Thursday, May 30, 2013

Vacation and other Things

First, let me speak about our RV park in San Antonio. We left our gate the 22nd of May, as scheduled, and headed North for San Antonio as planned. We are very fond of Hidden Valley RV park and it was our preferred place to lay over in South Texas. Mark and Teri have been more than fair in their treatment of us and the cost to stay there has been very reasonable. What Hidden Valley lacked in amenities it made up for in its atmosphere and people. As you may have noticed I am writing in the past tense as Hidden Valley as we knew it is sadly gone. One of its charming aspects is the Medina river and almost 10" of rain was more than its banks could hold. The resulting surge of water and flooding virtually destroyed the infrastructure of the park. Little did we know that our stay would be our last. There appear to be no plans to resurrect it. We dread the necessary and upcoming search for a park to relax and layover in and hope that someday we can return to Hidden Valley.
Our motorhome has the nickname of Jesabel and lately has lived up to its name. After replacing all the hoses and the thermostat on the engine it still wanted to run hot. Needless to say this was very stressful to us as we had planned our vacation for some time. We reluctantly turned a mechanic loose on the engine and he soaked the radiator with Simple Green and pressure washed it. While he was at it we had the water pumped changed. A quick test drive the following morning-our day of departure-indicated everything was good and the engine temperature stayed in the green. We made some last minute purchases and headed North. It took less than twenty miles for the engine to overheat. We were at a make or break point near Austin and had been forced to stop numerous times to let the engine cool. We toyed with the idea of sending Missy north in the car and me returning to work and having a mechanic work on the coach yet again. We made one last call to our latest mechanic and he had me check and open all the heater valves. After that the engine temperature occasionally was in the upper range, but it did stay out of the red and the check gauges light never came on. Every repair we make to this coach seems to nickel and dime us (except the nickels and dimes are hundred dollar bills) to the point where we might have been better off just turning it over to a major facility such as Freightliner or Cummins. I am currently at a loss as to how to proceed. The only thing left is to remove the radiator and have it thoroughly cleaned. Hopefully the trip back to Texas won't be so eventful. As I write this we are battling a water leak which we think we have attributed to a leaky connection at the water heater. It's hard to blame the coach for this one as we think it was a result of normal flexing and twisting encountered on the road.
Anyway, we are safely ensconced in a low rent RV park with iffy internet near Wagoner, OK. My next post will be all about what we are up to and how we are spending our time off. Suffice it to say we are sleeping in and enjoying a respite from the traffic alarms.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mixed Feelings

When it is all said and done we are true gate guard rats. We have been at this for almost a year and a half, other than an occasional break or two. Missy has managed to get home to Oklahoma a couple of times during that stretch but I have remained here; even working solo during her absence. Well we are both tired and Missy wants to spend some time with her son, so we are going to take some time off. Most of our time has been spent working for one company and we have been more than satisfied with their support and care for us. When we took our last break we were "chomping at the bit" to get back to work after about two weeks. I guess we actually must enjoy doing this! Like a lot of things in life; how you deal with people and your attitude have a lot to do with success in gate guarding. We enjoy meeting and befriending folks. We also have enjoyed learning the process that is required to extract oil from mother earth. For many months we have been following a pair of rigs that have been hell bent on breaking each others records-from spud to terminal depth (or TD). Consequently we would find ourselves picking up stakes and moving every 14-20 days. Now we have been on the same gate for over two months and have settled in. It is with some mixed feelings that we say good bye to this little pad we call home. While we were appreciative of the lengthy stay, we will not miss all the ancillary activity that goes along with a lease this big.. Our wonderful (comparatively speaking) road has all but been destroyed by caliche truck traffic. The master plan calls for fourteen pads when it is all said and done. Every time we think we are going to catch a break another pad begins and the trucks start to roll. I can put up with all kinds of distractions when I try to sleep, but the cacophony of caliche trucks is not one of them. The folks who volunteered to take our pad say they love a busy gate. Well they will certainly will get that and more as fracking is on the horizon and coil tubing has already started. So, in about a week we'll say adios to the oil patch. We'll see if we remain gone the entire planned four weeks!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Four Legged Love

Kenai is our Husky mix. He is very smart and extremely willful; to the point that I will not have another male dog. Kenai has worked his way into our hearts though and is an integral part of the family. Early in his life he began to suffer from seizures and it broke my heart to watch him suffer. He is currently on medication and his quality of life is very good. Recently I noticed a mass just behind his ribcage and it was off to the vet to get a diagnosis. The vet says it is fatty tissue (called a lipoma) and he performed a needle biopsy-which was benign. Today the hound goes back to the vet and he will have the mass excised tomorrow morning. Then we wait and hope that it is not a sarcolipoma, or cancerous. Please keep Kenai in your thoughts and prayers and let's hope for a positive resolution.

Update: Kenai is at home resting. The tumor was much worse than the vet thought, with tendrils running out from it. He is hopeful that he excised all of it, but fearful that it was cancerous. As soon as we got the hound home we knew that we would never put him through that again. He has a huge shaved area on his side, a large incision and a drain tube in place. So we will care for the animal as long as it is humane to do so-he seems quite happy right now.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mothers Day

Mothers Day is a very special day. Normally we don't give dear old dad more than a card and/or a hug. Not Mom. For the most part they are the parent that molded you into the person you became (or will become). I believe my generation was one of the last to have nuclear families at its core. Family for us was everything. For better or worse the turbulent 60's and 70's put an end to that. For my part I have to say my Mom must have put up with more than the average Mom did. The military was my father's mistress and he answered its call with frequency. That meant my Mom assumed a ton of roles and unless you have been, or know a military Mom, you have no idea what that encompassed. When my father was home or we travelled with him my mother was the person responsible for his appearance. She kept his uniform pressed and his shoes signed. One of my memories is that my father always left for work with a clean car. You guessed it-Mom washed it every work day morning. I was blessed to have great grand parents who lived through my early years. The matriarchs were an integral part of our family structure. On my fathers side my great grandparents were of German descent (even speaking the language) and that rich culture stayed with me. My mother came from a family of girls and I learned much from all of them. When the military didn't drag us away we got to experience the fading small town culture of this great country. My great grand mother owned the local hardware store and a lot of the family lived close. After church (a must on Sundays) we would gather at my great grandmothers house for Sunday dinner. I loved the smell of that old wooden house with its antiques and intoxicating aromas coming out of the kitchen. My mother came from the generation that rarely measured anything and dinner never disappointed. I consider myself a good cook and thank the women of my family for that. I believe being in touch with your feminine side is a good thing for a man. You will be rewarded later in life if you learn how to cook, clean and wash. Throw in the fact that my Dad was an outdoorsman and an outstanding mechanic and it's a mystery  why I didn't turn out better. ( -; I can use all kinds of superlatives to describe and honor my Mother, but they would fail to adequately describe her. She has been my rock and the greatest love of my life. I am truly blessed having her. Happy Mothers Day Mom!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Communication or a lack thereof Redux

We have a frac going on just down the road and the parade of lost cars and trucks seems endless. There are only a few companies whose poor directions are causing the problem. We have called corporate and dispatchers and still they come. Several things make this more than just a minor irritant. Once we have spoken to the company(s) in question and people continue to get lost it starts to wear on you. Our land owner and top hand also have forbade us from allowing lost vehicles to turn around on the property. Add to the fact that we are in the middle of building a pad and have tons of trucks (and rock) coming and going and you have a recipe for a first class mess. Trying to turn these lost souls around when you have a line of trucks going both ways is difficult, at best.  We have also had a driveway alarm destroyed and fear some real damage may eventually occur. Despite our entreaties we seem incapable of getting the companies to communicate and provide decent directions for there drivers. Here's a photo of what can happen, especially given the skill level we've observed with these drivers. Observe the line of trucks waiting to get in.
Cattywampus truck tried to turn around at the gate