Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Endorsed Items

Our Top 10 products in use EVERY day while boondocking or gate guarding.


All ads other than Amazon have been removed. Thank you for using my Amazon links like the one above for your online shopping.



Terlingua Reprise - 110 Days

Andy’s Note:  As of 4/3/2012, Miss K and I are back working a gate in the Brush Country of South Texas.  The Terlingua Reprise series of posts that will follow the next week or so recount our time off in South Brewster County.

Weed Wash at dawn

110 days is too long a stretch to go without a day off.  For those uninitiated in the ways of oil field gate guards, I am talking about 110 days straight — 7 days a week.  Cubicle dwellers think in terms of 5 and 2.  When they say I haven’t had a day off in months they are such liars!  Most of ’em get 2 days off every week.  They should spend a month in my boots.

The problems of working so many days straight are manifested in many fashions.  All a person wants to do is work their shift and go to bed.  Going to town for groceries or mail is not an event to look forward to as it once was.  It is a hated interruption to an ingrained routine and an unwelcome expenditure of energy.  Personal relationships have to be stronger than ever when both parties are ground to a slick nub by a relentless work schedule.  Tempers are short and might flare at the slightest provocation.  Resentment toward a partner because ‘you are doing all the work’  can simmer on the back burner until it flares into an ugly altercation.  All in all; not a good place to be for either partner.

Miss Kathy and I had settled into that grind.  It was not unfamiliar territory. Truth be known we were not anticipating or planning time off.  Being 350 miles distant from the closest yard made it impossible to get a fill in for a few days or even take a few hours off.  Goes with the territory I reckon; no sense in whining. It came as an abrupt shock when the Company Man stopped by Wednesday morning and told us we were released.  Made sense after a fashion though and I understood his reasoning.  The rig was down for repairs right in the middle of this hole.  Projections were perhaps as long as 3 weeks to get the repairs done so it really made no sense for us to hang around on the payroll.  As soon a Miss K woke up, we began to discuss Plan B.

Permian Basin Moonrise

First order of business was to determine exactly when we would actually leave the property.  I know many of the gate guards blow out of Dodge like their hair is on fire as soon as they are released.  Us; not so much.  The service guy could not come and fetch the equipment until the next morning which is pretty danged good to get there that quick with the distances involved.  Our other concern was mail already enroute to our local post office box.  A quick tabulation showed most of it should be delivered by Friday.  One of the mails was a paycheck and we would save a 300 mile round trip at a later date if we just delayed our departure one day. With all the pros and cons being properly weighted, we decided a departure to points south on Friday was the best option.

It had been some time since the Old Girl had been completely off grid as we were going to be for the next 2-3 weeks.  Sure, as gate guards, we are boondocking in a broad sense of the term but we are definitley not off grid.  I call it Industrial Boondocking.  Enjoying the amenities of an ample water supply, self-contained septic system and a bad ass diesel generator is not exactly hardship duty in my book.  Well, the plug was gonna get pulled on that little party Thursday morning so I knew I had best get cracking and line them ducks up.

Tuco the Dog loves to go out piddling with me.  I can be squatted down stowing stuff in one of the bays and looking up, see her watching me intently with head on paws from a few feet away. So that is how it went Wednesday afternoon the 14th of March.  Fresh water tanks were filled to capacity which is not our usual travel norm.  I fret the weight of almost 500 lbs of water and the stress it puts on the backbone of the Old Girl as we tootle down the road.  Little choice in the matter though when your destination is the High Chihuahuan Desert where water is a commodity precious above all else.  Lines were stowed, mud porches picked up and awnings furled.  The DTB swallowed piece after piece of equipment and Tuco the Dog and I reveled in the process. I wonder if my great-great-great ancestor who came across the mountains from the Carolinas to Tennessee in the early 1800’s felt the same mix of elation/trepidation/anticipation when he was packing the ox cart back in the day.  I bet so; 40 years of wanderlust comes from somewhere.

The Green Brute at home in its' DTB

Last order of business on this bright Spring day was to run up both of OUR generators.  Regular readers will know that there is not much shiny, new and fresh out of the box around our world.  A historical shortage of long green seems to be the hand dealt to most wanderers and the two of us are no exception.  When the bank account is not fat, you level out your world with a mixture of common sense, ingenuity and old fashioned hard work.  Such is the case with the 2 generators that travel with the Old Girl.  The Generac 66LP propane generator that lives up in her snout crapped out last year after a decade and then some of reliable service.  I guess some would have scrapped the old generator due to scarcity of parts and gone on about their business.  We had little choice but to fix it in the heat and caliche choke of an oil company pad in North Texas. The Green Brute came to us courtesy of the Fed Gov and a surplus equipment auction.  25 years of sitting in a warehouse somewhere aged the diesel generator even though it saw only seven hours of use in a quarter century. Multiple components were replaced before it was deemed serviceable and trustworthy.  Along the way I managed to gain some familiarity with a new to me piece of equipment and enjoy some peace of mind that we would see long service out of this huge hunk of steel.

So that is where life found us — Miss K, Tuco the Dog and me — in mid March of 2012.  Turning the key switch on the Old Girl to begin the trek, I breathed a soft request.  ‘Get us there one more time.’   When you come down to it, it is all good.

End Note:  The Illegal Line by Will Hoge from the Number Seven cd.   50 miles north of that illegal line in Texas.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (6 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)
Terlingua Reprise - 110 Days, 10.0 out of 10 based on 6 ratings
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...






4 comments to Terlingua Reprise – 110 Days

  • Joel

    Welcome back, Andy.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Mike & Linda

    Glad to see you back. Hope that the days off were relaxing. As to that old generator, it may even have American steel in it. The quality of some of the steel components I see nowadays is lousy.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Andy, I just got turned onto your blog so pardon me if I’m not too familiar with your story. This post caught my eye because my hubby and I just left the Big Bend Region, we love it there. It would’ve been fun to meet you since hubby and I have often talked about applying for a gate guard position, since we work online from our rig practically 24/7 anyways. But honestly I’m not sure we have what it takes.

    As we sit here at a free county park up in the Panhandle, the smell of oil/natural gas is everywhere. I’m wondering, how do you deal with the stink of being in the field 24/7? Do you get headaches at all? I”m really susceptible to them and am wondering if being a gate guard is a bad idea for someone like me?

    Any thoughts greatly appreciated!

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Andrew

      Welcome Rene,

      You are smelling what they call ‘sour gas’ — not an every day occurrence by any means. It does however fall under the category of once smelled/always remembered. The aroma of pulpwood mills in East Tennessee are also in this category.

      The blog will have several Terlingua entries over the next few days and don’t worry about coming late to the party — I can’t remember half the stuff I wrote about anyway.

      VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
      VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Leave a Reply to Andrew

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>