On being thankful… tis the season!

As I sit here tonight, I’m struck with awe that I have an Internet connection that is not konking out every 5 minutes!

Seriously, I have many reasons to be thankful. We have a good way to earn extra money to supplement Bob’s retirement income. Especially since I cannot draw my checks for 4 more years. Granted, doing what we do is a grind at times, but it’s still a lot better than  cleaning toilets for a parking spot or minimum wage!

I’m thankful that I was able to meet the love-of-my-life on the Internet in 1997. Think back to that time, dial-up (broadband was not even born yet) was not 56K yet, I believe it was 33.5K (or something like that). Match.com, eHarmony, PlentyOfFish.com, ChristianMingle.com (and about 10 variations thereof), FarmersOnly.com, and the latest trend for seniors, SilverFishing.com did not yet exist. The only way you could fish or surf for a prospective partner was to locate personal ads. Imagine trying to do this without Google or Bing or MSN!

You’d have to know my Bob to appreciate just how miraculous it is that we met at all. You see, he is a very shy & quiet person. Once you get to know him he has a refreshingly unique sense of humor and a cozy, loving nature.

So, back in January of 1997, I decided to try to find the kind of person I was looking for in the Houston area. That’s where I lived back then. So I trolled the online personal ads. I met a couple of frogs in public places, and resolved that if I was going to find my ideal match, I would need to cast a bigger net… so to speak 🙂 I never once doubted I would meet the person I was looking for… I just did not know where… yet…

I included Dallas and San Antonio in my searches. I knew I was looking for an RVer and a boater. He needed to be less than 10 years older than me and be good with kids since I still had my daughter living at home. I also had my first grandchild on the way.

One week I had sent out several inquiries/responses to ads. Out of those I received one reply and I could tell he was not the one.

One week later, I received an email profusely apologizing for taking so long to respond to my inquiry. And who was this weird person (just kidding Honey)?

Bob. Up until this point no names had been mentioned so I had no clue what he was responding to since it had been at least a week prior.

Long story short, we corresponded via email and telephone for two months before we actually met in person.

We agreed to meet at the Cross-Eyed Seagull in Houston at 8:00 pm on an agreed upon night. Well, we were tested from the git-go! Bob was living in Denton, Texas at this time. The night he came down he did so during the worst rain storm I’d seen in a good long time. Remember, we did not have our handy cell phones in 1997. Bob had to periodically pull over to a pay-phone and find out the conditions he was driving into.

Finally, I-45 was flooded so I had to guide him into town using the Hardy Toll Road. At that time it had recently opened up. Our good fortunes were holding.

With all of this inclement weather I figured he would be at least 2-hours late.

To this day I don’t know how he did it, but he arrived with a goofy grin on his face and 5-MINUTES EARLY! The goofy grin was because he was extremely nervous. (And I wasn’t?)

And the rest is history… we got married in March of 1998.

How did I know he was going to be such a good match for me?

Easy… he worked for an RV dealer and he owned a boat. Cha-ching! We had things in common. He was also divorced and the father of two girls and a boy, and I had two boys and a girl. Brady Bunch!

We went on to become full-time RVers in 2008. And today we have 10 grandchildren. 5-boys and 5-girls. Funny how that worked out 🙂

And we are gate guards in South Texas.

We are in good health as are our families. And for all of this, we are thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all 🙂

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

Womens & Mens Luncheon schedule update…

Last week I posted a poll for the location and for the date of the next Gate Guard Ladies Luncheon. Normally I think we usually meet on Wednesdays, but since that falls on July 4th this time (not sure that makes much of a difference out here in this job) I decided to give everyone an option.

The overwhelming majority voted they wanted to meet on July 3rd, Tuesday, 1:00pm at the Cotulla DQ.

Sounds good to me. I just love my Cappuccino Heath blizzard!

And since Susan and Bob Alton will be heading to San Antonio today because Bob landed a great job opportunity, looks like I’m heading up the guys luncheon plans… at least for now. My Bob does not blog so he can let me know what the plans are with his gender group and I’ll pass it along here. Right now, the next Mens Gate Guarding Luncheon will be on Wednesday, July 11th, 1:00pm at the Cotulla DQ.

I’ll also post plans in Andy & Miss K’s MyOldRV.com forum.

Have a great weekend! We will miss you Bob & Susan… Good luck in your new adventure!!!

Vicky

P.S. If you want to be on a luncheon announcement list (for details of future luncheons) please use the form below to send it to me and put Mens List or Ladies List in the subject line.

Must be the calm before the storm…

The good news, it’s not raining! Of course, that’s bad news for Texas, especially south Texas. This is supposed to be our rainy season so dry weather now does not bode well for this summer. I sure hope we don’t have another scorcher this summer.

Last year was also bad for RV air conditioners. We were in and out of the shop last summer with breakers tripping for the A/C units. We have three roof units and it was a stress on two of the units in particular. I’ve read in forums that we were not the only ones having A/C problems in the extreme heat.

We had the whole electrical system checked out and no problems found and we still kept tripping breakers in the triple digit heat. We even started propping the breaker panel doors open to keep the cool air blowing on them. It was a miserable, hot & dry summer indeed.

Now for the ranch… all was calm last night and and is tonight. I know it won’t last, but while I’m building my nocturnal courage (not for lions, tigers & bears but for coyotes, wild pigs & crawling things) it’s good to have the calm.

I gave myself a scare last night. Our company man said it would probably be quiet all night. So, since I’m getting acclimated to working nights and sleeping days, I got pretty drowsy around 4:00 am and took a nap. Two hours later I woke up and looked out at the gate and my mind played a trick on me. I thought the gate was wide open!!! A big no-no… 

I went to get Bob up. I told him I fell asleep and someone went out the gate and left it wide open and since NO ONE was out there I just could not get myself to go out alone (I’m working on my nocturnal fear remember). Now our front door to the gate is about 60+ feet and we have to open and shut the gate at all times. It’s well lit, but not right outside the door for sure. So he got up and got dressed (thankfully it was 6:30 and he had about 7 hours of sleep by then). I went to the bathroom and when I came out he informed me that the gate was still locked.

I looked out and sure enough, he was right. The way the gate is made caused me to think it was open in my blur of waking up. I said a prayer of thanks. Since this is a hunting ranch I want to make sure and do a good job for the ranch owner. He’s a very nice man.

Tonight I’ve sworn off taking any naps. I’m keeping a watchful eye. I’ve learned my lesson!

Happy New Year everyone!

Vicky