How We Got LIT

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We shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually — their paths were laid that way, as you put it. ~ J. R. R. Tolkien

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Picking up where I left off in There and Back (But Not) Again, we left Oregon in mid-December of 2010.

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We  raced (well, as fast as we could on the narrow two lane roads in a 32 foot Class A – towing) across the Siskuyou’s just hours ahead of a winter snow storm.

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We made the 1300 hundred mile drive from Gold Beach to my sister’s home on the outskirts of Tucson in 2 days. There were warning signs all along the way.

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Even the names of the tiny towns made us wonder if it was foreshadowing?

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After spending a wonderful Christmas with my Sis in Tuscan (our first in over 20 years) we set out for San Antonio.

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… or so we thought. We headed toward San Antonio. We had campground reservations. We hadn’t’ been living in the RV for a year. We kind of stuffed things in and hit the road. We planned on using the “Just get to Texas and we’ll call you when we have something” time to organize, stock up on groceries, water etc..

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We drove 755 miles and stopped the second night in Junction, Texas where we dropped the U Haul (on purpose). 😉

I forgot to mention we’d given the Saturn to my son,  bought a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee with 200,000 miles on it while visiting Heidi’s son in MN.

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We were told we couldn’t tow the Jeep, so we rented a U-Haul ramp thing and pulled it through the mountains. $900 later, we dropped it in Junction at a U-Haul spot

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We got an early start, heading for San Antonio to begin the wait. I hopped in the Jeep and we drove the last stretch of our trip separately – sort of…

Heidi wrote about that day so I’ll link to her post instead of rehashing it all: Car 54… Where Are You?

To summarize:

  • Heidi and Henry took off in the Class A down Interstate 10
  • I followed in the Jeep
  • 57 miles later, we pulled over to check directions to the RV park
  • Heidi and Henry took off in the Class A
  • I didn’t follow in the Jeep
  • Eventually Heidi noticed
  • The Jeep battery was dead
  • Heidi called 911
  • We didn’t know where we were so they couldn’t find us
  • I walked a quarter-mile to find a mile marker
  • It began raining –
  • The guarding company called while H was talking to the 911 operator
  • Heidi called Jamie back while waiting for the police
  • We had a job that day IF we could get to Tilden before dark
  • A police officer found us and jumped the jeep
  • He told us to follow him to an auto parts store
  • He raced off across the grassy median
  • We didn’t have time to get Henry
  • We left Henry locked in the RV on Interstate 10
  • We got a new battery in Kerrville
  • We got lost trying to get back to Henry and the RV
  • We found Henry and the RV
  • We took the VERY bumpy “short cut” the auto parts folks suggested
  • We didn’t have any food or water
  • We left Henry in the RV in a church parking lot in Jordanton
  • We went to Pleasanton in search of supplies
  • We left Walmart and went the wrong way
  • We lost Jordanton altogether
  • We lost Henry and the RV for the 2nd time that day
  • We found the RV and Henry
  • We called Jamie for directions
  • We lost the phone signal
  • We found our 1st gate,outside Tilden, in ankle-deep mud in the rain
  • We had a 20 minute set up/training session
  • The training was: Here’s the clipboard, wear your vests, do what I did
  • We had no phone and no internet
  • We had no water (J. didn’t set it up right and we didn’t know how yet)
  • We had no septic (that would come a couple of days later)
  • We had no clue what we were doing… or why 😀

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And there you have it. We now think of things in terms of  LBT – Life Before Texas and LIT – Life In Texas. We’ve been living LIT for a year and a half now.

But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on — and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. ~ J.R.R> Tolkien

I Do All My Own Stunts – Part 1

As much as possible, I try to encourage people to use stunt men because that is really their job.  ~Sam Neill

I don’t doubt that those are wise words, but stunt men are hard to find here on the remote ranches of southern Texas, which has left me no choice but to do all my own stunts.

One who knows me too well, sent me a link to this t-shirt (from Think Geek). I ordered one for myself and have made it the official gate guard uniform of this fashionista, shining out under the ever fashionable glow-in-the-dark  bright orange Gate Guard vest! 😀

In spite of recent posts, my awkward stunts didn’t begin with the new 5th wheel. We’re just two weeks short of one whole year of working as gate guards in Texas. I thought I’d do what everyone does this time of year and recap some of the events – with an emphasis on the fact that I do, indeed, do all my own stunts!

Heidi, Henry and I left Oregon December 15th, 2010 to venture into the world of cactus and mesquite and scorpions. We got off to a bit of an odd start. When we first left Iowa, 3 years prior, Heidi had a Saturn – an ideal tow car – but not much of a beach buggy.

When the opportunity came to give the Saturn to my son, who was down one car, and buy a Jeep, it suited life on the beautiful Oregon coast perfectly. Living and working in Gold Beach, we never towed the Jeep. When we got ready to head to Arizona last December to spend Christmas with my sister, before reporting for work here in Texas, we were told we couldn’t tow the Grand Cherokee with the Class A.

This led to the rather awkward rental of a U-Haul trailer and a very expensive trip down the western coast and eventually to Tucson. Of course, as soon as we entered my Sister’s RV park, we saw about 20 Motorhomes that had successfully towed their Jeeps. Yes, Virginia, you can tow a Jeep with a Class A.

After spending a lovely Christmas with my Sis, we headed for Hidden Valley RV Park just south of San Antonio in Von Ormy to wait for an assignment. I don’t know how many RV’ers I’ve sent to Teri this past year – but we never made it.

We dropped the U-Haul as soon as we crossed the Texas border. We pulled over to the side of Interstate 10 to double-check our directions to Von Ormy. Heidi got back in the Mirada and took off. I tried starting the Jeep, but it had changed it’s mind and decided not to finish the trip somewhere north of San Antonio. I called Heidi, who was nearly out of sight in the RV and told her I was no longer in close pursuit.

Next, I called 911 because I couldn’t think of any other road side assistance number (I do have one now with Good Sam). Of course the dispatcher wanted to know where I was?  And, of course, I didn’t have any idea (don’t they have some kind of satellite ping for that kind of thing?). I walked about a quarter of a mile in the cold December drizzle to the nearest mile marker and called her back.

In about 20 minutes, a police car came racing up, lights flashing. The officer got out jumper cables, made the Jeep temporarily hum and said to hop in and follow him before it died again. Henry was still up the road, locked in the Mirada and Heidi was on the phone taking a call from our soon-to-be boss, who said he had a job for us if we could get to Tilden that day. Hmm…

The police officer took off across the grassy median as we followed, breaking the speed limit, back to Kerrville to an auto-parts store for a new battery. I hated to leave Henry, but I didn’t know anything about Texas lawmen so I though I’d better comply. About 2 hours later, we got lost getting back to 10, but eventually found Henry and the Mirada, tilting to the right on the side of the interstate. We took the 171 mile short cut the lady at the gas station shared with us to make the 134 mile trip from Kerrville to Tilden.

On the way, we decided to stop in Pleasanton to pick up some groceries since we didn’t know when we’d get away again. We’d been enjoying my Sister’s hospitality for a week and hadn’t stocked up on anything, thinking we’d have to wait several weeks for a job and would shop in San Antonio.

We left Henry in the RV in a Catholic church parking lot. We found a grocery store and a Walmart. Satisfied we were good to go, we left the store and couldn’t find Henry or the RV.

Thankfully, Heidi was able to use the Navigator program on her phone to find the two Catholic churches in town, and sure enough, one of them was housing Henry and the Mirada!

We finally drove through Tilden and bumped down a 5 1/2 mile dirt road that was really just a series of holes where a road used to be, arriving at our first assignment just before dark on December 28th, 2010.

We made it with a dead battery and a police escort and after only losing Henry and the RV twice! We were ready for new adventures. We had NO idea… (to be continued)