Safety training and orientation took up a few weeks before heading up to the slope. Basically, it was a lot of classroom time and a couple days swinging sledgehammers at pipe joints to “rig up” and “rig down” on a simulation drill site. Hence my nickname, Sledge. I did some computer training and learned to drive a forklift. As I’m not a very confident driver in the first place, driving a rear wheel steering vehicle was nervewracking. Also included was a north slope specific safety class. The most important lessons, it’s cold and the polar bears will in fact, actively hunt you. Comforting to know.
Flights up to the slope are on an airline specifically created for camp workers on the north slope. Everyone seems to know the drill for the flights so I just followed along. I wasn’t positive on my count but I saw 3 or 4 other women headed up with me. And for anyone wondering, it was a normal sized airplane. No first class but 25 or so rows with the normal 6 seats per row. I flew into Dead Horse because I am starting at the main Halliburton camp in town. This means every day I get a 3 minute ride over to the mud plant for a 6 to 6 daytime shift. But back to camp life first!
The camp is only 5 minutes from the airport as the whole town is basically just oil and gas companies as far as I can tell. The camp building itself is the stories and slightly maze like and disorienting. I can successfully navigate between my room, the bathroom, and the dining room. The woman at the front desk gave me the whole tour; there is a gym, washing room, computer room, and several break type rooms. The food is pretty good overall. There are a lot of choices for every meal and snacks anytime. I do find myself eating too much junk food and soda, that habit will have to be curbed before it sticks. I’m in a double room but no roommate. I was told only 5 women rotate in this camp. That’s such a small ratio, it really blows my mind how male dominated this field is. To the point I struggle to find work boots in my size. But my little rant about that for another day.
Wildlife isn’t abundant at the moment. The geese are returning and I’ve seen one red fox. I’m still wary of bears but that’s not an everyday thing. At least not at this camp. I think I’ve spent enough time in Alaska at this point to adjust to the cold. I find myself thinking how nice it is and then realizing it’s not quite 30 degrees and I only have a sweatshirt for warmth. On that note,word on the street is that there’s a storm rolling in tonight. Last summer I have the 24 hours sunlight thing a go, but it still throws me off to have no feel for what time of day it is. (Or night for that matter.) At the moment, I’m sitting in the dark, (as dark as it gets!) to relax. I have a feeling that will be a habit of mine.
I think I hit all the highlights of camp life so far. I’m figuring out what I do for a living but that rundown will be saved for now. Spoiler alert, I do really get to play in the mud all day, being a grown up is awesome.