Just another day at the office!

One of the things I enjoy most about the company I work for (Oceaneering) is the diversity of work that we do. Our “offices” can be found in outer space, the deep sea, on a Navy submarine, at Disney World, on a ship, in the desert… no matter where we are, there is always something cool to see.

Here is a video of one of our divers doing work in the Gulf of Mexico. Looks like he’s made a friend:

And here is another diver, also in the Gulf of Mexico… heeeeere fishy fishy!

Giant grouper, nurse sharks… all in a days’ work!



June 19th – 25th, 2010 for work with Oceaneering. Awesome!!  










I used to be a trucker: Part III

I told John I didn’t want to drive home that night. I told him I was too afraid of crashing and didn’t want to drive over that f’ing pass one more time that day and could we please stay at a hotel until morning. He said no. He said the storm was only going to get worse and if we stayed we’d be stuck for a few days. Which sounded pretty damn pleasant to me, I can think of worse places than a posh ski town to be stuck.

We didn’t stay.

Not too many weeks after that incident we were driving through that same area of the state again after having dropped off some equipment in Wyoming. John is one of the most spontaneous people I know, and it’s one thing that I’ve always liked about him. He’s always up for something new. We dropped off the equipment and started to head back to Colorado Springs. But being the intrepid man he is John suggested we stop and see what there was to see in that area. We were about 1/2 hour west of Riverside, WY and driving deep into the wooded mountains. We had a choice: go right and through a part of the area John had been through before but never stopped in, or go left and go through the mountains. Well if you have known me for more than a day you know that I will almost -always- choose the mountain route if given the choice. So we did. We were having a grand ol’ time, laughing and joking the way two friends do. The area was beauuutiful!

And it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. Soon we were halfway up the mountain in a big flatbed truck pulling a trailer to boot. And even sooner after that we were no longer going up anything – we were stuck. Stuck on the side of a snowy pass with nobody in sight (sound familiar?). Only this time there were no quick heroes. John tried as best he could to get the truck going again but it was too heavy and the road was too icy to get traction, so we just got more and more stuck. We gave up after a time and decided to hunker down in the truck while we waited for the plow, which surely was coming soon! We saw one pass us about an hour ago so surely we were due for another plow. Right?!?!

That was at 7pm. 9pm rolled around – no plow. 10pm. 11pm. Midnight, still no plow. I was really getting freaked out and it was flipping COLD up there. Once again we were sorely unprepared (Another note to self: pack food and warm clothes when traveling with John) but I felt better having John at my side. Every once in awhile we’d turn on the truck for heat, just for a few minutes. At one point my stomach totally betrayed me; the adrenaline caught up and I just had to poop, outside, in the snow, and it snowed sideways and little icicles hit my bare, frigid ass. (TMI? Sorry… not really).

1, 2, 3am… NO PLOW. At this point I’d pretty much convinced myself that we were stuck there until Spring, that this was the only pass in the state that wasn’t traveled by ANYBODY in the wintertime and I’d be found frozen in the Springtime by some poor hunter who happened across my body.

Finally at 7am I saw the most beautiful sight of my life: the blinking lights of the snow plow! Mr. Snow Plow pulled us out of the ditch and we continued on our way. Turns out we were on one of the only passes in the state that is only plowed 12 hours a day instead of 24 – lucky me!!!

After that things slowly unraveled until I decided to find greener pastures…. my parents didn’t pay my way through college just to see me truckin behind the wheel of a half-ton. Still, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I had some great times and John and I have patched things up. I still consider him a dear friend and he still cracks me up with his stories which are always so random and hilarious. And I’m happy to say that his company has continued to be a success, no doubt due in part to John’s tenacity.

One of the highlights of being a trucker… I got to drive this one time:

I used to be a trucker: Part II

After the last trip through Deming I thought “certainly things will get better”. But like my 4th grade teacher once wisely told me, things don’t get better they just get different. Still, I’m an optimist.

Things were going fairly smoothly until winter 2005 really set in. I’ve never been totally comfortable driving in the snow, mainly because people go so damn fast around me and it freaks me out. I can do it though as long as I don’t have to be anywhere anytime soon 🙂

So I was on another trip to Craig, CO. I was to meet up with John in Steamboat Springs later in the day so we could drive back home together after he dropped off a truck in either Rifle or Meeker, I can’t really remember. A storm was due to blow in later that night but it was bluebird skies through the afternoon. I had the big truck I was driving into Silverthorne by mid-morning and turned north toward Steamboat. I was cruising along, not doing anything fast and listening to “99 Luft Balloons” (why I remember that, I have no idea. I can’t remember what I ate for dinner yesterday) when all of a sudden the truck spun out and flew into snow ditch on the side of the road. Before I totally freaked the hell out I tried to back the thing up and out of the ditch, only to dig the truck in deeper. That’s when I lost it. My truck was nose-down in a bank of snow at almost a 45 degree angle and I was stuck inside of it, without REALLY warm clothes or any food. I had my ski coat and gloves on, some jeans, and boots, but nothing to keep me warm should this turn into a long day. The road I was on was not heavily traveled so I was totally freaking out that I’d be stranded for god only knows how long.

I sat in the truck for trying to get a signal on my cell phone to call for help….nothing. Then what comes by? A Subaru. A Subaru full of people that would soon become my first set of heroes for the day! The couple in that Subaru got out, helped me shovel my way out of the truck, and offered to give me a ride to Steamboat where they were also heading. Mind you I don’t make a habit of hitching but these people seemed to be alright, and they had a beautiful Golden Retriever in the backseat. Subaru + Dog = pretty good in my book but hey I’m biased.


Anyway, turns out the lady was a vet tech at the clinic in Steamboat and the guy… I forgot what he did. All I remember is that he drove really well and didn’t make fun of me for putting the truck in the ditch, or crying as I dug out of it, or for talking to their golden like a crazy person.

They took me to Steamboat and let me stay with them at the vet clinic until John showed up. And oh boy was he unhappy when he showed up. Apparently he had to hitchhike to Steamboat since I was unable to pick him up like planned, and he was pissed that his truck was in a ditch, and pissed that we were going to be late getting home. Oh and by the way, yes John I’m ok, didn’t get hurt, thank you for asking (not). I used my own AAA account to have the truck picked up by a special tow truck due to the size of the truck. So then I got to hop into another creepy persons’ truck and drive over an isolated and snowy pass to the site of where I’d ditched my truck. Even the tow truck guy was impressed with my mad skillz at burying that thing deeeeeep as I could into the ditch. LOL!

He got it pulled out and back onto the road. “Want to drive it back to Steamboat?” he asked. It goes without saying that I wasn’t driving anything anywhere at that point so I allowed Mr. Tow Truck Guy to drive it back over the pass, once again, and into Steamboat. By the time all this was said and done I’d driven over that pass not 1 but 3 times and when I finally met up with John, he was on fire.

I used to be a trucker: Part I

Not to be confused with a person-who-drives-a-truck…. but an actual trucker. Ok so not big rigs but flatbeds, 1/2 tons, F-350s, etc.

A friend of mine from my days at SWT (Southwest Texas State University, now just Texas State) moved to Colorado and started his own fleet service company. We’d joked about me going to work for him; I’d be The Organized One and he’d be Everything Else.

I didn’t give too much serious thought to the idea until 2005 rolled around and I found myself head-over-heels in love with Maurice, who was in the middle of a deployment to Iraq and was being re-stationed at Fort Carson. Not being one to believe in coincidence I decided to give the idea of working for John’s company some more serious thought. It was in the same city that Maurice would soon be in, in my beloved state of Colorado, working with someone whose business sense I trusted, and the job would be something fresh and new…an adventure.  So in October 2005 I packed up and hauled tail to Colorado Springs to start a new chapter.

What I didn’t know was how adventurous that new chapter would turn out to be! I thought I’d be holding down the fort at Liberty Fleet as the office guru, the assistant, the one who keeps John organized. I didn’t see “travel” in the job description, which would typically make me over the moon happy. And for a short time, it totally did! I got to drive all over Colorado – saw the leaves change outside of Aspen and the first puffs of winter on the Rockies; got to live it up in Amarillo one time on a day trip to Louisiana… met all kinds of salt-of-the-earth people that I truly enjoyed being around.

The downside was that these trips usually began at 4am – a time I didn’t even know existed until this job. They usually also entailed dragging my tired ass into the cab of a 3/4 ton flatbed in frigid temperatures and let me tell you, those don’t warm up quickly!

I wasn’t spending much time in the office which was somewhat disappointing. I’m the type of person that gets a huge kick out out of organizing the crap out of e-ver-y-thing. Nevertheless I was on the road meeting nice people and seeing the country. Things started to unravel slowly.

John has a special way of making the most horrible places seem like oases, and a knack for selectively holding back important information. Enter Deming, New Mexico. I started this trip at 4 in the morning so that I could get there, drop off the truck, and get to my hotel room before sundown. Great plan. I was on the road, over Raton Pass safe and sound, and into Santa Fe by lunchtime. I stopped at one of my favorite Santa Fe joints, The Burrito Company, and continued on down the road. New Mexico is actually pretty damn beautiful despite what my husband will tell you.

Around Truth or Consequences John got ahold of me and told me to take the truck to the yard at which point “Jamie” will me and take me to my hotel.

NIKKI: “So John, is Jamie a guy or a girl?”
JOHN: “Well, Jamie could be a guy or girl name.”
NIKKI: “That’s not what I asked – is Jamie a guy or a girl?”
JOHN: “Hmm.. I’m not sure. Don’t worry they’re good people.”

That’s when the panic started settling in. Deming….was….a shithole. It was a one stop sign town in the middle of NOTHING covered in dirt. I swear it was straight out of one of those horror movies. Anyway I took the truck (with my doors now locked) to the work yard and asked for Jamie, still not knowing whether or not I was meeting up with a man or a woman. Of course, it was a man! So now I was in a shitty little dump town in a shitty little work trailer with a man-Jamie, wondering how the hell could I get home and was I going to get chopped into pieces.

Man-Jamie (the boss) was too busy to drive me to my hotel so he had another worker do it. Don’t get me wrong – I am all about blue collar workers and I’m not trying to imply that just because they’re working in this little shit town doing a shit job that it makes them some kind of psycho. But you have to wonder?!?! So this worker guy is driving me down the very unlit road to the nicest hotel in town, the Holiday Inn, and I swear I had 911 ready to dial with the push of a button. I was thinking of ways to throw myself out of his truck and find a cop who could pick me up and safely escort me to my room. A whole list of scenarios went through my head and I tried to talk myself out of the panic. Half-way to the hotel the driver guy asks “..so…the hotel has a bar. Want to get a drink?” What do you say in a moment like that? I was paralyzed with fear. Say yes and he’s going to think other things; say no and he might get mad and chop me to bits. So I said the first thing that came to mind, “no thank you, sorry, my husband is meeting me at the hotel”. Total lie but I didn’t really car at that moment! Thankfully he got me to the hotel. I shoved both chairs under the door that night and hardly slept a wink.

Next morning another creepy picked me up and drove me into El Paso where I was catching a plane back to Colorado Springs. I was never so thankful to get home!!! Note to self: Get ALL the important details from John before hitting the road solo.