Monday, May 30, 2011

Dubois, Wyoming

After finally arriving in Wyoming, I was tossed in a whirlwind of driving two hours to Jackson Hole and immediately starting lifeguard training, which ended with hilarious stories, including me having a leg cramp while trying to save a pretend drowning victim, so I just pulled him up by his dreads. We are now working in the same group and get along well.
Other stories include Wilderness First Aid training where my other co-staff ran up to a pretend hypothermia victim and immediately began cutting his shirt off. He opened his eyes and exclaimed: "I just woke up and I'm surrounded by girls who are ripping my clothes off!"
I am now lifeguard certified and wilderness first aid trained.

The rest of the week is sitting around class-room style learning about ADHD, dealing with youth and non-compliance and program protocols.

This is my first time to Wyoming, and the first day here it was chilly, but I had to consider the elevation, we are staying around 9,000 feet above sea level. But then Sunday came.
And I woke up to a foot of snow.
In the last days of May.
And only a fleece sweater.
And I left Canada for this?

It's true. It sucks. But I have been very good about not complaining constantly.
I am going to California in 7 days. That is what I signed on for- the warmth of California. And I just keep counting down the days.

It has been fun so far. I'm working with great people- backpackers who have been around the world, people who have lead kayak expeditions, a girl who walked across 37 states- including from Maine to Alaska and plenty of people in interesting careers and hobbies.
I forsee and awesome summer- when winter finally ends and the snow completely melts!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Laramie, Wy, where the heck is that?

The adventure began on Wednesday.
Biruk dropped me off at the airport and I went to check-in for my flight.
"Flight to Denver is delayed for two hours."
So I called Biruk back right away and he turned back around we got to hang out for another half an hour.
After talking with three gate agents I was told:
#1 "Once you get to Denver, there will be no flights out of Denver. You will be stuck there for the night. But don't worry, we'll put you up in a hotel."
#2 "You definitely will get to Denver tonight, and maybe even get to your destination, since those flights are probably delayed, too. But if not- yeah, you're just stuck in the airport."
#3 "We may or may not get to Denver tonight. And if you do, I am pretty much guaranteeing that you will be stuck at the airport because this is do to weather. And we don't provide accommodations when it's an act of God."
So, I prayed for accommodations, asking for something nice and unexpected to happen.
The two hour delayed turned into a 5 hour delay- all from the first airport in Edmonton. And, since going through customs and immigration, and the last flight was supposed to leave by 6 pm, all immigration personnel left, meaning we couldn't leave the terminal if we wanted to, because that would be illegal! So there I was, for 6+ hours, waiting at the gate, but only 45 minutes away from my own home.
Finally, we were given meal vouchers and the last restaurant in the terminal stayed open for the 30 of us to eat. I ate with a group of guys from Arkansas, who had been working in the city for about a week, starting up a new store. Later, I sat with them while waiting to board the plane and we had some crazy conversations- from working in Mexico to issues of prostitution.
When we finally did land in Denver the news was grim: flights were missed, re-booked for first thing in the morning, and there was no where to stay. The airlines were not giving vouchers, but even if they had, the nearest hotel with any availability was 45 minutes away, there was just nothing with room anywhere.
I was under the impression that my friend, R, lived 6 hours from the city. Nope- 30 minutes! So God answered my prayer and I got to hang out with a home-town friend for the night, and had a great bed to sleep in, two meals and a shower and was dropped off at the airport in the morning. I had a place to sleep! My friends from Arkansas slept in the airport, poor things.

But it wasn't over yet:

I was still heading to Wyoming.
I had changed my flight to JAC into RIW instead, because both airports are an equal distance from my actual destination and RIW worked better for pick-ups this next day.
I boared my flight to RIW and the plane took off. The one-hour flight went quickly and soon we were informed that the plane was ready to land. It began to circle the airport below- I assume, because there was too much cloud coverage to see anything.
We kept circling.
And we kept circling.
And then we were told we weren't actually going to land there and flew another hour to a different- tiny, tiny airport in Laramie and landed there.
With the cloud coverage, the oncoming snow (WHAT! I thought I was SOUTH of the border! Oh the mountains!) and the runway equipment not operating properly, we would not be landing in RIW at all that day. Some people opted to drive through the mountains and exited the plane at the dinky airport- our flight returned with only 4 people left on the plane. One being a girl I am working with this summer- what a nice surprise! And she is part of my team for the summer, so it's been great having someone to hang out with and we will already know eachother by the time we finally get to the base.
We have to wait, sitting on the tarmack for more than an hour, because with hail in Denver, we can't get clearance to return there, yet.
And we're starving; but all they have to eat are mints.
I ate five.

Finally, we get back to Denver, beg for the first flight out to RIW (because at this point, we're already going to be late for our training, but an hour late is better than 8 hours late).
And, because is it not due to weather, we are put up in a hotel for the night and given a meal voucher. The hotel is decent; with a hot tub that I took advantage of. And the restaurant that I used my meal voucher in had monsterous calzones. I'm serious- like a full-fledged pizza folded in half. I really did eat most of it; I was so hungry. But it could have easily fed four people instead of one me!

Today is day three in Denver, maybe I'll get out today?
We'll see!

Please, please pray that my baggage isn't lost. It was sent ahead to JAC, and is supposed to be sent back to Denver where I can pick it up and take it with me to RIW. However, the agent mentioned something jokingly about RIV and the spelling error sending it to India? Oh, please don't even mention that! I would really like to change my clothes, because my emergency outfit wasn't supposed to last more than 1 day.

If it starts like this, I wonder what the rest of the summer is going to be like?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

YEG - YWG

I jetted off to Winnipeg for a few days to visit friends.
The weather was horrible- rain the first day I was there, as well as the last. And snow, yes SNOW on Sunday, May 1. Not just a dusting, but enough to cover the sidewalks and probably at least an inch. I didn't bring shoes for snow, and my walk to church left me with numb feet.

I had 'church' nearly every day. First with my beautiful friend, Mrs. de Meza on Saturday night; great songs in Spanish and ending with good food. Sunday there was morning church, followed by a great lunch with my Canadian family and the whole afternoon continued to be praises and prayers. And Monday was even more, with unexpected twists and great conversations over sushi and Belgian chocolate. On Tuesday I spent the afternoon with B#2 laughing and yelling and having a wonderful conversation. That evening I went back to Central Park; which has been renovated and changed from the drug-dealing dangerous park it used to be. Then, with G-mama and L---, went for a walk for ice cream and talked about anything and everything.

I felt like I was on a spiritual retreat with an amazing mix of food: Guatemalan, Japanese, Indian, El Salvadoran, American and Italian. YUM!

My cell phone didn't work in Manitoba, which was frustrating, but not crippling. I used payphones. I borrowed cellphones. It worked out.
When I talked to Biruk most of our phone calls consisted of 'where is this?' 'I can't find that'. It seems that he is more dependent on me than he thought!

I visited the zoo and took a walk around the Forks, looking at the flooding and an all-hemp store. I played poker in the park and went to a candy store, proving that 'Sugar Daddies' are a real candy.
It was good to see everybody, and while I don't want to live in Winnipeg, I do want to see them all the time! I wish I was neighbors with them. Now it's their turn- come visit me!
Too bad most of them are heading out to Alberta, whether Edmonton or Calgary over the summer, while I'm in California. I guess they have to take two trips!