A Crossing of Paths Ch. 02

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Many times I have heard people say when they woke up in a circumstance different than normal that it took them a minute to remember where they were. That’s not how I felt. I was aware of Sandra next to me all night. I wasn’t used to sleeping with anyone. I woke often feeling her naked body next to mine. Her bare legs warm against my legs. Her breasts, one on my chest the other pressing against my side. It wasn’t what I would call restless, it was more like the kind of thing you want to last longer and you want to savor it as long as you can.

I thought I heard wolfs howl at one point but it may have been the wind, it blew hard. It made sleeping with Sandra surreal, an unexpected pleasure. We went to bed like we couldn’t strip each other’s clothes off fast enough and made love passionately. Now in the morning I was wanting time to slow, I was relishing this moment. Her olive skin against me. Her black hair across her face with those full lips. Lips that were so soft on mine. Her arm was across my chest.

It didn’t last as long as I would have liked her eyes fluttered open. “Do we have to work today?” She smiled at me and ran her hand across my chest.

“I would love to say we don’t. But duty calls.”

“Remember when I said yesterday when the bears interrupted that I had some ideas?

“I do, but in all the excitement, not the least of which was the bears by the way, I forgot to ask you about that. What are you thinking?”

“Well I’m a little better at some of this stuff since last time we worked together and also made a few contacts and friends. there are some people that owe me a favor or two.”

“I’m listening. What are you thinking?”

After breakfast we sat down at the computer and opened up the plan file I had sent to our emails. The cover page had a satellite shot with the transmission line route superimposed on it. Along with the easements.

“Ok, here are my thoughts. Basically it seems to me they are looking at constructibility. Will the easements and tower sites hold up to construction traffic in the summer months. They primarily need to know about the frost depth and density, correct?”

“Yep, thats the jest of it. They are going to want bore samples to verify that.” I sat in the chair next to Sandra and sipped my coffee.

“So I have friends that work for the USGS, they have a satellite that basically is like inferred or thermal imaging on steroids. They would love to have our data from here. In exchange I’m willing to bet they will give us their imaging results from a satellite that happens to be collected in the next night or two.”

“If you can pull this off it will dramatically reduce the foot work we have to do here.”

“And we don’t have to worry about violating a non disclosure agreement because we didn’t sign one.”

“That’s why I don’t sign them. I work for other development companies and I wouldn’t be able to outlast one of them in court if they got a hair up their ass.”

I got up and looked out through the window to see what kind of day it looked like.

“I think we can get some bores done today it’s looking like a nice day.”

“Nice… if you think nineteen degrees is nice.” Sandra looked through the window. “At least the wind isn’t blowing. Based on what I’m seeing in the satellite image we might get some weather day after tomorrow and things will likely deteriorate significantly. Remember this girl is used to Texas weather.”

“I’m not too worried, this can is pretty well insulated, and the solar will give us what we need.”

“That only works if the sun is out. Then we’re on batteries. And how long is that going to last?”

The weather up here is always unpredictable and Sandra always worried about it.

“If it gets cold and we are relying on battery for heat, I’m not sure with the new battery technology. In the olden days, maybe two days, if we were lucky. But the generator will take care of anything we need and charge batteries. There are two fuel cells in the back with the mini excavator. So we should have plenty of power for a while.” I had done enough of these remotes up in Alaska and here in the Northern Territories that it didn’t bother me much at least not this time of year.

“We aren’t going to need to do a lot of bores I don’t think, maybe a couple to establish a baseline. I’ll know more in terms of what they need from us in a couple of hours. It’s too early to reach anyone there. I’ll call on the sat phone and talk to my friend and see what they need.”

“In the mean time I think we get a jump on it and do a couple of bores, collect some samples. It’ll be a good thing to get a few under our belt in case we are pinned down with weather.”

By then I was getting into my insulated bibs and putting on my boots. And couldn’t help but notice Sandra wiggling into her bibs, her shirt had ridden up some exposing her brown belly button and she looked great in her pink bikini underwear. We both checked our sidearms and magazines before strapping ata┼čehir escort them on. She was surprisingly comfortable and proficient at handling her sidearm, I noticed the same thing when she checked the 308 in the locker.

We went out and the first thing we did was scan for wildlife. We didn’t want to be surprised by bears. Our container was placed on a southern facing slope that isn’t treed so it was a matter of spending a little time with the binoculars until we were satisfied we weren’t going to have un wanted visitors. We pulled the mini excavator out and put the auger attachment on it, checked fluids and decided we would start fairly close and get a bore sample.

The frost proved to be thick and very frozen and hard. I ran the mini ex and Sandra would take a few samples every few feet of depth. One boring took most of the day. We had our samples. And while I drilled Sandra filled out the bore logs. It was like we hadn’t been apart for twenty years, we clicked along each knowing what needed to be done and what came next. At 5’2″ She is short with thick thighs and an ample chest. I was amazed as I watched her work how in the world she made insulated bib overalls look so good. I guess it was because I knew what was underneath them.

“Turn it off! Turn it off!” Sandra was yelling and frantically using her hand in a slashing motion across her throat in case I didn’t hear her over the roar of the engine.

Turning the machine off. I opened the door to the cab. As soon as I did I could smell hydraulic oil. “Don’t tell me, we blew a hose.” As soon as I climbed out of the cab I could see oil dripping off the boom.

“Ok, well I guess we’ll see what’s in the container for parts. In the mean time why don’t you call your contact at the USGS.

Sandra took the sat phone from me then she looked over my shoulder. “Shit! Their coming back!” Sandra pointed behind me.

The trio of grizzlies were running toward us. They were about three or four hundred yards away.

“Let go!” I pulled her in front of me and pointed her toward the container. “Here’s your chance to out run me!”

She looked at me like it was no time for humor and turned and ran. We were a hundred yards away from the container and were not nearly as fast as the bears with all of the outerwear we had on. I was behind Sandra and looked over my shoulder when we had about fifty feet to go. I turned back just in time to see her fall, flat on her face, arms over her head and feet in the air. This was going to be too close. I picked her up by the straps of her bibs and threw her forward. Her feet were running again before she even hit the ground.

I pulled the door closed and Sandra latched and locked it. We could hear their claws trying to hook the door and pull it open. We were safe, the door latched top and bottom making it impossible for the bears to pry open. The unnerving part was that they were trying.

“Fuck, that was too close.” Sandra collapsed against me and wrapped her arms around me as she looked up at me. “What are we going to do? We can’t do that every day! All it will take is for us not to see them in time just once.”

We could see them through the windows sniffing around and circling once in a while one would sniff and bite at the plate covering the windows. She grabbed the can of bear spray and opened a window and waited for one to get close enough and sprayed it. It ran away and just as it rounded the corner of our tin can it was tackled and attacked by one of the other bears. It was vicious as it clawed and bit the other bear. It was a ball of flying fur, claws and teeth. They growled and roared and pooped their teeth at each other. Just as fast as it started they were off one chasing the other the third bear flanking them but keeping it’s distance.

“Damn, that bear is an asshole.” Sandra looked at me clearly unnerved by the whole event. She put the spray down and held up her shaking hand. “Look at this. That was so scary.”

I held up my hand “The adrenaline has me going too. That happened way too fast. We need a new game plan. Why don’t you call your friend and see what they can do for us. In the mean time we’ll regroup.”

The sat phone had dirt caked in the speaker and between the knobs from her fall. Sandra cleaned it over the trash can and turned on the computer so she could retrieve the phone number she needed. While she waited for her contact to answer I brought up the satellite image of the the approaching storm.

***

“Thanks for making dinner again Jeff. You know how to make a Mexican girl feel the comforts of home. These enchiladas are just what I needed.”

I stood up and picked up my plate “I’m getting another one. Can I get you one.”

“I shouldn’t but I will. Can I get you another beer?” Sandra went to the fridge.

“Please, do you want a little sour cream too.” I glanced her way.

“Sure.” Our little tin can was tight quarters and we got to the table at the same time and she kad─▒k├Ây escort bayan stood up on her toes and kissed me. “Thanks.” Her brown eyes looking up at me.

“Its my pleasure.” I kissed her back the same as she had kissed me, just a peck on the lips. We ate the rest of of our dinner and she was quieter like something was bothering her.

“I’m sorry.” Sandra looked up before returning her eyes to her plate.

“What? What are you sorry for?” I could see the day catching up all at once and she was overwhelmed by it.

“I can’t believe I fell.” She was clearly mad at her self. She looked at the door. “If they would have caught us they would have eaten us. There is no way we could have held off three of them.”

“But thats not what happened. You know we could do what if’s the rest of the night. But thats not going to get us anywhere. So what, you fell down. Then we had dinner. Its all in a day.”

“Just like that? It’s all in a day?”

“Yeah, thats it. Listen I’m aware of how you grew up, we talked about that once a long time ago after we had both had too many beers. Some of that was pretty shitty too. And there is nothing you can do about any of that either. All of it becomes part of the fabric of who you are.

And I happen to like that person Sandra Ochoa, you’re a keeper… klutz and all.” I started laughing.

Sandra laughed too and leaned against me. “I guess today has just been a lot. And to top it off a storm is coming in. I’m sure you looked at the radar.”

“Yep, I did. And it looks like it could last for a few days. So we might just have to sleep in tomorrow.” I wiggled my eyebrows at her.

“The eternal optimist.” She leaned in again and kissed me. “I’m really glad I’m here with you.”

The wind howled all night and I woke up often like I had the night before. We slept in the comfort of each other. Her warm smooth little body was like an aphrodisiac, we made love again only this time it was much more sensual and slow. I caressed the worries of the day away and she kept a rhythm on top of me while my hands explored every inch of her starting with her ankles and calves on each side of me, her thighs parted by my hips between them kept a grip on me while the rise and fall of her body over me and her breasts swaying and brushing my chest kept tempo. Her small hands steadying her and caressing me. Her soft lips responded to my kisses and continued on a journey to my neck and ear lobe and her tongue found a nipple and flicked it as her lips pursed around it and sucked it into her mouth. She kissed her way down my chest and stomach and delighted me with talents I didn’t know she had. Another kiss that tasted like me before we drifted off to sleep while it stormed out side.

I woke up to the cold and could hear the wind out side whistling through and past the holes in the plates covering the windows. It was loud. If anything the storm was picking up steam. I got up and put my sweat pants and a sweat shirt on and pulled the hood over my head. The floor was cold on my feet. I needed to start the generator and get this container warmed up.

Opening the door into the equipment room I went in and checked the generator. I didn’t want to take it for granted that it was ready. We hadn’t checked it yesterday and a mistake could make the rest of the trip miserable in the very least.

The generator started without a hitch, something I was really thankful for considering our luck with the mini excavator the day before. The heaters wasted no time in getting things warmed up. And I didn’t waste any time getting the stainless steel coffee pot ready to make it’s elixir of life. It would take a little while, those percolator coffee pots don’t make it quick. In the mean time I turned on the computer. And took my morning meds. This life style had taken its toll, while I was in good shape and kept active, things hurt. My body had endured several surgeries along the way the most recent was a rebuild on my shoulder six months ago. It still wasn’t quite up to speed. The truth was I was getting tired, while I still loved the work and part of me craved the adventure of this kind of remote assignment, another part of me wondered why I still did it. It wasn’t like I had to any more. I lived alone and was smart with my money I could have retired a while ago. My home in the Pacific Northwest was paid for and was begging me to have a boat parked next to it.

“I don’t know if coffee ever smelled better.” Sandra was slowly walking into the kitchen area bringing me back to reality. “How about I cook this morning?”

“I would love that. There’s no hurry though, the storm isn’t going away any time soon. Sit I’ll bring you a cup.” The coffee had been percolating for a few minutes and looked dark enough so I poured us both a cup and brought one to her. “Black if my memory serves me right.”

“Your memories are getting better all the time.” She pulled the cup up to her nose and inhaled deeply. “Thank you.”

I escort maltepe put a little cream and a little sugar in mine and joined her on our little couch. Sandra pulled her feet up under her and rested her knee on my leg. I rubbed it when she did and rested my hand on it.

“I trust you’re feeling better about things today.” I sipped my coffee. I thought I knew the answer, her demeanor reflected a relaxed happy woman.

“What’s not to feel good about? I’ve had two of the best nights I have ever spent with a man and there is a storm raging outside so we don’t have to work today. So I can spend the day repaying you for saving my life.”

“While I like the sound of that, there isn’t anything to repay, I have to say sleeping with you is a pleasure I didn’t think I would experience again.”

“Still, you picked me up when I fell, If you hadn’t been here…”

“And you saw the bears before I did. Who knows how much closer they would have been before I saw them on my own. The way I see it is we are a good combo.”

“We are a good fit aren’t we? Both working and…well, not working.” Sandra blushed some obviously referring to how extraordinarily good we got along in bed.

At my age and with all of my travels and meeting as many people as I have, I know a good person when I see one, and Sandra is as genuine as they come. I was becoming more and more attracted to her. Not just physically, but emotionally. All of the same feelings for her that I had twenty years ago were returning. But she was better, more mature and balanced. I was drawn to her independent tenacity. She had always been smart and driven in her work but it seemed that was tempered some now in her apparent desire to connect and invest in people.

I couldn’t help but wonder about a life with her. I was lost in my thoughts with how that might look and play out. The reality of our age difference began to creep in and I couldn’t help but think I was setting myself up for a big disappointment if I thought someone her age and as good as she is would want to spend the rest of my life with me.

I began to think I better not set myself up for being disappointed.

“Hey, do you want a refill while I make breakfast?” She got up and took my cup from me. She was making eye contact with me and a seriousness swept over her expression. I wondered if she could see in me how I felt.

“Sure thanks.” I handed her my cup and got up to look outside. “Its not letting up at all. We’re not going to get anything done today out there.” Sandra came over to the window and handed me my coffee and put her face against my chest and wrapped her arms around me. She just held me for a minute. It was a minute that I struggled to not say I love you. She rubbed my back as she held me.

“Ok I’ll make some breakfast. If I don’t I’ll just stay here holding you all day.” She went to the refrigerator and opened it up. “Are you ok with leftover enchiladas with an egg on them? I can grill a couple of jalape├▒os to go with it.”

“That sounds great.”

“You are so easy, I can make something else if you would rather not have Mexican.”

“I grew up in Southern California, I’m used to the same kind of food you are. It really does sound good.”

“I talked to my friend at the USGS yesterday and all they want from us are the bore samples. What we have is good but if we can get a couple of more they would be grateful. As soon as the weather clears and the satellite comes over they’ll record what we need. This is going to be a slam dunk. Once we get the imaging we need from them I’ll layer into the REV plan.”

“I’m sure REV isn’t expecting us to have these kinds of resources available to us. I’m getting a really good rate from them and I gave them a two week time frame with the possibility of three. Its not that I’m wanting to take them to the cleaners. I just gave them a price on this thing based on what I needed to get for it based on where this is. There aren’t many that are willing to do what we do getting chased around by grizzlies. I told them what it was going to cost and they were willing to pay it. I’m not doing it for less.”

The fact that this was also also going to afford me the opportunity to spend this time with Sandra didn’t escape me.

“I’m in the same boat with them, these remote location gigs pay really well. So mums the word.

These relationships I have are because of a lot of effort despite REV, not because of them. Left to their own devices they would have burned these bridges a long time ago with their short sighted thinking. I’m ok with this taking as long as it needs to.”

***

We made a deal that given our experience with the bears one of us should always be on lookout while the other did the borings and catalogued the samples. The fix on the mini was simple enough. It was a matter of replacing the broken hose with a spare hose we had on hand in the equipment room.

We wanted to get a couple of samples a mile apart from each other to make sure we were getting a good representation.

Sandra enjoyed operating the excavator so we took turns. We were having fun. Even though it was cold at 24 degrees we were dressed for it. The wind had laid down, the sun was out and we were in a beautiful area.

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