Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The First Week

Don’t fear dear readers, we’re still here, we just haven’t had Internet connectivity for the past few days. So, let me catch you up. 
Saturday night we went out to a party on the island, and wow was that a nerve wracking drive. My first time crossing the river and it was pitch black. Rolling along in our little black truck, heavy with all our stuff still. It’s bad enough driving along on the smooth parts, you can almost forget that the blackness under the ice is water, not asphalt. But then you go over a hump formed by pressure buckling the ice upwards. In your head, you’re already thinking “this is surely a weak spot in the ice” and of course, you’re going over it. So you bounce. You can’t help it, you’re only going 20 km/h, but you’re going over a bump. And as you feel the shocks coiling and uncoiling under the weight of us, our truck and our stuff, I kept imagining the bone deep burning chill of icy water, and trying to picture how to get out of the truck, with the shock of the cold, and the pressure of the water pressing in on us. Suddenly my seatbelt was feeling oppressive. Maybe I’m being a drama queen, but I was pretty scared. I know that the ice under us was two feet thick. I know they drive ambulances over the exact same ice we were driving over, and I know that further out in the actual bay, the ice road is open and they’re driving giant transport trucks up the ice, but I was scared, and my belly was in knots. 
Things got much better when we got to the party.  We met a bunch of people Andrew works with, and a lot of other people as well. There were nurses, doctors, cops, a massage therapist, personal trainers and a myriad of other people from the community. Andrew and I kicked our host’s butts in a game of couples darts. I haven’t played darts since we left the trailer, so it felt good to know I still had the goods! By around 1 am though, I was fading fast. I’m not exactly a party animal, or a night owl. So my sweetheart went out and warmed the truck up for me, and we came back across the ice. The drive back was much the same as the drive there, but with a few adult beverages in me, and a successful trip under my belt, I felt more brave. 
At this point I should take a side note to tell you that the polar bear lodge has a curfew. That’s right, the doors to the building lock at 11pm. However, we were told that if we talked to them ahead of time, we could arrange to be let in later. So before we left we tried to track down the proprietors. Or anybody who works at the hotel. We started looking at 10 am, and FINALLY found somebody just before we left. We were told that messages would be left with everyone who works there to leave the back door unlocked for us to come in by. And if somebody missed the memo and locked us out, his daughter’s room was the first window to the right of the door, and we were to knock on her window, to get the door opened up. So feeling like we had a plan and a fail safe, we went off to the island. 
So now it’s nearly 2 am, and we’ve returned to the hotel. We try the front door, and of course it’s locked, so we walk around to the back door, which is supposed to be open. They forgot to mention Fang. I don’t actually know the dog’s name, but Fang, Ripper, and Spike all came to mind. He’s a massive, intact, male german shepherd, and as we turned the corner of the building he had his rope stretched taut, and was barking, snarling, and lunging right up to the edge of the walkway. Not to worry, he can’t reach us, so on we walk, despite his protests. We continue down the path, between the building and the carcass of a vehicle that’s been stripped for parts. Fang swerves around the backside of said vehicle, and can now reach the path. Now, I’m not easily spooked by dogs, I went to greece and spent the better part of a week making friends with strays, and training them. I’ve worked with “red level” dogs at the animal shelter without batting an eye. But with a few drinks in me, with my adrenaline already up from the ice crossing, I wasn’t so confident with Fang crossing my path. And, I know that dogs kept chained up get frustrated, and aggressive. But Andrew went first, and Fang just backed out of his way and kept barking, so I went next. When he moved towards me though, I chickened out and bailed off the path towards the hotel. I plunged through a snowbank that came up to my thigh, and the ice crust on the top left me with a bruise just above my knee. Ouch.
 But Fang backed off and we made it to the back door. It was locked. Great. We shimmy past Fang again, go back to the front of the hotel, hop a waist high fence, plunge into another snow drift (this one softer at least) and drudge our way up to the window to knock on it, and alert the tenant that we’d like to be let in. We knock and knock on the window, until I get brave enough to press my face to the crack between the curtains. The lights and tv are on in the room, but nobody’s there. By now we’ve made a significant amount of noise, maybe she’s come out and opened the door. No such luck. So we keep on pounding, knocking, flashing the headlights on our truck, and even honking the horn. We go back around to try the back door again, come back to the front, and still we’re not getting in. Either nobody’s home, they’re ignoring us, or they sleep like the dead. It’s been about 20 minutes now, and we’re making far fetched plans to drive to the ambulance base, pull our cots and pillows out of the back of the truck and crash at Andrew’s work for the night. We’re livid, and tired, and really hoping that they won’t make us pay for a night we can’t even get to our room. In a fit of pure frustration, Andrew goes back to the front door and gives it a big hard yank. It flies open easily. The inner door opens too. Did someone come and unlock it while we were in the back yard? Was it unlocked the whole time and just iced shut? But that wasn’t the plan! You said the back door would be open! Frustrated and exhausted, we went up to bed. 
Sunday, we learned that space had opened up at the hotel where Andrew stayed when he was up here for orientation. For less money per night we would upgrade from a single bedroom and bathroom, to a suite that includes a living room with couches and kitchen that will let us save money and not have to keep eating out, as well as a bedroom and bathroom. Plus, the door to our room is the door to the outside. We can come and go as we like at any hour. By 11 am Sunday, we’d checked out of the Polar Bear Lodge, and into The Regular Stop. No hard feelings, this just makes a lot more sense for us. However, the internet doesn’t seem to be working in our room here. What a trade off. 
Our bedroom at "the regular stop"
The kitchen

Monday we were hoping to drop off all of the stuff from the back of our truck at our new place, and maybe start bringing over some of our totes. I was so excited to see our new home! However, our plans fell through. We couldn’t get the truck started! We should have plugged in the block heater, but it had been ok so far, so we didn’t think about it. We walked over to our new apartment though, to tell the landlord we wouldn’t be moving stuff in, and I got my first glimpse of the place. I think Andrew got the impression that I was disappointed with the place, but I wasn’t. I think it’s got a great layout, and I can’t wait to move in, but it’s no where near that point. There’s sawdust, and plastic and boards and hardwood floor scraps everywhere. The cabinets were all heaped in the kitchen, none of them installed. None of the fixtures have been installed in the bathroom, or even brought into the apartment at all yet. By this point I’m doubting that it’ll be ready by the end of the week, let alone Wednesday when they led us to believe we’d be able to move in. Great. So much for just finishing the finishes. What have they been doing the whole time? So we came back to the hotel and checked on the truck. Still frozen solid. We settled in to an evening of playing rummy and watching tv.
Tuesday morning we checked on the truck again. Still frozen. But we figured out why: the receptacle we’d plugged it into is dead. So we chose a new, live plug. Left it alone for a few hours. Still won’t start. So we start thinking maybe the battery is dead. Andrew calls one of his buddies who comes over and gives us a boost. Still nothing, but while Matt was here with his truck anyways, we used it to bring some of the stuff from our truck and put it in the apartment. At least I know that some of our stuff that we were worried about is warm and safe. But the truck still wouldn’t start. I also started coming down with another cold. What is it with this season, I’ve been getting sick like crazy! But I hadn’t slept very well Sunday or Monday night, and with me that always makes a big difference. At least I rescued our pillows while we were rooting around in the back of our truck and tuesday night, after several more games of rummy, I slept much better.
That brings us to today. So far we’ve determined that the block heater in our truck is fried, and that we’ll have to find a way to get it to the garage to get it replaced. Except that we can’t get it started without having it replaced. Kind of a chicken-or-egg loop we’ve gotten ourselves into, so we thought we’d try something different. We’ve got a space heater running on the ground under the front end of the truck, to see if we can generate enough heat that way to get the bugger to turn over. What a McGuyver job! But hopefully it’ll work. In and amongst that, I’ve knit a pair of fingerless mitts for each of us, using a pattern I made up. I even worked my first ever cables on the back of Andrew’s pair. Nifty huh? Now I’m working on a neck warmer for myself. I’m not quite sure if I’ve made it big enough, but I’ll find out soon. 

So, there have been a few disappointments, but it can only go up from here right? Believe it or not, I’m still happy to be here.  

1 comment:

small farm girl said...

Pretty picture!!! You guys have had a very busy first week! I hope you feel better.