Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Living in the Hinterlands

I was bemused and amused by the title I gave this latest missive from my bunker and lair. When we assumed responsibility for our first gate, I thought we were in the boonies, and we were just a few miles from Kenedy, Texas! Like so many things, your perspective changes on a fairly regular basis whilst doing the gate guarding thing. Looking back, having to travel from the Gillette/Nixon area to Floresville for groceries wasn't all that bad. Although I am referring to gate guard life in general, our current location was the inspiration for this post. From the time we arrived in the oil patch through today we have and had heard stories of remote gates so close to the border that the distinction between Mexico and the United States sort of melded together. Illegals were everywhere and violence permeated every day life the stories went. There is almost a mantra in the gate guard community that goes sort of like this-"we ain't taking no stinking gate down by the border". Depending on who you ask we are somewhere between 15 and 20 miles from the border. We are on a private ranch (in Texas a ranch can comprise thousands of acres/square miles) and there are no highways to the border in here. To get there on paved roads adds another 50 to 75 miles to the trip.
First off let me say that other than sheer distances (it's a 70 mile round trip to the nearest post office-add another 20 to the grocery store) life isn't so bad down here. Off duty cops patrol the ranch twenty four hours a day and the only illegals we have seen have been on the main roads. That's not to say we don't get Homeland Security and Border Patrol activity close to us; but we kind of look at it as entertainment. They put on quite a show when they get on the "scent", brandishing all the technology and fire power a superpower can provide. They have helicopters, souped up short course looking offroad trucks, mobile command vehicles; hell they even have a cavalry!
Now that I've somewhat set the stage for you, you kind of have an idea of the challenges we face on a daily basis. However; much of what I share can be of use to anyone living away from the umbilical cord of modern day society. I have the benefit of having lived overseas and am used to not having the convenience of grocery stores, big box stores, malls, etc. I have had to journey deep into foreign countries and meet up with ranchers to buy beef on the hoof-meaning picking a cow out and having them slaughter and dress it. As some of you know I have also spent nights deep in an unfriendly jungle thousands of miles from home. So this having a remote, close to the border gate guard gig should be a breeze, right?? Actually there is a lot more to it.

Any trip needs to be planned in advance; joyrides rarely, if ever occur out here. If you're used to running to the store for a gallon of milk you are in for an attitude adjustment. The need for a plan becomes painfully evident when you get back to the hacienda and realize what you forgot; and that it's a hard ride back to town. If you run out of something you just suffer without it till the next planned trip. The only exception we make is to allow one of us to attend the occasional luncheon with other gate guards; call it a mental health break. Even then we use the opportunity to pick up things. Along those lines it is also imperative that you keep your vehicle(s) topped off with fuel. With the distances we travel, you don't want to find out your below a quarter tank. Keeping the tank full also keeps the condensation down in the tank. Vehicles also need special attention, especially the tires and fluids. Hobbies or activities become important for the sake of sanity. Find something to do that you enjoy. We grow vegetables, race RC cars and fly RC helicopters, read, Missy crochets and we both cook.

This can be a lonely trying existence. Socialization is hard to come by, so a network of friends is good to have. Our little gate guard community in South Texas is very active on the social networks and there is always a shoulder to lean on. I personally advocate getting away once or twice a year just to get a break from the daily routine. If you're looking to make good money and think you're up for the challenge, a gate near the border might be for you. You never know, you could get lucky and score a gate that's a little further north. Look for a gate guard company working down that away. Good Luck!


  1. March 27, 2014

    Bonnie and I took a break from watching a gate on January one and returned on February twenty fifth. While we were off we were in three different RV parks the first had a dirt road leading into the site, just like a gate job. We then had maintenance done on our coach and a trip to Austin for a grandson fix and onto another RV park northeast of Pleasanton until we returned to a gate with a different company.

    The previous company was informed we were ready to “gate” but never called us. Friends informed us their company was looking for a couple ready to take a gate, that process went fast in one day. We are now on the second gate for this company.

    I did see a Border Patrol truck this morning, our third day here west of Dilly north of TX 85. Tuesday Bonnie went to Pearsall H E B shopping, a twenty nine mile trip, three and a half miles are dirt county road, our eighth day since going to Pleasanton H E B a thirty seven mile trip all paved roads as we were just off TX 99 north of TX 72.


  2. Good luck to you down there. You are more tolerant than I for sure. We have been gate guarding for 4 years. 2 in the Barnett Shale in Ft Worth and 2 down here. We have been fortunate to stay here in the Karnes county area the whole time. There is plenty of work here and no need to go anywhere else.