Home » Gate Guarding » Year In Review Part 3 – Cement Sucks

Year In Review Part 3 – Cement Sucks

Cement sucks, literally! At least the caliche they use on the roads  here in Texas does!

By now, even if you aren’t a gate guard, if you’ve read any of our blogs, you know most gate guards live in a caliche covered world. They mine caliche right here in Texas. It’s a significant ingredient in cement. During the months and months of drought it covered every surface and swirled about, filling in everything, including my eyes and ears and floating it’s way into my sinus cavities. But in December, last year and this year, the caliche became confused by the rain and began to think it’s supposed to be cement!

The third day on the job, there was some confusion among the truckers. I apparently spent too long at the gate waiting for them to decide whether to come in or not. When I tried to move, off came one Keen (a great beach sandal for Oregon, not quite as appropriate in Texas), followed by the other. Then the greedy grey sticky caliche took off  my right sock. I was a bit off to the side so I nonchalantly rushed (if it’s possibly to rush in a nonchalant way) back into the RV, retrieving my buried footwear after the traffic cleared.

As the days of whine and caliche continued, we took to rotating pairs of shoes. As soon as a pair got dry, one of us would take a hammer to it and dislodge all the caliche and enter that pair back into the rotation.

The hostile cattle continually straying to our gate, caused a problem for the ranchers. They announced it was round-up time. Yippee! A round-up! Now I felt like I was really on a ranch (even though the ranchers drove 5th wheelers)!

But no, they didn’t use cowboys. Cowboys run $75 an hour and it’s another $100 an hour for the horse (I thought they came in sets).

It would take quite a few cowboys and horses to accomplish the task. A helicopter, on the other hand, is only $200 an hour and could get the job done in less than 2 hours! So we had a round-up, helicopter style.


In addition to no cell phone service, no TV reception, no internet and no dry shoes, our 6th day in Tilden meant no RV access. We’d been having a little trouble, from time to time, with the door latch randomly locking itself. But on this particular January morning it was like a poltergeist swept through.

Heidi was at the gate. I started to go outside to find I was locked in. I mean locked, latched and there was no budging it, in! I hollered out to Heidi to see if she could open the door. Nope. She couldn’t get in. Henry and I couldn’t get out.

We started passing things through the kitchen window: keys, a screwdriver, tea, advice. After completely disassembling our door mechanism and finding it still stubbornly locked, we migrated to the front window. First came the step-ladder; then the pricey Camping World leveling blocks that we don’t use for leveling but that have come in handy several times for other things, like making them into a giant yellow Lego platform that day; and finally the little collapsible step which usually serves as a seat but converted into was a much-needed step.

Next in the window was Heidi, who examined the door, made a sweep through the RV, evaluating, and then like Santa down the chimney, back out the window she went. She made a few practice runs in and out in case we had to keep using that option for a few days.

We called the county sheriff’s office to get the name of a locksmith, but the sheriff was ‘in the field’ and didn’t have a phone book. He thought the only one was Pop -A-Lock in San Antonio – not open on Sunday. We called the mobile  RV repair guy in the area and  got his answering machine  – also not open on Sunday!

So, after passing Henry in and out of the window to go to the bathroom, Heidi sat outside in her Gander Mountain chair with a book and some tea and opened and shut the gate. A couple of hours later, Bob, a fellow gate guard from down the road, stopped by to see if we needed anything from town since he was headed in. He took a look at the door and made an attempt to let me out or Heidi in but he couldn’t figure it out either.

When he  got home, Bob called to Larry, our field supervisor, who came roaring in a few hours later. Sugar, why didn’t you call me for help? Larry calls everyone Sugar but it never seems inappropriate. Of course I call everyone Honey, so what do I know. Sounds like the lyrics to an Archie’s song, doesn’t it?

Anyway, Larry crawled in and out of the window for about an hour and a half with his wrench and screwdriver and one of our butter knives. He finally just busted the whole kit and caboodle.


By night fall, we had a nice square hole where the door latch used to be, a crack in the door, a very bent butter knife we used as a temporary latch and a dishcloth to keep the flying things out. It had been an interesting first week. Oh, and I forgot about the disappearing dump. I’ll add that tomorrow and finish up the Tilden Tales.

By the way, I’ve added two more Gate Guard blogs  this week – The Razz Chronicles and RV Texas Gate Guard, which bring the count here to 10, including Fork. Happy reading and  Happy Trails, folks!

7 thoughts on “Year In Review Part 3 – Cement Sucks

  1. Holy shit! Quite the adventure. Much more fun in retrospect i imagine. Nice job with Henry. I’m glad you could work his bladder issues into the events of the day. Lordie.

    OK, horses don’t come with cowboys? You mean you could just get a horse to come and do the work on the ranches on his own? Corporate greed applies in Texas along with a mandatory gun and a lot of shoes that repel cement?! It does suck, indeed.

    Dang girls, next time i complain i’ll picture myself sitting inside (or outside) my RV, with no TV, Internet, no cell phone — waiting for a kind Texas man to unscrew my door hinges. I’m feeling pretty toasty and warm right now.

    P.S. In my union work, i deal with coal miners from W. VA. I am a Sweetie, Honey, Sugar, and i don’t mind when they say it. It just fits. Doesn’t feel demeaning … feels almost respectful. G**, don’t tell anyone. Too late!

  2. Well howdy you all always nice to read your blog. We made it back to cotalla Texas resting in a camp ground till monday when we are to return to our gate.
    we have had one problem that we liked to have never solved and it really reminded me of you while I was getting mad and calling the dealer to try to get answers on a Sat. finall found a service tech that knew his stuff and solved the problem. The problem was the same as yours how to drain the second grey water tank. the wife was washing the puppies when the sink backed up she said I thought you draind the tanks when we left Katy Texas, to which I replied yes Dear I did. well said she you didn’t do so good the sink in the kitchen will not drain. so the fun begain and when I took the rear tank cap off and pulled the valve handle nothing happened so I looked and looked made a phone call to the dealer they said there is probably a handle behind the left rear tire, I looked no valve, searched all around couldn’t find called dealer again and the service manager said he would get me answer and sure enough they call back a couple of hours later and his Tech told me to look underneath where the little plackard was for grey waste and sure enough there it is tthe same color as the main frame attached to same and you have to lay on your back and reach way up there to pull it open. What a stupid design its like an after thought. Its raining here I have red mud all over along with Sand spurs.
    Hopes yous are having a better day …..We are still doing the best we can with what we got.
    Luke and Inez

    • Luke – Honestly, could they have made that valve any less convenient or visible! At least you didn’t pay someone $100 to come out an open it for you! 😀
      How do you like your new home?
      Looking forward to updates!

  3. Oh Debbie,

    We certainly can sympathize with your door problem. We had that same thing happen two years ago when we had our gas rig, a Damon Challenger. We were staying at an RV park in Lakehills, Texas. I got all dressed and ready to make sales calls that day (we were creating RV park guest guides at that time) and when I got to the door and I could not get out.

    The door latch mechanism broke. Thankfully we had a mobile repair service as one of our advertisers and he came right out. We got on the phone and had Damon overnight a new part and that was a great thing for us! We were trapped in our rig for three hours. We spend the night with a rag stuffed in the door and a rope holding it shut. Living in an RV rarely gets dull.

    We head out to Carrizo Springs to meet up with Roger (GGS) on Monday. We are looking forward to the new adventure. Hope we can meet you & Heidi one of these days!

    I’m sure I’ll get to catch up on all the blogs and add more blogs to my blogroll once we get settled. We’ve been very busy in our Nana & Grandpa rolls here in Teague. Trying to store some of this good grandkid juju up for a while!!!


    • Vicki – LOL! It was about a week and $250 later before the mobile RV guy from George West finally made it out with a replacement. In the meantime, the bungee cord and knife and towel served their purpose – although, being so new to gate guarding and Texas and so isolated, we felt a little vulnerable.
      We’d love to meet you. We aren’t too far from Cuero. Call if you’re in the neighborhood and we’ll get you here! Best of luck! I’m looking forward to your stories!
      ~ Debbie

  4. Gosh, I guess it’s a good thing I was younger then! I don’t want that much challenge anymore! I’m glad we stuck to it, though. I love the job, and I’m happy to know what we’re doing (most of the time). To date, the biggest challenge has been the hitch for the fiver, though.

    • Heidi, it was only a year ago – you weren’t that much younger and you’re just as tenacious today, believe me! You were stellar! I wouldn’t have fit through the window and if I had, most certainly would have fallen off the ladder! 😀
      Hey, I thought you were over your HUAD? 😉

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