It's warm on the ground, but we're headed back to the flight levels today so the operator has cleaned out the local Canadian Tire of chemical hand and foot warmers. I've also noticed that just having a clipboard on my lap made a difference to warmth, so we have taken a sleeping bag out of the survival kit to use as a sleigh robe. I think the American for that is car blanket, but I like the imagery of sitting behind trotting horses on a frosty morning.
There's no delay on our clearance or departure and we're soon in climb direct the project area entry point. Through ten thousand feet, checklist item: oxygen on. Through 18,000', checklist item, altimeter set to 29.92. Level off and go to work. At first it's warm because it takes a little while for the warm air we've carried aloft to be replaced and/or cooled by the subzero air around us, but inevitably it happens. "I'm ready for those footwarmers now," I say, and then I untie one shoelace and fly with my sock foot for a bit. Cold. There's a bit of shuffling and swearing from the back as the operator realizes he has disconnected his oxygen while searching for the Canadian Tire bag. He takes a few deep breaths, regains his equilibrium and then passes the first footwarmer up. "It's already broken and mixed?" I ask. He says yep, it should be starting to work now. It doesn't feel warm yet, but I put it in the toe of my shoe and put my shoe back on, then repeat for the other side. Not warm.
That's what you get for buying handwarmers in the summer. These things work because of an exothermic reaction between two different chemicals. Old stock. The barrier must have broken down over the last year and the chemical reaction was spent to no one's benefit. I squish my toes a bit and ask him again if he's sure he mixed them or shook them or whatever. He says the instructions just say to take it out of the package to make it work. It is at this moment that I realize there must be two varieties of chemical handwarmers. The kind that heat when two sealed chemicals mix, and the kind we have, that react exothermically with ambient oxygen. Pro tip: if there isn't enough oxygen for a human to breathe, then oxygen-activated footwarmers aren't going to work either.
We descend out of the flight levels to do some low level work. I filed this flight plan as a "Y": IFR then VFR, but I still have to say the words "cancelling IFR" to make the transition. Now that I don't need them, the footwarmers warm up. The low level work has the fuel low level light flashing before we land, but my calculations after we fuel show that we landed with 30 minutes in the tank.
The FBO guy carries my bag for me. "You don't have to do that!" I protest. "There's lots of things in life you don't have to do," he says. The hotel is nearby and Gene Simmons' bus is parked outside. So at Slave Lake we got everyone from Nazareth to Susan Aglukark to Dwight Yoakam and here we get Kiss. Northern concert tours are the best. Enough people come from surrounding communities that the size of the audience can exceed the population of the town.
In the restaurant I ask the server what the veggie burger is like. She says "I don't know, I'm not a ..." then midsentence realizes that non-vegetarians can eat vegetarian items and ammends it to, "I've never had it." She's confused when I want to know if she knows anything about it.
"If you had a "meat burger" on your menu customers would ask you what kind of meat it was. What kind of vegetable is this? Rice? Beans?" She doesn't know but I order it anyway and five minutes later I hear another customer asking the same question. She does come over to find out what it's like, so the next customer will be able to get an answer. Dessert is Turtle cheesecake. No question there.
Next day's work is two projects in one in the city of Edmonton. I'll have to send the controllers a map so I can negotiate for each line, but neither map is any good. The maps are different scales, don't cover exactly the same area, have the rong landmarks on them and are completely unfaxable. I redraw it on a separate piece of paper, showing only the river, the major roads and the reporting points the controllers will know. I'm interrupted once by a fire alarm, but get it all done in time to meet the operator for a bedtime snack. We had dinner pretty early so we're having a snack now to tide us over to the morning. I show him my map and explain that I have renumbered the lines for the second project so that we don't have to say "line one on the second map" just "line twenty-one." He approves and he raves about my map. I'm proud of it myself.