Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saga In Search of a Soundtrack

Let's not do that again! Whatta night last night.

When we walked up the shop road at midnight, there was a yellow Bison parked with it's blade in the vehicle shop and Driller, the lead swing shift park builder was elbow-deep into a broken hydraulic hose replacement.

Up on the hill, our newest CenterX Bison was down with ECM trouble as well.

Not an auspicious beginning...fortunately the Work Orders were light on grooming and beefy on the digging side of things.

When it all shook out, we would be OK...a cat for everyone, the Graveyard Wrench would roll in before 0300, and we'd get to catch up on some overdue digging before Friday's forecast pummeling. Happily I roared off to do battle with our ever burgeoning snow pack.

My usual go-to podcast of "The Don Geronimo Show" has been on vacation this week, and I didn't fancy talk radio politics, so I cued up Steely Dan's "Everything Must Go" album.

My mission was to dig out our moving carpet beginner lift. These are delicate, slightly inclined "moving sidewalks" like you'd see in most airports, but without the escalator-style moving handrails. Ours is about 200 feet long with a rise of maybe 15 feet. It stands on an earth berm about eight feet tall, atop leveling jacks that are another three feet high.

Five or six weeks ago, I was pushing snow across the bunny hill to hide the carpet's underpinnings and bury the top of the berm...last night I needed to remove the new snowpack. The carpet was now in a trench 5-6 feet deep!

As I began to backblade the pack away from the carpet, my 2-way crackled...It was the first guy out after me. "Dave, do you want some help on the bunny hill?" "No thanks", I replied. "Why don't you start with your usual program, 1st two secondaries only tonight". "OK" He came back as he roared by.

I turned Steely Dan back up, and went about exposing the moving sidewalk. I cleared the north side down to just under, and made a few passes to windrow away the spoils from the carpet. When the album ended, I started it from the beginning again.

About a third of the way up the other side, the 2-way crackled again: "Dave, my tiller's broken, I can't lift it, and the stinger mount welds are broken" "Pack up your stuff, and I'll come and get ya" I radioed back. We were barely an hour and a half into our shift.

I roared up the hill and surveyed the broken Bison. I ferried the operator back to the shop, and asked him to stay...he could help the graveyard wrench get the crippled cat off the hill, and help fix it...The 2-way came to of the winch pilots just blew a hose, and couldn't lift his tiller, but wasn't stuck. He was right at his pick, and could drive it back to the shop.

I radioed Driller, and asked if he had another hose fix in him tonight. "Sure" said Driller.

I dropped the operator off at the shop, thanked him for his perseverance, and he and Driller got ready for the disabled winch. I went back to my moving sidewalk project, and switched my tunes to Jane's Addiction...time to power forward!

Digger called again...they were out of the hydraulic fittings he needed to make the new hose for the winch...I was starting to feel that Bunker Mentality coming on...

At 0300, there was no sign of Graveyard Wrench...that's when someone on the radio said: "Yesterday was his birthday" Digger chimed in: "Jesus, St Patrick's Day birthday?" Digger continued: "I'm in the shop, and this week's schedule has him off tonight" "We'll try to get the Shop Cat started if we can find the blade for's got the forklift mounted up front now..."

Just about the time I finished my second Jane's Addiction album, and cleaning up the bunny hill, Driller called and said they were ready to jumpstart the shop cat.

I rumbled in, parked next to the shop cat and waited while the boys hooked everything up. I unplugged my iPod, turned off the 2-way, and shut down the stereo...I didn't want to tempt The Fates! I scrolled through my display and stopped on the volt meter page. My cat usually runs 28V-28.5V. With the jumper cables hooked to the shop cat, the voltage dropped to 27.2V.

I revved it up to the governor, Driller turned the key...nothing...not even a solenoid clicking...

I soldiered on...I topped up my fuel, and headed back to the bunny hill. I knocked out all the grooming that needed back-ups...dug out the top bunny chair terminal and tailored the ramp, dressed up the maze at the bottom of the bunny chair, and feathered the pack to the lodge decks and the ramps that land on the roads and parking lots.

I called Jeweler who was working farther up the mountain and quizzed him: "How's it going for you tonight? We laughed, and he said: "I know I'm behind, but we'll just go forward" I didn't want to pile on, but I entreated Jeweler to: "Take four feet out from in front of the Race Shack, two passes wide". "Don't make a project of it, just take a bladefull every time you go by" "10-4" Jeweler replied.

I moved up the hill and finished the secondary with the broken cat on it. My phone rang...

The Boss was almost laughing when he asked: "How's it going, Dave?" "Driller just called me and related your tale of woes" I said: "We'll be OK, it's a short long as nothing else goes down...knock on wood"

We "got 'er done" and were back at the fuel dock in time for the lifts to turn at 8:45. The crew could finally sigh in relief. Truth is, we kicked it. We did the whole grooming list plus two short extra trails, and we got better than half of the digging done. Strong work for sure.

In the groomer's ready room I thanked the guys again. We agreed that someone should have recorded the 2-way all night...our night unfolded like a novel in search of a sound track.

1 comment:

  1. Well, it is a Full Moon after St. Paddy's Day! Let's blame it on the tilt of the Earth thrown off from the Spring Equinox and the Pacific Earthquake!

    Yowser! Always feel good after a Hard Night's Work.