Monday, May 19, 2014

An Update from Hereford

We arrived Saturday morning and had zero problems with the MBAT (Mom's big ass truck), our 14000 pd. 5ver or the pickup we agreed to deliver. It was only around 500 miles or so; but when you have that much equipment, and weight to move, it becomes a challenge. Our odyssey started around 1300 hours (1 pm) on Friday from Hidden Valley RV Park in Von Ormy.
By the way we continue to preach about the many virtues of Hidden Valley and have referred a lot of folks to them. It makes no pretense about being some high dollar luxury park; but it does have beautiful trees and landscaping. It is also a great place to decompress and seemingly get away from it all; yet San Antonio is only minutes away. Teri and Mark live on site and are the best hosts we have met in over 5 years of fulltiming. I make no promises, but Teri knows the gate guard community and goes out of her way to make the cost of your stay very reasonable.
But, I digress, yet again. That morning we had to go to Floresville to pick up a pickup that the company asked that we deliver. We would have done it anyway; but SiteWatch is a great company and we were glad to accommodate them. Since that pickup needed an oil change, we went ahead and also had the MBAT done. A couple of bags of ice, some drinks and a top off of fuel and off we went. We swung by Von Ormy and hooked up the 5ver and headed toward the panhandle. The MBAT is a 2005 Ford F250 with a 6.0 Powerstroke diesel and it handled the hill country with aplomb, the transmission fan serving as the only reminder of the work the truck was doing. Oh; we did slow down, but that was primarily for the sake of fuel mileage (aprox. 9.5 mpg). We made it to Post, TX just before night fall, found a RV park (with trains yards away), ate dinner and crashed for the night. We hit the road fairly early, rolled through Lubbock and caught I-27 towards Amarillo. Then it was off the interstate and on to Farm to Market roads and two lanes, through Dimmit, TX and on in to Hereford, TX, arriving around noon. Our RV park is down a gravel road, just a outside of town, and is bare bones. SiteWatch is paying a percentage of the rent, and we have been told that this is about the best you can find in the area. At least we don't have to traverse miles of caliche lease roads to get here. We are adapting to a life without gate alarms, no logging, unlimited water, no generator noise and civilization just down the road. Hereford doesn't have a lot to offer and "country perfume" permeates the air on a regular basis. It supposedly is the beef capital of the world. However, we don't have to drive 150 plus miles to get groceries either. We also happen to be less than a mile from a major rail route and the cacophony of train horns requires some getting used to. We are working on a wind farm, about ten minutes from our RV park. There is a central yard that we will work out of with wind generator sites spread out through several counties. One of us will be responsible for the yard and the other will roam, providing security for the sites and equipment. It is very rural and surrounded by grazing country, so night time should be interesting. Our shifts are basically four days long with two twelve hour shifts of days followed by the same at night. We are enjoying being able to spend time together and are looking forward to the challenges of the new job. I'll update soon!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Fond Farewell

This summer would have been our third in the oil patch. We have been out here; with the exception of a couple of breaks, for over 2 1/2 years. Ironically enough we leave the patch at the pinnacle of our gate guard career, having almost doubled our pay since starting. We are pretty much accustomed to the heat and the dust and the elements in general.  However; this last gate has wore on us, especially since it required someones presence most of the time. The way the gate is set up the RV is off the road a ways so running back and forth to check folks in is virtually impossible. That relegates the guard to either stay in the guard shack or sit in a chair out by the gate. I'm not lazy by any means, but it would be nice to be able to catch a cap nap once in a while and sit in my comfortable chair between breaks in traffic. Anyway, we try to schedule a mini vacation around a Memorial Day chili cookoff, and had planned to do that, when we spied an opportunity on Andy's forum. How appropriate that our lives should swing in full circle. First, Andy was primarily responsible for me getting my lard ass down here to the patch and now a lead from his forum will be taking us away. Even more serendipitous is that we will be reacquainting with SiteWatch. Some of my dear readers know that I was hired by them after stepping in and helping them when a guard got sick. That cured me of ever trying to gate guard solo, as Missy was up north with her son. Unfortunately, this was also the time that I burned up the engine in our diesel pusher, so I could not take the gate they offered us and lost the opportunity to join SiteWatch. It's a whole other story; but this was doubly disappointing, because SiteWatch can be so difficult to get on with. But, I digress (as I am often prone to do). We followed up on the opportunity on Andy's forum and it turned out to be a job providing security on a wind farm. We will be working the "construction" side of SiteWatch-they provide security for construction projects from stores to things like the wind farms. While it's not quite as lucrative as the oil field gate guard gig, it does provide a decent income. Additionally there will be NO MORE LOGGING (yeah!) and we will live off site. As my gate guard friends know that means we can sleep together, eat together, go out together; you name it. We also won't have to subject our vehicles to the thrashing they now get on these lease roads or travel hundreds of miles for groceries. I haven't even begun to fathom what it will be like not to be dependent on a generator. We have left the door open to return to the oil patch, especially since we will have an "in" with SiteWatch. Hopefully all the friends and acquaintances we have made down here will stay in touch and not disown us. After all, we will still be working a gate and have to hold a license with the DPS-we just won't have a derrick or some other oil field accoutrement just outside our door. The blog will continue as we will still be workamping and living fulltime in our house with wheels. So, for better or worse, there will continue to be fodder published through my blog. An update will follow once we are settled.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Reluctant Convert

I thought a used, reasonable in price diesel pusher would be the best "home on wheels" for me to live and work out of. I still believe that; but only if you have the means to use it to travel in. As a conveyance to get from one spot to another, they are hard to beat. To rarely drive them and use them as a parked home goes against there nature. That is why, for the most part, potential buyers are mistaken when  considering mileage as a factor when purchasing a used motorhome (diesel or gas). A used motorhome with low miles and use will inevitably show its age once turned loose on the highway. Don't forget that all the mechanicals and parts and pieces have aged as the motorhome set somewhere. Conversely, a used diesel pusher with some miles under its belt that has been cared for is probably the better buy. Most Blue Books don't even factor mileage into the appraisal of a used diesel pusher. But, I digress. After years of attempting to keep a diesel pusher operating and running and using it as our domicile in the "oil patch", we finally got serious about its replacement. I found myself thwarted because the figure I came up with for the purchase of a 5th wheel and the tow vehicle seemed to be at or near the cost of a diesel pusher. I also found out that, despite the apparent demand in South Texas, selling or trading a RV is very difficult. At least getting a decent price for it was. Add to that that I wasn't really sold on a 5th wheel and things didn't progress very well. Finally the repair and maintenance costs drove me to do some serious research and we purchased a 5th wheel and truck. I had to resign myself to settle for whatever I could get for the motorhome. Six or seven months later and we have yet to spend $2000 on the 5th wheel. And that's including the addition of a second air conditioner and putting new tires on it. We have had the coach thoroughly inspected and there appears to be nothing majorly wrong with it. There is also a lot more room than we had with the single slide out diesel pusher. While I still love a diesel pusher, I have to reluctantly say that if you're going to remain parked a majority of the time, a 5th wheel is the way to go. Finally, the added benefit of not constantly worrying about maintenance issues and their inevitable costs has lowered the stress level tremendously in my life. If nothing else, that has made me a reluctant convert.

My Mom

Everyone, almost without fail, will sound the praises of their mother. While I'll not argue about the virtues of the rest of the Moms out there, I will argue that the wife of a career military man or woman is a unique and very special breed. My mother endured years of separation, anxieties that few women will ever know and tests of both her marital bonds and maternal instincts. She was the "parental unit" of the house, responsible for the raising and care of my sister and me. There were countless moves and challenges that she faced, the majority of which she did alone. She was the anchor of our nomadic family and I have always admired her for that. Those of you that have or have had kids can only imagine what raising them alone must be like. My sister and I did not make it easy on her either. There may be a bond between both parents and a child, but I have no doubt that the bond between my mother and I is the strongest. I love her dearly and she is never far from my thoughts. I wish her only the best and a very Happy Mothers Day.