Odd Interlude

Fate isn’t one straight road…there are forks in it, many different routes to different ends. We have the free will to choose the path. ~ Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas

Fate has presented some interesting forks lately. I read Odd Interlude by Dean Koontz during my own odd interlude last week. I don’t have enough internet umph tonight to write about Pleasant (which includes, I hope, a short video clip) so this will be an odd interlude of its own.

Life, or the joy in life, is largely a matter of perspective, don’t you think?

We’ve had an interesting couple of weeks.

  • The rig we’d been following for a year, stacked… that was sad
  • Our Company Man called and said he wanted us at his new rig … that was great
  • There was a week lag time and we spent it at Choke Canyon State Park … that was lovely

It’s was lovely and so very quiet. Although I always say I live a quiet life, I think I may mean something more like a life of very little stress, not very little noise. With the tons of trucks coming and going all day and all night and the gas station hose bell ringing and ringing, and the portable generator continually humming, it isn’t as quiet as I thought. The park was really, really quiet.

I took this picture through the window from my chair with my propped up leg but Heidi lived outside all week

  • Heidi spent almost all of her time outside bird watching
  • I spent almost all of my time inside reading with ice packs on my knee (I had fallen down the steps at the last job. I landed on my well padded seat but really wrenched my knee)
  • I did hobble down to the lake twice to go fishing
  • The glow in the dark night-crawlers the convenience store lady sold me were all mushy
  • I traded the $4 night-crawlers in on a $4.29 bag of chips which I left on the counter
  • The lady was out of minnows so she sold me frozen shrimp
  • I’ve never fished with frozen shrimp and I kept ripping their heads off with the hook
  • I didn’t catch any fish but a very big stick put up quite a fight
  • I also hooked the camp chair once

It was fun to camp for a week. I loved the cooking and you can’t beat the clean up.

Well, the clean up was easy for me. I just stuck the fork in the fire. Heidi, on the other hand, worrying about the wind that had picked up, put the fire out with hands full of sand. Sand that had hitherto been the happy home of hundreds of fire ants.

It took a lot of Epsom salts and Lanacane spray before the swelling went down. We’d been working 24 hours a day for 6 months (which isn’t s big deal – we worked 264 days straight last year) but Heidi’s hands were stinging and it seemed like a great time to visit our favorite local hot spot in Tilden,Texas which was only about 15 miles from the park.

We began our career as TSAs in Tilden so we knew that it’s hard to beat the ambiance or the Nacho’s Supreme at Max’s Cafe and Motel.

After a week of not really fishing, really reading and intense bird watching, we headed for our next gig on a rig at a new TSL.

  • We started to set up
  • The Safety Man said to wait, they were dozing a pad for us by the rig
  • We worked the not busy gate for 4 hours from the dually
  • While waiting, we discovered 2 bad tires on the truck

  • A carpet of cacti and mesquite and tangled weeds were dozed away
  • Sunday evening we moved to our new spot and settled in

  • Monday we had an entire day of Texas dust devils and 55+ mph winds

  • During the peak of the whirling-dervishes, our new pea gravel pad was spread around us
  • The winds also covered the RV and truck with little drops of oil based mud

  • Tuesday SA H made it to town to get 2 new tires for the dually
  • Wednesday was pretty regular
  • Thursday a mobile repair man came out to look at the toilet that runs on its own and the VCR that doesn’t run at all and the convection oven that cooks in 3 time zones all at once and the valves that are becoming resistant to releasing our grey and black water (all under an extended warranty)
  • Friday we moved back to the spot where we had been on Sunday
  • Saturday rig washers dropped by to power wash the oil based mud off the RV

  • The rig washers had never washed an RV and they inadvertently flooded the vent to the frig, frying the mother board.
  • When power washing the truck, that high pressured water hit the windshield and the small poc from a rock picked up on the way to our new TSL cracked a 15 inch line

Nothing is worse than being alone on the evening of the day when one’s cow has exploded. ~ Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas

See, that’s what I mean about perspective. Two new tires, 3 moves, a cracked windshield and a dead refrigerator are nothing compared to an exploding cow. We did, however, take the fork that led to remedying our new dilemmas. Special ordering the tires was simple, the windshield is temporarily on hold but the frig was the real puzzle.

  • We called our dealership back in Iowa and got instructions
  • SA H set out with a hairdryer to try to dry out the soggy mother board
  • Being very tenacious, she did this for a long, long time

  • We gave it the night to repair itself  – it didn’t
  • Sunday I asked our CM if he would give away our food as we were having some frig issues (I didn’t mention the rig washers)
  • He had an extra refrigerator in his trailer so we hauled our bags and bags of food down there (the double frig and double freezer were pretty well all stocked up)
  • Saturday and Sunday we ate a lot of cereal to use up the remaining warm but not spoiled milk
  • Monday SA H called the manufacturer and got the name of a certified roving repair man
  • This great guy talked SA H through a magic magnet fix
  • Today we will retrieve our food and wait to see what new adventures await

All in all, it was an interesting week. We SA’s are grateful for a multitude of kindnesses and blessing and even for the bell that rings all day and all night. As always, Henry remains cheerful and optimistic.

Loyal companions are an unequaled grace. ~Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas

After struggling with the internet for months, it looks like SA H may have found a solution. If so, I’ll get back to Gig on a Rig Tip #4 – Pleasant next time. As Odd would say:

Being polite is not only the right way to respond to people but also the easiest. Life is so filled with unavoidable conflict that I see no reason to promote more confrontations. ~ Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas

Lost and Found

People don’t take trips – trips take people. ~ John Steinbeck

And this trip certainly took us! This is the rest of yesterday’s story. I have one more short one to tell and then I’ll pack my bags. Here’s a recap:

  • We Found Tuscon without getting Lost (If you know us you, know that’s big)
  • H’s phone did get Lost (stolen) at jcp
  • We Found the best seat on the plane but Lost air space to the big blurry man
  • We Found our uglied-up luggage and my nice looking cousin in Seattle
  • We Found our ship and our room
  • We Lost our sea legs
  • We Lost our dinners

Our assigned table in dining room which we Lost for 3 nights

We Lost our dinners because I’m unfailingly polite. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes, not so much.

The great difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them. ~ Amelia E. Barr

For example, we Found Wala, our head cabin steward, finishing up our room when we boarded Friday afternoon. He soon got Lost and wasn’t Found again until Wednesday. Meeting him did make the voyage very different from all the previous ones.

On Sunday, we arrived in Juneau. It was a beautiful sunny day, which is really saying something about an area that gets 55-90 inches of rain between May and October and then it starts snowing.

Leaving Juneau by float plane

Heidi Found her sea legs but mine were still Lost as I griped my bottled water and filled up on tiny Tums.

Found these at the airport. How cool to get an antacid and breath freshener in one! They made up my entire Sunday breakfast. Haven’t been able to look at one since.

In Juneau, we took a float plane to a remote area and went on a bear hunt (which will be my next and final vacation story).

Beautiful float plane flight

I was moderately sick on the way to the island. I was really sick on the flight home and just barely Found the room before I Lost Saturday’s soup and a half a container of tiny Tums.

When we got back on the ship, there was a notice on the door.

Cruise Ship GIS warning

As it turns out, Heidi wasn’t seasick and I wasn’t tap-water sick, we had the Cruise Ship Flu. Since we got sick the 2nd day of the cruise, catching it so quickly was a mystery. The mystery was solved when I Found Wala on Wednesday, “feeling much better”.  Much of the crew had gotten the bug at the end of the previous cruise and the symptoms started when they saw us!

You probably can’t read the last sentence in the photo of our notice. It says:

The biggest problem is that this illness is readily spread from person to person (such as by shaking hands) as well as by touching surfaces and items that an ill person has touched.

In my pre-Top Secret Agent life, shaking hands wasn’t just polite, it was a standard professional practice. When we met Wala Friday afternoon, I cheerfully shook his hand. Heidi, wisely, just stuck with hi. In my weak defense, I doubt there was a surface in the room he hadn’t touched while getting it ready for us so maybe we would have gotten sick anyway?

Because this was a 2 week voyage, Juneau was followed by a 2nd At Sea day where I remained quarantined as requested by the captain. I Lost myself in book 3 of a Dean Koontz series I’d been reading on my Kindle. Everything on the ship changed. There were bars on all the books in the library.

Books behind bars

For a week there was no serving yourself anything at the buffet where the wait staff looked like surgeons in their plastic gloves. At nearly every corner, someone was squirting Purell on you. Even the salt and pepper shakers were removed.

Puzzles pieces were quarantined. I don’t do puzzles on cruises but it was strange to read puzzle warnings on the tables.

Missing pieces

To their credit, the staff did all they could to contain the virus and threw a party the second week with free wine (or soda) and cheer for all.

Celebration notice

Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey. ~ Fitzhugh Mullan

We Lost about 3 days of this 14 day trip, but Found new ways to celebrate the journey! One last story about Bear Hunting and then this vacation will be all packed up.