Sunday, February 15, 2015

Six weeks in St. John's

Going back to Jan 2014 - I'm writing from the journals that I kept.  Once it's posted I'm less likely to forget or lose them.
On January 1st, I officially worked in Newfoundland, even though I was still in Ontario.  My flight to St John’s was booked for January 4th … at 6 in the morning.  Steve and I spent our last evening together with Jean and Joe, staying long into the night … I had a short nap, and the airport transit van picked me up at 3 in the morning.  At the Air Canada Desk, I checked in and wandered down to the gate … and then … my flight was cancelled!  Bad weather (snow, snow, snow) in St. John’s … so I was put on “Stand-By” and I sat in the airport with hundreds of others waiting.  Then we heard the news:  An electrical transformer had exploded in Holyrood, a small town in Newfoundland and the entire Avalon was plunged into darkness … and the storm continued to rage!  All flights into St. John’s were cancelled for the day … and I was (finally) re-booked on a flight on January 7th.  Air Canada really doesn’t do ‘Customer Service' well at all!  Exhausted, I searched for my luggage and then headed back to the Air Transport kiosk to return home. For 3 days Newfoundland worked to restore power with the temperatures well below zero.
Leaving for the airport - Take care everyone!
On January 7th I headed back to the airport.  The temperature in southern Ontario was brutally cold -28 degrees C … and when I got there, all incoming flights had been cancelled, and nothing was leaving either.  It didn’t look good!  After several delays … adding up to 6 hours, I was airborne and heading to my new life in Newfoundland.
Where's the plane?
I arrived after 10 that night (local time), rented a car and found my way to a Supermarket and then to my hotel; well, actually the apartment.  My company had arranged for me to stay in a small 1 bedroom apartment just below Signal Hill.  It took me some time to put my things away and fall asleep, in fact I slept-in the next morning, I didn’t leave for work until 8:00 am.  It took me almost an hour to find my new office … and it was only supposed to take me 11 minutes!  But I got a little lost, and with all the snow I couldn’t pull over anywhere to check my map.  When I finally zeroed in on the place, I passed it!  I couldn’t see it over the giant snow banks!  Finally I parked my car and struggled to the door … the wind almost took me down … twice! 
My home for six weeks
It was good to meet up with some old friends again, in fact I knew more people that I thought that I would.  During the days that followed, I learned the new systems, sorted through the new benefits program and attended day after day of training. 
St John's (from the top of Signal Hill)
Eventually I began working at Long Harbour itself, carpooling with old friends from my days at Research, lol!
At night I hunted around to find rental accommodation that would take dogs … three weeks later I found a place!  In Bay Roberts Newfoundland!
Our new home

This close to the sea!
Every single night I called home.  Sometimes Steve would hold the phone up to the dogs’ ears … and only Alfie knew that it was me.  He wagged his tail madly at the sound of my voice.  I really missed everyone!
I promised Steve that I’d wait for him to do any sight-seeing.  That promise was easy to keep.  The weather sucked!  But … since I was so close, I drove up to Signal Hill almost every day.  It was way cool watching the ocean and the sky, always so dramatic … and seeing bald eagles soar below me! 
Fort Amhurst and Cape Spear

St. John's

St. John's (again)

iconic Cabot Tower
And on one of the worst weather days I visited the Geo Center, just below Cabot Tower.  With winds screeching at more than 130 km/hr, I was one of seven people visiting the place that day.  I really enjoyed my visit and want to go back to walk the trails in the ECO-Park next door.  But there was no walking outside that day!  And I signed as a guest at the YMCA.  I worked really hard to look after myself.  I ate well, and went to the Y to ride the bikes and zumba.  I lost all the weight that I had gained since October.  Yahoooo!

I returned to the house in Bay Roberts to do some cleaning and take measurements for carpets and drapes.  Eddie, Katie and Brian dropped by to see me, and we all headed out to walk a nearby trail.

Brian, Katie and Eddie (All have worked in Research)

Funny pic of me emerging from an outhouse along the trail

what a place!

 Soooooo, I had a place to live and I had to find something else to obsess about.  Now I worried about the actual move, and the long drive ahead of us.  It’s been a hard winter … storm after storm … just relentless.  I was really worried about moving the pets … mostly Silver and Tucker.  Tucker hates car rides … he curls into a tiny ball … and vomits repeatedly.  Silver has a heart condition … and she’s so old.
And then … well, when I made the daily call home, Steve told me that Silver wasn’t doing well.  He was giving her some medication from the vet, but chances were slim that she would survive.  The next day, he cried when he told me that she had died.  It was her heart … and the stress of the move ... she died a week before I could come home for the move.  I’ll have to be content with the kiss and hug I gave her when I left … I didn’t think that it would be good-bye forever.  I really feel bad for Steve … he had to go though it alone.  So, good-bye my sweet Silver-Girl, you will be missed.
On the morning of February 14th, I went to work at the office in St. Johns … rather than the plant site in Long Harbour.  Outside a storm raged, and I was so afraid that my flight back to Waterloo wouldn’t make it out.  I checked the Air Canada site every 30 minutes, and shook my head when a plow piled snow all around my car in the parking lot.  The snow changed to rain around noon, turning the parking lot and the road beyond into a lake of slush.  And the wind blew!  I was able to dig myself out of the mire and headed to the airport … and amazingly … my flight was only delayed by 20 minutes.  The takeoff was a bit iffy, the wind battered the plane as we soared into the night sky. 
I was headed back to Waterloo for the next stage of the move.

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