Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023

Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023
Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

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.


  1. This sure does not sound like a fun job, good that you could get away.

  2. So glad you had a getaway for a bit. Ours isn't that confining or uncomfortable, but we do deal with some of the same issues. Separate alone time is a good thing when doing this type of work. :) Hope you get relief from the heat somehow and from the gases. Hang in there!

  3. I completely admire your courage and perseverance. From a safe and considerable distance I might add.


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