Sunday, February 25, 2007

My Latest Travel Article

You can check out my latest travel article here. The Frederick News-Post only keeps these links alive for about a week before moving the articles to an archive that you have to pay to access, so be sure to check it out this week.

If anyone knows of other good markets I should try to expand into, let me know. Anymore, so many newspapers syndicate their Travel sections that the newspaper market is fairly limited...or at least very hard to break into. All tips are welcome, however.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I'm A Survivor

Despite temperatures in the negative forties and a work day that lasted from 6:30 am one morning until 2:30pm the next day, I survived. I can't claim it was pleasant but I made it out in one piece.

The weather was ridiculous. I can't imagine why anyone would want to live somewhere like that. The highest it ever got was about negative twenty-five, and it was more often closer to negative forty. And with windchills, it was near negative sixty. It's hard to explain what cold like that feels like. It's intense. Any part of you that's not covered feels like it's going to shatter like a piece of glass, your face particularly. And it's actually difficult to breathe. My lungs felt as if they were freezing, and I'd go into a coughing fit if I tried to take anything but a small breath. As we drove from our hotel in Winnipeg to the printing press in Altona, about an hour and a half drive, we had the heat cranked all the way up. It didn't matter. We couldn't get warm despite the fact that we were wearing warm underwear, layers, coats, hats, and gloves. And the inside of our car--INSIDE--was freezing over. I needed an icescraper for the inside of the car. Insane. And to keep the cars functioning, we had to plug the car in whenever we stopped. And no, it wasn't electric, it was just to keep the engine warm enough to start. It was nothing like anything I'd ever experienced before.

Work-wise, it was a long day. We set out for the press at 6:30am, arriving at 8am. We then did a lot of sitting around before getting to our press proofs. And then once they came, it took forever to get through them. We'd get a signature sheet, which held eight of the pages of our book. We'd review them, then usually have to ask to have them printed again (less cyan, more yellow, more black, less magenta, etc.), and possible again. Once we signed off, the press would then have to run all the copies we needed of that signature, 1500 in our case. All in all, this would take about 2 hours, at which point we'd be called back to see another signature. This lasted all day, all night, and then half the day. The three or so calls between midnight and 6am were definitely the worst. We were so insanely tired. And we'd gone across the street to an apartment owned by the press, mainly to protect our sanity through a change of scenery, so we'd have to get all bundled up and brave the intense cold to get back and forth. We were expecting a 12 hour shift, so we ended up with a bit more than we bargained for. And if you know me, you know that I'm not so great at the stay up all night thing. I never pulled all-nighters. I went to bed at elementary school slumber parties. I didn't stay out partying all night in college. I prefer a good eight hours a night. So to say it was exhausting is understating it a bit.

And finally, the scenery. Let's say that I wouldn't add Winnipeg to your list of places to go. There's really not much of anything there. And the drive to Altona was surreal. I have never been on a road so flat or so straight. Kansas isn't even this flat. It's an absolutely flat plane with all roads running and intersecting at perfect ninety degree angles. On the way there, I almost wish I had a camera to document the strangeness of it. It was completely white, and being early in the morning, there was an icy fog over the entire land. The sky was a clear blue with a lower band of purple. To the west, the moon still hung high in the sky, while to the east, the sun rose as a flaming orange sphere. There was hardly anything to see, but when there was, it maintained the perfect parallel composition, with endless lines of power lines or railroad tracks. At one point, a train was running parallel to us, and it just seemed as if it must be an illusion, a train to nowhere. There were some trees, again all in perfect lines, and some silos, lined up in decreasing height order. It kind of had the feeling of a Beckett play or a Dali landscape. Just so, so surreal. And on the way back, after being awake for so many hours, the absolute emptiness of it was enough to nearly kill us.

So, in summary, it was quite the experience, but an experience I really have no interest in repeating.