"if you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much room"

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

notice given

The night shift Sunday night turned out to be the busy shift. Seems like they are starting several new drilling operations within a 20 mile radius of us and we seem to be a magnet for people needing directions to the new sites :-(. I'm not sure why we get so many "lost souls" but we seem to get more than our share. I guess since you can see our rig from the highway and our entrance is nice and wide maybe that entices them to stop. The bad thing is we have no idea where most of these places are they are asking about. These oil rigs tend to pop up like mushrooms overnight and being tied to our little patch of real estate we have no idea what is going on around us most of the time.
Needless to say I was pretty pooped by the time daylight rolled around Monday morning and I crawled in bed pretty quickly. The rain did wake me up one time ..... rain! Oh no! Well nothing I can do about it so I rolled over and went back to sleep :-).
The rain lasted most of the morning and there was a thick layer of clouds the rest of the day. Since the traffic had slowed back down we didn't have to venture away from our patio so the mud wasn't an issue and it should dry up fairly quickly.
I called our boss Roger this morning and broke the news to him that we needed some relief. He was fine with it and wanted to make sure we were still interested in this type of work. I told him yes as long as they still wanted us. He said absolutely and to give him a call when we were back in the area!
The plan is to have our relief arrive next Monday morning. We will have everything ready to roll when they get here so we can move out of the spot and they can get parked and set up. We will give them all the info we can on the location and surrounding area and then we will head out. We are looking at landing in the Del Rio Texas area. We plan on visiting Seminole Canyon State Park, Lake Amistad and do a little motorcycle riding/sightseeing if the weather cooperates.
We got a call from fellow Hoosiers Jimmie and Becky Owens who are motorcycle buddies back home. I wrote a couple of weeks ago that he was diagnosed with cancer and came to Houston for treatment. The news he gave us wasn't what we had been praying for. The doctors are saying he has stage 4 cancer with up to 40 tumors in his lymph nodes. They also detected it in his bone marrow. They are mapping out a course of treatment but it looks like it will be a long spring and summer for them. Since we are so close we made loose plans to drop in on them for a short visit on our way through.
So now we start our last week here at the gate. We have enjoyed our time here and are looking forward to seeing some of what Texas has to offer in the next few weeks. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 30, 2012

bad TV day

We are down to only about 5 workers left adjusting the flow on the back well. The company man came out and told us all they are getting out of the well is water but that should change in the next day or two when the oil and natural gas starts to flow. The water they take out is being trucked away to a holding area several miles south of here.
Needless to say, aside from the water trucks coming in and out every few hours, the gate is pretty quiet.
Sunday we had another one of those boring type days. I piddled around outside just doing "busy" type work. I put a few things away that we don't expect to be using for awhile and started the generator and let it run for awhile to exercise it. The manufacturer recommends that it be ran for at least 30 minutes under 50% load every 30 days. After letting it run I topped off its fuel tank and added some more Stabil fuel stabilizer which will keep the fuel "fresh" until we need to use the generator again.
The Sunday after the NFL conference championship games has to be the worst TV day of the year. Any other time sports nuts can watch some kind of game, race or event. There was absolutely nothing on. The Nascar season doesn't kick off for a couple of weeks, no NFL games until next week when the Super Bowl will be played, baseball is still a few months down the road, heck I couldn't even find a golf tournament to watch. I'm not really a huge sports fan but I do like to watch a good football game and I'll pass an hour or two watching a Nascar or Indy car race and if I'm in need of a little nap I'll even turn on golf :-). Yesterday there wasn't even a decent John Wayne movie to be had! You know what that means, an all day marathon of Lifetime Network chick flicks! :-0
I called my grand son Nicholas yesterday and he told me all about his visit to Indianapolis. They spent the day Saturday doing the NFL experience in downtown Indianapolis. They had all kinds of activities for young and old alike. All of our kids and their spouses attended at some point during the weekend. They said the crowds were large but the atmosphere was like Mardi Gras and they all had a great time. Looks like Indy is going all out hosting their first Super Bowl. I know they have been preparing for this week for over a year now. Tickets to the big game can still be purchased as long as you have an extra $3,000.00 laying around. That's for one ticket in the upper decks! Yikes!
We expect a slow week here at the Hinkle Ranch and are looking forward to easing our way back into retirement mode! I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

slow Saturday

Things are slowing down here in a big way. Unfortunately they haul out the flow back water 24 hours a day. They are using 2 semi tankers that make trip after trip so every 1 1/2 to 2 hours they are either coming in or going out. They do tend to travel together which makes it a little nicer but it still interrupts my nap time :-(.
Saturday has been a slow day. Hunter from Gate Guard services was out today to replenish our tanks. We always try and have a little treat for him to enjoy on his trip back to Corrizo Springs. Today he got some trail mix, a famous Amos cookie and a cold bottle of Mountain Dew.
The flow back trucks have kept up their routine and we only had a few other visitors passing through the gate today. We have only filled in 1 page of entries which makes today the slowest day we have had in a couple of weeks.
We have heard rumors that the fracking crew will return for their vehicles sometime Sunday morning so we should have quite a parade leaving the gate. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 27, 2012

they left .... almost

The fracking is done and the crews are all packed up with nowhere to go. I was told they were going to move to another well pad just around the corner from us but the drilling rig is still there. I'm not sure what the plan is but most of the fracking equipment is on the front pad and the coil tubing equipment is parked next to the road leading to the back pad. There were crews in most of yesterday doing maintenance on the large diesel engines I photographed in yesterdays blog. They are changing the oil and fuel filters on each one so they will be ready for the next job. They worked all day Thursday and said they would be back again on Friday. The coil tubing folks are doing the same thing on the side of the road.
I did take a drive to the back pad to toss our trash bags into the dumpster and it is pretty much deserted. The flow back crew is there and we have had some semi trucks in and out hauling the waste out. They do have a "birthday candle" set up but it has not been lit yet. This is a vent pipe for natural gas and has some oil mixed in as well judging by the soot and smoke they put out when they first light them up.
For my fire department and EMS buddies I snapped a photo of the safety crew as they were leaving.
This company provides certified firefighter/paramedics that man this vehicle while the fracking process is going on. They also keep a log of all the personnel on site as well as their location in case of a catastrophe. The trailer has an ambulance body on the rear portion and a portable pump with foam for firefighting on the front portion. Pretty cool set up!
Looks like we are starting to see the beginning of the end here at the Hinkle Ranch as I anticipate they will close the gate down as soon as the flow back is completed. The company man told me this morning they are thinking it may only take a week to complete. Our plan is still to leave here on the 6th but may change if they release us earlier. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

swappin crews

Today the frack crew finished up their process' and started moving their equipment off the back pad. They have some interesting equipment they use. I wonder who came up with some of these things?
The semis that haul the big diesel motors were all moved from the back pad onto the front pad as well as the caterers trailer. They lined them all up like a military regiment on the parade grounds.
The big vertical boxes on the very front of the trailer are 2 large radiators and the rest is all engine, transmission and controls! These things have some power!
The coil tubing crew was next up to bat. They moved their equipment back to the well and "rigged up". They will clean out the well in order for the crude oil to be extracted. I am told this should only take about another day and they will tear down and head out as well.
The next process will be to regulate the flow and this lasted about 2 weeks on the front well so not sure if that is normal or not. The crew that did this last time was pretty quiet and rarely left the pad so we hardly knew they were here. The downside was they hauled out the waste water 24/7 so there was a semi tanker coming in and out about every couple of hours :-(.
We were pretty pumped that the caterer was moved closer to us. Since they arrived they have been in the middle of the chaos on the back pad. I did drive back a couple of times and pick up some meals but felt a little "out of place" being there. They opened up on the front pad and we waited until the crews had all been fed before walking over. I guess we waited too long because the cooks were just locking up the trailer and told us they were being told to shut down and would not be open again until sometime tomorrow. They felt bad we didn't get a meal and told us to be sure to come back tomorrow and they would take care of us.
We didn't have anything thawed out for supper so Rudee threw together a home made pepperoni and mushroom pizza that was absolutely perfect! She really is too nice to me :-).
We did have some rain and gusty wind last night. Luckily the rain didn't last too long so things dried out pretty quickly :-)
Things are starting to wind down here at the gate. The next couple of days should see a mass exodus of most of the workers and equipment. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"doin the shuffle"

We are still busy "frackin the tree" here on the Hinkle Ranch. During the day we have a lot of pick up trucks coming and going then in the evening hours the semi trucks hauling sand start in. They use lots and lots of sand and we have a steady stream of semis going in and out until around 2am when it slows down to a trickle for a couple of hours. Starting around 4am the pick up traffic starts up again as we approach shift change and this continues until after 6am when we get another break in the action and it slows again for a couple of hours. That has been pretty much our routine here for the last 3 days, that is until this evening. You could almost feel a change in the air. The sand trucks suddenly stopped coming and more equipment was coming out than going in. Talking to the workers confirmed that the fracking process will end either tonight or tomorrow. Sure enough several pieces of equipment arrived for the coil tubing which is the final clean out of the well and they are all staged on the front pad ready to move into position as soon as the frack rig is moved out.

I was able to get some sleep today but no more got in bed and fell asleep when I heard the rain start. Oh oh it's gonna get muddy again :-(. The rain lasted for about 45 minutes and then stopped. They are still predicting rain and storms for tonight after midnight and we even under a tornado watch so it may be a bumpy night :-0. There is a small cement bridge over a dry creek bed at the entrance to our gate which could serve as a tornado shelter if need be. There is really no other place to retreat to and I'm sure not going to try and hang out inside the 5th wheel if the big blow comes.

Tomorrow should be an interesting day with all the equipment getting shuffled around. I'll try to remember to grab the camera and get some pictures of that circus :-). I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 23, 2012

yep, we're busy :-)

The fracking has started with a vengeance on the back pad. Last time they were here doing the front pad we were right in the middle of the action since the entrance to the front pad is just a few feet from the front of our 5th wheel. The fracking process is very loud with several large diesel engines running at high rpm's plus there were workers running around all over the place. We really felt like we were more in the way than anything else. This time they are at least 1/4 mile away so the noise is a lot less and we have our own "space", Rudee and I both agree this is much better.

Vehicles have been coming and going at a steady pace. They use a lot of sand in the various fracking process' and it all has to be trucked into the site so we have been busy checking the semi trucks in and out. The crews change shifts around 5am and again 12 hours later at 5pm. They are all staying in a motel in Laredo and using a shuttle bus to commute to the site. That makes it a little easier on us versus all of them driving their personal vehicles. When the drilling rig was here their crews stayed in trailers on site but rarely was there a day when most of the crew didn't pile into cars and headed to town for several hours after their shifts ended. There are few staying on site, the company man, safety personal as well as the caterer all have trailers but they rarely travel outside the property.

The weather has been perfect the last several days with highs near or above 80 degrees and only a light breeze. Sure beats all the sleet and snow they are getting back in Indiana :-). They are calling for some showers and thunderstorms to start sometime on Tuesday and continue into Wednesday so we'll need to be ready to fight the mud again :-(. We are expecting the fracking to be completed late Tuesday or maybe Wednesday morning if all goes well and then the crew will start to tear everything down and prepare to move to the next site. Once they are all moved out it will be almost time for us to start preparing ourselves and the rig for moving on as well. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"Frackin a tree"

Friday was not too busy a day here at the gate. We figured it must be the calm before the storm since the fracking was due to arrive in the morning :-). Rudee made a run into town and picked up our mail, groceries and fast food supper. May seem strange but I am looking forward to being able to go to the store (or anywhere for that matter) together. I miss doing things with my sweety :-).
Saturday morning heavy fog rolled in making our area look a little spooky but it burned off pretty quick once the sun was up.
Shortly after taking that photo lines of trucks started arriving. The first group there we 13 semis with all kinds of odd looking equipment trailers while others carried large diesel generators that filled the entire trailer. They had no more cleared the gate when another wave arrived followed by another :-0. Needless to say we have had a busy morning and so far have checked in 23 semis and quite a few pick up trucks and two shuttle buses. They tell us they are here to "frack a tree", cracks Rudee up when they say that, not sure why? :-). Oh ya, we checked in one roach wagon too! Whoo hoo, free food :-).
We have heard they will "rig up" today and start the fracking process tomorrow. This well is the same depth as the one on the front pad so they figure the fracking will take about the same length of time which was around 4 days and then another day for tear down then the parade starts all over again. Should be a busy week for sure. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 20, 2012

"here they come"

Thursday morning I checked in my first worker for Trican which is the company doing the fracking. I told him I wasn't expecting anyone until Saturday and he said they would start arriving sometime today and that Saturday was the scheduled "rig up" day.
True to his word about 30 minutes later I heard Rudee say "here they come" and was met with a long line of semi trucks turning into our gate. The equipment and chemical trucks were the first to arrive and then all afternoon and evening we had wave after wave of trucks delivering sand. The majority of them have left with just a few stragglers back at the pad.

One thing for sure is you never know who you are going to run into out here in the giggle weeds of Texas. We were checking in vehicles the other day and a pick up truck with Louisiana plates came in and the driver said his last name was Manning. Rudee asked him if he was related to Peyton Manning. Turns out he is Peyton and Ely's cousin and they all grew up near each other. She told him we were from Indiana and he yelled "Go Colts!" as he drove toward the pad. :-)

The good thing about the fracking is they bring their own caterers and feed us really well. So far the catering truck has not arrived yet but should roll in and get set up soon. They cook three meals a day and are open 24/7 for the crew (and us too!). When they were here last time the cook and I struck up a friendship and he took really good care of us. Their menu was varied and very tasty. Rudee is looking forward to having someone else do the cooking for a change :-). I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

TV trouble

Well I am back on the night shift again :-). Last evening around 10pm we had a truck come in towing a generator powered light stand behind his pick up truck. When he checked in he said he had 2 more left to deliver and his drive time was over 1 hour round trip :-(. Oh well I knew things would start hopping the closer we get to the fracking crew arriving. They are still saying the circus train will show up Saturday morning. That's cool, we'll be ready for them.

I opened up the hide-a-bed last night and, once the "light man" had finished his deliveries a little after 2am, I was able to catch a nap. When I got up early this morning the TV was not working ... again! We have a Tailgater automatic satellite dish from Dish Network and so far it has worked fairly well. On three occasions now it has failed to acquire the satellite signal. Each time was the next morning after shutting down the generator for service. Coincidence? Who knows? Our generator was serviced yesterday and this morning "poof" no signal. I went through all the diagnostic stuff several times and everything showed we were locked onto the correct satellites and should be getting a picture ...... hmmmm. The last 2 times I fixed it by changing the cable connecting the dish to the RV. Both times the cable was slightly loose at the connections and I thought that may be the cause so I used a pair of pliers to tighten them the last time I had problems. I checked the connections and all were tight but decided to try and change the cable anyway. I got out another cable and swapped them again. This is not a new cable, I just keep swapping the same 2 cables back and forth. Once I had everything wired back up I went through the diagnostics again and BINGO, locked on and watching TV :-). The only thing I can figure out is maybe a dirty connection? The generator theory is interesting but it does not do it every time we disconnect because the generator gets serviced every 10 days or so and we have only had the problem a couple of times so I am thinking it is just a weird coincidence.

I read a blog this morning that offered some good guidelines for living your life in 2012. Permission was granted to copy and print it on the site so I am including it here.

1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees & plants & eat less food that is manufactured in plants & has to be killed, bled, cured, aged, smoked, fried, or frozen
4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.
5. Make time to pray to which ever God you believe in
6. Play more games. Feed the birds. Plant flowers or vegetables- even in a pot.
7. Read more books than you did in 2011.
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
9. Sleep for 7 hours.
10. Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile & notice your surroundings, changes in nature every day, & listen to the birds.
11. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about. Each person has their place in the scheme of life.
12. Don't have negative thoughts of things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment - do what you can to make the world around you better.
13. Don't over do it. Keep your limits. Physically, spiritually, financially or emotionally. Be humble.
14. Don't take yourself too seriously. No one else does.
15. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
16. Dream more while you are awake.
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need. This is very important
18. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. Don't blame your parents for every problem you have. That will ruin your present. We choose actions & reactions when we become adults.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others. It's easier to understand and move on.
20. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present. Yesterday is gone and you have a limited number of tomorrows.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you. It's your choice to feel happy or miserable, anger or joy, frustration or acceptance, jealousy or peace, shame or pride.
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class, but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more.
24. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
25. Call your family often.
26. Each day give something good to others.
27. Forgive everyone for everything.
28. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. What other people think of you is none of your business.
31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
32. Do the right thing!
33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
34. God heals everything.
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
37. The best is yet to come.
38. When you awake alive in the morning, thank God for it.
39. Your inner most is always happy. So, be happy.
Last but not the least: We only share this earth for a short time - why waste it on hateful thoughts and deeds when there is so much joy and happiness to discover I recommend you copy and paste this into a format that will allow you to print it out. Print out a few copies and hang one on the mirror you brush your teeth at in the morning. Hang another one on the refrigerator. Maybe one more in your car or truck so your read it each time you get in or you're sitting in traffic.If you could live by half of these items, your life would be a much better, more happier place.

I once heard that a persons character is not determined by what he does when people are watching him but what he does when they are not.

Things should continue to pick up here at the gate but we are physically and mentally ready for it! I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

accidental visitors

I am starting to get a little spoiled here at the gate. The last 3 nights there has not been any traffic from 10pm until after daybreak the following morning :-). That changed this morning when the alarm bells went off at 4am. I jumped out of bed and checked in a crane and its support vehicle. The crane is used to raise and support the fracking rig so it will not be used for another 3 days at least. The driver of the crane left 10 minutes later in the support vehicle. Really??!! You have to come in at 4am and wake me up to drop off a piece of equipment that is not needed for several days? Oh well, such is life here in the oil fields of Texas :-). Last week as the gate was starting to slow down I had a lady in a car come in shortly after 3am. We don't see a lot of cars here, mostly pick up trucks and the drivers are overwhelmingly male. She said she had to clean the office trailer on the front pad so I took down all her information and she headed back to do her thing. Ten minutes later the bell rang again as she was leaving. I went out to check her back out and she mentioned she only came in to vacuum the carpet. This office trailer had been locked and not used for at least 2 weeks but for some reason it had to be vacuumed at 3am. Sheesh!
Yesterday we had some unexpected company when a pick up truck towing a 5th wheel came into the gate. The driver hopped out and said he was lost and needed some help. I introduced myself and was happy to help out if I could. As soon as I said our names he recognized us. Turns out we had been exchanging emails for the last few weeks about gate guarding. Barry and Sharon http://finders4.blogspot.com/ are veteran full timers. They traveled and worked on the road for 10 years before buying a place in Florida where they settled down for a couple of years before heading back out on the road again to do some gate guarding. They have been assigned a gate near us and were trying to locate the entrance. The directions they were given were a little lacking, nothing new in the gate guarding business :-), and after a few phone calls they got some updated information and were able to get pointed in the right direction after a short visit.
Good luck guys and thanks for dropping by!
We are actually looking forward for the fracking crew to arrive and start their work. This will mark the beginning to the end of our gate guard season and we are looking forward to a break. We sat down yesterday and made some plans on where we want to go and how long we want to stay. Right now it looks like we will head for Del Rio to the Lake Amistad area for a few days where we can do some sight seeing before moving up towards Kerrville to catch up with some full timing friends we have not seen in a couple of years. That's the plan right now but of course they are written in jello and are subject to change! I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 16, 2012

workin for the weekend

We have actually had a little traffic at our gate today after another quiet night. There has been a crew in making preparations for the fracking to start. They said there has been a slight delay though and the frac crew will not be here until Saturday. This crew will be working today, taking tomorrow off and then will come back Thursday and move into the housing units for the fracking.
Rudee made the comment that she was happy they are waiting until Saturday because the week ends are "boring". What??!! Boring??!! We have always looked forward to week ends back in our 9-5 slave away for "the man" days. Now all of a sudden week ends are boring? Well I have to agree. Even though our current gig as gate guards is a 24/7 job and we really don't have any days off the week ends do seem to go a little slower than other days. I guess the gate is typically a little slower on the week ends and there is not much on TV so things do tend to drag a little Saturday and Sunday.
I read a lot of fulltimers blogs and most tend to avoid doing a lot on the week ends since the stores, restaurants, tourist areas and highways are filled with the working folks trying to enjoy their days off. I guess I still have that "Monday -Friday 9-5" mindset but I'll work on it. :-)

The temperature today was downright balmy! 80 degrees in the middle of January :-) gotta love it!
The rest of the week looks nice as well. We are looking at another 3 more weeks here at the gate and with the fracking going on we are looking forward to our time flying by! I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

lazy day

We have visitors! Don Smith, a fellow gate guard, dropped by for a visit. We have been communicating via RV.net Forum but had never met face to face that we knew of. Don and his wife Shar are from Lebanon and went fulltime after he retired. We had a nice visit comparing gate guard notes and hearing about some of their travels. Hard to believe that there are 3 gates being manned by people from the same small town in Indiana within a 20 mile radius of each other here in South Texas :-).
The crane pulled out mid morning along with the operators. This left us with only the company man back at the well site. He came out for supper and said he would return and spend the night but he didn't anticipate any other traffic. I needed to take the trash back to the dumpster on the pad and since it was slow Rudee grabbed the clipboard and we both hopped in the truck to take a little ride. The pad is only about 1/2 mile from the gate and this ranch is wide open so we could see if anyone was coming in while we took our little tour. There really wasn't much to see but they do have the "frack tree" attached to the well pipe, all we need now is the crew and all their equipment. They use a mixture of sand, water and chemicals under very high pressure to fracture the underground rock. The water is provided by a reservoir they made here on the ranch but the sand and chemicals are all trucked in.
Sure enough the company man was the only one we checked in the rest of the evening. We enjoyed the quiet time watching TV and ended up going to bed shortly after 10:30 and the next thing I knew it was getting daylight outside. It sure felt good to sleep the entire night with no interruptions.

Sunday has turned out to be another lazy day. As of this writing (7pm) we have only 4 entries on our sheet. That is the slowest day we've had since arriving at the gate. I took a nice walk down the county road that runs adjacent to our gate. I guess I was all tuckered out from the walk because I took a 2 hour nap after getting back! :-)

They are still saying the frack crew will not be arriving until Tuesday so we are anticipating another slow day tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.

ps: Maximillion, Thanks for your comments on yesterdays entry but I accidently deleted it when I tried to add it to the post ....... sorry :-(

Saturday, January 14, 2012

another crew out

As predicted the temperatures were downright COLD overnight dropping into the upper 20's. I had disconnected the water supply and drained the hose. Once the sun was up Friday morning the temps rose at a steady pace and I was able to hook everything back up before I laid down for some rest.

Friday afternoon was my "going to town" day. Rudee had made a list of the groceries we needed and I made a stop at the post office before heading to the super market. I really shouldn't go to the store when I am hungry. I got everything on the list but also some candy, chips and few other "unhealthy snacks" somehow found their way into my cart :-).
I stopped at McDonalds and picked us up some supper and headed back to the 5th wheel. OK, I hear ya, not good having snacks and fast food but I can be bad just once a week can't I?
Once I got back I unhooked the water once again since the temps were heading down below 30 degrees again. Hopefully this will be the last time for at least another week :-)

Early Saturday morning the crew working on the well all started filing out of the gate. By 8:30 there were only a couple of workers and a large crane left on the pad. Another process completed and another crew heading out to their next job. We are expecting the fracking crew to arrive any day now. Last time they all arrived in one big convoy and since it is the same company doing this second well we figure they will all show up at once, just not sure when that will be but I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

more up and downs

This time the up and down is the temperatures! Yesterday the high was 80 degrees and nice, now that's the kind of weather we like in January. Last evening though the wind picked up as a front moved through and the temps dropped down to 40 degrees.
The wind howled most of the night and the 5th wheel rocked back and forth with each gust. The wind causes some things to go "bump" in the night and several times I was awake trying to figure out "what's that noise?".
Today is supposed to be in the low 50's and they have issued a freeze warning for tonight with lows in the low 30's or upper 20's. Brrrr!
I was treated to a nice sunrise this morning.
The work continues on the back pad getting ready for the fracking crew to arrive. I have had a steady stream of people arriving this morning. We have heard the coil tubing crew will be back in as early as today and the fracking crew sometime this week end. I know we will be extremely busy during the fracking and frankly am ready to get it started so we can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

hurry up and wait

We have had some interesting activity here at the gate in the last couple of days. Monday evening the company man left and we were all alone here at the site. We didn't expect to have any activity so I decided to try sleeping upstairs again. We had no more gotten in bed and was just dozing off when someone knocked on the door! We have infrared driveway sensors that pick up 99% of any movement going past the sensors as well as the bell alarms that ring when driven over. The first thing we thought of was "illegals" looking for a hand out. I looked out the dining room window and there was a semi truck parked out by the highway and the truck driver was lost and needed directions. I'm not sure why the sensors didn't pick him up when he walked by and I had no idea where the ranch was he was trying to find so I had to send him on down the road still lost :-(.

We have had a few crews in that were "prepping" the back pad. I'm not sure what kind of prep work needs to be done but this morning a convoy of trucks came in with "coil tubing" written on the sides. This is the first stage of the fracking process and they were not happy campers. I guess they were told to get here this morning and get set up at the well site and start their work. On their way here they were told to just park the equipment on the front pad and leave because the back well was not ready yet. I talked to the supervisor and he said they did not even have the well capped yet and there was just a "pipe in a hole in the ground". He said they would be back in a few days.
There have also been several of the oil company reps in and, judging by their demeanor, they have not been happy. I think someone has dropped the ball somewhere because equipment keeps arriving and they are putting everything on the front pad until they can complete their work on the back pad. Last word we have gotten is the fracking may not start until Monday. Guess we will just wait and see.

We got a phone call from our friend Jimmy Owens who lives in Indiana. They are in Texas staying with family while Jimmy gets some medical issues taken care of, He was just diagnosed with cancer that was found in his thyroid. They are still trying to determine the extent of the cancer and course of treatment but Jimmy sounded upbeat and ready for the fight. Good luck, buddy we are with you and ready to help out any way we can.

I am enjoying the quiet nights but know they will end soon and we will be back to our busy selves again. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Calm before the storm

Sunday was another busy day with the big trucks passing in and out of our gate all day. Finally around 5:00pm they said they were making their final trip. Shortly afterwards the crew all came parading out the gate. Since the rig is being moth balled the crew is being scattered to other rigs to work. We sent them each away with a small treat and I think they were all a little sad to be leaving us. Funny how you can get to know some of them in just the few minutes you get to talk when they check in and out of the gate.
Rudee made a home made pizza for supper and we enjoyed a quiet evening watching TV and catching up on blogs. We did not have a single vehicle after 7pm and the only one left at the drill site was the company man.
Since it was such a quiet evening I decided to try and sleep in the big bed tonight hoping there would be no vehicles overnight. That turned out to be a pretty good decision and we both slept well.
I got up around 6am this morning and had a crew come in shortly afterwards to do some work on the pad preparing for the fracking crew.
The gate has been pretty slow so far today with a few caliche' trucks coming in. They are also moving the housing units out today and we have had a couple of trucks coming and going to get that accomplished.
The rain they were predicting has not materialized here. The radar shows rain around us but we have been lucky so far with just a few sprinkles.
We have not heard for sure when the parade of fracking equipment will arrive. On one hand we are enjoying the quiet but on the other hand the quicker they get here, the quicker that circus will be over with. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

saying goodbye to our "nabors"

Sometime during the day on Friday they lowered the rig to the ground so our skyline is changing. No more "lights in the sky" although there is still the normal glow of all the ground lights the night crew uses.
Friday night was a slow night which has been a rare occurrence on our gate. I did not have any vehicles between midnight and 5am and got some quality sack time in the hide-a-bed :-).
Saturday morning started as a typical day with a couple of the commuting workers arriving. Then the flood gates opened and semi trucks started arriving towing low boy trailers. The rig move was on!
I quickly filled a page of arriving trucks and personal involved in loading and moving the drilling rig. At one point Rudee, still in her pajamas, poked her nose out the door to see what all the noise was about :-). I'm glad I got all that rest, I needed it for this flurry of activity!
The trucks were loaded and started exiting the gate late in the morning. They would make several trips in and out today. Here is the main control room of Nabors 768 heading out.
The trucks returned again late in the day and all the drivers left in pick up trucks. The crew will load the last pieces of the rigs tonight and the drivers will return to take the last of the rig away in the morning.
We did get some good information. We can stay put here for at least another month. Fracking is supposed to start right away with equipment moving in as early as Monday. Should be a busy week next week but then will slow down significantly once the fracking is done. Gives us something to look forward to :-). This should work out very well for our time table and we are grateful for that.
The downside to the fracking crew arriving on Monday is they are predicting a 60% chance of rain :-O! The rest of the week is supposed to be dry with sunshine so maybe whatever gets wet will dry quickly. We are keeping our fingers crossed because you know how we just love the caliche' mud!! I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

trip to Cotulla

The gate has been extremely busy the last 2 days as expected. The rig should be coming down soon and there are several companies here doing their thing to prepare for the big move. We have been filling 4 pages a day since Monday and it shows no sign of letting up soon. The front pad has slowed down however and the crew working there is moving out. The big birthday candle that has been burning for the last couple of weeks has been blown out. I hope Rudee made a wish because I missed the party and she didn't save me any cake either! :-)

I drove into Cotulla today for our weekly grocery run and mail drop. My paycheck was there but our mail packet from Indiana has not arrived yet so we will have to drive in again and pick that up. We call the UPS store and request our mail to be forwarded every Monday and so far it has arrived on Thursday. Since a lot of people were off Monday that could have slowed things down this week. I'm not sure if the post office was even open Monday since we don't see a lot of mailmen out here in our neck of woods :-).

We got a little information today on the rig move. Looks like they will be fracking the new well as soon as they can, possibly as early as late next week so it is likely we may be staying put for a little while longer. We are not looking forward to the hub bub of the fracking but it will only last for about a week and then they will move on. We are hoping that the process will be similar to the front well and they will have a small crew here to regulate the flow for a couple of weeks after fracking. That should put us close to our target date to hitch up and move out for some R & R. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

The weather has been pretty nice with temperatures in the upper 60's during the day and into the 40's at night. They are predicting even warmer temps for the next few days which makes us both ready for a nice long motorcycle ride! Hopefully next month will be even nicer and we can get the bike out experience Texas on two wheels. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

ups and downs

The life of a gate guard has a lot of ups and downs. I don't mean the emotional ups and downs of mood swings (although Rudee may disagree LOL) but physically hauling your butt up and down. Seems like I check in one vehicle, get back inside the 5th wheel, sit down and "ding, ding" another one shows up. Jump to your feet, back out the door and down the steps. There does seem to be a pattern though, 5am to 8am is usually a busy time and noon to 3pm is another. There is always a rush shortly after 6pm when the shifts change and the crew heads to town for groceries, dinner or "liquid refreshments". We are out in the open here and I have gotten in the habit of checking both directions for vehicles before heading back inside the 5th wheel. Often I can cheat an "up, down" by spying approaching headlights and sometimes I just get funny looks from the occupants of the vehicles wondering why I am standing outside with a clip board in my hand watching them pass by on the highway :-)!

The drilling is done here and there has been a flurry of activity at the rig. We have had semi truck tankers hauling "mud" in and out for the last couple of days. They will start tearing the rig down soon and I am anticipating the big cranes and low boy trucks to arrive soon. They use the large crane to lower the rig onto the trucks so they can move it on down the highway. Once everything is loaded the big parade starts.

No new news (or even new rumors) on what will happen here. I don't know if they will close this gate down or continue paying to have it attended. I am assuming it will depend on the fracking schedule. Should have some information soon, otherwise we will be the only ones left here :-). Talking with other gate guards this is not unusual and the notice to move is often given at the last minute. We can be ready to roll in fairly short order. Give us an hour and we can have this circus wagon pretty well buttoned up and road worthy. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 2, 2012

learning pains

I'm a planner. I like to know where I am going and what I am going to be doing when I get there. I'm trying to learn to be flexible but it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks :-). This gate guarding life is not suited for a planner since so many things seem to be done or decided at the last minute. I'm doing my best to learn to "go with the flow".
I have been "working the beat" trying to get information on what the immediate future holds here at the gate from just about anyone who is patient enough to answer my questions. The rumors are running like wild fire and know one seems to have any firm information on what will happen. Rudee is my alter ego, she can "go with flow" and I think I am driving her nuts :-). I guess opposites do attract :-)
One thing for sure, there is still work to be had as a gate guard so there is no need for me to sweat it out trying to figure everything out before it happens. As Rudee reminds me, "patience big boy".

Sunday night and Monday morning are shift changes which keeps our gate busy. I had several of the workers coming in overnight. I'm not sure why they show up at 1am for their 6am start time, seems like they are making it a little harder on themselves than it has to be.

The temperatures are supposed to be near or below freezing tonight so I disconnected the power to the water pump and drained the hose that connects our 5th wheel to the large tank outside. We will run off our on board tank for the night. They are saying the rest of the week will be warmer with sunny skies. Now that's the kind of winter we like! I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

TV woes

During the night shift here I am able to catch a nap occasionally. I usually pull the the sofa sleeper out and snooze for however long I can between "dings" of our driveway bell. Friday night I had a few semi trucks in and out but for the most part it was quiet and I got a nice 2 hour nap in. When I got up around 5am there was no signal from our satellite dish. This is not uncommon when the nights are cool and the case of our tailgater automatic dish gets covered in heavy dew or frost. Usually all it takes is a quick wipe down of the case and it starts working again. I have the unit sitting on the roof of the 5th wheel at the top of our ladder attached to the back end. I climbed the ladder, with towel in hand, and cleaned the case off really good but I still could not get a picture on the TV. I tried all the suggested reset procedures and nothing worked so I gave in and called Dish Network for some help. They had me check a couple of things that showed I was getting a signal so the only thing they could suggest is to contact the manufacturer of the dish unit itself and gave me their number. Then they dropped the bomb the the manufacturer was only available Monday - Friday 9-5 and I would have to wait until Monday to call :-(.
I decided to check a few more things on my own since Sunday was a holiday and there was no guarantee they would even be open Monday. I climbed the ladder and brought the dish down to ground level. I then changed out the coax with a different one in case that was the problem. When I removed the coax I noticed the ends were not completely tight .... hmmmm. I then reset the system again and BINGO, we had TV again! Another disaster averted and it only took me two hours :-).
The drilling has now reached "TD" according to the crew. Took me awhile to figure out that TD means total depth :-). They are now ready to start cementing the well pipe in place and several semi trucks arrived last night hauling the cement. This usually takes a couple of days and then they will tear the rig down and haul it away later this week. We have not heard if the fracking process will start right away or at all. There are just too many rumors flying around right now to get a straight answer from anyone. Guess we'll just take it a day at a time.
No big New Years Eve party here at the gate. Rudee did stay up to watch the New Year come in and of course I kissed my bride at the stroke of midnight. You have to end the old year and start the new year on the right foot :-).
We have not made any New Year resolutions, guess we are trying to learn to "go with flow". We are looking forward to the New Year and new experiences. Should be a fun ride! I'll keep you posted.