Tuscan Chicken and The Sundance Kid . . .

The drill rig is finishing up cementing the last of the casing in and getting ready to skid? the rig over 25 feet to the next hole.

Although I’m not sure if ‘skid’ is the right word for moving something that weighs 300 TONS. More like ‘drag’ if you askqed me.

I talked to the supervisor of the move today, and right now they’re planning it for Wednesday morning. He said they’ll use two big cranes, one on each leg, each pulling separately, so they can ‘steer’ it as they move. He also said the skid itself takes about 7 hours and he’d already done another rig earlier this morning.

I’m really looking forward to seeing this. I’ll try to get some pictures if I can.

Today, (Monday) Jan fixed a delicious meal of Crockpot Tuscan Chicken, along with a Peach Cobbler made using a yellow cake mix. Of course we have plenty of leftovers, but since tomorrow is Tuesday, we’ll  be having Chile Rellenos from Galindo’s that I’ll pick up on the way home from getting groceries in Pleasanton. So the leftovers will have to wait a couple of days.

That’s about it for what’s going on here at Rancho Peggy (Peggy is the nearest town to where we are. I think it’s one store and a Post Office.). So I thought I’d post what we were doing a year ago today. Quite a bit different.


The last time I was at 11,000 feet, I was on a plane . . .

Originally posted on July 31, 2011

We picked up Al and Adrienne about 9 am and then headed down the street to Peter’s Coffee for traveling food, coffee and muffins.

Hitting the road again, our trip took us back up into Montana on SR72 to Belfry (Yes, they have two belfries in town and the football team is called ‘The Bats’) about 50 miles north of Cody.

This was the route we came into Cody on a week or so ago, but luckily today we didn’t have to go far enough north to hit the 11 miles of one lane, gravel road construction we had to go through coming in.

At Belfry we took a left onto SR308 heading to Red Lodge, MT about 12 miles away. On the way we passed through the small town of Bearcreek, home of the worst coal mine disaster in Montana history.

On February 27, 1943, seventy-seven miners went down into the Smith Coal Mine. After an explosion later that morning, only three came out alive. And beside ending these seventy-four lives, the explosion also ended the local coal mining industry in Bearcreek.

Getting into Red Lodge, we took a bathroom break at the Visitors Center, and then did some shopping along the nice Main St. area.

Red Lodge 1

On one corner was this old bank that’s now a ladies boutique. Waiting for Jan I took a moment to read the plaque on the wall in front.

Red Lodge Bank 1

And, lo and behold, this was a famous bank. On September 18, 1897, the Sundance Kid, Kid Curry, and others of the Wild Bunch attempted “to make an unauthorized withdrawal from the Carbon County Bank.” The “withdrawal” went bad, and after an 80 mile chase, they were captured and returned to Deadwood, SD, where they later escaped again.

Red Lodge Bank 2

Leaving town and heading south on the Beartooth Highway we came across this store selling furniture and art made from juniper trees,

Rocky Fork Juniper 1

including this neat elk, and even a moose.

Rocky Fork Juniper 2

Really very nice work.

Rocky Fork Juniper 3

It didn’t take long for us start encountering the fantastic scenery and multiple switchbacks that the Beartooth is famous for.

BearTooth 2

BearTooth 3

This map picture shows just one of many switchback sections that takes you from about 5000 feet to just over 11,000 feet.


Beartooth Switchbacks

BearTooth 5

The higher we got the more snow we saw. And looking at one of the snow fields I thought I saw movement, so zooming in with my camera I saw

BearTooth 4

this herd of Big Horn Sheep crossing the snow. This was above 9000 feet.

BearTooth 6

And we just kept getting higher and higher.

BearTooth 7

BearTooth 8

When we would think we couldn’t go any higher, we’d look up and see more switchbacks above us.

BearTooth 9

At one of the pullouts where we stopped to take in the view, we did see this marmot sunning himself on a rock.

BearTooth Marmot 1

Although they kind of look like a beaver or a big guinea pig, they’re actually a type of large ground squirrel.

Cute, though I hear they can be mean.

BearTooth Marmot 2

The views just kept getting better and better.

BearTooth 10

BearTooth 11

Finally we reached the namesake of the Beartooth Highway, the beartooth.

See it, it’s right at the tip of the red arrow.

BearTooth Bear Tooth 1a

Maybe this closeup will help.

BearTooth Bear Tooth 2

We came across a lot of pretty flowers along the way, some of which only grow at high altitudes,

BearTooth Flowers 2

BearTooth Flowers 3

like this Sky Pilot Flower, that only grows above 10,000 feet, and also has a slightly ‘skunky’ smell.

BearTooth Flowers 4

BearTooth Flowers 1

Reaching our 11,000 foot peak, we started back down, with of course, more switchbacks and hairpin turns.

BearTooth 12

BearTooth 13

After our 50 mile journey on the Beartooth, we reached SR296 and took a left onto the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway.

BearTooth 14

BearTooth 15

BearTooth 16

BearTooth 17

This 45 mile section had its own set of switchbacks, although we didn’t get near as high as on the Beartooth.

BearTooth 18

BearTooth 19

BearTooth 20

BearTooth 21

BearTooth 22

Finally we merged back into SR120, about 17 miles north of Cody, and headed home, getting back about 4:30.

BearTooth 23

After dropping Al and Adrienne off at their rig, we all met back at Proud Cut Saloon and Steakhouse for dinner about 5:30.

The steaks were delicious, but more important Jan and I had our first chance to try Rocky Mountain Oysters when Al ordered them as an appetizer. If you don’t know what they are, don’t ask.

First off, they were good, nothing like real fried oysters, which Jan and I love (raw oysters, too). More like fried slices of roast beef.

Actually I think they just prove the old adage that pretty much anything battered and deep fried will taste good.

After a great meal, Al and Adrienne came back to the rig to check out Jan’s Amish rug, and then we talked a while.

Finally, after saying our goodbyes and getting in our last hugs, they headed back to their rig. Tomorrow we leave for Billings and we probably won’t see them again until next March at Nick Russell’s Gypsy Rally in Yuma.

After they left, I walked next door to visit with Jack Allen and Nell Dahl, who we had met before at Nick’s rally.

They wanted to say hi, and find out more about using South Dakota as a residency. I had a great time getting to know them better, and talking about our travels. They plan on being at Nick’s Gypsy Journal Rally in Celina, OH in September so I’m sure we’ll see them then.


Thought for the Day:

The Tripolitan Wars (The Barbary Pirates) taught our young republic vital lessons, among them: tyrants cannot be appeased, peace cannot be purchased and there is no substitute for victory.


Counting Down the Days . . .

Tomorrow (Monday) we’ll be starting our final 3 weeks of gate guarding, and Jan’s counting down the days.

Me, I’m counting down the fact we’ve only got 3 more paychecks. Bummer!

First off, to get the important stuff out of the way. Here’s Landon talking about how old he is.  He’ll be 2 on August 20th.


And Landon and Daddy,

Landon and Daddy with Blocks

It’s been a pretty slow week so far, but things are picking up.

We’ve heard that they will be sliding the drill rig over to the new hole sometime later this week. We’ve also heard that it will take several days, rather than the 12 – 15 hours I was told originally. That makes more sense to me, since it’s not just a matter of moving the derrick, but all the surrounding stuff has to be moved out of the way first and then hooked back up.

On Wednesday we had another catered meal, this time from Stellar, the company that furnishes and support all the office and residence trailers on site. Nothing fancy, but a delicious pork loin cutlet, with green beans, cheesy baked potatoes, and fruit salad for dessert. The really great thing about all these catered meals is how well they’re seasoned. Just perfect.

Stellar Catering

And they’re free.

OK, the really great thing about these meals is that they’re free, and perfectly seasoned. I’ve got my priorities after all.

On Tuesday of course, it was Galindo’s Chile Rellenos Day.

Another great meal from a little hole-in-the-wall place

Chile Rellenos


Once again, not real fancy-looking, but really delicious!

For several weeks our temps here pretty much stayed in the low 90’s, but this past week it’s been back in the high 90’s every day, and looks to stay that way for the next several weeks.

Oh well, it’s summer in south Texas after all.

A few days ago I was talking with one of the drivers for Macro Trucking, one of the big haulers in this area for the rigs. They have over 600 semi’s, and we get 3 or 4 a day in here.

The driver told me about Power Service Diesel Kleen with Cetane Boost.

Diesel Kleen

He said the company had started using it in all their trucks about 9 months ago, after doing a six month trial run on about 50 of them. He said they were getting a solid 5-6% increase in mileage, along with cleaner injectors.

I had actually heard of this awhile back on RV.net so I decided to give a try. Amazon carries it at the link above for about $14 for a 32oz bottle. I’ll let you know how it does once we get back on the road.

Wrapping up, Joseph, one of the Gate Guard Services’ techs came out today to top us off with water and diesel, and change the oil in our generator.  This guy can do an oil and filter change in 8 minutes! Great when you don’t want to be without your rig AC for very long.

Finally, I want to highly recommend two Kindle books, both 99 cents, and well worth the money and more.

The first one is Mars the Avenger, a murder mystery set in ancient Rome, about 135 A.D. Besides the interesting mystery, the details of Rome life in that period make it even a better read. Check it out.

The second one is Methuselah’s Daughter, about a 3500 year old woman. The story starts in the present (2004, actually) and jumps between 1100 B.C. (when she’s already 400 years old) and around 135 B.C. in the Roman Republic.

Effectively immortal, (she grows back an arm and a leg after a bad traffic accident) the story really centers on how she views the rest of mankind and what she has to go through to hide her condition, a growing problem in today’s computerized society.

Don’t take this as a science fiction or fantasy book. It’s really not. It’s the story of a woman who has lived 50 lifetimes, coping with the loneliness, and watching anyone she becomes close to, grow old and die, while she stays young. At one point, she pretty much has no human contact for almost 400 years! because of this.

And just like Mars the Avenger, the details of the societies she lives in make the book even more interesting.

Both well recommend. You won’t be disappointed.


Thought for the Day:

Nothing quiets a room like a 12ga. chambering a shell.


Absolutely Nothing . . .

Has Been Going On Here.

Trucks go in. Trucks go out.

So here’s what we were doing a year ago today.


Buffalo Bill and Granny . . .

Originally Posted on July 25, 2011

Today was another ‘play tourist’ day, so after coffee at the rig and a quick stop at McD’s for a breakfast sandwich we headed over to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.

Buffalo Bill Historical Center

Today would be a ‘twofer’ with a 1 hour trolley ride around Cody, and then coming back to the Center to go through the five museums inside.

The trolley ride was fun and interesting, with a lot of good information from both Chuck, the driver, and Greg, the narrator.

BBHC Trolley Ride

It was interesting to discover that Cody (the town) was designed from scratch by Buffalo Bill to be a ‘tourist’ town. It was laid with very wide streets like the ones Buffalo Bill had admired when he toured Europe with his Wild West Show.

Also interesting was the story of his death and burial in 1917. He died in Denver, CO while visiting his wife Louisa. Cody hated Denver and its leaders with a passion, because they had once foreclosed on him due to a debt he owed.

His 1906 will stated he wanted to buried on top of Cedar Mountain just outside his beloved Cody. However when he died in Denver, the town supposedly paid his wife $10,000 to bury him there.

To the public they said that Cody on his deathbed had said he had changed his mind and wanted to be buried in Denver. The folks in Cody said “Yeah, right” and started hatching plans to steal his body back.

Hearing about this, the Denver leaders stationed the National Guard and a WWI tank at the grave. They kept this up for four years before finally sealing off the gravesite with 20 tons of concrete. You would think this was the end of the story, but it wasn’t.

Buffalo Bill died in January 1917 but wasn’t buried until June when the ground thawed out. Now as the story goes, a vagrant died in Cody who somewhat resembled Buffalo Bill, so the town mortician and several townsfolk got together and did some creative makeup on the vagrant’s body so he looked even more like Cody. They then put the body in a automobile, drove down to Denver, snuck into the funeral home where Cody’s body was being stored, swapped corpses, and hightailed it back to Cody.

They then buried his body on top of Cedar Mountain like he wanted, in a unmarked grave so Denver could not steal him back.

Now all this might seem kind of fanciful, but there was a break-in at the funeral home recorded in a police report, and apparently no one thought to look closely at the body, which although it looked like Buffalo Bill, was more than 6 inches shorter than Cody’s slightly over 6 feet.

Now this story didn’t come out until after Denver had concreted over the gravesite, so there was no way to really check.

But the people of Cody, WY say they know for sure.

My favorite part of the Historical Center was the Firearms Museum.

In the main hall they have over 1200 firearms on display, starting from the 1500’s to the present.

Cody Guns 1500

They also have rooms by manufacturer, with pretty much ever gun that Remington, Colt, Winchester, Browning, Savage, etc., have ever produced.

They also have a number of unique firearms, like the very first production M1 Carbine from Winchester in 1941. During WWII they made over 800,000 of these.

First M1

Another very unique weapon is this Colt 1883 Gatling Gun.

Gatling Gun 1

It was acquired by Winchester in 1949 to test the feasibility of adding an electric motor to power it. This electric-powered Gatling Gun was the prototype of the M-61 Gatling Gun still in use on today’s military aircraft.


Except instead of firing 200 rounds per minute of .45-70 caliber ammo, the Vulcan fires 6000 rounds per minute of 20mm ammo (approx. .78 caliber)

I think one of these would be real nice mounted on the roof of our RV. Idiots would think twice about cutting me off.

Another little fact about Gatling guns. Custer had two of them with him at the fort before he took off chasing Indians, but he didn’t take them with him because he thought they’ve slow him down.

I imagine he was rethinking that decision a little while later.

According to the one of the museum displays much of how we see Indians of that era, tipis, warbonnets, warriors on horseback. etc. comes from Cody’s Wild West Show. But these only applied to a very few tribes of the Plains Indian.

I guess this is like supposedly much of the way we visualize Santa Claus today comes from Coca Cola advertisements of the last 100 years or so.

And apparently like many of today’s rock singers, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show did ‘Final Farewell Tours’ for a number of years. An ad in the Stockton Evening Mail of October 8, 1910 states that "Buffalo Bill Positively Bids You Good-By". But 3 years later the show was still on tour around the country, including another show in Stockton 18 months later.

I’ve got a lot of other pictures but I’ll save some for later on a slow news day.

Leaving the Center about 2:30 we had a light lunch at McD’s before heading back to the rig to pick up Jan’s cat, Emma, and take her to the vet

Lately she’s been losing weight, always hungry, and always thirsty. She’s about 15 years old and we wondered if she had diabetes.

But after blood tests and $200 later, it turns out she had hyperthyroidism which should be treatable by a pill twice a day.

I do want to give a big thumbs up to Lifetime Small Animal Hospital here in Cody, and Dr. Erin Pedersen, our vet. She was great!

Two of our other friends recommended Lifetime and they were right.

After getting back to the rig, and a nice nap, we headed out for dinner about 8 pm, and ended up Granny’s Restaurant. It was very busy, and very good, just good down-home cooking.

Coming home we stopped off at Albertson’s to get a large disposable aluminum roasting pan to use as a secondary cat litter box.

Tomorrow we’re going down to Grand Teton National Park for a couple of days and this will make sure we don’t have any messes to clean up when we get back.

More tomorrow from Jackson, WY.


Thought for the Day:

“It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature,” – Henry James


Never Kill A White-Headed Fly . . .

Especially one that says “Help Me. Help Meeeeeee” in a high, squeaky voice.
(Obscure Movie Reference)

The last few days we’ve had a fly invasion here at the gate. One of the things we’ve liked about this gate over our last one near Charlotte is the distinct lack of insects. No mosquitoes, no katydids in my pants, no tarantulas (not really an insect, but still under the generic ‘bug’ category). But now we have flies. Lots and lots of flies. They started out just a few, but now we get 6 or 8 at a time.

This afternoon Jan did the ‘water in the clear plastic bag’ thing, and no, Jan doesn’t watch “Mythbusters”. So I guess tomorrow we’ll see how that works.

My question is this. Why only 6 or 8 flies at a time? You kill the 6 or 8, and then a few minutes later, 6 or 8 more show up.

Why don’t they all show up at once?  Do they queue up someplace nearby? Is there some sort of allocation system so you don’t have ‘fly overcrowding’ in any one area, and everyone gets their ‘fly quota’?

Or is there a fly dispatcher? “Here’s your next assignment. Sign here, and we’ll notify your next of kin, all 27 million of them.”

And are you as disappointed as I am that Raid “Flying Insect” spray doesn’t kill flies like it does on TV?  You know, there’s a big BOOM!, and when the smoke clears, the fly is lying there on his back with his little fly feet up in the air.

I want the BOOM!

And did you ever notice that his little fly feet have little tiny shoes on them? Couldn’t they fly better without the shoes?

Inquiring minds, and all that.

Well, we’ve got less than a month to go on our gate guarding experience. We plan on leaving the gate on Monday, August 20th. As it stands now, we’ll first head down the road about 5 miles and spend the night at the Gate Guard Services yard while we get the rig set to travel. We’ve been parked either at the yard or on a gate since April 5th, and it always takes awhile to get everything tucked away when we’ve been off the road that long. Then that night we’ll drive into San Antonio for one last Mexican meal, probably at La Fonda on Main.

Leaving the 21st, we’ll take a leisurely 6 days to travel the almost 1400 miles to Celina, OH to help Nick Russell and his wife Terry get ready for the upcoming Gypsy Journal Rally that will start a week later.

We’ll try to hit a couple of Thousand Trails parks along the way, but don’t quite know yet how that’ll work out. We’ll see. I know we’ll spend one night in southern IL with Jan’s sister Debbie, but after that it’s all up in the air.’

Just the way we like it.

My Android Free App of the Day is ListNote. Apparently using the same technology as Google’s Voice Search, it does an excellent job of turning voice dictation in text files that can be exported into other software. Pretty neat.

Wrapping up, with the recent killings in Colorado and the accompanying calls for more gun control, to me this photo says it all.

Spoons Made Me Fat


Thought for the Day:

In 1776 the Sioux defeated the Cheyenne in war and took the Black Hills from them.
About 100 years later the US did the same to the Sioux.
Why does the first conquest confer legitimate title and the second doesn’t?


The King is Dead. Long Live the King . . .

A week or so ago I mentioned that during our break we had visited the Buc-ee’s in New Braunfels, TX, the largest convenience store in the world. At 68,000 square feet, with 83 toilets and 60 gas pumps, it’s certainly Texas-sized.

Well, this afternoon our daughter-in-law Linda sent us a link to a story about the new biggest Buc-ee’s in the world, and it’s going to be right down the road from the RV park we stay at when we’re in the Houston area. Unfortunately it won’t open until Memorial Day 2013, so we won’t get to visit it until the following Thanksgiving when we’ll be back in the area. Can’t wait.

This past Tuesday morning something unusual happened here at our rig site. It got very quiet and very dark. The rig normally looks like this at night.

Peggy Gate Rig 1


However, about 4:45am it looked like this.

Rig in the Dark

You know how that silence can be deafening? Well, that really held true here. Even the dark was deafening. The only thing lighting up the area was a couple of those portable light towers that have their own generators.

The big diesel generator (and by ‘big’ I mean the size of a semi trailer) that powers everything here at the site just up and quit. Just a big “WHUMP! and it was gone.

People came running out of buildings like ants at a picnic. For some reason there was also a lot of yelling and cussing going on. Over the next 20 minutes they’d tried to restart it a number of times with no luck. Finally someone found that a circuit breaker had popped on the power running the pump that feeds the engine from the big fuel tank. That’s the big blue tank just to the left of center in the above photo.

Resetting the breaker fixed the problem and a few minutes later they were back up and running. Well it was nice while it lasted.

On a somewhat related note I mentioned in an earlier blog that they would be drilling two separate holes here,


about 25 feet apart so they can do directional drilling in opposite directions. The amazing thing about this is that they actually drag the entire multi-hundred ton rig to the new hole on greased skid plates.

So this evening I ask the Company Man how long it would take. He said that from the time they shut down at the first hole and are back up and ready to drill at the second location is normally about 12-15 hours. That’s just amazing.

I’ve mentioned before that we normally have our big meal of the day in the evening, and just have a snack for lunch. One of the few exceptions to this is Tuesdays, which it’s Chile Rellenos day at Galindo’s in Charlotte.

At our old site, Galindo’s was only about 8 miles away, perfect for a quick lunch. But now from our new location, they’re about 40 miles away. Even for Chile Rellenos, a 80 mile round trip was a little much. But I decided to go ahead and get groceries in Pleasanton then instead of waiting until Friday, making it only an additional 15 miles. Very doable,

The meat-filled Chile Rellenos was as delicious as usual, and as often happens, dinner showed up too. I’ve mentioned before that it seems like every time we have a big lunch, a catering truck shows up with a big dinner.

And about 4:15 one showed up. And a few minutes later the smell of steaks on a grill wafted across the site. And by 5:30 we were chowing down on a delicious meal of steak, seasoned mashed potatoes, green beans, salad, and a root beer float for dessert.

Steak and Float

The salad is actually on the steak. It covered the entire area. And as usual, it was really good. And we were really full. But it was worth it.

Wrapping up, I thought I’d tell you about a neat Android app I found recently. Called CamScanner, it turns your phone into a scanner. Just take a photo using the program and it turns it into a PDF document. It will even do it with photos already on your phone. Pretty neat.


Thought for the Day:

“The first rule to intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts”. – Paul R. Ehrlich.


Or Maybe Not . . .

Well, now we’re confused. Of course it wouldn’t be the first time.

When we started up at this gate about a week ago, we were told it would run 7 – 8 weeks, which was perfect for us since it meant we wouldn’t have to move again before we planned on leaving Texas for parts north around the 20th of August.

But then late last week we heard the rig would here only 30 days. Bummer! That would mean we would have to move again before we planned to leave, or else knock off early and lose a couple of thousand dollars in gate guard pay.

OUCH!  You know how much that would hurt me.

But then a couple of days later we heard it was going to be a 40 day drill. Well, that wouldn’t be too bad. We could probably make that work.

So now we don’t know what to figure on. I guess we’ll know more as time goes on.

One thing different on this site is how close the crew trailer is to us. At our last site it was about 75 yards away.

Marathon Crew Trailer


But at this site they’re snuggled right up close and personal next to us.

Peggy Gate Crew Trailer

The only real problem is parking for everyone. The last few guys in have to park on the grass, and a couple got stuck during the rains last week. Other than that, no problems, no loud parties, since having any alcohol on site is a termination offense.

This morning we were running low on bottled water so about 11:30am I made a run to the Exxon station on I-37 about 5 miles away. And while I was there I picked up some fried chicken and baked potato wedges. We’ve gotten their chicken several times before and it’s always been delicious, and this time was no exception. Very good.

Then later this afternoon while outside on the gate, I started getting the distinct odor of sewage. Since I had dumped our tanks this morning, i was afraid there was something wrong with our system, but after walking around back, I discovered it was pouring out of one of the crew trailer’s two systems and filling up a nearby ditch.


I immediately called the Company Safety Man to let him know about the problem.

The sewage from the trailer first goes into the small green container (called “the honeypot”). There a macerator pump pushes the sewage up into the big green tank.


The sewage was pouring from the honeypot so I figure either the pump failed or the float valve that controls the pump got stuck.

Either way, some guys from Stellar (the company that supplies the trailer and supports it) showed up with a new honeypot and took care of the problem. All that remains now is to get one of the vacuum truck guys to suck up what’s left in the ditch when they come by tomorrow.

The drill rig up the hill from us started pulling out yesterday.


Gary and Susan, the gate guards for that rig, left the day before for their well-deserved time off before the rig catches up with them. It’s strange to look over that way and just see darkness after being brightly lit for so long.

One thing kind of different with this rig location is how busier we are here than the previous site, about 4 – 5 pages a day rather than the 2 – 3 pages before. This means we’re logging in 60 – 80 vehicles a day rather than the 30 – 40 a day before. Still not a lot of work.

I ask one of the guys coming through the gate about it and he laughed and said it was because we were so close to civilization now. Before, we were 20 miles out in the boonies, but now we’re just 5 miles off the Interstate. Reps and support guys can cruise through the site, check on their workers, and be back on the road.  Then they can write it up in their daily logs how busy they were.. And it’s even better for them with two rigs here. So now we know


Thought for the Day:

So how do a fool and his money get together in the first place?


HI Ho, Hi Ho . . .

It’s back to work we go.

Well, as I posted on Monday, a knock at the door put us to work on our new gate. It seemed kind of early to us. They didn’t even have the derrick up yet. But I guess that’s why they pay us the big bucks. LOL

Like our gate-before-last, we’re just a few hundred feet from the rig. It is convenient for dropping off the logs at the rig office, but it is noisy. The big chillers make a loud roaring sound very much like the roar of the water at Niagara Falls.

Last time we were almost a mile and a half from the rig, and couldn’t even really see it through the trees. We kind of do miss the peace and quiet.

Peggy Gate Rig 1 

This is what it looks like from our RV.

This is our 3rd gate with this drill rig, and should be our last, since we’ll be leaving sometime around the 20th of August to start heading north to Celina OH for Nick Russell’s upcoming Gypsy Journal Rally.

One nice thing about moving with a rig is that you don’t have to learn a whole new group of people. The drill rig has the same core of 15-20 people all the time. Actually I should say 30-40 since half are off at any one time.

The Marathon guys work 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off, and the H&P guys (the crew) work 1 week on and 1 week off. Marathon owns the lease and runs things. They hire H&P to furnish the drill rig and the crew to do the actual drilling,.

The other thing different about this new site is the rain. This past Tuesday and Wednesday we had a lot of it. Inches of it. And we discovered a problem with our pad.

Even though it should be nice and dry under our canopy, we were slogging around in about 2 inches of mud. The problem is that the pad has a definite slope from behind us, under the rig, under the canopy, and out onto the road. I guess the idea was for drainage, and it does drain, pretty much right under our feet.

But that’s not the worse part. The roadway and the pad are all made from caliche, a form of calcium carbonate. When it’s dry, it hardens like concrete. That’s why it’s used for the roads and pads. But when it gets wet, it becomes, as my grandpa used to say “slick as snot”, and very sticky.

The slick part makes it kind of hard to walk on and the sticky part means it clumps to your shoes until you’re just walking around on about 2 inches of mud caked to your boots. But the real problem comes if you let the stuff dry on your shoes.

It turns to concrete and you pretty much have to chip it off, unless you soak them in water until it softens again, and then scrape it off. I finally ended up just wearing my Crocs since they were the easiest to wash off and clean.

One nice thing was that yesterday (Wednesday) we got another steak dinner for each of us dropped off at our rig. But since we had already had dinner, we just saved it for tonight.

Now that things have settled down I’m going to try and catch up on the blog comments and emails. I’m a few days behind, but I’ll get to them.


Thought for the Day:

A single fact can spoil a good argument.


An End To Eden . . .

Well, our 4 day long idyllic interlude has come to an end.

A knock at the door at about 1pm brought our goofing-off to a screeching halt,  and we were back to work.

More later.

It’s A Two-Holer!

Well, we moved pretty much on schedule Thursday morning, leaving our old site and traveling about 55 miles over to our new site located a couple of miles off off FM-99 near Peggy. TX.

The Gate Guard Services support guys were waiting for us with our generator and sewer trailers and quickly got us parked and hooked up.

This is the view from the front of our canopy. Jan likes it a lot better than the scrub brush view at our Charlotte gate.

Peggy Gate View

Off to the left is the other rig on our lease.

Peggy Gate View Left

Our pad is off to our right, all ready for our rig to follow us over here.

Peggy Gate View Right

One thing that’s interesting about this drill site is that it’s a two holer. And I’m not talking about outhouses. It also explains why this drill site is supposed to take 7 to 8 weeks, instead of the usual 3 or 4.

They are actually going to drill two separate wells, 25 feet apart. The reason for this is so that they can start drilling horizontally at some point, one well going in one direction and the other one going in the opposite direction.

Two Hole Well Site

But the really neat part is how they drill two different wells with one rig.

They actually drag the entire rig the 25 feet to the next hole!

They just grease up those large metal plates on either side of the drill holes and then drag the entire multi-100 ton rig to the next hole.

This I gotta see!

Of course, from what I hear, it moves so slowly you can’t really see it move. But it will be interesting.

Below is what the well site looks like. The center one is for the drill and the one on the right is for instrumentation.

Two Hole Well Site 2

After we got set up Thursday afternoon, we looked like this from the top of the hill.

Peggy Gate View 2

Later in the afternoon we drove down to the Three Rivers area to have dinner at Pepe Boudreaux’s. We hadn’t eaten here since before we got our first gate April 15th, so it was good to try it again.

I had the Cajun Chicken Breast, stuffed with crawfish, bacon, and cheese. Really good.

Pepe Broudreauxs Chicken

Friday we made a day trip into San Antonio for shopping, entertainment, and dinner.

After stopping off at Home Depot and Sam’s Club, we took in a movie. Our choice this time was Snow White and the Huntsman, another retelling of the fairy tale, like the Mirror, Mirror version we saw a while back. This one was a lot darker and less humorous, but very good. We both enjoyed it.

After the movie, we made a stop at Starbuck’s and Half Price Books before ending up at one of our favorite San Antonio spots, Magic Time Machine for a delicious steak dinner, finally getting home about 8:30pm.

On Saturday they finally started bring in some parts of the rig, but still not making a lot of progress. Great for us!

So about 3:30pm we headed to Pleasanton for the afternoon, with our first stop at Tractor Supply Store for a couple of connectors and some other stuff. Then it was on to Chili’s for dinner. After that it was the obligatory Wal-Mart stop to pick up supplies.

Coming home, and under the heading of “a horse in his pajamas” (anybody remember this?), we passed these companions to last week’s camel sighting. No telling what you’ll see on a Texas ranch.

Zebras 2

On Sunday they still didn’t have the rig up and running so we headed off to New Braunfels to have lunch at Rudy’s BBQ with our friend Gina. Along the way we stopped off in Live Oak, a suburb of San Antonio to see Men in Black 3, which we both really liked. This is one series that’s held up very well.

After a great meal at Rudy’s (we got a bunch of takeout to bring back with us), and having a really good time seeing Gina again, we said our goodbyes and headed home.

One funny thing happened while we were at Rudy’s. A group of 12-15 people came in for lunch, but some of them had a problem. They were either vegan or vegetarian, and were upset that they couldn’t find anything to eat, except pretty much the potato salad and cole slaw.

Hello! What part of BBQ didn’t you understand, and why would you come there to start with.

Leaving Rudy’s we did make a quick detour a couple of miles north on I-35 to check out the new Buc-ee’s there.

At 68000 square feet, it’s recognized as the largest convenience store in the world. It has 83 toilets (34 in the women’s restroom alone), and 60 gas pumps.

Buc-ees NB


Getting back to our area about 5pm we were anxiously looking over the horizon to see if our derrick was up. And luckily for us and our temporary freedom, they still had not raised it. So it looks like our respite will continue for a while longer.

Monday, we plan on just goofing off around the rig, and waiting to be told to go back to logging.


Thought for the Day:

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.


Happy Birthday America!


                 From Beautiful South Texas!