It’s good to be back, but not home yet…

Last night we arrived in San Antonio and checked into Iron Horse RV. We bought a new water purification system that we want them to install on the Silver Bullet, complete with a UV light. We like to have confidence in local drinking water systems and since we go everywhere, we figured this was a good idea.

We will be taking a long road trip this spring/summer so we decided it’s time to change the old house batteries. Last year we bought two new chassis batteries (yes, this behemoth is a battery hog). When we were out at the Nye ranch south of Cotulla last year, for three months, our chassis batteries went dead. So until we could get our gate assignment completed and get back to civilization, we had to keep a battery charger on them. Not fun!

We’ve noticed that our house batteries, there are 8 of them (ouch), are not holding the charge once we disconnect from shore power. So, before our big road trip we are replacing them. Can you say EXPENSIVE!!! And since our household refrigerator is powered by one of the two inverters, which uses 4 of the coach batteries, we better not let them die! I have that freezer packed to the gills!!!

You never know, we might decide to boondock somewhere along the way on our trip and we will need something to power our toys (iPhones, iPad, computers and other electronics) without starting the generator all the time.

We thought we would be back in Teague by the weekend, but the shop has had one guy out on funeral leave and another out sick all week. So, we will probably be here until Wednesday. I called Bobbi, my daughter, today to let her know we will be delayed. She said, “Oh darn!” To which I agree! Our two-year-old granddaughter, Lily, keeps coming up to her mom, hands on hips, head tilted down, and bottom lip out saying, “I want my Nana!” Oops 🙂

Last night we joined our friends, Ralph and Karen Miller from New Braunfels, for dinner. We ate at Mammacita’s Mexican Restaurant. It was a great place to eat. Bob does not eat Mexican so he had hamburgers and steaks to choose from. And desserts were provided by the Cheesecake Factory. They were downright yummy!

In preparation for our road trip, we are getting new belts put on the Silver Bullet. We bought them two years ago when we bought the rig. We’ll keep the ones they take off in a box in the basement. It’s always good to have a spare 🙂

We are so looking forward to a leisurely road trip. You see, we started our journey as full-time RVers in 2008. We worked for three years doing guest guides at RV parks. It was fun, for a while. As the economy tanked the fun left and it became a JOB! We met many wonderful business people and campground owners, as well as fellow RVers. Many of which are still our friends today.

Next we tried out gate guarding. LOMA was by far the best company to work for, but the job is dirty, you are amongst wild pigs, rattle shakes, “tame” bulls, and coyotes… not to mention illegal drug runners. Plus, you can’t leave or have any life together since someone must always be at the gate. And the industrial generators were wreaking havoc on our coach.

We’ve had two deaths in the family in the last year. Bob’s mother who was 98. And his brother Richard, who was murdered by his own son. We just finished a 2-month stint in Las Vegas getting his estate in order. These events have caused us to reflect and reevaluate our priorities.

For now, our plans are focused on our big road trip coming up. Somewhere down the road we may decide to work part-time again. And I’ll be investigating what there is to do for full-time RVers who want to do just that. But for now, my posts will be more focused on our trip plans and experiences.

So sit back and enjoy the scenery! If you want to chime in with comments or suggestions, I’d be happy to hear from you. I try to reply to my followers who leave comments.

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

5 Ways you can add enjoyment to your gate guarding experience…

Sunrise in March at the Ranch... what a sight!

As our first gate guarding job draws to a close (don’t know exactly what day that will be yet… but it should be some time this month), I’ve been reflecting on our experience.

Both Bob and I like this job. We like it a lot better than creating guest guides for RV parks which we did for the last three years. That was a high pressure job with deadlines and sales quotas. Plus, since we were traveling all over the country, we poured quite a bit of our sales commissions into our car’s gas tank and into the Silver Bullet’s diesel tank. And with fuel prices being what they are, one word describes it perfectly–OUCH!

Now that the dust is settling and we are in the pipeline phase we are really enjoying our time out here in the middle of nowhere.

We got to see a mulching machine, actually it’s a hungry tree and cactus eater that pulverizes everything in its path. It crept its way along the dense undergrowth and cleared a crude path for the dozer to pick up on and clear even better.

The final phase of our first job... The munching Mulcher chewing a crude path for the pipeline crew.

These pipeliners are a humorous lot. They seem to enjoy what they do and have a great sense of humor. We have a couple of jokersters who like to mess with us by pulling up to the bell-dinging lines and pulling across, backing up, and doing this over & over when they come in the morning and leave at night… so our bell keeps ringing. Hey, it lightens things up for all of us 🙂 There’s another nice thing as we approach the end of this job–we get to work a 12-hour shift. That means I get to sleep at night along side my hubby. Life is good indeed 😀

A pipeline survey marker in the Texas back country desert jungle. The Silver Bullet is in the background.

So here are the five things I feel will help keep gate guarding more enjoyable (and will keep us happier and make us more friendly to those who come through our gates. Win-Win!

  1. Stay loose and just relax. Even in the busiest of times at the gate… this too shall pass.
  2. Stay in touch with family, friends, and other gate guards. Some great ways to do this are… Facebook… SKYPE (or facetime on smartphones)… email.ing.. texting… online gaming… read blogs and possibly write one of your own. Everyone of them says something different and unique!
  3. Tune into what makes you happy–like hobbies… Reading (I love my color Nook)… Wii Fit Plus (my space-friendly workout center in the RV)… watching movies… writing/blogging… surfing online… working jigsaw puzzles (or Sudoku, crosswords, circle a word–on my Nook I love to play Scrabble. When I don’t have anyone to play with I play against myself as three other people–I’m very competitive 🙂 ) Mainly, do anything that stimulates your brain and do it every day to keep all of your synapses firing!
  4. Get enough sleep. 7-8 hours all at one time is a must to stay healthy and keep your energy levels high.
  5. Laugh. Every chance you get! 🙂

Path cleared, pipe arrived, next step--weld pipe and dig hole.

Pipeliners hard at work welding, x-raying welds, and laying the pipe in the hole.

And for the grand finale... filling in the pipeline trench!

This concludes my tour of our final days on our first gate guarding job. We love working for this oil company and this is a good ranch to work on. Owner is a great guy. I just wish the 9.2 mile road was a bit easier to travel… dream on.

Oh, by the way, this bird has a yellow belly and a white halo around his head. If you know what kind of bird this is, please leave me a comment and let me know. I’ve tried to search online and can’t seem to find out what this is. Thanks!

What kind of bird is this? As soon as I find out, I'll update this caption. I hope someone can tell me what this is 😀

Till next time,

Vicky

Being a night owl has it’s advantages…

Our gate at sunset.

Looks like we will get busy again tomorrow. Since they encountered a problem at Well 1 a week ago, we’ve been waiting for the “fix-it” team to come and get things going again. We’d heard it would be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before the fix-it team would get here. It’s looking more like a few weeks at this point.

Our pad at Nye Ranch

I had wondered why they didn’t just move over to Well 2 and get it going while they were waiting for the other one to get fixed. Today we were told that is exactly what they are going to do. So around noon, what Bob calls the Johnson Trailers, came rolling in. This time they headed for Well 2. I’m not at all sure why Bob calls them Johnson Trailers… he was in the oil/gas industry (as an accountant) while he lived in Oklahoma years ago. These are the tanks the big trucks haul behind them and they slant downwards from front to back while they are in transit. I’ll have to ask him about the Johnson thing??? I’ll keep you posted…

Our new gazebo

Rope lights in the gazebo

Twin Gates at Sunrise... the couple attending the gate next to us are Bob & Joyce. They have a travel trailer and work for LOMA. Their gate is for one well, a new drilling site.

For the last 5 nights I’ve really been able to relax and enjoy myself. Working at night does have its advantages. I’ve been able to start getting caught up on reading (still have a long ways to go). I have a card table out and a jigsaw puzzle beconing to me at this moment and I’ve updated my computer, Nook, and iPhone. And been able to surf the net for yeast free recipes since I’m on a yeast-free eating program for two more months. I don’t think I’ve cooked this much in the last five years. One reason is so I can cook for the eating program, and the other is because we can’t just “go to town for a bite to eat” on a whim. That would involve one of us (because one of us has to be tending the gate) traveling the 8-mile road from hell and it’s just not worth it!

It’s not all bad though. By doing my own cooking (and exercising portion control) I’ve lost 4 inches around my waist. I no longer need to change out of my jeans to my comfy pants… my jeans ARE my comfy pants. How cool is that! Also, I’m not having as much access to the stores and junk foods, Bob (who was formerly a carb-a-holic) has really reformed his eating habits and is losing weight also. He’s going to look downright skinny if he doesn’t slow down.

Why does it seem so much easier for men to just drop weight… and quickly at that!?#@%!

With nights being slower than days (as a rule), it does have its advantages. I wonder if that’s why so many women work nights? Seems like it’s becoming a trend in the gate guarding world…

As I was doing all of the updating (downloading files) on my electronic toys, I noticed one thing… on most nights my download speed slows to a crawl during the wee hours of the morning. Do you think they power down the cell towers during off-peak hours? Just sayin…

I also must confess, I’ve been playing Words with Friends on my Nook. Two nights ago I bought it, cheap entertainment for $2.99. Fun thing is you can play with an imaginary friend and have a full-blown game going with Me and Myself. Wonder if I can add I to the game? If anyone out there plays Words with Friends, let me know. I have it on my Nook and would love to play a game with others, just need to know how to go about all that. Never been an online gamer before.

Time to go get a yeast-free, sugar-free peanut butter cookie and almond milk snack. I know, sounds disgusting, but they are actually very good. And addicting! It truly satisfies my sweet tooth while helping me lose more inches. Can’t beat that. And no, I don’t use Splenda or anything like that. I use natural sweeteners that are actually good for you.

So, bon-appetit! Till next time…

Vicky