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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…

Kona, HI

We arrived in Kona but the area is so shallow that we had to anchor outside. this would be the last time Carnival ships come here because our ship, the Miracle, is being moved to another mainland port and the ship replacing it is even larger. The crew dropped several life boats into the water to act as tenders to get us all to the pier. They also dropped a speed boat to get the boat crews to and from them. Several crew members were also in line to go into town for a much needed day off. The lifeboats are much bigger than I imagined and far superior to the ones on the Titanic. It looks like they also have rafts on board in pods but I imagine those too are enclosed to keep out the weather. At least I hope so! Tendering in to the dock didn’t take long at all and was rather a pleasant adventure addition.

Lifeboat tenders off Kona, HICarnival Miracle lifeboatInside lifeboat

The last time I was in a moving submarine, it ran on rails in a pond at Disneyland. Bernie wanted to do the real thing so we went for it on the Atlantis sub in the bay off Kona, HI. A small boat took us out to it. The crew showed us how to go down the stairs backward to get in. Inside there were two long rows of butt-fitted seats back to back. The seats are small so of course I got seated next to a football player size man who took up one and a half seats and behind a woman who kept hitting my back every time she turned around. We each got our own window but the football player kept leaning forward in front of me to look out my window. Aargh! Despite the aggravation, I managed to see quite a bit as we descended to the bottom and sailed around shipwrecks. Fishies came swimming by to say hi. We saw a stingray and a shark. I snapped a gazillion pictures through the window. The temperature in the sub was fine and the crew informative.

Getting in the submarineAtlantis submarine off Kona, HIOur sub guide

Subbing with the fishesShipwreck

Back in town, we stopped in at a local restaurant we had heard had good fish dinners. They are on the second floor of the building and have a funky little outside elevator they have to run manually after you ring their bell. They have outside stairs too if you are up for it. The fish dinner is just as good as we were told. YUM! Would love to get some more right now.

After lunch we went looking for a geocache so we could get the Hawaii souvenir online. We walked up a steep hill and looked all around in the little shopping mall parking lot. Phone navigation isn’t nearly as exact as a good GPS for geocaches. We kept following it around until we finally found it next door. Woohoo!

Shopping next. Lots more goodies to be found. I found the coconut monkey banks I wanted for my grandkids. I know it sounds silly but when my grandparents went to Hawaii many years ago when I was a kid, that is what they brought us and we loved them. I wanted to share that with my grandkids and from what I hear, they love them too. I found a “Hang Loose” tie for my son to match the t-shirts I bought his sons. LOL

Getting back on a tender to go back to the ship didn’t take long. We went up on deck and watched them bringing the boats back on board. That was interesting. When it was the speed boat’s turn, its engine died. Poor guy kept trying and trying to get it started as it drifted. It finally roared to life and they were able to retrieve it. We cheered.

For more pics click here.

Kauai, HI

Our first port disappointment! When we got back to our room last night, we had a notice that our excursion to go tubing the ditch had been canceled and refunded. We were both really looking forward to tubing the irrigation canal through caves. That would have been so cool! I scrambled down to the excursions desk early the next morning for more info and to see what else might still be available. Tubing they said was canceled for weather. What? It was beautiful out! Aargh! Oh well, time to make lemonade… They still had openings on the Wailua River Fern Grotto boat tour so I booked us on that. It was only a few hours and would leave us all afternoon to do some gift shopping. Hmm. Not quite as good but definitely a good alternative.

Back on a bus again to the marina. George sneaked into my backpack to avoid being left behind again. That George! We arrived and were directed to the boats. There was live entertainment on board as we made our way up the river past canoes and paddleboards. The grotto is a short walk from the dock up a nice path past a stream and waterfall. It is a beautiful area. There is a deck area to stand and look at the grotto. Ferns were everywhere.

Wailua River tour boatPaddleboarder and dogWailua River Fern Grotto

Fern Grotto waterfallFern Grotto streamGeorge loves rainforests

Afterward, the bus took us to see Opaekaa waterfalls. There were chickens all around. Hawaii has a lot of loose chickens running around. Their coops get damaged by storms and the chickens escape and setup house elsewhere. This guy below was posing for tourists. LOL

Opaekaa waterfalls, Kauai, HIHawaii free-ranging chicken

Back at the ship, we hopped a free local shuttle to Hilo Hattie’s for shopping. They gave us shell necklaces and we found a few goodies for the grandkids and ourselves there. Bernie got a lovely Hawaiian shirt for herself. I got a bamboo cutting board with the Hawaiian Islands burned into it.

We spotted a KFC across the street. It is very hard to find one of those in Texas and we both needed a break from the rich ship food so we had lunch there before hopping the shuttle again. With so many free-ranging chickens around, the KFC should be well stocked!

We stopped off at the edge of town just before the pier for a little more shopping and to see the beach. It was fun going through the little stores. I wish we could have spent some time on the beach there. It looked very nice.

For more pics click here.