From Hell from Minden, Nevada to Fort McMurray, Canada
5:00 AM - Get up and prepare for flight.
8:00 AM - Arrive at airport. Find out United flight from Chicago is delayed, which will cause me to miss the connecting flight to Edmonton.
United reschedules me on a Delta 2:40 flight to Salt Like City and then on to Edmonton. Go back to long term parking and retrieve truck. Delta uses a different parking lot. Go back to the house for a couple hours.
12:00 PM - Head back to airport and check in with Delta.
2:00 PM - Announcement over the intercom that the Delta flight coming in from Chicago is delayed an hour. The connecting flight out of Salt Lake City will be tight but the flight will hold for late arrivals (me).
3:50 PM - Flight departs from Salt Lake City. Barely made the plane.
8:30 PM - Flight arrives in Edmonton. We were late because of a 50 mile an hour head wind. Going through customs was relatively uneventful. When I mentioned I was going to Fort McMurray the guy looked at me and said, "I'm sorry", and after a few questions about the nature of my business, lets me through.
9:00 PM - Shuttles going to Canadian North off site are packed. It is impossible to get on one and is freezing outside so I took a cab.
10:30 PM - Canadian North flight leaves on time. The flight is supposed to be an hour.
11:30 PM - The pilot fights more headwinds on the way to site and misses the initial landing because visibility is bad. He tries one more time and can't land. The pilot announces we will be landing in Fort Mc Murray instead. Buses will come up from site and transport us back to the site.
12:30 AM - One bus is at the airport. I get on the bus.
1:30 AM - I am still sitting on the bus. Why? because we need two buses to load up all the people. The company the buses are chartered through is having trouble finding another driver at this early hour. They finally find a driver but he is unfamiliar with the camps and needs to follow the other driver.
A fight nearly breaks out on the bus I am sitting in because some of the workers had flown 4+ flights, were very tired and highly agitated about sitting on a bus going nowhere.
2:00 AM - The buses finally get underway. It is very slick on the roads and the going is slow.
3:00 AM - The buses arrive at the first drop off point, which is Athabaska. The second site looks kind of like Joselyn, the camp I will be staying at and I ask the departing passengers which site this is. They tell me the site is Poplar - not the one I want.
3:30 AM - Several stops later we still have not arrived at Joselyn and I hear some chatter on the radio about picking up passengers from Joselyn. Turns out the people who got off the bus at what they thought was Poplar, was actually Joselyn and the second bus picked them up. I asked how to get myself to Joselyn and the drivers said they did not know because they were making no return trips - they were on a schedule. I then asked if they stopped at West Gate (the main processing terminal) and they did.
I asked where my luggage was and the driver said that if I didn't load it, it was not on the bus. I said the guy was kidding. Luggage is always transported and delivered by bus. The driver said yes that was true - for site buses, not chartered buses. I don't quite believe that and as near as I can tell my luggage is still at the airport. At this point I am too tired to care.
3:45 AM - I ask the guy at West Gate when the next buses are coming by and he said the only time buses come out are when flights land at site or people are bussed in from other areas. I ask if there are any roving buses out and about which can get me to camp. He says yes there are, but they don't start running for another hour. So I sit at West Gate for another hour.
4:45 AM - A rover comes by, picks me up and transports me to Joselyn
5:00 AM - Since I came in late I go to the mess hall and ask the cooks for my room key. The cooks handle this sort of thing after hours. After several minutes of consultation, the cooks inform me they can't help because something is wrong with the paperwork and I will have to wait for the main office to open up. It opens at 6:00 AM.
6:00 AM - The main office opens and I request my room key. The lady there informs me the cooks could have easily done this but after checking, she can't find a room key for me. She finally finds a room key and goes to check me off as having arrived and finds I have already been checked off - and someone must be in my room.
She goes down with me to the room and knocks on the door. No one is in. Someone marked off the wrong person (me) on the check sheet. This does not explain the missing key though. I walk in the room and it is a smoker's room - a really rank one at that.
At this point I am too tired to care. Being up for 25 hours has made me too tired to argue. I sleep all day.
My luggage finally arrives two days later, much to the delight of the people I am working with.
Come on up and enjoy the fun!
The trip back was much less uneventful. There were two notable exceptions:
We get on the plane in Calgary and were notified one of the landing lights was frozen in the extended position and the pilot needed clearance to fly with an extended light. That meant flying at a lower altitude, which meant it would take longer to get to Denver.
.........a lot longer.
Almost missed the connecting flight and the luggage didn't make it on the plane. It arrived around midnight two days later.