Thursday, December 29, 2011

Big Brother

Just a quick rant. One of the by products of contracting is that you're considered self employed and therefore responsible for your taxes. Even though the checks we started receiving when we began gate guarding were larger than anything we'd seen in years, we set aside our awe long enough to face that sobering fact. Unlike the rest of the tax code, paying quarterly taxes is fairly easy. You don't suppose there's a reason for that, do you? ( -: As I said, we kept our eyes on the prize and diligently sat monies aside every paycheck for tax purposes. Well today was our first day to actually part with the money and pay big brother. I was not a happy camper, however Missy promises me we actually may see some of it back. If you think the chunk they take out of your paycheck is depressing, try making a quarterly payment. Now, I know we can pay it in chunks (and in the future will), but we haven't been doing this long enough to do that. This has made me see just how much it takes as an individual to keep our mega government operating. It probably won't happen in my lifetime, but I'd love to see a flat tax and/or a national sales tax. Meanwhile me and my leaner pocket wish all of you the happiest of New Years.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Back to Gate Guarding

I've taken the liberty to use my "soap box" for all kinds of topics. My primary goal here was to hopefully enlighten people about my experiences workamping and full timing. My secondary, altruistic, goal was to give myself a place to rant, rave or whatever. If we learn from one another even better. So I thought I'd write about gate guarding. We have made almost four months in the oil patch and have somewhat settled on a routine. I say somewhat, because the hours can be irregular and are dictated by traffic. I like days and Missy wanted to work nites. After a couple of months here, and with a move coming up, Missy said she wanted to try days. So, after moving and settling in, Missy and I swapped. I wish traffic was more regular at nite, so I could just get used to being up through the shift. But it isn't and I have settled into a routine of catnapping. That's what I meant by somewhat. I elaborated on this because prospective gate guarders are always asking if we have to work 24 hours a day since we are required to have at least one person present at all times. The answer just varies, There are those that are fortunate to live a regulated lifestyle and lock their gate after certain times. I think they are the exception, though. I believe having experience at boon docking is extremely helpful. Our support generators and tanks are pretty reliable. Though it's rarely necessary, you should be prepared to be "self contained" when doing this. That is why I am extremely glad we have an on board generator. You should also be able to conserve to the point where it's a subconscious act. You would be surprised how fast 500 gallons of water can disappear. We researched quite a bit before embarking on this adventure. One thing that can be helpful, is to reach out to the people operating the rig. They can help you out a lot. You should at least know who the Company Man is along with the Tool Pusher. You'll find that most of this community will gladly answer any of your questions. Another thing we did was stock up on things to keep us occupied during the downtime. I bought a Kindle (love it), Missy bought a bunch of crochet supplies and we invested in a Mi Fi. The Mi Fi is invaluable as it allows us to get Internet out in the middle of nowhere. Once we got here and started making a few $$$, we invested in a smoker and radio controlled toys to help with the tedium. Some intangibles-you need a strong relationship as working together is paramount in this business, you should be independent and self motivated, and you have to be kind of a loner (there aren't a lot of people to interact with). You should also know that shopping can be problematic due to road conditions and length of travel. If I had it to do over I would invest in a cheap four wheel drive vehicle (we are looking around) as the roads can suck to and from the rigs. Which brings up mud and dust-both are in abundance in South Texas and you should be prepared for it. All and all we like gate guarding and I certainly prefer it to some campground work I have done.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Ruminate-to chew over or to ponder something. This Christmas Eve I thought I'd start a tradition. This year I am going to touch upon some of my pet peeves-here goes. Leaving a splash of milk, juice,  etc. in the refrigerator. Not putting things back where they belong. Those idiots that pull out in front of you and then rub it in by slowing up and making a turn soon after. Those of you in positions that require public contact and hate dealing with us, (why did you take the job in the first place?) Obfuscation of any kind. Can't we just be up front with one another? Along those lines, those of you that refuse to "man up" and take the blame when you screw up. Apologies would be nice, too. Something seasonal-man I hate the SPCA and other pet groups advertising with Christmas carols in the background while puppies stare forlornly at you. I love animals; but GEEE! Also, how come all these church groups and volunteers have to fly to Africa or some other remote spot to help and give aid? When was the last time someone checked out some of our inner cities or Appalachia? Makes me wonder why we send government funds to China or Russia get the picture. Hey, why do they upgrade video gaming systems and design it so that your current games won't play in it? That makes me wonder why my 5 mega pixel camera has a 14 mega pixel competitor, within a week of purchasing it? Pet owners that chain or tie up there dogs-have you seen pictures of embedded collars? Cops or other members of the judicial system who assuage there boredom by harassing the public over picayune infractions. Like a 5 mph over speeding ticket, mud on your license tag, hindering ( hey, I hate slowpokes too; but come on!), etc. Vets or doctors who put greed before attending to an animal or us. Celebrities who feel entitled. Celebrities that don't get the credit they deserve for their philanthropic endeavors. See, I can be fair ( -; How about those of you that judge us for our supposed fanaticism for our animals? And...don't even get me started on cellphones and personal devices. Finally, how come George Strait can't get the recognition he deserves.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Can an entity be guilty of recidivism? Normally it's associated with those that repeat their mistakes; especially offenders of the law. Congress continues to bumble about, further alienating the public they supposedly serve. Congress also continues to fund their pork in these tough times. How about how cocaine affects the sex lives of quail or millions of allotted road and highway funds remaining in limbo over simple clerical errors; such as SH instead of Interstate or CR, reversed numbers, misspelling, etc. or billions (with a B) spent on fighter jet engines that proved unnecessary? I heard today the House speaker was asked to allow a vote on the budget-Geeez! does he have that much power-and why? This whole party system has eroded to the point where action; or inaction, is no longer based on what's good for the people. It's become far more important to tow the party line. People will tell you that every vote counts.  However when that vote has to go to "he's (or she's) better than the alternative" or your just "voting the bums out" what good is that? I loath complaining when one has no viable suggestions to correct the problem. Unfortunately, "wishing" for political change is not going to make an appreciable difference on how our government works. It's become a cash eating monster that we're rapidly becoming unable to feed. My dear readers have read my rantings on how our founders created this wonderful system we live under. They also know that I believe we are trapped by the requirements they placed in the constitution when it comes to making changes. Getting change up to the point where a super majority would vote on it would require nothing short of a miracle in today's political climate. The lack of a viable third party also impedes the system. More and more of the respected, conservative folk I know are in agreement with me. Perhaps when our already failing infrastructure gives out and China quietly finishes it economic takeover of our economy (and country), people will be galvanized to action. The quagmire that is our political system certainly hasn't done it.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”–Thomas Jefferson

It seems “We The Sheeple” have been asleep for the last 60 years in America. We went to bed soon after WWII and woke up in a land that we do not recognize. We are financially and morally bankrupt, engaged in senseless wars around the world, invading the privacy our citizens, completely shredding our US Constitution and all the while sucking the last bit of Liberty from once free AMERICAN CITIZENS. We have totally forgotten who we are.
Bix Weir

Monday, December 12, 2011

Yule Time Musings

We decided; OK I pushed a little ( -:, to purchase a quality electric smoker for Christmas. As most of my dear readers know I have dabbled with smoking meats for years. This smoker is insulated so well that it remains cool to the touch, even at its higher temperatures. The advantage is that it affords me control of the heat throughout the process. Best of all, you can control everything via a infra red remote. There is even a seperate chip holder that allows the addition of chips without disturbing the temperature. The first batch of  ribs and brisket is done and WOW-not bad! A few tasters have said that it's the best ribs they've ever eaten. And I promise we'll get better as we go. You have to keep in mind that Texans don't eat much pork-so I'll wait till I get a few more reviews to decide if they're really that good. Back on the Yuletide topic. My present to Missy was a day at the spa where she could relax and get pampered. It's a 40 mile trip (one way) to the nearest town with a spa. They happened to have a Buffalo Wild Wings there, so Missy picked some up to go for us. Well, that's where Santa's sleigh derailed. Shortly after she got home and the wings were consumed, I became deathly ill. Not to get graphic here, but I was unable to control my bodily functions and was up and down for about thirty hours. I'm still not chipper, but I am better. I guess I can be glad I didn't have the flu. On the downside, a fellow gate guard just down the road from us was almost killed when he tangled with a semi. He apparently tipped a few at the house and was headed somewhere when he blew the stop sign at the major highway that we connect to. Believe it or not, he made it across the thoroughfare unscathed. However, when he realized what he had done he turned right to get back on the road and collided almost head on with a semi. Just a friendly reminder to watch those Yule time toddies with your friends this season. Happy Holidays!
Here's a link to the smoker company.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rain, rain go away!

It's funny how, even after a long drought, rain can get on your nerves. Since we work and live "off road" mud is an ever present product of the rain. RV's, due to there small size and set traffic patterns, seem more susceptible to mud soiling. Add in the dogs and you have a recipe for a mess. This even after we diligently wipe our feet and clean the dogs paws. The paw cleaning is another story in itself-we keep a "dog" rag by the door. Mother nature has doused us with a couple of good thunderstorms and added drizzle in between for the last four or five days. Consequently our access road is a sea of mud. It is virtually impassable even with four wheel drive. Our drilling rig is dependent on outside support (yet another story) and that includes eighteen wheelers. Since the county won't maintain the road without local financial input (you guessed it, yet another story) we have an impasse and the road remains a mess. Our major corporate investor has placed a dozer and operator on standby and he is staying busy extricating and dragging vehicles out of the mud. Before the road deteriorated completely, I took our Hyundai into town to stock up. If it wasn't the hairiest and most stressful drive I've ever made, it was in the top three. I don't even want to speculate what will happen if we need fire rescue out here. When our water and fuel start getting low, I may start to panic a little bit. I know I am NOT taking the car anywhere.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Every year around Thanksgiving I gather my thoughts and think about what I am grateful for. Perhaps, more importantly, it forces me to think of the things I should be grateful for. Loss of friends and family is inevitable as we age, but more and more my grief is tempered by the time I had with them. I am grateful for that. I am grateful for the teachings my parents imparted to me. We seem to be well liked here as a result of that. We have received gifts from the landowner and oil company people here. Something they didn't have to do. I am grateful for that. My parents also instilled in me a sense of adventure and wonderment. I have traveled and wandered a lot and have been enriched in doing so. I am grateful for that. I sometimes take the love and concern people have for me for granted. That is something I should be more grateful for. I also should be more grateful for the time I've had on this earth and treat each day accordingly. Now a little off script. All of us should be grateful for the wonderful country we live in. Everyone of us should take this time of difficulty and find ways that we can make positive changes to ensure its continued greatness. Grass root movements have fueled change in this country since its inception. Let's be grateful that we have the system in which we can make changes that benefit us all. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Air Conditioning Again

Our rear basement heat pump went out in late 2009. The repairman said it was a bad compressor. Finances and finding someone to repair it took till summer 2011. The repairman in 2009 missed a leak in the tubing which was repaired then. After servicing the unit it ran for about two hours before it started blowing the circuit breaker. The repairman returned and diagnosed it as a compressor failure. Estimates to repair it were costly, to say the least. I then started researching where to find a compressor for a reasonable price. I finally found a compressor (by that time we had relocated to Texas) and a "jack leg" to install it. After the unit was flushed and serviced we fired it up and the fan blew! After much searching I located a fan and had it installed. Finally, we seem to have a working heat pump. Perseverance is a must, especially when dealing with equipment that is no longer manufactured.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Have You Got The Itch?

A lot of my readers (and non readers) want to know if they can live the RV lifestyle- sort of leave the 9-5 grind behind. Unless you have some sort of second income, savings or are well off the answer is no. But; if you're willing to work a modified 9-5 grind, there is indeed a way to do it. It's called workamping and if you're reasonably healthy, you can do it. It involves working at a wide variety of places, including National Parks, campgrounds and even malls. You have to find a reliable recreational vehicle, such as a motorhome or 5th wheel. In today's economy that is pretty easy, especially if you look into the used market. We even have friends that do it in a "pop-up"-basically a tent on a small trailer. I don't recommend that, since you will be living in the vehicle. Once you have an RV, you have to find work. Almost all workamping positions and hiring are done via the Internet. Google American Land and Leisure, Workers on Wheels, Happy Vagabonds, Woodalls, etc. just to name a few. Also, is one of the preeminent sites used to find work  . Some of the more unique positions for couples is gate guarding oil rigs, mini storage units and idle industrial properties. Some of the positions require a moderate amount of exertion. You might have to do some cleaning or yard work, for instance. But; you can do it in some of the most desirable and beautiful places in America.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Real Boon Docking

We asked for two days off when the rig moved and the company honored our request. Unfortunately the company also thought that if we were going to be off they weren't going to provide support. Things like septic, water and electric. Times like these are when I'm glad I own a Class A motor home. We have a generator, holding tanks and freshwater on board. So we are now sitting in another cow pasture two miles off the paved road. We also had to relocate our self (the company also didn't help with that). This is truly boon docking-off road and no support what so ever. We are proud how proficient we have become. Up and moving within a few hours and set up just as fast. Shoot- we tune in the satellite in 10 minutes! Level out and set up the coach in less than an hour. Not to long ago, I wouldn't have dared take this motor home off road and certainly not have been as comfortable boon docking like we are now.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

RV Upkeep

Because of money issues; and some procrastination, we had put some repairs on the back burner. The things needed to keep us running took priority too. Maintaining an RV, especially a diesel pusher can get expensive. I maintain that if you take care of it it won't eat you alive. Still, there is a mystique out there that a diesel pusher is expensive to take care of. Now that we have a little more income we are starting down the repair trail. I thought we'd share some of the problems we have had. Keep in mind the coach is 16 years old. We had put off a main seal leak on the engine-count on  spending $300-500 if you run into that. Before we came south we replaced the air filter-around $75-and changed the engine oil and filters-around $80--100 if you do it your self. We also changed the desiccant filter for the air compressor-another $100. When you have air suspension and brakes you don't want to skimp on that. The rear air cost us a little less than a $1000 to repair. We have basement air/heat pumps (unlike most RVs which have them on the roof) and they are similar to a home unit. Ours are no longer made and finding parts and techs to work on them is difficult. The control board(s) for the refrigerator and the water heater went out-they're around $100 each. Still to come, the front end needs checked and aligned and a minor oil leak needs addressed on the engine. We have had the coach for almost four years and, given its age, we are satisfied with the upkeep expense. For those of you wanting to take advantage of the soft RV market, have a reliable RV tech look the prospective coach over along with a chassis guy (they are two different things on an RV) and you will avoid a lot of expense. We should be down to an annual oil and lube before too long!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On the Move

Looks like we'll be moving in the next 5-7 days. We are pleased and surprised that the rig has asked us to follow them as they punch holes in the Texas soil. They will be drilling locally for some time, so at least we'll remain in the area. This is a great bunch of people and we're willing to move, if that's what they want. Besides, it will allow us to exercise the RV and afford us a change of scenery. Who knows, we may get closer to town. This is just another facet of workamping or gate guarding. You have to be willing to adapt as conditions change. One good thing, we think we can get a day or two off during the move. Mo later!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Are you Prepared?

Doing this gate guarding thing has made me reflect on how important it is to be prepared. Americans think nothing of jumping into their car and driving a few miles to purchase something; perceived as necessary-or not. My parents drummed into my head the importance of combining trips and having a list when going out. Living and working out of your RV and doing it off the grid almost makes this imperative. Lest you weekend warriors think this is a little anal; I cannot count the times someone has asked to borrow something from us at a campground. Or how many trips we've seen campers make to the store. The forgotten things include such necessities as stakes, fuses, dump hoses, flashlights, a first aid kit, pots and pans-you name it. Come on people; there are many sites that can help you put a list together. The benefits will be less frustration for you, a happy neighbor and less fuel waste. Plus you'll have a peaceful weekend and keep your partner off of the warpath.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


A gauge of sanity is often measured by your grasp of reality. These days I wonder if the commonly accepted version of reality is so sacrosanct. I've often wondered just what party politically I belong to just because of that. I think abortion is wrong in principal (let's not split hairs here dear readers); but, when necessary it can be a life saver and should be allowed. I think you should enjoy the fruits of your labor without being burdened by draconian taxation. However; I don't think that the people who make the business tick should make 50-100 times less than their CEO. I think our founders had some brilliant ideas. I also think that very few of them ever envisioned this country spreading past the Mississippi. (My hero, Thomas Jefferson being one of the few.) How else can you explain a House of Representatives filled based on population. You don't really think 400 plus people can agree on anything do you? And don't even get me started on the electoral college. Those same wise founders also protected their ideas by requiring that a super majority approve any constitutional changes. Amongst other things that's laughable about all these presidential candidates is that they really believe they're going to be able to fulfill the promises they make. Our Congress can't even agree to disagree and you really think he's going to get his agenda accomplished? How realistic is that; or that the electorate believes it? Where's the realists when we need them? Small wonder we're disenchanted out here. I hate intrusion on our business or personal lives. However, I don't think any business should be able to say they either lost or made money depending on whether you account for something or don't. Talk about blurred reality-read Southwest Airlines last quarterly report. Coincidentally, some government spokesman said we'll never be able to account for over 60 million dollars lost to bribes and who knows what in Afghanistan. This when our nation is in the throes of a recession (depression in my book). Another government spokesperson had the audacity to suggest that Pakistan might not be our ally after all. Forget reality; what the hell has he been smoking? Finally, I KNOW there are a lot of people struggling in our great country. When a President is ignorant enough to suggest that the American people are resilient and can adapt to higher gas prices, I respectfully suggest he hasn't spent $70.00 filling an SUV (over $50 for my Hyundai). Food prices are soaring, medical care and medicine are out of reach for a lot of us and wages (much less the lack of jobs) are stagnant or trending downward. Very few of us are making over $100 a day and we can look for the government to take a bite out of that. Finally, am I the only one who sees the hypocrisy of supporting a disorganized rabble to oust a dictator they're tired of? Then televising his beating and subsequent demise? And we really think they can run a country? Is that what a civilized country does? That's my reality. Nuff said!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Musings (again!?!)

My faithful readers know that I tend to ramble when I title my blog "Musings". Here goes. First, let me say that I don't think anyone should die doing his job. Many advances have been made in oversight with regulatory agencies and rules. Still, it happens, as witnessed with the tragic death of Dan Wheldon yesterday in an Indy car race in Las Vegas. The story behind the tragedy is odd to say the least. Dan was at the forefront of Indy car safety. He was instrumental in the development and testing of the new car that, ironically, will have a bumper  of sorts on the back. This to prevent the exact thing that happened yesterday; the front of an Indy car climbing up the back of another and being propelled upwards-with even more speed generated when the front and rear tires make contact. Also, the talent search that fills the seats of these cars keeps driving the age of the drivers ever downward. You start as a toddler to really succeed in professional racing these days. The days of a thirty plus year old driver getting a job due to experience are long gone. So the tragedies take some of our best and brightest, leaving families and colleagues to grieve and wonder what could have been. We can add to this mans legacy by rethinking what we do, both on and off work. Perhaps drive a little slower and more defensively, use the safety gear we are provided at work, and rethink tasks that might be mundane or a little risky to perform. Something as innocent as waiting to climb a ladder till a colleague can spot for you. That kind of thing. Unlike Dan, we usually can control the environment around us and be around for our loved ones to hold and cherish. R.I.P. Dan.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall in the Air?

The calendar says Fall is here, but it's still 90 degrees or so in the afternoon. Since it was in the 100's with a heat index somewhere you wouldn't believe, I guess it has cooled. We came to Texas for the job, but getting away from winter was the big reason. A couple of below zero days and few above freezing will do that to you. And we were told winters in the Midwest were mild ( -: Now we shut the air conditioning down at night and enjoy about 4 hours of "window weather" every morning. I hear it's almost too cool for that already up north. My mother has lived in South Florida for a long time and relishes the too few days they have to enjoy "window weather". I find it odd that the things that can bring us the most joy are often blissfully ignored. I can't prove "Global Warming", but I do know there has been a climate shift of some sorts. Point being, is that we endured a summer in Missouri that felt like the Gobi or Saharan desert. Then about a month's worth of 100 degree days here. So I am enjoying the "window weather"; especially in the gloaming as I commune with nature. Could that have been a chill I felt this morning?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

More Food

I was winding down my usual shift (days) when I saw a bright yellow truck, towing a trailer, coming down the road. Then I noticed the tell tale exhaust fan chimneys on the trailer and thought to myself "That's a catering trailer". We had just been catered about a week ago, so I didn't think it was coming for our job site. But it turned in and it had a load of rib dinners for the workers and us!! Wow, fed again, courtesy of "big oil"! Our suffering and stress from last winter has made us doubly appreciative of the blessings we now have. No matter how small they may be.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Smoking on Company Time

Since we're parked right by the gate and sit here waiting for some action, I thought smoking some meat would help pass the time. Missy volunteered to go spend some of our first full check on groceries and some meat for the smoker. She brought home a small brisket, a rack of ribs and some chicken breasts. We marinated everything all night long and fired up the smoker and our grill around four in the morning.
I like to sear the brisket and ribs on the small grill first. I then like to wrap the brisket and ribs in foil and put them on the smoker. The chicken gets the grill treatment last. After carefully nurturing the smoker temperature for about 4 hours (275-300 degrees), I checked on everything and added wet hickory chunks to the fire. I then added the resting chicken and smoked eveything for 2-3 more hours. We added a side dish of taters and beans-man oh man was it good. We've made some good friends sharing our cooking!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chow Time

One of the things we were told when we took on this job of gate guarding was that we could count on getting the feed bag on once a month or so. Supposedly someone was going to come out here in the middle of nowhere and cook us a meal. As my faithful readers know we are truly in BFE (you figure that one out) parked in a cow pasture. In fact, one of them came sauntering by yesterday morning and strolled past the rig, stopping under a shade tree for some cud. Whatever they're paying me, I'm not wrangling cattle, so I let him mosey on his way. But; I digress. Back to chow time. Someone did indeed show up at my gate this morning towing a catering wagon. He asked me how many of us were working the gate and went on in. I'm not cynical or pessimistic most of the time, but I did wonder if we would really get fed. And would it be whatever they could scrounge up when they had fed all these hungry workers?? Well, when the caterer left he stopped at the gate and handed me two Styrofoam takeout boxes. One at a time, which I found out was because of their weight. I woke ole Missymoo and lo and behold we opened the boxes to find a feast. We each had a half dozen shrimp, and close to a pound of fresh fried catfish. Plus sides!! Yummy! Now I can add to my lexicon-I'm getting paid while I sit here watching television, surfing the web and eating FREE catered food. Dust, wind and lack of rain not withstanding-life is good.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Life Off the Grid

We were warned before we considered this gate guard job about living off of the grid (not being connected to a traditional water, electric and sewer system). Specifically whether we had any experience at it or not. Well, we have "boon docked" a lot and have spent a week or so down in Terlingua with no hookups at all. We have found this to be far easier than we were warned. We are off the grid, but have a support staff that is second to none. Our little nurse wagon has a very dependable Perkins generator and a large tank of water. Our water consumption is rarely over 20 gallons a day. The water is not potable and having to keep 10 gallons of drinking water around requires getting used to. We have a second wagon that handles our sewer, so we don't need a regular visit from a "honey wagon". Being appreciative of machinery,  I keep a pretty good eye on the generator. Even though we know it's out there, we rarely notice it. I guess what I'm trying to say is that while we may be off the grid-our little nurse wagons more than adequately fill the role.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Living in Someone Else's House

As she is fond of doing, Mother Nature let us know who's in charge out here. High winds scared us into getting out of bed and stowing the awning; even though it was tied down. Several homes were damaged near here, so I guess it was prudent. Missy is still adjusting to night shift so she wandered outside only to find our camp chairs covered with small to medium scorpions. Her shouts drew me to the scene of the crime where a brief battle ensued-the scorpions lost. I have reminded myself and Missy to shake out shoes and bedding forthwith. Then our cat discovered a field mouse and harassed it till I ended her fun and released it in a field. If you add the cows wandering about; much less all the oil workers and their equipment, we are definitely not the "King of the Roost". Thirty miles or so doesn't seem so far, but it sure is a long way from civilization. We definitely are living in someone else's house and Mother Nature is in charge.

Friday, September 16, 2011

New Digs

We have been relocated by our company to a tiny berg called Gillett-or at least somewhere near there. We drove about thirty miles, turned off the main highway and headed down a gravel road for at least 3 more miles. We are literally parked in a cow pasture. The owner has given strict instructions that the gate remain closed at all times. I hope it's only cows grazing here-the fence is ten feet plus high with a barbed wire topping. This will be our gate-we were the first in other than the workmen that laid the pads and roads! Today we got to observe the very beginnings of an oil well as they drilled for the first time. As I've said before it's boom times here and they have to follow a schedule-the rig up from us has just about finished and that rig and crew is headed our way. We are getting a crash course in oil exploration and the monikers that are attached to it. We have "company man", "tool pushers", "roustabouts", "roughnecks", etc. We are enjoying the experience and getting paid well for our labor. We have the "icing on the cake" of being employed by a good company with outstanding support personnel. We're looking forward to cooler weather and are ready to hunker down for the winter.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Slow Times on the Gate

First, we now have internet! Our MiFi from Virgin Mobile works like a champ. Our DISH is aimed and hooked up and the a/c is working well. We started on a gate the day after we got here and organized chaos reigned for about a day and a half.  The rig we were assigned to was coming down and we replaced the guards that follow the rig, It was interesting watching the dissassembly and the amount of men and materiel it took. At one time we must have had fifty to sixty trucks lined up in here and out on our access road. The third day things slowed down tremendously as all that was left was some pallets and miscellaneous equipment. Yesterday, there was minimal traffic and we got to watch the NASCAR night race without interruption. We also got a full nites rest. Very unusual in the gate guarding business. Today we are sucking up the a/c and watching football. Unless they frack or find something else to do, we'll probably be out of here tomorrow. If not, we'll gladly keep an eye on things and enjoy the peace and quiet. I'll update again soon.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We're Here!

We relocated to Southeast Texas, (as threatened) and began our work as Gate Guards on an oil well. We were put to work the morning after we arrived. Let me first say, “Everything we encountered was as I had researched.” It is dusty and hot. Your sleep and rest expectations will require adjustments. If you haven’t lived “off the grid” for an extended period of time, you may have trouble adjusting. Gate Guard Services or GGS (the company we contract with-and; I hope, they don’t mind me mentioning their name), has exceeded our expectations. About GGS-they want quality, dependable people and will cater to you if you put in an honest, hard day’s work. In exchange, we have a dependable water supply (not potable), a generator and a septic system. A team of really nice, hard working individuals keeps all that “ginning along”. A phone call gets any assistance you might need. We were even offered a cell phone booster at no cost should our signal not be strong enough. (something not previously mentioned) The pay is a minimum of $125.00 a day (more is paid for multiple well sites) and you have to file for your own taxes. The Eagle Ford Shale deposits are booming right now and the local infrastructure is struggling to keep up. It is boom times here right now.
Back to full timing and RV’s. Our trip south for the winter cost us about $300.00 and took an easy two days. Jesabel ran well and drank diesel at around 10 mpg. Not bad for 35 feet of motor home with a Hyundai Santa Fe towed behind it. Subtracting the estimated cost of meals and a hotel for the same trip in a car makes it an even better deal. I was determined to find winter employment this season and have accomplished that. So far, so good. I’ll update soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ready, Set, GO!

We have a departure date of September 5th! We will use the holiday as a travel day to Muskogee, OK where I will renew my drivers license. Also, Missy will use some of the time to visit with her son. Moving is always traumatic and expensive. Traumatic, in that everything needs to be tied down and/or secured for travel. Expensive, because...where do I start? We undocked and made a shakedown run to fill the tank-that was around $200. We changed the oil-another $100. We replaced the fuel and air compressor filters-another $150. We had to renew the coach registration-another $100. We renewed the Emergency Roadside Service contract-another $100. It all adds up and ratchets up the trauma. At least we're hyped about the change in jobs and the chance to make a little more money. As far as the travel part goes; I love it. I wish I had the funds to do it all the time.We leave here on a good note and with recommendations which is always good in the workamping world. I will re post when we get settled-unless opportunity presents itself en route.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More Musings

This will be one of my rambles again. ( -: We lost yet another couple here. They said the "husband half" of the couple couldn't work in the heat due to his asthma and needed to go back to Kansas (where it's been even hotter) to see their doctor. I think they had ulterior motives, but it's water under the bridge.

We are down to two couples and have been here the longest. Didn't think that would ever happen, did you?? So; at least Missy will have to work extra hours in the office where it's needed most. Meanwhile we have been in touch with our winter employer and are finalizing details so that a date can be set and a place  for us to go to. We are a little anxious about gate guarding, but we've done a ton of research and are ready as we'll ever be. Meanwhile our current employer is nervously waiting for our departure date. It's nice to be wanted which is something we lacked last winter. Even our previous employer is courting us for fall work.

Am I the only one that is REALLY concerned about the economy? They talk about a double dip recession,but I think we've never pulled out of one. Our traditional savings "storehouses" are being assailed-homes have no equity and banks can't pay decent returns on savings. Even bonds from government and municipalities offer little return. Gold and other precious metals have skyrocketed, but try to sell some at or near its current price. As we stagger towards a world economy and a universal money (or some sort of digital monetary system) I wonder about the warnings in Revelation about just such things occurring. Maybe the Antichrist is already here! Regretfully, our middle or service class has eroded to third world levels. People's skills are no longer rewarded or appreciated. On top of that we have a failing infrastructure nationwide and a lack of respect for authority and government. I fear for my grandchildren and hope we can pull out of this tailspin.

I think that's enuf! Think about it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Change is in the Air?

We had another Workamping couple leave due to what sounded like a minor disagreement. In reality, they were at odds with the management team here for some time and; I guess, had had enough. It is difficult to find quality, people oriented managers in this business. Most campground's "busy seasons" are in the heat of summer, which frays nerves too. There are also "spurts" where you seem to stay busy for days on end. America still holds on to that tradition of taking summer vacation with the kids. The hotel is also busy and we have seen an uptick in business travel. This is our first experience at having outlasted Workampers (and permanent employees) at an assignment. We are proud of that as this job has had its challenges.
We finally finished and submitted our applications for "gate guarding" which will be our winter work. We are relieved to have "our ducks in a row" with that and are awaiting notification of where and when we will report. I guess more changes are coming soon for us.
A blog will follow soon with more info as to where we are headed and when.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

How Hot is Hot?

I cooked chili competitively for many years. I won a few competitions and lost a lot more. One thing I learned is that spicing food is an art. Not everyone enjoys a dish so hot that the commingled flavors are indistinguishable, especially a chili judge. I bring this up because I had a dish at a Mexican restaurant recently that was so hot that the dish's flavors got lost. Made me wonder about life and the way we can come across some times. Funny, ain't it. I have worked hard, especially of late, to temper my responses when I feel provoked. A little less spice in my lingo, so to speak. So much of life, and cooking, is what you add or subtract from it. I'm no philosopher; but maybe remembering this spicy story might help you when your pot gets simmering.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fathers Day

The recent lost of my father has caused me to reflect on the ways I mark someone's passing . Things I shared with the individual come to mind, but holidays always make me pause. I think everyone has regrets, some more than others. Regrets tingle my memory, but; for the most part, I don't dwell on them. I mark the passage after loss as each holiday without the deceased passes; especially the first one. I think it's the hardest. My father and I had some rough times which I now mostly attribute to my ignorance. I didn't appreciate the sacrifice his dedication to serving our country cost him. Having a dedicated military man as a father is a tough road to hoe-for both parties. Now, in hindsight, the lessons I resisted that he tried to teach me have made me the individual that I am. I now realize my better qualities come from my upbringing. My worse side was all due to the path(s) I chose, some in complete disregard to all that I'd been taught. It's funny that I think a lot of things could be better in our world if kids today were brought up with the values I was taught. Kids today could stand to respect their elders better and exercise gentility and politeness in dealing with others. It's not complicated, really. A little "Yes Mam, Yes Sir, Please and Thank You" can go a long way. Respect your elders; despite your foregone conclusions, for what they are and the roads they've travelled, rather than condemning them for trying to teach you things. My father should be proud that he left a memory of a man who believed in a lot of things we seem to have forgotten today. His integrity and name were the most important things he had. He always protected and valued them. If you still have your father, treasure your time with him and try to appreciate the things he wants to impart to you. I am blessed that I have a treasure trove of memories to carry with me, I hope you do too,
Happy Fathers Day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


This is a mish mash today-no specific topic. Just discussing workamping in general. We took advantage of our positions in the hospitality/tourism industry and visited the local water park at a severe discount over our last days off . We're allowed to bring a guest or two, so we invited a friends wife and her three children. We had a great time even though we are sunburned a bit. The water park has limited days that we're allowed to do this, so we took advantage. Although there are no rides here, we can turn to our local lake to take a dip in later.
We lost two workampers over the last week. The "wife" half was struggling in the office and the "husband" half did not like the "scope" of the maintenance work. This is a large complex with a lot of things going on. To be truthful, I was a little leery at first; especially working in the hotel. To the facilities credit; a lot has been asked of everyone because of the flooding on the lake. This workamper didn't see painting and cleaning a restroom as part of his duties. The problems his wife was having probably didn't help. So now, all of our schedules have changed and everyone will have to work a little harder. You have to be real flexible in the "workamping world". During the season you can forget about having weekends and holidays off. Requested time off is frowned upon and needs a good reason.
Other than that, it's hot and summer just started. That's the "mish mash" for today!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day

I have thought a lot about our military and its sacrifices over the past few days. I'm sure that it has also been on most Americans minds too. I hope the loss of eight of our troops due to an IED in a field somewhere in Afghanistan recently did not go unnoticed. When you are a patriot and are a workamper it's hard not to appreciate all that we have in this country since you work most holidays. You get to see the bounty our country holds both materially and spiritually. Funny how the smell of firewood and the happy gatherings of thousands can evoke such thoughts. I am going to admit publicly that patriotic ceremonies can and do bring a tear to my eye. My sister surprised me by admitting the same thing. I have two other thoughts while I'm on patriotism. My father is chiefly responsible for instilling this fervor and pride in me. My service did the rest. Finally, I find it difficult to accept peoples criticism (or making light) of my service. While I did not slog through the rice paddies of Vietnam, or assist in the rescue of students in the Dominican Republic, or help topple Noriega; I gladly entered the service during a time of conflict in this country. I did, however, serve in one of the most elite military units in the world both as a Marine and a Embassy Guard. As they say, all gave some, some gave all.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I wasn't trying to use a "big" word to title this post; it just fit. Yesterday was the grand opening of the hotel where we are workamping. We had Senators, Representatives, mayors and more in attendance. Tours of the hotel resulted in almost universal praise of the facility. I stepped into yet another pair of shoes yesterday and toiled at keeping the garbage picked up and the facility presentable. Workamping is definitely not for those who think some jobs are beneath them. All in all a high note in our stay here.

On a very low note, a dear friend passed suddenly yesterday. We knew him from our days on the competitive chili circuit. He was talented and sang and played in a group named the Paperboys. He always seemed to have an upbeat attitude and we shared many a good time together. He did not survive a heart attack; which seems odd these days with all the awareness and advances in that field. Further adding to the oddity; at least three or four of us have all had close calls lately. And, I believe, all of us though that we were a lot closer to meeting our maker than him. Reality likes to let you know she is here on regular basis. Sad indeed.

So, I'm ruminating.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wacky Weather (Again!) and More

Most workamping jobs put you in a place where you can recreate, using the surrounding facilities. We have canoed, rafted, rode horses, rode ATV's, etc. It finally got really hot here (high 80's) and we had a chance to ride jet skis. I have to say this was a first for me. We had the choice of a Yamaha Wave Runner and a "hot rod" I can't remember the name of. I got comfortable on the Wave Runner while Missy and our host zipped around leaving me in their wake. I tried switching Missy over to the Wave Runner in the middle of the lake and...into the water we went. Anyway, fun was had by all and I got the "hot rod" up to near 70 mph! The day ended with hot pizza and cold tea-we had a great time. CAUTION-jet ski's are addicting!! Well, 3-4 days later and we can't break 60 degrees during the day and 40 at night. The campers are showing up, though, so that's good. We had a "soft opening" at the hotel the other night and management asked us to attend. VIP's and invited guests only! Lot's of fun and food and it's a swanky place. Did I mention the food? My sister would love the rooms and she can be picky ( -: By the way the food caterer has opened his cafe on the marina side and it has great food. Things are picking up steam here with Memorial day right around the corner along with the Grand Opening of the hotel. More soon!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rolling on the River (or lake??)

Over twelve inches of rain have fallen in the last ten days. I have said we are both suffering from SAD (seasonal anxiety disorder). We have caught a two day reprieve and now it looks like rain for the next two days. You should got to my Facebook page and the one for the Port of Kimberling to get an idea of what kind of damage we received. Now we have to clean up as the water recedes. We have filled this enormous trailer they have here 3 times with debris we have raked up. All a part of workamping...we never know what obstacles we might encounter. As hard as we work cleaning up, we also have our day to day chores to worry about. Plus the bosses list-which includes digging post holes, mowing, weedeating. etc. Then we have to entertain whatever the owners whims might be. Keeps life interesting, I guess. Short story long, I raked and raked this morning and then was told to dig post holes for site signs. Then the boss said to wrap that up and pitch in on storm cleanup. More raking and shoveling. Man am I tired! A LONG shift to say the least. More later (when I recover)!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ol' Man Winter's Revenge/or Redux?

Part of workamping is working outside most of the time. As we like to say, "Camping is an outdoor activity, so don't expect a refund if the weather changes for the worse". We have a section of the campground still closed off from the winter and had plans to start cleanup. Sure enough, terrific storms blew through the nite before and 70 + degree days turned into a low 40's wet morning. Regardless we hit the closed campground and started raking, general cleaning, etc. I'm not sure if the temps bothered us more or the heavy wind gusts. We knocked off a few minutes early that day; a first for us. After one winter in the RV, we are making plans to work somewhere south in the future.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Summer's Coming

Yesterday got really hot and for the first time heat really affected our work. You have to stay hydrated in high humidity and temps near ninety. I fought wasps yesterday, who seemed just as affected by the heat as we all where. We have quite a few guests in the campground, so management called out a pest control guy to try to control them. I was assigned to help the cause by filling the voids along the roofs of the cabins with spray foam. A nasty, hot, dirty job. The foam gets on everything and its real hard to tell how much it will expand. Which means later we'll have to go back and trim the excess, plus paint the foam to hide it. We'll see if the wasps move on. Missy has been real busy in the office as the phone and Internet are busy with people wanting reservations. That's good, 'cause it pays our salaries!

A good part of the past week is that we got to take in some shows and relax a little on our days off. I think we spent less than $20 going to three shows and that was on popcorn and such. More from the workamping world later!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Expecting the Unexpected

As Workampers we have learned to expect just about any job to be assigned to us. For the last three days I've been digging in rock (literally) hard soil. One day I dug post holes for parking signs; one day I sorted through and arranged/stacked heavy flagstone around trees and planters and today I dug holes looking for electrical wire paths. Last week, I was volunteered to help out at the new hotel they're building here. So, I spent the day vacuuming and mopping up the construction mess. Talk about muscles that you didn't know you had hurting! I now look back and am grateful for the experience my mother afforded me. For about 5-6 years we remodeled houses together and I performed plumbing, drywall, electrical, etc. My father taught me the basics of using tools and how to just about tear anything apart and put it back together. Even if you don't have that wide of a background, there is still a place for you in the world of workamping. Be honest and open to learn. If you want to do it you can! I know most of you out there can run a lawn mower, wield a paint brush or just put your nose to the grindstone.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Growing into the job

Although we stayed warm by going down to Florida; we struggled trying to find employment. So we are hard at it trying to find and secure winter employment. An odd aspect to workamping is that you look way ahead for employment. Most campgrounds are seasonal, so you tend to go north in the summer and south for the winter. Some workampers have repeat gigs and migrate to the same places yearly. Occasionally workampers secure permanent employment as managers of parks or some aspect of the operation. We are now at a large campground on Table Rock Lake and this is our first time arriving at the beginning of the season. So, there are a ton of things to do to get the campground ready for visitors. There is no substitute for experience and that has made the adjustment to a new environment much easier. The missus is comfortable in the office environment and I'm no longer surprised at what I may have to do. Other than getting the "winter" muscles to stretch, we are settling in. More soon!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

1st shot at this

I thought I could pass some time and help others by informing them of what we do as workampers. I've been doing this for about three years now, so I guess it's become a career path. My fiance and I, plus a cat and a dog, moved into an RV about three years ago. Our first adventure was in central Florida at an RV park. I toiled under the hot Florida sun doing outdoor chores while the missus worked the store/office. When a call offered us a chance to work with horses in Missouri, we jumped at the opportunity. That led to our second adventure near Lebanon, MO. We went to work for a Mom and Pop float operation, campground and; soon to be added, horseback riding outfit. We spent almost two years there doing almost every and any chore imaginable. We cut down trees, broke horses, repaired canoes and rafts, cleaned rest rooms and almost froze to death during a Missouri winter. We ended our second year in Missouri working for a large campground in Branson. At the end of that year, we went to Florida to be with my Father, who died from cancer that Christmas. We have now started on our third adventure, back in Missouri, near Branson. More on that in my next update.