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. -_-
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!