a week away in ottawa!

Nov 30, 2012

Occasionally I have days in which work is the last place on earth that I'd like to be.  Sure, we all have these days... but unlike most people, I actually do love my job most of the time. However, a series of delays and extra days spent away from home this month had left me longing for some time with my husband and puppy. To make matters worse, I was beginning a 6 day stretch and the light at the end of the tunnel was too far off to be seen.
I did what I had to do. My suitcase was packed and I was off for the airport. Day one was easy, as myself and my crew flew to Ottawa as passengers. It was absolutely freezing at home and I was looking forward to being some place a bit warmer.  When we landed we were greeted by a snowstorm and strong winds, but it was still warmer than home.
My mission for day 1 was to stock up on healthy food for the week.  I refused to eat out every single evening, and thus loaded up a basket of groceries and retreated to my hotel room with my purchases.  It was still early, so I took advantage of my afternoon and wandered downtown.  Ottawa is such a beautiful city, and the snow only made it look prettier. I decided to get to bed early to prepare for the potential chaos that would be the next day's flight. 
Every airline has particular routes that are more demanding than others. For us, it's Ottawa to Iqaluit. Though nothing in comparison to the flights I've worked in the past, it is a bit busier than the majority of our work days. I was prepared for a hectic day, but was pleasantly surprised with our light passenger loads and small amount of alcoholic beverages sold.  Once we'd arrived back in Ottawa I joined the rest of the crew for dinner... my personal favourite... Thai! With full bellies we headed back to the hotel and it was straight to bed!  
I woke up the next morning and took advantage of the free Starbucks vouchers that the hotel provides for those who opt out of housekeeping.  Free coffee in exchange for a messy room?! I don't need much convincing.   

Off to the airport we went for day 2.  I was about to do my safety checks when the captain informed us that the runway in Iqaluit was closed due to a snow storm. Our flight for the day was cancelled! I tried my best to hide my excitement and I walked past our passengers through the airport. I now had the day off in Ottawa, and I was thrilled.  Myself and the other flight attendant headed for the mall, wandered for awhile, and then returned to the hotel.   I had lunch in my room before venturing out again. It was a gorgeous sunny day and the snow sparkled on the streets. 

  I wandered the Byward Market and got into the Christmas spirit as I passed several tree lots. I stopped at the famous Bridgehead Coffee shop for a perfect latte.  Schedules for December had just been released, and to my surprise I was given vacation time at the start of the month. At first I was annoyed with the lack of notice, but throughout the day I chatted to my husband and we ended up booking a last minute vacation! With this sudden trip and my unexpected day off, I felt as though I had no excuse to not go to the gym. I ran and ran and ran, using up all of the energy that would have otherwise been spent serving passengers.  I went for yet another walk to stock up on more food, and then crawled into bed. It had been a wonderful day off, but tomorrow was back to reality.  
It was day 4, and I was longing to go home.  Anything past day 3 feels like an eternity these days. 
Making up for our mini holiday the day prior, we were slammed with an extremely busy day, full passenger loads, and a 2 hour delay in freezing, snowy, Iqaluit.  

Passengers were unhappy, we were exhausted, and by the time we got back to Ottawa we hadn't been able to sit down or take a bite to eat in several hours. It was straight to bed that night.  
Finally, home day had arrived! I spent the last of my Starbucks vouchers, obtaining a decent caffeine buzz to get me through what would be a very long day. We flew to Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Yellowknife... and finally back home to Edmonton. Nearly 14 hours after we'd left Ottawa, I was finally home! I spent the night with my husband and puppy and soaked up all of the comforts of home. I'd be gone again the next day, but at that moment few things mattered aside from the fact that I was home, sweet home! 

flying and lazing.

Nov 22, 2012

Once again, I'm fresh back from Newfoundland! I think I can officially declare it my favourite destination.  For a small city, St. John's has so much atmosphere. It's a gorgeous seaside city with great cuisine and some of the friendliest residents of this country. It was my second trip there with my friend Kevin, and we enjoyed yet another day of strolling down Water Street, drinking Starbucks and purchasing treats at the candy shop and bakeries.

 We went for dinner with some of our crew, to a fancy little place called the Gypsy Tea Room.  It was pricier than my average layover meal, but who knows when I'll fly with friends again!  After we ate, it was bed time. Another short but sweet layover over.
For the first time in a long time, it was a trip that didn't involve any major delays.  If it were December, I'd call it a Christmas miracle... but alas it is only November and thus just an ordinary type of miracle.
This didn't mean that we arrived home on schedule, because note the key word being "major" delays.  We still sat at one particular airport for an extra hour with a plane full of angry, unhappy passengers.
I'm not sure what people think yelling at the crew in the galley and slamming lavatory doors will do to make things progress any quicker, but they gave it a shot regardless. We were at a busy airport waiting for our turn to be deiced, a procedure that was necessary given the large amount of snow that had fallen and landed on the wings.  Having been in the service industry for years, I'm usually pretty immune to nasty words from passengers and/or customers.  After an already long day, their moods were certainly bringing me down, but I did what I do best... put on a smile, walked into the cabin, and killed them with friendliness. Everyone hates perky, friendly people when they are trying their absolute best to be grumpy. I converted some of them, spotting a few smiles halfway into the flight. The rest were set in their ways and scowled until they got off the plane. Fine by me! I was home!
I usually love coming home, but this time I wasn't too excited either way. My husband was working out of town and my puppy was visiting his grandparents out of town. I came home to an empty house and it wasn't long before I was feeling lonely.  I went to bed and slept for hours, determined to make the most of my days off that I'd spend by myself.
The next day I tidied the house and felt sorry for myself for having nobody nearby to spend the day with. By evening, I'd made plans with my trusty friend Jake. We indulged in a delicious dinner followed by coffee before returning home to sit around the fire... which happens to be on my television because this house didn't come with a real fireplace. 

We stayed up far too late, and I wondered what my neighbours must have thought seeing a man leave my house at 2 am when my husband was away. Little do they know, Jake is basically one of the girls... and even if he was straight, he wouldn't stand a chance with his greasy Movember moustache. 

This afternoon I met up with my little cousin Ashley.  I watched her grow up and now she is 30 weeks pregnant with a baby girl.  I made some use of my camera that is often abandoned as of late, taking photos of her cute little belly.  I can't wait to meet baby Kailey in the new year!  

Dashing through the snow...

Nov 18, 2012

Most people live their lives striving for the next big thing. They start small and work their way up to bigger and better.  I, on the other hand, like to do things a bit different. Just over a year ago I was soaring through the skies on an Airbus A380.  I loved that plane more than most people could love a hunk of metal.  It was beautiful, innovative, and the largest passenger jet in the skies. It was my dream plane, and I was one of the lucky few able to call myself an A380 crew member. Passengers boarded in awe, snapping photos of every shiny new aspect of the jumbo jet. On a few amazing occasions I sat in the flight deck for take off and landing into some of the world's largest cities. Those are the stories that I'll tell my grandchildren.  
Love led me home to Canada, and because of my addiction to the skies I was quick to return to the career.  There isn't a Canadian airline that flies the 380, and I knew that my move home meant downsizing. I was okay with that. The Boeing 737 was still a great plane, even without the luxuries of lounges and showers onboard.  It took me to some much smaller, more calm cities.  
This week, I stepped back even further, doing something that I swore was out of my element.  I was off to train onboard a tiny Dash 8.  I'd be flying to places so small that I'd never heard of them before accepting this job.  As a member of an airline with 2 aircraft types, it's my responsibility to be capable of working on either plane, as reluctant as I was.  
Life is about new experiences, and who knew... perhaps I'd fall in love with the tiny (to me) prop planes and the distant north destinations it would take me.  The evening before my Dash day, I flew to Yellowknife as a passenger and spent the night in the hotel.  The was a rather unhappy baby in the room next to mine and it was a terrible evening in regards to sleep. 
I woke up early and bundled up.  I knew how cold it was going to be up north, and I was taking no chances of being uncomfortable for the entire day. I was going to be nice and cozy with long johns underneath my uniform, snow boots, a scarf, mittens and my massive parka.
I met the rest of my crew... the pilots and the flight attendant training me. On the Dash 8, you work solo as a flight attendant.  This was something I could barely fathom. If I was to work many of these flights I'd need to invest in a large supply of books to read.  
The morning went smoothly with everything running ahead of schedule for once despite the cold conditions. We flew to Gjoa Haven, Kuugaruk, and Taloyoak.  It was absolutely freezing cold despite all of my layers.  As afternoon approached the sun set.  It was a rather strange thing flying at lunch time and watching it grow dark outside.

  By 3 pm, it was pitch black outside as we boarded our passengers to head onto our next destination. I was nervous, seeing as how it was my first flight as operating crew and I'd be assessed on my performance.  Everything was normal until we learnt of of a flat tire. We were forced to get the passengers to disembark as we headed inside to wait for a plan.  When you are in Taloyoak, Nunavut, don't expect such situations to be resolved quickly. I was told that it is the northernmost community that is attached to mainland Canada.  They don't have many spare aircraft tires and mechanics sitting around.  We were forced to wait for both of these things to be flown to us all the way from Yellowknife.  It was a long evening filled with endless rounds of card games and waiting patiently.... there wasn't else much that we could do.  We wandered the tiny airport, trying to occupy ourselves in a boarding lounge with a total of 10 chairs.  I certainly wasn't on the A380 anymore.  
Eventually a mechanic came to our rescue, fixing the tire and allowing us to fly back to Yellowknife. Any longer and we would have exceeded our already extended duty day and been forced to spend the night in Taloyoak. Despite how exhausted I was and how cold the plane was on our journey back, it was a peaceful flight with the northern lights dancing in the skies around us. It was 2 am when we landed back in Yellowknife, 17 hours after we'd left that morning. The few hours of daylight had made it seem like an even longer day.  I was happy to return to the hotel, but a bit upset that I'd been unable to properly finish my training flight. Rather than go home the next morning, I'd have to return to the north and do it all over again the next day.  
I slept in as long as I could before housekeeping woke me up with their vacuums slamming into the walls of the next room.  I proceeded to get ready for my day, piling on the layers of clothing once again.  Shortly before it was time to meet downstairs, I received a call informing me that the flight was cancelled due to poor weather. I'd be going home after all! Myself and my crew were quick to change out of our uniforms and make lunch plans. We headed out into the cold, trekking to a Vietnamese restaurant. Nothing is better on a cold winter day than a bowl of spicy beef noodle soup.  We opted for a taxi back to the hotel to avoid walking back in the cold. 
A short while later we met to catch our airport shuttle and we were given boarding passes to return to Edmonton. 

Though it had only been a few days, it had felt like I'd been gone much longer. I couldn't wait to get home. My first northern trip had come with its share of mishaps, but overall it had been an adventure. Since I've yet to complete my required training, I'm certain I'll return to the north again soon!  

an unexpectedly long journey!

Nov 12, 2012

The first big snowfall of the year had hit Edmonton. The roads were a mess, the air was cold, and despite the fact that this happens each and every year, people proclaimed that they could not believe how much snow there was on the ground.  
None of this phased me much. In preparation for an overnight flight, I spent the day of the snowfall fast asleep.  I woke up and got ready to fly to warmer places.  For the millionth time, I had a flat tire. Though extremely frustrating, this time it was a blessing in disguise as it meant that my husband would have to drive me to work... allowing me to avoid the stress that comes with icy, scary roads.  I met with my crew... for the second time in a row I was working with my good friend Kevin.  We were going to have a great time in St. John's!  
I knew it would be a long night, but I hadn't anticipated just how long it would feel.  As I'd expected, we were delayed from the very beginning.  Major snowstorms wreck havoc on airport operations, and we spent a long time waiting for our turn to be deiced. The flights were long and I got by solely on caffeine.  We flew to the Alberta oil sands, picked up our passengers and flew to Ottawa. We waited forever on the ground as the pilots assessed whether we'd be able to land in Moncton due to poor visibility and ugly weather. Eventually we departed. There were strong crosswinds and it was a tense few minutes, but we landed safely in Moncton and breathed a sigh of relief... diversions would have only made us more delayed than we already were.  We flew the last flight and finally landed in St. John's... better late than never! By the time I reached my hotel room, it had been over 12 hours since I'd checked in for duty. At 6:30 am my time, I was struggling to stay awake and forced to give up the walk I'd planned in favour of a nap. The view from my room was great, but I quickly closed the curtains to darken the room.

  I slept like a baby for a few hours before waking to meet the rest of the crew for dinner. We headed out in the pouring rain to a restaurant where I dined on delicious seafood chowder. As the rest of the crew headed out for more evening fun, Kevin and I declined the invite and returned to the hotel. It wasn't the fun layover that I'd anticipated, but I was too tired to care.  I crawled into bed and called it an early night. 
The next day I awoke feeling much more like a human being. My 10 hour sleep had done wonders for me. I'd showered and began applying my makeup when the phone rang. It was our captain. I knew right away that we were delayed, but was surprised to hear that our plane had yet to depart Alberta. Thanks to the snowstorm, every flight in our lovely province was delayed or cancelled. We were going to have an entire extra day St. John's. This was one of those rare times in which I was happy to be delayed. It was a gorgeous day in a beautiful city, and I suddenly had time to explore!  
I met Kevin for breakfast, where I spoiled myself with delicious fresh berry crepes.

 Some of the crew planned a trip to the mall, and as much as I feel bad turning down invites, I really wanted nothing more than to wander the city. After all, it was the warmest place in the country and I needed to take advantage of it while I could.  Kevin decided to join me, and together we set out for a day of adventure. We started with Starbucks, following our usual tradition. 

 We spent the rest of the morning wandering touristy shops and making a few fun purchases. I picked up a new Christmas ornament for the tree, adding to the dozens of destinations that already adorn it.  

We walked and walked, and at my insistence spent a great deal of time in a large candy store. It would be impossible for me to leave empty handed, so I grabbed a few treats for my candy-loving mom, and some caffeinated chocolate for myself.. yeah... you read correct. Chocolate, with added caffeine. Two of my favourite things combined into one cutely packaged chocolate bar! Perfect for those long night flights when I just can't bring myself to drink airplane coffee.  

We strolled the colourful streets, as I went on and on about how beautiful the city was and how I wanted to have a bright blue or pink house as well.

It was time for an afternoon snack, and since we now had plenty of time before our check in, we opted for some wine to accompany it. With Kevin's recommendation, we ate tempura snap peas and asparagus. Those were perhaps the most delicious vegetables I've ever consumed.

 We browsed a few more stores and wandered the colorful streets until we were hungry enough for dinner. Our dinner destination was a popular restaurant called Get Stuffed.

 Kevin had been to it years ago and raved about how good it was.  I would soon be in agreement. Being in Newfoundland, I felt it necessary to eat fresh cod. The fish was great, and the accompaniments of bacon wrapped green beans and brown sugar carrots were just as yummy. 

We'd took the advice of the restaurant name, and we were definitely stuffed.  As we walked back to our hotel the skies opened up and we were drenched with rain.  We were soaked from head to toe, but at least it wasn't snow! The streets were beautifully lit and it was necessary to stop for more photos.  

Back at the hotel we said goodnight and headed to our rooms where I got ready for bed. 
It had been a long day and I was certain that I was ready to sleep. I was wrong. Thanks to a 3 1/2 hour time difference and my wonderful 10 hour sleep the night before, I was wide awake. It was still early back home, and my wake up alarm was set for the time that I normally go to bed for the night. I may have managed a total of 2 hours sleep the entire night. This time around, our flight was not cancelled, and I was not sure I'd last an entire day with so little energy. It was a seemingly endless day including one particularly difficult 6 hour flight (very long by this airline's standards) but we eventually made it all the way back to Alberta.  It was cold, snowy, and downright miserable outside, but I was happy to be home. My husband picked me up in a warm car, drove me home, and I proceeded to sleep away the rest of the weekend! 


Nov 6, 2012

Time off is wonderful! Today is day 5, and tomorrow I'm forced to return to reality and work. Fortunately for me, I love my job... and it gives me something to blog about. I don't have much to say today, I'm just posting for the sake of making sure you all know that I'm still here!    
Can you believe that it's already November?  How has this year gone by so fast?  As we are well past Halloween, I feel that now is an appropriate time to break out the Christmas decorations. Judge me all you want.  This house is about to get festive!    
In the spirit of being festive, Niko decided to show his support for Movember!

That's all folks, time to fly away again!  

a northern halloween.

Nov 2, 2012

It was Halloween, and unlike the rest of the population, I had no plans of parties or handing out candy to the neighbourhood children.  I originally had the day off, but when a fellow flight attendant asked me to take her shift, I considered the reality... I'm 26 years old and I have no children. Did I really need the night off?
I agreed to accept the shift, which would take me to Yellowknife for the evening.  Fortunately for me, my friend and fellow classmate Kevin would be joining me as crew. It would be the first time that I'd work with anyone that I'd trained with! Rather than dress in costume, I donned my uniform. People dress up as flight attendants every year for Halloween, I was just far more authentic and far less revealing.

I packed my bags and proceeded to the airport after some last minute puppy cuddles. Niko always gets extra affectionate right before I go away for a night, which I'm certain is a plot to make me feel guilty. I promised him many treats on my return as I reluctantly headed out the door.
I was early to arrive at the crew room, as per usual. Kevin wasn't far behind, and we caught up on life and flying and wondered why it had been so long since we'd went for coffee.
Our pilots and other flight attendant arrived, and we were not surprised to hear that we were delayed. Welcome to winter in Canada. Our aircraft had an issue, so we were stuck waiting for an hour and a half for another one to arrive. When we finally boarded, we had a whopping 22 passengers. What a tough night! I've been at this airline for a few months now, but coming from the A380 I'm still amazed at those days when we have so few passengers onboard.  
That evening, I wasn't feeling all too healthy, which is always wonderful during mild but constant turbulence. I don't get sick often, so on those rare occasions I feel as though I must actually be dying. I survived and we landed, getting to the hotel just in time for bed. I said goodbye to Kevin and the rest of my crew, as they'd be continuing on for 2 days while I was lucky enough to fly home the next afternoon. 
In my room I was quick to put on my pyjamas and fall into bed.  With so much time in Yellowknife and so little desire to be outside in the cold, my mission was to get as much sleep as I could.  Mission accomplished. I slept until 10 am, a feat that I hadn't been capable of in many, many months.  I lazily got ready for my day, showering and texting Kevin as the events of his day unfolded. He was stuck at the airport, delayed due to mechanical issues once again.  It sounded like a rather frustrating morning, and I was happy to be in my hotel room.   I bundled up to head into the cold, donning long johns, mittens, a scarf and my cozy parka. 

I needed to return a couple of items I'd purchased for Niko on my last visit. The Canada Goose dog jacket (as adorable as it was) made it impossible for him to move his tiny legs.  I found the pet store and waited patiently as the cashier processed the return. On my way back to the hotel I passed by a cafe that I like and contemplated stopping for a latte, but as I was still not feeling 100% I figured coffee probably wasn't the best thing to consume on an empty stomach. Besides, it was a cold and windy afternoon and despite my many layers of clothing. 

  Instead, I ate the salad that I'd packed and dined in the comfort of my room. I packed up my bags early, ready to go back home as a passenger.  
Kevin sent me a message, informing me that his flight had now been cancelled. He returned to the hotel and we sat in the lobby chatting and drinking hot chocolate until he met his crew for dinner and I ventured to the airport to catch my flight.  Not wanting to be the odd one out, my flight was also delayed.  I waited patiently in the crew room of the Yellowknife airport, nearly falling asleep in my massive parka.  Eventually it was time to board, and we waited even longer as we had to de-ice. Have I mentioned how much I despise winter?  On time departures are a thing of the past, thanks to yucky conditions everywhere that we fly.  

Once we'd landed, I was happy to be home but not looking forward to the drive to my house.  Earlier in the day the city had been pelted with freezing rain, which was oh so lovely to scrape off the windows of my car.  Actually, if we are being honest, I gave up soon after realizing that my scraping was getting me nowhere. I started the car, blasted the heat, and went inside to wait for the ice to melt on its own. It seemed to take forever, but eventually I could see inside my car and I was able to brush the remaining chunks of ice off.  I drove home extra slowly as the roads were covered in that same thick layer of ice as my car.  Home sweet home at last, my evening consisted of cuddling my puppy, watching TV, eating far too much chocolate, and sipping tea. I hate it when my husband is out of town, but Niko and I made the most of our night!  Now for some highly anticipated days off.... and (judge me all you want) Christmas decorating!