Living & Working in Great Places
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This season I am working in Alta, Utah at the Goldminer's Daughter Lodge. I started the season in the middle of November and it will be complete on April 19. I am one of the cooks in the Top of the Lodge restaurant. Here is a quick little look at my week from February 22-28.
Sunday, February 22
This week I have Sunday and Monday off. For most of the season this has been my usual. Next week it begins to change, I will have off Sunday and Wednesday and then afterwards I will have Saturday and Sunday. Expect some schedule changes in seasonal work. I got up and went and had a little breakfast downstairs. Employee housing is inside the lodge itself. There are some rooms that don't have the greatest views out the window. Min is looking at the back parking lot, a hill and the road. There are some employee rooms in the basement level and half of the time their views are covered with snow.
The employee meal plan for breakfast and lunch is to eat in the Slope Side Cafe. Just order off the menu, as much as you want to eat. For dinner the night kitchen crew makes a special meal. The cafe closes and turns into the Employee Dining Room in the early evening.
This morning I am getting a ride into the big city with a couple of friends, Amber and Mark. I met them a couple of winters ago when we were at the Rancho de los Caballeros together. It is possible to cross paths on your seasonal journeys. Alta is just a little from the Salt Lake metro area up or down Little Cottonwood Canyon. Alta is about 3000 feet higher in the mountains than the valley, so it is usually 15-20 degrees cooler.
(Me, Mark and Amber, from earlier this season)
One of my friends has an appointment at HR Block to get her taxes done. So our first stop is in Sandy. I explore a Shopko store first. I will actually be returning here tomorrow. There is an optical department and I have some new glasses...but the department is not open on Sunday. Shopko reminds me of home. The are centered in Green Bay. I know they are in several states, but home and the Salt Lake area is where I find most of them. After buying a couple of items, I notice there is still a little time before her taxes will be finished, so I explore the Smith's store. There are a couple more stores in the strip mall, but they are closed on Sunday.
Taxes are complete so we get back in the van and go to a Walmart. We're not there very long. One of my friends had a short list. I had one too but I found the items at Shopko on clearance so I picked them up there. we are cooks so one of the major activities when we go into the big city is food exploring. And Salt Lake has some good food stops. Problem is it's a Sunday, and more than half the places are closed. But we have heard good things about a Chinese restaurant on State Street, the New Golden Dragon (Google Inside View). We go with the Dim Sum service and have an enjoyable meal.
Sometimes on my weekends, I go to Hotwire and see if there is a relatively inexpensive good deal on a room. And I found one for tonight, at the Hampton Inn Downtown. They drop me off after our lunch and I check in and then go exploring the downtown area by foot for about an hour. I return to the room, watch a little TV, surf a bit on the internet. Then head back out for a little night exploring. The hotel is near Pioneer Park. It's a great little park by day. Salt Lake City is a major city, and has its share of problems. It's better to avoid the park after dark.
There is this pizza place on State in downtown that I have wanted to try. I go to the Pie Hole and the first thing I notice is that the stories about the word "hole" being appropriate. But I have been in pizza dumps like this before, and it sometimes is the best. This is New York style pizza. Big, thin and foldable. And very tasty. I have a couple of slices. Think about having a few more, but I am trying to shave a few pounds off this year. I do a little more walking around downtown and return to the hotel.
Monday, February 23
My bed was very comfortable. It had one of those pillow-top mattress. So I got up a little later than I planned, but hey it's my weekend. The hotel has a breakfast included, but I want to try one of the spots, so I skip it and check out. I stop in at Eva's Bakery. I have an almond croissant and a mocha. The various loaves of bread look very delicious..but what am I going to do with a whole loaf of bread. I then explore some more of the signs downtown. There are little signs in front of many of the buildings in the downtown area. Most are telling the history of the building, or what was there before the building when the city was first founded. There are some other signs about the Winter Olympics in 2002.
I buy a day pass at a TRAX stop for $6.25. It covers fairs for the trains and city buses for the day. Otherwise a single trip is $2.50. I grab a seat on the Blue Line and head for the 9000 stop. Where I grab the F94, and go to the Shopko to pick up my glasses. After a quick adjustment, I'm out the door and over to the bus stop at the Park and Ride across the street, Here I take a bus to the Sugar House neighborhood. It's called that because one of the founding business in the area converted beets to sugar.
I have lunch at Millie's Burgers. It's just a standard old burger and shake shack. But it has been in the neighborhood for almost 35 years. I have a Swiss Bacon Jalapeno burger combo. I'm guessing it wasn't on their original menu. I like going to these local restaurants. But if you would somehow prefer, there is a McDonald's, a Chipotle Grill, a Subway, and a Chick-fil-A really close. And a Burger King, Carl's Jr, a KFC and a few more chains in the neighborhood.
I grab a bus to the Central Point TRAX station, and then the Blue Line to Midvale-Fort Union. I have a little time to spare so I stop in at the local gas station, pick up a newspaper and a couple of candy bars. I then wait for about 40 minutes and pick up a ski bus. The Salt Lake bus system has ski buses heading out to the various resorts in the area. I grab the one here to head back to Alta.
(My room when I was first moving in)
I get back to my room and put my stuff away and go grab dinner downstairs. Some of my friends are new to skiing this year and have really gotten into it. But they primarily ski after 3. I listen to their latest adventures and tell them about the couple of things I did in town. We then back to our rooms, well a couple of us, the others had back to work.
I'm not really one of those people connected to their cell phone. If I was I probably would be able to at least guess where it is. The last time I looked at it was when I was leaving Shopko. When I got back to my room, I was going to set the alarm for the morning and noticed I no longer have it. I did a little search, but it was a cheap Tracfone with a little crack in the display, I'm not going to really stress about it. I go online and order a new one.
I have been watching some old TV shows that people have uploaded on YouTube. My latest fad has included the Streets of San Francisco and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. I watch some episodes until sleepy. I have a roommate. A great guy. He's an assistant housekeeping manager and although he has been in the states several years, he is originally from Peru. He is a very light sleeper. I snore. We tried a few things early in the season, and then I found one of the Sleep Machines. So before I fall completely asleep I turn on the Rain sound kind of loud, but not too loud. It has a few other sounds, but rain seems to work the best. Then I try to keep facing the wall. That seems to do the trick and we both sleep through the night.
Tuesday, February 24
I get up around 5:45 and get ready to go to work. I start at 6:30 so I have a little extra time and go down to the recreation room. There is a TV down there and I watch a little of the local news until it's time to head up to the restaurant's kitchen. There is a TV in the room with the same basic cable package. Just no reason to wake the roommate up if it's not necessary. Breakfast is a buffet service in the restaurant. I first bring out some of the dry goods. Cereals, granola, raisins, craisins, prunes, almonds, pecans, walnuts, brown sugar. Set up the toaster area with a cutting board, jams, cream cheese, peanut butter and butter. Bring out some hot sauces and honey. I then put some pastries in the oven. I started a few minutes early and now there is another cook, but he is getting the line set. The head chef has been in earlier than myself. He already has the most of the hot food like bacon, sausage and potatoes going. He filled the chafers with water and got the sternos ready. He is now finishing the oatmeal and working on the special items.
While the pastries begin to bake, I pull out some cold items from the walk-in like fruit tray, yogurt, hand fruit (apples, oranges, pears, bananas), cottage cheese, ketchup, salsa, fruit salad (they really like fruit), grapefruit wedges. I rotate the pastries for an even bake...these are old ovens. I set up a bread tray...wheat, white, English muffins, bagels and bring it out to the buffet. The pastries are done now. I let them set for a couple of minutes before traying them. Today we have curved croissants, filled croissants, some with chocolate, some with raspberry cream cheese, and cinnamon rolls.
The sous chef has arrived and it's time to bring out the hot items. Besides those that I have mentioned earlier, the chef and line cook have made some scrambled eggs, pancakes and French toast. There is also one for hot syrup. One quick walk through to make sure everything is out there with serving utensils. the buffet opens promptly at 7:30. They also have the option of ordering eggs to order, omelettes, and two special items from the kitchen.
I stop at the service station and fill my cup with a ghetto mocha...part hot chocolate, part coffee. Once back in the kitchen, I start with traying up bacon and sausage for tomorrow. About 7:40, I start, with the sous chef checking on the buffet, replacing things as needed. It will run until 9:30. I then start working on cutting all that fruit for tomorrow. in between running the buffet. Then the pastries...the varieties of croissants are a frozen dough item, but tray and thaw the day before. Cook and dice potatoes to be ready to fry in the morning.
There is an apres ski appetizer service before dinner. But we set it up in the morning. A cheese display, deli meat display, fruit display, a couple of dips, salsa, tortilla chips, pita chips, we fry our own potato chips too. The baker will make something sweet too.
When I'm working upstairs in the morning, I will not go down to the cafe for breakfast. We usually just eat up here. Sometimes we make something, sometimes we eat leftovers off the buffet when we break it down. Sometimes I just graze...a piece of fruit, a couple of slices of meat, a chunk of cheese...
Once the buffet is finished we help the service staff break it down. Fill up all of the dry ingredient items and make sure there is a backup for each ready. Clean everything. We'll also get the night crew a bit of a head start on some of their items. Today it's just getting red potatoes and yams chunked and in water so they are ready to be cooked when they get in. Sometimes we do things like make meatballs, cook pasta...depending on how many people we are expecting, on how much they were able to get done last night, what are the dinner specials, etc.
We help put away the deliveries. Bigger days on Tuesday and Friday. We also might have some on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
(On one of the cases of cheese)
The line cook helps when he or she is set after making sure they have the line set for tomorrow and the line cleaned. Then we sweep and mop the kitchen. We're done for the day, it's around 11:45. About my average day. I have been there until 2 a few times. And in the beginning of the season. and probably in the last couple of weeks (when are are much slower) the day is over around 10.
I go back to my room, change out of my work clothes. Check my email, facebook. Go down to the cafe for lunch around 12:30. Go back to my room, turn on the TV for a little while. Read awhile. Watch one of the educational videos from a MOOC on Coursera. Turn the TV back on again. Go down to dinner.
Watch a little YouTube. It's Monday, so I check in on the chat on myCoolWorks. Take a shower. Watch another couple of YouTube episodes. Click on the sleep machine. Go to sleep.
Wednesday, February 25
Work is close to the same. The baker is off, and the sous chef, but another cook is on. We run the buffet. Also make a sweet item for the apres service. After work is also close to the same. Difference is I received an email for my summer gig and emailed them back. I am going to Mackinac Island this summer, and will be working at Sander's Candy. My primary job will be making fudge, but I will also work with other chocolates and confections and have some shifts at counter sales. At night I go down to the recreation room. Shoot a little pool, watch a little TV, look through the small bookshelves for my next read.
Thursday, February 26
Work is close to the same. After work is too.
Friday, February 27
Work is close to the same, except we do a little more prep for the weekend Saloon, the two prep people for the cafe-saloon have the weekend off. After work the main difference is my roommate will be heading into town after he is done with the work day. He, like all of the housekeeping staff live in town. During his work week he stays here in case a guest needs anything from housekeeping, like more blankets or towels. It's also a later day and earlier morning during his work week.
Saturday, February 28
Work is close to the same. Since the prep people for the cafe and saloon are off, there is a small list for each to complete also. After work, the main difference is at night I decide to get my laundry ready for the morning. I discovered that sometimes the few washers and dryers are more likely open morning right when the lifts open. More people at that time are skiing or working.
Side note: We do a bit of partying here too. Mostly the young'uns. I did play Santa on Christmas Eve at our employee party...