The Fort McMurray Commute

Bit of a different topic for this blog, but it is now a big part of my life.  Every Wednesday I am either on my way to or from Fort McMurray, and rarely does this trek go without incident.  I am typically 1- 2 hours late getting into Comox.  Oddly, I am rarely late getting in to Fort McMurray, except for the time I couldn’t get off Quadra due to high winds, or that time I had to book the last flight in because the rest were full, and I didn’t get to camp until 3AM, but those weren’t due to flight problems.

This week has been the worst yet, and it wasn’t due to weather or mechanical trouble…  Well, not entirely.  The flight from McMurray to Calgary was late for whatever reason, but WestJet probably would have held the flight to Comox, and I would have been home last night, if it hadn’t been for the final nail in the coffin, as it were.  We were all on board and ready to go, except for one passenger.  He had passed out in the lounge and could not be roused, so we had to wait for them to remove his bag which added another half hour to the delay.  I’d like to get that man’s name and send him a nasty note.  I wonder if WestJet would seek compensation from him, he cost them at least 20x hotel and meals.  That’s how many people were going from McMurray to Comox, and Wednesday is a quiet travel day.  I wonder how long before some bright person puts in a direct flight?

Now that I have started a post, I might as well share my Brush With Death story.  I was in Calgary on January 27th for a conference, and went out to dinner with my friend MS.  We had a lovely dinner, he had ribs, I had a medium rare Fillet Mignon.  I should have had the ribs.  While I enjoyed my meal, it wasn’t so good at 1am when it came back with a vengeance.  I continued to vomit periodically until 6:30, when I (foolishly) thought I might be well enough to attend the conference.  I met up with MS and CE, and we headed to the conference.  I was clearly not good to go.  I managed to hold out for an hour before I gave up and went back to my room.  CE later commented that I blended in quite nicely with the grey curtain behind me.

Back at the hotel, I closed the curtains and turned out the lights then spent the rest of the day drifting in and out of consciousness, alternately sweating and shivering.  At 5:30 I dragged myself out of bed, had a shower and joined MS, CE, and MO at an Irish pub.  I had two ginger ales, and a cup of soup, but when everyone else’s greasy fried food arrived, I just had to leave.

I resumed my semiconscious, sweaty/shivering regime from earlier in the day, and this persisted until just before midnight (last recollection 11:53 PM).

I woke up the next morning feeling almost human again, though I didn’t look it!  And that, my friends, is how I spent my 36th birthday.

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Fort McMurray Airport, above: outside, below: lack of seating waiting to go through security, so people sit on any free surface (see on the stairs).

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My 36th birthday




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