Settling In at a new Gate . . .

Well, we’re finally starting to settle in here at our new gate. We’ve got our canopy up (held down by 5 40 pound buckets. The wind here never stops.) and are getting used to the routine.

Marathon Gate 2

Although this is a 24 hour gate, overall it’s not that busy. We did about 90 vehicles yesterday which is less than we had some days at our old gate. But then our old gate was shut down between 10pm and 6am.

When we got here, they were cementing the casing, but now they’re drilling again so there’s a lot more activity on the rig. And noise.

The noise never stops. It’s a dull roar from the generators, coolers, chillers, and all the other equipment they use. In fact, all the power for the site comes from their own generators. There is no power coming in from outside.

We’re now located about 8 miles west of Karnes City about 3 miles off FM 99. And the road is so much better than our other gate. You can actually drive 30-40 mph on it with no problems.

Here’s what it looks like directly across from our site.

Marathon Gate 3

They’re hard to see, but there are two more drilling rigs visible in this photo to the right of the big tree. We don’t have near the wildlife here as we did the other gate, but Jan has killed two brown scorpions. I guess they count as wildlife too.

Our generator here runs slow, frequency-wise. It’s running at 57.5 Hz instead of 60, so our AC powered clocks lose about an hour a day. I’ve looked for a frequency adjustment on the generator, but haven’t found one yet. I’ll ask our support guy, Mark, when he comes by.

I’ll probably only be posting every other day while we’re at this gate, and I’m still going through the over 1100 emails that accumulated while we were off the grid, so it will take me a while to get back to everyone.


Thought for the Day:But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown. – Carl Sagan


Yea, Piper!

Or Up Close and Personal!

First up, congratulations to our granddaughter Piper who graduates from high school next month. Our son Chris called yesterday to let us know that Piper had been awarded a merit four year full scholarship to the University of Houston, one of only four given out every year.

Separately, she earlier had received a $2000 a year grant.

Way to go, Piper!


Well, after 12 days in the wilderness, we’re back in civilization.

Kind of.

The one main problem with where our gate was, was the fact that we had no cell phone or Internet service. But after days of trying, I finally found a solution.

I bought a Wilson DB 65 Pro amplifier and antenna, and then put the antenna on top of a 30 foot pole mounted to the ladder on our RV. And lo and behold, we had cell and Internet service.

Ten minutes later we got our first call from the outside world. It was the Gate Guard Services office telling us to get packed up because we were moving to a new gate.

So now we had to take everything down and get packed up.

Finally we pulled out about 2:50 for the 8 mile trip on the dirt road from Hell. This road is so bad we can only do about 5 mph in the rig. So it only took us about an hour and ten minutes to go the 8 miles. But once on the highway we made good time.

We pulled into our new location a little after 6 pm and got set up. Or rather I set up and Jan was already running the gate.

Marathon Gate 1

And unlike our other gate where the drilling rig was 3 miles away, here we’re up close and personal.

And boy is it windy here. But we do have cell and Internet, so that’s a plus.

I’ll have more later with pictures from our old gate and our new one.

Thanks to everyone for your comments and concerns when we kind of disappeared for a while. Hopefully I’ll be able to post more regularly now.


Thought for the Day:

Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks. – Doug Larson


Out of Touch with the World . . .

or Two Flat Tires in One Day.

Wednesday, April 18th

Today was the last day of operation for our rig. So it was a busy day with all the equipment pulling out.

In other news, I had two flat tires today on the ‘dirt road from hell’. The 8 miles was bad enough, but then on Tuesday they brought a road grater in to smooth out the bumps.

Well, it did that all right, but it also traded the worn-down rocks with new, sharper rocks underneath. So I ended up with a second flat before I could get the first one fixed.

This means we’re kind of stranded here I until I can get someone to bring me two new tires. Both of the old ones have cuts in them, not punctures. Almost like someone had stuck a knife in them, so I doubt they can be repaired.

Thursday, April 19th

Since our drill rig and crew pulled out yesterday, we didn’t think we’d have much traffic this morning, but the day turned out to be relatively busy.

I had kind of expected Larry, our supervisor, to show up and tell us to move out

I tried to patch my leaky tires, but without success. Although they’re slow leaks, the nearest town is 35 miles away, and I don’t think I can make it that far.

We also found out why we haven’t been told to move. I was told by a consultant coming through the gate that a new rig on a new site is coming in next Tuesday, and should be operating for about a month. After that, we’ll see.

Friday, April 20th

Although I had the gate open about 5:45, the first vehicle didn’t show up until about 8am. Fine by me. I’ve read 6 books and four magazines since we got here last Sunday. Finally starting to whittle down that stack.

Our supervisor, Larry, showed up today to top off our diesel and water tanks, and also fix a couple of things.

The pump in our sewer system wasn’t working, so the liquid was filling up the collection tank (the small green tank) and not being pumped up into the big green storage tank. This meant everything was just backing up into our grey tank.

Sewer System

I had checked things out and the pump (a submersible macerator pump) had just died. It only took Larry about 10 minutes to replace the pump and test it out.

The other thing that needed repairing was our vehicle alarm bell. It’s one of those old-time gas station bells that rings when you drive over the rubber hoses. Replacing the bell unit fixed the problem.

Then later in the afternoon, we had a weather trifecta . . . rain, hail, and high winds. But our canopy and awnings all came through OK.

Tomorrow I hope I can get our tires replaced so I can get this posted. I also plan to order us a cell phone booster to see if we can get cell/Internet service with it.

And so it goes.


Thought for the Day:

The Tripolitan Wars taught our young republic vital lessons, among them: tyrants cannot be appeased, peace cannot be purchased, and there is no substitute for victory. Too bad we sometimes forget those lessons.


So Far, So Good . . .

Monday, April 16th

I was up at 5:30 and opened the gate at 5:45 just to be sure that I was ready to go for the first visitor. We’re really lucky that our first gate job is effectively only a 12hr gate, from about 6am to 6pm.

Jan was up about 7, and after puttering in the rig for a while, came out about 8 and we just enjoyed the view. We’ve got roadrunners, quail, doves, and a lot of other birds that we can’t identity yet, but Jan has her Petersen’s guide book and is working on it.

Finally, about 12:30pm I headed over to Pearsall, TX, to the closest Wal-Mart to pick up some things, but it turns out that it’s not a SuperCenter, so I had to go to HEB for the groceries.

I was looking for a cheapy AT&T cellphone but no luck. The only place in town that sold cell phones was a Tax Preparation office ?? that was closed.


We still don’t have cell or Internet service out here, which is the only downside to the job site.

I finally got back at 5, and after putting things away, I pulled out our Weber Q Grill to do hot dogs. It’s been awhile since we used it, so I was afraid we might be out of propane, but the bottle ran out just as the dogs were done, so it was all good.

More propane goes on the list.

The last truck out left about 6:30, so I locked the gate and we were done for the day.

We only had about 22 vehicles come through today, which was nice.


Tuesday, April 17th

Our first truck didn’t come through until about 6:15, but a little before that, the coyotes woke up and started yipping and howling at each other. Thought they were supposed to howl at the moon, not the sun.

About 10:45am I headed about 50 miles north to Pleasanton, the closest Wal-Mart SuperCenter to check for AT&T phones, and they had what I needed. The two GoPhones were $15 a piece and then you buy time as you need it.

Hopefully this will work for us.

My next stop was the Verizon store across the street to see where the closest cell tower was to our job site, and how far away it was. I want to see about getting an amplifier so we can use our Verizon cell/Internet service that we already have.

And it looks like it can be done. I’ll have to order it from Amazon tomorrow.

My last stop was China Garden to pick up some more of their great food to take back to the rig for dinner.

And apparently I’m not the only one who likes their food. It was 1pm and the place was jam-packed. The parking lot was full and I had to park on the edge of the street. And there was a line out the door that I thought was to get in to eat.

No. The line was to either pick up a call-in order, or place a take-out order. So it took me almost 30 minutes to get my food and get back on the road.

Getting home, I got a Big Bummer. The new AT&T cell phones don’t work. I was told AT&T would work out here but I don’t have a signal.

Now I just hope the amplifier idea will work. We’ll see. As it is, I have to drive about 20 miles one-way to get a signal to post this from my laptop and check our phone messages.

That’s about for today. I’ll try to have some photos tomorrow.


Thought for the Day:

Unlike King Midas, whatever the Government touches sure don’t turn to Gold!


Gate Guarding – Day 1

We were awakened this morning about 7:45am and told we had a gate waiting for us.

We were given our hats, orange safety vests, login forms, clipboard, and a hand-drawn map to the gate. Jamie said our supervisor Larry would be waiting for us.

We were ready to roll a little before 9, with our first stop right across the street at the Exxon station to top off my tank with about 80 gallons of diesel for $4.10 a gallon. When I’m going to be parked for a while I always like to do it on a full tank to cut down on condensation and algae growth in the tank.

About 9:15 we were on the road heading to our gate. Our route took us on all two-lane roads from Whitsett southwest over to Fowlerton, about 45 miles away. But it was the last 8 miles of dirt road that was a problem.

It was so bad that I was only able to do 8-10 mph. And even then we had drawers come open that hadn’t come open in 5 years. It almost 45 minutes to finally get to the gate site, where our supervisor, Larry Ross, was waiting for us with our utility trailer just as promised.

It only took us about 10 minutes to get parked and set up. Larry pulled the generator trailer behind the rig and got us hooked up with AC power to the coach.

STS Gate 2

A little later Larry headed back to town to bring out our sewer trailer, while Jan was up and running on her new Gate Guarding career.

STS Gate 1

And we quickly had our first visitor, not a truck, but a friendly roadrunner. He walked back and forth right in front of us, just a couple of feet away.

Roadrunner 4

Roadrunner 5

Supposedly they’re really good about keeping snakes away. Jan hopes so.

The only downside to our location is we not only have no Internet service, we have absolutely no Verizon cell service at all. NONE.

In fact I had to drive to Cotulla, 35 miles away to get a good signal. Apparently AT&T works in this area, so I’ll have to see about getting a cheapie phone at Wal-Mart. But I’m still not sure what I’m going to do about Internet. I’ll have to work on it.


We only had about 20 vehicles in and out yesterday, and the site was closed from 7:30pm to 6 am.



Thought for the Day:

Please understand that my respect for you is not at all diminished by my request that you bite me.


Out In The Middle Of Nowhere!

Well, we’re parked at our gate out in the middle of nowhere.

No Internet.

No cell phone.

Fun, fun, fun.

Will post a full blog tomorrow.

We Got A Gate !!!

Leaving in a few minutes!


More Later.

Another Day, Another . . .

I was up early this morning, just knowing that we would get a call any minute.


So after a quiet morning we decide to have lunch at Pepe Boudreaux’s again. Jan had the Tuna Stuffed Avacado Salad, and I had the Chicken Fried Steak. Very good.

Getting back to the rig I took care of a few more maintenance chores before a nap attack struck home. But the nap only lasted for about 45 minutes, when suddenly, about 4:15, it got quiet, very, very quiet. The power had gone off.

Jan said other people were coming out of their rig, so I figured it was not a rig problem. We opened the windows and turned the fans on, and because it was pretty overcast, the heat didn’t get too bad.

But it was cooler outside, so about 5:30 we got our camp chairs out of the truck and set up along with returning gate guards, Jim and Marcie, and Sam and Carol, and also Bob and Nancy, who have just come off a gate and are getting ready to head home. As it turned out, the power came back on a little after 6pm, but we were having so much fun, we all stayed outside and talked.

With all this gate guard knowledge available, we were eager to pick their brains. We spent several enjoyable hours talking about gate guarding, and RV’ing in general, before it finally got dark, and the wind really picked up.

One of the things they all warned about was watching out for tarantulas, scorpions, and snakes. Just what Jan wanted to hear, especially after seeing this sign at a nearby rest area.

Watch For Snakes

The way things are going, I figure we’ll get the phone call for a gate tomorrow when we’re supposed to have heavy rains and high winds. The perfect time to move and set up on a new site.


Thought for the Day:

It has been said that the United States has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.


Next in Line ?

Still no gate, but supposedly we’re next in line.

The couple next to us, who came off their gate due to a family death back in Tennessee, went back on a gate this afternoon. But before they left, they said they heard we were next in line.

Hope so.

About 2:30pm our Amazon order was delivered so I went over to the office to pick it up. One of the items I ordered was an additional 8GB of RAM to add to my Acer computer. It had 4GB, but I wanted to upgrade it to 12GB.

Adding RAM is usually the quickest, cheapest way to speed up a computer. And $45 for an additional 8GB is a good buy.

RAM Upgrede 1

After removing the cover I could see the RAM sockets, but could tell I was going to have to remove the DVD/HD frame to get to the RAM.

RAM Upgrede 2

Two screws took care of that and I was able to set aside the frame and expose the 4 sockets.

RAM Upgrede 3

I removed the 2 – 2 GB sticks and replaced them with the 2 new 4 GB sticks. I then placed the 2 – 2 GB sticks in the 2 remaining sockets. You always want your larger RAM sticks first in line.

After checking that the RAM was firmly seated and locked into the sockets, I put everything back together, plugged it in and turned it on.

I didn’t bother to hook up the monitor or keyboard/mouse at this point. All I wanted to do was hear the beep that told me the computer had completed P.O.S.T. (Power On Self Test) and was ready to boot up. This told me the new RAM was good and ready to go.

Hooking everything back up, I found the computer booted up and ran noticeably faster, and programs started up faster too..


Leaving for dinner a little after 6pm we met our next door neighbors, Carol and Sam Davis. Like us, they’re waiting for their first gate. They had sent in their paperwork and tests back in February, hoping to get a leg up on getting started, but they said it didn’t seem to help much. They’re waiting just like we are.

Our dinner destination was Pepe Boudreaux’s, a TexMexCajun place right across the road from Choke Canyon Lake about 8 miles west of Three Rivers on Hwy 72. Several people had recommended it, and they were right.

Jan had the Fried Fish and Shrimp, saying it was the lightest, crispiest batter she’d ever had. I had the Blackened Pork Chop, stuffed with Boudin Sausage, and topped with Shrimp Étouffée. I also had a cup of Gumbo, very good, spicy with a lot of filé.

OMG, was this all good! My mouth was doing the happy dance. Hopefully we’ll be able to go back. This place is good!

Landon had a girlfriend!

Brandi sent over these pics of Landon and his main squeeze at his daycare.

Landon's Girtfriend 1

Landon's Girtfriend 2

Landon's Girtfriend 3


Thought for the Day:

“If we must have an enemy at the head of Government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible, who will not involve our party in the disgrace of his foolish and bad measures.” – Alexander Hamilton


More Thumb Twiddling . . .

We were awakened this morning by something very unusual here . . . a heavy downpour that lasted about 30 minutes. That was it for the rain, but it did stay pretty cloudy and windy the rest of the day which kept it a little cooler. Nice.

I headed over to the office later in the morning to mail a letter, and also check in with Jamie. And he just said “Soon”.

But while I was there I got to finally meet in person Bob Lindsey, a gate guard that I’d corresponded with for a year or so. He’s currently at a gate about 15 miles south near Three Rivers, TX. Hopefully we’ll be able to get together soon.

Back at the rig, I ordered some things things from Amazon, including this canopy for our upcoming gate guarding adventure,


It’s 10 feet x 10 feet and the sides are removable.

This is how it will be used.

Looks like a rough life, doesn’t it.

By ordering using Amazon Prime, and paying an extra $3.99 we get next day delivery, so it will be here tomorrow. That’s pretty good for a box that weighs over 40 pounds.

I did get some more info about how the sewer trailers work. It turns out they’re essentially a portable septic tank.

Gate Guard Lot 8

The small green tank at the front of the trailer is removed and placed near your rig. This is where your rig’s sewer hose connects. It also contains the lift pump that pumps the waste up into the big green tank.

As the big tank fills up over a period of time, the solids settle to the bottom, and the liquids rise to the top. When the liquids reach the outflow outlet, they flow down into the smaller white tank. Here they are treated with a high dose of chlorine using swimming pool chlorine tabs. Then after treatment, the disinfected waste water is drained out into the field. When needed, the solids are pumped out of the big green tank. In fact I suspect that the whole trailer is just swapped out at that point and the servicing is done back at the yard.

A little after 5 Jan and I headed down I-37 to Three Rivers to have dinner at Agave Jalisco, a Mexican restaurant that our fellow gate guarder, Bob Lindsey, had recommended.

Turned out to be very good. Just good ole straight-forward Mexican food. Jan had the Chicken Fajitas and I had the Combo Fajitas with Beef, Chicken and Shrimp. Nicely done and well-seasoned.


Thought for the Day:

"No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable." –   George Washington, Message to the House of Representatives, 1793