Mouse, Gate Guard Ladies, and a Rattlesnake

I know crazy title…right?  But it’s been a crazy kind of a week, and things were all over the place.  Before I get into it though, the very best part of my week was getting the results of Kyrston’s ultrasound and finding out she is having a baby boy!!  I loved having daughters but have always wanted to be able to do the boy stuff!  So that’s pretty cool. And the baby looks perfectly healthy and normal which is the most important thing.  He’s definitely photogenic as you can see from the picture 🙂

Baby Boy Klouse

OK, so back to the week.  Well, first of all we had a mouse and it was a big one.  We see signs of mice pretty regularly in the belly of the RV, but rarely do we see them in the rig itself.  It was a quiet night and I was watching TV, when a fat one scurried across the living room floor.  Jack was napping and didn’t even see it, but the next night he did and spent quite a bit of time growling at the area by the sink.  He kept looking at me as if he didn’t know what to do and I wasn’t sure either.  On the one hand if he caught the mouse that would be good, but then I would have to deal with it.  Ultimately he didn’t go after it and Lee caught it in a trap the next day.  That was a relief!

The next day was more excitement because I was meeting up with a group of Gate Guard Ladies.  I have been in a Facebook group with these women for a couple of years, but have never been close enough to attend one of their gatherings.  This lunch was in Cotulla, only 30 minutes away, and I was thrilled I would be able to go.  I was a little nervous of course because I had never met any of them in person, but turns out they were a great group of women and the Mexican restaurant they picked was pretty yummy.

Small Mexican restaurant


The restrooms were clean and had this VERY unique “redneck plunger” in the corner which cracked me up. I have a couple of friends who might like one of these.


Wonderful group of women. As you can see I’ve put on a few pounds gate guarding.  I’ve been baking quite a bit and it’s definitely having an impact lol!

As someone who is blessed with a really close group of full timer friends, I always find it interesting to see how new groups of full timers I encounter will compare.  What I affirmed was that there are as many ways to live this lifestyle as there are people living it.  There were people in the group that were brand new full timers and others who had been on the road for ten years.  One thing that I found interesting was several of us started full timing with little RVing experience, which is more common I think than people realize. Most of these women gate guard most of the year and although they have tried other jobs, they prefer it because of the freedom.  There is relatively minimal hassle or drama in these gate guarding jobs and many of the women tried camp hosting and much preferred this type of work.  One thing we all agreed on was it was a good way to sock away some cash and although we all had vastly different approaches to how we covered the hours, there were lots of commonalities.  The conversation just flowed and I really enjoyed getting to know them.  And if you are a woman who ever gets a gate guarding job, I highly recommend this group.

I was the first one to leave because I had to stop at the store and get home to relieve Lee.  He starts his day at 3am and I didn’t want him to work too late.  I was barely home and we had just unloaded the groceries when we had a unsettling incident.  One of the oilfield guys pulled in and told us he had seen a huge rattlesnake on the road heading towards our rig and intentionally run over it.  He knows us from this and other gates and was trying to help us out.  Unfortunately it wasn’t completely dead, so we watched to make sure the road was clear and he ran back over it again.  Super nice guy!

Lee talking to the driver


This was the snake in the road we could see it was still moving


A huge semi came down the road but missed it!


So the driver backed over it again for us!


Lee went out later and took this pick. He said its body was as big as his arm.


Although we have had one up close and personal experience with a rattlesnake in Arizona (see blog post here) this is a little different because now we have Jack.  I take him for walks at night and he loves going into the nearby brush, but I’ll need to make sure he stays in the road.  I’ll also have to make sure I wear the head lamp when I go out and it becomes very important to always look down.  This is the first time in three years we have seen one even this close and we have been really lucky.  In the past we were at gates with lots of hawks and/or road runners and they do a great job of keeping them away.  Plus, we usually leave before it gets warm enough to have to deal with them, but the past couple of days have been on the warm/humid side.  In any event we will keep an eye out and it caused enough excitement that it was definitely worth mentioning.

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First Close Encounter with a Rattlesnake and Canyon Lake

Friday morning Cori and Greg headed out bright and early, and since we didn’t have any plans until lunch Lee decided to empty some of the grey tank into our blue boy so he could do a little laundry and still have a full gray tank to flush when we leave on Sunday. Because it sits up in the bed of the truck, Lee pumps the grey water through a macerator pump and into the tank and then drives it to the dump station.  He had just finished filling it and was walking to the truck to drive it down when he saw a 5 foot rattlesnake between the grassy area and the driver’s door.  Thankfully he was being aware. I’ll be honest, I have been paying close attention when we are out on the paths, but around the campsite I have been less than vigilant.

The diamond pattern on the back shows it is a diamondback. I didn’t even notice until Lee pointed it out. Too busy looking at the head where the fangs are.


They really blend in


I appreciate they serve an important purpose in the ecosystem, but Yikes!!

I texted Deb and she came over and we all tried to shoo it away from the truck. Unfortunately the snake was having none of it, and after throwing pebbles towards it to encourage to move along, and even a couple of larger items what worked was when I turned the generator on.  They don’t like vibration and that worked, although it took it’s sweet time.  We heard later from a local that if you have a hose handy spraying them with water works very well, so that’s good to know, but it wasn’t easy using what we had at hand.  And that wasn’t all! When Lee returned, there was another much larger snake under the rig, but we don’t think it was a rattler. It meandered around for a few minutes under the rig and then worked it’s way over to the picnic table and under a nearby bush. I was feeling decidedly uneasy.

My concern is that my eyesight isn’t that good, and now I feel I need to walk everywhere looking at the ground all the time.  For the record, this one never rattled once despite the fact that we were annoying it, so you can’t really rely on that.  For the next couple of days I was obsessively looking under everything, and really for me that’s not my favorite way to live.  In all fairness this was our first snake encounter of any kind in 2-1/2 years on the road and they really don’t come out when the weather is cooler, but it definitely is part of desert living, and you should know it’s always a possibility.

The next morning we had bunnies and I was obviously way happier about that

After our snake encounter we left to meet Chloe and Dale for lunch.  Chloe reads the blog, grew up in the area, and reached out to see if we wanted to meet up.  We had met briefly in Quartzsite and they know many people we know, but Lee had never met them.  I asked for a reasonably priced local restaurant and they recommended the Iowa Cafe which serves breakfast and lunch.  I loved the food there.  Large portions, reasonably priced, and attentive service.  We had a great conversation with Chloe and Dale and they were a font of information about the area.  Since we are definitely coming back here we were excited to add some “local” places to our list and we also really enjoyed learning about them.  Dale was a real live cowboy for awhile (which piques Lee’s interest) and Chloe was a steamboat captain for awhile.  Very interesting people, and really glad we got to meet them.  Plus she made Lee a lemon pie with real lemons from her garden and it was a big hit at dinner that night.

Dale, me, and Chloe (I was trying to get Dale to smile for the picture and he was humoring me!)

Lemon pie!

That night Steve, Deb, Kat, Bert, and Lee and I all ate together, but everyone just brought the leftovers from their fridge.  This is a fun way to eat, and everyone feeds each other, so I gave Steve leftover hot dogs, Bert fed Deb chicken legs, and Lee ate leftover steak.  Meals like that always manage to come together and are a great way of cleaning out the fridge.  We had a fire and talked some more and then called it a night because Saturday morning we were going kayaking with Deb and Steve at Canyon Lake.  We have an inflatable Sea Eagle Fast Track kayak which is great, but for one reason or another we barely get to use.  Deb and Steve use their kayak pretty frequently and wanted to show us a special spot they found.  We got up early and left around 9:15am after saying goodbye to Kat and Bert.  They had an all day family event and we weren’t sure we would see them before we left.  So glad we got to hang out though, and know them better, and they may be heading to Oregon this summer, so hopefully we will get to see them there also.  Either way, once you connect with people it’s easier than you would think to meet up with them in your travels so I know we will see them down the road.

Before heading to the lake we did have to stop and get a day pass.  Most gas stations sell them and they are $8 per vehicle, so we grabbed a pass and headed out. The drive itself to the lake was absolutely beautiful.  The road was very curvy and went through Tonto National Forest.  We stopped and took several pictures  at scenic vistas and the views were great.

The pointed rock in the back is Weaver’s Needle. Deb said the view is much better from the other side, so she’s already planned a hike for us to take next time we are here 🙂

Extra bonus of being with friends is we can get pictures of the two of us. Deb took this one

Someone buried their dog here. Deb and I were very touched by that.

I loved, loved this formation. The picture doesn’t do it justice.

We arrived pretty early at the lake and it was starting to fill up.  It’s actually three lakes with three dams and connecting waterways and supports larger boats and a marina.  We went to the very end and put our kayaks in along the edge.  Since there is some chop on the lake from the bigger boats we stayed near the edge and went around the corner , under the bridge, and into a narrow waterway.  Wow!!  Deb and Steve find the coolest places, and although the section isn’t very long, paddling with the cliff walls on either side was amazing.  We went to the end and then turned around and had some lunch in the boats (that requires some coordination) and then headed back out. Stunning, and unfortunately the pictures simply don’t do it justice.  I am a much better photographer on dry land lol.

Bridge we kayaked under to get to the canyon

Steve, Hurley, and Deb

Good fishing at the entrance

The entrance was around the smaller rock in the front

There were only a couple other kayaks we met along the way, it was very quiet and peaceful



I loved this rock.!

We reached the end and you could hike from there, but we didn’t have the shoes for it so we turned around and headed back out

Going back out was even prettier than coming in

Love how the plants grow on the rock walls

We ate our lunch tucked back in here

Since it was a shorter paddle than Deb remembered and Lee really wanted to see the other side of the lake we decided to try and make our way across.  We stayed along the edge on the way out and looked into a few inlets and even got to see one of the dams and a cute baby duck.  When we made it to the main waterway for the boats, I was ready to call it quits and looked up and saw a mountain sheep high up on the  cliff.  Got some decent shots with the long lens despite the water being choppy, but then I was ready to go back.  We all decided to try to go straight across the lake and we made it fine, but my shoulders are pretty sore today.

Overview of the lake.  Black arrow to the right is where we started.  We went around the edge in the front of the picture to the second arrow on the left where we saw the sheep.  Then we went straight across to get back.  I was pretty proud of Lee and I since we aren’t experienced kayakers and it took less time than I would have thought to complete all of that.

The speed boats were courteous but there was unavoidable chop

Loved, loved the bright green of the lichen on the rocks

One of the three dams

Around the bend to the left of Deb and Steve’s kayak is the main waterway

Saw the sheep on the top of a rock this high.  See Deb and Steve kayak at the bottom for scale.



Not bad considering the bounce. Hard to keep the camera steady

After kayaking we headed back and got ready for Lee’s step sister Lisa, and her husband Dave.  They live in Gilbert and she reached out and wanted to come see the rig.  They aren’t RVers, so we gave them the nickel tour, and then I made Boursin Chicken for dinner.  I like making real dinners when non-rvers come to visit so they can see it isn’t all hamburgers and hot dogs and the chicken is simple but still a little fancy.  We even used regular plates and Lee busted out a table cloth so we were super fancy!!

Lee getting ready

Lisa and Dave talking to Deb

From left: Dave, Steve, Deb, and Lisa (Check out Lisa and Deb.  Seriously I need to start hanging out around less attractive people I am starting to get a complex :P)

Dave, Lisa, me, and Lee

We got to know Dave and they had lots of questions about the lifestyle which was really fun to talk about.  The six of us had a nice dinner and a campfire and then Lisa presented a HUGE apple pie.

Seriously monster pie with my hand for scale.

OK, let’s talk about the pie a little.  It’s so sweet that everyone gives Lee pie, and he is incredibly grateful, but I do want to go on record here that the man is definitely not suffering in the dessert department, despite his post/Facebook comments to the contrary.  So please know that pie is always appreciated, but it’s not like he needs the pie or his life won’t be complete. (Don’t pay any attention to her, she’s getting older and starting to get a little loopy. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. There is no such thing as too much pie, or too many pies, and it brings such joy to our friends and relatives to give me pie, who am I to stand in the way of making the world a better place? It might be the best thing that happens to them all day, what kind of person would take that away from someone? She’s really mean. – Lee)

Anyway, we had a lovely talk and I really enjoyed getting to know Lisa better, and we both were really glad to meet Dave. She is a beautiful person inside and out, and since they live so close to one of our new favorite places I am excited about seeing more of her and her family and in the future.  Next up Cottonwood, Sedona, and Flagstaff.  We are packing a lot in during our time off, but it’s great because I don’t feel pressured or rushed in anyway.  Really like traveling like this with short hops to the next destination.


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