Getting ready to hit the road again…

I find it hard to get to my computer these days. We have been so busy. Honestly, some times I don’t turn my computer on for 4-5 days. Let me see if I can get caught up…

We got back to Texas, from our winter in Las Vegas, in February. On the way back we spent several days in Mesa, Arizona. I met up with an old childhood “best” friend, Angie Darzes-VanDaele. She now publishes a bridal magazine for the Phoenix area brides. It was so good to see her. I can’t wait till we go back!

We also spent a wonderful evening with my cousin, Spencer Wallace, and his wife at their home in Mesa. They have a very nice place there. Huge back yard with trees, grass and a pool! We enjoy traveling and getting to see family and friends… to keep in touch. People matter 🙂

When we reached San Antonio we spent several days at Iron Horse RV getting our new water purification system installed in The Silver Bullet. We get tired of hauling around bottles of water… and filling them. Plus we like to use the water dispenser in the door of the refrigerator and the ice-maker. Now we have very close to bottle quality water.

I’m writing this on my iPad and can’t put pictures into the post. When I get back to my computer I’ll post some pics.

Back to San Antonio, we also enjoyed having dinner with friends of ours who live in New Braunfels. They are fellow RVers, just not full-timers. While at Iron Horse, we met a wonderful Canadian couple. They are Betty and Paul Sutton and they are from the Yukon area. They were in the middle of their USA tour and enjoying every minute of it. Things are considerably cheaper down here. They were in having a propane leak tracked down and fixed. We became Facebook friends. As we say in Texas, Betty is a hoot! (if you are reading this Betty, that’s a good thing 🙂

Next stop was back to Teague and to the three granddaughters there. I did not realize we had been gone from them for 5 months. The 2-year-old was getting p_ssed!!! She was demanding we get HOME! N O W!!!

After sitting in Teague for 2 months, we were itching to get on the road… again!!!

So we went to Glen Rose, Texas to visit a Coast to Coast resort we had not been to before. We have decided to start visiting more of these as we travel, much more affordable. The resort was the Tres Rios RV River Resort. Again, I have a picture I’ll post when I get back to my computer. It was a very clean, level, and pretty park. On the fifth day we left for Denton, Texas. Our old hometown.

When I met Bob, the first weekend we met physically after emailing and calling for three months, it was the weekend of the Denton Jazz and Arts Festival. He informed me that he never missed it, but he was giving it up to see me. I’m so glad he did 🙂

This was our first time back for the festival since we went full-time in 2008. The best act was The Original Blues Brother’s Band. They were outstanding!

Tonight we are spending the night in Katy, Texas. We went to the Hotze Health and Wellness Center today. Bob was due for bloodwork and we are working on our allergies. So we are spending a rare night in a hotel. Man, have they gotten expensive… yikes! Tomorrow we will be back in Teague. The grandkids are babysitting Capt. Jack & Jesse for the night. Those little doggies are in heaven with all of that attention 🙂

On May 15th we will embark on a 2-month trip to Illinois. My parents are up there and we want to spend some quality time with them. Last year they sold part of their farm and moved into town. My mother is in love with her new-to-her-house. They used to spend 4-6 months every winter in Yuma, Arizona in their motorhome. (That apple did not fall far from the tree… think?) With their age and Dad’s health issues, they have not gone for the last two years. They hung up their “travel keys.”

As we were calling around trying to find a campground in their area that could accommodate our rig, we got offered a sweet job. We will be Camp Hosts at Johnson’s Sauk Trail State Park near Kewanee, Illinois. We will work three days a week in exchange for a full hook-up site. We’ll work Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. For us that works out great. I can go golf during the week and we can visit with Mom & Dad anytime. And best of all, we work right from our campsite. No bathroom cleaning, just sign campers up when they come in, let them know what there is to do in the area and collect their money. Kind of similar to the gate guarding gig, but only 7.5 hours a day and three days a week. We are signed up for six weeks.

While we are up there, Bob’s daughter from Iowa (and our grandson Tyler) will come with their trailer and spend a few days camping with us. We will also be visiting my aunts, uncles, and cousins who all live up there. I’m hoping to get some of my high school friends together for an afternoon… maybe we can pull this off!

While we were in the DFW area last weekend, we went to Whole Foods Market and stocked up on grass-fed beef, pastured pork & chicken, and organic produce. I’m ready to roll 🙂

I recently read a tip for full-timers that we have decided to do. We have two credit cards we use to pay for almost everything now. We pay them off every month so we are not running up debt. One is a Cabela’s visa and the other a Discover. Both earn points.

Here is what is cool. While we were near Dallas, we went to Cabela’s to buy some summer gear–shorts, socks, shirts, etc. Our bill came to about $117 and our Cabela’s points payed for $94.63!!! Wow 🙂 And everytime I order from Amazon, I get to apply my accumulated Discover points. Not too shabby!

It all adds up…

I’ll post some pictures soon and will keep you posted on our travels.

Till next time,

Vicky

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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

Lions, Tigers, and Pigs… OH MY!!!

Wait a minute…

From the Wizard of Oz, wasn’t that phrase: Lions, Tigers, and Bears… Oh My!

Yes, it was… but here in the oil patch (in the heart of the south Texas brush country), I changed it to PIGS, as in wild pigs.

I went to Pearsall for groceries yesterday and on my way back I saw a big wild boar on the side of the road (alive). He panicked as my car drove by so I slowed way down. Those fellows can do major damage you know!

Then, this morning at about 4:30 am, my motion detector inside the gate area (where we reside I might add) started going off. I put my jacket on and headed for the door.

No one there. No truck… nothing.

So I went back to doing dishes. The alarm went off again. And again, no one was there.

The third time this happened the pranksters appeared… wild pigs. Last year I saw Javalinas so I know these were not them. I started hyperventilating and broke out with goosebumps.

You see, I grew up on a farm in central Illinois. And we had pigs. Even though they were domestic pigs, I still learned a healthy respect for these guys. When I was 4-years-old I somehow took my toy baby buggy to the pig yard and left it there. Don’t ask me who was not watching me, I have no idea.

Long story short, those dirty pigs totally destroyed that toy buggy. I think they were new mammas and that is a very dangerous situation.

So even though I grew up on a farm, it doesn’t mean I’m brave when it comes to animals… wild or not. I don’t like the cows that come around our rig either. One almost wrapped himself up in our flag yesterday.

Thankfully, I have not heard any coyotes. As you all know by now, these guys REALLY FREAK ME OUT!

You’ll be glad to know I’m fine now. I took a chill pill (really, I took a B-vitamin-Inositol which is a calming vitamin) and I feel better now. Much!

Perhaps I should switch to decaf??? 🙂

Does the local wild life unnerve anyone else? I know Bob B. is totally unnerved by snakes and Debbie B. is an arachnophobia sufferer (add me to both of those lists :-))

What about it… what are you afraid of? I’d like to know I’m not the only coward wearing a glow-in-the-dark vest that screams, “Here I am… come and get me!”

Till next time,

Vicky

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

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

Reporting for duty…

After spending two months fixing the rig, the car, enjoying kids & grandkids, shopping where there was actually a large selection and eating at restaurants (together… as a couple… imagine that) and moving Bob’s elderly mother to a personal care home in Katy, Texas we are back at a gate, deep in the heart of the south Texas brush country.

This little fellow (a horny toad) was our welcoming ambassador… at least it was not a rattlesnake!

This little horny toad came out from under the sewer trailer to greet us. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Thursday morning for us started like any other morning. After getting up and having breakfast, we planned to get the Silver Bullet ready to roll and head out Friday morning to our home resort (membership campground) in Canyon Lake and enjoy some R&R before heading down to work on June 13th or so.

That was until we got a call from a GGS service guy in the Cotulla area. He sent us a text… he knew it was a bit early but he had a gate he needed to have a guard at ASAP. He knew what we were looking for and this one sure fits the bill after our first gate over the winter. I’ll explain…

We can now see behind the rig with our newest toy… a closed circuit camera. This is the newest of the two rigs we have been assigned to. Sunset Saturday night.

After spending three months guarding a gate, for two fracing wells, that was 9.2 miles (45 minutes) from the highway, this one is a dream come true being only a few miles just outside Cotulla and about 100 yards from the hard road. Yee Haw!

I like the little town of Cotulla. There is not much there, but the Dairy Queen is a really good one to go to and I can have packages delivered to the Ace Hardware store which is right across the road from the Post Office. It’s so great that the Ace store does this service for the workers out here. I do a lot of online buying and would be lost without it.

I don’t like Super S as well as HEB, but from here, Pearsall is quite a ways to go for groceries. I admit I do get Whole Foods Market and Central Market withdrawals around this area. I filled up my fridge & freezer on Wednesday with grass-fed beef and great organic foods.

I intended to have this blog post done our first night here. I was going to take a nap after we got set up on Friday. I did not want to do the 24-hour staying up gig like last time. Takes too long to acclimate to being a night person this way. So like I said, I was going to take a nap.

We arrived at about 3:00 pm on Friday with a new GGS service guy waiting for us. He’d been watching the gate until we could get there. I’d warned Bob to drink plenty of fluids on the drive down because it would be hot and I did not want him to dehydrate while he was setting things up. You see, Bob used to be a traveler who did not like to make stops while he was traveling… said it would slow him down too much… too many stops. But, I remind him often that we are now retired (semi-retired anyway) and we can stop as often as we want. We are not on a tight schedule anymore.

The stage is set…

As I was finishing getting the inside all set up (slides out, 5-gallon water bottles moved, chairs put in their places, and sensitive electronics all removed from the bed and put in their places) Bob came in with a very red face and sweating profusely. He was getting pale and clammy. He was drinking outside but not replacing any of his salt or electrolytes. I gave him some Powerade but I forgot about the salt.

I got the blood pressure machine out and had him take his vitals. Blood pressure was pretty high, especially for him, but his pulse was fine. So I had him keep drinking and he laid down for a bit.

A little later he got up and was even more pale. He had a coat on and could not get warm. As he took his pulse & blood pressure, his BP was down to normal, but his pulse was 161. Alarm bells sounded in my head!

You see, in 2004  Bob developed an atrial flutter and his pulse was around 161. An electrocardiologist in Dallas did an ablation on his heart and it corrected the problem. Only restriction is he cannot have any stimulants, including regular coffee.

It was looking like he had developed heat exhaustion (just short of heat stroke thank goodness) and that had thrown his heartbeat out of whack. I immediately called 911 to have an ambulance sent. Bob thought we could drive, but I was not sure what we were dealing with and did not want anything to go south on the drive to the hospital. David, with GGS, came to watch our gate until we could get back. This was around 10:30 pm. Thanks so much to David for his help.

The ambulance showed up and evaluated Bob. They decided he needed to go to the hospital in Dilley. Now I am a city girl and used to big city hospitals. I’m not sure I’d even consider this a real hospital in many ways, but at least it was a starting place to get Bob properly evaluated and treated or transferred if needed.

They gave him four baby aspirins and a nitro pill and ran his blood work and EKG. After about an hour his pulse began to level out and got down to a better rate. At 2:00 am they released him. His lab work all came out fine, no heart attack! We were back at the gate by 2:30 am. We released David. Poor guy had been up since 3:00 am and was exhausted himself.

Of course when we got home I let Bob get to bed and get some much-needed rest. By the time I got to bed later I had been up about 26+ hours. I was beat! While Bob was sleeping and the next night I could not keep my eyes open. I hate it when I can’t stay awake. Fortunately, this gate is not very busy right now. What a blessing!

Then today, I got up at 7:00 pm and proceeded to get ready to go on duty. As I was getting ready, our GGS generator died suddenly. Oh crap… it’s hot out there! We called for a GGS service person to come. Unfortunately, we were not the only ones with a dead generator. Help would be coming… but not any time soon.

We started our on-board genset and 10 minutes later it died. Oh great… now what??? Of course, this is when we got a slight rush at the gate with no lights and the RV is getting hotter by the minute. We found candles for light (which also produce more heat) and turned on the inverters to keep the fridge blowing cold.

The GGS guy finally got here a couple of hours later,  another one was already taking care of two other generators that died in this heat. He hosed off the radiator grill and it started back up–thankfully! He also said he’ll give us the name of a mobile mechanic that the rigs use for their generators so we’ll call him and see what is wrong with our generator. I gotta tell ya, I don’t like being out here in the middle of nowhere and no operating back up generator. Doesn’t give me a warm, fuzzy feeling… not at all!

One more blow, our dishwasher died again. This happened last time we got on the company generator… first use after getting on the generator. It blew the control board, $170. OUCH! Bob found out how to replace it with a new board. We just need to order it. It seems these boards are very sensitive to megahertz fluctuations. It happened on the first use on the generator again this time. This is getting expensive!

If any of you fellow gate guards has had a problem due to the external generator fluctuations, please send me a message and let me know if you were able to do something to resolve it. We have a surge protector, but this is not a surge problem. It’s due to the megahertz fluctuations. Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks 😀

I’m still dozing off so I’ll wrap this up for now.

Till next time…

Vicky

Ever wish you could make time slow down?

I do! We left our first gate (which we worked for three months) on March 29th. We only intended to be gone for a month to six weeks. While we are talking about intentions… I also intended to write in my blog several times a week while we were off.

Here it is May 23rd and we will not be back to a gate until June 13th and this is my first post since we left. So much for intentions.

Being back with family plus catching up on things like dentists, doctors, and repairs can eat up time in a hurry. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

Corynn, Lily and Bobbi came over for a wiener roast and smores!

Bobbi, Lily, Katelyn and Capt. Jack are ready to roast them dogs!

This is what the RV lifestyle is all about! Great fire Bob 😀

Cooper’s Farms is located nearby in Fairfield. They produce wonderful peaches and pecans. With the wet spring this year these peaches are juicy and oh so sweet! Love ’em 🙂

This is a great way to be out in the boonies and still enjoy great ice-cream. Make your own!

One thing we enjoy both on the job and when we are in “civilization” is making our own ice cream. I make a batch for Bob with cows milk and cream. I make mine with coconut milk and coconut cream. YUM!!!

We’ve been busy watching our little Texas Tornado, Lily. She is an 18-month-old female version of Dennis the Menace… if you don’t pay enough attention to her. She can also be oh-so-snuggly. Her parents are getting ready to sell their home and move to the Houston area.

That’s me coming out the rig door, and Corynn (11) then from left to right, Katelyn (5), Aidree (5) and Bree (6). Lily was asleep.

One weekend we took Bobbi and her three girls (Corynn, Katelyn & Lily) with us to the Lake Conroe KOA. There Bobbi met up with her husband, Brandon who has been transferred to the Houston area in his work. We also spent time with son James and his two girls, Bree & Aidree. We all enjoyed the indoor pool during the days and spent our nights roasting hot dogs and making smores. Life is good!

We’ve also been busy getting ready for our move to the Houston area. Actually, it’s like moving back home for me since I lived in Katy for 16 years. We’ve been going through storage and getting rid of more stuff. Every year since 2008, when we went full-time, we have been paring down stuff. I always find it interesting what we thought we could not live without the year before. And I claim not to be a packrat!

Last week we moved Bob’s 98-year-old mother from the nursing home in Teague to a personal care home in Katy, Texas. We are so much happier with her level of care in the new place… and she is too. Dementia is taking a toll on her and it is good to see her calm and as pain-free as possible. That was not happening before. At least now she truly has as much dignity as possible in her life.

I remember watching the movie “Grumpy Old Men.” When someone they knew died in their sleep they would say, “Lucky dog.” After watching my grandmothers and now Bob’s mother, I agree. I don’t want to live beyond a good quality of life. My opinion of course…

On a different note, we have been tech junkies again. We bought a new ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime tf201 Android tablet. And yes, next month it will become obsolete as a new one will come out (this one just came out in January!). Geesh!!!

ASUS Transformer Tablet 201 attached to its keyboard/docking station. It can be used without this, much like an iPad.

The Transformer pad and keyboard docking station detached.

We were going to get an iPad, since we both love our iPhones. But, my wonderful researching partner (Bob) did his homework and found that this new up & coming tablet star has a lot more functionality than the iPad does. First, we can expand the storage capacity with a Micro SD card. We can also use a USB device on it to transfer things.

One of the cons has been that since the Android market is playing catch up with Apple, they are more limited on their apps, especially for the tablet market. But they are working feverishly to get up to speed in this department. Crack that whip!

My poor little Nook is feeling displaced lately!

Comparing it to my Nook Color, the tablet is a bit easier to use and the screen is bigger to read. I love the touch screen on both of these gizmos 😀

I’d love to find some players for Scrabble. Or, Words with Friends. Is anyone playing these on their phones or tablets?

So that’s what we’ve been up to. I’ll try to do better at keeping in touch in the future.

Till next time,

Vicky

We escaped… they can’t get us now!

Seriously, we finished our first assignment as south Texas gate guards in the Brush Country near Cotulla & Artesia Wells, Texas. It was an eye-opening experience to say the least. Now, when we hear about pipeliners, fracing (everything from Frac to Finish you might say), we know exactly what is being talked about. Been there done that.

First, this job was supposed to be a 3-day job. March 28th marked our 3-month mark on that job and we were finally released (they closed the gate) on April 3rd.

One thing we will not miss is the 9.2 mile caliche road from the highway to our gate. That got old. In fact, our first stop after leaving the ranch was the San Antonio KOA. While in SA, we went to Firestone and put new tires on our soon to be 3-year-old car. They still had some tread life in them, but they did take a beating on the roads, plus we needed a front end alignment. Like the new tires much better, they are not so noisy.

We took advantage of being in civilization and treated ourselves to a belated anniversary celebration at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Man, they do have good food there! I found my new favorite wine too… Movendo Moscato, Italy. I usually like Moscato wine, but this stuff has a sparkling kick to it. YUM!!!

Bob and I at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in San Antonio, Texas. Celebrating 14 wonderful years together!

We left SA on Monday after getting some repairs done on the Silver Bullet, at Iron Horse RV. We’re visiting my best friend in Katy, Texas tomorrow so we are staying at a nearby campground in Brookshire, Texas. That whole west Houston area has grown so much since I move away in 1997. It’s amazing!

Then Thursday we will mosey on up to the Lake Conroe/North Houston KOA for a few days. My son James and our two granddaughters, Bree & Aidree, live in an apartment across the street. Looking forward to seeing them. It’s been a while.

Saturday we will head on up to our home-base in Teague. We plan on heading back to the gate guarding lifestyle around the end of May/early June. Yes, it will be hot, but then again… it’s hot all over Texas. What else is new?

Update on Captain Jack: As I wrote about earlier, one of our Chihuahua companions, Captain Jack, developed epilepsy recently. He has been on Phenobarbital for a month now and is doing very well on it. We had our vet in Mexia (Dr. Bennett) call in a refill on his medication to the Katy Walmart today. We did not want to risk running out of his medication as that would probably bring on more seizures. I’m so glad we can get his medication on the road.

I’m going to Whole Foods in Houston tomorrow. The store in San Antonio sells out of their grass-fed beef as soon as they get it in. So I’m getting to the Houston location on Wilcrest & Westheimer tomorrow morning… they get their shipment in on Wednesdays. Grass-fed beef is actually quite healthy for us to eat. Much better for us than grain-fed beef, and God-forbid… the pink slim we’ve been hearing about in the news!

That’s a wrap for now.

Till next time,

Vicky

Why are we here?

No, this is not going to be a post about the philosophy of our devine purpose here on earth. Not even close.

Sunrise in the drilling fields. If I was writing about devine things, this would be a great picture for that!

Beautiful sunset over the ranch...

Instead, I’ve decided to offer a few tips or insights about being a gate guard and what that means… what is expected of us… what we must do to succeed… and what we must NOT do so we can avoid the kiss of death–getting fired.

Before I get into this, I want to update you about what is happening on our gate(s). #1 is finished with the frac stage. Once they got it going, it rolled right along without a hitch. Coil Tubing is cleaning out the hole as I write this. They are a great bunch of fellows!

Yesterday in the wee hours of the morning, the fracing rigs all left the well head and lined up to exit the ranch. There were frac trucks lined up as far as the eye could see!

Frac trucks as far as the eye can see... heading out of the ranch.

We have new neighbors. Our old neighbors were not asked to follow their drilling rig after all. Instead, they were dismissed. I’m not surprised. They never did embrace working two shifts, and the woman did most of the work. She didn’t get around well and she would try to catch up on her sleep at night, either in her truck or in a chair in her rig.

Most nights people would run back and forth over her bell cord (it worked because I could hear it ring over here), honk, and often end up opening the gate before she even opened up her door… if she made it out at all. The company who hired them lost that contract as well. Not too surprising…

The new neighbors moved in right after the previous team left. They are here for the fracing of the well, only one well on their site. So far, they seem to be “johnny-on-the-spot” in tending their gate. I can’t wait to meet them.

Which brings me to my point of this post… Why are we here?

I know this is our first assignment so I’m not a “seasoned” expert, but I do have a good work ethic and know how to perform a job as I’m expected to do and paid to do.

As I’ve said before, we are on a hunting ranch so the gate must remain closed at all times, except for when we are letting people in and out. I know we are expected to answer the gate in a very timely manner. In our case we keep a pretty good vigil looking out our windows because we have a 100+ foot walk from our door to the gate (one way). Fortunately we both move around well so getting out the door and to the gate is not hard for us to do quickly.

I keep two things in mind in this job. First, time is money for these guys. They have a lot of work to do and sitting at the gate waiting for the guard to wake up is very frustrating, I’m sure. Second, and this is extremely important, always answer the gate like the company man (CM) or the Rancher is at the gate.

That second point is so important because you never know who is at your gate until you get out there. And the two people who can get you canned and very quickly are the CM or the Rancher. If you think they don’t know how you are doing, think again. As I said, drilling workers are hard workers and they have no patience for their gate guard keeping them waiting while they “catch up on sleep.” Many times these guys work long hours and the work they do can turn hazardous in an instant. Cut them some slack…

On a lighter note (and stepping down from my soapbox), meet our newest pet… well, visitor anyway! A roadrunner who is not afraid of people. He circles around our area several times a day.

A very friendly Texas Roadrunner! I wonder how he avoids Wylie Coyote?

Update:  With our two wells all fraced and getting ready for production, things are slowing down a bit. It is nice to be able to catch our breath.

Our wells will have a flare on each site. #2 has one already. It amazes me how big this flare can be. I can hear it roaring all the way up to our rig. I can only imagine how loud it is closer to it. Bob was joking with the CM about using his hot dog fork and having a weiner roast. The CM said he better hope the wind does not shift!

Now that's a big candle!

That’s all for now…

Till next time,

Vicky

Let the games begin!

All set up at our first gate

We’ve now been at our first gate for a week & 1/2. I will get some daytime pictures tomorrow hopefully. Bob is putting up our satellite dish here. Can’t wait till we can get a roof mounted unit. We have the original King Dome on top of the Silver Bullet, but it’s 2004 technology and if we use it we can’t get HD or use our DVR… that’s not an option. We’re saving up for the roof-mounted dish!

Murphy is the oil company we’re working for and they are wonderful. Our first night here they brought a generator powered light tower. Since we have a 75′ walk from our front door to the gate, the extra light is very much appreciated!
What a great gift while we are here in the middle of nowhere!

They also let us take our trash to their trash trailer and give us 5-gallon water jugs when we need them. Truly great guys to work for.

We met our ranch owner our first day here and he was very nice also. Gave us his cell phone number and told us if we need anything, call him 24/7… We’re off to a great start.
We are guarding the gate for two wells at this location. Both have been drilled, now the fracing begins. Thankfully, we’ve had the last week and 1/2 to get ourselves acclimated to working and sleeping in different shifts. We are both liking this new adventure. It was indeed time for a change!
Last night was the quiet before the storm. At 7:15 am today my first fracing truck arrived and when I looked up from my clipboard I had a line up of rigs as far back as I could see. Every time I looked up to see if I could see an end, it kept getting longer and longer and longer. I had a good system going so I could process them quickly. At times I’d hear an airhorn go off. I asked a couple of drivers why they were honking. They grinned and said, “They are messing with you.” I asked a couple of drivers if they had a hole in the fence somewhere and were going out and getting back in line… it was absolutely endless!!! They liked that one 😀
We are having fun meeting all of these really nice people. We joke, we laugh, and they do like to mess with me. I’ve had three of them now, all with complex Mexican names give me their first name & last name, then they rattle off a string of names as their “last name.” Then they split a gut laughing. I’m on to it now!
We have our CB radio turned on so we hear what the guys are saying when they are approaching the gate. Remember, we are about 8.5 miles from the main gate and there are many gates off to the side on the way to ours. One trucker tonight told us he was instructed to go until he got to the big bus. I heard another one say on his radio, “Yeah… they said to just keep going till you see the big Winnebago.” Our bus is a Travel Supreme, not a Winnebago, but they must use that term for motorhomes like they use Coke for soda here in Texas. Add that to your list Debbie 😀
Fracing on well #1 is due to start next week, and then on well #2 after #1 is done. This job was originally a 3-5 day job. Looks like it will be 4-6 more weeks at this point. Where did the first estimate come from??? After this job is finished, we will need to go get a few maintenance items taken care of and a warranty repair on our dishwasher. When we started up the GGS generator, I think it blew my circuit board (from now on we’ll throw the breaker for the dishwasher before we start the generator). We really miss it too! At least the washer/dryer is working. I’d hate to travel that service road every week to go do laundry!
It’s a good gate and we are grateful to have it as our first job. Postings may get slow over the next few weeks since the company man says we will be very busy with round-the-clock traffic during the fracing process.
Hope everyone else is having a good time at their gates. It’s not a bad way to add extra $$$ to the pocketbook!
Till next time,
Vicky