Texas Vs Minnesota

In many ways, being here with 40 some men is bringing me (Heidi) full circle with my upbringing. My brother and I, unlike many siblings, really were inseparable. I can see now that this was partly by design, as Mom wanted my tattle-tale attributes at her ready disposal. But beyond that, our growing up years in Iowa and Minnesota were a full of comedic adventure.

Bass caught on a live frog

We caught frogs along the lane in the swampy edges and used those for bait as we fished from the canoe for Bass. It was often a contest to see who could keep their frog alive the longest as we’d cast them under the birches along the bank, working our way along the edge of the lake.

We hunted squirrels and rabbits and other monsters in the woods with our modest .22’s and shotguns. We explored the bear trails behind the property for miles into the wilderness on a Trail Ram. (This was before I ever heard of a four-wheeler.) It was an off-road sturdy framed motorcycle with wide stump-jumping tires and lots of torque. Mom always asked which direction we were headed so she could send ‘someone to look for the bones’ if we didn’t show up again.

That was Minnesota. This is Texas. Both states, if truth be told, can be rather individualistic in a rough and rowdy sort of way. Lumber jacks versus cowboys, I guess. I find a lot of similarities, though. If boys will be boys, certainly rough-necks will be rough-necks. One of the riggers said he has a friend from Minnesota and I was curious what kind of comparison he was going to make in his comment. All he said was, “He was a nice enough guy but up in there Minnesota, their food ain’t got no taste: no Tabasco, no hot sauce, no spices, no flavorin’s!”

Rancher on drill site

The current crew at the rig bring my brother’s antics to mind. We have become more acquainted with the rough-necks and mudders of the company lately. Don’t you just love the mental images of rough-necks and mudders and tool-pushers? I see Bluto’s size and Popeye’s wiry bravado. Add to that Tonto’s survival tactics and Rowdy (Wagon Train) with his mischievous knack for getting into trouble and shooting his way out of it. Pretty good description of our crew, actually. Well, minus the shooting part. No weapons here.

The crew is starting to treat us a little like family. One of them said, “We’ve got sisters at home so you just tell us if you need any help. We’d be happy to do it.” I think they were referring to killing snakes and such.

My brother wasn’t always so helpful, of course. I was a crack shot and sometimes he’d get tired of the competitive spirit we shared. I was pretty easy to spook so he liked to share his Outdoor grizzly bear stories with me that came from our Grandpa’s collection. The grizzlier the better. He’d toss the extra gory magazines up into my loft. I can still see the cover story pictures of huge teeth and slimy wide-open jaws of the bears.

My bedroom was a loft accessible by ladder only and 4 foot at the tall end. I’d get dressed lying down on the mattress and keep my clothes in knapsacks along the side wall. I loved that room. At the end of the day, I’d have a lantern and a book. Lying in bed I could put my chin on the window ledge while I looked out through the pine needles at the lake. I remember trying to figure out what the noises were as I’d lie there. It’s not so different now as there is a window at the head of the bead in my RV. When it’s not too hot, I crack it open just to listen. Coons? Coyotes? Wolves? Bears? Bobcats? I’m used to all of those. Tarantulas? Alligators? Rattlesnakes? Wild Boars? Not so much.

Happy Trails!

Tonight I was reading about America’s Happiest Cities. A recent gallop poll named the happiest and saddest cities to live in today. I was thinking about what makes these particular cities happy places to live and wondering about what drew folks to each spot. None of the top 10 are places I’m drawn to, but the people there are extra happy, they say.

I was going to write about that. Maybe tomorrow night. As I was wondering about what makes a happy city, I thought about the paths that lead there. Since I’m now in Texas, paths morphed into trails. Which obviously led to Happy Trails. In other words, I got  side tracked by Roy Rogers.

The Roy Rogers Show aired from 1951-1957. I made my debut late in ’56. Back in the day, there was only ABC, NBC, and CBS. You couldn’t channel surf to find your favorite cowboy. Sunday night TV for me was The Wonderful World of Disney. They didn’t have a lot of Disney cowboys when I was growing up.

I did catch some episodes later. This is what I liked about the show:

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.

Dale Evans wrote the song to to replace the original, giving it a more western cowboy sound. She and Roy performed it at the end of each show. I loved that song! I would sit through the entire 30 minutes, waiting for Roy and Dale to wish me Happy Trails.

The opening was always the same:

Announcer: “The Roy Rogers Show, starring Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys; Trigger, his golden palomino; and Dale Evans, Queen of the West; with Pat Brady, his comical sidekick; and Roy’s wonder dog, Bullet.”


Roy Rogers played by Roy Rogers

Trigger, Roy’s horse, played by Trigger, Roy’s horse

Bullet, Roy’s dog, played by Bullet, Roy’s dog

Dale Evans, played by Dale Evans (Rogers)

Pat Brady played by Pat Brady

Now that’s reality TV. How un-ostentatious.

Happy trails has a second verse:

Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.
It’s the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here’s a happy one for you.

I don’t live in one of the happiest cities (Austin made the cut, but it’s a good ways north). I don’t live near any city, happy or sad. I do live real close to an oil rig. I talked to dozens of guys everyday who’ve gotten here following all kinds of paths. I see drivers who’ve been on the road all night, roughnecks, and derrick-men and tool pushers at the end of their 12 hour shifts; sales men and women who sometimes drive 5 hours to spend 5 minutes with the Company Man.

Most of them are hot. If they come and go on my night shift, pretty much everyone is tired. But still, almost all will smile and say Hey,can I bring you something from town, or How’s your day(night) going? Yep, it’s the way you ride the trail that counts.

Tomorrow I’ll write about living in happy cities. Tonight I think I’ll just stick to Happy Trails!

Helicoptors VS Cowboys

January 8, 2011  by Debbie

Typical day on the ranch, beginning with our regular salt water guys and an oil truck or 2 and Robbie, the gauger. Just as Robbie finished filling me in on the dangers of havalinas (he said they attack barking dogs), illegals (if they’re drug runners, they’ll attack anything) and the rattlesnakes (you start seeing them more in March, about 1 per mile), 10 Perterbuilts pulled up to the gate. This caused a significant traffic jam as they trailed a half a mile back down the road. They sat patiently for over an hour, trying to find out if they were at the right gate.

As usual, I had no idea. It’s like being held hostage (movie style) where you just keep repeating your tag number. In the meantime, Heidi had driven into Tilden to meet the Direct TV installation guy. 90 minutes later, they squeezed their way past the caravan, both shaking their heads as they pulled in. The company had sent the wrong kind of satellite for a rolling home. The young man, who kept apologizing for his English (lack of) was frustrated after missing Tilden and driving all the way to Mexico and back to find us.

It appears, of course we’re not sure, that things are winding down at this gate. They took the lights and the Port-a-Johns out last night and the suction floats today, so we’re thinking we may be moved soon. Robbie’s description of leaving a gate sounds more like a Tsunami evacuation. They say you’re shut down and you need to be ready to roll. It’s a small dilemma, to pack or not to pack. We may be here another day or another month.

Regardless, the TV’s on hold. Heidi doesn’t like it anyway and I’m getting a lot more reading done. J  Back to the Peterbuilts: turns out they were at the right gate, twice! Richard, the one of the head ranchers drove up in a dune buggy and let them in to dump 40 tons of rock around the lake for the birds.
Really? “Mr. Stuart has a lot of money.” When there nothing else to say, just state the obvious. Although I saw them dump the rocks, I couldn’t find hardly any later. I think they must have dumped most of the 40 tons in the lake for the underwater birds.

The cattle have strayed to our gate again, which is a problem for the ranchers. So today is round up day as the stragglers will be herded back to their appropriate location. Finally something that sounds like a Western! But no, they won’t be using cowboys. Cowboys run $75 a day and it’s another $100 a day 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 can get the job done in less than 2 hours! So we’re having a round-up, helicopter style.

Heidi is in (you guessed it) Pleasanton at Radio Shack buying an AC adapter for the DC adapter I picked up yesterday. No idea if it will get us on line or not or if we’ll even need it next week if we are relocated. Speaking of next week, I was able to get a little more insight into our future from Raul, but unfortunately, I don’t know what it was.

Going to school in Indiana in the 70’s, I saw as little value in my 2 years of high school and 2 years of college Spanish as I did in the Chemistry and Calculus classes I took because the guidance counselor insisted. While the latter 2 still lack application for me, I wish I‘d applied myself in Spanish class. Everything I remember about Spanish now, I learned from Doris Day but at least it’s appropriate: Que sera sera…