After leaving Columbus and getting our furnace fixed (which is working great…hooray!) we made a beeline for Texas. A couple of reasons for that. First, we made less money than we thought we would at Amazon, and we needed to get some funds in the bank as quick as possible, but we also felt like the sooner we got there the better our chance of getting a gate. Lee has been monitoring the gate guarding Facebook group we are a part of and was seeing some opportunities in West Texas. Unfortunately, you need to physically be in Texas to qualify for one of those since the need is almost always immediate, so we knew the sooner we got there the better.
The big question was where would we stay while we were waiting. We have friends who are spread throughout Texas, but most had plans for the holidays and we also didn’t want to go to a place just to turn around and leave. And Texas is a pretty big state, so when we hit Texarkana Thursday night I asked Lee to call one of the Gate guarding companies and nail things down a little bit. I liked the company we worked for last year, but they are only offering $125 and Lee wanted to maximize how much we made so he reached out to another company that was offering $175. We knew about them from people on the group and since most folks were positive about their experience we decided to give them a try. This decision was further reinforced by the fact that they have a “yard” with full hookups so we could park there and wait until a gate became available, so we headed south of San Antonio.
We knew it would be a long driving day, and since we were essentially going in a diagonal we had a couple of choices. Take Texas State highways through a variety of small towns, or take the interstate and skirt Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. Neither choice was great for a long driving day, but ultimately we decided to go the interstate and thankfully we timed it so we missed quite a bit of traffic. We also spent a bunch of time on a toll turnpike that bypassed Austin, which which was good, since we hit that area right around 5pm on Friday. It’s definitely not the way we like to travel and we really don’t like arriving at our destination in the dark, but in this case we just wanted to get there. We switched drivers at every stop, which is one of the advantages of only having one vehicle, and rolled into the yard at 8pm.
Unfortunately it wasn’t that easy to find the entrance gate, and then Lee couldn’t get the lock to open with the combination we were given, but thankfully another guard rolled up and showed him how to open it. Since there are only three rigs back here, that was pretty amazing, and we thankfully backed into the spot and sort of collapsed. The only exciting thing that happened the rest of the night was Lee got up from his chair at one point and almost stepped on a mouse. Lee said that right before that he saw some quick movement near a tire out of the corner of his eye while he was outside smoking, so he’s pretty sure it just came in to check us out after we got here, and hopefully it has left since the trap he set was empty this morning, and we haven’t seen or heard the little guy since. It’s 52 degrees here at 7am, which is like a heat wave compared to up north, so hopefully he will go back into the field he came from. (There’s also a cat that lives on the property, so we’re not too worried. Lots of people we know have had mouse issues over the years, and we’ve been very lucky with only two in all the time we’ve been on the road, and both of those were only in residence for a short time. I find that a little peanut butter on these works really well. – Lee)
Thankfully we didn’t see the mouse again…Lee scared him I’ll bet, and we did have a full day to get some errands done. We were initially told someone would be onsite to do our paperwork, but when no one showed by 2pm we called and learned they wouldn’t be coming until Monday. That was fine, since Lee still had time to go to Costco and along the way he stopped at a couple Half Price Books Stores. We knew we would have lots of time on our hands and books are a great way to fill that time, so we had stopped and picked up some books in Columbus. I was missing a few to complete a couple of series and luckily Lee found exactly what I needed. I was pretty excited about that, and even more excited when we picked up all of the network affiliates with our antenna, because finally I was going to get to watch a game the following day. I haven’t watched a football game all year because we couldn’t get TV in either Oregon or Campbellsville, and was pretty excited about just chilling on Sunday and organizing the RV.
That was not meant to be, because at 9am we received a call from the Gate Guarding company. They had a placement they needed to fill immediatetly because of a last minute cancellation and wanted to know if we could head to West Texas. She was very clear that we didn’t have to accept the position and felt pretty bad about making us drive so far, but we figured we would end up in West Texas anyway and the $175 daily rate was what we wanted. Last year we only made $125 a day for South Texas, and that extra $1500 a month is significant. So we packed up quickly and were on the road within the hour and headed towards Odessa, TX.
Because it was Sunday and New Year’s Eve the roads were pretty empty, but Texas is a big state and things just take time. We knew we wouldn’t get there until after dark, and talked about stopping somewhere close, but after talking to the company rep and the folks we were replacing we decided to head directly to the site. We were a bit surprised that they were going to pull right out, but it made more sense when we got there. The pad is small, as in we weren’t sure we would fit small, and no way could we both be there. Plus it got colder and colder the farther north we went and by the time we got to the site it was 17 degrees, snowing slightly, and the wind was really bitter. They helped us back up and get hooked up to electric (water was frozen, but we learned from last time and came with a full tank of fresh water) and gave us a brief overview of the gig. Each gate is totally different, and this one seems much busier than the one we were on last year, so this should be interesting.
Unfortunately I wasn’t dressed for the cold at all. I was shivering as we talked it through and finally ran inside the rig to get some ear muffs, which helped a little. Needless to say we got set up as quickly as possible and then said our goodbye’s and they headed down the road. So here we were in the freezing cold, barely sure what we were doing, but hey we were in it together! I was feeling like things would work out OK, when Lee casually mentioned that I shouldn’t be afraid if a coyote came to the door. What?!!???!?? Apparently the guy we took over for has been feeding the coyotes at night and according to him he was feeding them out of his hand. Since I work nights, that means they might be looking for the same treatment from me but that is absolutely not going to happen. At first I thought he was kidding Lee, but Lee said nope he was dead serious, and I think the coyote story kind of put me over the edge a little bit. Eventually I calmed down a bit but I’ll be honest it was touch and go for a minute.
This won’t be the worst thing we have done in the last three years. It is going to be cold for the next couple of days, but we held onto our beet harvest clothes, and more importantly it is supposed to warm up significantly later in the week. so if we can just get through the next couple of days, we should be fine. Did I mention I didn’t have a chance to adjust my sleep schedule so I’ll be pulling an “all nighter”? Well there are worse things. The woman I am replacing is 72 years old and she was standing out in the cold getting on with it so I definitely can as well. And along those lines there are a couple of good things I wanted to mention. First Lee found a warm spot by the generator. The side of the generator cabinet has an grill where the air filter is, and nice hot air comes out of it. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see Lee’s hat next to the driver’s door of the truck, he’s standing right in front of that “heater”. It’s also less windy there, so that’s nice. Also the lighting is very good, which I appreciate, and best of all doesn’t completely light up the back of the rig where we sleep. Lastly, we have an old fashioned hose and bell chime which is what used to be used at gas stations back in the old days when someone would come out and pump the gas. What’s great about it is that’s operated by air pressure in the hose, so no worries about “falsing” due to cats, birds, hungry coyotes, wind etc. That was a huge problem for me at night on the last gig and I was really happy they provided us this kind.
So it isn’t all bad, and I am sure we will get acclimated quickly. The good thing about doing this for the second time is we have a much better idea of what we are doing. Stay tuned for future updates and Happy New Year to all of our readers. If I don’t say it enough, we really appreciate your following along and all of the support! We have a strong cell signal here at the gate, so as long as you keep reading, we will keep the posts coming.
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