The total number of days between Saturday, July 5th, 2014 and Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 is 236 days.
This is equal to 7 months and 21 days.
If you’re counting workdays or weekends, there are 168 weekdays and 68 weekend days.
236 days is equal to 33 weeks and 5 days.
The total time span from 2014-07-05 to 2015-02-25 is 5,664 hours.
This is equivalent to 339,840 minutes.
The call; it wasn’t unexpected ya know. When all the rigs moved out of here end of August I remember thinking ‘If I can just make it to mid-September and get that paycheck, it will be good.’ Here I am the last days of February 2015 and the call to close the gate finally came down. So I am not disappointed or sad. It was a good run and I was paid fairly and as promised. It is over. I/we were on the same gate just a week short of 2 years and 7 months. A good long chapter in anybody’s book.
The plan was always to ride this gate as far as it would take me. Karma, things happen for a reason, it is what it is, so forth and so on. etc;etc. I just never expected the run after Little Blondie flew south to last 236 days straight without a day off. Christ on a cracker! That was tooooooo long without a break! I guess Guard 1 understood part of that as well. They gave me 24 hours after the gate closed to get my stuff together. I needed a tad bit more. They came and got their stuff and I stayed another 18 hours running Little Blue for power. With the cool temps, it served just fine since AC was not an issue.
The plan was always to head out of here if the gate closed for some R&R. As the oil prices plummeted I also decided something other than gate guarding was probably a prudent job choice. I had long ago set my sights on the western edge of the Hill Country to lay by for a spell. That area is my most favorite of all places in Texas. It is far enough out of Austin that the yuppies in their Mercedes and Audi City Slicker SUVs are pretty rare and it is STILL Hill Country.
I called for a reservation Thursday and when the lady asked where I was coming from and I said Cotulla she said ‘Oh my! We were gate guards for Timekeepers south of Cotulla!’ ‘Member what I said about trusting karma and lettin’ it take hold?
Thursday was sunshine and shirt sleeves and I worked like a demon to get all the clutter of 2 1/2 years sorted and stowed and throwed away. Friday was 39 degrees and a stiff wind blowing out of the North. I had to unhook the utilities, take down the pole with the internet antennas on it and hook the NO Princess Palace to the Big Ass Suburban. Tuco the Dog made every step I did! She knew we were getting ready to leave and she had no intention of being left behind. Every time I opened a door on the Suburban she was poised to load up should I just give the word.
Various folks stopped through to say their good byes and it was well past 10am before we could even think about hitting the road. It was always my intention to keep the gate all business and I never interjected myself into the private lives of the ranch owner or the oil company employees. Business was business. Gate guarding is not and never was an opportunity to join someone’s family so the good byes were firm handshakes and accolades for a job done well. No hugs and no tearful waves pulling out the drive. Suited me just fine.
I had been watching the weather intently for the last few days and knew it was liable to turn to crap the farther north we went. They were saying icy roads and winter storm advisories and I damn sure didn’t want to wind up in the road ditch or stranded in a parking lot before we made the 300 miles to our destination. The Big Ass Suburban is going to get about the same fuel mileage towing the Palace whether you are going 50 or 70mph so I just dropped the hammer and let all 500 cubic inches on that GM Big Block growl. Ran the FM up to Millett and jumped on I-35 north for just a bit to Dilley. I hate running the Big Roads – period. Any opportunity to get off on the Blue Roads and see some country is always a priority. We ran up through Hondo and Bandera with nary a stop until we had to fuel in Kerrville. It was drizzling sleet and the antenna and front of the Suburban and Palace were coated in ice when we pulled into the Stripes @ $2.19 a gallon. The temp was 30 degrees and the wind was still out of the north at a brisk clip. The next pew over had a Cadillac rollin’ on 22’s and rap music blaring at an ungodly decibel level even stopped and the driver outside the car fueling up. The fella with the gold grill in his mouth and turned around cap give me a good look when I crawled out of the Big Ass Suburban. I returned his gaze unblinking and he was the first to turn away. Yeah, yeah, ‘they’ say don’t make eye contact and all that bull shit. Who the f*ck is ‘they’ anyway? I’ll be damned if I am gonna tuck my tail before any man. Maybe I just been too long down in the puckerbrush and forgot how it is folks play the Urban Social Game these days. I never was one for following the herd too much anyway. It is what it is.
A few miles north and the freezing drizzle had turned into honest sleet and I was getting just a skoosh concerned. The temp had dropped to 28 degrees when I eased into the yuppie chaos that is Fredericksburg. Even with a winter ice storm hard upon the town, it still looked like somebody had kicked a fire ant mound. Been like that every time I ever been through there. Me and Little Blondie even spent the night in an RV park there back in the day. What was I thinking?
With Fredericksburg fading in the rear view, I finally felt the weight start to lift off my shoulders. Didn’t matter that the weather was steadily getting worse or that I was flat give out and fading fast. Onliest thing that mattered to me was that I had achieved escape velocity and I was headed to the country I love best of all that Texas has to offer.
The place we landed is a city park set in a grove of mature pecan trees. 50amp full hookups on dead level pull thrus with free wi-fi. One week is gonna cost me a hunnert dollar bill. I pulled in, ran the slide out and zeroed in the DISH HD antenna in record time with the cold freezing drizzle falling on me. The rest can wait! It was 25 degrees and my hands got numb quickly even with gloves on. Soon as I could, me and Tuco the Dog headed out to town for a beer run. Been so many months since I had a beer I didn’t even realize Miller Lite had gone back to the retro packaging look. Like to not have found it in the cooler! A 12 pack was $12.99 at the Stripes. Noticed a bbq joint in town with a smoker that looked like a boiler out of a steam engine blowing the smoke. That will bear checking out in a day or two. In the meantime, I am going to shrug off the weariness of too many days worked and enjoy some time off.
P.S. Now that I am unemployed and driftin’, y’all hit up those Amazon links purty please. Any help is surely appreciated!
End Note: Ain’t Got a Place by James McMurtry from his latest release, Complicated Games.
“You ask me where I’m going and I just grin.”
Another dose of new McMurtry …… “I’m washing down my blood pressure pill with a Red Bull” heh!
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