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Dispatches from the Secret Hideout

Big Ass Suburban and Princess Palace on the launch pad

Big Ass Suburban and Princess Palace on the launch pad

If you haven’t had a day off in 6 months,  what do you do when you finally get some relief?  Most folks do the 9-5 Monday till Friday and look forward to an occasional extra day off when there is a holiday.  It don’t work that way in the Oil Patch.  We have been on 24/7 since the Trek East back around Thanksgiving; Christmas Day, MLK Day, Easter Sunday  — all the same same from where we were sittin’ and it takes its’ toll.

It seemed things just lined up right to do our time off.  The gate had slowed down with just flowback crews on 3 locations.  My Bro was finishing up a job and had some loose time.  The bank accounts were filling back up just a tad after the repairs on the Big Ass Suburban.  It was harder to find a reason to stay and work as not.  Going Nomad takes some effort when you been sittin’ still for a good long time. Stuff accumulates and has to be loaded up, stored away or toted off to the trash trailer.  When it takes everything you got to do another 12 hours on the gate, riggin’ down to leave is a pain in the ass.

Miss K will tell you right off the bat that I am a borderline whiner when we are packing up.  Moving 7 tons of man, machine and Dog just stresses me to the limit.  I worry about tires blowin’,  crazy drivers and transmissions weeping fluid on the side of desolate roads and such stuff as that.  It is just part of the script because back in the day when I made my livin’ running the roads it could and did happen.

The Secret Hideout

At the Secret Hideout

All the worry was for naught ’cause we made it the 300 miles  north with nothing to remark.  Let me tell ya, My Bro is puttin’ a dandy Secret Hideout together.  The 60 odd acres was so rough and tumble at first  it took several days of dozer work before you could even drive on to the property proper.  5 months of  hard labor later the place is shaping up to be a showpiece.  Real oak trees dot the property which has been cleared to look like a park. There was a lake just off our front door.  He has a fancy metal building with lots of roll up doors and places to park stuff.  Water and septic are just right there at ya and the only thing we had to provide was the electricity.  There were no clouds of choking caliche dust,  big trucks passing mere feet from our sleeping heads, incessant driveway alarms or glaring halide lights lighting up 4 acres.  It was welcome respite from the Pucker Brush.  When the weather radio started squawking one evening and the machine man told us about ping pong ball hails and 60mph winds, I told Miss K to rest easy.  We were safe under the metal roof of a steel building and more secure from the elements than we had been in 4 years.  It was just damned nice.

Little Blue and Brother Blue hooked in tandem

Little Blue and Brother Blue hooked in tandem

I was looking forward to honing some of our Nomad skills and electric supply was the biggie.  I had Little Blue and My Bro had graciously offered the use of his generator as well.   He has the same same Yamaha EF2000iS 2,000 Watt Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator as we do. For a reason…..  Little Blue will run everything on the Princess Palace except for the air conditioner.  Friends and neighbors, you don’t hang out in Central Texas in May without AC unless you are a tougher sumbitch than me.  Somebody clued up those engineers at Yamaha and they made the EF2000iS generator so you could hook two of ’em uo together with a simple YAMAHA Sidewinder Parallel Cable with gives you somewhere around 3200 watts continuous power.  The cable sure looks simple and doesn’t look like it should cost over 90 bucks.  I did some shopping and couldn’t find it cheaper.  Maybe those Yamaha folks had to put some Magic Smoke or something in there and that is why it cost so much.   Hey, it works and that is about all I am going to say about that.

I told you this was a shakedown for equipment and I did discover a few sidetracks.  Little Blue runs the Palace just fine with judicious power management.  On Day 2 I decided the low murmuring of this very quiet generator was just too much and I added a 25 foot extension power cable and moved Little Blue and Brother Blue around the corner of the building.   Problems ensued that were most likely due to the voltage drop from the extra cable run.  How many times in past posts have I mentioned Miss K’s Keurig K75 Home-Brewing System and generators in the same sentence?  I have no idea what manner of  nuclear power plant is inside that Keurig to heat up the water but it will lay a good generator low.  The evenings were cool enough that AC was not necessary so I just ran Little Blue through the night to keep the Vassani fridge and Danby Chest Freezer powered up.  It only took about a gallon of  gas and that is cheaper than food poisoning.  I worry about stuff like that.  Before our departure, Miss K moved the most critical perishables out of the Vassani fridge into the Dometic RV fridge.  She also took 4 1 liter frozen water bottles and put them on the shelves of the fridge.  After 8 hours travel, the fridge was at 44  degrees.  The chest freezer is full and got scarcely above 0 degrees in eight hours.  Under normal conditions,  Miss K would wake and fire up the Keurig. Little Blue would respond by going from the low RPM burble of ECO mode to the howl of full scream tilt.   Add that extra 25′ of power cable and that Keurig would trip out Little Blue — every time.  I had to go fire up Brother Blue as well for her to get her coffee.  Kinda bothersome but the alternative (no coffee for Miss K) is a hideous anticipation.

MEP-002A military generator in a M101A2 cargo trailer

MEP-002A military generator in a M101A2 cargo trailer

One of the things on the to-do list was to get up to the South Dallas storage and pick up the Green Monster and the DTB it lives in. Made up my mind I am going to sell that beast as it does not serve a needful purpose with the Terlingua property gone. I got to counting up and it has been over two years since that rascal has seen the light of day.  I had some reservations about the set time because you know a generator has just gotta be exercised regularly to keep it up to snuff.  I had pulled the batteries months back and they had been on a maintainer and I knew they were still hot.  The second day we were at the Secret Hideout, I made the 250 mile round trip to South Dallas and drug that Green Monster back.   I had it in my mind I would run that big bastard some and make sure it was up to speed before I sold it. It would supplement Little Blue nicely.

It took me about an hour to change the oil and filter and reattach the batteries.  I was holding my breath when I flipped the switch to fire up the beast.  Starting the Green Monster has always reminded me of pokin’ a sleeping dragon.  It belches great gobs of blue smoke and bucks and farts till it catches. Quite the sight and auditory experience, let me tell ya.  They just build that military stuff to tougher standards than that China fare at the Big Boxes.   I ended up running the Green Monster the hot part of every day. It handled the air conditioner and everything else on the Princess Palace with easy aplomb –even that damned Keurig.  It puts out such brutally efficient power I had second thoughts about letting it go.  I am already down a tow vehicle as it is. Probably if we had a truck for Miss K I would keep it. Ah well, it is a nice man toy to have but not entirely necessary.  Got it listed on CraigsList and I will move it to eBay if it doesn’t sell on CL.  Made a youtube to show it firin’ up –  Gawd, how did I get such a dirty face?

Miss K and her fave bowling ball --Black as a pair of Sunday shoes

Miss K and her fave bowling ball –Black as a pair of Sunday shoes

I preach over and over that if you have equipment in hand; you need to run that equipment.  Laying it back in the box it came in and hoping it will work when it gets to the nitty gritty is a fool’s dream.   We have a moderate amount of bowling equipment and all the accoutrements which go along with equipment of that nature. The logistics of the bowling hobby are horrific if you are a gate guard.  No bowling balls allowed in your possession is the rule and most landowners frown on indiscriminate bowling on their property any how.  I told My Bro one of the family activities during our vacay needed to be mucho bowling.  He accommodated in aces.  He has a grass runway on the property -because he owns 2 planes- and the addition of a two story pile o’ dirt across one end of the runway made for an awesome bowling alley.  You can get right up close and snap one quick like off the hip or you can back off hundreds of feet and launch those big bowling balls down range.  I found out some critical bowling items did not function as anticipated or did not measure up to internet hype.  Good stuff to know now and not later.

 

Lodge 8 quart dutch oven in action

Lodge 8 quart dutch oven in action

I got something else I need to come clean on.  I been trying to learn Lodge Cast Iron cooking best as I can because you just need two ways to do things that are critical.  Just makes sense, right?  When it comes to that cooking I am held to pretty high standards.  Miss K will tell me damned quick if my chicken is overcooked or whatever.  I expect her to do that and she has the creds to view my cooking with a critical eye because she is a damned fine chefette.   So most of my stuff has been passably edible.  I mean, if it was the Hard Times, I reckon I would eat most of my offerings with gusto.  To my way of thinking, it would beat hell out of rat nuggets or some such.  Since we were practicing up stuff like that, I decided I would cook up a dutch oven lasagna.  I googled up a recipe from a trusted source and Miss K picked up the particulars at the HEB in Marlin.  Since I have no understanding of food theory, I just cook straight from the recipe.  If it says stir it with your left hand ONLY that is what I would be doing.  So I did the lasagna thing straight by the book and loaded up my plate and it was a colossal fail.  If we were already to the Hard Times and I had a choice between this dutch oven lasagna and say — cat meat fajitas, it would take me a minute or two to choose.  Tuco the Dog would not touch it either.  It was just that damned bad.

Along about Day 7 at the Secret Hideout, we had pretty much made up our mind we were going to extend our time off another week or so.  That is one of the great things about gate guarding — since you ain’t punching the clock on a 9 t0 5 you got some flexibility.

Or maybe not.

End Note: Sex and Gasoline by Rodney Crowell from the Sex and Gasoline cd.

‘You shoulda been a rich man’s wife.’

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10 comments to Dispatches from the Secret Hideout

  • David

    Hey Andy,

    Glad you are enjoying your time away! We plan to camp for the first time on our 10 acres over Memorial Day.

    A few questions about the Yamaha twins.

    Did you ground them with a rod and did you run through the power sensor? I got an error when I tried mine without grounding and it shut off the power.

    Looking at the pic, are you using a 30 amp camper plug to 15 amp regular plug adapter?

    If you ran both generators with the A/C running, what kind of fuel usage would you have?

    Thx and safe travels!

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    • Andrew

      Hey David

      The Sidewinder parallel cable plugs in to the two round outlets and has a third wire that goes to the ground stud on each generator. I used no external grounding. The parallel cable has a 30amp RV plug built into the cable. I would guess I was using a quart per hour total between both units running the AC. The Palace draws 18-22 amps with AC on.

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  • Jim

    Good to see the vacation is going well for you.
    We leave June 1 for a week or 2 as well, been since Nov 26 since I slept past 4:45am!

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  • Nancy Klune

    I didn’t know you got rid of the Terlingua property. Hate to hear that.
    I was looking forward to your adventures building a place there.

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    • Andrew

      Hi Nancy,

      We could not solve the problem of a reliable and economical water supply. It was a deal breaker

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  • David

    When I tried my Chinese made Honda clone Tractor Supply Champion 3500/4000 generator, I ran it through the Progressive Industries EMS-PT30C, or at least tried to. The EMS-PT30C did its job and shut off the power due to an open ground. I suppose the EMS-PT30C isn’t necessary with a generator.

    Think maybe I will go ahead and drive a rod in the ground.

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    • Andrew

      David,

      Evidently plenty of generators have that problem. There are instructions on the internet to wire up a jumper plug to insert in an unused outlet that takes care of the problem.

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  • “We could not solve the problem of a reliable and economical water supply. It was a deal breaker.”

    Has anyone ever? For very long, that is.

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    • Andrew

      Hi Dick,

      We stayed at the Longhorn Motel for a bit and they are on a well. It was the worst water I have ever been exposed to. The mineral content was unbelievable. We estimated $20k to drill a well with no guaranteed results. Hey, It was a GREAT place to spend some time but NOT the place to spend ALL our time –especially if the SHTF.

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