Well we are still hanging out at our gate and enjoying the lower volume of traffic although things have picked up a little. We really have no clue at this point how long this gate will be open, but had reminded them that our final day will be March 16th, just in case the gate is still open. here, but are enjoying racking up the cash while we can. As our gate guarding time ticks away I have been focusing on finishing up those tasks that aren’t as easy to do when we are traveling. I’ve gathered all the tax documents and definitely will be knocking that out while we are here, although I am not really looking forward to it. We have a great tax guy, Travel Tax, who specializes in taxes for traveling people, and although I really like the job he has done, the workbook we fill out for him is pretty extensive. Plus I have to create a profit and loss statement for our business, which takes some time. It’s just not something I am that crazy about doing, especially because I never have a good idea on how it will turn out until I get to the end. Finishing this was a huge load of my mind and one less thing to worry about. This is the first year we are 100% financed by non-corporate money and I really have no idea how it will all turn out in the end. But it’s out of my hands now and to some extent it is what it is.
I wasn’t really planning on writing a blog post until something interesting happened, but the last couple of days have been a little weird. Especially because we sit here for days on end with the same old routine, and then something odd happens, which really stands out. The first thing that happened yesterday was we received a visit from the Texas Environmental Agency. Thankfully Lee was wearing his safety vest and we are up to date on our licensing because those are things they check. We knew it was somewhat unusual that they came though and weren’t really sure what to do. At this point we have no idea who is in charge of the project and no one has given us a card with contact information. Don’t get me wrong, a variety of “company men” are in and out of here on a regular basis, but we don’t know which one, if any, is actually in charge so we just sent the truck back to the site.
They didn’t stay long, which I suppose is a good sign, and I did let a couple of the company men know. The next day we got a visit from the environmental arm of the company who monitors the site and he asked Lee a series of questions. The thing is, on this job at least, our job is simply to write down names and license plate numbers. When asked more details such as what equipment they brought with them, we have no idea. Lee handled it very well and even learned a little bit about what was going on, which is pretty interesting. The next bit is anecdotal, so take it for what it is worth, but I thought it had the ring of truth to it.
Not everyone who lives in this area has land that can be drilled. That surprised me because I guess I figured all land in the area has some oil under it and people were just waiting until the time was right to develop it. Under those circumstances it’s not surprising that some of the land owners aren’t that happy. And I get it, the guy down the road from you gets rich overnight, but through bad luck you don’t get to cash in. And this is where it gets anecdotal, but people being people it wouldn’t surprise me if it was true. Some people who aren’t as lucky look for other ways to cash in. They submit environmental complaints in order to try and force a purchase of their land since it is being impacted. In all fairness maybe it is, seriously what do I know? I just find the whole dynamic pretty fascinating and thought I would pass the story along because it was something that never really occurred to me. And to be clear, since I have gotten some complaints that I get “political” when I talk about this sort of thing, that is not my intention. It’s just a completely different environment than anything we have ever experienced and I am trying to find a way to describe it.
Along those lines that next thing that happened was also pretty strange. A truck pulled in and I walked up writing down the license plate when the driver honked his horn at me. That startled me to be honest, because it was loud, and I have a routine. I walked over to the vehicle and the gentleman inside said he wasn’t staying so I didn’t have to write the information down. At that point I looked quizzically at him and he asked who we worked for. After I told him, he said he worked for a different company and they were hiring, and then he just stared at me. I just stood there unsure of what to say and then he continued. He said, very abruptly, they were paying $175 a day, and at that point I thought I should say something. I told him we were already making that rate and after this gate were heading north and not gate guarding through the summer. I wasn’t really sure what else I was supposed to say, and the guy just kept staring at me, and to be honest the whole encounter felt somewhat hostile. What did he expect me to do, pack up my rig and follow him? And the entire encounter was extremely unprofessional in my mind, despite the fact that we are independent contractors.
I like the fact that we are not tied to any particular company and can go to whichever job suits us the best. That being said, I can’t imagine leaving a job in mid-stream with no notice unless something really egregious happened. We made a commitment, and the company is keeping it’s end of the bargain, so why burn that bridge. And although I don’t think there is anything wrong with some friendly recruiting, in my mind that is absolutely not the way to go about it. If anything the encounter made me far less likely to work for them in the future, and again to be clear it wasn’t so much the conversation itself but rather the way in which is was handled. We approach every job we take with a level of professionalism and I hope that never changes. I may be wearing T-Shirts and jeans in these jobs that I do but that doesn’t mean my ethic is any different. I am fully aware that many people disagree with that approach and more power to them, but that’s just the way Lee and I handle and I hope we will continue to do so.
On a funnier note, this last story was just silly. When we replaced the toilet, we set the old one next to the water trailer in the field behind us and just kept forgetting to run it to trash container in town. Although you can’t see it from the road, every time it caught my eye it really bothered me. So while Lee was on the phone with his parents the other day I decided to at least move it into the bed of the truck. When I went to pick it up, it was surprisingly heavy and I had to stop halfway to the truck and set it down in the road. As soon as I did a mound of dirt came out which was crawling with fire ants. Thankfully I only got one bite and was able to jump back pretty quickly. Lee, who saw it from far away on his phone initially thought that it was poop. Thankfully that was not the case, but fire ants are no joke. They were building a nest inside of the toilet and I was stunned by how many of them there were. It could have been worse though as my sister reminded me when I was telling her the story. She started laughing because she thought I was going to tell her one of the truck drivers had used it, and the visual of that happening cracked me up. The entire incident really drove home how different my life is now, but in a good way. Something like that happening in my prior life would have evoked feelings of embarrassment or horror. The new and improved Tracy just thought it was funny though, and took it in stride. From my perspective that is progress although I don’t plan on having toilets in my yard on a regular basis 🙂
So that’s it for now, and I’ll let you know if anything else happens. We have told the company that our last day will be March 16th, and have made some arrnagement to have some work rig work done. Then we are headed to the RV-Dreams reunion rally where I can’t wait to reunite with some friends. Afterwards we will be touring Utah and getting some million dollar views. We appreciate you guys hanging in there over the last couple of months, because I know this hasn’t been very exciting. It’s an accurate representation of our life though, and since we have to finance this lifestyle, months like these are necessary to making this all work. Hopefully the excitement of the next couple of months will more than balance it out!
Oh and I also wanted to mention that the campgrounds I will be managing this summer are already pretty booked. If you are planning on being in Oregon during the summer and thinking about trying to stop by and see us, you might want to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can coordinate. Our friends Deb and Steve went to make reservations and almost all of the weekends were already booked. It worked out ok because we are going to have Tuesdays and Wednesdays off and they were able to find a spot during those days, but we were both surprised by how many spots were already reserved. Cell service is pretty spotty up at Timothy Lake so if you are working you probably want to keep that in mind. And the sites have no services at all so the ability to boondocking will be required. Despite those inconveniences the reason it is booked is because the campgrounds sit on a beautiful lake with views of Mount Hood. Well worth the visit if you are in the area.
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