Canada: Work Schedules and Tacos

It’s easy to forget sometimes that we’re here for work because we spend so much time in the car looking at beautiful landscapes. But this week is so go-go-go, there’s no way around our work being all consuming. It’s also easy to forget we’re still freelance writing part-time. I’ll admit that on more than one occasion I’ve remembered I have an article deadline just a few hours before hand, and had to scramble to get it done. Whoops! 

This week in particular has been extremely hectic. Our work schedule has changed so many times it’s been hard to keep up and book campsites. And an extra layer of complication came into play when we opened our microscope case to find it reeked of acetone – the chemical in nail polish remover.

I need to vaporize a small amount of it over every slide I analyze, so it’s pretty important. I don’t know if I’ve really explained what I’m doing for work – but I’m basically inspecting buildings to make sure their asbestos isn’t dangerous. “Isn’t all asbestos dangerous?” you may say. Tons of buildings have asbestos (if it was built in the 1950s-70s I have bad news for you), but when it’s just chillin’ in its solid form there’s no harm. It’s only when people go renovating or demolishing things that asbestos dust can get into your lungs and cause a cancer called mesothelioma. So I am basically touring Canada making sure my site locations don’t have any crumbling asbestos, or making sure it’s being removed safely if they do.

It comes with a pretty cool post-apocalypse fashion for my uniform. Defo won’t be catching COVID in this baby.

Back to the acetone fiasco.

At first we thought a little had leaked out but the vile was bone dry. The lid isn’t totally solid and has a rubbery top so it’s easy to stick a syringe through it and extract a small amount of acetone. But because so many tiny holes have been poked in it, and the microscope lives in our car which often gets sweltering hot… it seems the entire vile of acetone has evaporated. But not all hope is lost. A new bottle is being shipped to my cousin’s house in Edmonton, where we plan to be by the weekend.

But we were thrown a curve ball when an extra job site got added to my schedule last minute. So plans have changed again and we’re set to be driving all over central Saskatchewan and Alberta. We’ve lost our Saturday but still need to make it to Edmonton to pick up the acetone as well as some other things we were sent from home, like Chesney’s official Ontario driver’s license. Pretty important considering he isn’t actually working (he’s still legally a tourist) and is just along for the journey. If he can’t drive what good is he to me?

When asked if Chesney liked this pic he responded: “I look like I’m driving away from a bad memory”

So we’re doing a route that looks something like this:
Mon: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan 
Tues: Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan
Wed: Travel Day
Thurs: Red Deer, Alberta
Fri: Hanna, Alberta
Sat: Brooks, Alberta

And then racing (legally) up to Edmonton for Saturday night to squeeze in dinner with my aunt, uncle and cousin.

We even had to arrange with our campground hosts to let us vacate the parking spot, tow the trailer to a general lot on the grounds, go to Brooks, and the come back through Hanna to pick it up on our way to Edmonton so that we can drive faster (again, legally…mostly) to and from our Saturday job site.

Quite the week!

We got to stop in a town called Lloydminster which was pretty cool. It’s situated smack dab in the middle of the border between Saskatchewan and Alberta, so those who live there are technically citizens of both at once. You might have an Alberta address, but your neighbour a few streets over lives in Saskatchewan. And even more hilariously, the drinking age in Alberta is a year younger than most of the other provinces. Only Alberta and Quebec allow drinking at 18, instead of the standard 19 everywhere else. So it’s a pretty sweet loophole for those 18 year old Saskatchewan kids… all they have to do is cross the street and they can legally buy their booze!

The town itself wasn’t much to write home (or blog) about, but it was a cool novelty to visit since it was along our route anyway.

Saskatchewan has been beautiful, but I’m excited to have made it to Alberta already. Saskatchewan, it’s been real.

Chesney says this pic looks like the Rwandan flag… and he’s not wrong.

As you will remember from my last post, Meadow Lake was a stinky bust. Our new campsite in Hanna is much more comfortable, smells normal, and we’ll actually get to enjoy it because we’re staying for the next 3 nights. 

Staying in one hub location has its pros and cons. 

Pro:
It’s soooo refreshing to have days where we don’t have to pack down and re-set up at a new site. I’m loving the camper life but it takes an extra 2 hours out of the day just to get organized and hitched up before you go, and unhitched again when we arrive.

Con:
It’s hours of extra driving to our other job sites. But this con comes with its own pro: we can move a lot faster without the trailer behind us! 

I’ve learned nothing is “easy” when you’re towing your entire house behind you… but so far the benefits have always outweighed the disadvantages. 

When we’re this busy, it’s hard to find time for cooking or fun activities. Our first week out here Chesney was cookin’ up a storm with low n’ slow pulled pork tacos, steak wraps, and brisket ramen. This week, we’ve been getting a lot of take out. But today, after our site in Red Deer, we have some time to spare so we’re on the hunt for a nice sit down meal. Red Deer is no exception to the no-mask theme we’ve seen since leaving Southern Ontario, and most restaurants are open both indoors and out. 

A sign for tacos pulls us in, and the guys working the host stand tell us about the secret patio upstairs. Everyone loves a good secret! We do actually have to wear our masks for the journey to this mystery patio, which takes us upstairs, around some hidden corners, behind a section of the bar, and through the kitchen. There are just a couple seats, and we’re the only people up here. Big win! 

We’re told about the secret menu item: tortilla chips with salsa, taco meat, fresh vegetables, and topped with guac (sounds suspiciously like nachos to me). And Chesney is even offered a secret hot sauce when he asks about his options. Who knew there could be so many secrets at one bar! If “secret menu items” aren’t the most hipster thing out there… I don’t know what is.

And because it’s such a cool hipster bar, we have to try some local beers. A brewery down the street called “Troubled Monk” has probably cornered the best craft brand name possible, and the cold brew hits the spot after a long day! You can never go wrong with tacos, so we try three different types: brisket, chorizo, and tequila & lime fish. I’m surprised there was no secret taco menu item. 

We may not have gotten to see much of Red Deer (is there much to see?) but we probably found the best taco joint in town!

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