Monday, December 9, 2013

The Little Known Threat of Arctic Heatstroke and 44 Bottles of Wine on the Wall

So apparently all the arctic weather I was preparing myself for, has flown south for the winter. The other day it was 35 ABOVE. In Prudhoe, in DECEMBER. Right next to the arctic ocean. Ridiculous. It even rained quite a bit. Enough to shut down the roads. Which is really a big inconvenience because it means meals don't get sent out and we are stuck on the rig until conditions improve. So instead of hanging out in the lab with the good company of my fellow engineer, I'm trapped in a tiny box with a hungry, grumpy guy. And when we did get to leave the rig, we had to wait and go as a convoy. So it took a while to get everyone organized.

I've also come to terms with the fact that the rig will never be a uniform comfortable temperature. The first few days I was here it was colder weather outside and our lab, the pathways, and rooms nearby were freezing cold. As soon as it warmed up outside, those rooms became crazy hot. It was triple digits hot in the immediate area around some of the heaters. Our lab is generally pretty comfortable but if need be, we can crack open the door to cool it down. I learned the weird trick of wedging it open with a stick thing under the handle (it has a metal spiky thing on the other end so it doesn't slide on the ground) and a strap clipped between the wall and the door handle so that the wind doesn't move the door. There are lots of interesting little tricks about rig life. And there was an odd moment yesterday where both myself and Ryan (the other engineer I usually work with) were both perfectly fine with the temperature when suddenly, within about two seconds, the lab became unbearably warm. At that point, I said, "I'm dying, it is like 10,000 degrees in here," and went running to open the door.  To which Ryan replied, "Is it just me, or did the temperature go from comfortable to really hot in like two seconds?" This phenomena remains an unexplained mystery.

A recent accomplishment of mine has been working the night shift with only one cup of coffee in the "morning." The caffeine cutback began in my off time. I had been feeling sick almost every morning for about a week when Travis staged an intervention. "Your coffee is making you sick. I love you, but you HAVE to stop making it so strong. I hate it." Harsh truth, but I gradually weaned myself off the poisonous concoction I apparently brew, and I do feel a lot better.

And speaking of off time, the next place I head to is Washington, this time for moving not just visiting. Luckily, I managed to ditch out on the hard part of the move. But the week before was a little but chaotic. Five days before I had to leave for work (which was also the same day the movers were scheduled thus allowing me to ditch Travis to transport the dog and shotgun on cross country flights), Travis and I went to the brand new giant liquor store for the first time as we both had time off and were depressed about the new store opening right before we had to leave. We bought three bottles of wine to drink before we left, thinking it would be no big deal to finish them in time with five vacation days. The trouble started the next day when we got a call from a different wine store that Travis had a wine club membership with. He thought he canceled but wires were crossed somewhere and we ended up with three more bottles of wine we had already paid for. Meanwhile we had six gallons of mango wine and one and a half gallons of cranberry wine still needing to be bottled. Now the back story behind this is an important part of this tale.

When I moved to Fairbanks last December (oddly enough on the exact same day I will move to Washington this year) Travis already had two batches of cranberry wine going. Then he started the mango wine a month or two after I moved up. I kept asking him before he started if it would all be done in time. He assured me it would be ready months before we moved. Every few months I'd ask. Don't worry, he would say, we have time.  I kept asking with increasing urgency as moving time crept closer and the wine to drinking time ratio began to approach infinity. Travis said the movers wouldn't take it, and that wine was illegal to ship. Finally after we were down to four days and up six wine bottles, I drew the line.  I told Travis, tell me exactly how many bottles we need to buy now, so we can bottle this tonight. So Travis did his calculations and then I was confronted with the "Sooooo.....don't be mad..." look. Considering the box of 10 empty bottles we already had...we needed 24 more bottles.

And that the story of how we ended up on a glorious few days of relaxing and drinking lots of wine. For me, the challenge grew old after one too many "mango drunksicles" (mango wine, sprite and vanilla ice cream) made me drop a full wine bottle on my foot leading to a very bruised and swollen toe (it is STILL bruised). So after a very short search, Travis found coworkers willing to take the other 24 mango wine filled bottles.  This left us with one box of cranberry wine for Travis to take on the plane. The unexpected late plot twist....finding out the movers would in fact move wine.

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