Friday, August 14, 2015

Back in the Saddle

After about two weeks off, we have settled into a new gate near Gonzales, Texas. We got a lot of things done, along with some playtime, but it was time to get back to work.
Since gate guarding has become a vocation for us, we carry a ton of stuff we feel is necessary to make the job easier. This includes two Dish and one Exede (for internet) satellite dishes, a phone booster and antenna, a window air conditioner, several computers and TV's plus all the wiring and connections to make all that work. We know some guards that get by on whatever TV signal they can snatch from the air and rely on Wi Fi or whatever internet they can get through their phones. We tried "nickel dimeing" it with an air card when we first started gate guarding. It barely worked and gave us a whopping one megabyte of data a month. As it stands now; we have 10 megabytes (plus unlimited data from midnight till 5 a.m.) with Exede and somewhere between 10 and 20 megabytes on our phones. Anyway, all this stuff has to be connected, and the first few days on the gate require that time be allotted for these tasks. The August heat has been unrelenting, making these tasks even more daunting. Once we're done, we have a cool RV all sat up for the information age. I never cease to be amazed that, in some of the remote locales that we inhabit, we have a climate controlled habitat with internet and TV.
Our ability to transition from spot to spot has improved remarkably. Sure, we still have hiccups now and then; like slideout failures, but it normally isn't a hassle. What we haven't figured out, is how we continue to see folks out there that look so clean and neat as they do the RV "thing". After the removal of sewer and water hoses, jack pads, power cords, wheel chocks et all, we are tired, dirty, sweaty and a bit grumpy. And that's when things go well. I guess working out of the RV is bit different than doing the weekend warrior thing.
On our trip to Gonzales we were saddened and surprised to see diesel priced at under $2.15 a gallon. Challenging times are ahead for the petroleum industry as oil continues to drop in price. We could and probably will see oil under $30 a barrel before long. We had heard all kinds of dire predictions about the viability of directional drilling at $58 a barrel, much less at the current prices. While things have slowed, the rig count has actually ticked upward a bit. Unfortunately, unless things improve, there will most likely be a lot of stacking in the near future. It would be nice to have our leadership stand up to OPEC and others and moderate the flow of oil. I don't see that happening anytime soon, so things could get interesting.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Getting the most from your security License

Some of my dear readers know we are on vacation. Yet, here I am, sweating in 90 degree plus heat, on yet another gate. I've only made myself available to one company, J&G, during our down time. Our boss has always been there for us and has been more than fair. So, if I'm in the area, he knows he can use me. Their is also other work available, if I choose to do it. Missy and I have both worked a gate during our time off. The way we look at it, our space at the RV park is now covered. I am not going to get into the rules and legal mumbo jumbo when it comes to working for other companies. You do need to be registered with DPS to legally work for a company. There is also a fee involved. You should also verify what company rules you have to follow. Some won't let folks that don't work for them to act as relief(s), for example. As I have said in previous entries, just because you're a contractor doesn't excuse you from adhering to general etiquette. When you part ways and move on from a company, don't burn your bridges. See where this is going? It is always nice to have a source of income available, so don't tick people off. We are fortunate to have several companies wanting to use our services. If the traffic at the gate we're on allows it, we try to do it. Their are downsides in relief work, especially 12 hour gates where you work out of your vehicle. However, if you can squeeze in the time, the rewards can be great.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Buying Some Time

We were only a couple of payments away from paying off our last 5th wheel when we found our current toyhauler. We needed more room and a 5th wheel with a garage seemed the perfect answer. I'm not getting any younger and I had hoped this would be my last RV purchase. As it turns out there is a lot more work needed than I'm willing to do, so we're on the hunt for yet another home; hopefully my last. We were able to get the dealership to repair some things, but the leaky living and kitchen slideouts (and a few other things) were left for us to repair.
That sent me off on one of my searches. As my dear readers know, I can get a bit anal when it comes to my projects. I am a big believer that well over half the battle is complete and through preparation. I had read where RV'rs had used Kool Seal on their roofs. It not only helped seal them, it also provided a reflective barrier from the sun. However, further investigation revealed that Kool Seal for rubber roofs is difficult to find and; more importantly, required an expensive primer before applying. EPDM seemed to fit the bill, but I could not find it locally. Finally, we went to Texas RV Supply and they recommended Plas T Cote. It is latex based, which means easy cleanup with water. It requires no primer and the surface just needs to be thoroughly cleaned before applying. We bought 2 cheap brushes and a 6" roller. The job only took as long as it did because of the heat. Otherwise it goes quickly. Here's some pics of the product and a slideout that we did. If you don't want to go through the expense of replacing a worn roof or simply want to extend the life of it, this is the way to go.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Dressed Down

It's hot; even for south Texas in the summer. We have been using our time off to accomplish some maintenance and up keep on our 5ver. Add that to the heat and you can imagine I am dressed down. In my old age and semi retirement I have grown less and less concerned about my appearance. Since the days when my mother guided my choices in fashion till a few years ago, I always tried to dress with others opinions in mind. It's not that I cared what they thought, it's just that I didn't want to stand out. Funny how that works; the nicer that I dressed, the more conspicuous I felt. Not so much anymore. Comfort is paramount; we even have a "Walmart" uniform. So, if you and I should happen to meet, don't be surprised if you find me in shorts, a tee shirt and some clogs. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Repairs and Whatnot

We packed up last Monday and attempted to head to Houston for RV repairs and some well earned time off. We typically ask and are allowed to take a day to get packed up, so we didn't hit the road till Tuesday. Notice I say attempted. Missy and I have a well organized system we follow and, when it came time, the &*&^% kitchen and living slideouts would not come in. We set a approximate time of departure of 10 a.m. on travel days. We do not like to rush, especially when we're hauling 40 feet of toyhauler down the road. Well, the slideouts come in when everything else is done because you can't move around the house when they're stowed. So, it was well after nine when this debacle occurred. We have been RVing for a while, so we know how to assess and troubleshoot most problems. First thought was to attempt to bring the slides in manually. I know that, in most cases, the motors have to be disengaged from the tracks. Some systems have a simple lever you use to accomplish this and some require the removal of the motor. Well, I saw no way to disengage the motor(s), plus the wrench provided for the job could not be used in the tight space (you don't suppose they checked that out at the factory, do you?). On to further trouble shooting. Did I mention it was getting hotter by the minute and that we were rolling around in gravel and dirt? No voltage to the motors, voltage at the circuit board, but no voltage at the fuses, continuity check showed fuses checked good, all connections seemed tight-WTF? Finally decided to disconnect the motors and jump them directly with a battery charger. Apparently there was not enough oomph to make things happen. What to do? We finally jumped the motors with our faithful Ford pickup. At least they were stowed and we could get headed down the road. There is nothing I hate more than hopping in the truck all sweaty, dirty and frustrated. Fair warning to all you noobs out there; RVing rarely comes off smoothly. For those of you not bored to death; it turned out that the circuit board itself had failed. The fairly simple fix was to move the wires to an opening on the board. We were really glad to have had the option of a bedroom slide as it gave us a place to stay for the night. The following morning we headed out in the morning rush hour to get to the repair facility. If you want a test of your driving abilities, try towing a 40 foot toyhauler through Houston during rush hour. Some of my dear readers have posed the question of how we handle our pets in these situations. It's never easy and the heat makes it doubly so. We were forced to idle and keep the pets in the truck, till we figured out an alternative. One alternative would have been to use one of the dealers trailers to stay in, but that never happened. Then we tried hotels, which proved difficult, because we wanted to stay in the area and had to find one that was pet friendly. We finally found a hotel, but they couldn't get us checked in till early afternoon. Sometimes the stars just do not align for you. We spent about a day and a half chasing after the mechanics and their supervisors, trying to get as many things as we could repaired. We finally left around lunchtime and started a search for a RV park. Let me tell you something; RV parks may be in abundance near Houston, but try finding a space. We spent three days in a small RV park in the country and satisfied Missy's shopping bug. We also got her ring repaired, which is near impossible to do in the oil patch. Now we are ensconced at Hidden Valley, one of our favorite RV parks, near San Antonio. Missy leaves Thursday to spend a few days in Las Vegas with some of her gal friends and we're scheduled to head back to work the Tuesday following her return. All in all, we'll have gotten a lot done and; more importantly, relaxed a bit.