Play time is over… Back To Work!!!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and all I can say is sometimes life can get hectic… even when you are semi-retired!

After we left the oil patch in August, we went to Teague to visit the granddaughters there, and then on to Katy, Texas to pick up Bob’s mother’s belongings at the personal care home where she passed away (in July) at the age of 98… and to pick up her remains (ashes) at the Funeral Home.

Next stop was on the road to Mountain Home, Arkansas to scatter Mom’s ashes in the White River as per her request. We stayed at a campground along the White River that was aptly named Blue Heron Resort. Imagine that 🙂

Bob’s brother came from Las Vegas as well as Bob’s three children… each from Iowa, Missouri, and Nevada. It was a beautiful, clear morning for Ruth’s memorial service. Bob’s daughter Heather bought a bunch of red roses so we could toss the petals into the water after scattering her ashes. I wish I could post a picture of the rose petals floating in the water, but my connection is too slow. It was a very nice touch… thank you Heather! By the way, red roses were very appropriate since Red was Ruth’s favorite color. From jewelry to shoes to coats, Ruth had a lot of red in her closet.

Heather also brought me a load of tomatoes and peppers from her Iowa garden. I froze every bit of it for cooking and for smoothies. In August I finally got the Vitamix I’ve been wanting, like forever. Now Bob is enduring all kinds of healthy concoctions. He sure is a good sport!!!

We left Mountain Home for our new location, Hot Springs, Arkansas. VACATION!!! There we enjoyed a new treat… a salt water pool at a new resort, Catherine’s Landing. Let me tell you, after swimming in that saline water, I never want to step foot in a chlorine pool again. Yuck! The salt water did not make my skin all dry and my hair didn’t feel all stiff.

While there, we bought some pure, homemade soaps, ate yummy pancakes at a local pancake house on Bath House Row, visited a local winery (yes, of course I got some delicious wine), and embarked on a dinner & dancing cruise aboard the former paddle boat, now motorized, “Belle of Hot Springs.” We also enjoyed a birds eye view of the Hot Springs National Park from the observation tower located in the park.

On our cruise around Lake Hamilton aboard the Belle, we learned that the city of Hot Springs is actually part of the Hot Springs National Park. They just dropped the last two words for the city name. But they count every visitor to the city as a visitor to the national park.This was my 4th visit to Hot Springs and I’d never heard that little tidbit before.

Next stop… Teague to visit the granddaughters for a couple of weeks. Then on to Iron Horse RV in San Antonio for some upgrades we wanted to have done. First upgrade was to install a Dish HD unit on the roof. Now poor Bob does not have to put up the portable dish and line it up everytime we move. We just turn the unit on and it props itself up, searches for the three satellites needed for HD and parks itself when it is done! How cool is that!

Then we replaced the two remaining tube-styled television sets with flat screens. Now I have more storage behind the TVs. Bob is building shelves for me behind one of them. We have more we want to do on this rig, but all in good time. Iron Horse does great work!

We began our wait with our new gate guard company on October 1st. We knew we would not be first on their list since we were new to them. Over the next five weeks we kept in touch with our contact and finally on November 5th we got the call. At this time we were at our membership RV park, The Summit, near Canyon Lake. So out of three people they called we could get there the quickest… translation… we got the gate.

We arrived in the Millet/Cotulla area on Monday afternoon, November 5th.

We were glad we finally got a call since we had been waiting for about five weeks. But in that time we’ve been having fun in the San Antonio area. We went to Whole Foods about four times (woohoo) and country dancing at the Wild West club. We also got new western boots with slick soles for dancing.

I normally wear Ariat Fat Baby boots when we are working and they are so comfortable, but they have a non-skid type of sole. Definitely not good for dancing.

We have a nice pad to park the Silver Bullet on. We have good equipment with plenty of horses to power our rig and the attached light plant… and our guy Brad said I could also put up all the Christmas lights I wanted. Hmmm–I think I’ll do that this year!

I have a question I’d like to ask other GG’s… Does anyone else have a dishwasher in their rig? If so, do you have a problem with running it on these industrial generators? The reason I’m asking, is at our first company we thought we blew the circuit panel in it. We replaced it for $240+. Long story short–turns out the dishwasher works fine on shore power and with our Onan generator. However, it konks out on these industrial generators. Just wondering if anyone else is having this problem???

I HATE washing dishes 😦

I must say, it is still plenty warm for November, but we are in Texas afterall.

The drilling rig moved in the day after we did… on election day. They have been “rigging-up” all week. It was nice to have a night to get on our schedules and get set up without interruptions.

Since we’ve been in Teague, Canyon Lake, and San Antonio since early August, I’d like to catch up with everyone. Is there a ladies or mens lunch in Cotulla anymore?

As I write this I’m struck by the holiday shows and advertisements flooding the channels already!

Is it my imagination or does the Christmas season start earlier each year??? I’m watching the Hallmark Channel tonight and it is jam-packed with Christmas shows… and Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet, Geesh!!! And now I hear some stores are announcing their Black Friday specials. Waiiiiiiiiit a minute… I’m not ready for this just yet*&^^$$#^*@

Today is grocery day. Gotta go get ready to get out of here… for a while anyway!

Till next time,

Vicky

Bob & I enjoyed breakfast one day at the Colonial Pancake & Waffle House in downtown Hot Springs.

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This post was supposed to be more than a picture, and I just don’t know what happened the first time around.

My laptop computer hard drive crashed so I’m down to my iPad or iPhone right now.

As I write this..

We are enroute to San Antonio for the next few days to week. We are doing another round of upgrades to The Silver Bullet. After this week, no more old-fashioned tube TVs. Flat screens will replace them and storage behind them. I really need that!

Talked to LOMA and we will be hooking up with them as soon as we are finished at Iron Horse RV. If you need any repairs, painting, or upgrades made to your RV, we highly recommend this place. The owner, Daryl, owns a Monaco Dynasty himself so he is very in touch with RVers. He also knows of the special demands we place on our coaches out in the oil patch. They get you in & out and do the job right the first time!

They also have a guy who comes to their shop and washes (and waxes if you want) RVs. He’s reasonable and does a very good job. He will also do the roof for a little more $$$. We did it last time we came up from the oil patch and it sure was good to get all of that red sand removed from the coach exterior. And the roof was a MESS!

I’ll catch y’all up on our Arkansas trip when I get my new laptop… probably tomorrow.

Till then,

Vicky

On the road again & loving it…

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Here we are entering Benton, Arkansas on our way to the N. Little Rock KOA for the night.Then on to Mountain Home tomorrow to get ready for Bob’s children Heather, Julia, Bill & Heather, and Bob’s brother Richard. They are all coming in on Friday and Saturday we will spread Mom’s ashes per her request at the White River.

It’s rare to have everyone together in one place at one time so we will all celebrate Mom’s life and the opportunity to all be together.

We have one coming from Iowa, two from Las Vegas, and two from Missouri… in addition to us from Texas.

Weather is HOT today, about 101 but supposed to cool down tomorrow. We can only hope!

I’ve received many wonderful emails from people glad to see my blog up again. I didn’t realize how much I missed being a part of this “online” community. Thank you to everyone for contacting me. Some of you have also asked some great questions.

Till next time,

Vicky

My how time flies…

I’ve been remiss in keeping the posts up to date here. Since we will not be working for GGS, I felt I could re-enact my posts from the time we started our new life adventure as gate guards in the Eagle Ford Shale.

I have not posted controversial material, I have not divulged any trade secrets (not like I know any to begin with 🙂 ) and I just love to post my thoughts and to hear from my followers of this blog about what they are thinking and doing.

I post to help people who are trying to decide if they want to do this work. I was so grateful to find the blogs so full of helpful information when we were struggling about making this choice.

We will be returning to the oil patch October 1st and it won’t be for any previous company we’ve worked for. It will be a large company in the field, however. We have learned from experience that the small start-up companies may look attractive, but their inexperience or desire to stay “small” is not necessarily good for the gate guards that they hire. There are many reasons for that.

We are leaving tomorrow for Mountain Home, Arkansas to spread Bob’s mother’s ashes per her request. She died on July 4th at the ripe age of 98+. After having dementia for over a decade, I hope she has found peace now.

I’m happy to say I am playing Words With Friends with a dear friend of mine in Massachusetts, and playing Scrabble with several of my Facebook friends. If you’d like to join, just look me at Vicky Wallace Heron on Facebook. The nice thing is you can pick up these games and make your move when you get a free moment, and the same for the other players. So it’s fun. Right now both people I’m playing are whooping my tail end! I thought I was a good player. These games will sharpen your mind for sure.

My dear husband, Bob, got me an iPad for my birthday and I just love playing games on it. Who knew I’d become a gamer!?!

See you in the oil patch soon!

Till next time,

Vicky

Shifting to new directions…

As you can tell if you follow my blog, I’ve cleaned this place up in a major way. I just found out from a colleague that the GG companies want us to stop posting about the job, the companies we work with and the whole thing in general.

I find this to be a sad thing, since many of us got our start in this business by following what other people wrote about. The job description through other people’s eyes is so important.

But, alas, we can no longer do what we once did… and for most of us we were passionate about it.

If you will visit my other blog, http://www.rving-tips.com you can follow it if you wish. I need to update it since this blog has been taking up my time. I will see if I can transfer those blog entries into this blog since I really like the WordPress software. Whatever I decide to do, I will keep y’all posted 😀

I’ve been amazed that I’ve had almost 15,000 visitors and numerous comments over the last 11 months. I’ve formed some very good friendships as a result of this blog. Some of these people I’ve still to meet in person, but I know them well just the same. And knowing them has made me a better person.

So please bare with me while I focus on a new direction for this blog.

Till next time,

Vicky

Be flexible… life changes!

Change… is a good thing… right?

It allows us to grow, expand our horizons, yada, yada, yada!

Well folks, we are about to “change” again and yes, it is a good thing. We have not yet been gate guarding a year yet and already we’ve learned so much. We have decided to stay in the gate guarding biz. I’ll explain…

First, it does pay better than most other forms of workamping. I know some of you out there say, “Well, you only make $5.21 an hour. “ Maybe there is an argument for looking at it this way… but, I’m still not convinced I look at it this way.

Now, if you work for a campground (for example) you will make $8.00 (more or less) per hour.

True, but you will probably work the first 20-hours (per week, per person) for your site, hook-ups, maybe full electric or $75.00 of your electric will be furnished and you pay anything over that. Then they may give you propane… or a discount on propane. In our case, we have an all electric coach so that point is moot.

And lastly, free laundry. Since I have my own washer/dryer onboard, that point is moot as well. So here you have a free site and maybe a little of pocket money. Let’s look at the pros and cons:

GG Pros:  Gate guards  put anywhere from $3,875 to $4,650 a month into his/her bank account. Electricity, water, sewer, and everything but propane are provided. You don’t have to work x-number of hours for your site or utilities. They are provided. The only downfall is if you do not have a washer/dryer, you must go to the Laundromat. When you do take a break between jobs, you will have some money in the bank to go do something fun… like take a cruise or fly to Alaska and rent an RV to see the last frontier state (it’s on our bucket list).

GG Cons:  You and your partner must sleep different shifts. You will meet in the hallway from time to time, maybe eat one meal together a day (if you are lucky). Shopping is frustrating in a town of a couple of thousand people. Forget about frills like organic produce… grass fed beef… or a full-fledged Walmart store! If you’re lucky you may find an HEB store within an hour’s drive—maybe. Eating out at a restaurant will only happen when you take a break between jobs. You will miss your family (grandchildren) if you are away months at a time. It can be very dirty out in the oil patch with the caliche dust. It’s impossible to keep the rig clean inside or out!

Campground Workamping Pros:  You may work 2-4 days a week (sometimes more) with several days off. You’ll be able to sleep together, eat together, go shopping together and even do laundry together if you have to go out to do laundry. You can park free (in exchange for hours worked). You and your partner can get away together and have some fun… like date nights! You can go out to eat at restaurants—together! Your rig will stay pretty clean with just routine cleaning chores. You get to deal with happy people everyday who want to come and have fun.

Campground Workamping Cons:  If you need to make extra money… this is probably not for you. You only have the possibility of reasonably making about $300-$600 a month, or so, on an average campground workamping job. You get to deal with people everyday who expect perfection in an imperfect world, but since they paid for a campsite at your employer’s campground, they expect the moon on a silver platter and if you don’t deliver there is H-E-double hockey stix to pay! You don’t make enough money to really get ahead and take off and go on vacations when you are not working. You must be a “jack-of-all-trades” type or a chambermaid. (You get what I mean!)

In the last two weeks we have been taking stock in what we want to do. Keep on gate guarding or travel more and see the country. While we do want to travel and see things, with the price of fuel, food and everything else these days, we also need to make the most moolah we can when we do work.

After lots of what-if scenarios and discussing, cussing and more discussing, we decided that gate guarding was probably the most lucrative semi-retirement job out there. It’s also just not that hard. We get paid to log people in and out of job sites. In a nutshell, that’s it. If an emergency happens, we need to be able to let someone know who is inside the gate and where they are.

Sometimes gate guards get feed—often. Sometimes you get a lot of exercise which means you have the opportunity to lose weight. That’s a plus J

And I love to cook. I love trying new recipes. I work the night shift so I can hopefully have more time to do this activity. Sometimes this works out better than others. But most of the time I can cook, read, blog, and play games on my computer or Nook.

So after much thought, hashing it over and discussion, we will be coming back to the oil patch in the latter part of September. For the month of August we are going to enjoy our roles as Nana & Papa with our granddaughters in Texas. Then on to a few doctor appointments. In September we are going to Arkansas for two reasons:]

  1. To have a family memorial for Bob’s mother who died on July 4th (she went out in a blaze of glory at 10:10 pm).
  2. We are vacationing at Hot Springs for a week… just for the fun of it!

We just finished two wonderful weeks of R&R at The Summit near Canyon Lake. We are Coast to Coast members and this is our home resort. It’s nestled along the Guadalupe River in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. I call it God’s country. I’ve had this membership for over 20 years and it always feels like home when we come here.

So that’s why I’ve been remiss in posting. I’ve been too busy having fun. So…

Till next time,

Vicky

Men’s Gate Guard Luncheon Update…

It’s time again for the men to take a much needed break and head on over to the Cotulla DQ for the men’s luncheon get-together.

This Wednesday, July 25th, at 1:00pm is the time. Last week six guys attended… I wonder if we can beat that this week? Bob Heron, my guy, will not be able to attend this week since we are on R&R in the Texas Hill Country. We will be back soon!

Have fun!

Vicky

What I just learned about life in the brush country…

Ah, the ubiquitous mesquite trees. You can find them in north Texas, South Texas, and many places in between.

Serious barbecuing Texans from every corner of the state revere the mesquite tree as the Holy Grail of wood when it comes to cooking meats (especially brisket) in their smokers.

With their tough-as-nails thorns (sometimes up to 2″ long), these hardy trees are the bane of ranchers. However, as I’ve just recently learned from one of the ranch workers, they can also help save ranch wildlife, as well as cattle, in times of drought.

Mesquite Seed Pods hanging from the tree. Who knew these were edible???

You see, ranch-worker Ronnie told Bob that you can eat the pods produced by the Mesquite tree. In fact, he said natives to this region used to pick the pods from the trees (you don’t want to pick them up off the ground since bugs love to eat them too), dry them out, then grind them into flour and make a type of cake out of it.

Don’t harvest the pods on the ground. They are usually infested with insects. And the Termites just love to cover them over with their mud tunnels and devour them… it’s the cellulous fiber they want!

I figured Ronnie was pulling our legs… it’s pretty obvious that basically we are city-folk. Don’t get me wrong… we like it out here, but we love it too when we get to go back to our roots in the city (aka: civilization).

Now I’m a very curious person by nature. Many nights you can either find me writing (trying to get started on a novel), reading, or researching all kinds of stuff on the Internet. I can’t imagine what it was like before having this unlimited wealth of information at our fingertips. After all… I met Bob on the Internet…

So I set out to look up Mesquite Pod Flour and the beloved Mesquite Tree. Regarding the flour, sure enough… it does exist!

Imagine that… Organic Mesquite Pod Flour! I don’t even have to collect it & grind it!

Let me share this interesting fact: Mesquite grows in all regions of Texas except the East Texas Piney Woods (ground is too wet)… this includes more than 56 million of Texas’ 167.5 million acres of land, stretching from the Rio Grande River to the Texas Panhandle, across Central and North Central Texas, and into much of West Texas. 76% of all the mesquite found in the United States resides right here in the Lone Star State.

As I was reading about the food quality of Mesquite Pod Flour, I was astonded! It is almost a superfood. In fact, the ranch manager informed me that if I pick some of these pods, please leave plenty for the ranch animals. Take a look at this…

“The sweet pods are a good source of calcium, manganese, iron, and zinc. The seeds within are 40 percent protein. Mesquite flour made from grinding the whole pods produces soluble fibers, which are slowly absorbed, without a rapid rise in blood sugar.” (taken from http://www.desertusa.com/lil/mesquite.html)

Have you ever heard the old-timers say… it’s too dry to rain? Well, according to our ranch manager, over the last 4-years the Brush Country did not get any measurable rain. Yet these bean pods were everywhere. As a result, the wildlife here made it through by eating these Mesquite pods, but they were very lean.

Mesquite trees supply not only food, but they also supply cover for wildlife including quail, dove, raven, turkey, white-tail deer, mule deer, wood rat, kangaroo rat, chipmunk, pocket mouse, rock squirrel, ground squirrel, prairie dog, porcupine, cottontail, jackrabbit, skunk, peccary (javelina), and coyote.

As many of you may have already guessed, I’m what they call a health nut. Actually, I just want to keep the doctors and drug companies from enjoying my hard earned money… and I don’t trust either one of them!

So when I learn about natural things I can do to take care of our health and make our quality of life as great as it can be, I absorb it like a sponge. At one time I was on about eight medications or more and now I’m on two. And I feel so much better.

Before I go off on a tangent, I’ll wrap this up. I plan to learn something new everyday. Today’s lesson was about Mesquite trees and Mesquite Pod Flour! Who knew…

Till next time,

Vicky

Gate Guard Lunch Updates…

Last Wednesday, July 11th, was the Guys Gate Guard Lunch at the DQ in Cotulla. Seems like these lunches are getting more popular. One guard drove 2 hours to attend… that’s great! It’s good to get outside of our homes/offices on wheels and meet with other people who are doing what we are doing. It’s an isolating existence. Getting out… relaxing… and sharing ideas with others is a good stress reliever. For all of us!

Bob, Dennis & Jerry

Tracy & Rich

The Ladies will meet again this Wednesday at 1:00pm, July 18th, at the DQ in Cotulla. For any new people who have not attended yet, the Dairy Queen is located near the intersection of I-35 (feeder road) and FM 468, just behind the Valero station.

The guys will meet again on July 25th, Wednesday at 1:00pm, at the DQ in Cotulla.

Till next time,

Vicky

Saying goodbye… a tribute to Mom…

At 10:10pm on the 4th of July we bid farewell to Bob’s mother, Ruth. She was 98 1/2 years old.

For anyone who has had a loved one with Dementia or Alzhiemer’s, I don’t have to tell you what a long road your loved one travels till they get to the end of their journey. It’s a slow, torturous trip (for all involved). And as we watch them decline to the point they don’t even know us anymore, it’s hard not to feel… simply helpless.

Mom’s 98th birthday, April 2012. From left to right, granddaughter Katelyn, Bob, Ruth. We celebrated with festive table settings and a Dairy Queen ice cream cake!

Our daughter Bobbi and grandaughter Corynn enjoyed the party… great ice cream Corynn!

Ruth was a very sophisticated lady. She wore high heels every day well into her 80s. She hated giving them up, but when they became a fall hazard for her, she grudgingly did so. But oh how she missed her high heels! A couple of years ago, while she was in the nursing home, she got her hands on a newspaper and noticed Dillard’s was having a sale on… you guessed it–high heels!

In her dementia, she grabbed her walker and trotted down to the front desk and demanded her car be brought around. Dillard’s was having a sale on high heels and she was bent on going and getting herself some new shoes! The staff retold that story many times.

In May we moved Mom from a nursing home into a personal care home. She was already on Hospice for her dementia and was in late stages of the disease at that time. My long-time friend and adopted sister Brenda had just opened up her own personal care home and Mom was really her first client. Actually, it all worked out so well for all of us. Brenda was an experienced nurse and had worked as a Hospice nurse a few years earlier. She had also run her own day care center for years prior to this. She is indeed a natural care-giver.

Mom and Brenda playing a harp.

Mom received 24/7 care and Brenda rented a very lovely home for her new business. This house was perfectly laid out for this purpose. As she opened it up, everything she needed was provided by different people… it had to be a divine plan for sure.

Mom was finally able to rest in comfort in this personal care home. We wish we could have found a place like this many years earlier. It would have been a much better alternative to the nursing home.

Mom’s comfortable room for her final days.

Mom finally had comfort and personal care for her final days. She had dignity at last…

Hospice is truly a caring organization. They are focused on the comfort and dignity of the dying. We learned a lot during this final journey with Mom. I used to fear what the end would be like. For me it was pretty much an unknown entity.

I feel much calmer now that I know there is a way to go with grace, dignity, and peace. A way to go with God…

Goodbye for now Mom… we’ll see you later…

Vicky