Williston close to midnight (local time ahead of Denver, same with Texas) and when I collected my luggage, found out that the bloody airline damaged my bag! The stopper was completely pulled off with only screws left there that the bag could not 'stand' on its own and can only be carried with its handle... Dammit... Another guy from the same oil company as the initial black enquired the staff there (which consists of only 3 people, it is a smaaaaall town.) and she said that since the damage was external they couldnt do anything about it and she just handed me a flyer with the airlines address to submit my complaint to. Frustrated, the black guy offered me a ride, if I need cos he said it's not safe to stick around plus the airport is gonna close. Wth? The airport also can close ah? He just smiled and say well yeah it's a small place and I looked around which was enough to cover the entire 'airport'. It was only about the size of 2 shop lots... oh yea and when I got my luggage you can actually see the staff manually carrying them over to an elevated counter, nope, there was no conveyor belt or anything fancy like that.

Outside waiting was my crew manager, Craig and he certainly didnt seem happy to be waiting for so long... not my fault alright, I already informed him that the plane was delayed. Anyway he was totally quiet along the drive (took us more than an hour to reach Watford City) which isn't something I am used to since the friendly people of Houston.

Picture of the terminal in Williston, covered in snow in some areas and shovelled clean in others. Freaking cold!! My first encounter with snow too!

Got to our hotel and it was already snowing. My hotel room #'s 32. Was too tired I just turned on the heater and took out my contact lenses then plunked to bed.

Pics of the current place, Roosevelt Inn... definitely not as great as Hilton :)

View from my window... my room is actually half buried underground hehheheh...

Next day, got out to feel the snow! This is me trying to create the fog effect to catch on camera but I ended looking like I'm in pain...

And my hair's all limp cos I haven't showered for more than 24 hours.... :)

Walked over to the nearest restaurant, the Dakotan. Oh, did I mention that Su Jen actually told me about this place, although I saw it the night I arrived but after Su Jen told me only it rang a bell in my mind that yes, it's near and oh, that as isolated as this town might be but the hotel as wi-fi? :D

I took this while I was waiting for my order of chicken drummies hehehhe... 6 pieces to be exact.

Doesn't look like it but the drummies are damn tiny lor!! I finished 4 in one go and left 2 for dinner... but during tea already hungry and finished all... Anyway at night I went again and got pork chops (with baked potatoes and salad sides) and Veg beef soup. Pictures bottom, please scroll. Anyway for that dinner, I sort of planned to get extra so I can leave some to reheat for lunch/dinner tomorrow. Mana tau! 3 quarters into the veg soup and I already felt damn full! So the pork chops were left untouched...

Pool area which smells strongly of chlorine. It's indoor and heated though.

In and around the inn... it's pretty cute with loads of trinkets and old stuff all around the place.

I showered and see my hair all nice and fluffy again!

Here goes the pork chops :D

So anyway I only managed to finish one half of the pork and half of the potato lol. Not bad eh the whole porkchops/soup/salad costs $16 can last for 3 meals.

You know why I feel so full before even finishing the soup? There's too much tuber in it...

I texted Craig on day3 and told him that I would need some groceries and water! Well next day who came knocking on my door.. it wasn't Craig... it's a huge fella called Felix. He's pretty funny and he brought me to get groceries. And lol, he drives a CGGV truck and he says he never turns off the engine. Even when we went to get groceries. Even when we have lunch. Lol.

President's Day on Monday 16th Feb! Flags outside every shop.

Can you spot the deers? :D Felix says that the factories there manufacture corns so that's why the deers are attracted to the place. This place is just across the road from Roosevelt Inn.

Fall in love with the view.... I'm having this on my desktop background now :)

Stuff I bought: These water containers are pretty handy! Just pull the cap and water will flow. They don't look big but the label says each are 2.5 gallons (9.45litres!)

Bought stuff to make sandwiches (to bring for lunch at the field) and mostly instant meals...

America is a land of instant stuff, I swear. Everything is so simplified just pour hot water, or open and just microwave. It's madness... what happened to health conscious people? TY will be so mad if he sees that I am eating stuff like:

Or drinking hot coffee from styrofoam cups. Well, I really had no choice... the hotel only provides those disposable stuff :(

That pink stuff is my turkey ham, then there's the iceberg salad for my sandwich, apples which I havent touched yet and flavoured water which Felix said it's good... it tastes like soda although he says it's actually water. I only bought it so I can use the bottle.

This is me in my thermal wear lol.

It;s Tuesday and it's snowing! Btw, I only start to work on the field on Thursday hehehhehe. I took the chance to take pics of the snow... and they really are gorgeous! See the icicles up close...

That's my glove btw.

Add a sprinkle of flakes!

My new jacket :p OMG you killed Kenny! Bleargh.

My CM's truck. It's a m.o.n.s.t.e.r.
You open the door and the stair will roll down for you to climb in.
Hummer H2:

Compared to an SUV.

I miss everyone at home! I miss Grandma's char pui!

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