First Time Gate Guarding – Days 42 -43

Day 42

Although the crazy high levels of traffic stopped around 6:40pm there continued to be what I consider medium heavy regular levels of traffic.  And around 9pm the storm came in.  There was wind, rain, thunder, and lightning and pretty quickly I opened half the gate and watched from inside.  Personally I draw the line on opening a metal gate when there is lightning, but I did make a note of opening the gate and why and the time period impacted on our daily log. Anyway, I brought as much stuff inside as I could and left the rest under our awning.  Thankfully the wind was coming from the backside of the rig, so there was a little bit of wind protection.  It had been humid all night, but I was still surprised by how fast the storm came.  It ended up being one of the worst storms we’ve been in so far and when the couple of trucks came I just popped out my head and waved them through.

At one point I thought I should turn off the computer because we might lose power but then I remembered we were on a generator.  I guess the generator could get struck by lightning but in that case our surge protector would hopefully save us.  Lee managed to sleep through it. Surprising because we were shaking and the thunder and lightning cracks were pretty loud.  He had a long day though and was pretty tired.  Me too and for the first time in a while I didn’t do anything with the recipe book.  Didn’t cook dinner or even work on the page proofing, just looked at some picture I had taken earlier in the day and watched some TV.

Around 11pm the lightning was pretty far off in the distance so I went ahead and shut the gate.  I got a couple of trucks after that and switched to my hiking boots because things were a bit muddy.  It continued to rain on and off a bit but nothing like before and thankfully traffic slowed way down as well.  As of midnight we had gotten 203 trucks which is the busiest day we have had in a while.  Still looking back over my records we have had days that were close to this busy in the past but they didn’t feel anything like this.  Again I have to contribute that to being required to open and shut the gate every time, so if you decide to ever try this out I would absolutely ask that question.  I know we will.

Another storm started up around midnight and this time I left the gate open until 3am.  There was less wind, but lots of lightning and I just wasn’t willing to risk it. The rain finally stopped right around the time Lee woke up and I gratefully went to bed.  He said he didn’t sleep well because of the wind and thunder, but I was out like a light.  When I woke up at 11:30am, I saw it was sunny outside but the ground was pretty soggy.  I asked Lee how his morning had gone and so far he had done 120 trucks.  He was in much better spirits though because he had solved a couple of problems.  By opening the gate door inward, trucks were able to make the turn much easier and since many license plates are totally covered with mud he learned we can search on the truck number (for the semi’s at least).  He was actually trying to wipe off license plates when one truck driver passed that piece of information along and it makes things so much easier.  Wish we would have known that little tidbit from the beginning.

He also had some excitement during the morning when a truck trailer carrying one of the modular offices got stuck in the mud.  For the 30 minutes it was stuck he was directing traffic in, and directing traffic down to the ranch next door and managed to keep things going.  Finally they sent down a tractor to pull the guy out, but Lee seemed pretty pleased by how he handled well he should.  My first question?  Did you take any pictures?  His answer yes of course, I live my life for your blog.  There may have been some sarcasm in that, but hey, I got both pictures and this little video. As you can see that had to make really wide turns to avoid the mud puddle and one didn’t make it.




By the time I was covering for lunch it wasn’t that bad, but around the gate are was still pretty slippery.  I changed into my hiking shoes and made sure I stepped VERY carefully when crossing the gate.  One of the downsides to opening the gate inward is you have to cross the grate to grab it to close it again, but since it helps the truck drivers from having to do a three-point turn it is definitely the right thing to do.

One interesting thing that happened while I was covering for Lee was one of my favorite guys stopped and said he couldn’t believe they were making us log trucks in and out on rig move day.  We said we weren’t told any differently, but the real problem was opening and shutting the gate.  He started to say, “Well the ranch owner…” but I immediately said nope, not the ranch owner but a VP at the oil company.  Our ranch owner doesn’t care during the daytime, but this is coming from the executive level.  The look on his face was interesting, so here is my interpretation.  I think, and this is totally speculation, that these mandates happen on occasion but many foremen ignore them or selectively suspend those rules.  I think our original company man would have done just that if he was still here, but our new company man (who is much younger) is a stickler for the rules.  I don’t blame him for that, by the way, he has a job to do and I know from personal experience sometimes it’s safer to just follow the rules as written.  That being said, it does show how much your relationship with the company man can impact the job conditions. We don’t have a bad relationship with him, but it’s nowhere near the level of communication we built with the original person we were dealing with.  In any event it’s just a couple more days and it’s definitely bearable at this point.  It helps quite a bit that the weather is reasonable and it’s not super windy!

I took over for Lee at 3pm and from 3pm -6:15pm I had 62 trucks.  That’s roughly 20 an hour and the pace was pretty intense.  It was ok when 3-4 would come through at the same time, but mostly it was a truck, close the gate, sit down, and then another truck.  Tiring.  I don’t know how Lee did it for 7 hours straight today before I woke up.  Around 6:30pm one of the bosses told me that they hoped they would be finished with the rig move around noon tomorrow.  Since we will be on our third day of a supposedly 1-1/2 day job that’s kind of a bummer, but it was nice to get some news.  And most of the guys were really nice today.  Several stopped and said hi, and one brought me an ice cream cone from Dairy Queen which was incredibly sweet.  And I think those guys definitely had the worst of it.  Their trucks would come back from the round trip just covered in mud, at least over here it has been somewhat dry.  For the first time in a long time Lee and I actually got into a small argument of sorts today.  I think we are both just tired and needed to go to separate corners for a while…it happens.

Around 7:30pm a huge group of 9 trucks came out all together and headed to the other site, and after that traffic did slow down.  I am really hoping for a super slow night and Lee went to bed at 8pm.  Too tired to even try to watch Walking Dead.  It’s weird how tired this can make you.  Even though it’s not physically demanding, the need to be “on alert” constantly and the up/down and in/out of the rig does add up on a busy day. My shoulders are pretty stiff, so I am going to break out the heating pad and soak some of it up.  As of 8:30pm we did 234 trucks, which is plenty.  Since this is a new work week those complete numbers will be on next week’s report, but for right now here are the numbers from last week.



Day 43

I woke up and the rig move was almost done.  We had also gotten our water and a new sensor set which seems to false less often. Plus it comes with a light flashing only feature which is awesome because that noise really gets on my nerves sometimes.    By 1pm the last move trucks had left and the only folks on site  are the well guys who are pretty awesome.  We are hearing it might be as long as a week of cleanup until the fracking begins, which would be awesome as we are both excited about having a little break.  Anyways, here are the numbers from the last few days.

  • Sunday – 219 Entrances/Exits
  • Monday – 249 Entrances/Exits
  • Tuesday – 63 Entrances/Exits 

Total – 531 Entrances and Exits 

That’s a lot of trucks.  The timing is pretty great because in order to finish the recipe book I really need some time.  Lee went to the library to upload some videos this morning so after writing this I am going to really focus.  What’s left?  I need to finish one more recipe, and I am committed to getting a good shrimp stir-fry recipe!  I have probably made 8 different recipes so far and none of them are quite right, so I found an authentic Chinese cookbook at a second-hand store and I am going to try to use those sauce recipes and then tweak them for ingredients people can actually get.   Wish me luck!

I also need to get some pictures of the kitchen and that means it needs a good cleaning!!  Since the dust accumulation is pretty crazy at this point (layer of dust on the toaster for heavens sakes) that alone could take a while.  No photoshop tricks because I want to show what an actual used RV kitchen looks like.  That being said I am going to show it clean.  And yes Lee before you make a comment sometimes it is super clean.  Usually when we have people over, but hey that counts!  It’s true I am a messy cook and the more complicated the recipe the messier I am.  It’s part of my creative process so don’t judge 🙂

And finally I need to proof read all 80 recipe pages.  That’s going to be a chore as each page needs reviewed and the layouts need adjusted.  The template does come with a standard layout but the recipes all have different amounts of ingredients and steps so each page layout needs tweaked so it is centered on the page.   Not really my idea of fun, but it needs to be done so I might as well get to it.  Something like that would be very difficult for me to do with constant interruptions so I am really looking forward to some long stretches between cars.  So I have the new desktop rolled out and the monitor pulled forward.  I am going to get into the zone while Lee is gone!

I had just settled in and was formatting the first recipe when I got a text from our neighbor down the road.  There is an uncontrolled fire about 14 miles southwest of where we are. I texted Lee who said he saw the smoke when he went into town but thankfully it is on the other side of the interstate.  It’s pretty windy today though and things have dried out pretty quick so it’s good for all of us to keep an eye on.  That’s one of my favorite parts about this gate guarding community is folks look out for each other.  After that though I settled in and tried to learn the interface.  It does a lot of things which is good and bad, because you have options but you have to handle it very delicately.  It took me about 2 hours to format the first 10 recipes but a chunk of that was learning curve.  Hopefully that will be a little quicker as I go along.

And Lee and I had a great night.  We watched two-hour long TV shows and only had to get up once during each.  Way better than the 6 times the other night.  And we sat aside a little bit and watched the bats.  I’ve been meaning to mention this but keep forgetting about it because I can’t take pictures but at night we have several bats that fly all around our RV and eat some pretty big moths that are attracted to the spotlights.  Normally this would freak me out, but because the lights are above us and the bats stay above the roof of the RV and we can see them swooping but they never come close.  They are really fast and acrobatic, and it’s become some of our entertainment to watch them for a while.  So I start my days with vultures and end with bats and am finding beauty in both.  Texas is definitely having an impact on me!

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2 thoughts on “First Time Gate Guarding – Days 42 -43

  1. What a mess! Ugh! So glad that you guys make it through the storms ok! We had heard about fires in TX but didn’t realize you were so close to them! Looking forward to the recipe book! Miss you!❤

  2. Six bucks an hour to walk around in that mess. It would be hard because as a boondocker with a dog, mud is bad. Hopefully, things slow down.

    Wonder if you will hear of feel the fracking process. Let us know. We read about how fracking is bad for underground water reservoirs and causes earthquakes.

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