I hate “click-bait” titles, but it truly was the first time I have called 911 since we have been on the road. Everyone is fine, and I am happy to report my phone sent me to the right dispatcher, but I am going to get into the details at the end of the post. In order to keep events in chronological order (which is not surprisingly important to me), first I need to catch you up on how we are settling in at our new gate. This gate is by far our favorite location. The best feature is that the ranch road in front of our rig is paved, which has made a tremendous impact on keeping the dust down, and we are less than ten minutes away from a very nice Super Wal-Mart and HEB grocery. Actually the town of Kenedy is very nice in general, and I’ll be doing a post on that in a few days. What else? Well, the people have been great, and I am really enjoying working with the folks from Encana, the oil company that is overseeing the site. One of the things I am most impressed by is how many young women they have working for them. Not surprisingly women are somewhat scarce in these jobs, which is a shame because these jobs pay well. I have met several young women working on this rig however, and am impressed by a company that would hire them, and foster an atmosphere where they seem pretty happy. You can tell quite a bit about how well things are going by the attitude of the people who you check them in, and despite the fact that there have been some issues most of the people have a smile and a positive attitude, which I certainly appreciate.
We also like the fact that it is close to our friends Cori and Greg and although I can’t just jump in the car and drive up there , I was able to make the 1-1/2 hour trip for Championship Sunday. (SPORTSBALL! -Lee) Cori and I both love football, and for the first time our teams, the Patriots and the Eagles, were both playing in championship games. Lee was kind enough to say he would cover for me while I made the trip as long as I brought back
some a lot of the brisket they made for game day. Actually what he said was “Don’t bother coming home without the brisket” which I dutifully reported to Cori 🙂 She in turn loaded me up with not only brisket but leftover pork and shredded pork and he had food to last for several days. Cori is great that way.
I enjoyed both games but ended up leaving at half time on the Eagles game because I was a little concerned about driving back in the dark. The route is largely country roads and of course there are tons of deer in this part of Texas. Everything turned out just fine and I was even able to listen to the end of the game on AM radio. It’s been years since I listened to a game in my car, and it took some mental adjustment, but I was happy that the Eagles won because now we get to face each other in the Superbowl!!! This is the first time these teams have met in the big game since Cori and I have been friends, and how special that we can be together for that. It won’t just be us either because Kelly and Bill and Linda and Steve are driving in in time for the game so we are going to have a big party! Very exciting. (I will happily stay here and do the actual work, because I don’t care about Sportsball. I’m very excited to find out what everyone eats though. I hope it’s more brisket. Or Bill’s Legendary Wings™. That would be awesome. I would cheerfully listen to a brief recap of the game while eating some of Bill’s Legendary Wings™. – Lee)
The one downside is Lee won’t be able to come, well, he could if we asked for relief, but he’s not a huge fan of sportsball as he calls it. I think he actually likes the time he is alone in the rig so that’s probably the best anniversary present I could give him. Oh, I didn’t mention that? Yep, it’s our 29th wedding anniversary and only the 2nd time the Superbowl has fallen on that particular day. True love though is letting the people you love do what makes them happy, and Lee didn’t even blink about what day it was. I did feel guilty for a few minutes, but since this the year of getting rid of useless emotion I squelched it and we are both totally fine with how it turned out. As much as our paths cross when we travel, these special occasion opportunities are rare, and we always need to make the best of them. (For what it’s worth, while I will certainly take the credit for being an awesome husband by letting her go to watch the Sportsbowl with friends and leaving me here to fend for myself all alone and tragic on our anniversary, the truth is I am just not one of those people that gets stuck on special dates. I get that an anniversary is a big deal, but I tend to think about those milestones all the time, as opposed to just once a year. I feel the same way about birthdays and other holidays. I appreciate things when they occur to me. This has led to some hurt feelings in my life, and sometimes people don’t get it, but I celebrate people and things more frequently that way. Also, the alone time will be nice. I can and will dance around in my underwear, which would be unwelcome behavior at a Sportsbowl gathering. So now you’ve got that image in your head. You’re welcome.- Lee)
OK, back to the gate. As I said, things are going well and I was very pleased by how easily I have settled back into night shift. The weather has been really good, which helps quite a bit, and since the Frack hasn’t started yet it’s been relatively slow. We are both taking advantage of the free time to work on some projects. Lee as you have seen has been doing upgrades and writing blog posts about them, and he has also done several minor maintenance tasks like replacing the dryer vent hose on our Splendide washer and dryer. And in case you were wondering, we did take a moment and talk about how much all these repairs were costing us, but Lee had a great point about that. We have an annual maintenance budget, but he rarely has the time or energy to make these repairs when we are traveling or working full time, so although the budget might be over in the beginning of the year it should even out over the long haul. And speaking of the washer, we use ours all of the time. It takes some creativity to dry items once in awhile, but we really like it.
(You can also see in the picture above some light coming in the windows. I had used two layers of heavy duty black lawn and leaf bags to completely cover and black out the windows so Trace can sleep during the day, but today was a pretty humid day and we both noticed it was really stuffy in there and needed some fresh air. So I took down the plastic on the smaller windows on either side of the bed and cut them to fit the glass instead of just covering the entire window and frame, so now we can open those windows when nobody is sleeping and let some air in. We’ll see tomorrow if any light leaks around the edges. And do you know what sticks really well to everything in the world and peels right off with no trouble and leaves no residue and is also black and blocks light and can be easily torn with just your fingers? Gaff tape. – Lee)
I’m spending my time with a variety of things. Every night I am spending an hour watching a presentation on a project management topic to earn professional development units for my PMI certification. I have 11 hours left of training to do before May and should have no trouble getting that done while we are here. I have also been putting all the recipes I have been collecting into my recipe template. I use a program called Bookwright for my publishing and although I have been collecting recipes and pictures all year, I haven’t had the time to get them in the program. I’ve also starting trying some new recipes. The first one was a major hit and is definitely going in the new recipe book. It was rice noodles with a peanut oil scallion sauce and pork marinated in fish sauce, onions, and pepper. Lee absolutely loved it and said I could make it any time and I was thrilled by how easy it was. Usually Asian food is a bit of a challenge but this was simple and flavorful which definitely is a win. (Normally I try to stop eating when I’m comfortably full, but this stuff was so good I ate way more of it than I should have, to the point where I was uncomfortably full, but it was worth it. I don’t know it’s called, but it should be called Tracy’s Vietnamese Pork and Noodle Crack.® – Lee)
Speaking of cooking, I have been watching some TV during the wee hours, and enjoying old episodes of Top Chef for both the inspiration and entertainment value. On the recommendation of my daughter Kyrston, I also started a new show called Travelers. The premise of the show is people from the future come into the bodies of modern day people at the moment of their death and then use those bodies to try an avert the catastrophe that almost wiped out the human race. The premise is great and the show is really, really good and I am completely absorbed by it, which is cool because it helps the 2am -4am time slot pass by quickly.
What I haven’t found the energy to do is work on my book. I completed an edit on the first three chapters at the other gate, but am having a hard time getting motivated here. Part of the problem is I seem to have less mental energy late at night and I really do need uninterrupted time to work on that so Lee needs to be asleep or out of the rig. When I am writing the blog he is pretty good at giving me space, but even if he doesn’t it generally isn’t a huge deal. Working on the book requires a higher level of focus and I am struggling with it a bit. I’m committed to finishing , so no worries there, but if you are wondering what my progress is, that’s where I am. They say writing is really rewriting, and it turns out I am not such a fan. These “stream of consciousness” blogs are largely fun to write and since Lee does the proofreading I rarely feel I need to re-read them. Before having him look at the book however I need to at least do a second pass and that is not as much fun. I find myself second-guessing myself frequently and rewriting huge sections, and I am not sure if that will create a better or worse end product. It’s important for me to figure this out, because if I want to write a fictional book in the future (a dream of mine), I need to figure out what process works for me.
We’ve also been playing around with what our new Amazon Echo Dot can do. We know there is a ton of functionality, but you have to dig a little on the internet to figure out what it can do. Luckily we bought one for each of our daughters for Christmas, so we have lots of people researching and we are trying to incorporate using her into our lives. Certainly it is an easy way to check the weather, “Alexa what is the weather forecast?” and I really like getting quick answers when cooking “Alexa how many sticks of butter are in a quarter cup?” but we wanted more. One of our struggles is always maintaining an ongoing grocery list, but Lee discovered an app called “Our Groceries” which works with Alexa. Either one of us can say “Alexa, Ask Our Groceries to add…” then the item and it goes to a categorizeable list on Lee’s phone. The coolest part is once you set a category (ie: produce, meat etc) for an item it remembers it going forward and this way when one of us goes to the grocery store the list is already groups by area of the store rather than being a hodge podge. Very cool, and highly recommend using this feature.
Couple more random things. I hope you guys don’t find these catch up posts annoying, but I take pictures as things happen and want to get them in. Since I am not writing daily about work this one is a bit of a hodge podge. When Lee cleaned out our storage unit he found this little wooden sign that we have had for around 20 years. I am not sure why we didn’t bring it, but it’s perfect for the camper, and in spite of it’s age is in great shape. He did take it apart and polyurethane all the pieces and I found a spot for it upfront on the hitch so it will get some protection from the elements.
And finally, onto the 911 call. Kat and Bert came down to visit us, which was incredibly sweet, since it was an hour and a half drive each way. I had gotten their permission to be my guinea pigs for a new recipe I wanted to try and we were really looking forward to seeing them. The only downside was the gate traffic, which had been slow to this point, had really ramped up, so Lee and I took turns running outside to check log in and out. We were actually in a slow period when we all heard a loud crunch through our closed double paned windows and ran outside.
A car was flipped over in a ditch and Lee, Kat, and Bert ran towards the accident. I hung back and called 911, completely unsure as to what would happen. I had heard that sometimes the calls weren’t routed properly, but the call was immediately answered by a dispatcher who said, “911 Kenedy, Texas”. Since that is the town just three miles away I confirmed that information and then struggled to tell them where we are. There is no address here, but thankfully the maps feature on my GPS had a “close to” address and I gave that to them which allowed them to find us.
While I was calling, Lee, Kat,and Bert were talking to a young woman who was bleeding from scratches on her legs and laying on the ground. She was obviously confused, kept asking people to not tell her Mom what happened, and it wasn’t clear how she got out of the car. The sunroof glass was gone and since the car rolled over at least twice she could have been thrown out, but the miracle of her being barely injured is hard to believe. Lee said there was no sign the car door was open though and his focus was on getting her to stay still and lie on the ground when several other trucks stopped to see what happened. In no time he had 5 people there, two of whom had first aid training, and Lee stepped back and let them take over. I walked up, with the 911 dispatcher on the phone, because she wanted more information on the nature of the injuries.
At this point I realized there was someone else still in the vehicle and there were several men talking to him through the car. The dispatcher had me relay to the people helping that EMT’s were on the way, and to not try to move anyone. Lee did see the young man in the passenger seat and he was curled up and unconscious for awhile. Ultimately he actually walked out of the car on his own, again a minor miracle considering the damage, and as far as we know both kids have only minor injuries. Let me show you the car so you can see what we were all dealing with.
At this point I continued to direct traffic, making sure trucks exited away from the accident and once Lee spoke to the Sheriff the three of them came back to the RV. The Sheriff also came over to talk to us and ask who the land owner was because part of the fence was damaged. We don’t actually know the name of the landowner at this location, but I did leave a voice mail for the saleswoman for our gate guard company. I let the Sheriff know that no gate traffic in or out was happening at the time of the accident, and made that notation on our logs along with the time. The Sheriff didn’t seem concerned about that though because it was clear she had been going very fast and blew a tire when she hit the culvert. The skid marks (and grooves in the payment from her rims) told a pretty clear picture, and again everyone seemed surprised they were OK.
Update: The father of the young woman stopped by to thank Lee for what he had done and we got an update. Both of the young people were halo flown to San Antonio. The young man has a fracture in his neck, but because of where it is positioned it looks like long-term it will be ok. The young woman has bruised ribs and some blood in her lungs, but she was released from the hospital today as well. It appears she did come out of the sun roof and it is an absolute miracle that she is alright. The Dad was partially just grateful, but he was also trying to recreate the events, I am sure in case there is a lawsuit. It’s a shame that’s the world we are living in, but I get his concern. Especially because it’s not clear who was actually driving.
Despite the excitement, everyone was still hungry so I went ahead and started dinner. I have tried to make chicken Marsala several times and it never turned out quite right, but when we were in Charlotte my son-in-law Jeremy made it for me and walked me through it. My instructions were pretty detailed, but it was a ton of steps, but it turned out pretty good. Not as good as his of course, but everyone seemed pretty happy and the greatest compliment was when Kat used her bread to sop up the sauce.
It was absolutely wonderful seeing them, but it was a little sad because they are heading back home to come off the road for a while in April. Kat and Bert always knew they were going to try this for a year or two and then go on to their next “mini-life”. They enjoy adventures, and are looking to see what’s on the next horizon for them. I am just really happy that I got to know them and I’ll miss seeing them regularly on the road. Yes, we absolutely plan to get together in Raleigh when we head back East, but I really have loved seeing them so much over the last couple of years. They are great people and I feel really blessed to know them. Love you guys, and thank you for your friendship and the laughter.
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Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks You can preview the kindle version on Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes. It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.