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

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There (But Not) Back Again

He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”  ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

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And that’s just about what happened next (picking up from where I left off last time). We came to another Fork, we stepped into the Road, and we could never have guessed where we were about to be swept off to!

I thought we had the ideal situation. We had a 2 bedroom apartment on the resort property in exchange for being the night managers. That meant we were on call every night from whenever the office closed (8 in the off-season, 10 in season) until it opened the next morning between 7 and 8. As Guest Services Manger (me) and Assistant Manager (Heidi) we both worked full time but had 2 days a week off (although we were on still on call every night).

We pulled the slides in and parked the RV behind an empty building at the resort.

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I sort of expected to be doing this for years. We loved the area. We joined a wonderful little church. We liked our boss. We worked well with the staff. And we had a steady income. If we weren’t working, we were on the beach.

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Henry became the resident celebrity. He was even the ring bearer – off leash, no kidding –  for a couple who got married barefoot on the beach, just like in a movie. 😀

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But the fame was fleeting. Tourist season ended and Heidi’s hours got cut from 40 to 7 per week. The proverbial writing was on the wall, or at least in the checkbook.

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When Heidi began having chest pains, I knew we had to start looking at other options. We were sinking, just like the Mary D Hume.

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During our time at the resort, Heidi and I had done the majority of the hiring and firing.  Well, I didn’t actually do any firing, but I did participate in the hiring! 😀

One woman I’d hired to work the front desk on weekends left mid-summer to take another job. She and her husband were also workamping at the same private RV park Heidi and I had started out in. They ran into the same things there that we’d encountered, only they chose to leave mid-stint.

I called Joanie one late afternoon in October to see how they were doing. They were working as gate guards on a ranch in Texas. She really encouraged me to look into it. Jumping ahead – this is during a visit. She and John subbed for 5 days last month on the same ranch we were on in Cuero! Small world!

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I’d read about gate guarding in the Workamping magazine and it didn’t sound too appealing, to be honest. But at this point, I was past appealing slipping into better just take anything that’s honest and pays. We were making payments on an RV we weren’t living in. We were already working or on call almost 24 hours a day. With Heidi’s hours slashed, we had a diminishing bank account and she was having stress induced chest pains.

We called the Gate Guard Services office in Corpus. They sent a packet. We decided to follow through. Back then, you did everything from wherever you were. We went to the county jail in town and got our fingerprinting done. We did our best on the Level II Security test and waited.

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Like many who are considering gate guarding, we searched for all the information we could find. Two years ago, we couldn’t find much. We did find Kit and Jerry’s blog. Unlike my rambling stories, Kit writes more of a daily diary. Reading Kit’s blog and talking to Joanie gave us some idea of what we might be getting into.

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The Fork in the road seemed to be pointing south. We called the company after 2 or 3 weeks and were told we were approved. Then came the next wave. There was no guarantee of a job. Patty said just get to Texas and we’ll call you when we have something for you. Hmm… That’s not how I like to roll, but roll we did.

It was another gut wrenching time. We loved Gold Beach and had made many dear friends there. We were a long ways from There and Back Again.  We were so far that we knew if we cut our ties this time, there would be no going back (my apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien for using his lovely words in such a sloppy way).

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We talked. We prayed. We packed up.

We said many more tearful goodbyes and hit the highway once again. This time we headed for Texas. I was pretty sure I’d stepped in the Road and failed to keep my feet

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“Farewell,” they cried, “Wherever you fare till your eyries receive you at the journey’s end!” That is the polite thing to say among eagles.

“May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks,” answered Gandalf, who knew the correct reply.”  ~ J. R.R. Tolkien