A Hidden Gem . . .

or No Gate Yet.

About 10 am I walked over to the office to pay the fingerprint fees that they forget to ask for down in Corpus yesterday, and also to see if anything was up on our gate. Was told it would be soon. Hope so.

Getting back to the rig, I caught up on some maintenance chores, cleaning AC and fan filters, stowing some stuff away, and just getting ready to travel on short notice.

For lunch, we had more leftover Rudy’s BBQ. I’m not sure we brought enough home. We might have to go back to Corpus for more.

Later in the afternoon, I took a nap, or tried to. I got two calls that woke me up, one a wrong number, the 3rd time in 3 days, and one a political call.

A little before 6 Jan and I headed about 25 miles north to Pleasanton to have dinner at China Garden. Right next door to the ill-fated Bill Miller BBQ, we noticed how busy it was then, and wanted to give it a try.

And it turned out to be a hidden gem.

Pleasanton China Garden

Housed in a pretty nondescript building, the parking lot seems to be always crowded, certainly a good sign.

And waiting for our food after our order was taken, we noticed a steady stream of take-orders leaving the restaurant, again a good sign.

We ordered our usual Hot & Sour Soup, Chicken in Hot Garlic Sauce, Extra Spicy, and the House Special Fried Rice. And it was really good.

Good enough that hopefully we’ll be able to go back before we leave the area.

Our next stop was right across the street at the HEB for gas and a much-needed car wash. Then it was home for the night.

Here’s hoping for a gate tomorrow.


Thought for the Day:

"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor, 1816


? ? ? ?

or, finally, some good Texas BBQ.

We headed out about 8:30 this morning for the Gate Guard Services office down in Corpus Christi to submit our paperwork and fingerprint cards, and also take the Level II Security Guard Exam.

Leaving the Gate Guard office about 11:45 we drove over to a nearby Sam’s Club to pick up some supplies. Then we headed over to get some GOOD Texas BBQ

At Rudy’s BBQ, of course.

Rudy's BBQ 1


We ordered lean brisket for Jan, moist brisket for me, pork ribs for both of us, a loaded baked potato for Jan, and a jalapeno sausage link for me, and of course, a quart of their delicious cream corn. Something for everyone.

Jan doesn’t really like corn, but she loves Rudy’s. And we ordered enough extra of everything for 2 or 3 more meals at home.

Rudy's BBQ 2

It’s interesting to compare Rudy’s BBQ with our visit to Bill Miller BBQ a few days ago. But I can only compare the ribs and the sauce, because that’s all I had in common.

Both places have dry rub ribs that come with no sauce on them. But Rudy’s ribs are moist and juicy, even without sauce, while Bill Miller’s were dry and chewy. And Miller’s pretty much tasteless sauce certainly didn’t help things.

On the other hand, Rudy’s sauce is so good we bought a bottle of it a while back to take with us as we travel. As a matter of fact, Rudy’s sauce is so good it might even make Bill Miller’s BBQ more edible.

I wonder if we ever went back to Miller’s, they would mind if I brought a bottle of Rudy’s sauce with me?

We got back to the rig a little before 3 pm, and the first thing we noticed is that we have two new neighbors. Don’t know if they’re here to gate guard, but they probably are.

The first thing I did was go over to the office here and tell Jamie we were back and ready to go. I also ask him when he thought we’d have a gate. He said he had several things coming up, and it should be soon.


Later in the afternoon another rig came into the lot and parked over at the side where we were last week. It’s crowded here again.

Hopefully we’ll have a gate tomorrow, or Thursday, or ????.

We’ll see.


Thought for the Day:

"It’s better to be hated for who you are than loved for someone you’re not!"


Last Day of Freedom ??

I was up about 9:30 because I wanted to call the Gate Guard offices down in Corpus Christi to see if we needed to be there at any certain time tomorrow. They said anytime, so we’ll probably head down to Corpus about 8:30 or so.

I asked the other day how soon we’d be eligible for a gate after we handed in our paperwork on Tuesday morning.

Jamie smiled and only half-jestingly said “Tuesday afternoon?”. So I guess today could be our last day of freedom before we’re on a gate.

And on a related note, there are only two rigs left here in the yard as of this morning, us and another one. The two others headed out to their gates today, so I guess that bodes well for us getting a gate soon.

So we decided to have one last treat, and headed out about 1:30 for dinner and a movie. Or rather, movie and a dinner.

Our first stop was to see Mirror, Mirror, a clever retelling of the classic Grimm Brother’s Snow White, starring Julia Roberts as the evil Queen, who’s also Snow’s step-mother.

The cinematography is amazing and the costumes are fantastic, and the characters are afasdfasdf. Jan and I both enjoy the fairytale-based TV shows Grimm and Once Upon A Time, and we enjoyed this movie also.


Leaving the theater, we drove over to San Antonio’s Farmer’s Market to have dinner at another of our long-time favorites, Mi Tierra Café y Panaderia. A favorite Mexican restaurant of ours, we first came here about 30 years ago, and always enjoy it when we get back.

Mi Tierra has been open 24/7 since 1941, starting with a small three table café. And now it is said to be the highest-grossing Mexican restaurant in the United States.

Mi Tierra 1

Very colorfully decorated.

Mi Tierra 2

Mi Tierra 3

Mi Tierra 4


I had the Mi Tierra Platter with a beef steak, beef taco, pork tamale, and a cheese enchilada.

Mi Tierra Meal

And of course, Tres Leches for dessert. (we ate it before I could get a picture of it.)

Heading home, we got back to the rig a little before 7pm. Really looking forward to our trip to Corpus tomorrow morning.

Brandi sent over this video Landon in the tub making animal sounds as she talks to him.

Landon in Tub


Thought for the Day:

“The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry” – William F. Buckley, Jr.


Moving Day in Whitsett . . .

Today was moving day here at the Whitsett yard. A 5’er pulled out this morning heading for their new gate, so after double-checking with the office, we moved our rig over to the full hookup area. So now, we also have water and sewer, as well as the 50 amps we had before. We’ll be here until we go out to our gate, probably sometime this coming week.

Gate Guard Site


We’re parked backed up to a scrub brush area, complete with a lot of cacti.

Gate Guard Field


And a lot of blooms.

Gate Guard Cactus 2

Gate Guard Cactus 3

Gate Guard Cactus 1

After we moved, I was talking to Terry here at the lot, asking about some of the utility setups. This large tank is used to deliver water to the individual gates. It holds enough water to fill up three individual tanks.

Gate Guard Water Tank


I also asked about the capacity of the diesel generators that are on the trailers.

Gate Guard Lot 6

I did notice that each one has 2 – 50 amp receptacles, 2 – 30 amp, and 2 – 20 amp ones. Terry said the generators are rated for 13KW intermittent, and 11KW continuous. In comparison, the Onan diesel generator in our rig is rated for 7.5 KW.

Terry said that occasionally gates are so busy that two rigs with two couples are parked at a gate, and the one generator is capable of supporting both.

Later, about 2:30 we headed into San Antonio to have dinner at another of our favorite places, La Fonda on Main.

La Fonda 1

Opened in 1932, it’s the oldest Mexican restaurant in San Antonio. Over the years, a lot of famous people have eaten here, including Generals Eisenhower, MacArthur and Hill. Even American presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson enjoyed La Fonda’s fare. And movie stars like Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Yul Brenner, Veronica Lake, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans have all dined here.

We’ve been eating here since the early 80’s.

La Fonda 2

La Fonda 3

I had the La Fonda Platter with 2 cheese enchiladas, a pork tamale, and a beef tenderloin taco. All very delicious.

La Fonda Meal

And for dessert, Jan and I split probably the best Tres Leches we’ve ever eaten. It was so good, we got another one to go.

La Fonda Tres Leches


Brandi and Lowell sent over some pictures of Landon’s first Easter Egg Hunt.

Landon Egg Hunt 1

Landon Egg Hunt 2

Landon Egg Hunt 3


“I just know there’s one in here, somewhere.”

Landon Egg Hunt 4


Looks like a pretty good haul.

Landon Egg Hunt 5


As a final note, in yesterday’s blog I talked about Bob Miller BBQ. That was a typo.  It should have been Bill Miller BBQ.


Thought for the Day:

Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never run out of material.


Happy Easter to Everyone . . .

Easter Cross

Easter Eggs

It’s Alive . . . It’s Alive . . .

We’ve really lucked on the weather here in Whitsett the last couple of days. When we got here Thursday afternoon it was about 98 degrees, but yesterday and today, it was in the mid-80’s with a lot of clouds, made it very comfortable.

Landon is pretty much back to his old self

Landon at the Mall

For lunch, Jan fixed us leftovers from last night’s visit to the Magic Time Machine up in San Antonio. Then after lunch I went outside to talk to Terry, the mechanic here. I wanted to find out where we took our garage. I could see he was building out the generator and sewer trailers, like this one below.

Gate Guard Lot 8

I said I was surprised to see him working on the weekend. He laughed and said he was work 7 days a week to keep up with the demand, and said he’d had two days off in the last month.

Certainly bodes well for the gate guard business

I was able to bring my Samsung Color Laser Printer back from the dead this afternoon.

It had been feeling depressed and jumped to its . . . well, actually, I hit a bad bump pulling into the Gate Guard Services lot on Thursday afternoon and it fell off the computer desk, ending up in about 8 different pieces.

So finally this afternoon I decided to take a shot on putting back together and seeing if I could get it working again.

I finally got it back in one piece and powered it up. And power up it did, which was something. But it would not initialize and give me the green light. I just had a flashing red one. But before I gave up I decided to take it back apart even more and see what I could find.

And after few minutes I found a connector that had pulled apart. Plugging it in and putting everything back together, I turned it on, and happily got a green light. And pressing the button gave me a test page.

It’s Alive . . . It’s Alive . . .

At this point I decided to reward my self with a nice nap. I also justified it by figuring I was just resting up for our upcoming gate guarding.

Yeah, right!

About 5:30 Jan and I headed about 25 miles north back to Pleasanton, where we planned to eat dinner and pick up a few things at the HEB. We had seen a whole lot of Bill Miller BBQ places in this area, and wanted to check them out. Well, based on us, it’s hard to see how they have so many locations.

Jan’s Chopped Beef Sandwich was so finely chopped it was like mush, and mixed with a pretty tasteless sauce.

I had the Rib and Sausage Combo Plate with potato salad, cole slaw, and pinto beans. The sausage was good, but they probably didn’t make it. The ribs were dry smoked, and although, very meaty, were very dry. And even dunking them in the sauce didn’t help things.

And the sauce itself was pretty tasteless, just kind of ‘tomatoey’, with absolutely nothing spicy at all.

The potato salad and cole slaw were pretty generic, but the pinto beans were pretty good. Or maybe they were only so-so, but stood out next to the bland food surrounding it. It’s hard to say.

But to make the meal even worse . . . they charge 50 cents for iced tea refills. WTH?

All in all, a very disappointing meal.

Leaving the restaurant we drove across the street to the HEB. Our first stop was the gas station to fill up our truck. Gas was $3.75, about 14 cents a gallon cheaper than the Shell station down in Whitsett. Then after grabbing some cat food and frozen pizzas, we headed back to the GGS lot for the night.

Our daughter Brandi called this afternoon saying Landon was doing fine, and they were taking him to get his first haircut this afternoon.

We were supposed to get pictures, but haven’t seen any yet (hint, hint). Hopefully we’ll see some soon. (hint, hint).

Not sure what we’re going to do tomorrow. Jan may fixed something, or we may go out for dinner. We’ll see.


Thought for the Day:

Just remember that after the chess game is over, the King and the pawn both end up in the same box.


Hurry Up and Wait . . .

In case you missed it, I posted yesterday’s blog a couple of hours ago, so I’m now caught up. Be sure and scroll down to read yesterday’s blog.

I was up about 7 this morning so we could have coffee before I tracked down the Gate Guard Services people.

About 7:55 I walked over to the office and found Jamie, the local supervisor, outside in his truck. After talking for a few minutes he directed me into the office to talk with Lori. Lori gave me the phone number of Patty at the main office in Corpus Christi.

Coming back to the rig, I then called Patty . . . and got Lori again. She laughed and said she forgot to tell me that until the Corpus office opens at 9, all calls are routed to the office here at Whitsett.

When we got here yesterday, Terry, the guy who got us settled in, said things had changed and we would have to drive the 90 miles down to Corpus Christi to complete our paperwork and fingerprint cards, and take our Level II Security Guard Test. I was hoping to be able to do that today once we talked to Patty. But that did not work out.

Lori called me about 8:30 and said Patty had told her to go ahead and give us the paperwork to fill out and fingerprint cards to bring with us. She also said that the Corpus office was closing at noon for Good Friday, and they were now handling new hires on Tuesday and Thursday.

So we were in a holding pattern until Tuesday.

I wanted to do what we could to expedite things, and when I ask Lori if we could go ahead and get our fingerprint cards done up here, she said the only place around was over at the Sheriff’s Department in Floresville, about 45 miles northeast of here.

So, after calling the Sheriff’s Office to double-check, Jan and I headed out about 2pm, first to Floresville, and then into San Antonio for dinner and some shopping.

The fingerprint cards only took about 15 minutes and then we were on our way. As far as Floresville, I’m not sure what was going on, but they seemed to be having their own diesel gas war there. Most stations in the San Antonio area have diesel for $4.05 to $4.10, or even $4.15, with a few places at $3.99,

But the HEB station in Floresville was selling diesel for $3.55, and the Wal-Mart had it for $3.57. WOW!

They even had semi trucks in line. As far as I’m concerned though, the 90 mile round trip would probably eat up any savings on the price.


For dinner we wanted to eat at the Magic Time Machine on the north 410 Loop. It’s probably been 30 years since we’ve eaten here, and we were glad to find it still open. We’ve also eaten at the one in Dallas, and the one that used to be in Austin before it closed.

The concept is kind of unique. The wait staff are dressed up as characters from movies, television, and literature.

Magic Time Machine 1b

The place is a warren of little nooks and crannies, a maze of alcoves, hidden rooms, and cul-de-sacs. You can very quickly end up going in circles.

In fact it’s easy to get lost, and almost impossible to find the restrooms without help. But when you ask a waiter or waitress for help, they grab you by the hand and lead you back and forth through the restaurant, loudly announcing that this is the Potty Train and anyone else that needs to go, can hop on board. Sometimes you’ll see an string of 5 or 6 people, all holding hands, being lead to the restrooms.

So it’s a good idea to “go before you go”, so to speak.

And of course, they don’t have a salad bar, they have a “salad car”. A 1952 MG TC.  “Soup in the front, Salad in the back.”

Magic Time Machine 2

We saw many characters, like Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Alice in Wonderland, Tinkerbell, Pinocchio, Supergirl, Thor, and below, Ariel, the Littlest Mermaid.

Magic Time Machine 3

We had the beautiful Diana Prince, who fights crime in her secret identity is Wonder Woman.

Magic Time Machine 4

And Jan seems to have a real admirer in The Joker.

Magic Time Machine 5

Personally I like the Jack Nicholson version better.

Our meal was really good, and well worth the trip. Hopefully we won’t wait another 30 years to visit again.


Thought for the Day:

Things are more like they are now than they ever were before. – Dwight D. Eisenhower


A New Chapter . . .

and a Big Milestone.

This is the blog post for Thursday, the 5th, that got eaten by the power outage last night. Landon is home and doing fine

Jan and I were up about 8:30 this morning, wondering what was going on with Landon’s hospitalization. Then a few minutes later we got an real, actual phone call. Don’t know why it worked this morning, but not last night.

Our daughter Brandi was on the way home from the hospital to freshen up and grab a little sleep. She said Landon was doing OK, but was still in ICU (which is normal at his age). They’ve got him on some steroids so he’s really restless and doesn’t like the IV he’s hooked up to.

Feeling relived, we left the RV park in Junction a little before 10. Our first stop was the McDonald’s that is part of the Valero Truck Stop where we made our phone call to Brandi last night. We wanted to grab a couple of breakfast sandwiches to eat on the road.

Junction McDonald's

Luckily since it was a truck stop I had plenty of room to park right next door and run in. As the manager took my order, I juked about the fact the fact that if his drive-thru cover was a little higher, I could have just taken the RV through. He laughed and said that some people don’t care, and that this was his 3rd cover in two years.  Oops!

We were on the road and headed east on I-10 by 10:15.

Texas Paintbrushes

We passed more fields of bluebonnets and this one of Indian Paintbrushes. Really beautiful country through here, in contrast to the stark beauty of Arizona and New Mexico.

We took Loop 410 south around San Antonio and headed out on I-37. And about 25 miles down the road, we reached our milestone.

We hit 50,000 miles of travel on our coach. Of course our coach had 62,511 miles on it when we bought it, so now we’ve passed 112,511 total miles on our coach, and it’s still going strong.

Right after this, our daughter Brandi called and said Landon was home and doing fine. She said they had already taken the IV out, and after they heard from the doctor that they could leave, she ask Landon if he was ready to go home. He nodded, grabbed his toy, and headed out the door and down the hall to the elevator. He was ready!

Our first stop was in the town of Pleasanton at the Wal-Mart so we could stock up on groceries for the upcoming New Chapter in our RV life.

We were heading for Whitsett, TX and the local headquarters of Gate Guard Services

For the next 5 months or so, we were going to be oilfield gate guards.

The job of gate guard consists of parking our RV at the entrance to an oil well drill site and checking in and out all visitors, deliveries, and employees.

In most cases it’s 24/7 job with Jan and I each working a 12 hours shift. We may be parked right outside a town, or miles out in the boonies. You never known until you get your site.

The company furnishes the site and all utilities. In most cases that’s done with a trailer containing a diesel generator, diesel fuel tank, and a water tank. Sometimes a sewage storage tank is also included. If not, they have someone come by once or twice a week and pump your waste tanks out.

The good part is the job pays $125 to $150 dollars a day.  Nice.

We pulled into the Gate Guard Services lot about 4:15, and after talking to an employee, were directed to a place to park and hook up to 50 amp power with water nearby if we need it.

Gate Guard Lot 1

There is a full hookup area on the other side of the lot that we should be able to move to on Monday when some of these people move out to their gates.

Gate Guard Lot 2

Later I walked around the lot looking at the utility trailers that will supply us with power, water, and sometimes sewer, at the jobsite.

Gate Guard Lot 3

And it looks like they’ve got a bunch of trailers ready to go,

Gate Guard Lot 4

with the parts for more ready to be assembled.

Gate Guard Lot 5

Gate Guard Lot 6

Gate Guard Lot 7

The people we needed to talk to had already left for the day, so we’ll have to catch them first thing tomorrow to see how we get started.


Thought for the Day:

“To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first. And, whatever you hit, call it the target.” – Ashleigh Brilliant


Junction, TX Sucks . . .

This is actually the blog for Wednesday, the 4th of April. I couldn’t post it due to the bad Internet service we had in Junction. Thursday’s blog will be posted later.

We left Saddleback Mountain RV Park in Balmorhea, TX a little after 10am, heading 245 miles east to Junction, TX

But before we left I checked my engine oil and found no sign of antifreeze.

So far, so good.

Just outside of Ozona, we started running into large fields of bluebonnets. I guess all the rain they had here in the Texas Hill Country had been good to the flowers. Unfortunately we didn’t have the camera upfront so we didn’t get any photos. But here’s a sample from a previous year.


We got into Junction, TX about 3pm and got checked in to the North Llano River RV Park. When we last stayed here in 2007 and 2008, it was a KOA, but now it’s just a Good Sam park.

On today’s trip, we drove 55, but had a lot more hills than yesterday, but traveling 245.5 miles using 24.4 gallons of diesel, giving us 10.1 MPG.

I’m loving this new non-leaking exhaust manifold. I’ve gained about a 15% increase in gas mileage. At this rate the new manifold will pay for itself fairly soon.

About 4pm Jan and I headed out for dinner, stopping off at the office to settle up and complain about the non-functional WiFi system. Apparently it got struck by lightning a couple of weeks ago, and Radio Shack? hasn’t been able to fix it yet.

I think I see the problem here.

We had dinner at Cooper’s BBQ just north of I-10. We had eaten here in 2010 and remembered it as being pretty good. But either our memory was faulty or it’s gotten bad, because it wasn’t very good.

So to make up for the bad meal, we make a Nick Russell Memorial Visit at the DQ on the way home for some frosty goodness. Sorry Nick.

Getting back to the rig, I discovered how sucky the Internet was here, only 1x and almost none of that. And to make things even worst, although I had 3 bars of phone service, it was impossible to make a phone call that would last more than a few seconds without dropping out.

Did I say Sucky?

We would occasionally get an email to come in, but couldn’t send anything. I could sometimes get a webpage to come up, but mostly I got nothing.

One email that did get through was from our daughter-in-law Linda, telling us that our granddaughter Piper had won a Moody Foundation Scholarship for $2000.00 a year. She graduates from high school this May and wants to be a Physician’s Assistant. She’s been interning at a local hospital for a while as part of her classes and plans to work there after graduation as she continues her education.

Then we got an email that almost stopped our breathing. There was no message, just the subject line that said “Landon being admitted to hospital”.  Nothing else.

We had talked to Brandi earlier in the day while we were on the road, and she had said that she was on the way home to pick up Landon from daycare and take him to his doctor because his daycare said he was coughing a lot and had thrown up.

We try calling Brandi several times but never had a good connection. So finally at about 9:30 we got dressed and drove down to the Valero truck stop by the Interstate.

Since we still couldn’t make a cell call, we went into the Valero and used a pay phone. Getting hold of Lowell, we found out that Landon’s visit to the doctor hadn’t improved things much, and since he was having trouble breathing, they took him to the Emergency Room where he was admitted immediately.

Lowell said he was doing much better but they were keeping him overnight. The doctor’s kind of suspects an asthma attack, but weren’t sure.

Needless to say, we didn’t sleep very well.


Thought for the Day:

“You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is ‘never try’”. – Homer Simpson


Las Cruces in the Rear View Mirror . . .

Today was the day, we hope.

We left Coachlight RV Park about 10:30 to take our rig back over to Rush Truck Center to hopefully finish up our repairs and get us back on the road. But on the way we pulled into the nearby Pilot station for what turned out to be 118 gallons of diesel.

And just in time too. When we got diesel, it was $4.05 ($4.03 with our Pilot Loyalty Card). But later in the day it had gone up to $4.09.

We pull into Rush’s right at 11am, got parked, and our tech, David, got right to work. It turns out that our parts had come in early, and they were ready to go.

While they were working on our coach, Jan and I decided to have one last meal at Cha Chi’s. But we weren’t going for more Mexican this time. We were going for their hamburgers.

Every time we had gone there we noticed how many customers were ordering hamburgers, not Mexican dishes. We asked our waiter and he said they’re known for their burgers, and it’s one of their best selling items. So we had to try them.

Jan had a Cheeseburger with Guacamole, and I had the Works Burger with Cheese, Hatch Green Chilies, and two pieces of thick-sliced bacon. And along with lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion, they were really, really good. It’s easy to see why they were so popular.

Getting back to Rush Truck Center about 12:30 we found David close to being done. At 12:45 we started the engine and let the air system come up to full pressure until the valve popped off, and David checked for any leaks.

I noticed the air pressure came up quicker now, and the coach came up on the airbags faster too.

After settling up the bill, we pulled the coach out of the bay and over to an area where we could hook up the toad. I also took a few minutes to add some hydraulic fluid to our PowerGear leveler reservoir. When we left the park, the levelers came all the way up, but I was still getting a “Jacks Down” alarm. This normally means the fluid level is low and some needs to be added. And so it was this time.

As far as improvements from the exhaust manifold replacement, it was certainly evident.

I now have much better low-end power and acceleration, especially from a standing start heading up hill.

But the big eye-opener was the increase in MPG. Even driving at 60 instead of my normal 55, I traveled 239.1 miles and used 24.2 gallons of diesel. That’s 9.88 miles per gallon. WOW!

That’s better than I usually get at 55. And I’m really looking forward to seeing what I get doing 55.

We got into the Saddleback RV Park at Balmorhea about 6:50pm (We lost an hour going from MDT to CDT) after a very smooth trip.

Jan fixed us a great supper of cheese and bacon quesadillas and warm cookies for dessert. Hmmm!

Sometime during the next few days I go over in more detail what I had done on the rig and why.


Thought for the Day:

When women are depressed they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country.