Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.
Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A New Month, A New Location -- Sat., June 30

Cotulla and San Antonio, Texas:

Here we are. Lovely San Antonio, Texas: Riverwalk, The Alamo, green, hilly, varied flora, freeways, big grocery stores, shopping malls, restaurants, Six Flags, botanic gardens, a zoo, the Hemisphere Tower, caverns, history galore, paved bike paths, cheap gas. Today we made our move from Cotulla to San Antonio, about 1-1/2 hours. We just finished dinner at the Mexican (Jalisco state) restaurant across the street.

But let me back up. After four hours of sleep, I woke up and finished reading "One Ranger" (the second book) so I could take it back to Jerry and Kit today on our way out of Dodge, er, I mean Cotulla. The "One Ranger" books are a fascinating read about the history of the Texas Rangers and their crime-fighting skills.

Bob woke up about 2:30 a.m. and had some traffic coming and going through the gate so he didn't get his usual nap from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Both of us were very tired today. We knew our gate guard replacement was coming around noon. 

I played Suzie housekeeper to get ready for the move and Bob did his manly preparations outside. I vacuumed, washed counters in the kitchen and made sure interior items were battened down for the move. (Except I can't move the heavy recliners very well, so Bob took care of moving those out of the way of our slide.)  

Bob swept under the slide awnings to get out any spiders lurking there (at my insistence, being faint of heart at the sight of a spider). He put away the fresh water hose, took down our air card booster, emptied the grey and black water tanks, filled LOMA's generator with diesel and put in oil, took off the wheel covers, removed the chocks, hooked up the truck to the trailer, stowed the propane tanks and garbage can.

We were all done with our preparations at 11:00 a.m. While we waited, Bob took a nap and I started reading Kyle Mills "Storming Heaven" and checking vehicles in and out. 

Remember the Bewicks' wren we tried to discourage from building a nest under our dining room slide by removing all her nesting materials and putting up duct tape around the area to keep her out? Well, when Bob was cleaning under the slides, he found her nest. She had gotten around the duct tape and built a perfect nest. It had three little eggs in it. Oh no! Now what do we do with that? This is what we tried to avoid. When our replacement arrived we showed him the nest. He said he'll try to put it under his trailer. Who knows if the wren will be able to find her nest. We feel so bad. Pout.

Our supervisor and our replacement, a single guy, arrived at our site about 12:20 p.m. We gave our replacement the log books, instructions, and gave him a tour of where the motion detectors are located. Then we took off. I headed to Kit and Jerry's to return books and say good-bye. Bob headed to San Antonio. I followed close behind him.

The  RV park we're in is plush compared to the South Texas Brush Country. All it takes is two months in the middle of caliche dust and bugs to make you appreciate something different. 

Tonight's weather forecasters in San Antonio predict a 50% chance of thunderstorms. We'll see what develops.

Time for life's next adventure. I am looking forward to what's around the next corner.

Here are today's pictures:

Where the ground was wet, about 20 of these beautiful blue butterflies had landed.
The scissor-tailed flycatcher posed for a photo op.
Our site. Look....SHADE!!!
And a picnic table!

A view down the road in the RV park.

Our patio. Oh, look, a rainbow! Where did that come from?
The Escape pod at Travelers World.

Time for lights out. (I fell asleep sitting at the computer.)

Enjoy Sunday.

News Flash -- Fri., June 29

Cotulla, Texas

We're on the move. Bob had his second interview with a company in San Antonio today and was hired. He will be a Controller Consultant for a small general contractor. He starts Monday, July 2. The company is cool with us traveling and Bob can work remotely by computer and cell phone.

For the first three weeks (before our Yellowstone trip) he will work 40 hours per week. (Not many hours at all after you've worked 12 hour days gate guarding. LOL.) He will be learning about their business, their computer programs and the exact details of what he will be doing. Once we leave on our trip he will work approximately 20 hours per week.

Our notice was given to LOMA today. Replacement gate guards will be here sometime before noon tomorrow. Whoa, wait! Before noon tomorrow? Yikes. Must get the 5er ready to move. We've been here two months. Bob has the bikes up on the ladder and our fresh water hoses put away. Before bed, I will stow the kitchen stuff that has been living on the counters. Wow! We're excited.

Before we close slides we've got to try to get the spiders and other weird bugs off. It's a good thing Bob sprayed Spectracide around the perimeter of the 5er! But that was on the ground. The spiders are everywhere, especially under the slide-out shades. I tried to take a nap this afternoon and there was a spider on the headboard on Bob's side of the bed! Eeek!

Gate guarding has been an interesting experience to say the least. We now know we can handle it and maybe we'll come back to it in the future. The main drawback will be missing our new-found friends. I'm glad many of you write blogs so we can keep up. You can bet I'll continue reading yours and writing mine.

All four wells on our site are in production so we are moderately busy with tankers and support crew coming and going. We are definitely a 24/7 gate. (I've had three tankers in between midnight and 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning.)

One adventure ends and another one starts. By tomorrow night we should be back in an honest-to-goodness RV park with pool and laundry room.

Travel Bug out.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Variety is the Spice of Life -- Thurs., June 28

Cotulla, Texas:

My little brother has a birthday today. Best wishes, Frank. I hope you've had an enjoyable day. Take the rest of the day off. LOL.

A pretty normal day today in the gate guarding world. After I woke up I read for a little while, showered, cleaned the kitty box, vacuumed and made breakfast. 

Breakfast consisted of pumpkin pancakes topped with cinnamon/nutmeg applesauce and crowned with fried eggs. The aroma of the pancakes cooking and the cinnamon/nutmeg applesauce heating smelled like a fancy bakery where your nose follows the scent to the source. (We use Archer Farms Pumpkin Pancake Mix from Target.)

Nicely browned pumpkin pancakes.
Add cinnamon/nutmeg applesauce and fried eggs over medium.
Bob is such a good man. Variety is the spice of life. Sometimes we eat the SOS (same old stuff) and do the SOT (same old things). Tonight, he wanted for us to do something different. For dinner, he went to Cotulla and brought back dinner from Taco Palenque. Jackpot! We have a winner. (I'm talking about Bob AND the food, just to be clear.)

The chicken enchiladas were just right. I had chicken enchiladas verde. It comes with lettuce and tomatoes, Spanish rice, refried beans and he also brought home a couple of different kinds of hot sauce and a guacamole sauce--which was more like guacamole soup (wouldn't get the guacamole again). Bob had chicken enchiladas mole, which was also very good. 

This evening our fresh water tank was finally vacuumed out. The whole bottom of it was covered in sand which kept clogging both the LOMA water filter on the generator trailer and our filter that's on our hose. Now we have clean fresh water. Nice.

The sunset tonight is worth mentioning. A few pictures are worth a thousand words...

Enlarge to see the rays emanating out!

To continue our evening of variety, Bob retrieved the Sequence game from the upper cupboard in the living room. We played five games. That was so much fun! We haven't played that in years. I think we'll be hauling that out a lot more often. Bob, you da man!

Work has been relatively quiet tonight, although a worker was called in to relieve another guy who apparently received a nasty spider bite. Ugh, creepy, crawly, creepy, crawly. I hate spiders. The guy who got called in had just finished working a full day and drove 2-1/2 hours to get here. He says in two more hours he will have been up 24 hours. These jobs are brutal sometimes.

Kitty alert...silly cat pics follow. Tune out now if you don't want to see.

The kitties were also happy with our dinner because they enjoyed variety in play time. Two paper bags + two cats = 20 minutes of entertainment for us and for them.


Much more fun than plastic bags!

Travel Bug out.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Life Continues On -- Wed., June 27

Cotulla, Texas:

Amazing what a day off can do for your psyche. We're all entitled to bad just gotta pick yourself up, dust yourself off and continue on.


For the record, I'm no stranger to hard work. When I was 14, living in Oregon, our family didn't have much money so we kids had to go out and earn money for our clothes and school supplies. 

Summer in the Willamette Valley in Oregon means picking time: We started with strawberries in June, then progressed to blackberries, marionberries, blackcaps (which were used to make dye for USDA stamps for grade of meat), and string beans. We were up at the crack of dawn to catch the school bus that picked up all the local children and which a short time later deposited us at whatever field we would be working in that day. (Not many migrant farm workers in those days. Local children made up the work force and there were no child labor laws that we were aware of. Kids of all ages and some adults worked the fields.)

To me, strawberry picking was the worst. I'm tall. By the age of 14, I was about 5'6". Strawberry plants are on the ground. Picking them meant bending over from the waist, stooping, or crawling on hands on knees...many times in the mud and is Oregon, after all. We worked in all weather (except heavy rain). Light rain was good because it kept the bugs--flies, mosquitoes, bees, wasps, hornets, but not the slugs--at bay and provided shade and a little coolness. However, heavy rainstorms usually meant running for the nearby orchard or a bus to stay dry. By the time we reached cover, however, we were soaking wet. If the rain continued, they took us home. If the sun came out, we went back to picking in our steam-sauna-like, miserable wet clothes.

Marionberries (a cross between a blackberry and boysenberry), raspberries and thornless blackberries were the best picking. Mornings were crisp in the shade of the berry plants,  cool dew moistened our long-sleeved white cotton shirts. Drawbacks were the thorns, but there was a quick learning curve on how to avoid the sharp, painful scratches. Oh, and from time to time there would be a three-foot-tall thistle plant to work around. Yee-ouch! We picked standing up, a bucket attached to our belt or waistband, and moved down the rows between the plants. When our bucket was full, we'd empty the berries into large, low cardboard boxes called flats. We could stack about six flats on top of each other. For each full flat, we received a punch on our pay ticket (the size of a business card). At the end of the day, each punch on our card was tallied and we were paid in cash before we boarded our bus. 

Second worst crop after strawberries was string beans. While we could stand up and pick and be shaded by the six-foot-high plants, I was allergic to the beans. When the tip of the beans touched my wrists or forearms, an itchy rash developed. Wearing long-sleeved shirts helped a little, but I still had an itchy, allergic reaction. The other problem with picking beans was putting all the beans into a burlap bag and dragging the bag down the row with you. Heavy and heavier, who knew string beans could weigh so much? And you had to make sure the bags were FULL. Our bosses made us shake the bags down and even sit on the bag to compress the beans. That way we could fill the bags completely to the top. When the bags were full, we had to drag/carry them to the person who weighed the bags. If memory serves me correctly a full bag weighed somewhere between 40-60 lbs. (Some bags were larger than others.)

I can't imagine how my younger brother and sister did it. My sister was 12 and my brother was 10. We worked three or four summers in the crop fields. Made us strong and instilled a work ethic in us. Kids today could use some good, hard, honest-to-goodness work. It would help with the obesity epidemic as well. When you're outside working, you're not inside eating, plus you burn many calories being on your feet picking all day.

By the end of our workdays, we were beat and completely filthy (especially after picking strawberries). Some days Mom came to pick us up when she wasn't working. If we got off early, my sister, brother and I would walk to the creek on the way home. Sometimes we'd catch crawdads or, if it was really hot, we'd just sink down into that creek and cool off. At its deepest it wasn't more than four or five feet, and it sure felt good. Mom would pick us up and we'd sit in the bed of the pickup and let the breeze from driving cool and dry us. Somehow we survived without seatbelts. Sometimes we would ride up on the side of the pickup bed. Horrors!

It was nice getting paid in cash every day. Each of us kids set up our own savings account and the money went into them. Once or twice a week, we'd go to Nap's Grocery Store and have a malt: 19 cents for a small and 29 cents for a medium, any flavor. Mmmmm...those were so tasty. Once in a while, for a super special treat, we went to Dairy Queen. Haven't outgrown DQ to this day.

When fall came, a whole new crop started--nuts (walnuts, filberts/hazelnuts). Fall in the Pacific Northwest is rainy and cold. Harvesting nuts usually meant going under trees dripping rain and raking piles of leaves and nuts, then hand sorting the nuts and putting them into burlap bags. If memory serves me, I think we only did one season of walnuts and filberts. That was enough.

This morning Bob had the excitement of thunder, lightning AND pouring rain. The rain didn't last long enough to create big, muddy puddles or flood anything, but it dampened the caliche dust enough so we're not getting clouds of dust in our faces when the semis pull up. (Gate guarders, you know what I'm talking about.)

Bob and the Gate Guard Guys had lunch at DQ today. Six showed up and they had a nice time talking and catching up. Attendees were Bob A., Bob H., Jerry R., Jerry B., Bruce S., and Dennis. 

Followup items
  1. The water pump on our LOMA-provided trailer was replaced today. The switch went out. It took our repairman, John, an extra day to come out, but he had to buy the replacement head for the pump. I made a 3-2-1 Cake to thank him for fixing our water pump. He really appreciated it. 
  2. Speaking of 3-2-1 Cake, I really must thank Susan again for turning me on to this easy-to-make cake. If any of the drivers are having a particularly bad day, I can make this little cake in the microwave. Total time from start to finish about two minutes. The drivers LOVE a nice warm, fresh-from-the-oven cake! One guy was so appreciative he brought us two old-fashioned GLASS bottles filled with Coca Cola! Nice.
  3. Our refrigerator: Apparently the lack of coldness is a common complaint in RV refrigerators during a very hot spell. We called a very helpful mobile RV repair man (Russell of Scruss and Smith RV) who told us over the phone we needed to put a fan in the outside compartment behind the refrigerator where the coils are. You see, all day long, the unrelenting summer sun beats down on that side of the 5er which is overheating the coils. Bob took our small fan from the bedroom and put it in by the refrigerator coils. He also took a wet paper towel and washed the dust off the coils. Pretty soon the refrigerator should be humming along providing us with nice cold food. Who do you think we're going to call if something breaks? Russell. He was so nice to give us the info.
  4. Something else we learned today from John, our LOMA repairman. During the high heat of Texas summer we need to leave both side doors of our generator open to cool the engine. He said if we don't, the generator will over-heat and shut down. No, no, no, no, no...definitely don't want THAT to happen!
  5. Today the wind shifted so the gas smell blew off into the mesquite trees. Nice to have a respite. As soon as I said that, the wind shifted and guess what? Yep, it's blowing right at us again. P.U.
Kitty picture alert...don't scroll down if you aren't interested in fur-kid pics. Bowie hogged all the photos last time, now it's Sunnie's turn...

"Yeah, so? I'm comfortable. Leave me alone."
Uh-oh. A disturbance in the bedspread. What could it be?
It's Sunnie...directly under the air conditioning duct.
I took the above picture by putting the camera on the floor and shooting directly up under the covers. You can see the overhead light at the top of the photo. What a look he's giving me.

So cute!
Can you tell I'm back to normal??

Travel Bug out.

To Hell and Back -- Tues., June 26

Cotulla and Laredo, Texas:

Gate guarding is not all birds, antelope, flowers and rainbows. Here's a little of what the dark side looks like.

This morning I woke up to the smell of sulfur (H2S gas). I had a meltdown. Started crying and couldn't stop. For the past four to five days the wind has been blowing smelly gases from the work pad directly to our RV. The gas is heavier than air so it comes down off the pad to our RV which sits lower than the pad. Bob and I both have sore throats and stinging eyes. I wonder what it's doing to our long-term health.

Between the 100+ degree temperatures, the smell, and rarely getting away, I told Bob when he found me crying, "This is my vision of what hell is." I feel like there's no escape. That was about 10:00 a.m. I couldn't go back to sleep so I read until I fell asleep. Woke up at 1:00 p.m. The temperature outside was 102. Our refrigerator is still not cold and then the water pump on our company-provided generator trailer stopped working. It was all too much for me today.

Bob, bless his heart, could tell I was not a happy camper. He suggested I take a trip into San Antonio or Laredo to get away for a day. I was hesitant because our gate has become busier and I didn't want to leave him with part of my shift. He insisted. 

Once I got to thinking about it, my excitement level ramped up and my mood changed. I checked out movie theaters and times in San Antonio and Laredo. Laredo is a bit closer so I chose "Marvel's The Avengers" or "Men in Black 3." I was more interested in "The Avengers" but the timing of the movie didn't work out by the time I shook my booty into gear.

The drive to the movie theater in Laredo took about one hour and ten minutes from our gate. I made it in time for "Men in Black 3." When I bought my ticket, the guy at the counter said his friends thought MIB 3 was the best of the series. 

I hadn't had lunch, so I hit the snack stand and purchased Nestle's Buncha Crunch and a small root beer to abate and assuage my growly tummy until after the movie.

"Men in Black 3" was okay and had a touching ending, but no way, no how was it better than the first MIB! Clever scenes and lots of special effects made MIB 3 interesting, but the humor in the original MIB won hands down over this.

After the movie, in rapid succession, I spent money at Walmart, Target, a gas station (I bought gas for $3.11/gallon; saw it even cheaper at $3.07/gallon), and Subway. I didn't take time to get my car washed and vacuumed, but I know where a car wash is next time I (or we) go to Laredo. Overall, I found Laredo to be a nice town.

Tomorrow, Bob is going to Dairy Queen for lunch with the Gate Guard Guys. The wives/significant others thought it only fair that the men have good conversation and good food. So Bob will have his little get away. On Friday Bob is going to San Antonio for a Costco run. (Hopefully our refrigerator is repaired before then.)

Here's another thought for anyone thinking of gate guarding: Be sure you plan alone time. Two people spending so much time together in a confined space, makes it easy to get on each other's nerves.

Sure we love our spouses. As Bob says, on this job we're joined at the hip everywhere except bed. Being on duty 24/7, with each of us on a 12 hour shift, there's not much time for intimacy. It's come down to: be quick, be creative or miss out.

When I headed out of Laredo this evening, a huge thunderstorm glowered (origin of glower means "to be overcast") to the west. Added to that, the setting red-orb-of-a-sun made for a dramatic sunset. Didn't have my camera. The red sun had a few clouds in front of it. The clouds had a red lining from the sun behind them, PLUS streaming rain pulled down the clouds in dark gray wisps in front of the brilliant red sun. Very beautiful and dramatic.

About 15 miles out of Laredo on I-35 north, I saw a sign for a rest area and visitor information center. Since I was in need of the facilities, I pulled over. OMG! I thought I was headed for a fancy motel. The information center is a beautiful adobe building with a dome and lushly landscaped grounds complete with ponds, birds, pampas grass, trees, and a beautiful sculpture of Texas. (You can sure tell my mood has changed...we're back to birds, sunsets and landscapes.) Unfortunately the visitor center closed at 5:00 p.m., but the restrooms were open and clean. Whew.

The journey home went by fast with massive lightning flashes (in the distance) as entertainment. After I got back to the 5er, I continued to watch the lightning out of the dining room picture window. Flashes streamed from clouds to ground in big bolts. Other lightning flashed across the whole sky making intricate electrical abstract art. 

Throughout all the arcing, flashing and bolting, I hoped for rain to clean our vehicles, cool the air and tame the dust. No such luck. We received a few drops that made individual indents in the caliche dust, but no relief from the searing temperatures. As one of the truckers who came in tonight said, "We got 100 drops of rain."

At Kit and Jerry's site six miles down the road, their outdoor thermometer measured 111 degrees today. The oil rig crew on their site measured the temperature at 115. I wonder how hot hell is (if there is an actual hell).

My belief is we create our own heaven and hell in our mind and if we look at things differently we can change the outcome. Thank you so much Bob for reading my mind as to what I really needed and insisting I take a break. It made all the difference in changing my day from hellish to entertaining.

Travel Bug out.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Not the Best Day Gate Guarding -- Mon., June 25

Cotulla, Texas:

The tables have turned. Bob used to have all the traffic on day shift. For the past three days/nights the night shift traffic has exceeded the day traffic. I've had many tankers coming and going to Pad B. 

Pad B ground to a halt late tonight. There is no wind so they can't fill the tankers. Three tankers that arrived earlier are camping out on the road until the wind picks up. (Update Tuesday, 1:15 a.m.: The wind must have picked up as the tankers are now loading up.)

Just found out today that Pad A goes into production tomorrow. Tonight they've been bringing in huge tanks and a big command center, tarps, and lights. Tomorrow morning Bob is going to be a busy man.

For the past four days our site has had H2S gas releases and the red flag has been up continuously. We are downwind and downhill from the releases so it comes right at us. Our throats and eyes hurt. The inside of our 5er smells horrible when we come in from outside. With no breeze, I can't open the windows to air the 5er out. What to do? What to do? This is not good.

Weather: The temperature today was 102. Our air conditioners are working hard to keep indoors 78 degrees. The next few days are supposed to be hotter.

Black water tank: We don't know what happened, but the company that is supposed to empty our black water tank every other week quit coming. The company used to come automatically. For the past two cycles we've had to call our supervisor to make sure they send someone out to empty it.

The refrigerator: Absolutely no clue what's wrong with the fridge. Bob noticed today that the food didn't seem cold. The display panel on the front had a symbol that looked like a lower case n. We looked it up in our owner's manual. The manual instructions said to turn the refrigerator off and turn it back on, which we did. It seemed to be getting colder, but when I checked it a few minutes ago only the top shelf is cold. The rest of the refrigerator is warm. The freezer, on the other hand, seems normal.  Hmmm. I'm going to try repacking and rearranging the fridge. Maybe the cold isn't circulating properly.

What was good about today, you may ask. 
  1. I had enough sleep.
  2. Our mail came on time from our mail forwarding service.
  3. We had tostadas for dinner. Mmmmm.
  4. Not very many bugs rode in on me tonight.
  5. The gate kept me busy.
  6. We saw sable antelope grazing at the ranch across the road.
  7. The scissor-tail flycatcher is now one of the regulars at our generator bird buffet. Hopefully it will be back tomorrow and will let me take a picture. It's skittish.
  8. I finished reading "One Ranger: A Memoir," by H. Joaquin Jackson. Imagine a Texas Ranger tracking killers and thieves through the Texas brush, hear the stories and history of the Texas Rangers, their code of honor, and learn about their lives and their weapons...that is what this book is all about. Bob said it's almost like reading Ann Rule true crime books. Both of us enjoyed the walk back in time to a different era.
  9. Hershey's Kisses milk chocolate is melting on my tongue.
  10. It's cool inside, but I already mentioned that didn't I?
  11. Had fun playing with the cats.
Oh, I forgot to mention. Last night Bob got up at midnight to run/walk for two hours. He's training for the Honolulu Marathon in December. At midnight it was 92 degrees. By the time he returned at 2:00 a.m. it was 86. Ugh!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Creepy Crawlies -- Sun., June 24

Cotulla, Texas:
"Creepy, crawly
Creepy, crawly
Creepy, creepy, crawly crawly
Creepy, creepy, crawly crawly."
~The Who, Boris the Spider lyrics
Tonight, this is not about spiders. It's about beetles. South Texas has a record number of beetles, not to mention other bugs. Working on the night shift, I see many bugs under the tower lights.

I am not paranoid. When I feel something crawling on me, it REALLY is a bug. Tonight each time I have come in I have felt AND FOUND bugs crawling on me. 

One time in, I felt something on my ankle. In the dim light of night time, I saw a relatively large bug crawling on my left ankle. The bug took flight and landed on our dining room table light. The cats went nuts. The bug looked like a dragonfly while in flight, but wasn't because its long wings folded down at its sides.The bug got stuck in our lamp fixture, so I unscrewed the glass fixture and got the bug out...took it outside. It was harmless. 

Next time I came in, I felt something crawling on the front of my neck. I swiped at it and a longish, thick, segmented black beetle fell onto the table. That one got smooshed by me. It was a black blister beetle.

A little bit later I felt a bug on my forearm. A small, reddish beetle was walking down my arm. Haven't identified that one yet.

Just now, while typing, I felt something on my left ankle. I looked down and it was long, white and had a hard shell on the shoelace. Ha ha. Maybe I am a little paranoid.

Here are pics of some nighttime bugs:
Field cricket--multitudes of these all over. Roadrunners love them!
Field crickets congregating at the watering hole (AKA where our air conditioner condensation drips)
Katydid?? Not sure what this is.
This web site from Texas A&M University is a wealth of information for identifying Texas bugs: Field Guide to Common Texas Insects. There's a lot to learn. Most insects are harmless to people. Although one bug we've seen a lot--a blister beetle--has a toxin in its body that can cause blisters on the skin. One of the cats tried to eat a blister beetle one night, but didn't. They backed off from it. Smart kitty kitties.

Also see my blog from May 26: Schuhplattler Polka for more on Texas bugs.

I can't believe I spent a whole blog on BUGS. Ewwww.

Speaking of which, Travel BUG out.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sable Antelope -- Sat., June 23

Cotulla, Texas:

Long dry spell for us as far as seeing exotic animals on the ranch across the road. Today, however, was my lucky photography day. A few sable antelope were grazing across the road, one came down the fence line. I told Bob, "Every time I go out there to take a picture of sable antelope, they stampede away."

So, ever hopeful, I grabbed my camera and SLOWLY sauntered toward the road, sometimes straying to the left, then to the right, stopping, walking forward a few feet, but never looking straight at the gorgeous, chestnut brown, mask-faced beauty about 100' away.

With the zoom lens, I was able to snap these photos before one of the other antelope "yelped" (?) a warning and "my" antelope bolted off into the trees. (Double-click to enlarge photos.)

Our gate, antelope across the road. Close!
We can see the antelope from the 5er. Pretty mask.
Gorgeous horns.
Pregnant? (Don't even know if this is a female.)
The gray cottontails are out again this evening. Earlier in the day the mockingbirds were teaching their young how to fly and hunt. A family of four was sitting in the mesquite tree by Bob's truck and you could hear them communicating with another bird or two across the field.

Watching the beautiful animals today caused my mind to wander to the subject of hunting. I can't wrap my head around it. Conflicting thoughts occur to me. People hunt for food which I can understand if they're hungry and game is plentiful. Hunts are also scheduled if one species over-propagates and there are no natural predators to cull the group. Culling the herd or flock or whatever can help stop the spread of disease, can stop over-grazing, and over-population.

What I can't wrap my head around, and perhaps hunters out there can help me "see," is why animals are hunted as trophies to hang on the wall. Why can't a hunter "stalk" the animals with a camera, take an intimate, up-close photo of the animal in its natural habitat, enlarge it into a poster, and hang that on the wall? The animal lives. The species doesn't become extinct, and future generations can then enjoy the LIVE animals as well.

Is hunting such a primal instinct from our caveman days that it's in humans' DNA? Why only some people? Others wouldn't dream of harming an animal. Is it needing to feel powerful? Can anyone explain it to me?

Tonight in Oregon, our pinochle group is playing. For many years when we lived in Oregon we played pinochle once a month. I sure do miss it. Mom, my sister, my son, and my brother and sister-in-law still play, plus many of our friends who were regulars. Hello to the group! I wish for you many pinochles, double runs and thousand aces.

That's all I've got for today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend wherever you may be.

Alarm Follow-up -- Fri., June 22

Cotulla, Texas:

Yesterday morning Bob made an excellent omelette for our breakfast--two eggs, mushrooms, green peppers, avocado topped with salsa.  I love it when he cooks. 

A couple of mornings ago Bob was up on top of the 5er washing the roof. Of course when you wash a thick layer of caliche dust off the roof, you then have to wash the rest of the 5er too. It looks so much better now.

We didn't get much sleep last night with the H2S alarms. The alarms stopped sounding after an hour and a half. 

Today, we had alarms again and terrible smells in and around our RV from the gas and oil. Even though the temperature was hovering at 100 degrees, we opened up all the doors and windows and turned on overhead exhaust fans in an attempt to remove the odor. My throat was sore by the late afternoon and I don't have a cold. I asked the workers coming in if there was a problem. I was told that there was a gas release and the workers right next to the well had to wear masks, but we were far enough away not to worry. Yeah, right. For me "far enough away" is about a mile, not 500'.

Our missing Priority Mail package was at the post office today! Yay. It was mailed to our last RV park (we had checked out of the park in late April) and had been there since May 11. I'm happy our stray package found its way to us.

Today, I did our laundry in Cotulla, then met a friend for lunch at JJ's Country Store restaurant. We had Mexican food. I had a combo plate with taco, chicken enchilada, pinto beans and rice. 

On the drive home from town, five or six cows were in/on the road, escapees from one of the ranches. 

Wildlife sighting: The roadrunner continues to procure its meals from under our 5er. Joining the roadrunner, but at a different seating time, was the red cardinal. On the way into town, I saw a scissor-tailed flycatcher.

Tonight, I was checking tankers in and out. I filled 2/3rds of the log sheet.

While at the laundromat, and again tonight between checking in tankers, I read "One Ranger," a biography about a Texas Ranger. Very interesting, historic and entertaining book. I'm about 1/3 of the way through it. The book brings to life the area we're living in. Thank you to Jerry for loaning us the books.

The cats were particularly playful today. Fun to watch them!

That's all for today.

Over and out.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Nerve Wracking Alarms! -- Fri., June 22

Cotulla, Texas:

Our wells are in the flowback stage. Huge flames are shooting out of the pipe. When our site's night safety man came on duty, he told us he would watch out for us if anything happened. 

At about 1:00 a.m....alarms, more alarms. Tonight, the H2S alarm and red light keep going off on the pad by our 5er. I made Bob get dressed in street clothes in case we have to leave. It's so dark out there I can't see which way the wind socks are going. No light towers are turned on near us on the pad. A light tower way far back in one corner away from us is on and our light tower is on, but our light tower faces the gate, not the pad. I'm scared. Don't know if I'll get much sleep tonight! It's 2:15 a.m. and the alarm has been going off intermittently for over an hour.

Tonight, Bowie was disturbed by the alarms and took a ringside seat to see the action..notice flames in background.

Weird posture for a cat.

"Stop with the pictures already. And could you do something about the alarms?"
Other than that, the day was normal. Bob made a trip to the post office. We are trying to track down a package that was sent to our last RV park in early May. Bob was able to get a tracking number on the package from our mail forwarding service which may help us find it. Today is laundry day. I will check the post office again when I'm in town.

Today was cloudy and cooler with possible thunderstorms in the forecast. (We didn't get any rain or thunderstorms for that matter.)

Wildlife sightings were impressive today. Two gray cottontails were hopping around. The roadrunners have decided underneath our 5er is the big bird "bug buffet." All day, the roadrunner(s) went under our stairs, grabbed bugs then headed into the brush. Very entertaining. The mockingbirds are out again, as well as the pyrrhuloxia. Every once in a while, we see big fat lizards running around outside our 5er. They like the bugs too.

More roadrunner pics:

Roadrunner with bug in bill.
Typical roadrunner stance. Note bug in bill.
  The mockingbird wanted a photo too.

Hopefully no more alarms go off and we can get some sleep!

Travel Bug out.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ice Cream Social -- Wed., June 20

Cotulla, Texas:

"I love it when a plan comes together." 
~Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith quote from "The A Team"

At 1:00 pm today the gate guard ladies had a social event at Dairy Queen in Cotulla. Ten showed up. Quite a nice turn out for the distance some had to drive. Our topics ranged from generators to EMS to snakes to caliche dust roads to animals to laundromats to schedules... pretty much all over the place. Our nice little get away lasted 1-1/2 hours. Some of us would like to meet every other week if it works out.

Loose ends from previous days: LOMA took back our size 3X vests. I got a new size L/XL which fits way better! Our supervisor also delivered our Security Level II pocket cards and name tags.

Today when our fresh water was delivered, Bob talked to David about what's going on with our water pump and filter. If you remember a couple of days ago our water pressure went down while I was showering and we had to turn on our 5er water pump. 

Well, apparently, local water sources have some sand in the water. The delivery guys who pump up the water for us have to be careful not to get their fresh water hoses too far down in the water or they will pick up sand. Yep we had sand plugging our water filter and the water pump on our generator trailer. 

The next time David comes out, he will bring his vacuum hose to clean out the bottom of our fresh water tank to get the sand out. The water pump and water filter are sand free (for the moment). We have good water pressure again.

Starting in the next week or so, we will have a new LOMA supervisor at our gate. 

Our gate is picking up work wise. Tomorrow flowback starts. This afternoon and evening new equipment started rolling in and the guys said, "See you in the morning" when they left for the day. Huge tanks are being brought in tonight in preparation for tomorrow. The drivers said they had another trip tonight. It must be a long trip because it's been two hours since they left here and they're not back yet. But I'm sitting here waiting for them. Many semi drivers are so young, I'm sure I'm old enough to be their grandma!

Wildlife sighting: The scissor-tailed flycatcher hangs out on the telephone line, but never close enough to get a good picture.

Thank you to Jerry, a close-by gate guard, who loaned two books to us about the Texas Rangers. Bob finished one book in one day and is almost finished with the second book. After Jeffery Deaver's "The Burning Wire," I will read the Texas Ranger books before we give them back to Jerry.

And a big shout out to Kit, Jerry's wife, who bought my lunch at DQ today.

That about covers the day. Thanks for reading.

Travel Bug out.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award Post

Thank you to Betty (Texas Yellow Rose) at Phoenix Once Again for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award

VBA Rules

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.
  • Add the award to your blog. Done
  • Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.  Done.
  • Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.  Done.
  • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site. Inform each of those 15 by leaving a comment on their blog.  Done
  • List the rules.  Done
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you seven things about yourself. (I'll tell all of you.)
Seven things about myself you might not know:
  1. I love bungee jumping! Never thought I'd do it because I'm afraid of heights. However on a familiarization tour to Nanaimo, British Columbia our tour stopped at The Bungy Zone (now called WildPlay Elements Park). I climbed to the top of the bungy bridge where there was a sign saying the oldest person (at that time) to have bungy jumped off the bridge was an 80-year-old man. I remember thinking, "If an 80-year-old man can do this, I can do it." I had a blast. That fear was conquered.
  2. I did medical transcription for 15 years.
  3. I love nature, especially waterfalls and animals.
  4. My favorite drink is water.
  5. For my mom's 80th birthday, my sister, mom and I took a three-week vacation around the American Southwest: started in Las Vegas, went to Hoover Dam, Lake Mead Recreation Area, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Kodachrome Basin State Reserve, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, Goblin Valley State Park, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Marble Canyon, Natural Bridges National Monument, boat ride on Lake Powell to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Pipe Spring National Monument and back to Las Vegas.
  6. I am a roller coaster junkie...the higher and faster the better. My absolute favorites are the coasters with the tracks on top where your legs dangle free.
  7. Pinochle is my favorite card game.
My nominations/awards go to:
  1. Kit at Welcome to the Bertelsen Web Site
  2. Carole at Cheshire Cats Capers
  3. Lloyd at Wandrin
  4. Our RV Adventures
  5. Debbie at Fork in the Road
  6. Jim & Dee at Tumbleweed
  7. Bob at Texas Heat
  8. Bob at Plead Ignorance
  9. Mike at Phannie and Mae
  10. Jim & Gayle at Life's Little Adventures
  11. Andy at My Old RV
  12. Vicky at Full Time RVing...Our Journey into Gate Guarding
  13. Phil and Rudee at Workin' RVers
  14. Peri and Jim at Tales from the Camping House
  15. Steve and Joan at Friends of Steve and Joan

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Thank You -- Tues., June 19

Cotulla, Texas:
Milestones: Yesterday I wrote my 200th blog and a week ago I achieved 50 subscribers. A few weeks ago The Napping Blogger Award was presented to me, and today I received the Versatile Blogger Award. I will write more about the Versatile Blogger Award in another post.


Thank you to everyone who reads and/or subscribes to my blog. Nothing is more satisfying than creating/writing/photographing TravelBug-Susan. For years I have loved learning new words, writing, proofreading and editing. So it's nice to be validated for doing what I love. It's my creative outlet. (If I was paid to do it, that would be the icing on the cake.)

Gate update: The gate was slow today (eight entries on the log), but we did have some excitement. A portable unit was brought in to burn off a chemical from a different part of the site. It was very close to our rig. Most of the time they were here the flame was very small, but as they were finishing up we heard a loud WHOOSH and a huge flame came out of the little pipe (two or three different times). I tried to get a pic but wasn't there at the right time, so you'll have to settle for a picture of the small flame.

The other "news:" Yesterday when I was taking my shower the water pressure went way low. I had to turn on the water pump and then the water pressure was wonderful. 

Bob went out after my shower to see what the problem was. Apparently our water filter caught and stopped a big blob of something, rolled it up into a little ball. He cleaned it out and our water worked fine until today. 

Another blob of something stuck at the entrance to our water filter. I went out to look at with him. He unrolled the blob and it was stringy and yellowish...some kind of algae? Yuck!!! I'm glad I drink bottled water.  

We opened the big black water tank. The water looked pretty clear and we didn't see any algae; however, the top of the water had a film on it and there was sand covering the bottom of the tank. 

Our water will be refilled tomorrow. Before they refill the tank we are going to drain it, then have the sand flushed out. I don't know if the water pump on our generator trailer is clogged or what. It seems like it would need to be changed out once in a while. I'll say it again, I'm glad I drink bottled water!

Once again the south Texas sky and clouds are spectacular. Sustained winds and much blowing dust were the order of the day.

Bowie was standing on the chair with his paws on my computer. He wanted to type my blog today! How cute. But you'll have to use your imagination because I wasn't quick enough with the camera. You can also see Sunnie's tail sticking out from behind the laptop...his new favorite place.