Crashed and Burned

Sometimes we crash and burn. It’s better to do it in private. ~ Dean Kamen
Saturday I crashed and burned – just me, not the RV this time! 😀
Saturday morning we were up (I hadn’t gone to bed since I’d worked all night), Heidi was up and more than raring to go at 5:45. Having done most of the outside work the night before and undeterred by the fact that it doesn’t get light until 6:30, we drug the chairs into place, unhooked the electricity, pulled in the slides and made a slick, tight 90 degree turn out of our tiny slot to wait for our replacements.
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We were ready before 7. Everything went smoothly to either the chagrin or amazement (and our relief) of our audience, which was BIG. We were the only show in town at 6:45!
There were a dozen semis waiting to get in, floor hands hanging around drinking coffee and the rest of the men waiting for the semis who were waiting for the go ahead to haul our moving village 75 miles SW so we could begin it all again.
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Henry kept a close eye on everything.
For some reason, two women hooking up a dually to a 40 ft 5th wheel seems to be a jaw dropper here in Texas. 😉
On the up side, it’s scares people! When they see us coming, they give us a wide berth!
Eventually, our Safety guy said to just get on along, so we set off, bumping through many a small town. Steven B. Harper has some interesting insights on life in a small town. All the quotes below are from him. If you’d like to read his entire list, you can find it here.
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Living in a small town: You referred to anyone with a house newer than 1965 as the “rich” people.

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The town next to you was considered “trashy” or “snooty,” but was actually just like your town.

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It was cool to date somebody from the neighboring town.

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I love this typical southern Texas Laundromat! I love the Wash-N-Fold! No tossing your clean clothes back in the basket here! And I love the STOP sign. I’m not sure if it’s there to indicate the demarcation line for parking or to entice you to bring in your unclean clothes? The gate on the door tells me that whatever STOP means, they take it seriously.
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Anyone you wanted could be found at the local gas station, drive-in or the town bar.

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We pulled over at a town that used to be, that no longer is, to double-check our directions when someone came walking up and tapped on the window.

You ladies lost? Follow me. I know a short cut. When your Company Man tells you to follow him, you follow! 😀

It’s hard to miss Jimbo since he has a giant LSU decal on the back of his bright red truck – not exactly Texas PC! He’s every bit as proud to be a Louisianan as any Texan is to be a Texan. He calls us Yankee white girls, which is kind of funny since he’s white and maybe a little younger than me.

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By 10 o’clock we arrived … somewhere that isn’t real close to anywhere.

When you decided to walk somewhere for exercise, 5 people would pull over and ask if you wanted a ride.

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Your car stayed filthy because of the dirt roads, and you will never own a dark vehicle for this reason.

 

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Set up was easy and for about an hour, it was just us and the neighbors across the road that dropped by to see if we wanted anything from San Antone and to warn us that their black lab loves people but eats little dogs.

Heidi now walks Henry with mace in hand. I prefer the BB pistol. 😉

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We weren’t alone for long.

The video is short and the quality is pretty poor but you get the general idea. The guy in the red truck waving (even though I thought I was discreetly tucked away behind the generator) is Jimbo.

If you click on the screen symbol in the bottom right corner you can see this full screen which gives you a little better feel for the action.

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Moving days are always interesting for those of us who work the night shift.
I don’t know how those of you who have written saying you work FRAC and move every week, do it?
I’m not asleep… but that doesn’t mean I’m awake. ~ Unknown Author
At 22 hours without sleep, I was sailing – like I’d had 5 double espressos.
At hour 23 I couldn’t talk in complete sentences and did a 4 hour crash and burn.
The night was quiet, thankfully, since I’m sure I would have written in all the numbers and letters upside down.
It hasn’t been quiet since! 😀
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The floor hands are our neighbors.
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We’re about 100 feet from the pad this time, instead of 10, but we still have quite a view of the action!
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You didn’t give directions by street names but rather by references. Turn by Nelson’s house, go 2 blocks to Anderson’s, and it’s four houses left of the track field.
Although we passed through many small towns, we don’t live near any. I can stand outside at night and see the lights of 5 derricks and the flare of 3 FRACS . This leads to a lot of confusion for the drivers. So far, Id say about 75% of the people have gotten lost trying to find us and then they find us all at once! It’s another great adventure, for sure!

Working 5 to 5

Working 9-5.  What a way to make a living. ~ Dolly Parton

You know the song. Working 9-5 was all taking and no giving. Working 5-5 was kind of dicey, but a blessing. I worked from 5 p.m. Tuesday until 5 a.m. Thursday. I’m apparently getting a little long in the tooth for this since I slept for 14 hours today. 😉

I’m writing from Westhoff, Texas. Haven’t heard of it? Me either. I haven’t even seen it, but I guess it’s out there.  The internet here is almost non-existent, even with the booster so I’m not sure I can post this or any pictures, a common gate guard malady. I’ll do the best I can.

Our mgr called around 10 a.m. yesterday as we were getting ready to leave Wharton and head for Gonzales to wait in the yard. He had a job for us if we wanted it. No question about that, so we followed Junior and our generator to Westhoff.

Actually, we lost sight of Junior several times. He drives the speed limit, which as you probably know, is 70 on most back roads down here. You also know we’ve had a few interesting times with the new RV, so 70 was kind of out of our comfort zone.

It was turned out to be a Hanzel and Gretel-like experience. We just followed the trail of our belongings that kept flying off Junior’s trailer. Apparently we didn’t have things snugged in between the generator and the water tank  quite right. We’ll get it all in the truck next time. We left in such a hurry, maybe that was the problem.

We didn’t have directions to the new site so we couldn’t stop and pick up anything. We have had 12 2x10s and 4 2x8s that are 2 inches thick. We’ve found those to work better than our bright yellow Camping World blocks for the muddy fields we generally sit in (although we actually had a pad this time).

First we followed the trail of 2x8s. We saw one off to the side every few miless. Then at a sharp corner we passed our blue plastic bucket half full of the rocks that we use to hold the carpet down. We wanted to stop and get it out of the intersection but we didn’t have any cell service so we couldn’t get in touch with Junior to stop him.

Eventually, the 2x10s started leaving a trail for us. When we arrived in Westhoff around 3, we had 7 2x10s and a flower-pot half full of rocks left. We’d already had other adventures before leaving Wharton yesterday morning, which I may share another day.

Anyway, we’re here. We’re now working for a different oil company. We’re a little close to the road, as you can see, but once all of the rig gets in, it’ll get better. There’s a big drop off on the other side, so there wasn’t much choice.

We miss Forest and Lantern but everyone here seems nice enough. And by everyone, I mean there are a whole lot of folks here. Heidi went through 6 sheets just while I slept.

Yes, I do love working nights (Heidi hates staying up by 9) so while the 36 hours without sleep was a little long, it doesn’t happen that often. I think I definitely have  the best end of the deal.

I didn’t make the 9% this month, for which I’m thankful. Next month could be a different story.

I could always get a fish, but you know how clumsy I am.  I’d probably spill him. 🙂

A Midsummer’s Night Sleep Deprived Sugar High

Now, until the break of day  Through this house each fairy stray. ~ Oberon                      A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Funny how I had almost no trouble adjusting my sleep patterns to working nights, 10 months ago.

Now, however, after a 3 week break, I’m lucky to sleep 6 hours during the day. That, I’m sure, is contributing to my jumpiness.

Have you ever noticed how simple innocuous sounds, when heard in the day time, take on a more ominous ring at night?

I’ve been working nights now since January. I’ve gotten used to the sounds of the rig: the guys shouting, the casings clanging, the horns blowing, the bells ringing and the semis rumbling.

I’m used to the sound of Brahmas lashing the living room with their tails and manic raccoons lunging at the screens. I’m used to the nightly cacophony of  the feral pigs and hungry coyotes.

I’m even used to the giant kamikaze bugs that fling themselves into the blinding halogen glow, bouncing like hail off the sides of RV.

However, I’m not used to the sounds of a wrestling match taking place in the cabinets under the island at 1 a.m. or the sudden whir in the ceiling at 2.

Every new house comes with new noises. This one came with new noises and what I suspect might be a few fairies mistaking early October for Midsummer.

As you know, October 1st was my birthday. Heidi very kindly made apple dumplings – my favorite.

She used my Mom’s recipe, which should serve 8 or 10,  but really turns out to be 6 giant dumplings.

They’re so big, they had to be cooked in two separate pans.

My birthday was 4 days ago. Heidi’s eaten one half of one. I’ve eaten 4 1/2. 😀

SO, it could be a combination of sleep deprivation and a sugar high that caused me to leap out of my seat when the pots and pans began rattling under the center island in the quiet middle of the night.

I looked. Nothing. I closed the cabinets. 5 minutes later the pans rang out again. The day before there was a half of a Dorito on the floor by the dresser.

Last night there was a half of a Dorito under the sink. We don’t eat Doritos.

We do have little bags of chips we give the guys when they head home. Checking the grab bag, yep, one little bag had one big hole. This no doubt accounts for the symphony under the sink. The solution for that (I hope) is in the JIC closet. That doesn’t explain why the ceiling began whirring.

Around 2:00 a.m., shortly after the pan noise abated, I heard a new, strange noise. I looked up and the ceiling seemed to be readying for take off – all on its own. The dome opened and the blades picked up speed.

I spent the next 10 minutes turning on and off and on and off again, every switch I could find. Nothing interfered with the lid lift.

I came to the obvious, sleep deprived, sugar induced conclusion that it was a mouse escape route and that they’d somehow bounced on a secret button.

The fan is considerably too high to reach, even on a chair. At this point the pots started banging again and I  knew I had to go to the JIC closet and take action (no, not the gun, I’m not that tired).

I opened the doors to get a flashlight to go out to the truck to get the 3-step stool, when I saw a control that I’d never noticed.

It’s big and white so I’m afraid that mostly speaks to my continual state of fatigue over the past several weeks and my highly keen observation skills.

Sure enough, it says Fan and Dome and Exhaust and Intake. I couldn’t get it out of its holder…

But I was able to push the off button on the fan and the close button on the dome.

The question of how those buttons suddenly got turned on at 2 a.m. remains a mystery. Tomorrow the mouse traps come out. Henry has  been on high alert all night. His ears are probably cramping and I’m a very tired woman, pumped and plumped with dumplings. We need our rest.

If we shadows have offended,  Think but this, and all is mended,  That you have but slumber’d here  While these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme,  No more yielding but a dream,  Gentles, do not reprehend: If you pardon we will mend.  ~ Puck,    A Midsummer’s Night Dream

It Was Quite a Ride!

Our wonderful Gate Guard boss, Jamie, true to his word, found us a replacement, on 2 days (instead of 2 weeks) notice and Paul was there right at 8 a.m. as was George, our FS.

We left Smiley Sunday morning and drove to our friends ranch (2 gates ago) to drop off the Jeep. We bumped along out of Nixon, Texas at 9 a.m. I drove until around12:30. Traffic was pretty heavy in Austin and Ft Worth, but the real issue was the wind which was fierce – according to Accu-Weather, 20 mph sustained and 40 mph gusts.

As most of you know, that’s no big deal in a regular vehicle, but when you’re driving something high-profile like a class A – you feel it! It reminded me of catching a huge fish where you fight for hours and hours to land it. I’ve never done that (although I did catch a 6 pound bass once), but it reminded me of that it way. It was a fight – especially in the cities when it was kind of important to stay in your lane. 😀

Late afternoon, when I’d been up for 24 hours, I’d thought: Hey, I still have a motorhome, I’ll just go back to the bedroom and take a nap.

In the 3 years that we’ve had the Mirada, I’ve never tried to sleep while it was rolling – apart from accidental dozing in the front seat (when I wasn’t driving).

  I bargained on bumpy and noisy. I didn’t even think about the heat. You can’t run the air conditioning units on the highway, of course. It was 96 outside when I stretched out for a nap at 3:30 and the temperature, as it does in Texas, was still climbing.

It must have been 106 in the bedroom (at least). I gave it about 15 minutes until the sweat was running in my eyes and even my feet were sweating. I got up and gave up.

However – we were set on driving straight through, so a little later, I tried the sofa and did sleep for a few hours.

We didn’t make any stops except for gas (at about $200 every 5 hours) and were making OK, if not impressive time… until…

Heidi, who is not a night person, decided to try to sleep around 9:00 p.m. I felt awake, in that sleep deprived, wired way and happily tooled down, the road following the prompts of Richard – the guy who gives direction on the Tom Tom. We used to have Susan, but we couldn’t hear her. Anyway, Richard kept telling me to turn left, which didn’t seem right, but I did.

Heidi got up to see why I was bumping down a country road at 11:30 p.m. Yep, left was not right. After a quick assessment of the situation, Heidi declared me unfit to drive and took the wheel. It just took 30 minutes to find a WalMart in Topeka where we crashed (physically, not literally) for few  hours, bought an atlas and hit the road again at 5 a.m.

Somewhere in Kansas we had the best fortune ever! If you live in Texas you’ll get this. If you’re a gate guard who hasn’t has a day off in 8 months, you’ll really get this. We found a truck/RV wash that was open on Labor Day! Our cream-colored Mirada became white once again.

Now, if they’d only wanted to clean the inside, too!

We arrived in to Cedar Raids around 1:30 yesterday afternoon, so even with the wind, a detour and a nap, we made the 1250 mile trip in 28 hours. Not bad for 2 old birds. George, our Field Supervisor even called us yesterday to see if we got here safely. Such a nice guy!

We got set up in a lovely county park; paid our $19 dollars; everyone –  including Henry –  had showers; and then we headed to our favorite pizza spot (8 months without pizza just isn’t right) and had dinner with friends.

I didn’t see my wonderful grand daughters yesterday because I was so zombish I was afraid I might scare them. That will be my treat for this evening. They were 1 and 3 the last time I saw them, and I was still highlighting my hair.They’re  3 and 5 now and I’m 54 and entirely grey. They probably won’t recognize me but I can’t wait to get reacquainted!

In an hour, we head to the RV dealership to sign the paper work and write the check. We should be able to get the truck tomorrow. The RV won’t be prepped and ready until next week. You’ve been asking what we bought so here’s a picture of a  truck. I’ll take more today and post those later.

Thanks for continuing to follow Fork and for all your kind words of encouragement. I need to take a moment now and see if I still remember how to curl my hair and try to decide if there’s even any point in attempting make up.

More thrilling updates like this one to come soon! No time to proof read and pluck my eyebrows so my apologies for all the extra typos!