Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017
Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gate Guarding -- Wed. & Thurs., May 2-3

Ingram, Texas to Cotulla, Texas:
Wednesday morning we got up, prepped the 5er for the road, then took the Escape along the North Fork of the Guadalupe River. The morning was cool and overcast. Here is a pictorial of our drive:

We saw a herd of either axis or fallow deer with fawns. They took off when I tried to get a picture, but I sort of captured one under a tree...
Axis deer just to right of tree
North Fork Guadalupe River downstream from picnic area.
North Fork Guadalupe River upstream from picnic area.
North Fork Guadalupe River upstream from picnic area.
We then drove out past Armadillo Junction RV Park (where we were staying) to a church youth camp because Bob wanted to show me this cool swimming hole he found while out for a walk.
Swimmin' hole at a church camp.

Swimmin' hole at a church camp--other side of river.
After our exploration of the Ingram/Hunt areas in the Hill Country of Texas, we took off for Cotulla, Texas, where we are assigned to a gate starting Thursday (not Friday as originally planned). Our route took us from Kerrville south on SR 173 through Bandera ("Cowboy Capital of the World") to I-35; then south to Cotulla.

We didn't know where we were going to stay for the night. We got in touch with the company we're working for. They told us they were using an RV park about 20 miles out of town and said we could spend the night there and they'd hook us up to a generator. So that's what we did. The site was about 1/4 mile off the highway and protected by a gate. It was very quiet back there. 

When we first arrived and parked the 5er, Bob opened the door of the 5th wheel, then went to talk to one of the guys we'll be working for. Next thing we know, Bowie darted out the door and under the 5er. Oh, cr@p! He's an indoor only cat. I should mention that the field we parked in was full of weeds with thousands of burs. Bowie did not want to move because he realized burs are very painful. Hero Bob got down on his hands and knees and pulled Bowie out by the scruff of his neck. Bob came out with burs in his palm. Ouch! 

The escape artist safely secured, I set about removing burs from said cat. I used Kleenex to protect myself from the sharp barbs. Some of the burs had worked their way into Bowie's skin. He was good about letting me remove them.

I also used tweezers to remove pieces of burs from Bob's hand.

We saw our first roadrunner as it was getting toward evening. 

After our 5er was settled into the grassy field, we went to meet the people whose place we would be taking at the gate. They are going to their granddaughter's high school graduation. They told us about the job and showed us what they do. I asked Sharon what kind of animals they saw across the street on the ranch. She said when they first arrived, they saw big exotic animals which she thought were wildebeest. They seem to have moved away from the gate when all the big rigs started arriving.

On the drive toward our gate we saw a Caracara (in the falcon family). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Western Edition describes the Caracara as follows: "An omnivorous raptor, it feeds on small vertebrates as well as carrion. This bird, magnificent in flight, is the 'Mexican eagle' of the flag of Mexico. The Mexican peso coin shows the Caracara hacking a wriggling rattlesnake to death with its beak."

We told the people we're replacing we would be back in the morning around 10:00 a.m. to take over the gate. 

The time was going on 8:45 p.m. and I told Bob we needed to get into town if we wanted to get dinner. We ended up having a very good dinner at Dairy Queen. In the dark, we drove around town to locate the post office, Ace Hardware, grocery store and restaurants. We never did find the laundromat. I will refer to the map our friends Dave & Doris gave us. (They gate guarded in Cotulla in the winter.)

Both of us slept well last night. This morning, we pulled the 5er over to our gate and saw Barry and Sharon off. They gave us some more instructions and were gone.

Bob took the day shift from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Night owl (me) will work 4:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. We are 10 miles out of Cotulla. Our site has four oil pads (most have one). The oil company is almost finished at the first pad. I think this is considered a busy gate.

The temperature today must have been close to 100 with a hot breeze and blowing dust. During the day we saw some summer tanagers. Late afternoon, just before it started getting dark, I looked across the road and saw three Springbok antelope. I got photos from a distance. 

I also took some photos of our rig at the gate.

At dusk, I examined a woodpecker-type bird in a mesquite tree. It looked exactly like the Gila Woodpecker, but the Audubon book says they don't nest this far east. The closest second choice I could find is the Golden-fronted woodpecker which is common in this area, but the bird I saw just didn't quite match.

When it got dark, fireflies came out! I haven't seen a firefly since we were on St. Lucia.

Around 8:30 p.m., lightning lit up the sky to the north. It looked like lightning that started on the ground and went up into the sky. Truckers checking in here were commenting about it. They were afraid we were going to get rain. Rain would turn all the dirt and sand roads into a big, messy mudhole. They don't want to drive in it.

Bob is sleeping and I'm guarding the gate. We have three motion sensors (two in front for incoming vehicles and one inside for outgoing vehicles) that let us know when a truck is coming in. Sometimes I think I hear a truck coming, but I've had a lot of false alarms. I have to wait until the alarm sounds before I head outside. 

However, on one of my false alarm trips outside at 12:15 a.m., I saw an armadillo! 

It's been an exciting first day for us and the cats too. Bowie adapted to the alarms pretty quickly but Sunnie is a little freaked out by them. I have a feeling he'll get used to them soon enough. Right now Sunnie is hunting bugs; he especially likes flies, but moths will do.

It's 1:15 a.m. now and you can tell I haven't been super busy by how long this blog is! I will write again as I have time and internet connection. 

The internet and cell phone coverage here is not great. We get kicked off the internet frequently and it is very slow...it was almost impossible to connect and stay on during the day. (Tonight it got faster.)

That's all I've got. 

Travel Bug out.


  1. Hello, Erma and Ted! Glad you made it to your new gig. Sounds like you might could use one of those Wilson antenna booster thingies. Best of luck out there...you have great attitudes, and we enjoy your zest for adventure!

  2. Hi Mike (Charles) & Sandy (can't remember your Oscar night name). Our internet is plugging along AND we have cell phone coverage! Woo hoo.

    When we traveled to Fort Worth for our security gate training, we took SR 16 north to US 377. What a beautiful drive. It wasn't crowded when we went. We did not take the 5er however, just my Escape.

    Sounds like you made it to your destination with just a little hassle.


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