We had a wonderful time on our first cruise. We docked in Roatan, Honduras, where we took a tour of the island and got to pet the monkeys, then to Belize where we went snorkeling and then on to Cozumel where we did the touristy things like shopping.
This little monkey was the sweetest guy ever. I just wanted to put him in my purse and take him home with me!
Neat Mayan and Aztec things to see . . . and purchase.
Yeah, this guy was a bit scary. When he said something about how he wanted to make me his princess, it was time to pay him for the photos and get outta town.
This is the ship we went on, the Carnival Magic.
David's Sister and Mother with us in Roatan, Honduras.
Of course it was very different from the desert that we've been in the past few years. Everything was lush and green with beautiful trees and flowers everywhere.
Okay, no more monkeying around, its back to work for us! But we sure had a nice break. The food, the shows, the Comedy Club, it was all wonderful. Can't wait for our next vacation!
We're still fracking here. (frac or frack, either one is correct). They projected 45 days of frac since they are fracking 11 holes. We've been pretty busy with the frac and the work over rig and the flowback all going on, not to mention the facility and a new facility under construction. We turn in our numbers every day and I think our busiest day so far was 410 vehicles and of course that was when we were having really low temperatures (into the upper 20's at night) with a cold, wet and chill-you-to-the-bone wind. We're thankful for the return to normal South Texas temperatures. This is our third winter doing this Gate Guard gig in South Texas and this winter has been the pits!
The truck drivers from various states and various companies have hauled in about 460 loads of gravel and countless loads of salt and sand. The trucking company names that tickle us are, "Real Mamma's Boys" and "Slobber Dog".
Coyote Catering has been supplying us with tasty meals and that has been such a blessing during this busy time.
We're leaving the gate on Friday, headed to Houston to pick up relatives at the airport, then down to Galveston to catch a seven day cruise on the Carnival Magic. We'll be docking in Belize, Honduras and Cozumel. Then back to this gate for some more frac action.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the day is seeing the beautiful Texas sunset.
Come join us on Wednesday, February 19th at 11:30 a.m. at Esther Rose BBQ. The address is 505 North 1st Street in Carrizo Springs, Texas. The restaurant is located right beside McDonald's on the main drag through town.
Any and all gate guards, male or female, are cordially invited to join us. There is no agenda, we just like to get together every now and then and share good food, visit with old friends and make new ones.
There will be people in attendance who work for different Gate Guard Companies, i.e., TimeKeepers, LOMA, Riata, KC Services, Gate Guard Services and maybe others as well. Shoot me an email at WanderingWendels@yahoo.com if you'd like to join us so I can tell Esther Rose how many of us to expect.
David (my partner) is planning to attend the February lunch, gate traffic and weather permitting.
For future reference we are planning to have a gate guard lunch get together in Carrizo Springs on the third Wednesday of every month.
We've been receiving a number of emails lately from people interested in gate guarding and from people who have received their Texas Department of Public Safety Private Security Level II license but continue to wait for a gate. Now does not appear to be the time to get into this business, as most of the gate guard companies are full up and not hiring. It seems more and more people want to gate guard and the market appears to be getting flooded at the current time. Come April most of the snowbirds and winter Texans will be headed north for cooler, more tolerable climate and that would be the time to get your feet wet in the oil patch.
Some of the gate guard companies give priority to their former employees, which is nice.
We get asked quite often which is the best company to go with and my answer at the present time is whichever company has a gate available. There's nothing wrong with contacting all the different companies and either getting put on their waiting list, if they have one, or calling them on a regular basis to let them know you are still here and waiting. Most companies will require you to be in the general area if you are serious about getting a gate, and a number of the companies have yards where you can hook up for little or no cost while you wait for a gate to become available.
If you go to the main WanderingWendels.com webpage, there is a tab called "Introduction To Gate Guarding" and I have included a number of gate guard companies there, along with their contact information. There are many more that I have not listed, as new companies seem to pop up every day.
If you have mobility issues or other health issues THIS IS NOT THE JOB FOR YOU. Don't think that you can come down here and sit on your hands because that probably won't happen. Most of these gates are busy and require the gate guard to be in good health and be able to get in and out of the RV and up and down the stairs many, many, many, many times a day. Sometimes its so busy that we have to sit outside in the cold and wind. It's been down into the 20's here several times at night lately. Two days ago I was wearing two coats and a sock cap and a scarf and today I'm wearing a T-shirt, so you just never know what the weather is going to be like, and it's supposed to get cold again next week. It's a wonder we're not all sick all the time with the weather changes we've had lately.
Anyway I've prattled on too long now, so good night all and good luck. Penny
We're having a Gate Guard Luncheon on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. at Esther Rose BBQ Restaurant in Carrizo Springs, Texas. The address is 505 N. 1st Street and Esther Rose is located right beside McDonalds Restaurant. Any and all gate guards, male or female, are cordially invited to join us. There is no agenda, we just like to get together every now and then and share good food and visit with friends, old and new.
There will be people in attendance who work for all different Gate Guard Companies, i.e., perhaps TimeKeepers, Guard 1 Services, LOMA, Riata, KC Services, Gate Guard Services and maybe others as well. Shoot me an email at WanderingWendels@Yahoo.com if you'd like to join us so I can tell Esther Rose how many of us to expect. I have attended Gate Guard Luncheons in Pearsall, Pleasanton, Cotulla, Big Wells and Dilley and have enjoyed them all. We don't get together to bash anyone or any company, but just to visit. It's always interesting to find out what experiences other Gate Guards are having, where they are from, what hobbies they enjoy, etc. I know several people have already seen the invite on FaceBook. I have posted a photo of the Esther Rose take out menu below so your spouse or significant other can tell you what to bring home for them to eat. Hope to see you there.
When we first arrived at our current location we had flow back going on, then a drilling rig came in, then we had coil tubing and work over rigs and it appears the frac will be starting next week. Frac is another of those 4 letter words because I think most seasoned gate guards cringe whenever we hear that word as it usually means an extreme amount of traffic. We were told a few weeks ago to expect the frac, then we were told the frac would not start until March, but now it looks like it will happen next week and could last for 4 months, depending on how many holes they frac and whether they are able to frac more than one hole at a time. Things change around here in a flash but if we know the frac is coming, we usually like to be stocked up on groceries, drinking water and clean laundry, as the amount of traffic to move all the equipment in is amazing. Two days ago I was going down the steps of the RV to open the gate for a truck and my ankle gave way. In a nanosecond I found myself kissing the dirt with a bloody hand, a skinned up knee and a very painful swollen ankle. Luckily David was awake so he took over my shift while I iced my ankle. Poor David ended up pulling a double shift (which means 24 hours straight) but he was able to nap at night between trucks so he got maybe 2 hours of sleep. A few years ago David covered for one couple because she stepped in a hole and broke her leg and her husband had to take her to the ER. That ended their career as gate guards, as theirs was too busy of a gate for one person to cover while the other one healed. We try to be as careful as we can and I swear I've gotten to be a "germ-a-phobe" but accidents happen and I was fortunate it wasn't worse and wasn't during the frac.
At our current location we are right off a busy highway so we don't get to see much wildlife. (Darn! That's the best part) Since we've been here (about 2 1/2 months) we've seen cows, a few deer, an occasional roadrunner, a Mexican Ground Squirrel, rabbits and a lot of coyote. (Along with some illegals.) We occasionally see wild hogs off in the distance. I've tried feeding the roadrunner to entice him to stay around, as they are said to keep the rattlesnakes away. Apparently roadrunners like to eat chicken but I didn't have any chicken thawed out when the roadrunner came around, so I threw some ground turkey his way but he was not impressed. I think we are just too close to the highway and we have too much in and out gate traffic for him to feel comfortable staying very long. The person who was at this gate before us told us he threw food out for the coyote to eat. We were NOT amused.
One reason I haven't written a blog post lately is because there's not much to tell and we have to be mindful not to tell anything that the Gate Guard Company or the oil company does not want told. (Not that I'm privy to any secret information). After gate guarding for 2 1/2 years I feel like I've said it all and I feel like I've just about written all I can as far as telling other people who are interested in Gate Guarding what to expect and some things to do to prepare. I know that some people who are interested in this gig do their due diligence and read different blogs and check out the many various forums. Just a word of caution. Believe it or not, not everything you read on the internet is true! I get emails from people who I suspect have been reading some forum somewhere and they ask me odd things or make off the wall accusatory remarks. If you have any questions or need more information after doing your due diligence, just email me and I'll be happy to give you my two cents worth. Go back and scan through the old blog posts as there is helpful information there. I happened upon a forum a few years ago and some person was telling how bad gate guarding was and how he'd never do it, and blah, blah, blah. He admitted that he'd never done it but he'd HEARD about it.
The following is a guest post by Sarah Grey. Sarah works with http://www.industrialdiesels.com
There’s nothing quite like taking to the open road in search of the perfect camping destination. But with the long distances and heavy loads that we subject our vehicles to, we really should ensure that we’re using the right one for the job. When it comes time to buy a new pickup truck, or a generator, the most important thing to choose is whether to go with a diesel or gasoline powered engine. But what is it that separates these two types of engines, and is there really that much of a difference? Well, take a moment to learn how a diesel engine works and I promise you, you’ll never go back to petrol.
So how does a diesel engine work? Well, the primary difference is the type of ignition. Whilst gasoline engines use a spark to ignite the fuel, diesel engines rely on compression. A valve draws air into the engine, which is heavily compressed and reaches a very high temperature. As the diesel fuel is let into the engine, it’s the high temperature that causes it to ignite.
Diesel engines come in two cycle and four-cycle variants, which are chosen depending on the mode of operation. They can also be either air cooled or liquid cooled. Liquid cooled engines are preferable as they are generally much quieter and control temperatures more evenly. You can learn more about industrial diesel engines here. (http://www.industrialdiesels.com/products/)
Diesel fuel is priced moderately higher than petrol, however the additional expense works out to be more cost effective because these engines run more efficiently. In fact, the fuel cost per KiloWatt produced is thirty to fifty percent lower than that of gasoline engines! Because there are no spark plugs or spark wires, diesel engines also require less frequent and less intensive maintenance. For example, a 1,800 rpm water cooled diesel unit can run for up to 30,000 hours before any major maintenance is needed. On the other hand, a gas powered unit of the same specifications can only run for a maximum of 10,000 hours before it needs a major service. These rugged and reliable qualities are why large industrial equipment and mining trucks are nearly always diesel powered.
So why aren’t there more diesel powered cars on our roads? It seems like a logical choice after all. The reason for this is that diesel engines haven’t always been as great as they are now. Earlier engines had a reputation for being noisy, slow, expensive to maintain and environmentally unfriendly, which made them unattractive for car buyers. However, advances in recent years have greatly reduced these issues. If you travel to Europe, you might be surprised to learn that in Italy and France, 70 percent of cars on the road are diesels.
While they may be more expensive at the purchase stage, and you may spend more at the gas pump, diesel engines are ultimately the smarter choice for long distance drivers. Next time you’re considering a new vehicle, forget gas powered cars, they belong in the past.
Sarah is a guest blogger who works for a manufacturer of Industrial Diesel engines. She enjoys camping and fishing in her spare time.
Just wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas from David and Penny and Romeo and Juliette. I will try to add a blog post soon but it won't be real soon as this weekend we are supposed to have a drilling rig move out and a frack moving in.
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. 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!