Today, I’m leaving for Louisville Kentucky for a two-week job in one of our hottest, dirtiest, and overall shittiest places to work. Last night I made the mistake of checking out what the weather will be like for the next couple weeks out in Ken-tuck, and I didn’t much care for what they told me. Mid-90′s, hot and fucking humid the whole time. I had the pleasure of working at this plant for a week and a half last July and I recorded the single hottest temperature I’ve ever found in one of our sites:
That’s damn near boiling. All that dusty, dirty crap my meter is sitting on is the crap I have to get working this trip. Working in 190 degree conditions is something no person, anywhere, ever, should have to experience. I’ve heard that it’s impossible to drown yourself by sticking your head underwater in your bath tub and holding it there. Your body’s aversion reaction will eventually force you to pull your head out, and no amount of conscious discipline can stop it. That’s kind of what working here is like; I have to override every goddamn instinct that’s been programmed into me to keep my ass alive.
Entering this area literally feels like getting punched in the stomach. After my first exhale it’s hard to convince my lungs to suck in the hot, dirty air; often I have to pull my shirt up over my nose and mouth so the air cools down just enough that it doesn’t burn my throat. It’s that hard just to breathe, and the resulting sensation is not unlike having the wind knocked out of you. The ambient temperature is hot enough that I can’t touch anything, and I mean anything without a nice new blister to show for it (heat your oven to 200 and then grab the rack in there. Actually don’t do that, I’m just making a point). That means I’m wearing long sleeves, long pants and leather gloves the entire time, and that doesn’t help the sweat much. After about 5 minutes my body is screaming at me to leave. I begin to get light-headed, and the amount of sweat pouring out of my every pore is ludicrous. But I have to keep my head in that proverbial bath tub for about 10 or 15 minutes at a time to get anything done. As soon as I can, I make a break for the roof for a little respite, but in the dead of summer, there’s not much solace to be found out there. I’ll drink a week’s worth of gatorade and bottled water every day to keep hydrated, and hopefully I’ll still be alive in a few days to write about the fine city of Louisville.
Wish me luck.
San Antonio, Texas. Home of the Riverwalk, The Alamo, The Alamodome, the Tower of the Americas, and the Deely Power Station. I’ve been visiting San Antonio pretty regularly since the summer of 2008. In general (the dead of Texas summer excepted), it’s one of the more amicable places I visit, and as one of the only places I go for work where I’m actually close enough to the city to play tourist every now and then, it’s one of my favorites.
General Impressions – Having travelled and worked pretty extensively in Texas, but never having visited Austin, San Antonio is, in my slightly less than humble opinion, the only place in Texas that’s worth a shit. It’s still Texas, so it’s still hot as shit in the summer time and humid as shit all the time, but August aside, i do like this place. There’s a fair amount of traffic, and the highway system is confusing as hell so a GPS is a must if you’re heading out to San An-tone. But downtown is beautiful; all of the attractions listed above are within walking distance of each other (well not the plant, but all the actual attractions). The Riverwalk, perhaps the most famous spot in San Antonio (I include the Alamo with the Riverwalk, it’s just up a flight of stairs from the river), is quite pretty. A gentle river flows more or less in a big circle around downtown, with both sides housing countless bars, restaurants and shops. I was slightly disappointed in the lack of local flavor; Hard Rock, Joe’s Crab Shack, Dick’s Last Resort, and several comparable chains have taken residence, but I’ve found a couple nice homegrown Mexican restaurants as well. The Alamo is pretty, but that’s about it. Kinda interesting to read about the battle there, but certainly not a place I’d spend more than an hour or two (unless you are an actual full-blooded Texan, in which case it is your Mecca). The Tower of the Americas, built for the World’s Fair a while back, is impressive, but I’ve never gotten a chance to go up it. The Alamodome is cool, but just a sports venue, nothing special. I did have a chance to take in the Texas 5A state football championship game last year. That was sweet. It’s pretty well-known that high school football in Texas is nothing short of a religion, and that was certainly the case. I’ve been to NCAA football games in Colorado that had less pageantry than said championship game. Anywho, here’s a snapshot of a service call in one of the few places I go for work that’s actually worth going to….
The Plant – The Deely Power Station.
- The Deely Station
The plant here’s pretty nice. A pretty clean, and pretty well-run facility. Other than the occasional seasonal cricket invasion it’s a pretty decent place to do some work. I shit you not countless, and I mean countless crickets invade fucking everything every spring. Hotels, cars, my toolbox, everything just swarms with crickets. They all crawl into the elevator shafts at the plant and die. The smell of thousands of rotting cricket carcasses is something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. The plant literally tapes urinal cakes to the wall of the elevator to help cover the smell. It doesn’t work. But anyway, It’s an open boiler, which means the vast majority of the boiler here is outside. Which in turn means that it doesn’t get nearly as hot as a lot of our sites. It’s a little warmer than the ambient temperature next to the boiler, but if it’s 100 outside, it’s 110-ish on the boiler, so unless I’m there in the dead of summer, it’s not too bad. The humidity, which you can actually SEE in the picture above, means it’s a sweaty place to work, but certainly on the more comfortable end of the spectrum.
My Home Away From Home - The Comfort Suites Alamo/Riverwalk.
- Home in San Antonio
Pretty nice hotel. Price-wise, it’s a $120-ish a night, putting it right on the edge of how much I can spend per night without raising any eyebrows. It’s about 4 blocks from The Alamo and the Riverwalk, and the rooms are spacious and comfy. I used to stay closer to the plant in a very cheap Quality Inn in a pretty rough neighborhood on the outskirts of town. When I realized it’s only 10 minutes down the road to downtown, and Choice Hotels (my hotel chain of choice, Diamond Elite Status in their rewards program, bring on the free shit) had a nice hotel nearby, I started staying here. Good place.
Local Watering Hole of Choice - The County Line Smokehouse and Grill
- The County Line BBQ, in case you can’t read the sign.
- They got them some damn good baby back ribs. Delicious.
Located right next door to the Hard Rock Cafe on the Riverwalk, the County Line has some of the best barbecue I’ve had in Texas. Say what you want about Texans, but they sure as shit know how to cook a pig. These are the kind of ribs that when I grab a bone, it pulls out of the meat immediately, damn tender and damn tasty stuff. Also, they have garlic mashed potatoes made with those tasty little red-skinned taters, delicious… The place has an outdoor bar that faces the Riverwalk, very nice, and all the bullshit cowboy crap on the walls you’d expect from a touristy restaurant located in the heart of a Texas tourist trap. I could do without that, but with the nice outdoor bar, and ribs like these, I’ll put up with it.
Trip Invitation Reaction - I’m gonna rate these places using the best litmus test I see fit: my reaction when my blackberry notifies me of my upcoming trip. Generally, “Aw shit, I’m going to wherever,” followed by a reaction ranging from “sweet, that’ll be fun” to “Fuck you (insert my bosses name here), goddamn motherfucking asshole dickhead piece of shit, you have any idea how fucking hot it is there? You know where the airport is, get on a damn plane and go fix your broken down piece of shit yourself.” The latter is generally accompanied by throwing my phone into a wall. San Antonio rates very highly on this little scale of mine. June, July and August get an “Aw shit, that’ll be hot.” The other 9 months of the year get a “nice, can’t wait for ribs and the Riverwalk.” Overall, San Antonio is a downright enjoyable place to live for a week or two and do some work.
Coming up next: Louisville, Kentucky
- B. Littleton
So I’ve decided to include a section here on all the cities and towns I’ve visted, used to visit, or am going to visit. It’ll take some time, as I go months without seeing some of these places, but when I get sent out and about, I’ll write a little bio of each of my temporary homes. You can find these by clicking on the “Oh The Places You’ll Go” button on the top of your page there.
For starters, here’s a list of these places, and maps of our domestic and international sites. I’m sure I forgot a couple, and I know for a fact that more will get added as we sell our little system to new people in new places. Next week I’ll be headed off to San Anontio, and you can read my take on it then.
All our domestic sites.
The international sites
Boryeong, South Korea
Cross Lanes, WV
Grand Rapids, MN
North Bend, OH
San Antonio, TX
Sioux City, IA
Rock Springs, WY
And last but certianly not least, Yeonghung, South Korea
Aren’t you excited to read my take on Muleshoe, Texas? I know I’m excitied to write it. Until next time…