Ah, my glorious return to the land of technology! Three weeks stuck in small towns with no laptop to divert me, and I forgot my book at home…I tried to get it repaired but alas only succeeded in being cornered in a small computer/guitar repair shop by some Mormon missionaries. The slideshow is a collection […]
We took a most convoluted and poorly signposted road out to meet the local natives at Ft McKay (a Metis reservation to the North)- they seemed pleasant enough although there was a cemetary ominously close to our meeting spot. The native groups are wonderful for providing traditional land use information about areas we’re interested in.
I fear my survival in this new job will depend on my ability to learn a new language – the language of acronyms: EIA, HRA, TK/TLU, SOC…I’ve already forgotten some I’m sure, perhaps I should start recording this strange language.
Our field progress is greatly hampered by the ceaseless rain and thunderstorms – they’ve estimated 40-50mm by tomorrow afternoon. Incidentally, even if we wanted to go out, it would seem that those great hovering beasts, helicopters, do not do well in thunderstorms.
I have made my way north in a giant beast of a rented truck. The ride was only unpleasant for its extreme length – almost 12 hours straight of driving. I enjoyed watching the landscape change though as we progressed north – the rivers seem so much wider, the land rolls and buckles into more hills, endless trees have replaced the familiar fields of wheat and canola. We were surrounded by suicidal maniacs though who persisted in passing when it was definitely not advisable to do so – squeezing between semi-trucks at break-neck speeds. I was informed though that today was ‘a good day’ – apparently they are usually much more reckless. I see now why they call it our most deadly highway.
I realised that in my mind I have pictured Ft. McMurray as an Old West town complete with mud streets, quaint boardwalks, women in hoop skirts, and saloons filled with brawling patrons (apparently I am correct on that last point). Somewhat disappointingly, the town looks like any other, albeit with far more giant motels and hotels, restaurants and diners to support all of the transient workers.
While out at dinner I was briefly left alone at the table. I felt like I was immediately sized up by the various workmen present – I’m not sure if I was about to be thrown over a shoulder and carried off or if they were trying to decide if I had enough muscle to do any decent work. Perhaps I shall avoid late night walks alone though, just to be on the safe side.