Workamping, Gate Guard, Earning Money While Traveling in an RV, Oil Field Gate Guard, Gate Guarding, Gate Guarding in Texas, Oil Field Gate Attendant, Gate Guard
After 5 weeks I'm very happy that we are finally back to work. We had three companies in mind that we wanted to work for, so we held out until a gate became available with one of them. We turned down a gate offered by one company that we didn't feel we had a future with. We are currently at a gate 10.6 miles west of Hwy 83. The closest town is Catarina, which is 13 miles away. The closest post office is in Asherton, which is 18 miles. The closest grocery store is in Carrizo Springs which is 28 miles away, and we are 74 miles north of Laredo. Yes, we are closer to the border than we would like to be, and on Tuesday, our first day here (we arrived late Monday), we had two young illegal men show up at our gate. We gave them food and water and called Border Patrol. I get flack some times from other gate guards about feeding the illegals, but I really don't care. A lunch meat sandwich is not going to break me nor get me in trouble with Border Patrol, whom we see a lot of lately. Last night David did not get his customary nap from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. as Border Patrol was in an out the gate numerous times.
Today marks 4 weeks that we've been in an RV Park in Somerset Texas waiting for a job. There are a LOT of different Gate Guard Companies out there but we are being a bit selective. We probably could have gotten on with one of the lower paying companies but we're down here to make money so we're holding out for a company that we want to work for long term.
I think our downfall was that we switched from LOMA to Guard 1 Services, LLC and then ended up not wanting to stay with Guard 1 Services because we did not like using the IPAD to log the traffic in and out. (We used the IPAD for a month in the Bryan, Texas area and then went to a non-IPAD gate near Big Wells for two months) We LOVED everything else about Guard 1 Services, such as they pay every week, they deduct the taxes, they offer health, dental and vision insurance, and their equipment was very good. But we just did not want to deal with the IPAD any more. It's not hard to use, but we had a terrible time seeing the screen in the bright sunlight. At times I'd take the photographs and type the information in, then go over to the shade, only to find that there was nothing there! I had somehow lost all the information. It was a real pain. We've referred several people to Guard 1 Services, only to have them let us know that they don't like the IPAD either, so I don't think we'll be referring anyone else there. That's just our opinion and I'm sure others love using the IPAD. We would go back to Guard 1 Services in a heartbeat if we did not have to use it.
In the meantime we've been walking two to three miles a day, doing some hobbies, and exploring the area on the cheap as much as possible. When we went kayaking recently near Gruene, Texas, we stopped at a craft type festival and saw some neat RV signs so we decided to make our own. This is David working on a replica of our RV, which we will mount on a stake or post.
These are tiles that we purchase at the market in San Antonio and make them into hot food trivets. I think the fun part is putting different designs together.
Here is a finished trivet. Someone will probably get this Kokopelli hot food trivet for Christmas. We build a frame then use grout to set the tiles in.
We took Romeo and Juliette to the Castroville Regional Park on the Medina River recently. They have an RV Park there, swimming pool, lots of hiking trails and a place to play in the river. If anyone has a smaller rig, this is a nice and inexpensive place to park for a while. Unfortunately our rig is too big to squeeze in. Romeo and Juliette had lots of fun playing in the river.
Please wish us luck on locating a job with another good Gate Guard company . . . soon!
We routinely see this family of 4 Javalenas wandering around. It's always a thrill (and a bit scary) seeing them.
Yes, I'm afraid we just found out we have to leave. The hole in the ground has been drilled and they're moving the rig out. We really like it here and sure hate to go, but that's the nature of this business. We will be leaving some time within the next week, we don't know when, and we don't know where we'll end up next. We hope to stay with Guard 1 Services as we really like this company so we hope they have another gate for us. Here's a few photos of our time at this ranch.
The photo above is where they were bringing a part of the rig in, and it was too wide to fit through the gate. OOPS! They took a few pieces off and all was well.
One of our night time visitors.
A little bit of rain brings out the turtles and the frogs.
It looks like David is riding his bike with the Javalenas but they are actually about 20 yards away from him. This is the family of four that we keep seeing, two adults and two babies. It's been so hot here with temperatures over 100 every day so we wait until about 7:30 p.m., when the temperatures get down to a more reasonable 80 degrees or so before we ride the bike and walk the dogs.
More of the local critters. These guys get pretty BIG.
The First Baptist Church in Cotulla hosts a complimentary luncheon once a month for the Gate Guard ladies and one for the Gate Guard men. I went to one last Tuesday and had good food and good conversation. E-mail me if you want more specific information.
I'll let you know where we land. That's all folks.
Our newest location near Big Wells, Texas
If you've been following my blog posts, you know we went from west of Pearsall to Corpus Christi/Port Aransas to Bryan/College Station, to Houston, and now . . .back to southwest Texas as we are now at a gate near Big Wells. We really like our current location as we are not terribly far from Carrizo Springs where there is a very small Wal-Mart and a nice HEB and we are 3 miles off the highway so we don't get a lot of people stopping all hours of the night, asking for directions.
We are currently working for Guard 1 Services, LLC and we can give them great recommendations. We are provided with 550 gallons of water, fuel weekly and septic pump outs as needed. The equipment is very new and in very good condition and well maintained.
With Guard 1 Services, LLC we are employees so we don't have to worry about paying in quarterly taxes and we get paid once a week, via direct deposit. How great is that. Nope, we have nothing to complain about.
Some of the Guard 1 Services, LLC gates require the use of an IPAD to log the traffic in and out and some of the gates do not require it. We are currently on a gate that does not require the use of the IPAD, although we did use one while at Bryan/College Station. I think (and this is only my own personal opinion) that the oil companies would prefer the use
of the IPAD because a photograph is taken of the payload whenever a truck enters and again when it leaves, thus cutting down on theft.
Our grandson had a great time catching the Texas Horned Lizard, pictured about. We've been working in Texas since March of 2011 and we thought we'd seen all the wildlife but we were wrong, as we had never seen any of the Texas Horned Lizards or the Mexican Ground Squirrels. There are a number of cactus plants in the area and when we first arrived at our current gate the cactus plants were loaded down with cactus pear, so we were able to watch the squirrels eat the pears and the lizards eat the ants and other bugs that were eating the pears. Another thing we had never seen in Texas were hares. I looked these guys up on the internet and they are called Black Tailed Hares. Most people around here just call them Jack Rabbits.
The Black Tailed Hare have incredibly long ears and legs and are much larger than the rabbits we are used to seeing.
As our luck would have it we were released from our gate in theCaleb flying his remote controlled helicopter that he bought at Trader's Village. He only crashed it into the neighbor's RV once.
Bryan/College Station area on Friday, July 5th, which of course was right smack dab in the middle of the Independence Day weekend celebrations which means it was IMPOSSIBLE to find an RV site available anywhere anyone wants to be. Yes, it's the exact same thing that happened to us just a few weeks before during the Memorial Day weekend, but we managed. I think most RV'ers
are nothing if not adaptable. We have to be! (The ability to change (or be changed) to fit changed circumstances.) We were eventually able (after the Independence Day weekend) to get an RV site at Trader's Village RV Park in Houston which is in the Northwest outskirts of Houston.
We enjoyed the Trader's Village on the weekend with our 13 year old grandson Caleb who flew into Houston from Kansas City for a visit. (We had previously gotten the go ahead from our gate guard company representative to have a minor on the ranch/oil company leased property). What was really convenient was that we could go to the Trader's Village on the weekend but then when we got too hot we could walk back over to the RV site area and jump in the swimming pool to cool off.
Since we were so close to the ocean (well, technically the Gulf of Mexico) we enjoyed a day at the beach at Galveston Island. Caleb had been to Galveston Island once before but we had never been. The beach is always so relaxing.
While we were in civilization we stocked up on Romeo & Juliette's favorite dog chews (Boots & Barkley chicken wrapped rawhide twists) from Target (we are currently right at 100 miles from the closest Target) and I tried to stock up on my favorite Asiago Cheese Bagels from Panera Bread but, sadly, they were out (but I did get one to eat while we were there). I had my aura read by a nice South Korean Yoga Instructor (more on that some other time). We enjoyed some frozen yogurt, or as the kids say, fro yo. Yes, after being out in the boonies for so long, we were like kids in a candy store.
We enjoyed our time in Houston but I gotta tell you the traffic was TERRIBLE. I can not even tell you how many wrecks there were just while we were there and how many times the interstate was closed down. We've driven in Kansas City, St. Louis, Nashville, Atlanta, Orlando and Dallas to name a few but Houston was the worst of them all.
Then, before we knew it, we got a call to get back to work and head back to West Texas to take a gate near Big Wells, Texas. We weren't ready to go back to work but our wallets sure were.
More later on "West to East and Back Again, Part Quatro."
After our wonderful week of much need R & R (Part Uno) we went to our new gate in the Bryan/College Station area. As you can see from the photos, East Texas is a LOT different from West Texas. Everything was green and the trees were TALL. One thing I especially got a kick out of was the fact that the only cactus I saw the whole time I was there was planted in people's flower beds.
After working in a desert area for the last two years, it was
quite different, not only because it was lush and green, but because there were stores there . . . lots and lots of retail therapy available. It was a regular city with all kinds of grocery stores to choose from and lots of restaurants and they were all close by, as we were only about 5 miles from town.
Bryan/College Station is located Northeast of Austin and Northwest of Houston and is the home of Texas A&M University.
As shown on the above map of the Eagle Ford Shale, we were at the Eastern part of the shale play, in Brazos County. That job lasted only a month for us but we really enjoyed the area while we were there, and David has a new best friend now, by the name of Freddy.
We had cows at our last ranch but here in the Bryan/College Station area, the birds hang around with the cows.
More next time on
"From West to East And Back Again, Part Tres".
Puerto del Sol RV Park, Corpus Christi, Tx
After 8 months we left the ranch west of Pearsall that we really enjoyed (except for that 5 mile bumpy road to civilization) because we wanted to go with a gate guard company that paid a little more. Nothing wrong with that. Before we went to our new ranch we took a few days off and stayed in Corpus Christi and then in Port Aransas for a little vacation and to celebrate our 35 year wedding anniversary. Because we ended up staying at our old gate 2 weeks later than expected (the gate guard company could not cover our gate which meant we couldn't leave) that put us trying to find accommodations during Memorial Weekend which of course is problematic, which is why we ended up staying at two different RV Parks, first in Corpus and then in Port Aransas. Pictured below is the ferry that we took to get on and off the island of Port Aransas. It ferried our truck and RV back and forth. It makes you think about how much weight you have in your RV.Roseate Spoonbill at Pioneer RV Resort, Port Aransas
When we got to Port Aransas we discovered our landing gear would not work so we could not unhook the RV from the truck. Also the slide in our living room would not go out. Camper Clinic in Rockport was able to fix our issues, although it took a while as they had to order parts, etc.Celebrating 35 years together.
Thankfully there was a shuttle bus that operated in Port Aransas and stopped at the Pioneer RV Resort where we were staying, so we were not totally stranded.
We ate lots of good food and enjoyed the beach, the pool and the hot tub at Pioneer RV Resort and met some interesting people. There was lots of pretty birds there, too. We really enjoyed the brisket at Beaches Café & Bakery. I can honestly say it's the best brisket I've ever had and now I know what all the fuss is about!
I don't want you to think we spent ALL our time eating. We also toured the USS Lexington which we could see from the RV Park in Corpus, we did some dolphin watching and explored some local sites.
After our wonderful break we headed off to our new gate outside of Bryan, Texas with a new gate guard company. More about that in my next blog post.
I had a guy come through the gate the other day who told me he had seen a Chupacabra on Hwy 140. I remembered seeing something on television years ago about Chupacabra so I had an idea of what he was talking about. I mentioned it to David who said he saw something the other day on Hwy 140 that appeared to him to be a short haired animal like a dingo or a coyote with mange, he was not sure. The animal was standing on the side of the road looking off into the distance. Anyway, this led me to do some internet research on Chupacabra and what I found, among other interesting speculation, was a video that was very interesting. The animal on the You Tube video below looked to me like a cross between a deer (the head) and a kangaroo (the body). Not sure if there is such a thing as a Chupacabra, but be on the lookout and have your camera ready!
Our plans have changed about every other day recently, but the current plan is to leave here on Saturday and head to Port Aransas for a few days of R&R. We were originally going to leave on the 15th but the company was short handed and couldn't cover the gate so we stayed. This pushed everything back and we didn't realize that put us on R&R during Memorial weekend and of course all the RV Parks are booked for that weekend so we are staying at one RV Park in Port Aransas Saturday and Sunday nights and then moving to Pioneer RV Resort for a few more days. We came back to Texas to gate guard in August of 2012 after spending 3 months in Missouri. We did have one short break right after Christmas when the children came down to visit, but it's time for another break!
We have not seen any rattlesnakes except on the county road while driving back from town. The rattlers below were killed by ranch hands.
Up close and personal view of the fangs and venom of the rattlesnake.
Since we get emails from different people interested in gate guarding requesting the same information, I have added a section on the main page of our website that is called, "Introduction to Gate Guarding" and it's a work in progress but answers some of the more basic questions we get asked the most often. Actually, the question we get asked most often is which is the best gate guard company to go with and of course we can't answer that, as it is different for everyone. It's kind of like asking which is the best flavor of ice cream. My answer would be chocolate or coffee or jamocha. Those are my three favorites but I'm sure a lot of people would not agree that those are the best ones.
Anyway, the best I can tell you if you have to decide if you want to be an employee or an independent contractor (mostly for tax purposes) and then go from there when contacting the different companies.
Several weeks ago I went to the Poteet Strawberry Festival and came home with some strawberries. We wanted to have strawberry shortcake but we couldn't find the little cake cups to make strawberry shortcake and we could not find any angel food cakes ready made so David bought an Angel Food Cake Mix. But the problem was that I don't have a bundt cake pan nor do I have a tube pan so I was not sure if the cake would get baked in the middle. I got on the internet and I found one entry that said try putting a ceramic cup in the middle of your pan (not plastic and not glass). Mind you it did not say it would work, it just said to try it. I tried it and it works!! Without it I don't believe the cake would have gotten baked all the way through.
When it came time to eat the cake David pointed to the hole in the middle of the cake and told me that was my piece because it wouldn't have many calories in it. I'm happy to report that the doctor said David's broken bones will heal . . . eventually.
The following post and photos are courtesy of Ray & Marge Bill.
Ray and I have been full time RV’ers for 3 years. We left our
home and Michigan and decided to explore the country first in a 5th wheel and now in a diesel pusher. We have been given the appropriate name of “The Traveling Gypsies” by Ray’s brother as we seem to drift here and there and back to somewhere again.
This past winter we stayed at an RV park in Medina, TX and enjoyed making new friends and making many trips to both Kerrville and Bandera as Medina is happily situated midway between the two cities.
We made many new friends, including Mac and Bettye, who pulled in one day to a site near ours in the park. As we chatted about the usual stuff, where you are from, what we all did in our previous lives, where we have been and where we are headed Mac and Bettye at some pointe mentioned that they
were gate guards in South Texas.
Our initial response was you are… What? Where? And they proceeded to tell us about their adventures gate guarding. Not only were they having adventures as gate guards they were also getting paid to have those adventures. So we thought… well maybe, could be, let’s see and can we too do this gate guarding thing?
I started reading and researching (and that is also how I found this wonderful “Wandering Wendels” blog). I began calling gate guard companies, some who spoke to me, others did not. I just went down the list and kept calling. When I called LOMA, their rep said, if you want to come to Ft Worth and take a half day class and the test for licensing you can work for us. My next question was how soon can we take the test and off to Ft. Worth we go.
In the meantime, we encountered a glitch in that our refrigerator died on us and we had to wait for repairs and the parts so we left our RV parked and drove our car to Ft. Worth.
We went to Ft. Worth, took the class and the test and since the parts for the fridge were not going to be in until the next week, we took the scenic way back to Medina via Wichita Falls
and Abilene. We even crossed over the Red River into Oklahoma and returned to Texas two minutes later.
After returning to Medina and getting our fridge repaired we headed to Big Wells for two days before being placed at a gate near Asherton. So here we are doing gate guarding in South Texas. It has been very interesting and we thoroughly enjoy meeting all the folks involved in the oil field process.
We have been here three weeks. We have had extremely busy periods and extremely slow periods. We even noticed the border patrol helicopter circling the area across the highway for illegals during daylight with no results. Later that night those illegals showed up at the gate across the fence from us only to be taken away by the border patrol a few
Gate guarding to us is… fast, slow, hot, dry, dusty and most of all very interesting. We are very grateful to our friends Mac &
Bettye and Penny & David for sharing their insights, wisdom and friendship to get us started on this, our latest adventure.
This is the first time I've posted a You Tube Video to my blog, but this one is well worth the watch and listen. It's Kacey Musgraves singing "My House" from her CD entitled, "Same Trailer Different Park." Her home that she's singing about just happens to be an RV. Her style is country/blue grass and she's from Texas. If you've heard Miranda Lambert's new hit song, "This ain't your Mama's Broken Heart", and loved it, as I do, you'll be interested to know that song was written by Kacey Musgraves. She's a very talented singer and songwriter. I hope you enjoy this song as much as we do.
Now someone just needs to write a song about Gate Guarding.