First Christmas Gate Guarding

Since we went on the road we have managed to be with family or friends every year at Christmas time.  The first year we spent Christmas with my sister and her family, and the next year was  Christmas with our youngest daughter in Monterey, California.  The next year we were selling Christmas trees and although we didn’t like the job we were surrounded by Christmasy things which was some consolation, and we got to have Christmas dinner with Cori’s family which was really nice of them. Last year we worked Amazon, but since we were finished on the 21st we were able to go to Columbus and I spent Christmas morning with my brother and his family and we stayed at Lee’s parents’ and were surrounded by amazing Christmas decorations.  So really every year we had some elements of Christmas, although they were certainly nothing like the huge family Christmases we used to have when our kids were young.

This year we made a conscious decision not to go back east and we knew we would be working through the holiday.  It’s interesting that for someone who was so into Christmas how fine I am with letting that go.  Perhaps it is the simplicity of our lifestyle, or the reality of the need to make money, but in either case I didn’t find myself being particularly bummed out that we were missing the festivities.  My life is just different now, and instead of focusing on what I am missing, I am grateful for what we have.  The weather is gorgeous for one thing, 70 degrees and sunny as of this writing, and we have a nice gate and a good company to work for. It’s really been very peaceful here.

I did decorate though.  It started out somewhat half-hearted because Lee went to a ton of trouble to get my ceramic Christmas tree out of the storage unit, so I should put it out.  Turns out we had some lights and a few other decorations though so I had ended up having some fun with it.

Here’s my ceramic tree that started it all

Jack’s cage got a little dressing up

It’s nice from the outside. The drivers can see our being festive

 

My Aunt Cathy sent me this really cute little ornament which we have added to the mix! Very nice of her to think of us.

I will say that working the night shift was a bit of a bummer.  It was a beautiful night with a full moon and a pretty slow day but when the clock rolled over and hit 12:01 I was a little bummed. I did say Merry Christmas to Jack and gave him a piece of egg.  That sounds sad, and it did feel a little sad in that moment, but then I just kept going through my night.  It was my intention to upload my ebook as sort of a present to myself but the formatting wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be, so I decided to let that go and look at it with fresh eyes tomorrow. One of the drivers did stop and give me some homemade venison summer sausage which Lee absolutely loved.  It was very nice of him, and I was glad he did it, because aside from that it really was just like any other day.

The summer sausage also has jalapenos and Lee loves it.

Christmas day was a nice one because it was really slow (Lee only had 13 vehicles in 8 hours!) and we got to talk to our parents and our kids, which was nice.  We also had a special dinner of massive 1 1/2 lb ribeyes, and shrimp, and Jack got the bone on my ribeye which he REALLY liked.

Yummy shrimp

 

And Lee got me Bookbinders cocktail sauce which is my absolute favorite. It was funny because I was talking to my dad and he said he went to some trouble to get Bookbinders this year as well. It really is very good.

 

Fantastic Lindor truffles for dessert …my favorite

 

Lee got these beautiful ribeyes for $4.99 a pound. Have to love Texas.

 

It took Jack a few minutes to figure it out but then he was in heaven.

Speaking of Jack, he’s been a real trooper about Christmas.  He doesn’t seem to get it but he was really great about letting Lee take pictures of him in a Santa hat and was a really good puppy when we took advantage of the slowness and gave him a nice clipping today.

That’s a good boy!

 

Lee said this is his “I am waiting for Santa look”

 

He was absolutely terrific during the grooming.

And speaking of Santa hats, I got in on the action and wore one on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  No reason to not get into the holiday spirit a bit!

 

Overall it was a nice quiet day but of course we would rather be with family.  It was a conscious decision though so we can live with it.  The best part of the day was I finally got my ebook uploaded.  It takes up to three days to appear online and then I will be writing a post linking it and getting into more detail on how that all went.  It feels great to have it done though! Happy Holidays to everyone, and I hope you had a wonderful day.

(And finally, lest you think Jack is just a sweet harmless little fluffy puppy, here’s a few seconds of what it looks like when I got too close while he was enjoying that ribeye bone. He takes his meals as seriously as I do. – Lee)

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

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.

 

Little Bit of This and That

When I write these blog posts I generally try to go for a general theme, which sometimes means that cool little things get left our because they don’t follow the narrative.  Sometimes I just let them go, but I also put the pictures in a folder and sort of collect them and eventually make a post of them.  Since some of these are Lee being inventive I thought I would share them.  I always loves when he MacGyver’s stuff together.  Let me start with Jack’s AKC ID collar though.  He came with a microchip and a free registration and for $20 I enrolled him in a lifetime tracking program.  The company keeps your information on file, and if anyone contacts them they contact you, which is nice and puts a middle man between you and the person who found you dog.  I also purchased for an additional $20 this very nice collar, which has his name and ID number inscribed on it.

The collar was slightly heavy but he doesn’t seem to mind. Also dogs don’t have to be purebred to participate in the program.

 

Speaking of Jack, Lee figured out how to leave the barrier on the screened window up just enough so Jack could look out. He’s stealth puppy.

 

And he is enjoying hanging out in the sun with his Dad.

He has been on cow duty and actually his barking is doing a great job of keeping them away. This is the closest they have gotten to the RV.  You can see it down past the lights.

He’s also learned to play fetch (sot of) on the leash)

Good way to get him some safe exercise.

I also wanted to share what our water/electric/sewer setup is here gate guarding.  All setups are pretty similar, but there can be some variation.  We have a tank that holds 650 gallons of water which is filled every two weeks and the diesel for the generator is also filled every two weeks. The sewer bladder is weekly, which is a little different.  Turns out they have outlawed grey water on the ground here in Texas so the company needs to empty it more frequently.  The trailer and equipment is extremely well maintained and looks practically brand new which is nice.  The generator is also a newer one and relatively quiet.

From left: generator, water, and fuel oil. The water tank is black so it doesn’t grow algae in it.

 

Sewer bladder is pretty standard, but it’s a big one and being emptied weekly means no issue with full tanks.

What else?  Well, it is dusty, no way around that, and I have resigned myself to a thin layer of dust on everything.  We like the fresh air so I don’t want to stay completely sealed up and when there is a breeze dust comes with it.  One place I don’t want dust though is in the bed.  Jack has been sleeping with us, and the bed got pretty gritty, so Lee was able to wash the sheets finally.  Yes, we have enough water to do a couple loads of laundry a week as long as we keep our showers short.  Lee uses our fan to dry the sheets, and he found a new way to dry the pillow cases.  Just love this.

Pillow case is clothes pinned to the fan

 

Amazing right…who thinks like that?? My guy!

Speaking of Lee’s inventions, it is really bothering us that Jack can’t run around (there is no dog park anywhere close by), he created a run between the RV and our truck.  Unfortunately Jack isn’t a huge fan and we can’t leave him alone because of the coyotes, but it will still a cool idea and worth sharing.

 

Finally, I’ve been a little disappointed in the sunsets we have been seeing, but finally we got a couple of nice ones.  It can be beautiful out here sometimes.

We have one lovely little flower growing right by our RV

 

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

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.

 

Gate Guarding in High Winds

Most days things are really mellow here at the gate, but when I woke up this morning I learned we were expecting 50 mph winds!  That’s no fun in an RV even if you aren’t working, and certainly not fun when you have to open and shut a heavy gate a hundred or more times a day.  The first thing Lee did was take the top and side walls off our our EZ Up shelter structure which definitely wouldn’t have stood up to the wind. He also laid the light stands down, which works fine in the day, but at night is going to be a problem trying to do this without light.  He also tried to find a spot where the motion sensors could be without “falsing” too much.  That was a bit of a lost cause though and we had lots of ding dongs and no trucks.  We also had lots of trucks coming in and no noises at all, so basically you have to be pretty vigilant.  That’s where having a front living room model helps us, because at least I can sit in the forward desk section (which faces the road) and sort of see.  Still miss people, no way around it, and when things are like this they just need to be patient.

Shelter without the sides or top.

 

Initially we laid all the lights on the ground

 

You can barely see the motion sensor in a box in the bottom of the sign by the “Y” in Security. This actually works really well!

Once I see the person I have to get out the front door and as anyone know who has an RV, opening the door in high wind is a pain.  You really have to hold on, because it catches like a sail and the handles in my RV aren’t that big to get a good grip. And of course the holes for the drop rods at this particular gate aren’t deep enough for the rods to really get down there, so unless you position it very carefully it starts to creep on you in the wind.  If we were in a gate that didn’t have to stay closed it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I am wrestling with the gate in the wind which can be hard to close. All in all, not fun, but we will see how it goes.  Thankfully I have been feeling better the last couple of days, so at least I am not adding stomach pains to all that but definitely not looking forward to the night.

Jack did OK in the wind, but it was hard to get him to settle enough to go to the bathroom.

As I started writing this it’s around 1pm and I am the one working because I sent Lee to get our mail.  We have a couple of choices when we are working gates and they depend on both what we are getting, and how comfortable we feel with the local post office.  Many small post offices take things general delivery for free, but not all do, and we have had mixed results.  The safest bet is to send things to a UPS store, but that costs between $2 and $5 per item when you pick them up, which can add up.  It’s safer because not all post offices will accept UPS/Fed Ex deliveries and we never know how people will send stuff. Don’t get me wrong, we love getting presents, but when people say “How can I send you something?” this time of year it’s a bit complicated. We can have them sent to our mail service and pay double shipping (best for cards), or sent to a UPS store with our names on them (very important it says both our names because we never know who will be picking it up), or general delivery to post office with our names.  An added wrinkle of the small local post offices is they often have limited hours, but all things being equal that is my preference if we have gone in and talked to them and they are fine with general delivery.

After a couple of hours I was definitely tired of fighting the wind but I am EXTREMELY grateful that the wind is blowing from the highway so it’s hitting the rear of our rig and not the side. And thankfully so far doesn’t have a ton of dust and grit in it.  That is the absolute worst, and like working in a sandstorm, but so far at least we’ve been lucky and the dirt is blowing but farther down the road.  I’ve also taken a moment to talk to some of the regulars and let them know the challenges we would face tonight.  With the motion sensors not working properly, I let them know to feel free to go ahead and honk, and also told them I would do the best I could.  No way am I sitting outside in this all night, so folks will just have to be patient.  If this was a regular gate I would just open them up and whoever I missed I would get on the next go round, but opening and shutting it every time definitely adds a wrinkle.

The wind just got worse and unfortunately it was busy.  There are lots of hunting leases on this property, and for some reason I had numerous hunters show up.  Generally they are not in our system and don’t really understand the gate etiquette like the oil workers so they always take longer to process.  I also had one truck driver stop and tell me that six miles down the road there was a fire which had spread in the same direction as us and was beyond the gate.  The fire department was on site, which was good, but with this wind I would imagine it would be very hard to contain.  I notified my supervisor and since there wasn’t anything else I could do just sort of kept an eye out.  At one point the dog wanted to go out and pee and that was pretty chaotic.  I had trucks, crazy wind, and the dog to worry about.  After he went  I put him back inside and thankfully he decided to take a nap.  He didn’t seem to mind the wind, if anything he was enjoying it, but I was not having fun standing out there with him.

The darker it got the worse the wind blew, and I was struggling not only with our RV door but also with the gate.  It kept blowing open, and although I kept shutting it I saw that the holes in the ground the metal rods went into were somewhat shallow.  The owner’s son came through and I took the opportunity to tell him I was struggling with the gate but his response was very cold.  He said “You need to keep the gate closed, I don’t care about the wind” and when I tried to mention the trouble with the gate itself he couldn’t have cared less. As much as I appreciate the situation from his perspective I have to say that his tone and the way he talked to me was definitely not OK.  I called my boss and let him know and he was really nice about it.  He gave us some suggestions for strapping lights to the gates to get through the night and made me feel a lot better about the whole thing.

It’s hard to see, but the holes that the gate go in are very shallow. The one of the right in particular slips out and just starts sliding as the wind pushes it.

 

Lee did a great job bungee cording the lights and it worked beautifully.

Thankfully right around the time it got dark, the wind died down a little.  It’s really nice here at night, which is why I like working the night shift, and in between trucks its is very quiet and still.  Occasionally I hear a coyote off in the distance, or the rustle of a nearby cow, but it’s crisp, and clear and beautiful and I really don’t mind staying awake. Most nights I really love but 51 degrees and wind at 20 mph is just not so fun.  So far at least the wind has been a rare occurrence and I am grateful for that.  I just have to physically work so much harder when it’s windy and of course there is some increased risk of getting hurt.

The best thing that came out of the windy day though was that Lee finally bought himself a weather station.  He has wanted one of these for 5 years now, and decided to go ahead and buy himself an early Christmas present. Since it is absolutely work related we will be able to deduct it from our taxes, but even if it wasn’t he has waited a long time to purchase it, and after the last couple of days the last thing I want is to get caught with our pants down on a windy day.   It is a very complicated machine, so I am going to go ahead and let him explain it to you.  I will say that if you have a guy in your life that is hard to buy for this may be the present for him.  Oh, and the station has a widget on this blog that now shows you our general location and the weather in our area.  That was pretty cool!

I already had a small Acurite weather set that included a wireless sensor outside, another one that I kept in the basement to keep an eye on the water lines when it got really cold, and of course inside temp. It also did humidity, but what I really wanted was an anemometer. I always wonder what speed the wind is blowing, but these are kind of pricy so I waited and waited. I finally broke down and got one when I saw that we were going to have a couple of days of really high winds. It’s the Acurite 5 in 1, model #01536.

The outside unit does temperature, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, humidity, and rain. There’s a nice indoor display that shows current wind direction as well as the 2 previous wind directions, wind speed, and the peak wind speed for that day. The outdoor temp display includes current temp, a heat index calculation, wind chill, dew point and humidity, the high and low temp and humidity for that day, and a trend arrow telling you if the temp and humidity are rising, falling or holding. The rainfall indicator shows you how much rain you’ve had that day, week, month, or year, and how many days since the last rain.

The indoor indicators include temperature and humidity, along with a trend arrow and humidity “comfort” meter, and if you get additional wireless sensors (you can have up to 3), will display information for those as well.

There’s a forecast area that tells you the barometric pressure with a trend  arrow, and gives you a little icon with it’s best guess for the forecast.

And finally there’s a neat little ticker at the bottom that constantly shows a whole slew of data; Heat index, wind chill, dew point, “feels like” temp, daily, weekly, monthly and all time highs for temp, humidity and wind, the phase of the moon, rainfall data, and battery and wireless signal information.


Installing the unit is really simple, it’s an “all in one” and takes 4 AA batteries. It comes with a mounting pipe that has holes on the bottom and side so that it can be mounted in a variety of ways, or you can install it on any 3/4″ pipe. It could be mounted directly to the roof of your rig, but I’m not sure I want to do that yet. I might. I like the idea of just being able to go up there and pop the sensor on the mount and be done, but I’m not sure how traveling at 60 mph will affect the mounting bracket when we move. I definitely wouldn’t drive with the sensor on, though. You can also use a portable tripod mount like this one:

 

You can see the mounting bracket in the image below. The sensor has a mounting hole on the bottom and it just slides onto the mounting bracket or the pipe you use. There are holes in the side that allow you to put two screws through the body of the sensor into the pipe to secure it, but I chose not to use them. The pipe slides all the way up the body of the sensor, so there’s no danger of it falling off, and it’s a snug enough fit that it won’t spin on the pipe, but I will keep an eye on it to see if it gets looser over time. I don’t want to have to find storage space for the sensor attached to the pipe, and I don’t want to have to put the screws in and take them out every time we move.

 

The higher you can get it the better, the NWS recommends thirty feet, which is a little unrealistic for a rig. I chose to use a 5′ length of PVC pipe, attached to our rear ladder with stainless steel U-bolts, with about two feet of pipe on the ladder and the sensor at 3′ above the rig. We’re 12′ high, so that puts the sensor at 15′, which is high enough, I think. And there are no obstructions within 6′ of it, so I can get accurate wind readings.

In the picture below you can see the top of the sensor, which shows the solar panel, and the rainfall collector. There’s also a tiny little bubble level between them to help you make sure it’s level when you install it.

 

And in this image below, you can see the battery compartment, the vane, and where the pipe slides in.

 

Here it is mounted to our ladder.

 

For those interested in how it works, here’s a picture showing the interior. I particularly like the solar powered aspirating fan that keeps the insides from overheating in the sun and keeps it dry in high humidity. I’m curious to see how long that fan holds up, but it can be replaced by me if it goes bad. I also like the fact that the vane is on bearings. There’s also a debris screen in the rain collector, although that would need to be cleaned if it were under trees for any length of time.

 

In addition to the indoor display, you can get software that will upload all of the data to Weather Underground, and that will allow you to look at the data easily in charts and graphs. Acurite offers a device called the Access, which allows you to integrate the sensor with Alexa, and allows you to have all the data without going through Weather Underground, but it’s a little on the pricey side.

And finally, there’s an app for phones and tablets that allow you to see your data form anywhere, and also has a nice feature for setting alerts so you can notified if sensors hit a certain threshold for temp, wind or humidity. Here are a few shots from the app:

 

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

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.

Down on the Border

Although this is our third season gate guarding, this is by far the southernmost point we have been.  Initially I didn’t mind being this far south, because the weather is better and I was told we were less than three miles away from a border patrol station.  My thought process (and what was insinuated) was we would be pretty safe because of the proximity.  I will say that we do feel safe, but I should also mention there has been a ton of activity.  We see border patrol vehicles several times a day and one stopped and an officer told me that directly across from us was a common immigrant pickup spot.  This morning Lee had five border patrol vehicles come in his gate because they were chasing illegal immigrants on the ranch.

The illegals pickup spot is at that gate

Oddly, I am not nervous, although I do find it interesting that even three years ago most of these extreme south gate guard positions were armed ones.  The landscape appears to have changed though and we were told no guns were allowed on our post.  It’s not just border patrol because this evening one FBI agent and two DEA agents came to search the ranch for a suspect.  Again they had difficulty because the ranch was so big, even though they knew the company the gentleman worked for and his approximate location.  Thankfully our role in these situations is to simply let people in.  And truly it sounds way more scary than it is, although I have requested some more light for our RV area.  We were only given two relatively small light stands and I would feel better with a little more light on the backside of the RV. So all together we have seen Border Patrol, Homeland Security, DEA, and a helicopter of some sort hovering over the property.  Let’s just say there is lots of presence.

Our boss came and added a couple of light stands. He;s a really good guy

Aside from that things have been going well.  We discovered we couldn’t get any TV at all here but Lee did some research and now we are using Hulu. It’s $40 a month and so far at least the streaming is working great.  I can watch football, which was my major concern, and also see lots of other programming they have in their archives.  It’s a nice alternative with an unlimited plan and since there is no contract we can start and stop it at any time.  I’m also impressed by how solid the signal is even though our cell signal isn’t always that strong.  They seemed to have solved many of the issue with freezing pictures, etc.

Jack’s also doing well and definitely settling in.  He is sleeping with Lee now and waking up at 4am and for the last two days has hung out with Lee outside.  Lee keeps him on a lead and has his cage outside, and aside from Jack getting bored he seems to be doing OK.

Bored puppy

 

Chew a little

 

Take a little nap

Lee tries to keep him occupied with chew toys and lots of walks and at least he is with one of us almost all of the time.  He has also learned how far he can go on his lead and in the evenings he zooms around a bit to get some exercise.  The herd of cows has been getting closer and closer since we moved in and Jack likes to go outside and bark at them.  It’s effective and they readily scamper off, which cracks me up up because he is so small.

Lee and Jack taking a walk

 

Chew Toys and dirty face

 

Hanging in the chair.  He’s a bit camera shy.

Jack aside, Lee’s shelter is working awesome and the heater is great because it does get pretty cold once the sun goes down.  It hasn’t been too unpleasant except for one evening when it rained buckets.  That was definitely not a fun night.  I’ve adjusted to evening shift with relative ease and since Lee blacked out our windows in the bedroom I am sleeping well.

The shelter

 

The propane buddy works great and we can also use an electric heater. Lee built a Ipad stand and sits outside and watches TV shows and movies.

 

Rainy Day

 

And of course the water pooled right where we had to open the gate. We pulled out our rubber boots and it was fine

The only bad thing is I started having some stomach complications after the rainy night.  I tried some over the counter meds but wasn’t feeling better so on the fourth day I went to an urgent care.  This is only the second time I have gone to an urgent care since we have been on the road.  The first time in the Outer Banks and that was a really good experience.  This time not so great.  There was no wait which was a good thing, but after a cursory exam my choices were to try over the counter meds and wait 24 hours or go to another facility and get more tests.  My deductible is paid up for the year but I decided not to go the test route and instead opted to take the over the counter meds and see what happened.  It seems to help some, and I get why the nurse practitioner was being cautious but I also think the treatment plan would have been different if I didn’t have insurance. That really continues to bug me and I am just really glad nothing serious has happened to us on the road.

Other than that, things are going fine and I am glad we should be getting paid soon.   I’m not sure how much I will have to write about in the near future, so don’t be surprised if these posts slow down a bit.  I am getting tantalizing close to finishing the book,  I completed the final edit, but Lee wants to take a crack at it so we are making one more pass.  It’s amazing how every single time I find new things.  Definitely NOT my favorite part of writing.  My goal is to hopefully get it out before the end of the year so I will be pushing to get that done.  That’s all for now and I’ll leave you with the absolute cutest picture of Jack.  Yep I know lots of Jack but seriously how can you not love this!

I adore this picture of Jack. He’s a super tough gate guard dog now!

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

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.

Jack Gets Acclimated…Sort Of

It always takes a while to get acclimated to a new gate, and with Jack it’s been much more challenging.  Not that he is not worth it, but the poor guy has no idea what is going on, and this is a VERY different place than where he came from.  For us we quickly learned that this is a high profile gate, because this ranch is owned by one of the largest land owners in Texas. Consequently when they say they want the gate shut between every vehicle, they mean that, and of course we are complying.  Our first gate was like this so we have some experience, but it is a ton more work when you have to get up and physically open and shut the gate every time.  That’s the gig though, and we certainly weren’t in a position to be picky.

On the plus side the small area right in front of our RV is paved (which helps with the dust) and everyone is incredibly well behaved.  Since high level folks from all the companies are in and out of here, folks are being really good about following the rules.  I generally don’t have any problems at night, but Lee has run into some challenging folks during the day at other gates, but so far not here.  Another reason for this might be that for the first time we have to take pictures of the vehicles.  We use an iPad to log them in and out and we take a front and rear view shot of the vehicles when they come in and go out.  Doesn’t add too much time to the process, but at night the picture quality is not great.  And I was really glad when our supervisor said that getting vehicles off the road was the most important thing.  That way when they stack up, we can just wave them through and catch them on the way out.  That practice keeps everyone safer.

While we were trying to sort all that out, Jack wasn’t doing so great.  We are lucky to have a nice long sandy patch of road to walk him on, but he wants to go into the grass which has stickers and heavens knows what else.  The first day we have two huge Caracao birds in trees just looking at him, and we knew we would need to keep a close eye.  Plus, when he gets the stickers in his paws, he doesn’t seem exactly sure what to do with them, so we are spending lots of time cutting them out of his hair.  Soooo glad we didn’t pay to have him groomed, because that really would have been a waste.  Despite lots of sandy places to go we couldn’t get him to poop that first day.  The truck noise was really freaking him out and he kept getting distracted when we tried to take him out.  He didn’t have any accidents thankfully, but we spent lots of time trying to get him to go to the bathroom, which made our day a little harder.

The second full day though Lee decided to attack the problem.  First he put up our popup tent in the hopes that Jack would feel more comfortable with a place to stay inside as the trucks went by.  We also tried numerous places where we could put the lead rope, and finally I found the perfect spot where he couldn’t get in the road, but could wander around a bit near the rig.

Lee putting up the tent. We bought the sides while in Oregon and they really help with the wind at night and setting sun during the day

 

Lee even put this little fan up that Greg had given us! Fancy!! We also had a table to charge the iPad, a desk lamp, and a heater. It’s like a little room now.

 

Lee taking the stickers out of Jack’s foot. Thankfully he’s really patient when we do it.

 

The lead allows him to get on the stairs, go in the little room, and go behind the rig a little.

 

He can even get on one of the chairs

These changes, along with Jack getting used to the road sounds seemed to help and he finally pooped.  Since then he has been going frequently although not on a regular schedule.  Part of the problem is his sleep pattern is interrupted. He really likes to be with us, and isn’t taking well to being left alone in the rig while we are outside.  So, he is sleeping with Lee from 9:30pm until 4am and then taking a walk and then coming back to sleep with me until noon.  I know that’s too long to be in bed, but he prefers that to being alone.  He did spend a little bit of time just hanging out alone in the rig today, so hopefully over time we can work on that.

Our biggest concern is that he doesn’t really have time to be a puppy so we started doing a couple of things to help with that.  We are taking him for lots of extra walks and in the evening, when it’s slow we do let him off leash for just a little bit.  Lee stands at one end of the road and I at the other and we call him and he runs back and forth. We are keeping a close eye because of course the we don’t want him to take off, but since it is for a short period of time so far it’s OK.

The puppy can run!! Update: unfortunately he got a little courageous and wouldn’t run just to us, so no more zoomies while we are here, unfortunately. 

He also has discovered that at night there are moths flying around the lights and goes crazy on leash jumping and catching them.  I got a little worried because he was chomping so many but looked it up and moths appear to be OK.  It makes him really happy so I am letting him do it for a little while at least, again when it is slow at night.  Actually things have started out slow at this gate and I am super grateful.  Don’t know what this would have looked like with a steady stream of trucks, so appreciate the time to get us all situated. Now that we have gotten things set up, we are largely following his lead.  If he wants out on the lead or inside with people we try to let him have his way. Like I said not sure what that looks like when it gets busier but its the least we can do for the little guy. I will say all the drivers think he’s pretty cute and as Mikki mentioned they do go much slower when they see him.  He’s adjusting as are we and I am sure in no time he will be a spoiled, experienced gate dog.

My little ranch dog with the straw in his mouth 🙂


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

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.

 

Jack Arrives at His First Gate

This was a weird year for us in finding a gate guarding job, but in all fairness that may have been due to when we came.  In the past we did Beets, Trees, or Amazon in November and December and this is the first time we came down in November and tried to get a gate.  What we didn’t know when we made that choice was that gates are very slow in November because of the holidays and hunting season.  Many of these ranches double (or triple) as oil fields, cattle ranches, and deer hunting areas.  In order to give their clients a pleasant experience, many don’t schedule heavy truck traffic during hunting season. It’s also a common time that the workers want off as well, and between all of those factors not many new gates open.

Of course there are existing gates and they can become available to those of us waiting at any time, but unfortunately the few we were offered did not allow pets.  I knew having Jack might be a bit of a handicap, but since I know many people who stay busy gate guarding and have pets I didn’t think it would be that big of a factor.  Unfortunately the openings were either gates or shacks and the shacks were an issue for us as well.  The shacks are twelve hours and since it is more desirable for couples to work together, that’s how people are often scheduled.  We knew we couldn’t leave Jack alone for 12 hours a day, so we wanted opposite shifts, and it was a while before that became available.

We also talked to several companies about pipeline jobs which are new to us and pretty hot this year.  Initially we were told they had pipeline jobs at $300 a day where one person worked out of their rig and the other worked from the car, but eventually we learned these weren’t very common.  For $150 a day lots of people are working 12 hour shifts (dawn to dusk) from their car and if you have two vehicles that could be $300 a day.  Unfortunately we don’t have two vehicles (although we did talk about renting a second vehicle at $750 a month), but again Jack was an issue.  Twelve hours is just too long to leave a dog caged and since he is not fully trained, we wouldn’t have any other choice.  Plus I really didn’t like the idea of sitting in a vehicle for twelve hours with no fridge, a port-a-john, and in many cases no internet.

Finally, we accepted a W-2 shack position that we could work opposite twelve hour shifts ($12.50 an hour with eight hours of paid OT a week, and four days on then four days off), but at the last minute Lee said he really didn’t want to do it.  He probably could have handled the hours, and we would pay for our own RV park, but the rate was controlled at $350, but the uniform was a bit of a killer.  Steel toed shoes and company provided polos were no issue, but we had to wear khakis. I actually have several pair that I brought when we went on the road, but Lee doesn’t have any.  We could have bought them of course, but he was very concerned about laundering them.  No way would they be wrinkle free using our Splendide which meant using our very small travel iron and dorm sized ironing board. If you knew Lee you would understand that he just doesn’t wear wrinkled clothes, and the hassle of keeping those pants wrinkle free living in our RV really turned him off. He had other “gut feeling” issues about it as well.

Thankfully when I called an apologized and asked if they could put us on their waiting list for a 24 hour gate where we could work out of our rig they had a recent opening.  We immediately accepted the position and since the gate started the next day, we packed up, said goodbye to our friends, and drove 3 hours down to the gate which is north of Laredo.  In previous years I probably would have had concerns about working so close to the border, but with the increased border presence I wasn’t concerned.  Plus we are 3 miles from a border patrol station and located in a pretty safe place.

Jack had no idea that we were about to leave his friend Hobie and the only place he has known since we got him.  It’s been a blessing being in one place while he got settled in, but we knew he was going to have a crazy day and we hoped he would be OK with it.

Lee played ball with Jack and Hobie before we left.  They both had a lot of fun

We found time to play a little before we left and then got into the car.  The ride in the truck is much rougher when we are towing and the roads in San Antonio are in pretty bad shape from construction.  He did OK, no throwing up thankfully, but we were unable to get him to go to the bathroom when we stopped at a truck stop.  So far we have never been able to get him to go, since he seems overwhelmed by smells, but thankfully he has a good bladder and so far not an issue.  I was more worried when we finally made it to the general area of the gate because we had a 20 minute wait on the supervisor to show us the way and still couldn’t get him to go.

He usually lays on the floor behind my seat but it was pretty rough so he curled up next to us.

Are we there yet??

Then we arrived at the gate and as always, it was a flurry of activity.  You are trying to set up, they often have a second trailer and are hooking you up to water and a generator, and there is always some “training” as well.  I didn’t want to leave him in the car and the RV was still a mess so ended up walking him on a leash.  It wasn’t the best choice, and if I had it to do all over again, I probably would have left him in the truck longer.  The gate is very nice, with a wide spot and very dog friendly.  We are very close to the road, and realized he would need to stay on a short lead to ensure he didn’t get in the way.  At this point, Jack was overwhelmed by smells and sights and the occasional semi-truck going through was not helping.  He did fine with the smaller vehicles, but the big trucks really freaked him out.

Settling into our spot. Luckily Lee didn’t need my help backing up because I had Jack.

Thankfully our supervisor was understanding and gave us time to put out the slides and open up enough I could put Jack in his crate.  Then we spent an hour going over paperwork and training, which was actually pretty great because often in the past we have just been thrown on a gate.  This one has an iPad and I really like the interface as it is much simpler than the iPad we worked on with another company.  The one downside to starting a new gate with an iPad was the extra time it takes to get people entered that first time (subsequent visits they are easy to pull up) and we knew tomorrow would be a long day.

I’m a gate guarding dog!

After the supervisor left, we ate a quick dinner and then tried to get Jack to go to the bathroom.  Initially he was having none of it, but eventually we found a place he would go.  That’s when we learned that this part of Texas has little burrs, and tons of them.  Jack’s paws were covered with them by the time he finally went and I spent another 30 minutes cutting them out.  Keeping him on the dirt or pavement definitely helps, but we he wants to go in the grass, which is full of them.  At this point we were all exhausted and Lee had a 6am start the next day.  We weren’t sure exactly how we were going to manage Jack, but I knew I had to try and stay up so I could start night shift the next night.

Don’t get me wrong, we are both thrilled to finally be working, but first days at gates are always stressful and worrying about Jack didn’t help.  Partly we weren’t sure what to do, partly this was his first experience out in the world.  We are still dealing with normal puppy stuff which is hard enough in a sticks and bricks, but super challenging when you are working and moving around.  Hopefully he settles in pretty soon, and we do as well!  On the plus side I bought a light up rug on clearance at Camping World a few months ago and it is working great.  I hated that I couldn’t see in the darkness under the rig (rattlesnakes!) and this does a great job of lighting that area up.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

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.

We Try Grooming Jack

In between Lee working on the rig, we  decided to try grooming Jack.  One of our readers mentioned he did it himself and as long as you didn’t want it to look perfect it worked pretty well.  I actually like the slightly scruffy look, so that wasn’t a concern for me, but I was worried about using the clippers.  I have never in my life used clippers for anything and wasn’t even sure how they worked exactly.  Thankfully, Lee jumped in to help and we both watched a really good You-Tube video.  The dog in the video even looks like Jack, which gave me more confidence.

For once we decided to not over-complicate things and decided to just give it a try.  Lee pulled out our very handy table and mimicking what we have seen groomers do we put him on the table. I’ll be honest at this point we would have been in real trouble if he kicked up a fuss, but aside from a little shaking he did just fine. I held his head up…not sure why but that’s what they do at the groomers.  Honestly it didn’t seem that necessary.  Lee ran the clippers down his body going the same as the flow of the hair and it just started coming off.  The hardest part was figuring out which of the 4 clipper guards to use.  We ended up randomly selecting 3 but really I think we could have gone a little shorter.

Close up view

The body was pretty easy. although Lee had a bit of a tougher time around the legs.  Since he’s a puppy and pretty bony we went easy there.  Once Lee completed one side, we switched so Lee (who is left handed) could do the other side. Then he did the top of the head and the butt under the tail.  We left the ears and tail alone and later I trimmed up the face with blunt scissors that came with the grooming kit.

We had more fun than Jack, but he hung in there, Pro tip: have a bag ready for the loose hair. We didn’t really think that through.

The hardest part was the stomach and this is where Jack got a little squirmy.  In the video they suggested holding him up like he was walking on two legs but he didn’t like that.  Instead we laid him on his side and then flipped him and did the other part.  With the belly you can go against the way the hair flows which makes it much easier in places.  After we were all done we let him run around a bit and then Lee gave him a bath.  I have been giving him a bath once a week, but Lee really wanted to scrub him down.  Jack again hung in there, but you could tell when he was all wet he was pretty disgruntled.

Wet puppy! I don’t own a blow dryer so we just let him air dry.

Once he was dry I let him run around and of course he immediately rolled in the grass.  Still I think it turned out pretty good, and he wasn’t traumatized or anything.  I am not saying we will never take Jack to a groomer again, not crazy about trimming the nails myself for example, but as a “keep the shaggy down” cut I think this will work pretty good! Judge for yourself.

Jack to the left and Hobie to the right.

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

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.