But there’s always Plenty of Hot Water . . .

The guy who decided to make large water tanks black has never been in south Texas in the summertime, and tried to take a cool shower.

It’s just all hot, all the time.

I now see why some gate guards have a tarp tented over their tanks. Right now the water in the shower is warm, but comfortable. But as the days get hotter I may have to look into the tarp thing too. We’ll see.

Here’s a series of photos I took over a couple of days as they built our rig.

Rig 1

Rig 2

Rig 3

The thing goes together like a giant Erector Set. But I guess that dates me.

Maybe I should say Legos instead.

I went back by Tita’s Taco Stand the other day for some more of their great tacos. Their green sauce is some of the best I’ve ever eaten. Good food and nice people.

Tita's Taco Stand

I just wished they served their breakfast tacos all day long, instead of stopping at 11am.

Heck, I wish McDonald’s sold Egg McMuffins all day long too.

Under the heading, “They Grow Them Big Here in Texas” I took this shot of a large green grasshopper who has taken up residence under our canopy.

It’s hard to tell from the photo but his body alone is about 4 inches long. So far, he’s ignoring us and we’re ignoring him.

Let’s hope we keep it that way.

Big Grasshopper

That’s about it for today. Wednesday afternoon we’ll head to Houston for a couple of days for our granddaughter Piper’s graduation, and should be back early Friday evening. Gate Guard Services is sending someone over to work our gate while we’re gone.

I will try to post a blog from Houston, but don’t know if I will have time.

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Thought for the Day:

“If you kill enough of them, they stop fighting.” — Curtis LeMay

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Mister Cool . . .

First off, more congrats are in order to our granddaughter Piper. She just received her C. N. A. (Certified Nursing Assistant) certification, specializing, I believe, in Phlebotomy.

Piper's CNA 

In other words, she really likes to stick it to people.

She’ll be starting on a four year scholarship at the University of Houston – Downtown in the Fall, working toward her degree as a Nurse Practitioner.

Piper in Straw Hat

All this and she hasn’t even graduated from high school yet.

Next Thursday, tho.

Well, my cooling mister experiment turned out to be real success, but not quite like I intended. The kit I bought at Tractor Supply came with 50 feet of line and 10 misters, as well as the necessary connectors.

Ocean Beeze Mister

I had planned to run the hose around the bottom edge of our canopy like they show on the box. But things were pretty busy on the gate, and while I was thinking about how I wanted to hang the hose, I decided to just hook up one mister on the end of the hose (so I could cut it off with no problems if I didn’t like where it was).

After noticing how fine the mist coming from the nozzle was, I stuck it behind our fan and twist-tied it in place.

Mister mister

Turning the fan on and placing it about 5 feet away, the difference was almost instantaneous. I could feel the moisture hitting my face, but I wasn’t getting wet. And it was suddenly much, much cooler where I was sitting.

After enjoying the cool breeze for a few minutes, I hung my thermometer in front of the fan to see what it would register. The thermometer said 100 degrees (it had been kind of in the sun. I think it was about 95 degrees) and I wanted to see exactly how much difference it made.

Mister FanWithin about 30 seconds the display started falling. 99, 98, 97 . . . And in about 5 minutes it was down to 80 degrees, which explains why it felt so comfortable now. And the 20 degree drop is just what the box said it would give.

Mister Temp After thinking things over, I decided this solution was perfect for what we needed. Most of the time there’s just one of us out here, so why cool the whole area. And it’s certainly a lot simpler. The fan motor is completely sealed so a little moisture is not going to hurt it. And this will save on water usage too. Since ours has to be trucked in, that was a concern.

We’ll see how it works tomorrow for the whole day. It’s not supposed to be quite as hot as today, only about 91, but it will still be a good test.

More later.

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Last night while working the gate about 10pm, Jan saw a large black snake slithering across the road about 25 feet away. It had come from behind our rig and was heading for the woods across the road.

The wind was very strong, and Jan said the snake was being blown sideways as it moved so it had to keep adjusting its course, kind of like a sailboat tacking into the wind.

A few minutes later a truck was leaving the site and Jan had to walk over to that side of the road to check him out. She had her flashlight out and was frantically searching the roadside for snake signs as the truck came to a stop behind her.

What she didn’t realize was that the guy had gotten out of his truck to see what she was looking at. When his hand touched her shoulder, she let out a loud scream.

And then he let out a loud scream.

By that time I think if the snake was still anywhere near by, he was headed for the deep woods.

On another critter note, I took this picture of a two inch long brown scorpion, right before he unfortunately passed away. Services to be announced at a later date.

Scorpion

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Thought for the Day:

Don’t wish doom on your enemies … plan it.

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Ka-Boom!

is the sound a large crew trailer A/C unit makes when someone accidently hooks up a 3-phase 480 volt generator to the power input instead of the single phase 120 volt unit that should have been used.

Marathon Crew Trailer

Other items that joined the fun were the water heater, water pump, microwave, LCD TV, satellite DVR, washer, dryer, refrigerator, and various and sundry light bulbs which reportedly blew up like firecrackers.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the pad here is a little smaller than normal so they put the crew trailer over behind us right outside the gate. Well, the story goes that the diesel generator that supplies power to the trailer quit and wouldn’t restart. So someone drove over to the pad and bought back another generator, apparently not noticing it was a 3-phase 480 volt unit that is used to run some of the big rig pumps. How they got it hooked up I don’t know, since the plugs are not in any way compatible, but hook it up they did.

And then they cranked it up. And then they threw the breaker.

And then guys came running out the trailer like they were under attack!  You know, the exploding light bulbs, the smoke pouring out of the TV, the bright flash of light and loud pop from the microwave, that kind of stuff.

It’s never a dull day here on the George Long Ranch and drill site.

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For lunch today (Thursday) I made the 8 mile trip into beautiful downtown Charlotte (pop. 1637) to pick up some tacos from Tita’s Taco Stand for lunch. Ryan Etheridge, the Marathon Safety guy has brought us back breakfast tacos from there a couple of times, and they were really good. So we thought we would try them for lunch.

I was disappointed that they only did breakfast tacos until 11am, especially since the breakfast items are the biggest part of the menu. And I think this is the first time I’ve seen SPAM as an ingredient for tacos. But apparently it’s pretty popular since I heard several people order them while I was there.

Titas Menu

I got us two chicken fajita tacos and two beef fajita tacos, so we could have one each. They were plain and simple, and really good. Just the meat wrapped inside the tortilla with your choice of a red sauce, or a really good, really spicy green sauce. We’ll go back.

Last night when I drove over to the office to drop off the previous day’s logs, I asked Boone Williams, the night Company Man, if he would have one of the big water tankers soak down the road in front of our gate. Yesterday it was like being in a dust storm.  Vehicles would stop in front of the gate and you would have to wait for the dust cloud to settle before you could see who it was. But three times during the day we got our road watered down which took care of the problem for now.

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This time next week Jan and I will be in Houston for our granddaughter Piper’s High School Graduation. We plan on leaving next Wednesday afternoon and staying two nights before coming back to our gate on Friday afternoon. Gate Guard Services is arranging for someone to cover our gate while we’re gone.

Piper’s graduation is Thursday night, but Thursday morning we’re taking Landon to the Houston Zoo. It’ll be his first trip, and the way he loves animals, it ought to be fun.

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i decided to try one of these wireless solar-powered Vehicle Monitors that Amazon sells.

Driveway Monitor

Solar-Powered Vehicle Monitor

The one we have now, the old ding-ding service station type, only goes about 100 feet in one direction and 60 feet in the other, an4d I would like to have a little more lead time for approaching vehicles. And yes, this is so at 3am I can wake up before they get to the gate and find me napping. I haven’t been surprised yet, but it’s been close.

This one is suppose to work up to 1000 feet line of sight. Most of the reviews are pretty good, so I wanted to give it a try. I’ll let you know how it works.

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As the days get hotter here in Texas I’m thinking about putting together a cheap Swamp Cooler, or Evaporative Cooler, to cool us down in the hottest part of the day. Swamp coolers are those doghouses you see on rooftops in Arizona. They’re really very simple, consisting of a fan, a water source, and a porous material like burlap.

Swamp coolers will only work in low humidity areas like Arizona, and not places like Houston. But where they will work, they are much cheaper to operate than conventional air conditioning.

Here’s a link for a simple Swamp Cooler you can build yourself. I’m going to see how the mister units that I’m going to pick up at Tractor Supply tomorrow work before I proceed with the swamp cooler idea.

And ironically enough, a swamp being very humid, would not be a good place to use a swamp cooler.

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Thought for the Day:

I’ve been pretty thoughtless today.

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A New, New Record . . .

I’ve been trying to upload this blog for about 3 hours now with no luck. I don’t know if Verizon is working on things or what. But every night a little after midnight, I lose data service on both my Droid and my aircard. Normally I get it back between 3 and 4am, but not tonight. Here it is 5:30 and still no service. Hopefully it will come back before I knock off at 7.

Today (Tuesday) was pretty laidback with only a normal amount of traffic (70-80 vehicles), but yesterday was a madhouse.

For some reason the pad for this site is apparently smaller than normal, and yesterday they had so many big trucks coming in carrying casing pipe, drilling mud, water, and other fluids, that they didn’t have enough room on the pad, and so had to start restricting access to 4 rigs at a time.

Believe me, truck drivers do not do “waiting patiently” very well,

In fact, not at all.

At one time, I had nine rigs parked along side of the road waiting their turn to get in. And it really didn’t help things when the Company Man called me and said to send in a couple of the rigs from the middle of the pack, because their drilling mud was needed NOW.

I thought I was going to have a riot on my hands. The drivers were yelling and jeering at the two trucks that got to jump line, and the two drivers were yelling back. Finally about 6:30pm we got caught up and things settled down. I should have gotten extra pay as a traffic cop/anger management consultant.

Our previous vehicle record was 128 vehicles as our old site was shutting down before moving here. Our new record is now 148 for this past Monday. Still don’t know yet if this is normal for a new rig starting up.

They do seem to be making good progress here. The hole is down to about 4800 feet, but the computer said the bit was at about 200 feet. Don’t know if they’re putting down casing, or just changing bits. I’ll try to find out tomorrow.

Looks like our days are now permanently in the 90’s. It helps that the humidity pretty much stays in the 20% range. Tractor Supply sells some misting units that I’m going to check out for when it gets hotter.

It’s still very comfortable at night though, with temps in the low to mid 60’s. In fact I usually wear a long sleeve shirt at night for a little warmth.

In contrast, here’s where we were this time last year. Check it out.

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King’s Canyon and Sequoia Too . . .

Originally posted on May 23, 2011

We had to get early this morning at 7:30, but it was for a good cause: Our trip down south to King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Parks.

But before we left, Jan put some food out for the birds and squirrels. And it turns out we have a another visitor to the food, a resident gopher.

Gopher 1

Gopher 2

Jan didn’t realize she was dumping the food almost on top of his hole, but he was happy.

We finally headed out about 9 for the 100 mile trip down to the two National Parks.

Our first stop was at a convenience store in Squaw Valley, the same place we stopped last year, for a bathroom stop and a cappuccino.

Then we started the long climb up into the parks, from about 300 ft. in the valley to almost 8000 ft. At about 6000 ft. we started seeing snow again, although not near as much as last year.

The big problem was the fog. It steadily got worse the higher we went. In some places we could only see 20-30 ft. in front of the truck, so it made for really slow going.

Sequoia 1

We took a bathroom break at the Lodgepole Visitor’s Center and got our National Park Passports stamped for Sequoia, and then head down the road a couple of miles to the General Sherman Tree, by volume the biggest tree in the world

Lodgepole 1

Sherman Tree Trail

It’s about a half mile walk down the hill to the tree itself

Sherman Tree Trail 2

At 275 ft. high, it’s about 2500 years old, and it’s a monster. We didn’t get see the General Sherman last year because the road was snowed in, so we felt lucky this time.

Sherman Tree Trail 3

Coming back up to the parking lot we found the fog had really rolled in. And it made the drive back to the King’s Canyon area really dicey. The 26 mile trip took over an hour and fifteen minutes.

Sherman Tree Trail 4

We got to the King’s Canyon area about 10 til 3, just in time to get lunch at the café before closed at 3 pm.

Then after lunch, and getting our Passports stamped for King’s Canyon, we headed a couple of miles down the road to see the General Grant Tree, the second biggest tree in the world.

General Grant Tree

What’s unusual is that, although the General Grant is second in volume to the General Sherman, at 40 ft. in diameter, it has the biggest base. 40 ft. is the length of our motorcoach.

General Grant Tree 2

The Gamlin Cabin, shown here, and built in 1872, has served as everything from living quarters for the Gamlin brothers who built it, to a US Calvary storehouse, and then the home of the first park ranger stationed here. And it looks as strong as the day it was built.

Gamlin Cabin

Finally leaving the park and heading home, we did see some deer along the way. We had also seen a bear earlier disappearing into the fog, but otherwise it wasn’t a good day for animals.

Sequoia Deer

Except for the gopher, of course.

We finally got home about 7:30 after stopping and getting Nick his cappuccino fix.

Man, he’s really hooked.

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Thought for the Day:

“It’s easier to fool some people than to convince them they’re being fooled.” – Mark Twain

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All Landon, All the Time . . .

Well, it finally happened.

Landon’s first haircut.

And as much as Brandi probably hated to do it, it was just about time since he turned 21 months on this Sunday the 20th.

Landon First Haircut 1  It was getting a little long and curly there.

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They never had barber chairs like this when I was a kid.

Landon First Haircut 4 

Landon First Haircut 8

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Not too sure about those clippers buzzing around his ears.

Landon First Haircut 9

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Ahh! That’s better.

Landon First Haircut 10

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Monkey see, monkey do. The monkey’s name is Eek-Eek! because that’s what Landon said his name was.  A while back he had learned to say a bunch of animal sounds, and Eek-Eek! was the sound he said a monkey makes.

So when Lowell brought the toy home from a business trip, Landon immediately named him Eek-Eek! and takes him everywhere.

Landon First Haircut 12

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Finally headed home.

Landon First Haircut 13 

It looks like Landon first haircut went a lot better than our son’s first one. Chris, who just turned 44 on Saturday, acted like they were cutting fingers and not just haircut. in fact, he pitched such a fit, that after it was all over, we were politely asked to never bring him back.

Sunday morning at Starbucks.

Sunday Morning at Starbucks 

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Landon and Daddy Lowell

Landon and Lowell

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They started drilling yesterday (Saturday) and seem to be making good progress. They were at 800 feet by midnight and were at 2800 feet by midnight Sunday.

It looks like we might be here a little longer than the normal 2 to 3 weeks this time. They apparently will be doing a lot of sampling on this well so it’s scheduled for 40 days, which will take us to around the end of June. But of course, as always, things could slip.

So far this gate seems to be a little busier than our last gate, but that may just be because we are here for the startup.

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Thought for the Day:

“To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven. The same key opens the gates of hell. So it is with science.” – Richard P. Feynman

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On the Road Again, again . . .

Well, we did move pretty much on schedule, early on Wednesday, the 16th. Ryan, the Marathon safety guy came by around 7:30pm Tuesday night and told us we could shut down the gate and start getting packed up. He said we probably needed to head out the next morning about 6am to be at the new gate to wave the trucks in as they arrived at the new site, and said the first ones would probably arrive around 8.

Yeah, right!

Mark, our Gate Guard Services support guy, showed up a little before 6, and by 6:15, we were on our way. I was driving the rig, Jan was following in the truck, and Mark was towing our generator/water trailer.

Since I had already scouted out the location last Saturday, we had no problems making the 45 mile trip and finding our site. We arrived about 7:30am, and by 8:30 the canopy was up, the cell phone booster was operating, and we were ready to go. We’re now located about 8 miles south of Charlotte, TX, southwest of Pleasanton, and west of I-37.

Charlotte Gate 1

Of course, the first truck didn’t show up until after 10 in the morning, so what in the heck was the 6am thing all about. Right now we’re just waving people in, and not having to take sign-in info, so that’s nice.

We had hoped to get a couple of full days off while the drill rig was being set up at the new site, but because this new location is on a game ranch the gate has to be manned (or womanned in Jan’s case) at all times so that the emus and other animals don’t escape. But we did get time enough off to drive into Pleasanton, about 20 miles away to have dinner at Chili’s, so I guess that will have to do for a while.

Charlotte Gate 2

One thing that’s always amazing to watch is the big trucks hauling in the parts of the drill rig. Some of these pieces are twice the size of our RV and probably weigh a heck of a lot more. Yet here they come bouncing down the back roads, in a cloud of dust and hearty ‘Hi-O …

No, wait. That’s something else.

Charlotte Gate 3

Anyway, someone told me the other day that H&P, the company that owns the drilling rig, is taking delivery of 2 new rigs a month and still can’t keep up with the demand. In addition the GAO (Government Accounting Office) just announced last week that the amount of oil found in the area where Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah come together is greater than all the proven reserves in the rest of the world combined.

So much for Peak Oil.

Now that we’re settled in here, I’ll get back on my every other day posting schedule.

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“The United States symbolises the worst ideologies in the world: growth and freedom.” – Finnish writer Pentti Linkola

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A New Record . . .

128 vehicles in and out today (Monday). That’s about one every 10 minutes for the 24 hours.

That’s too much like work!

They’re in the process of finishing up the well and big trucks are coming and going hauling out mud and other drilling fluids all day long. If they finish up on schedule then they’ll start tearing down on Wednesday, which is when we’ll move to the new site about 45 miles away.

However we still don’t know the specifics of the move yet, like is our pad ready? Hopefully we’ll know more tomorrow. If what other gate guards have told us works out, we’ll have several days free to relax and maybe drive into San Antonio, before the rig is set up and running at the new site. Certainly hope so, anyway.

Today marks the beginning of our 2nd month gate guarding. We plan on doing this another 3 months or so, before heading up to Celina, OH for Nick Russell’s Eastern Gypsy Rally the first part of September.

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Brandi and Lowell sent over some more Landon pics.

Here he is chilling out at Pink Berry. Cool glasses!

Landon at Pink Berry

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And here he is chowing down on Boudin Balls and Ranch Dressing at T-Bone Tom’s in Kemah.

Landon eating Boudin Balls with Ranch Dressing

That’s about it for today. IF we stay on schedule our next blog may be from our new site.

Stay tuned!

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Thought for the Day:

In most cases, revenge is not a good thing. In other cases, it’s the only thing.

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