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As you know, I have been without a steady gate since the end of December. My guard company has been putting me up for free in an RV park while I waited for a new gate of my own. In the mean time, I have been subbing here and there for other guards and working out of my truck on some 12 hour gates. They thought they finally had a  long term 24 hour RV gate for me but that one got closed after only 4 days. It has been quite a ride. The other day I saw a post on Facebook in one of my guard groups about a position available in West Texas. I called the supervisor there whom I know and got the gate! Of course, right after I got that setup, I got a call to sub for some folks I had subbed for previously. I had to turn them down.

The next morning, I hitched up and headed north 285 miles to Fort Stockton, TX. But before I even got out of town, another supervisor called wanting to know if I wanted a new gate they have with low traffic very similar to my previous long term gate. Aargh! I would have loved to accept it and stay in the area but was already committed. Sometimes God has a very weird sense of humor.

I have to say the drive northwest was wonderful. It restored my wandering soul and ignited my sense of adventure. Uvalde is a lovely little town I would like to checkout more some time. Bracketville has an old fort I would like to have toured if I had the time. Passing through Amistad National Park area was beautiful. The reservoir goes on and on forever and was so inviting. I will definitely be spending a few days there when I go back south again. I passed by Laughlin Air Base as a group of planes were doing maneuvers and came in for a landing right over me. The biggest shock was passing through Langtry and right by the Judge Roy Bean Museum. I so wanted to stop but had people waiting for me. I also crossed over the Pecos River.

Both the truck and trailer behaved very well with no problems. My truck still hates hills and shifts too much at 45mph on hills so I had to watch that and the engine temp.

I tested out a new Onyx Plus satellite radio on the way with a SiriusXM subscription. More on that in my next post but it really made the long drive bearable by playing constant music from “my time” and keeping me from getting bored.

I arrived at the new gate around 5pm and the couple already there helped me park. This gate is a bit different from what I am used to. There is no grass or other growth around us to have to cut. It is just dirt all over. We are splitting the work with 12 hour shifts between us. I got the night shift for now. I like that we don’t have to open and close the gate, just log them in and out. We also get two sets of tower lights instead of the usual small work lights and we have trash cans to put our trash in which others empty for us. The gate is very busy with 3 drilling rigs in here right now. They still have to frac and coil tube so this should be good for 2-3 months at least. It’s extremely dusty here which is setting off my allergies big time so I have to work on that. Did I mention this gate also pays more? Nobody wants to work up here because of all the dirt and nasty winds which I experienced my first night here so they have to pay more to get guards up here. Most guards are also posted much farther away from a decent town which makes this area less desirable.

New gateNight shiftThe gate

Rigs are pretty at night

Fort Stockton is a short drive away and a decent sized town. They have a Super Walmart which is good since they don’t have an HEB grocery store. The Ace Hardware store is pretty big and they both ship UPS and accept packages for us gate guards for a small fee. They have lots of the fast food joints and even a KFC/Taco Bell which is rare in Texas. I saw a nice-looking steakhouse with a lot of cars in the parking lot I will have to check out some time. I also discovered I am now only an hour away from Balmorhea State Park which I have been wanting to go swimming at really bad in their swimming hole. Yeah, baby! I’m now close enough for a vacation, eventually, at Big Bend National Park and Carlsbad Caverns too.

Crossing my fingers this move works out. I am enjoying the cooler temperatures and change of scenery. The Permian Basin is pretty active right now so hopefully I can stay employed up here.

Still No Gate

Still no new gate. Got one offer to work out of my truck but turned that down. Just sitting here waiting and working on my other businesses. Getting some sub work for other guards now and then.

Did finally have to give in after 2 months and start working from my truck for a few days here and there for workover rigs. Nice having the generator in the back of my truck to run a heater and electronics. I watch movies and old TV shows all day (12 hours) on my tablet with Amazon Prime. Not much traffic with workover rigs. They put a portapotty at each location for me. Still sucks big time and it is tearing up my truck seat jumping in and out. Gas to drive to location every day is also a killer. When I get home, I have just enough time to refill my water jug, make tomorrow’s lunch, eat dinner, shower, and go to bed.

I got one gate for a couple days where I had to put my portable air conditioner in the back of the truck and rig up a tunnel over my truck box to the back window to stay cool enough all day. Another gate I had to pull my trailer down near Laredo for a couple days to handle it until the couple they hired could get there. Way too busy for me to stay but I survived. Long way down a dirt road. Trailer wasn’t happy about that. And yet another gate I was supposed to work for a day, after driving just my truck down a very dangerous road in the dark through construction, got canceled just as I arrived. At least they paid me for the day.

Still waiting…

Sad Week In The Oilfields

As well as working in the oilfields pays, these jobs are dangerous and sadly last week we have lost several good young men. At one ranch, there was a fire on the pad that killed 5. They were sons, husbands, and fathers. They are guys many of us have worked with or logged in at the gate. A few days later there was a another fire. 1 man was burned and has been life flighted to the hospital. Another young man was killed in a car accident while doing his rounds. The roads out here are very dangerous. They are filled with 18 wheelers going 75 miles an hour on two lane roads and drivers who have been working too long or gotten up too early.

There is also the danger from illegal aliens and drug runners passing through. Border patrol is always busy tracking them and picking them up. I keep my door locked at night and any time Border Patrol is in here. Then there is the danger from wild animals. From fire ants to raccoons to snakes to bobcats and javelinas, we get them all. Lastly, the weather down here is fearsome. We get high winds, dust storms, tornadoes, floods, and powerful lightning strikes.

These jobs are not for sissies. Why do we work them? The pay is terrific and there is something interesting happening or to see every day. In the case of gate guarding, the requirements to get these jobs are also minimal and you can easily go on vacation or even take months off then come back with no ramifications with your company.

Off The Gate

My lovely slow gate that I have been on for 2 years suddenly turned into a nightmare when the oil company decided to build some new pads for several new wells and do everything at the same time. They came in and kept me extremely busy during the day building the pads and then I had tankers coming in at night so not a lot of sleep for a single person. The plan after that is to drill all the wells at the same time while also rebuilding the pipeline that runs under the gate. Eek! I was still recovering from illness I got on my cruise too. I had to get off that gate!

They sent me to a campground at their expense. Unfortunately, my truck started acting up and something broke on the way here. I did make it to the campground but just barely. The campground staff recommended a local repair guy who could come to me and while very nice, he did not fully fix it. The computer he replaced mine with was bad. After many days and many tries and the problem being intermittent, the truck decided it had enough and failed to start at all. I called my Saferide emergency service and had them tow it to a garage that other guards recommended. It was farther than the approved tow distance but the Saferide lady was very nice about it when I explained that the garage I contacted could take it immediately unlike others. It cost me all of $20 to have it towed 4 miles farther. The garage ordered a new computer from a know good source and replaced it. Truck is working fine now.

My favorite heater died when I got here. Thank goodness my old old, second heater still works. It takes two heaters to keep this RV warm on very cold nights below 40 degrees so I balanced the electric heater with my propane furnace so that the electric one did most of the work and saved on as much propane as possible. It got so cold here that every store sold out of heaters! They finally got some more in and while I couldn’t get the same one as before, I did get one similar to it in a different brand and am very happy with it. When I’m on a gate, I get all the free electricity I want so running two electrical heaters and not the propane furnace is very economical. I run one of the heaters directly from the company generator and the other from the trailer wall socket.

Sometimes it is good to be off the gate in a campground with other gate guards. We help each other out, share ideas, and sometimes have dinner together. They have been a huge help with getting my truck fixed by picking me up from the garage and driving me back.

Last night I had some wonderful lasagna with veggies that another guard cooked. Yum! I haven’t had lasagna in a long time.

Another couple here were new to gate guarding so I spent some time clueing them in to what they need to have on board, how to keep mice and ants out, how to hang out with other guards on Facebook, etc. The husband came up with a brilliant way to install rope lights on their RV underneath to stop mice and squirrels after I told him about keeping it lighted. Rodents like to do their dirty work in the dark. I learned this at the Escapees park near Yosemite where all the rigs are lighted underneath at night and have verified it down here working in the oilfields. The one time I forgot to turn on the lights, I got invaded again. Good for seeing snakes at night too. The husband was kind enough to install one rope light strand for me before they got called out to a new gate. Today I started working on installing a second strand that connects to the first and totally lights up underneath. So cool and won’t bother neighbors in campgrounds. Now I’ll use my 24 LED work light to light up under my truck when I can’t park it where the guard lights shine under.

Today, a couple drove me 26 miles to a gate to pick up a beautiful RV love seat/fold out bed to replace my old and and overly heavy couch. Another gate guard couple needed to get rid of it to make room in their RV for their recliners. My truck bed is filled with a 5th wheel hitch and other bolted in items so I needed another truck and some muscle. I had hoped the couple that drove could either use the love seat or my old couch which are in much better shape than theirs but they decided not to take either. I love the new sofa which was barely used and I have a little more room in my slideout now. I won’t be able to sleep on it the same way I slept on the other one but I realized that I usually hurt my arm or something when sleeping on the old one and my bed is actually the same distance to the front door anyway so there is no reason not to sleep on my bed. I can lay down on the love seat and just dangle my feet off the side.

No word yet on a new gate for me. Been over 4 weeks now. They have to find me a slower gate than others. Dang! All they have offered me so far is working out of my truck in the freezing weather which is boring and getting pneumonia really wouldn’t be helping me so I wait. Hopefully soon…