Why did I get out of bed today?

19 Mar

Do you ever have those days when you ask yourself that question?

 Well today was one of those days, and for that matter yesterday was as well.  Currently I’m up working, coming to the end of my 2 week swing (fly out today). For those of you that don’t know, I’m a exploration field assistant. You can see what my job involves in my next blog posting next week that will detail what I do. But anyway, back to my day. 

My “greeness” (people new to the mining game get the label as being “green”, fresh I suppose its meant to mean) has clearly come out to shine the last couple of days.  But the best way to learn is from your mistakes, ideally I would like to learn from other peoples mistakes, but I apparently haven’t cottoned onto that yet.

So why was my day “a bit of a mare”. It started yesterday with a warm-up shocker. Every morning we have a alcohol breath test, and you have to be able to blow zero’s. If you don’t blow zero’s, you can’t work that day, and 3 strikes and your out. So when I rock up to work at 5am, and “blow numbers”, I was rather shocked. Especially considering I hadn’t even had a beer the night before, but that’s a likely story. So I had to blow again in 30 minutes time. Thankfully I blew zero’s, and then it dawns on me that, I had used mouthwash and spat it out on my walk to work. Lesson learnt, gaggle at night, not in the morning before breatho’s.

That day I had to rehabilitate previous drill holes, this involves locating drill holes using GPS, then trying to make it look like no one was there.  I spent 4 hours driving around getting frustrated not being able to find the holes. I would be standing on the correct co-ordinates where there’s suppose to be a drill hole, but there would be nothing!  This gets rather frustrating after doing 25 times. I was positive there was something wrong with the GPS. As per usual the machine is never wrong, its the dickhead on the end of it! Getting back to the office I explained to the Geo’s how non of the holes existed, much to their amusement.  This is where I learnt the lesson that all the 2007 holes use a different GPS grid setting, making it 100-200 metre difference from the 2008 setting! (two pushes of a button solves the problem)  I won’t do that again – well I shouldn’t do that again.

The land that feels like no man has walked

Then today, I bounced out of bed at 4.20am when my alarm went off. Today I was going gridding which involves 4WD into the middle of the outback, where you feel so isolated that you feel like jumping around naked – except the suns so harsh that your moon would give off a Shepperd’s delight by the end of the day.

On my way out there as the sun was rising I saw a couple of camels wandering around, and I’m thinking, “this is going to be a wonderful day”. But that was short lived when I heard a hissing sound, thankfully it wasn’t a large venomous snake, but my old friend the flat tyre had come back to say “good morning Hap”. I got out the high lift jack, but 30 mins later gave up on it as it couldn’t jack the truck high enough, and in the process I managed to graze and bruise my leg as I was breaking wood to try and build the jack higher (why is it when your already frustrated, you attract more frustrating happenings).

After nearly knocking myself out and having the high jack give way, I resorted to the trusty old bottle jack. Why didn’t I use this as my first option you ask? One word, Spinifex. I was parked in spinifex as far as the eye could see. What is Spinifex? It is a plant that is everywhere up here. Imagine if gorse and an annorexit flax plant had sex, you would get spinifex. So I cursingly lay down on the spinifex to push the jack under the axle, whilst I got an Aboriginal acupuncture!

Finally I arrive at the co-ordinates where I was to start my gridding, which involves walking a couple of Kilometres in one direction, marking out spots every 100 metres.  You have to understand that the terrain is great snake terrain and the area is home to quite a few deadly snakes. Although people say, “don’t worry about snakes, they know your there before you see them, they will be long gone”. Well I’m not worried about those snakes, I’m worried about the snake that’s had a big night on the blood and is feeling a bit hungover, is having a sleep in, and then wakes up real angry and ready to inject venom into the innocent kiwi fella who has just woken him up. That’s what I’m worried about!

Gridding, playing Hansel and Grettel

Anyone that has spent time around me or worked with me, will know that I have inherited my mothers jumpiness. As per usual, my workmates have taken full advantage of this to keep themselves amused and pass the long days. They have even gone to the trouble of bringing up a rubber snake, and not too mention that on a daily basis bugs are caught and strategically placed under objects on my desk that I will pick up.  So you can imagine what my nerves are like.

 So when walking by myself in the middle of the outback on land that feels like no man has ever walked on before, and knowing that this area is home to deadly snakes, and that last week someone was bitten by a snake, and the fact that you have a limited time frame if bitten and venom injected and I’m over 40 mins from the camp, and up to 3 km away from my vehicle, anyway (I have SAT phones, GPS etc). So I’m on pretty high alert, so much so that I jump when I fart!

So picture me walking through the outback, minding my own business, concentrating on the handheld computer screen. Then out of nowhere, the bushy tree 5 metres from me erupts in bashing snapping explosion of sticks! A bloody Kangaroo! I don’t know who jumped higher, me or the Kangaroo. We both took off in opposite directions.

10 mins later, the glaring sun comes out. I reach to get my sun glasses out of my pocket, but no sunglasses. They must have fallen out when I had the jumping competition with the Kangaroo. Trying to find something that small in this vast expanse of nothing is like trying to find romance in a brothel, so I just keep walking.

Dam Skippy

As I go to start the next 2.2km line of grids back to the direction of the ute, the batteries die on the GPS (and yes they were fully charged)! Wicked, no GPS. Talk about frustrating, that means I have to walk all the way back to the ute, along the line I would of been gridding if I had had GPS. So tomorrow I’m going to have to walk the same line and grid it. People that know my sense of direction realise that I was probably born feet first. So it was lucky for me that unlike Hansen and Grettel I used marker ribbon and not bread to mark my trail so I know the direction I came from – yes something worked in my favor.

 As I start my trek back, I go to take a sip from my camelback, but its empty! It appears that what I mistook for me having a “heavy” sweat day, appears to be my camel back leaking. Great. This may not sound too bad, but considering its so hot (in the 40’s), and we have to drink a litre an hour (that’s 12 litres a day – hydrating becomes a full-time job), and I have over 2 km to walk back to the car, makes it all the more annoying.

Add to this array of misfortunes, a shit load of flies. Now usually flies I can handle, and the sunblock I use has insect repellent on it that keeps them from landing on your face, or you can wear a fly net. Well today I didn’t have a fly net, and today the flies seemed to find my sunblock a delicacy. And when I say flies, I mean not a couple, but literally hundreds (check out the photo below of me looking down my arm, thats only one arm and you can count 90 flies, the backs even worse). I feel like one of those little African kids off the Red Cross commercials “sponsor poor little malnourished Happa for just a dollar a day”, god knows I’m skinny enough – note to self, look into the getting a dollar a day sponsor for myself.

Looking down my arm at my little friends that are keeping me company.

So as I walk back in the mid 40’s heat with the sun blazing in my naked eyes, no water, no GPS, flies keeping me company, jumping at the movement of a grasshopper (they are bloody big grasshoppers out here), looking back over the misHAPs of the morning I think to myself, “Why did I get out of bed today?“.

Once again, to the amusement of my co-workers I fill them in on my morning. Then after lunch with the morning in the past, I set out with my new found knowledge of yesterday to rehab the holes that I had used the wrong setting for. My first GPS co-ordinate points me in the direction of one of the mine pits. I do my call up on the radio before entering, following all the correct procedures and then proceed into the mining area following the arrow of my GPS.

Next thing I know, there’s a car flying towards me. I stop as this person looks like they have an emergency. The car pulls up beside me, the guy barks “what are you doing?”, “Hey mate, I’m trying to find a hole to rehab”, “Isn’t your radio working?”, “yeah mate, volumes up, right channel”, “Well you need to check it, as we’re just about to blow this area up, we’re blasting it in a couple of minutes!”. I can imagine all the blast crew standing around waiting for the blast, and this truck pulls in driving around on the blast site oblivious to the fact in a couple of minutes its getting blown up!

So having to wait 20 minutes for the blasting to take place, I thought I would go over to the rig where they are drilling and see if they need a hand sampling.  I approach  the drill rig, and after nearly being blown up, I’m on full safety alert, and go to give the drill rig a wide berth (we have stay clear by 25 metres), so I follow some fresh tracks going off the road through some bush going around the rig.

As I approach the Geo, he’s pointing down at my tyre and laughing. I don’t take him seriously, as he is the practical jokes man (I am a god send for him), he’s the one that brought the rubber snake up especially for me.  I just think he’s having me on as I had told him about my morning. He’s laughing and saying “you’ve got another flat, hahahaha”. “what ever”. As he comes around to the drivers side, he erupts into further fits of laughter, bordering on an asthmatic attack, “you have two flatties!”. Yep, sure enough, I get out, and I have two flat tyres! 

So I have to borrow his spare tyre, as I only had one left. As I’m changing the tyre -I had learnt from my mornings mistakes, stayed clear of spinifex, and used the bottle jack straight away- the driller comes over. He says “you followed those tracks there didn’t you, hahaha. I made those last night in the rig truck and got a flat tyre as well, haha, yeah those burnt brittle little twiggy trees look weak, but have real strong sharp roots”. Lesson learnt again, don’t judge a tree by its cover, or maybe its ‘sticks and stones will break my bones, and puncture the hell out of my tyres’!

I get back to camp, 5pm signals the end of my 12 hour ordeal (day of work). I don’t even contemplate going to the gym or going for a swim in fear of dropping a weight on myself or drowning. I go straight to the wet mess (bar). And guess whose shouting the beers, the guy that got 3 flat tyres in one day!

And I sit there with a smile on my face having a laugh, thinking ‘Why did I get out of bed today?’

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2 Responses to “Why did I get out of bed today?”

  1. G March 19, 2008 at 10:08 pm #

    Awesome story, bloody excellent Hap
    “annorexit” shoulds be anorexic
    keep the writing.
    Great idea to email people with blogg URL when you have updated the blogg.
    Keep on writing
    Fuk those flies – G

  2. Hap March 20, 2008 at 1:17 pm #

    Sup G,

    nice spotting on the spelling, even a skinny spelling mistake like that won’t go undetected from the fatehr radar.

    As a son I will pick you up on your spelling mistake, its “fuck” not “fuk”. hahaha (excuse my coarse language).

    Have a good easter.

    nuthin but love hap

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