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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…

Aloha, Hawaii

Time to go home. We sailed away from Hilo, Hawaii and back out to sea for 4 days. I finally got nailed by the cold that had been going around the ship so I was stuck in the cabin most of those days. The gift shop sold out of cold medicine for which they were charging an exhorbitant price. I dragged myself down to the medical center on deck 3 where I was able to get all the supplies I needed at the normal reasonable price. Keep that in mind. Medications are much cheaper at the onboard medical center.

Bernie finally got some time alone. She was sick on the way over so I got my alone time then. Traveling together is great and we love spending time together but sometimes we all need some alone time. She had fun walking about and participating in the games. She even won a 24 kt gold plated ship on a stick. Woohoo!

I ordered room service a lot and Bernie brought me food. The bacon lettuce tomato sandwich plate is terrific and a life saver. Try it! Mostly I slept or watched what little was on TV or played my games on my phone and tablet.

We had to dock at Ensenada, Mexico on the way back per American law for foreign flagged ships and it was a good thing. The pharmacy on the dock was deluged with us sickies buying up cold medications and antibiotics or Z packs as they call them. No prescription needed. I picked up some of my regular medication there to get me through until I picked up a new doctor. It takes time to get into a new VA clinic and get an appointment.

By the time we got back to Long Beach, I was well enough to fly home. I spent a night in my favorite hotel near the San Antonio airport due to the late hour getting in. The next morning, I got some breakfast, hit up the nearest HEB for groceries, and drove home.

Hilo, HI

As our ship sailed on to Hilo, the captain decided he had time to take the longer route which would take us past an active volcano. Around midnight, many of us awoke and went up on deck to see the volcano as we sailed by it. It was far away and all we got to see was the orange red glow really but it was fun seeing everyone up at that hour out on deck. I think I took more pictures of the passengers than the volcano.

For Hilo, we decided to forgo the ship’s excursions and create our own so we could see everything we wanted to see. We found a private tour guide who knew the island very well, would drive us wherever we wanted to go, provided lunch, and was very reasonable. In fact, the cost was the same as the ship excursion but we saw much more. He provided us with a wonderful tour and was very open to some last minute changes. We highly recommend his tour to others. Contact Warren Costa at nativeguidehawaii.com .

We met Warren outside the pier area at a store just across the street. He started by taking us to a black and green sand beach. Very cool stuff. People were surfing there.

Hawaii black sand beachSurf's up in Hilo, HI

Next we went to see a lava tube. We didn’t get to hike inside it but it was pretty interesting to see so close to residential housing. When we were about to leave, I realized this would be a perfect place for a geocache and checked my phone app. Sure enough, there was a small one hidden in the cave. Warren had no problem with us taking the time to find it and sign the log. We got to walk on hardened lava there as well.

Hawaii lava tubeBernie finds geocache in Hawaii lava tube

Off next to see Rainbow Falls. It’s quite lovely and there really is a rainbow in it. As before, there were chickens roaming around freely. LOL After getting our fill of the view and power of the falls, Warren and I sneaked around the parking lot to find another geocache. Score! Nope, not telling you where it is.

Rainbow Falls, Hilo, Hawaii

On to the Mauna Loa nuts plantation and store. We had heard that Spam was a big thing in Hawaii and that there were Spam flavored nuts and chips. Warren thought we might find them there. No luck on that but it was fun checking the place out.

Mauna Loa plantation

After a nice picnic lunch at a park, we were off to Volcano National Park. We were able to use Bernie’s senior pass to get in free. This is an active area so you need to be careful. The visitor’s center offers a great view of the crater. No lava to see but lots of steam coming out. We got plenty of time to look at all the exhibits and didn’t feel at all pressured on our private tour. On the way out of the park, we stopped by the side of the road to see steam vents that had randomly opened up. Oh my! Don’t get too close or breathe that gas coming out because it is deadly.

Volcano National Park - Hilo, HawaiiVolcano GeorgeVolcano steam vent

For more pics click here.

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.