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

Monday, January 28, 2013

this is for the birds!

The gate continues to be slow overnight and only moderate during the daylight hours. This leaves us with lots of time on our hands. We keep ourselves occupied by reading on the Kindle, surfing the web, watching a lot of TV and doing some small projects.
A few days ago Rudee mentioned we had a full bag of sunflower seeds that a worker had given us last year while on the gate. She thought about sprinkling them on the ground across the road from the motor home to attract some birds to keep us company. I had a better idea, how about we fix up a bird feeder. How do you make a bird feeder you ask? Well we had no idea either but this is what we came up with :-).

That is a metal pie pan that once held a chocolate pudding pie with graham cracker crust yum! I punched four holes in the sides of the pan with my pocket knife and inserted two metal rods made by cutting a coat hanger. I used a tie wrap to hold the coat hanger pieces where they crossed in the middle of the pan and then tied a piece of clothesline to hang our new feeder from a nearby tree limb.
I quickly found out it was way too windy and the bird feeder blew all around like a kite. I tried adding some rocks to weigh it down but realized that wasn't going to work either. Rudee found a nice perch for it in a nearby bush where we can still see it but it is a lot more secure. She put some of the seeds in and we are waiting for our first visitors. :-)

Here is a shot of Rudee all dressed up waiting on the bell to ring.

We are enjoying the quiet here at our little corner of the world. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

end of the road for us

No we are not giving up full timing, our gate is at the very end if a lonely dirt road so I thought that would be a nice title for a post. :-)
There is one house on our road about 1/2 way between us and the paved road otherwise we are all alone out here. The traffic has been light with no activity after dark so I shut the gate once everyone leaves and so far have not been bothered overnight. I get up about 5:30am, open the gate and the first workers tend to arrive between 6 and 6:30. I sure hope this continues for awhile, I could really get used to it! I'm sure things will pick up around here soon though and my lazy nights will come to an end.

Yesterday I made our first supply run into Cotulla. The drive takes about 40 minutes and I timed it so I could go to the weekly gathering of gate guards at one of the restaurants in town. I found out about it through the myoldrvforum which is a virtual gathering place for gate guards and people interested in the work.
We met at JJ's Country Store Restaurant and it was packed! We had to wait for 30 minutes before enough room opened up to get us seated. I enjoyed meeting and talking with the other guys and the food was pretty good too. Next week will be the ladies turn to meet so Rudee is already looking forward to it.

After lunch I made a stop at the post office and then the grocery store. Outside the store they have a kiosk to refill water bottles, .25 per gal jug or $1.00 for a 5 gal jug. I refilled all of our empties and then refilled the Dakota's gas tank in their gas station. This store is a pretty handy stop for sure.
As I was pumping gas I checked my phone and saw that I had a missed call and voice mail. The number was a Texas number that I didn't recognize. I listened to the message and it was Rudee. Seems she went outside to answer the bell and somehow when she shut the door behind her it locked! Her keys and cell phone were all inside and she was stuck outside. She borrowed a cell phone from one of the workers so I didn't worry of I called her phone and couldn't get an answer.
Before I made it back to the motorhome she had been able to open a screen and, using our step ladder, reach through the window and unlock the door. We now have a key hidden on the outside of the motorhome :-)
So far we are enjoying our location here in the boonies and looking forward to the boost in the bank account. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 21, 2013

working for a livin

Saturday morning we met with Josh who was going to lead us over to our gate and get us set up on the generator, septic system and our water tank. He had a "generator emergency" he had to take care of first but promised to be back in a couple of hours.
We hung out in the yard and eventually met fellow guards Terry and Debby Tirey. They had been on a gate for several months and when that job ended they came back into the yard to wait to be sent out again. These two are veteran full timers having been on the road for over 10 years. They have worked at several jobs and we enjoyed hearing about their experiences.
Josh returned around noon and we got on the road to the gate. The drive only took about 30 minutes before we turned off the main road onto the "ranch road" to our gate. We are 2 miles down this rutty, rough, narrow road.

I worked at getting our motor home set up while Josh worked on positioning and hooking up our utilities. Rudee helped me in between checking people in and out. The weather was nice and we could work in our short sleeves. Josh finished his work and left us on our own. I worked until the sun got really low in the sky but got most of our "stuff" done as well as all of our "gate guard stuff" out and set up. I positioned our driveway alerts that we carry to give us a little more notice of vehicles coming in and out. Another preparation was hooking our external "extend-a-stay" LP tank up. The motor home has a large on board LP tank that, when needing filled, requires you to drive the entire rig to the LP supplier. One way around this is to install the "extend-a-stay" T connection to hook up a portable tank, thus bypassing the on board tank. We carry two extra tanks, one 30 lb and one 20 lb, that we can use for either the grille in the summer time or to supply the coach in times like this. Here is a photo of the connection that I bought at Camping World.

I installed it myself and it was very easy to do, just remember to check for leaks at all the connections when your done. Better safe than sorry. :-o

We are settled in and getting back into the groove of answering the bell! I'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 18, 2013

heading to work

Thursday, after not hearing anything from the gate guard company. I asked Rudee if she wanted to take a little ride and drop in on them. I wanted to get an update on any possible work and had put out some feelers with some of the other companies down here and didn't want to leave them hanging. We made the hour and half drive and found the office/storage yard where our supervisor has his office. We found him inside and got caught up with everything that has happened since we saw him last spring. He is a really nice guy and we like working for him, plus he is a native Hoosier too!
While we were talking he asked if we were ready for a gate? Well heck ya! Turns out one of the guards is taking a break so we are going to take over their gate on Saturday. Hooray, we are back to work and making some $$. I was starting to get a little worried there, it's been a long 2 weeks of waiting.

We packed up our motorhome this morning and moved to the company yard where they have some room for us to boondock and then tomorrow morning we will move to the gate. We are going to be near Big Wells, Texas and I'm not sure if we will be able to pull in an internet signal or not so my posts may become a little sporadic. Hopefully we can get a signal at the site once we get our booster set up so I can keep in contact with everyone.

Tomorrow will be our first day of work and moving day to the gate, well see how all that goes. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

still sittin'

We are still sitting here waiting on work. :-(
The gate guard companies are slowly putting people out on the gates and we are hopeful we will get an assignment soon. In the meantime we have been taking advantage of the down time.
Saturday was "supposed" to be nice with partly cloudy skies and temps in the low 70's. Perfect for a motorcycle ride.
We woke up to thick gray clouds and the streets were really wet. We must have slept through the rain but it looked like it was going to be a damp type of day. We decided to go ahead and ride, hoping the sun would peek out and dry everything up.
Our route took us to Bandera, Texas which boasts itself as the "cowboy capitol". There are a few stores along main street as well as a couple of restaurants. We did some browsing in the shops and shared a really big (and good!) burrito at Old Spanish Trail  Restaurant. Not only did we each eat our fill but we had enough left over to make another meal!
The sun still had not made it's appearance but that didn't dampen our spirits any, it has been too long since we got to explore on the bike.
I took the long way back to the motorhome, enjoying our ride through some of the Texas Hill Country. Stopping at a car wash was a must though.

the "before"

and the "after"

Once back at the motorhome we loaded the bike back up on the lift and put the cover back on. The weather is supposed to turn colder for the next week and we wanted to be ready to head out for work if needed.
As predicted the weather did turn cold with lows in the upper 20's, in fact yesterday I switched out the "summer" water hose for our heated "winter" hose :-o.
I did brave the elements, if you can call temps in the upper 50's elements :-), and added some sealer to the roof of the motorhome. With the heavy rain we got last week we discovered a small leak in the front somewhere. The leak was not very big and we would only have an occasional drip from the front TV cabinet but I wanted to get it fixed before it got worse.
I had a tube of Dicor sealant and it took the entire tube to seal the front cap, clearance lights and windshield. We'll have to wait for the next rain to see if I fixed it or not. I would normally just take a hose up and run some water to simulate rain but they are pretty particular about water use in this part of the country so I'll wait for mother nature to test it for me. :-)

We got some bad news about our step-grandchild Lexy yesterday. She had an appointment with her surgeon and her fingers are not healing, in fact they determined that they would not heal and will need to be amputated and they scheduled her surgery for Friday. We are still in a state of shock since the reports from her Mother had been so positive and full of good news. She seems to be taking things in stride and will come through this just fine I'm sure. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

no drought here!

The last couple of days have been very wet. We have not had any severe weather, just lots of rain. We are parked at Quiet Texas RV Park II in D'Hanis, Texas. The original park is in nearby Hondo. I talked to the owner and he explained he built the original one several years ago and it stayed full with oil field and other traveling workers (like us!). Last year a pipeline company rented out most of his sites and told him they would be back this year and next as well. They also indicated if he had room to expand they could use more sites. He decided to purchase this acreage and another park was born. The downside is the Texas DNR made the pipeline company move their construction to another area due to some kind of endangered lizard in this area so no pipe line workers :-o.
The park is not huge but is nicely laid out. There is a workcamper here that keeps an eye on things and does the landscaping. The majority of the sites are gravel pull through, full hook up sites no cable, but really fast (and free!) WIFI. There is a small amount of grass between sites and each one has a picnic table. The park is a Passport America Park and offers the 50% discount for 3 days. We indicated to the owner we would like to stay for 4 days and he extended the offer an additional day which we appreciated. D'Hanis has a small store, post office and a couple of restaurant/tavern combos. There is also a gas station and small market nearby. Hondo is just a short drive away where you can find a Super Wal Mart and just about any other kind of store or service you may need.

A few days ago I woke up and the rig was a little colder than I thought it should be. I bumped the thermostat up and nothing happened ..... Oh oh! I checked all the fuses which were fine and our propane tank was full so that was the extent of my diagnostic abilities, time to call the professionals. I checked the internet and found Mathew's Mobile RV repair who happened to live in the only other RV park right here in D'Hanis. :-)
We made arrangements for them to come over and check the furnace this morning. They arrived shortly after 9am and started removing panels to get to the "brains" of the furnace. Once all the panels were removed and the technician had access to the circuit board he started testing all the electrical circuits. Power was good into the board but nothing coming out so he replaced the board and "voila" we have heat again. :-)
While I was out with the technician Rudee had the bright idea to call the dealership where we bought the motorhome to see if they would do anything for us. Good thing she did because our salesman said, "no problem" and paid for the repairs directly to the repairman. Cool!

Once the furnace was fixed I got the urge to do a project myself. We need to have some "landing pads" for our hydraulic jacks to "land" on. You can buy some really nice molded plastic ones but I really didn't see the need to spend extra $$ when I could "improvise"! :-)
Here is what I came up with.

The plywood was some scrap I had on hand. The rope handles are from Rudee's clothes line. Shhhhhh, don't tell her! :-)
The plastic pieces are cutting boards purchased at Wal Mart and attached to the plywood with screws. Here they are in action.

We are still waiting on a gate assignment and are not in any real hurry until it dries out some more. Tonight is our last night at this campground and we will be moving to the Escapees Park just up the road tomorrow. They have a special going on right now for 50% off their weekly rate for the first week as long as you are a first time visitor. I figure as long as we stay at least 3 days we wont be losing any $$ if we get called out before our week is up so, right now, we are planning on taking advantage of the special. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 7, 2013

winds of change

Friday morning we were up and on the road by 9am. The weather promised to be a much better day with only cloudy skies and just a light breeze.
We headed west on I-10 through Mobile and were soon in Mississippi. I stopped for fuel at a Flying J and we also filled with propane. Rudee suggested we go ahead and fill up the Dakota too since the RV lanes at Flying J also have both diesel and unleaded pumps. I felt a little odd to be pumping gas into a truck that was being towed but what the hey!

I have an i-phone that is set to alert me when I get new emails. The alert sounded so Rudee checked the phone and found an email from Joan and Steve fellow fulltimers whose blog I follow: FOSJ
They were also westbound driving back to Vegas to pick up their rig after spending the Holidays with family in Florida. They just wanted to see where we were going to land for the night and if they were close by we could actually meet face to face instead of just through our blogs.
Rudee gave them our itinerary and a plan came together pretty quickly. 
We pulled up for the night shortly before 5pm in Beaumont Texas. Hidden Lake RV Resort is a Passport America campground that had good reviews. The office staff were very friendly and we had a nice long pull through site with full hook ups for $17.50. 
Our plan was to spend the night and meet Joan and Steve at a nearby Cracker Barrel for breakfast before hitting the road again. 
Saturday morning we woke up to heavy rain and, looking at the radar, we were not going to be dry anytime soon. We quickly decided to stay another night and let the weather clear up.
We arrived at Cracker Barrel and were getting a table when Steve and Joan walked in. I recognized them right away from their blog pictures :-).
We had a great visit with these fine folks. They both ride motorcycles and are fulltimers so we had a lot in common. We swapped stories and experiences for most of the morning. I'm sure the restaurant was wondering if we were ever going to leave but eventually we said our goodbyes. 
Thanks for meeting up with us guys, we'll need to get together again real soon!

Sunday morning the weather had improved so we hit the road again. 
You might ask, where are these two headed? Well here is our plans for the immediate future. As you know we have been through training and one 10 day assignment as Roving Storage Unit Managers. When not on assignment we are paid a very minimal wage if we don't work for an entire month. This "stand by" pay only lasts for two months and then we are placed in "part time" status with no pay unless we are actually working. I guess business has been running smooth and the need for roving managers has decreased some since we have not worked since the first week of October and our "stand by" pay ended on Jan 1. 
We have decided to head back to the oil fields and do some gate guarding to generate some substantial income to build our finance's back up. We have communicated our availability with our old supervisor and he is working on getting us a gate. Right now there are a couple of workers ahead of us to be deployed but he expects additional gates to come open very soon and wants us close by and ready to go, so we are headed that way. 

Right now we are parked just off I-10 at http://www.riverbendrvpark.com/ another Passport America park. We thought about staying a few days here but the park is nothing special so we paid for Sunday night and plan to move southwest of San Antonio later today. 
Once we got set up I looked up another blogger, http://whatsupwithsusanandcompany.blogspot.com/ who we have talked with on the phone occasionally.
I knew she was workcamping somewhere in Texas and it turns out she was only about 10 miles up the road!
We gave her a call to make sure she was home and wanted visitors and headed out to meet her and her guard dog Angel. :-)
We had a nice visit at Susan's and she followed us back to Lulling, Texas to Blake's Cafe for dinner where we continued our visit. 

One of the really nice things about blogging is meeting other bloggers! We already know a lot about them and it feels like we are getting together with old friends instead of meeting "strangers". :-)

On the home front, Lexy was released from the hospital Friday afternoon and is home recovering. She is in very good spirits and looking forward to school starting again. 

We will be pulling up stakes soon and heading a little closer to the drilling rigs. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

blame it on me

Well I guess I'll take the blame, looks like I was dragging some cold weather along with me on the drive down from Indiana. We had one "decent" day of temps on New Years Day when the thermometer reached the low 70's. Rudee and I took advantage and was able to to take a nice ride in the morning before the rains moved in.

Wednesday was cold and windy so we decided to drive over and visit Fort Morgan on Mobile Bay. The fort was built in 1833 and it's guns guarded the entrance to the bay through several wars. The Civil War brought fighting and bloodshed right to it's doorstep and it was the last major port captured by the Union forces. Perhaps you are familiar with the phrase "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" well that order was given as the Union Navy attacked this fort. Torpedoes in those days were actually floating mines placed in the harbor, quite a bit different than the ones we are familiar with in modern times.
We paid our $7 each to enter the park and our first stop was the visitor center. Getting out of the Dakota we were met with this sight

yep, those are the Blue Angels practicing their air show routine. Cool!
We toured the displays they had inside and then walked into the Fort itself. The wind sure was blowing hard and it made it feel twice as cold as it actually was so we didn't dilly dally much but did get to visit the interesting areas inside.

Wednesday we had planned on moving down the road a little bit but when we woke up to rain showers our plans changed. Tomorrow is supposed to be a nicer day for traveling so we will take advantage and change our view a little bit.

We got some exceptional news today. The surgeon says Lexy will be keeping her fingers! The circulation has improved significantly and they are starting to talk about letting her go home soon. We are so relieved, I know she still has a lot of work ahead of her with additional therapy to help her gain movement and flexibility but she is one tough young lady! Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers! I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

just chillin

Thursday morning we woke up to a lot better weather and more importantly no wind. Pulling out of the Cullman Campground we headed south. I can report that the roads in Birmingham have not improved any since our last trip through ........ bumpity bump bump. We took it slow and came through OK.
The traffic was not too bad and we made decent time arriving at our new home around 2pm.

We have belonged to Escapees for several years now and have stayed in their park in Bushnell, Florida a few times. This is our first time here at Rainbow Plantation and I am impressed. The sites are very roomy with full hookups. The downsides are the sites are all back in with just dirt/sand with a little grass mixed in and their WIFI is TengoNet that is a "pay to use" set up.
All in all it is a very nice park with friendly people.

Once we got backed in and set up I went to unload the motorcycle. I pulled the proper pins, hooked up the control box and pressed the down button. Nothing happened ..... nada ..... zilch.
Hmmmm, I double checked all the pins were out, electrical connections were good, the thing just would not go down. I tried the up button and the motor would engage but since it was all the way up nothing moved.
I tried the only thing I could think of. I got on the lift and bounced it some pressing the down button. Still nothing and it was after 5pm in Ohio so I was going to have to wait until tomorrow to talk to the company. CRAP!
Friday morning I was up and dressed early. I called the company while I stood beside the lift ready to try any and all suggestions. I explained my predicament and they had a solution ...... shake it!
Well, OK then, I shook it ... hard .... and guess what? It came down just like it was supposed to. :-)
They thought it might have been either a small metal spur or some dirt/road debri got in the mechanism causing a problem. Either way I raised and lowered it several more times with no issues.

We did make the drive over to Mobile and toured the USS Alabama.

That is one big ship with some great big guns on it! I could not even imagine the noise inside that steel ship when those big guns let loose. :-o

There is also a WWII submarine on display and we walked through it as well. I even have a nice knot on my head from one of the bulkheads in the sub ......... ouch!

Sunday we visited the Navy Flight Museum at Pensacola, Florida. They had a lot of nice displays and the best part is the cost .... FREE!

We ushered in the New Year last night watching TV in the motorhome. We thought about going to the clubhouse where they were having a party from 7-9pm but neither one of us felt "sociable" so we stayed home and enjoyed each others company. :-)

On a much sadder note we got a call Saturday that our step grand daughter, Lexy, was working with her Dad gathering firewood when she got her hand caught in the hydraulic log splitter and amputated two fingers on her left hand. She had a long surgery to re-attach them and so far things are going well. She is regaining some feeling to the fingers but the veins are not working as good as they hoped so the blood is not returning as fast as it should. They have a lot of confidence in the hospital and doctors so all we can do is keep her in our prayers. She has handled this very well and I am impressed at how strong this 13 year old young lady is. I will keep you posted.