To My Sweetie . . .

Happy Anniversary!

Today, Saturday, is our 46th wedding anniversary. And we plan on having a lot more of them, too. We are really enjoying the RV lifestyle and plan on keeping on keeping on as long as we can.

We’ve got a replacement gate guard coming in for the day on Monday. She’ll work the gate from 1pm to 11pm while Jan and I spend the day in San Antonio, movie, dinner, shopping, etc. Jan’s really looking forward to it since this will be her first time leaving the gate since we got here five weeks ago.

We’ll probably do it again around the end of October for Jan’s birthday. At that point we’ll only have about 3 weeks left until we head back to Houston on the 24th of November so that will probably be it.

Luckily for us there are people here who do nothing but replacement gate guarding. And they stay pretty booked up. In fact we were originally planning to take off today, our actual anniversary date, but couldn’t find a guard with an opening. They not only have to be licensed, but they have to be licensed with Gate Guard Services, also. So it does narrow the field a bit.

Today was our slowest day so far. We only had 46 vehicles through the gate. Supposedly they have finished the “coiled tubing” phase, and won’t start the next phase, “flow back” until Monday. And even that probably won’t be that busy.

“Flow back” is where they actually start to put the well into production, i.e. starting to get crude oil out of the well.

We ended up having a good bit of rain this evening. A squall line moved through about 8:30 and drenched things pretty good. And there’s a 30% chance for more tomorrow. Oh boy!

Yesterday when I got groceries at the Wal-Mart in Pleasanton, I also picked up a 12’ x 20’ tarp to close end the back of our canopy once the temperatures start to drop. We have a couple of electric heaters that we’ll use out here and the tarp will help keep the wind out and the heat in.

I hope.

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Thought for the Day:

Things have not always been as they are, and they will not always be as they are now.

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Feast or Famine . . .

First off, Jan and I want to thank everyone for your kind words about Jan’s cat, Emma. Your thoughts and condolences were much appreciated.

Well, things have been a good bit busier around here the last few days, ironically I think, because things are winding down. We’ve had a lot of trucks coming in empty and going out loaded with no-longer-needed equipment. But supposedly there’s still a lot of cleanup work to be done, so hopefully we’ll be here for a while. But you never know.

On the home (rig?) front, we’ve run out of food. Or at least free food. After having it delivered almost faster than we could eat it the last couple of weeks, that’s come to a screeching halt. And then tonight we finished off the last of what we had.

I guess that means we’ll have to start buying our own food again. Bummer! I did have a touch of giddiness this afternoon when a truck pulling a big trailer labeled “Coyote Catering Mobile Food Feast” pulled into the gate,. But it turned out they were looking for the drill rig right down the road. Double Bummer!

Speaking of drill rigs, it looks like the rig we followed for 4 months last year, H & P 458, is right down the road. A guy came through the other night kind of lost, and looking for it. After looking over his directions and getting him back on his way, it looks like it’s about 8-9 miles south of here.

Our Gate Guard Services support guy, Austin, came back yesterday afternoon and boy is he fast. He turned off our generator, changed the oil and the filter, and had it back up and running in 6 and a half minutes. A good thing when it’s 95 degrees out.

He also changed out our water pump. The pump on our water system is a standard Shurflo RV type, and I noticed last year they occasionally develop a problem. They don’t want to start up when you open the faucet. And the only way to reset them is to remove the power momentarily and then hook it back up. But this means going out to the water trailer, which is a pain in the rear when you’re just getting ready to take a shower at night.

They start out doing this every now and then, and then it gets more common, so I thought I’d nip it in the bud.

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Thought for the Day:

Ernest Hemingway once won a bet that he couldn’t write a story in 6 words on a napkin. Here’s what he wrote.

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Needless to say, he won the bet.

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R. I . P. Emma

Jan’s cat, Emma, died this morning, sometime between midnight and 6:30am. Jan came out and found her curled up in her favorite spot. It looked liked she’d just went to sleep and never woke up.

Emma 3

Emma and Moose

Emma was around 17, another stray that, as usual, found us rather than the other way around. The whole family was eating at King Food, our favorite Chinese restaurant one night and she showed up. Our big round table was in the front corner, surrounded on two sides by windows. Sometime during the meal we looked up to see a small black kitten, about six months old, sitting on the narrow ledge looking at us through the glass and meowing, and every now and then she would rub her head against the window and then just look at us with those big eyes.

Of course this lasted about 30 seconds until Brandi went outside and smuggled her back in. In fact, Brandi was the one who named her, I think after the literary character. So suddenly we had another cat (I think we already had two at the time). And by the time Mister came along in 2006, (another stray that found me this time), Emma was the last cat standing.

Emma and Mister never really got along. Mister tried, but Emma would have nothing to do with him. In fact she would attack him whenever she thought she could get away with it. It was always funny to see this 9 pound cat with no claws taking on a 30 pound cat with his claws. But Mister never fought back. He’d just stare at her until she panicked and ran off. But when it was necessary, like a travel day, they would tolerate each other, but that was about it.

Mister And Emma

Mister and Emma 2

Mister and Emma 4

R.I.P Emma. You will be missed.

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End of the Dry Spell . . .

Apparently the “coiled tubing” phase of fracking is a lot less busy than the actual fracking part. In the last several days we’ve had vehicle counts from a high of 120 down to a low of 71, with most days in the 90’s. A real relief after the almost 300’s we had for a while.

And our temps have been back in the 90’s too. After last weeks highs in the 80’s and lows in the 60’s, we seem to be back in the whole 90’s/70’s thing again.

I wonder where Fall went?

After being out since Saturday night, we finally got water delivered this evening. Of course we weren’t really out. We just switched over to our coach tank. But our misting system works off the outside water tank and with the temps back up in the 90’s we miss it. Plus Jan can’t do laundry without it.

At this gate we’re getting diesel, water, and sewer vac from the fracking site people, and it’s worked fine up until recently, but I think things kind of fell apart after the fracking people left and we lost our contact person. We still have no trouble getting diesel because that truck comes through every other day and we only need sewer vac about once a month or so.

That’s about it for this edition of “Life On The Gate.

Here’s a repost of our visit to Niagara Falls in 2009 to round things out.

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Thought for the Day:

Opinions are like orgasms. I got mine and I don’t care if you have one or not.
(Nick made me post this one.)

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Niagara Falls – For Trudy…

Originally posted on September 24, 2009

Today we drove about 30 miles from our park to visit Niagara Falls.

The title of today’s blog says ‘For Trudy’. Trudy was Jan’s Mother who died in 2007. She always wanted to visit Niagara Falls, but never got the chance.

So Jan said “This visit is for Mom”.

After following the signs coming into the city of Niagara Falls we ended up on Goat Island, the home of the American side of Niagara Falls.

Goat Island and the Falls make up the Niagara Falls State Park. Established in 1885, it’s the oldest State Park in the United States.

Even before we got to the Island, Jan saw the mist rising from Horseshoe Falls, named because it’s shaped like a big horseshoe, of course.

But before we could see the Falls, Jan had to feed the a squirrel a Kashi bar.

Squirrel 2

Squirrel 1

The 2nd squirrel had this deal where he would lay flat on his belly and then slowly crawl toward you begging for food.

Walking over the mall and looking down on the Falls was amazing. 

Niagara Falls 1s

Click to Enlarge

You can walk right to the edge of the falls and look right out at the water going over.

Niagara Falls 3s

And then looking straight down thru the spray and the rainbow you can see the Maid of the Mist heading into the base of Horseshoe Falls. Looks like fun!

Niagara Falls 4s

After spending time at the Horseshoe, we walked over to the other falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls.

Niagara Falls 5s

Niagara Falls 6s

Niagara Falls 7s

Niagara Falls 8s

Niagara Falls 9s

After stopping to look at the many flower beds, we got in line to tour the Cave of the Winds.

Niagara Flowers 1

Niagara Flowers 2

Cave of the Winds is now kind of a misnomer.  The actual cave, named because the sound the wind made blowing off the falls, disappeared when the ceiling collapsed in the 1920′s.

What you have now is an elevator that takes you 180 feet down to the base of the American and Bridal Veil Falls and lets you walk on a wooden walkway thru part of the falls themselves. They give you plastic ponchos and sandals to wear, but they don’t really keep you dry.

You will get wet!

Cave of the Winds 1s

Cave of the Winds 2s

Cave of the Winds 3s

Cave of the Winds 4s

Here’s Jan standing where part of the falls comes over the walkway. Jan said she looks like a banana. I think she looks cute.

Cave of the Winds 5s

This is the Hurricane Deck where you’re actually standing in the Falls. I went up there while stayed kind of dry on a lower level. It’s impossible to get pics up there. My camera’s not that waterproof.

Hurricane Deck 1s

Here’s what the walkway looks like from the Maid of the Mist.

Cave of the Winds 6s

One amazing thing about this is that workers disassemble the walkway every fall and rebuild it every spring, otherwise the winter ice would destroy it.

Here’s what the area looks like in February.

Niagara Ice 1s

After drying out we rode the trolley over to the Maid of Mist dock. These boat tours have been running since 1846, almost 40 years before the place was even a state park.

The boats take you right into the whirlpool at the bottom of Horseshoe Falls, fighting the current all the way. It’s like being in the middle of a hurricane.

Niagara Falls 10s

Maid of the Mist 1s

Maid of the Mist 2s

Maid of the Mist 3s

Maid of the Mist 4s

Maid of the Mist 5s

One thing I found interesting on the boat trip was the remains of Nikola Tesla’s Niagara Falls power plant, built in 1896.

Tesla Power Plant 1s

This plant was the first to harness water flow to generate electricity, and demonstrated the superiority of Tesla’s AC electrical system over Edison’s DC system. Many people don’t realize we owe our entire electrical system to Tesla. But back in the late 1800′s, there was a big legal war going on between Tesla and Edison over whose system was better.

By the early 1900′s Niagara Falls was lighting New York City.

Leaving the Maid we walked out on the observation tower

Niagara Tower 2s

to a fantastic view of the entire Falls area.

Niagara Tower 1s

A fitting end to our great day at Niagara Falls.

Walking back to the toad, we saw something I’d never seen before.

Black squirrels.

Black Squirrel 1

Black Squirrel 2

And they were very aggressive. When I turned and walked away, and then looked back, they were following me, stalking me.

Leaving the Falls area, we drove down to near Buffalo to eat dinner at one of our favorite BBQ restaurants, Famous Dave’s. We always have great leftovers.

Then it was home for the night.

Tomorrow is an errand day.

More tomorrow…

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And the rains came . . .

and came and came and came and …

Well, yesterday for the first time since we got here, the bottom really dropped out. We had about 3.5 inches of rain in about 3 hours.

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Yep, that’s us under that blue dot right in the center. The real problem was that the storm moved over us and then just stopped. For 3 hours.

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Pretty soon it was just a lake all around us. But unlike our last heavy rain, the pea gravel I had them put down under our canopy kept us high and dry. So no mud.

Finally around 6:30 pm things cleared up and we saw some blue sky once again. But no rainbow, so I guess we’ve got some more rain in store down the road.

As far as today’s weather, it looks like Fall has sprung, or fallen, or something. Tomorrow, the 22nd is officially the first day of Fall, but it snuck in a day early. The high today was only 82 and tonight it’s supposed to go down to 63. In fact it’s 65 right now. And for the next few days the temps are pretty much 80’s and 60’s the entire time.

Nice.

Tonight we had another catered meal that they dropped off yesterday. Looks like Hell Fighters’ Kitchen is not around any more since a new company, IPS, is handling the rest of the Completion. But it still was good.

We got two BIG plates of steak, grilled sausage, and BBQ beans, and as usual, we split one and saved the other one for later.

As far as the gate goes, things have really quieted down here. We had 94 vehicles day before yesterday, 105 yesterday, and then 88 today. Though I think part of it was due to the weekend. Much better than 300.

This Monday we start our 2nd month here, and from what we keep hearing we could be here for our entire 3 month stay. Hope so. We’re off the beaten path, but not too far. And we’ve got good cell and Internet.

And most importantly, Walmart is only 20 miles away.

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Thought for the Day:

I’m not saying kill all the stupid people. Just remove all the warning labels and see what happens.

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A Lot Quieter . . .

The gate’s a lot quieter now. We only had 94 vehicles through here yesterday and a little over 100 today.

We did get some indication that finishing up and cleaning up after this fracking job could take another month, but you never know. This coming Monday will start our 2nd month here, and it would be nice to not have to move before we head out of here the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

That’s about it for now.

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Like Rats deserting a Sinking Ship . . .

Or we’ve got to eat faster. They’re gaining on us.

Well, they’ve wrapped up the actual ‘fracking’ part here, so everyone involved with that is pulling up stakes and heading out, along with a lot of big equipment.

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And our vehicle count is winding down too. Yesterday’s count was 129 and today’s was 117. Much nicer than the almost 300 of a few days ago.

Next up is the ‘coiled tubing’ procedure where they drive tubing down into the well. Supposedly it will get somewhat busy again, but not like the fracking part. We’ll see.

Jan and I got our replacement canopy put up the other night, with no problems this time. I did check to be sure all the bolts were tightened first, and they were.

While I was getting ice, I went by the the GGS office morning to drop off the trash and see if Jamie was around. I wanted to see if he had any info on our future moves, but he was out and about, so I’ll try him later. I also dropped off the old canopy for UPS to return to Amazon.

Hell Fighters’ Kitchen dropped off a couple of more meals last night. Not really a problem of course, but they’d already dropped off two more from the lunchtime feed. So that’s 4 meals in one day. And since we split each meal (they’re that BIG), that’s 8 days of meals. And we still have two days of pork chop and chicken fried steak.

I guess we’ve just got to eat faster.

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Thought for the Day:

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, you’ve very likely misread the situation.
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