Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chapter 8: Living out of Hotels. Yeah, you heard me right.

On July 1st, 2009, we packed up much of our stuff and left for Lloydminster, AB. Lloydminster is northeast of Calgary, and getting there involves a lot of backroads. Well, most of Alberta involves a lot of backroads, and probably most of Canada. I think there are more people in California than Canada. Anyway. We packed up everything we thought we'd need for the next two months, leaving a lot behind that we would come back for on our way home. We weren't worried about the apartment since it was basically the warehouse for equipment. A couple weeks before corporate had decided to shut down the downtown apartments for the Calgary office, since they wouldn't be returning. Remember that Graham said they'd be back after four days? They never did come back. All the reps didn't care, since they didn't have much stuff to begin with, but all the techs had to make trips back to get all their stuff out of the apartments before they were shut down. Ridiculous, no?

It was about a 5 hour drive from Calgary to Lloydminster. Rachel did pretty okay most of the way, but we had to stop a couple times to feed her and try to get her back to sleep. She was getting to the age where she didn't like being in her carseat unless she was asleep, and she was awake more now so that was a bit difficult for her. But we made it without incident. Richard did a job or two in Lloydminster that night, and I hung out with Marilyn and Carol in their hotel room. Oh and it was my birthday, by the way.

Walking into a hotel room-turned-apartment was bizarre. Marilyn and Danny have three kids, and they were in a 2 bed hotel room. There was stuff everywhere. Every drawer was packed, and there were food and dishes and toy boxes stacked to the ceiling. This is not how the summer was supposed to go at all. We found out that night that we'd be moving in the morning, so we didn't bother unpacking our stuff from the truck. We were moving on to the greener pastures of Cold Lake, AB, by way of Bonnyville. It was about a two hour drive, which to us at that point was nothing. We were starting to forget Graham and his stupidity in the wake of our moving and being reunited with old friends in the Grande Prairie-Lloydminster-Bonnyville office.

In the mess I kind of disregarded my birthday, since we had to be moving and there wasn't much to be done. But on one of our first nights in our new hotel, Richard and Danny showed up with a cake and two boxes of ice cream. I have the best husband in the world :D

The Bonnyville hotel was awesome. The staff was super nice, and they let us move into bigger rooms without charging us extra. (They also let us keep my birthday ice cream in their kitchen freezer so it wouldn't melt, and we came down periodically to get it for a late night snack.) Marilyn and Danny, as well as we and Carol, were put in rooms with one king size bed and a smaller room with two twin beds. It was perfect. Carol lived in our smaller room, and the Wilcken kids lived in their smaller room. It was really nice. We had tons more space and ended up shipping some of our stuff back to Utah. It's amazing what you can live without, and that was the biggest thing we learned that month.

The hotel served hot breakfast every morning, and we usually grabbed a couple slices of bread and some fruit for lunch. We were determined not to eat out every single night, and we did pretty well for a while. We learned how to make rice in a microwave, and Marilyn had brought her griddle so we were able to grill chicken and come up with a pretty good chicken 'n' rice meal. The boys were super impressed. There was a grocery store not two blocks away, so we were able to buy fresh food and try a lot of experiments. The first day we decided to cook was pretty gross. We had just gone shopping in Calgary the day before we moved to Lloydminster, so we had a ton of chicken and veggies and juice that we tried to bring in a cooler. The chicken of course leaked and ruined the juice and some of the veggies, but we ate the chicken :D We had also purchased a barbeque in Calgary for some cookouts we were planning with all the techs, and we brought that to Bonnyville. We barbequed at least once a week while we were there. Such. Good. Meat. It was awesome.

The hotel had a hot tub, and that kept the kids pretty entertained. Marilyn got a swimsuit for Rachel so she could try it out, and she seemed to like it. Like a really big bath :D She was only four months old, so I didn't let her soak in it too long. But it was fun. We spent most of our time playing games and watching TV (blech). Some days we went to the park, and the kids loved that. There was a pretty good park not too far from the hotel that we drove to a couple times.

Then we discovered the beach. It was about a half-hour drive to Cold Lake, and let me tell you, it's called that for a reason. All we did there was enjoy the sun, but the kids sure loved the water. We found a restaurant about 2 blocks away that we ate at a couple of times. They had really good food. Some days we were able to meet up with our husbands and eat with them. One day we went to the Cold Lake Mall. What a mall. It closed at 6 pm lol. There was a really nice store there called Ricki's, and I spent way too much money on clothes. Richard had told me once that if I got down to a size 4 he would let me spend $500 on new clothes. I wasn't quite there yet, but I spent over $100! Not bad, but I only bought 6 things! For someone who does most of her shopping at Walmart and DI that was unheard of! But it was a really fun day. After our shopping we ate at the Pizza Hut in the parking lot, enjoying ourselves until the boys got jobs and had to take off.

Living in a hotel loses its novelty after a while. We stopped trying to cook all the time, because washing dishes in a bathroom sink is the pits and microwaving everything just wasn't all it was cracked up to be. We were never opposed to pizza nights. And we got quite sick of our activities consisting entirely of watching TV all day.

Right about the time we were sick of our lives, excitement came in the form of the Winnipeg office. Graham's Winnipeg office. They had been kicked out of Manitoba and had migrated to Alberta. Which was fine, because the Calgary office had migrated to Manitoba. Makes sense, I guess. Anyway they had heard that Cold Lake was a good market, so here they were. Some of the reps had confrontations and it was all stupid, and once they had sold more in a day than we had they were satisfied and left. Which is stupid, because we had 9 reps and they had 25. Whatever. We were done with Cold Lake anyway.

We moved on to Slave Lake towards the end of July. Well, the rest of the office did. Richard stayed behind to take care of some unfinished jobs and tickets that had shown up. We came a day or two later. Which was once again ironic, because we arrived just as they decided to move on again. Turns out Slave Lake wasn't as green a pasture as everyone thought. They had a huge debate over where to go next, and decided to "hit up" Grande Prairie one more time, now that they'd been away for a month. Basically it was a glorified vacation weekend. We stayed in the townhouses they had rented for the office, which were pretty nice, and I think they sold 3 jobs while out there. We had another bbq and it was fabulous. Jake's birthday was coming up, so we decided to have yet another bbq in honor of him. It was really fun. They found a kiddie pool and all the kids had fun swimming while the adults had fun eating grilled pineapple and shishkebobs. All in all it was a nice relaxing weekend.

There was one exciting event in Grande Prairie. One of the techs had an old car that had broken down in Grande Prairie, so he'd bought a new one to move to Lloydminster. He decided it would be fun to trash that car (it was a Lexus...), so they took it out to the sand dunes to run it into stuff. Kids. Anyway one of our techs, Jordan, was driving when they went down a small hill and hit a rock. This caused the airbags to blow, hitting Jordan in the face since he wasn't wearing a seatbelt. He spent many long hours at the hospital that night. Getting medical treatment in Canada when you're American sucks. They charged him through the nose and wouldn't see him until all their other patients were taken care of. Anyway he lost his vision in one eye for a couple days and wore a huge bandage over it for a while. Eventually it came back, but his doctors now tell him he'll go blind in that eye soon. Moral of the story: WEAR YOUR SEATBELTS! Even when you're digging in a beat-up Lexus!

On Sunday everyone packed up the stuff they had left behind to move to Lloydminster and we headed back to Calgary! Somehow we'd managed to convince Gabe that Calgary was still a fresh market. I think he was out of ideas at that point, since Graham had stolen all the cities Gabe had planned to move to. So off we went, back to our own townhouse in Calgary, the home we'd left behind, and hopefully better sales!