Crossing Over

The impending move to Wyoming is finally at hand.

We first found out about the posting for Doug’s new job back in early July, but it’s taken two months to get all the paperwork squared away and to convince them that we’d actually prefer to move sooner rather than later. Bouncing from family home to family home is not a long-term solution as far as we’re concerned…

Doug’s Work Visa application arrived last Friday after we’d gone away on a sanity-seeking mission in Merrickville, ON. We stopped watching the pot for one day and it finally boiled! Now we’ve launched into overdrive: the U-haul truck is booked (we’ll be towing our Mini Cooper behind it on a flat-bed trailer); the hotels en-route and at our destination are reserved; and we’ve set up new US dollar bank accounts. We knew that it would be a game of wait…..wait… now HURRY!

Now, I am a little worried that we’ll get down to the border at Sarnia, ON next Thursday and be turned away. Apparently how it works is we bring Doug’s Visa application and all our supporting paperwork there and then we’re interviewed by an immigration officer. Technically, he or she can reject us, but Doug assures me this is not likely.

Actually, Doug has had to reassure me a lot the past couple of days. Yesterday when I was trying to book us a hotel in Rock Springs, WY (where we’ll be living for the next 19 months or so) for a week, I discovered that many of the hotels were booked up for long-term stay. One of the reservation agents I spoke with who lives in RS says he’s had one fellow living in the hotel for SIX MONTHS! The agent told me that he was looking to rent an apartment and the cheapest he could find was $1000 for a “crappy loft” amd that housing prices were basically double what properties were worth. Sounds like another Fort McMoney (otherwise known as Fort McMurray in northern Alberta)!

As Doug reminds me, though, we are getting a a housing stipend (unknown amount at this point) from the company, and that should put us in a competitive position to rent a decent place for our time there. In fact, the company is going to reimburse us for our moving expenses, a 7-day stay in Rock Springs while we house-hunt, and will give us money for meals and household goods while we’re there. Mothers: tell your children to become mechanical engineers!!!

Ongoing Mysteries

Doug and I are still living day-to-day and week-to-week regarding the move to Wyoming. Everyone I’ve spoken with thinks it’s very strange we don’t know when we’re actually moving or where we’ll be living when we get down there. Me too!

I knew there would be a lot of hoops to jump through and headaches to contend with, but I think even I’m surprised by the piecemeal nature of the information, the amount of paperwork, and the number of different people handling Doug’s case. Just to name a few of our ‘handlers’: there’s Camille in Calgary; Holly in Texas; Trina in Wyoming; and half a dozen other people scattered across North America.

We do have some information: we know that Doug’s training begins in early October. He’ll spend one week in Houston and then go to Kellyville, Oklahoma for five days of driving training. I guess that’s where they’ll teach him how to drive the big truck 🙂 Then he’ll be in Rock Springs, WY for a few months of on-site training. Then back to Houston most likely for more in-class stuff. At least through all his back and forthing, I’ll be in one place!

We are really hoping to move down to Rock Springs in early September so we can get settled in before Doug goes off to his training (and so I can focus properly on the book again!). While we wait for more information, though, we’re doing everything possible to prepare. We’ve gathered most of our possessions at Doug’s parents’ place in Ottawa and we’re sorting through things ruthlessly.

To try and stay as sane as possible through all this, I am indulging in more than my fair share of escapism. On the literary front, I’m reading Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series from start to finish. Hard to think about moving when you’re engrossed in a murder-mystery or grossed out by descriptions of forensics.

I’m also watching a British television series on DVD based on Elizabeth George’s novels. It’s called The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and the acting is superb, as are the shots of the British countryside. Makes me want to go back for a visit!

Of course, in-between books and episodes I am trying to get a bit of work done. My brain feels like cotton these days, though – far too much uncertainty and niggling details to concentrate. I have, however, sent off a story idea to The Beaver, Canada’s history magazine. Hopefully they’ll like the idea and I’ll have something to keep me busy once the manuscript of the book is done!

Moving to Wyoming!

For the past few months, as many of you know, Doug has been on the job hunt. After 2 ½ years in a Master’s program, he launched into the rollercoaster ride of finding gainful employment “out there” – outside the known world of universityland. There were ups and there were downs. On the one hand he was flown exotic places for interviews (Rossland, BC! Texas! Edmonton!) and taken out for fancy dinners. On the other, there were rude interviewers and weeks spent waiting for the phone to ring or an email message to appear in his inbox.

All that is over! For better or worse, Doug and I have accepted a job offer from Schlumberger (the huge multi-national oil services company I mentioned in the last email). They have approximately 80,000 employees in 80 countries and an annual operating budget of over $20 billion. Doug jumped through all manner of hoops during the 3-month recruiting process. In the end, he was offered an elite position in the company’s Tech & Field program.

This means that Doug and I, for the next 19 months, will be living in Rock Springs, Wyoming where Doug will work as a field engineer! He will divide his time between on-site work at oil rigs and in the local office. As he’s been telling everyone, he’s most excited about wearing a hard hat, steel-toed boots, and blue coveralls. Oh, and driving the big truck 🙂 During those 19 months, he’ll also be periodically going to a training centre for courses – at one point, for about 1-2 months. (I figure that’s when I’ll finish my novel!) After the field portion of the program is done, he’ll apply his experience to developing better technologies in the Edmonton research office.

At this point, we have very little information about where we’ll live and how we’ll move down there. I have – as you can imagine – done a ton of research on Rock Springs. As one of my friends who grew up in the region told me: “It’s not the prettiest or hippest part of Wyoming, but it’s not that bad if you like hanging out with cowboys!” Not the most encouraging start, but after checking out the web and emailing with some locals, I’ve found there’s a nice community of historians and writers I’ll try and join. We’ll also be within striking distance of Salt Lake City (Utah) as well as Denver and Boulder (Colorado). Not to mention all the national parks in the area. At the very least, we’ll have some open spaces and fresh air after living in downtown Toronto this summer!

© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.