Monday, June 18, 2012

More Musings

My dear readers never know what to expect when I title my post with musings. Actually it allows me to rant, rave and ramble. 
Do you torque the lug nuts after a tire change? Do you recheck their tightness after about 100 miles as suggested? I'll admit to occasionally checking the tightness, but rarely using a torque wrench. I am now a convert and will be checking the security of my lug nuts in the future. We came off of a gate and drove to San Antonio for a break. We ran around town quite a bit for a day or two; and then, after dinner one night, I thought I noticed a weird sound emanating from the rear of the vehicle (at 60-70 mph!). A WalMart parking lot beckoned and we went to a quiet spot where I got out and attempted to identify the noise. We won't get into how strange I looked, walking in a crouch by the car while Missy drove slowly. It took a bit to put two and two together, but I finally discovered the loose wheel. Lesson learned!
We are still trying to sell the Jeep. Can you help me with my command of the English lexicon, please? Example one: "My wife has gone to the bank and gotten the money, we'll be by later to buy the Jeep". Example two: "I'm very interested and will be out to look at it after work". Example number three (after explaining thoroughly the condition of the vehicle): "I still would like to buy the Jeep and can charge that much to my Visa card. How about you deliver it since I work alone and can't leave my job?" Obviously none of these individuals bought the Jeep. Am I strange in that I thought at least one of these folks was serious? 
Have any of you navigated the streets of San Antonio? (Sounds like a song title, doesn't it?) For some reason I cannot get anyone to give me any quarter in traffic. Are they just ignorant or rude...or both? Merging onto the interstate seems like a life or death experience. Then the tension is compounded because, instead of making a cursory glance of my surroundings, my focus is fixed on the oncoming vehicles in my lane because they will not honor my turn signal. In other words I'm focused on looking to the rear via mirrors and neck crane instead of concentrating on flowing into traffic. And then you have a multitude of Interstates, US highways, Loops, Spurs, Farm to Market roads and; of course, the upper and lower choice. As if I needed more choices! And then you have the mega short distance that the signage affords you in which to make your decision. And don't even get me going about downtown-have you been there?
Lions, tigers and bears...oh my! Did you know South Texas has been the home for exotic animals for years? It has a lot of folks upset; but controlled hunting has resulted in many endangered species flourishing here. Supposedly even an extinct animal or two. It is big business with most of the cheapest hunts costing $5000. A water buffalo will cost a hunter $50,000! I'm glad I knew this when we were traveling towards Tilden the other day. We saw a bunch of zebra and antelope on a ranch. The really high fencing is a good sign you've found one.
For some reason the song "Shades of Gray" by Robert Earl Keen comes to mind. Check it out sometime.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Some Personal Thoughts

I wonder as I grow older if they still have romances that start as youthful infatuation, blossom and last for a lifetime. Do kids still grow up in small towns where everyone really knows everyone and there is a poor side of the tracks? Are there still kids that wander around barefoot because shoes were a once a year purchase? Heroes were made on the gridiron and in the gym and celebrations were held at the Tastee Freeze. If you lacked the money for college you went to work in the coal mine. Or you joined the military, maybe the Air Force, and started out as an airman. No stripes, bottom of the barrel and you worked your way up. Back in the day they offered what was known as the bootstrap program. It allowed for intelligent, hard working non coms a way to become a commissioned officer. Go from turning wrenches on aircraft to maybe actually flying one. So now you have a wide eyed kid from a small town learning how to fly. His adventures in the depression, which included hitch hiking through the dust bowl to sunny California from that small town in Illinois, had only fueled his sense of adventure and desire to explore. Now the military would provide the means to see the world-and take that pretty girl from the other side of the tracks with him. as his wife. Hard separations became the order of the day. Serving his country in times of war and putting himself in harm's way for a way of life he believed in were part of the course. That young man moved from prop planes to cutting edge fighter jets. Children came along and he raised a family. Somehow time was found time to earn a college degree and he advanced in rank. He parlayed that into becoming a command pilot and full Colonel. Eventually his time in the military came to an end and he transitioned to civilian life. He distinguished himself there, becoming a noted explorer, humanitarian and active member of the community. Yes, I wonder if there are still men and women cut from that same cloth. People who take hardship in stride and understand that it's part of the cost of success. I hope there are and you get to know some. You will be forever enriched and it will kindle your desire to better yourself. I did; and loved and admired such a person. He was my father and we shared many an adventure together. Happy Fathers Day Dad!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It Does Matter

One of the problems with living among a people steeped in the "manana" attitude in the United States is our societal way of doing things clashes with that attitude. Even in South Texas, or Northern Mexico, as I refer to it. It's also interesting seeing these semi Americanized Hispanics get upset about getting the "manana" treatment. We have been sitting since a little before nine a.m. waiting for a tow truck because the guy that towed us the last two times suddenly decided he didn't like Good Sam's payment method. That was after we were assured that he would have us towed around eleven forty five. He just never bothered calling back to tell Good Sam this till after noon. Mellow out dude, you say. Just sit and relax and they'll get you towed. It matters that I get out of here because: I already promised the RV park owner I'd be gone by now and I told the garage that's expecting us we'd be there shortly, plus the folks with my replacement engine are waiting for my call that depends on me getting out of this RV park and getting towed to the garage. Fits of rage by Missy-who definitely is not "mananaized" has gotten Good Sam to give us a years renewal free and resulted in management being rousted at home. Word to the wise-do not get Missy's dander up. It is my sincere hope that the mechanic doing the job has some since of urgency. If the pervasive "manana" attitude has afflicted him we could be there a while. Like our Jeep we finally rescued after months of waiting at a Hispanic owned garage. Let me say that I do not want to patronize anyone or offend their culture. I know Hispanics that put their nose to the grindstone and work like dogs. I just wish their people in general had a little more sense of alacrity while doing business with us gringos.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Phone Thing

I know some of my readers are going to be put off by this, but so be it. To engender the respect of the company that employs you, you need to show some self reliance. The service people in the gate guarding business are not concierges. They are not there to serve at your beck and call and to come at your every whim. Now I know that not all of us are blessed to know a multimeter from an oscilloscope or a crescent from a box end.  However, at least make the attempt to have a cursory look at the problem you're having. After assessing the problem, ask yourself if you can make it till morning or do you really need to roust that service person at 2 a.m. Another thing you may not know is that any help they give you with your RV is out of the goodness of their own hearts. They are not RV techs! I have heard stories of some folks insisting that problems beyond the water hose or electrical plug needed to be addressed by the service person. WRONG!! If the gen set is putting out voltage and the hose is moving water, you more than likely have the problem. There are few, if any, tools required to check connections and circuit breakers. You need to know where they are and what they operate and/or effect. With the commonality of two or more air conditioners and ever more complex systems on RV's, it is not unusual for a circuit breaker to pop once and a while. Especially with generators providing the electricity we all count on. Perhaps it's a more personal thing; but establishing consumption patterns with your generator and water are also helpful. Then it's a simple matter of applying that to your service person's regular rounds. What rounds you say? Well, if everyone worked together and applied a little common sense the service persons rounds would indeed be regular. Or closer to it. Rarely does a company have a roving mechanic in the gate guard business. Your friendly neighborhood service person is saddled with that responsibility. Every time someone calls him or her that takes him from the job of servicing the rest of us. Don't be like the little boy that cried wolf and when you do make that call someone will be more apt to respond.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Donate Button

I am a sucker when it comes to helping people out. Without a voice of reason constraining me, I might give away my last dollar. That said; you have to convince me of the need. A friend suggested that I add the "Donate" button to my blog. I had to give it a whole lot of thought before doing it though. Let me state a few things very clearly. For those of you that were wondering; we dutifully put money aside for a rainy day while gate guarding. It will take all of our savings and more to purchase and install a replacement engine. If and when the donations fulfill the need I will remove the button. Any overage will go to a charity. I do not want anyone to fill obligated to assist us. Your thoughts and prayers are enough. For those of you that wish to help the cause, we cannot thank you enough. Further, I promise to "pay it forward" when I can.

Solo Gate Guarding

Have you ever seen that show called "How Do They Do That"? I often wondered the same about manning an oil field gate alone. During the recent absence of my significant other (she was up north tending to things) I was asked to sub for a couple that had a medical emergency. Some of this stuff may seem obvious, but I hope it's informative and helpful. I have said that the ability to catnap is a plus in the gate guarding world. That applies doubly so in a solo operation. What I failed to mention is that you also need to be a light sleeper and/or confident in your ability to wake up when the bell sounds. (-: During my stint driving a truck I was taught that fatigue is cumulative and that sure applies here. There is no substitute for a good night's sleep. A complete load of groceries, sundries and clean clothes is a must before starting. You will most likely not be going anywhere for a week or more. You have to be creative when it comes to bathroom breaks, showers and cooking. What I did was wait till late at night to shower. I was fortunate that traffic ebbed quite bit at night and I could get a few hours sleep before traffic picked up in the morning. It still is a tough job, especially if you take pride in what you do and attempt to keep control of a gate. A controlled gate that opens and shuts during certain times-like some 12 hour gates-makes for an ideal solo gig. Basically, trying to get anything done around the RV when you are alone on a gate is difficult to accomplish.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Well dear readers, I am back in the land of internet, Mickey D's and asphalt. Unfortunately, on the way to clean up, wash clothes and shop, Jesabel (our motorhome) blew a radiator hose. Over 8 hours later; completely unsettled by passing traffic, a tow truck finally showed up. The best he could do was take us to the nearest truck stop in Pearsall, Texas. The next morning we discovered the blown hose and that it was a proprietary Freightliner part. So we ordered the part from Freightliner in San Antonio. You didn't really think they kept them in stock, did you? When we made the 125 mile plus round trip to San Antonio, we discovered that Fed Ex bungled the shipment and we had no hose. We were steered to a nearby NAPA distribution center (I could spend days in there looking around ( -: ) and a very patient and knowledgeable counter person came up with a flex hose substitute. We had now missed the deadline to make our next gate assignment and, worse yet, the motorhome would not start after the hose was installed.
It has been just over a week since I started this post and I now know what we are facing. We were able to get Good Sam to move us from the truckstop to a RV park. The 24 hour running of the generator; much less living in the truckstop, was just not something we could continue. We finally got a mechanic to come out and tear into the engine. Our hopes of a hydro lock were dashed once the injectors were pulled and the @#$%^&%$# engine still wouldn't turn. Removing the oil pan and then some bearings further verified the worst, since it still wouldn't turn.  Finally, we removed the head-man that thing is heavy-and found the cause. The engine had gotten hot enough to melt the pistons!

Well, if we thought getting a mechanic to get us this far was difficult, getting someone to change the engine was going to be next to impossible. Good Sam has been very helpful; but in the oil patch mechanics and garages (especially ones that will take this on) are VERY difficult to find. Good Sam also probably won't tow us again, since we've been moved twice. We finally found a garage and mechanic to do the job. Now we have to find a long block and gather the funds (about 5-7 K) to make it happen. Ideally, I would love to find a wrecked RV and just plug a used engine in. That would be cheaper and quicker than a rebuild. It also irks me to put that much money in a motor home as old as this one. This coach is our home and we love it but... Another problem is finding housing while the operation takes place. The whole back of the motor home has to be disassembled to get the engine in and out. They did not mean for these things to come out during its lifetime. Hotels just aren't in our budget since we are scraping bottom to get the engine in the first place. A hovel in the oil patch is like a shack in Malibu these days-and you won't get the view or the beach thrown in. Any of my dear readers who know where a relatively cheap trailer can be rented, give us a shout. Our boss has been a jewel, checking on us daily. He has even gotten us occasional gigs relieving gates. Anyway, my plan is to update everyone when I know more or something important occurs. Keep us in your thoughts-or prayers-or both.