First Time gate Guarding – Days 47 -49

Day 47

I’ve been chewing on something the last couple of days and I am going to take a deep breath and dive right in here.  I try to write about these jobs in as objective a way as possible and still give people the flavor of my personal experience.  I try to step back a little and look at things from other people’s perspectives and since folks may be using these accounts to decide whether or not to try a job I really try and not let my personal feelings outside of the time period itself impact what I write.  I’ll be the first to admit I come no where close to succeeding on that and recent feedback about my “negativity” has made me even more gun shy.  Unfortunately that has put me in a position to simply account what is happening and that’s OK if personally I am feeling fine about things, but not so great when I am struggling.  This job in particular is even more complicated by the fact that some people do this year round.  Unlike other seasonal positions we have done, there are lots of people who gate guard most of the year and only take a couple of months off.  Their perspective is of course very, very different and trying to describe this experience and keep in mind people do this full time has been extremely challenging.

Because gate guarding for a few months in the winter versus gate guarding year round would be a totally different thing.  We often say we can do anything for short periods of time as long as it helps us get farther down the road, and to some extent that is true. So we judge positions in that context and lots of things that would be unpalatable for us in a full time job become of lesser importance.   In this case I have been trying to straddle the fence between these two realities and just don’t feel like I am doing a very good job.  Yes, the pure facts of the position relate to either group, but the emotions that come along with staying in one place for so long are very different.  Staying away from the emotions is certainly safer…harder to upset people when you are just reporting the facts, but that’s really not what I do. So I am going to delve back into the emotions, at least for this post, and please understand I do it from the position of someone who was looking for short-term seasonal work.

The problem for me is, for the first time, this is position could actually work long-term.  There is plenty of work out there, we are spending very little, and even putting some money in the bank, and the work itself is reasonable. Plus, there is the added bonus of minimal supervision which is something Lee really cares about. (I do not work or play well with others, especially if the others include management of any description. – Lee)  And that’s important because Lee and I aren’t in lockstep over what we want this life to look like for us, never have been.  Just because you decide as a couple to become full-time RVers, doesn’t mean that you are in complete agreement on what that looks like day to day.  To the contrary, it’s more common that couples need to find some middle ground.  The other positions we have done never really brought that up as an issue, because we both knew they were for a limited amount of time.  But here we are, faced with a position we could theoretically do indefinitely, and I have to evaluate it from that perspective.

And, for me, there is so much about this job that I don’t like when I think about it from a long-term perspective.  So here goes, and please keep in mind that for me the lifestyle was primarily about spending more time together and doing cool stuff together.  Having a job with less stress was a distant third to the first two things, but I know for many people that ranks much higher and if that is your primary goal, this work could definitely be a good fit for you.  So here’s what I don’t like, and again this is me and only looking at this long-term.

  • It’s 24/7.  I hate never having a day off.  I don’t care if the work is pretty slow or easy to do, I hate the feeling of never being off.  Cumulatively it’s wearing me down and I just can’t see that changing for me. (I don’t mind it so much, because I know that eventually we’ll be done. If we were to do it for a longer period of time, I would ask about arranging a relief team to give us a week long break in the middle. – Lee)
  • I don’t like never being able to go anywhere.  It’s not even not being able to do things together, there is little I can do myself.  I really only have a few hours a day where I am “off” and there is nothing close by that I want to do. (I agree with this. Going to the grocery store is our excitement. – Lee) 
  • Not crazy about the location.   Being on the end of a dusty farm road in the middle of nowhere was novel at first, but long term that would wear me down.  Yes, there is some beauty in the sunsets and the birds, but most of the time it is unrelenting truck traffic, clouds of dust, and of course the ever present sameness of our view of our gate.  Keep in mind my number 2 reason for full timing was to see beautiful places and as someone who largely judges her life by the pictures she has taken this definitely doesn’t meet my requirements.  (I beg to differ. Take a look at the awesome shots I took of the roadrunner. And this morning I got some great pics of vultures tearing up some roadkill. Seriously though, she’s right. Although I like remoteness, we can’t stargaze because of the floodlights, we can’t enjoy the peace and quiet, because of the nonstop generator and traffic noise, and we can’t walk around naked, because we don’t look that good naked. – Lee) If you are looking at this position as short-term and temporary, no big deal, but when you start to evaluate it as a long-term position it is.  And yes, you get to move gates every couple of months, but from what I have seen they all pretty much look like this.  I like to be a person who can find beauty in small things, but there are limits to what even my imagination can accomplish in this barren of a landscape. (Ya gotta look closer at that roadkill. Lots of color. – Lee)
  • Lastly, it’s kind of lonely.  You would think that it would perfectly fit my number one goal because Lee and I are together all of the time, but we really aren’t emotionally together. (Seriously. We’re together ALL. THE. TIME. – Lee) We don’t sleep in the same bed, our intimate moments are few and far between, and usually one of us is inside and the other is outside throughout the day. We spent years existing in the same space and being isolated from each other, and I can definitely see how this could become a similar situation.  After all, physical proximity is no guarantee of anything. It’s the moments we have created together that had made this lifestyle so special for us the last couple of years, and for the reasons above those moments have been few and far between in the last 47 days.

OK…well, I feel better.  It always helps me when I find a way to express my feelings.  The main thing to understand here is this job could either be short-term or long-term and depending on what you personally are looking for it might be a good gig.  Lee, for example, definitely could see himself doing this for longer stretches of time and I am absolutely not ruling it out for the future. But I am really looking forward to when this stint will be done and we can get back on the road and that in and of itself is a telling statement. It depends on what you consider “on the road.”  We have friends, for example, who were staying with family and are stuck in their pasture and can’t get out due to flooding.  Technically they are on the road, but they can’t wait to get back out there.  Some people consider being in the RV “on the road” regardless of where you are, others need to be actually moving, and still others think of it as something in between.  It’s extremely personal and just because people’s opinions on this differ doesn’t mean they are disrespecting someone else’s choices.  There is no one true way to full-time, just the way you choose to do it and that usually evolves for people over time.  All I can say is right now, in this moment, for me, I am ready to move on and that’s not going to happen. (Like anything else, I think this would be better the second time around. Knowing what to expect makes almost anything easier. I suspect this is why people have more than one child. I also think that while we always say if we can’t stand something, we can leave, but until we do that, we haven’t done it. And I think it isn’t real, and so it’s not a real comfort. Sooner or later it’s going to happen, and when we realize that the world doesn’t come to an end, we’ll feel less trapped when we’re unhappy, and that will prevent being mildly unhappy from turning into very unhappy. – Lee) 

It’s OK. I want to finish out our assignment and see this through until it finishes (or April 1st) whichever comes first. Because it’s temporary, and I can do anything for short periods, and I know we are headed to Vegas for a week, and then to beautiful Oregon for the entire summer.  The thought of picking up another assignment or extending is not a pleasant one though.  It’s just not.  Doesn’t mean I would never do this again.  Doesn’t mean I didn’t like the job or am ungrateful for the opportunity.  Just means I am done doing this for right now.  And that should be OK as long as it is OK with Lee.   (If this assignment were to end today, I don’t know if I would want to take another one to get us to April 1st or not. On the one hand, we would get a nice long break, but on the other hand, in my head, the time from January 1 to April 1 was all about hunkering down and not spending money and trying to set as much as possible aside. The weather is nice, we have hookups, and we’re not doing too badly. But then again, we’re going to be working from May until September, and then from from late October through December, so maybe a little vacation wouldn’t be a bad idea. – Lee) 

Because at the end of the day the only two people we need to make happy are ourselves.  It’s important we don’t lose sight of that, because it is the number one reason we chose to do this in the first place.  Oh and here’s Lee Vulture/Roadkill pictures.  If this sort of thing grosses you out, you probably want to skip down to Day 49.

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I photoshopped out the roadkill on this one. Fair warning the next have it all

I photo-shopped out the roadkill on this one. Fair warning the next pics have it

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Big group

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I couldn’t figure out what it was at first

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But once I saw the tail I knew it was an opossum.

 

Day 48

Yesterday was one of the slowest days we have had so far with only 32 entrances/exits and none for me after 9pm.  It was nice and we both enjoyed it.  We also were looking forward to another slow day because folks had told us the fracking shouldn’t start until next week.  But Sunday morning gravel trucks started coming.  They are finishing building the road from the gate to the fracking pond/water well and Lee had 127 gravel trucks between 8am and 6:30pm.  He went back to the system we used when we first started (leaving the gate open and using a tick sheet) so it wasn’t that bad, but it did require someone to sit outside most of the day.  Thankfully the heat broke and it was very pleasant outside, if a little dusty from the gravel trucks.  Once again we didn’t mind the trucks it was that we had no idea they were coming.  Neither did the guys from the construction company because we talk to them every day and they never mentioned it.  Apparently there is a master schedule but only a few people see it and even the construction company (who have been with us from the beginning) only are notified about their particular tasks.

As a project manager I find this pretty interesting, because it seems to be a well run project, with minimal downtime, but I was always a fan of everyone being on the same page for maximum efficiency. Still I can’t argue with the results and it is clear someone is at the helm of this thing.  After I took my shower I spelled Lee and sat aside and read a book.  Since I didn’t have to get up every time, it was fine.  Lee printed and scanned the final documents for our taxes so we can email it and we are both glad that is done.  Also I finished the rough draft of the recipe book (except one last recipe) and Lee spent a couple of hours proofing it for me.  I have made shrimp stir fry twice in the last week and can’t quite get the sauce right.  I am going to try one more time tomorrow (with pork) and then punt and try to make Chicken Marsala.  It’s a little frustrating being this close and having the last recipe not be quite right.  But what are you going to do.  No sense cutting corners at this point.

The trucks completely stopped at 7:30pm so I should have another quiet night, which is great.  I got the feeling more gravel trucks would be back tomorrow, so we will see how long it takes them to finish that road. It was a nice quiet night and would have been perfect for watching the Oscars but for some reason the only TV station we can’t get out here is ABC.  Since we are getting close to the end of the month we are keeping a sharp eye on the data so I guess I’ll just have to pick up the best clips through social media.   Finally, here is last week’s report.  As you can see there was a huge difference between Monday and Sunday, hence the shift in the tone of the blog posts.  It really goes to show the extreme variation of workload with this job.

tracking-sheet

Day 49

Today was another nice slow day and there were no gravel trucks so hooray!!  We had a chance to watch the best bits of the Oscars, and WOW, what an ending!  I am so glad I stayed off social media all day, though, because it was a huge surprise when I saw it.  I  have to say even though I am not a huge fan of Warren Beatty (too pretty for me) I felt bad for him, and thought he handled the situation about as well as could be expected considering the circumstances.  My absolute favorite part was when they brought the tour bus people in.  That was absolutely charming and I loved how the folks in the front row handled that.  If you didn’t get to see the Oscars or don’t care much you should find a clip of that.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it on TV and it was a great moment that really showed we are all just people, no matter what we do for a living.

Oh, and finally I got the stir fry recipe right.  Hooray!  So that’s my last recipe, and I spent the evening putting that in, doing one more look and then sending it out to the folks who contributed recipes for their review. If you sent me a recipe and it wasn’t in the book, no worries, I have printed all of the recipes people have sent me and will be working my way through them for the next recipe book. This time it will be much easier because I know the format and what I am looking for.   Next I need to go back and go through the steps to publish, which I did some preliminary research on prior to starting to use this program.  That was way back in June so I honestly can’t remember all the specifics.  I’m just super excited to have it almost finished and overall I feel really good about it.

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Stir-fry Success!!!


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14 thoughts on “First Time gate Guarding – Days 47 -49

  1. I really enjoyed this post and all the others about working to support a lifestyle on the road. Thanks for putting your heart and soul into this blog – I’ve learned so much. It seems like you have faced a lot of challenges along the way – night shifts; heavy Christmas trees; and more recently stubborn gates, dust and hot sun. Here’s hoping that your next stint will bring more satisfaction to you both. Also -your comment “I’m someone who judges her life by the pictures she has taken” really resonates with me – it is me.

  2. I alway enjoy your blog because of your honesty. You are a great writer and it’s YOUR blog. That’s what writers do is write about their own experiences and perspectives. If people don’t like it then they should stop following. That’s just my personal opinion.

  3. Tracy,
    If I was to RV Full-time ( I don’t) my main focus would be to “not” add to my monthly expenses, anymore than I had to. We have ran into many, many camp host that really enjoy what they do. There still are some camp host jobs that pay, although some have a waiting list. Most have days off, most of these campgrounds have additional amenities ,lakes ,trails, etc. Truck fuel would be very minimal. So you need to figure what you need monthly to pay your bills. Again
    I agree with your statement it would be nice to travel some and enjoy this lifestyle. If you can’t find any camp host or work camper positions put your name in and wait it out. But I can tell you that “most” people wait until they have retirement money coming in. A few people we have met love to Snowbird and have arranged to take a 30-60 days leave from their job. We love the Snowbirding life and coming home to our garden and Camping for a week at a time not far from home.

  4. Tracy, it is your blog, so you have every right to be as negative as you want, if that is how you are feeling! Personally, I must prefer blogs where the writer tells the reader how they are feeling, rather than just a travelogue of where they went and who they saw and what they ate. I’m very much an introvert but your circumstances might drive me round the bend. I did read a blog of a couple who were gate guarding and were 4 days on, 4 days off. That sounds a lot better to me! Hang in there.

  5. When they start bringing in the frac tanks, make sure you got your big girl panties on because it is truly GAME ON then.

    Your outlook and perspective will change if you survive the frac.

    ………. and watch out for the rattlesnakes. They are starting to stir over my way.

    • Thanks Andy. I can’t imagine it would be any harder than standing for 12 hours a day in near freezing weather in the middle of a beet harvesting facility so I think we will survive it. Plus we have already decided we can leave the gate open and use tick sheets which is much easier than opening and shutting the gates after every truck. Still we will see. Not sure it will make me feel any better about the job though lol.

  6. “since folks may be using these accounts to decide whether or not to try a job I really try and not let my personal feelings outside of the time period itself impact what I write.  I’ll be the first to admit I come no where close to succeeding on that”

    From my perspective you are succeeding in giving us all a very good idea of the job expectations and not only at the current job. And without including your personal feelings, which are honest and kind of you to offer, there would be far less detail about the lifestyle for all of us future fulltimers to consider. Like others said, it’s your blog so feel free to write from our heart!

    Folks that are overly critical of what others write, and they choose to read by the way, are doing others a disservice if they cause the writer to back down from what they want to say. We are all adults and should be able to handle comments that are contrary to our own opinion. If not, we would be hurting ourselves by not reconsidering our own ideas if someone offer a better one.

    Keep up the good work.

  7. I agree with you 100%. There are too many nicer places than the farmland of Texas to live in. As full-time RVers you should pick the part of the country you like best and find work there. Be a watch tower keeper on the coast of Oregon or Washington. You’ve got the freedom to make theses choices and that’s more than a lot of folks who are stuck at their jobs.

  8. Traci I like your honesty, I don’t think you come across negative to me you are just explaining your feeling. We are 6 months in on a 3 year plan to start RV’ing full time, I don’t follow these blogs to just hear about the good, I want to hear how to deal with everything. Thanks for being open and honest!.

  9. Just got back on the internet…we were off the grid in The Everglades. So just catching up on your posts.

    Your blog represents your thoughts and you will value having the real picture years from now. Congrats on going under budget…always fun to save money:o))

    I love Lee’s vulture pictures!! I believe they are actually Crested Caracara which is a much prettier vulture than our Black and Turkey Vultures here in Florida!!

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