Thursday, May 31, 2012

You Have to Eat a Peck of Dirt Before You Die -- Thurs., May 30


You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die. 
Prov. No one can escape eating a certain amount of dirt on his or her food. Everyone must endure a number of unpleasant things in his or her lifetime. (Often said to console someone who has eaten some dirt or had to endure something unpleasant.)
OR...You could work as a gate guard in south Texas on a very windy day and eat MORE THAN a peck of dirt. Most unpleasant!

Today for Bob was very busy. Both Pad A and Pad B were hopping.  
Pad B
The temperature was about 102 F. The wind and blowing dust were relentless. The awning was out this morning, but by the time I got up at 11:30 a.m., we had clouds of blowing dust so bad we couldn't see the road 200 feet from us. No cars or trucks were coming at that time, just strong winds and blowing dust. The awning had to go in. Bob got it tucked away. He couldn't wait for his shift to end so he could relax inside. 

Activity in the evening was lighter; nothing like what Bob endured. The wind and dust continued unabated until about 8:00 p.m. Going outside felt like getting sandblasted in an oven. 

My sun hat that I wear outside when it's sunny or windy has a wide brim. With the wind coming straight into my face, the brim of my hat blew over my eyes, making it very hard to read the license plate numbers for the log.

Around 10:00 p.m. great big raindrops started falling, but it only lasted a few minutes...not long enough to wet down the dust. But the wind let up. Yay!

Pad B is a beehive of activity around the clock now. They are doing coiled tubing. Apparently they tapped into some H2S (hydrogen sulfide gas), and now they've got a pipe up in the air burning off the gas. That is one BIG flame.

Tomorrow, I am meeting Kathy, another gate guard who works near Millett, Texas. It will be fun to compare notes. We'll have about 1-1/2 hours to talk before I go back to take over from Bob at 3:00 p.m.

The roadrunner was out again today. The mockingbirds were all riled up and chasing the roadrunner. According to my Audubon bird book, roadrunners will eat the young of ground-nesting birds. Mockingbirds, however, nest in low-lying scrub so I'm not sure that qualifies as "ground-nesting." The mockingbirds apparently thought it did. They were dive-bombing the roadrunner.

That's all the excitement for today. Stay tuned for tomorrow.

Snake on Site with Photos -- May 30

Today laundry lurked waiting to be cleaned. I got up at the crack of 9:00 a.m., ate breakfast, and Bob loaded the dirty laundry into the Escape pod. We also put in five books we've finished reading. The books will be dropped off at Kit & Jerry's on the way home from town. One thing about gate guarding, we have plenty of time to read.

Before I left for town Bob said, "Look at the pictures in your camera." Earlier in the morning, Bob saw a snake and pointed it out to some of the workers. The snake didn't have a rattle so it wasn't a rattlesnake. That didn't seem to matter to the workers, they killed it anyway. Turns out it was a bull snake, one of the good snakes that eats rattlesnakes. I don't understand why some guys think they have to kill everything. Here are some photos of the snake, estimates are it was about 4'-5' long.
Worker holding dead bull snake.


Dead bull snake -- the workers coiled it up to try to scare their buddy.
Today's laundry experience was much better than the last time I went to Garcia's laundromat in Cotulla. The laundry room was clean, there were no ants inside, the equipment worked and it was all local women doing their laundry.  Garcia's Grocery wasn't open today, so I went to the bank to buy some quarters. Wednesday morning seems to be a good time to do laundry here.

Upon finishing the laundry, the pharmacy was next on the list for some personal items. Super S grocery store was my next stop where I stocked up on apricots, yellow squash, red potatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower, bananas, limes, and mothballs. Yep, more mothballs. Last night we started seeing black ants in the kitchen. We heard ants don't like mothballs, so I'll put more under the rig around the supports and the tires. 

On the way out of town, I had lunch at Dairy Queen; then headed off to see Kit & Jerry to give them the books.

Jerry was busy checking trucks out of their gate. After they went through, I told him I had some books for them and he said, "Go on in and see Kit." Grabbed the books, met Kit at the door, we went inside where it was cool, and chatted for a bit. Their gate is cranking up and they're busier. I told Kit I bought some corn on the cob and she told me on TV she saw a different way to prepare it. Put the corn--husk, silk and all--into the microwave. Cook the corn four minutes per ear (so if you put two ears of corn in the microwave, cook them for eight minutes). When they're done cooking, cut off the bottom end, hold the silk and shake the corn out. I told her I would try this.

For dinner we had salmon burgers on whole wheat buns and corn on the cob. I cooked the corn as directed, but when we cut the end off the corn and tried to shake out the cob, it didn't work. So we peeled off the husks carefully as they were HOT. Once the husks were gone, it was EASY to shake the corn out and no silk stuck to it. (OK, I take that back, two pieces of silk stuck, but they came right off.) It was easy to do. The corn was wonderful.

Last night, I had one semi with trailer come through at 1:45 a.m.

This evening we had a delivery and that guy told us to expect a lot of tanker trucks tonight. Then we will be cranking up tomorrow morning. It is 2:10 a.m. and no tanker trucks yet. I have a feeling Bob is going to be busy in the morning.

I told Kit as I was going into Cotulla I saw a monstrous piece of equipment heading out of town, it looked like an oil tower. She said a big piece of equipment came in to their site, but we ascertained the timing wasn't right for what I saw to be what had been delivered to them.

Coming back to our site, I noticed something big had knocked over half the tree at the end of our road. Said half of tree was blocking half of the road off Hwy 469, I had to dodge around it to get back to the 5er. First thought I had was, "Oh, the big rig was going to OUR site." Turns out I was right. Here's a photo of it installed.
Tonight I had a good glimpse of the Springbok antelope and was able to get nice photos. They are beautiful creatures! Click on photos to enlarge them. You can see their beautiful corkscrew-like antlers.


Springbok antelope



At night all kinds of interesting critters come around: armadillo, deer, cottontails, skunk, house cat. House cat? What? There's no houses around here. Yet about 1:30 a.m. I looked out the window and saw a cat, house cat sized, house cat coloration, long tail. I don't know where it came from. I went outside and did the "Here kitty, kitty" call. It looked at me, didn't run at first, but changed its mind and ran back into the trees and scrub brush. First time I've seen a cat out here other than our own in the 5er.

Revision to a previous blog (Snakes on a Plain): In the twilight one evening, Bob thought he saw eland on the ranch across the road. We have seen the animals in question again and are sure they're Axis deer, three of them are albino (as they are white) and hang out with the normally colored (tan with white spots) Axis deer. If you look up "albino axis deer" on Google, you'll find photos of them. They are shy and run away when I try to photograph them.

It is now 3:10 a.m. and I just checked in seven trucks, one of them was a semi cab towing huge equipment. All of it went to Pad B. We heard Pad A will start working again in the a.m. Bob is going to be a busy guy. He just woke up to start his shift.

Good night all.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Napping Blogger Award -- Wed., May 30



Well now, this award came to me out of the blue from Betty (blogs: Journeys with the Muse and  Phoenix Once Again aka Texas Yellow Rose).  Did I fall asleep on the job? What did I do to deserve this honor? Thank you, Betty, for bestowing this Award upon me.

The Napping Blogger Award originated from Donna over at My Write Spot who handed it out for the first time on Wednesday, May 30, 2012. 
Donna says, "Naps are a good thing and we often forget that. They can not only revive you, they can help jump start your creativity. They also remind us to take time for ourselves." 
Sadie is Donna's dog and Sadie's photo graces the award. Sadie has her own blog at Sadie Chats.  

Awards come with responsibilities. Here they are:
  1. Link back to the one who gave you the award (in this case, it's ME!).
  2. Tell us what you do to take time for YOU! That might be a hobby, a musical break, a favorite movie or show, sitting outside enjoying nature, or even taking a nap!
  3. Nominate five other bloggers - especially folks you think deserve a break from their routine.
Ready?  Here we go!

What I Do for Me:
  1. Spend as much time as possible looking at travel/camping/weather websites, maps, travel books, and AAA TourBooks to plot my travel bucket list.
  2. Spend quality fun time with Bob, be it walking, bike riding, hiking, conversations, dinner out, dancing or just hanging and watching the sunset.
  3. Talk to relatives on the phone.
  4. Play with and love on my kitties.
  5. Write my blog.
  6. Bird watch.
  7. Read.
  8. Watch movies.
  9. Take photographs.
  10. Play online Scrabble, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Bejeweled Blitz and Margaritaville.
Nominees:

Here are the five bloggers to whom I’m passing along the Napping Blogger Award:
  1. Kit and Jerry at Welcome to the Bertelsen Web Site
  2. Nina and Paul at Wheeling It 
  3. Howard and Linda at RV-Dreams Journal
  4. Steve and Joan at Friends of Steve and Joan
  5. James and Peri at Tales from the Camping House
You never know what will happen. Enjoy life as it comes to you. See you down the road a piece.

Travel Bug out.



Monday, May 28, 2012

You Never Know What Will Happen -- Mon., May 28

Today at the gate was very light.

On Bob's walk this evening, he saw four Axis deer (on the ranch across the road), four whitetail deer and a bunch of cottontails.

Other than that it was a pretty normal day gate guarding. Another nice sunset.




Night, however, had other ideas. This evening I had five tanker trucks who came back three times. They were finished by 9:30 p.m. (Overall, still a light evening.)

Because it was going to be a while between tanker deliveries, I wanted to call Mom to find out how her weekend went. She went to Lake Arrowhead in Washington on Saturday to visit Frank & Gina (brother and SIL) at their property.

Got my phone, sat down in the recliner, dialed Mom's number but realized I didn't have any blinds open to see trucks arriving. Got up, stepped over a box and raised the blinds. Started to step back over the box, miscalculated, got my feet all tangled up with the box and down I went--left knee, left hip, left elbow. It was such a shock I just laid on the floor and cried. Bob was so concerned, he got out of the shower and brought me an ice pack and some Kleenex. What a guy! 


After crying and ascertaining nothing was hurt, except my pride and a rug burn on my knee about the size of a quarter, I blew my nose and laid there with an ice pack under my left hip. I was just starting to relax when the bell went off. Bob couldn't get it, so I put on my big girl panties and zipped out the door to check in the tanker. 


I called Mom back to tell her I was okay as I only heard her answering machine when I dialed the first time. I wasn't sure how much of my fall she might have heard on her answering machine. She wasn't home, so I left a message.


I checked in two more trucks, then checked out all three. Mom called back and we were able to chat. She had a "lovely" weekend at the lake, and at her friend Jo's son's (Bob's) house on Memorial Day. At the lake, there was spaghetti dinner, a drive and a walk. At Bob's house, they played Yahtzee and Wii bowling.


After the call, I iced my lower back, hips, shoulder, knee, put the recliner back and read my book, "Gone Tomorrow," by Lee Child. It was about 11:30 p.m. Once again, I assessed the damages from the fall, put the ice pack aside, and promptly fell asleep.

Update: No more trucks came in last night. I woke up at 3:00 a.m. I think my body was in shock from the fall. Normally I don't sit down and fall asleep. Then nothing until 4:30 in the morning when the police came by for a security check. Bob was on duty.

It's Tuesday afternoon and I don't have any major aches and pains. Yay!

Spoiler alert: If you don't want to see kitty photos, stop reading here.

Bowie in the tube

Sunnie & Bowie sharing the hidey-hole.
Sunnie & Bowie are "into" boxes.

Faber-Castell Wedding at Stein


Photo ánd Copyright Gabi P.

On Saturday 26.05.2012 the little town of Stein nr. Nürnberg saw a noble Wedding when Count Charles of Faber-Castell and Melisa Eliyesil married there in a lutheran Ceremony at the Martin-Luther Church. The Couple had already married in a civil Ceremony in September last year. The Service which started at12h00 was officiated by Pastor Tobias  Wittenberg. The bride wore a gown by Eva Deselli, wife of the famous Designer Robert Cavalli. After the ceremony the Couple drove in an open Car to Stein Castle where the reception took place.

Photo ánd Copyright Gabi P.







Among the guests where:
Prince Georg Friedrich and Princess Sophie of Prussia
Fürst Alexander and Fürstin Nadja zu Schaumburg-Lippe
Fürst Albrecht and Fürstin Marie Louise zu Castell-Castell
Fürst Johann Friedrich and Fürstin Maria zu Castell-Rüdenhausen
Countess Olga zu Castell-Rüdenhausen and her fiancée Prince Dominik zu Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg
Count Patrick and Couness Mariella of Faber-Castell
Hereditary Prince Donatus and Hereditary Princess Floria-Franziska of Hesse



Photo ánd Copyright Gabi P.



Photo ánd Copyright Gabi P.


RV LIFE IS GOOD: The Real Reason For Memorial Day

As I was reading other blogs, I came across this one which I would like to share in honor of Memorial Day.

It comes from rvlifeisgood.blogspot.com. Please click on link below:

RV LIFE IS GOOD: The Real Reason For Memorial Day

Let's not forget what today is all about.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Withdrawal -- Sun., May 27

Got to thinking today that I am having withdrawal from my addictions: movies, TV reality shows, Entertainment Weekly magazine, traveling, chocolate (though I'm not having withdrawal from chocolate because I have Hershey's kisses on hand).

Out here in the scrubby desert plain, miles from town, and even more miles from a movie theater, I find I miss going out to see a first run movie. I miss Amazing Race, Bachelorette, Survivor, Shark Tank, Nikita, Storage Wars, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, Too Cute Kittens, and My Cat from Hell.

Yes, I admit, I'm an addict. I ask myself, "Self, how did you ever have time to watch all those TV shows, go to all those movies, read all your magazines, work out, get on the internet, AND work full time?"

And, you know, I really don't know. Being out here gate guarding, I've had more time to bird watch, cook, read, watch DVDs and think. Thinking, now there's a concept.

The thing I think about most is: How do we get back on the road traveling? I think about what my life is like. I think about how happy we are living in our 5th wheel trailer and about the adventures that we've had so far. I think about what our next move is, like some big chess game. The moves along the way make all the difference.

Or is our life like a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. What do life's pieces have in store for us? How will it turn out? Are any pieces missing? Will everything turn out okay? Will all the pieces fit together? Will the big picture be as beautiful as we foresaw?

Being at the gate, gives me time to contemplate, relax, enjoy life and look at the bigger picture. When it's time to do something different, the universe will support us in a new plan.

For now, I talk to Bob, play with and love on the kitties, stop to look at the flowers, write my blog, take a nap, eat some chocolate, go for a short bike ride or a walk, take care of chores, cook, watch the wildlife, and take pictures. 

The big picture will sort itself out and come into focus when we're ready.

Will I go back to my addictions when we're back in civilization? Probably. I do enjoy those activities too. But I also know we'll travel, visit friends and family, hike, explore, bike ride, go out to dinner, swim, spend time reminiscing and talk on the phone more. But I bet I'll still read, nap, have long conversations with Bob, love on the kitties, watch wildlife, explore caves, walk through gardens, visit museums and national parks. 

Life has so much to offer, don't you think?

Gate guarding update: Our gate had absolutely no activity from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., so we went for a short bike ride TOGETHER to Pad A. Wouldn't you know it? As we were riding back to our 5er (fifth wheel trailer), a semi pulled up to the gate. We were almost back to the gate. Bob rode his bike as fast as he could and opened the gate for the driver. Today our one log sheet was only 2/3 full. VERY quiet day. I'm guessing tomorrow (Memorial Day) will be very quiet as well.

Wildlife sighting: While we were out on a short bike ride, we saw Axis deer on the exotic ranch across the road. Axis deer (Axis axis): Introduced [to Texas] in the early 1930s from India. Dark tan with white spots and large three-tined, lyre-shaped antlers. Female: 120 lb. Male: 175 lb.

Today's photos:
Pad B -- practically empty
Pad B -- Bob next to big equipment
Lots of big equipment!
Pad B -- Our 5er on the right. Very close to Pad B!


A nice little bike ride to Pad A...Pad B in distance.
And a pretty sunset to top off the day.
Pics of Bowie:

Where is it? I know there's a mouse here somewhere.
Aha! There it is.
"Travel" Bug out.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Snakes on a Plain -- Sat., May 26

Weather: 93 degrees F., windy.

Location: Oil field near Cotulla, Texas, at our gate. Dining room table in our 5th wheel trailer.

View: Mesquite trees, dirt road, blowing dust, desert scrub, snake. "SNAKE," did you say, "SNAKE?"

Yes. I said "SNAKE."

As I was sitting at my computer re-working my blog, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a snake slithering rapidly away from our 5er into the brush by my car. No identity for the snake as it disappeared from view soon after I glanced at it; I'm pretty sure it was NOT a rattlesnake. Estimate of length: 2-1/2 to 3 feet. Be still my beating heart.

Back to business as unusual. Only one page on the log so far today. Very quiet for us.

Dinnertime. Bob and I prepared tostadas. 

As soon as we sat down to eat, I hear, "SNAKE. Grab your camera." Bob spotted a 4'-5' long, very shiny snake slowly making its way across the road in front of his truck. Bob says, "Go take a picture of it!" Instead I grabbed the binoculars and examined it SAFELY from the dining room window. It was not a rattler. But it WAS the shiniest snake I have ever seen, kind of a silvery copper color with a faint pattern on it. We didn't get a picture even though we looked outside for it after dinner. It was probably long gone.


Two snakes in one day, neither one a rattler. Whew.


This evening some workers came to pick up equipment. I asked them about the long snake. They said it's one of the good snakes that emulates a rattlesnake. I remember when we went to the nature center in Kerrville, the docent told us about a constrictor-type snake that eats rattlesnakes. I'm pretty sure that's what we saw. It was loooooooonnnnngggg.

Anyway, the workers told us to get a special kind of yellow light to put under our rig because the snakes don't like yellow lights. 

I said, "What about mothballs?" 

They said, "Mothballs are good." 

As soon as they drove off I got our new box of mothballs and distributed them under all three of our moveable vehicles. Mothballs are also supposed to keep mice and ants away. Mothballs are my new insecticide/snake-icide/mouse-icide.


Bob's walk: Tonight Bob saw two Springbok antelope and what he thinks were two elands on the ranch across the street. First sighting of the elands! Eland (Taurotragus): Introduced [to Texas] in the early 1950s from Africa. The largest antelope in the world. Deep chestnut or bluish grey to pale buff or tan. Female: 800 lb. Male: 2000 lb. Update 6/1/12: Nope, not elands. What he saw were Axis deer (one normal color of tan with white spots; three albino).



Other wildlife sighting today at our rig: roadrunner, lizards.

Here are photos of the wildflowers that are in bloom after the last rain, one of our truck and 5th wheel trailer, and one of the cardinal who lives in this area.






Next time I see a snake I will risk life and limb to get a picture for you, my dear readers.

Life is good. Travel Bug out.

Schuhplattler polka -- Sat., May 26

Cotulla, TX

A little back story: I'm of German descent. A few years ago, Bob and I joined a folk dance group in Portland, Oregon and learned how to dance reels, polkas, waltzes, schottisches, landlers, tarantellas, minuets, the Mexican hat dance, and others.

I've told you how bad the bugs are here. Here's how bad... (At this point you're probably asking yourself what does folk dancing have to do with bugs?)

Well, let me tell you. When I go out during the hot afternoon to check trucks in and out of the gate, the black flies bite my legs. It hurts! I slap my left calf, slap my right knee, slap my left ankle, slap my right thigh. Sometimes four or five bugs bite me at once or in rapid succession.

All I can think is that I look like an Austrian or German doing the Schuhplattler polka which consists of slapping knees, thighs and ankles. You can find YouTube videos of the dance. Here's one: Schuhplattler dance and another Schuhplattler polka.  (I wish I had the whips and could use them like the dancers at the beginning of the second video! That would kill some bugs for sure--or at least keep them at bay. What did you think I wanted whips for?)


Normally, the schuhplattler is a dance in which men try to impress the marriageable ladies with their dancing prowess. In my particular situation, being the only woman in an oil field full of male workers, the men are probably pretty impressed by my thigh-slapping, bug-killing "dance." 

I think they get a "kick" out of it at the very least. I must look pretty silly out there trying to rid myself of the black fly bite-y bugs. At night, it's the mosquitoes. 

Oh well, maybe they're getting as much of a laugh out of it as I am. "Look at that crazy lady!! What is her problem? Is she putting on a dance for us?" 


Ya gotta find humor where you can out here. I think the Texas sun is getting to me. 


Travel "Bug" out.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Wind Scorpion -- Fri., May 25

Cotulla, Texas:

Yesterday, the last two workers on Pad A finally left at 9:30 p.m. The oil field workers arrive early and stay late. Some of them work 14+ hours per day...don't know how they do it in the blistering Texas sun and dust.

When Bob arrived home from San Antonio last night, he looked at pics of the different weird bugs "that look like scorpions, but aren't." He pointed at the wind scorpion as the bug that he and the other worker saw a couple of days ago. (See this article for more info: Wild About Texas )

Today the gate has been slow-to-medium busy.

This morning Bowie must have bit or sniffed a bug that sprayed him in the face. He rammed around the 5er, danced onto the bed, ran across the dresser, and Bob said he was "acting weird" in the living room. We found a small dead beetle in the living room so we're wondering if he had been "hunting" it when it must have used some type of defense mechanism on him.

Today, I saw a new bird with a longish, curved bill. The bird is medium gray above and a light buff beneath with a black mottled pattern on its breast. It sits in a tree right across from our dining room window a lot of the time. I get a good look at it with the binoculars. It runs around on the ground with its beak wide open. I don't know the significance of the wide open beak. The bird in my Audubon book that best fits the description is a curve-billed thrasher, although the description states it has "faint streaking on breast." The thrasher I saw has definite black mottled streaking on its breast.

One thing true about gate guarding, at least to us, is that we don't know what day of the week it is and hardly remember there's a holiday coming up. The oil field work is 24/7, 365 days a year. Normally, we would have had plans for a three-day weekend and gone out to a movie and dinner, visit friends, or explore a new area. Not now. Not with this job. We are tied to the gate day and night. It's all a new experience to us.

Today two of the crews working on the pad right next to us went together on food and did a barbeque. They brought us a plate with barbequed flank steak, sausage, four grilled flour tortillas (they looked and tasted homemade) and salsa. That was so nice of them. I walked up and personally thanked the cook. He wanted to give us more, but I politely declined telling him we had plenty for both of us. I said, "We don't eat as much as you guys. You work much harder than we do!"

Because of the rains in the past two weeks, new wildflowers are blooming: small white ones; magenta-colored, daisy-like ones; yellow, mustard-like ones; and black-eyed Susans. On Bob's drive to San Antonio yesterday, he saw many wildflowers lining the freeway.

Today Bob took a picture of me checking in a behemoth. I am 5' 8" tall. Notice how my shoulder is at the same height as the floor of the truck's cab. Huge semi; even bigger equipment!




Thursday, May 24, 2012

Unusual Creatures -- Thurs., May 24

Cotulla, Texas:

Looks like our gate is about to get busy again. One of the job foreman told me to expect a bunch of semis tonight to haul away the big water tanks. Then in the morning, we will see a line of tanker trucks come in. Our days of one-to-three log pages are over.

Bob is up in San Antonio this afternoon and evening. He is doing a Costco and Office Max run. I took over for him about 1:30 p.m., but the gate hasn't been too busy up to this point. We are just finishing up page two on the log.

The temperature is 102 today and a hot breeze is blowing which alleviates the black biting flies. We've had dust devils come ripping through our site (and believe me there's plenty of dust and wind). I try not to be outside in the path of one.

Last night one of the Springbok antelope was visible on the ranch across the road. 


Springbok Antelope

The springbok is a medium-sized brown and white gazelle that stands about 70 to 90 cm high. Springbok males weigh between 33 and 50 kg and the females between 25 and 40 kg. Wikipedia
Scientific name: Antidorcas marsupialis


I am a nature girl. Love to be out in it, exploring, discovering, communing with benevolent wildlife. For some reason the wildlife like to live with us. You heard about the Bewick's wren we had to dissuade from nesting under our slide out. ( A Little Bird and A Little Bird, Part 2 )

Today we had a walking stick living with us on our entry door. Isn't it cool! I love walking sticks. They're designed to camouflage in bushes by looking exactly like a twig. Bob pointed out that this one wasn't doing a very good job. Our fifth wheel trailer door is white.

In the photo, I put my hand next to it so you can see how big it is. I would have picked it up and put it on my arm, but I didn't want to disturb it. (Again, my apologies for all the dust inside my camera. I don't know how to get it out. Compressed air says not to use it on camera mirrors.)


That is the biggest walking stick I have seen. We had walking sticks and praying mantis at our house in Hawaii, but nothing like this. (Everything's bigger in Texas, right?)

Other unusual creatures: 
  • Bob and one of the workers spotted what looked like a scorpion without a tail. They didn't know what it was so they squashed it...said it was real juicy. (Just like a man to say that.) Looking on Google it may have been a vinegaroon (alt. spelling vinegarone), sunspider [also called wind scorpion] or a whip scorpion, none of which are harmful to people.
  • I saw quite a few 2" long, shiny black, wasp-like flying insects. One of them had picked up a cricket as big as it was and carried it away. Sounds kind of like the new "warrior wasps" from Indonesia.
  • Numerous types of beetles
The trailer is shakin' like a leaf on a tree as the winds are picking up. Weather forecast says gusts as high as 21 mph. I think the gusts may be a bit stronger than that. We have massive clouds of blowing dust. The dust sets off the motion detector at the gate and rings the bell in our trailer. Think of a continuously dinging doorbell.  It's making me a little ringy dingy.  : (


Darkness is descending. According to our log, there are still two people at Pad A. I wonder if they're still back there or if they exited through the "cow gate." Hmmmm.


All for now. I'm going to attempt to latch the front gate (in the wind, no less.)


Got the gate closed. While I was out closing the gate, I saw four deer crossing by Pad A.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Awning & Biting Flies --Tues., May 23

Cotulla, Texas:

Our 5th wheel trailer (5er) was purchased in October 2011. Since then we have never used our awning. In Fallon and Sparks, Nevada, it was just too windy and cold. We wanted as much sun on our rig as we could get.

Our trip to Texas was pretty quick and we didn't stay anywhere long enough to put the awning out. Now that we are parked in one place (three weeks already), and the temperature is in the 90s, we decided it was time to figure out how to open the awning over the front of our rig. This will provide more shade for Bob during his day shift and will give shade to half our rig from the brutal afternoon sun. (Our front door faces west.)

Using our owner's manual, we got the awning into place quickly and easily. During the summer in southern Texas, the awning will be de rigueur. Because of the vinyl chemical smell when we rolled out the awning, we think the awning had never been used. It will get a workout now. I will be glad when the stink goes away.

We also have an awning over our living room on the opposite side of the 5er, but all three loops we would use to pull it out broke off. Two of the loops broke off at the dealership where we bought it, and the middle one broke off today when we tried to pull it out. That will be our next 5er repair when we get back to civilization.

Today we had the displeasure of learning our newest bugs here in south Texas are black flies and they bite! Ouch. Usually more than one at once. They seem to like legs and ankles.


Our traffic at the gate was light today; only filled two pages on our log. Bob got some chores done--repacking the "basement" and going through a box of old office papers. He was going to go for a walk from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m., but when he got out there, the mosquitoes were out in full force and he was the lone mammal in the area. He rapidly returned to the safety of the 5er. We killed 12 mosquitoes that rode or flew in with him.


Tonight we watched "Blazing Saddles" on DVD. It was fun...so politically incorrect, so uppity, so stereotypical. There's another word I'm trying to corral, but it escapes me at the moment. Of all the Mel Brook's movies, though, "Young Frankenstein" is my favorite. I know that movie by heart.


It's 11:10 p.m. and all's quiet at the gate. Time for me to enjoy some Facebook game time.


TravelBug out.













Monday, May 21, 2012

A Change of Scenery -- Mon., May 21

Carrizo Springs and Cotulla, Texas:

This morning I was able to get some pics of the sable antelope. I saw them just across the road, grabbed the camera, walked out the gate and took a few shots. They were spooked, but I caught some of them running away. I got a couple of pretty good shots of the bucks. You can click on the photos to make them bigger.






Today I took the Escape pod and made a get-away to Carrizo Springs to do laundry. My mental jury is out on whether it is worth an 80-mile roundtrip to go to a newer, nicer laundromat that charges almost double what the Cotulla laundromat charges. Certainly it doesn't makes sense budget-wise. Peace-of-mind-wise: um, maybe, maybe not.

What made the trip worth it was seeing another small Texas town. Carrizo Springs was settled in 1865 because local springs provided plenty of water for farming. Their artesian wells are known for pure, clean water. Today, the population of the town is around 5,000. (Cotulla's population is around 3,000.)

After laundry, I drove around town to see what was there. Kit told me there was a a very old, very small Walmart, which I found. I bought two new throw rugs for the 5er (since two of my old ones disintegrated in the washing machine today).

Walmart: check. Fill up with gas: check. Car wash: check. Next on the list: bakery. 

Anyone who knows me knows I am a fool for bakeries and the goodies lurking within. The Just Crumbs Bakery is a small storefront in old town Carrizo Springs, kitty corner from the H-E-B grocery store. When I saw the "Hours" sign in the bakery door, I figured they would be sold out of all their good stuff by 11:30 a.m. as they had opened at 5:30 a.m. Upon walking in, the display cases were almost empty.  : (  


However, it was lunch time and the Turtle Brownies looked fresh out of the oven. Two brownies just jumped in my bag somehow along with two Lemon Breeze cookies. 


After the bakery stop, to satisfy my curiosity, I drove around the back streets of town and literally drove right up to Our Lady of the Guadalupe Catholic Church, built in 1949. Two pictures later, I continued on my way.




My time in Carrizo Springs was complete. I drove 50 miles back to Cotulla, checked for mail and headed back to the 5er. 

While driving back on the road to our rig, about a 1/4 mile down from us, I saw the herd of sable antelope on the ranch (down the fenceline a few hundred feet from the road). I stopped the car, rolled down the window, zoomed in the camera and voila!, here's the results:


Sable antelope herd



By the time I made it home, my growling stomach indicated I better have some lunch. After eating a tuna with avocado sandwich and fresh red pepper slices, a turtle brownie was calling my name from its Styrofoam container, "Susan, it's time for your treat. Let me out of here." 

I opened the box and took a whiff. Mmmmmmmm...the scent of chocolate. Heavenly deliciousness delighted my taste buds. The chocolate chips and caramel in the middle of the brownie were still warm and ooey-gooey, melty and oh so yummy. This, in my mind, made the trip to Carrizo Springs worth it.


A little later in the afternoon, Bob and I ate our Lemon Breeze cookies. Think lemon, white chocolate chips, coconut, and chewy. Both of us enjoyed the cookie break.


Later in the evening, as I talked to Mom on the phone, Bob finally ate his Turtle Brownie. He was sitting in the recliner, blissful, giving me two thumbs up on his brownie dining experience.

Another gate guarding day complete. You know, when I thought about blogging during our stint gate guarding I thought I'd blog maybe every few days because I didn't think much would be happening. Guess I was wrong.  I've written almost every day we've been out here. 



Sunday, May 20, 2012

Exotic Animals -- Sun., May 20

Cotulla, Texas:

Susan: 2; Gate: 1. I have conquered the gate! Tonight I successfully closed it twice even with a light wind blowing and the distraction of new (to me) exotic animals across the road.

That's right, as the gate was closing, across the road was a herd of about 15 large, dark-brown exotic animals with horns that curved over their backs. These were much bigger than the Springbok antelope I normally see. Into the 5er I went to check my exotic animal brochure. (Yes there really is such a thing, published by the Kerrville, Texas Convention & Visitors Bureau.)

There it was on the second to the last page: Sable antelope (Hippotragus niger). Introduced from Africa. Chestnut brown to brownish-black. Mane from neck to shoulders. Underside of body and narrow thigh band white. Mask pattern. Female: 190-230 lbs.  Male: 200-270 lbs.

Excitement courses through my body whenever I see majestic animals. Tonight was a great gate-closing moment!

For those of you not familiar with why there are exotic animals in Texas, I refer you to a 60 Minutes news story from January 2012: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7396832n on the exotic game ranches of Texas. The video is about 14 minutes long.

The brochure "Exotic & Native Animals of the Texas Hill Country" by the Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau states:
Exotic game animals were introduced to the Texas Hill Country over sixty years ago. Due to the efforts of the Hill Country game ranchers and their diligent wildlife management practices, the Texas Hill Country has vast herds of some species that are now endangered and even extinct in their country of origin. Today in this area, there are more than 100,000 exotic game animals from over 45 different species.
Also see my previous post RV + River + Ranch = Roaming about our tour at YO Ranch.

There are SO MANY mosquitoes here. At night, whenever we open the door to outside, about 10 mosquitoes come in. I spend a lot of my awake time tracking them down and smashing them to smithereens.

Time for sleep. Getting up early to go to Carrizo Springs to do laundry and investigate the town. Bob will hold down the fort gate. Today was really slow and we didn't fill one whole page of the log. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Good night.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ouch! Unintended Consequences -- Sat., May 19

OK, that hurt! 

If you will recall, earlier today Bob and I decided to close the gate to stop workers from running it and not checking in with us as they're supposed to. Good idea in principle.

However, the gates do not cooperate. Keep in mind that the gate is over a cattle guard grate. The grate is metal bars with spacing between the bars large enough for a foot and leg to fall through. It is about 1-1/2 feet down to the bottom of the grate. Add to that, there is no way to grab both sides of the gate at the same time to close it after someone drives through. Factor in the wind blowing the gates when you're trying to get the two sides together.



Cattle guard grate (can't tell how deep it is in pic)

Here's what happened to me tonight, in the dark (except for our tower lights), with no one else around. (Bob was sleeping.) 

The last two trucks of the evening exited the gate and, as per our new procedure, I was going to close the gate and latch it. I grabbed one side of the gate and pulled it to the closed position. The wind grabbed it and blew it open. 

Cr*p...Went to the other side and pulled that gate to the middle. This side of the gate has a long-ish piece of rubber tubing to stretch out to try to reach the other gate. Well, it didn't quite reach. 

I dropped the rubber tubing to bring the first side of the gate closer so I could reach part of it while holding the rubber tubing. I got the first side of the gate close to the cattle guard, but the wind caught the other side with the tubing and started blowing it back. 

Whoops! Forgot about the grate and quickly spun back to catch the side that was blowing away. My left foot and leg fell through the grate, scraping my leg along the metal, and my foot landed 1-1/2 feet down (almost up to my knee). My left foot hit the ground hard and my right leg was still up on the grating. I assessed the damages and, thank goodness, my leg was not broken, just scratched (minor) and bruised.

I climbed up out of the grate and shook it off, used a different technique, and was finally able to get the gate latched. 

Went back in the 5er, washed and dressed the scrapes and sat down to settle down. I am noticing my neck and left shoulder hurt, so there was probably a little whiplash in there when my foot went down 1-1/2 feet and hit the ground. It happened so fast!

We  may have to re-think closing the gate. It's not worth a major injury. Can you imagine trying to get up the steps into the 5th wheel with a leg cast on? I don't even want to think about it.

It is a little past midnight and I'm so thankful I wasn't badly hurt.

Gate: 1; Susan: 0.

More pics of big rigs moving out:

You can see Bob behind the generator to get an idea of the size of these rigs.
Sunnie trying to "share" cubbyhole with Bowie.

Travel Bug out.