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

Monday, March 31, 2014

up, up and away!

Shortly after finishing my last blog entry I headed for bed since I had been up all night letting a couple tanker trucks in the gate. They would come in, load up whatever they were hauling and leave about an hour after arriving. They would return anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour later and kept this up for most of the night. I had only been to bed a couple of hours when Rudee came in and woke me up telling me our supervisor had called and our gate was being shut down and had to be off the gate no later than 4 pm. She had already started getting the inside ready for travel and I begin tearing down all the outside stuff. The temperature was in the 90's and this didn't help much but by 2 pm we were ready to roll. Our first stop was only 18 miles up the road at the Chevy dealership in Dilley Texas. We needed to get the motor home inspected for our Texas registration and they had a large enough parking lot to make it an easy in and out procedure. This was our last task to change our residency and we are now "officially" Texans! :-)

Leaving Dilley we headed to the small town of D'Hanis, Texas. For those of you who belong to the Escapee's RV Club this is the location of their co-op park, Lone Star Corral. There is also a small but fairly new Passport America Park located nearby as well and this is where we were heading. Calling the park they said they restricted the 50% PPA rate to three days but when I told them we were hoping to stay five days they were very nice and said they would go ahead and honor the discount for our full stay. We have been Passport America members for several years and paid the additional $$'s and purchased lifetime memberships. The 50% discount at the participating parks has saved us a bunch of money on our travels. Our membership has paid for itself several times over and we never have to pay dues again! We have found that when traveling it is usually cheaper for us to stay at a PPA park for a night instead of boondocking at the local Wal Mart. We can often find the parks near our routes for as little as $10-$15 per night with full hook ups and rarely do I make it out of a Wal Mart for less then $20! :-)

We pulled into Quiet Texas RV Park just after 4 pm and the thermometer on the rig said it was 96 degrees outside! Needless to say it didn't take me long to get the rig parked and set up! The park has just one loop with pull through sites in the middle of the loop. There is no laundry, bath house, pool or even an office but the sites are long, level, full hook up sites with some smaller shade trees scattered about. We even have grass which is a welcome sight after all the dust we have been living in! This is a no frills type of park for sure but the price is right at $15 per night and we are close to several of our friends. The hill country is just a short 30 minute motorcycle ride away and if we need to do any shopping we can head for Hondo east of us or Uvalde which is to the west.
Once we were set up I took a quick shower and we headed to a nearby restaurant for our first dinner out together in almost two months! D'Hanis is home to Bill and Rosa's Steakhouse and we wanted to give it a try.  D'Hanis is also known for their brick manufacturing so all the buildings in town are built with bricks made locally.

The restaurant had good reviews and we were not disappointed. We shared a New York Strip Steak with all the trimmings and enjoyed listening to the "one man band" who entertained us with music throughout our meal.  Yep, this place is a winner and exactly what we were needing after a long stretch of gate guarding! :-)

Our plans for the next few days will be to connect with a few friends who are nearby, do some bike riding and just "get back to normal". I'll keep you posted.

Friday, March 28, 2014

winding down

We survived another "frac" here in the oil patch. Once the wells are drilled a large crew arrives and does a process called Hydraulic Fracturing or "fracking" for short. The process includes many different "stages" where different chemicals mixed with water and sand are pumped at high pressure into the well. This fractures the shale around the end of the well casing pipe causing the oil to release from the shale and flow into the well. That's the readers digest version, I'm sure it is much more complicated then how I describe it. When the fracking is going on the pad is a flurry of activity 24 hours a day. We are kept hopping checking in the different crews and the almost endless line of semi trucks delivering the sand.

They finished the frac and moved out late last week and then we had a "coil tubing" crew move in for a few days. They clean the wells out of any debri left over from drilling and fracking. The next step was a "work over" rig whose job was to start the oil flowing and this was monitored by the "flow back" crew. The rig pulled out a few days ago and the flow back crew is moving out today and then we will be all alone here. The company man has put us on notice that our days are numbered on this gate. I guess the sun is setting on this season of gate guarding.

We will probably do a little "decompressing" somewhere close seeing as it has been almost 2 months since we have had a day off. We are both looking forward to getting away, going out to eat and maybe take a motorcycle ride. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

heads down and pluggin' along

They finished drilling the second oil well here and the rig was torn down in the middle of last week. They pulled out with the final piece of the rig on Thursday afternoon and we had a fairly quiet Friday. I even got the chance to sleep in the bed Friday night rather then cat napping on the couch. :-)

We started hearing about a Frac crew coming in and setting up Saturday and sure enough they started rolling in! So much for being slow because veteren gate guards know that when there is a frac crew on site you are going to be busy, busy! We ended up with almost 400 vehicles logged in and out by midnight Saturday! The only thing good about a frac is the food. The crew has their meals catered and sure enough the caterer showed up late Saturday and set up their trailers near the pad. They told us they would bring meals out to us too and sure enough they showed up at our door early Sunday afternoon with these

There are 2 hamburgers, 2 coney dogs, fried cheese sticks, fried jalapeno poppers and a huge pile of boiled Crawfish. That's a lot of food!

Last week as the drilling process was ending and traffic was slow at our gate I drove over to Crystal City, Texas to get my drivers licensed transferred from South Dakota. The BMV was located in the Courthouse and was not busy at all when I arrived. The two nice ladies behind the counter looked over all my paperwork, tested my eyesight, took my money and gave me a brand new ..... piece of paper? They explained that Texas mails your drivers license to your address in two weeks and the paper copy is a temporary one until it arrives. On the way back to the rig I stopped at a repair shop and had the state mandated vehicle inspection done on the Dakota. Rudee went the following day to get her license so now all we have to do is get the inspections done on the motor home and motorcycle and our move to Texas will be complete.
We are anxiously counting  down the days until we can "blow this hole" and get our lives back to normal. Whatever that is! We can see a ray of sunshine on the horizon

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

new neighbors

Not a whole lot happening here in our little slice of heaven in South Texas. We are still in "ground hog day" mode and each day feels just like the one before and we know tomorrow will be more of the same old same old. :-)
We did have some new faces arrive yesterday.

The land owner rents out this area to a cattle rancher who moved a small herd onto the property. There is no cattle guard at our gate entrance so we now have to keep the gate shut and only open it to let vehicles through. This is not as hard as it could be because the gate is automatic and they dropped off the remote control for it so we just push a button to open or close it. :-)

The rig appears to be well on their way drilling the second (and last) well. Judging by the tempo of traffic and the different equipment and supplies coming in they will probably be finished by this time next week and may even be packed up and gone. This rig is being "recycled" so it will be taken back to the yard and torn apart after this job ends. This means we will not have an option of following the rig to their next job as sometimes happens and we are not sure what the next few weeks will bring for us. There are still several steps they need to perform to bring the wells up to the production level. We are hoping to stay for at least one more stage but not sure what or when that will be. Our hope is to stay working for the next month before starting our trip North. They could also just tell us to follow the rig out the gate and close things down for awhile. One thing we have learned working in this business is you can never count on what will come next. I'll keep you posted.