This really has been a bizarre few weeks for us. It all started with the truck having the wrench light come on in Mississippi back on the 10th of October. Then the next day Patty’s mother went into the hospital and then died 6 days later. We then made our first long trip (1,100 miles) back north from Jackson MS to Buffalo NY for the funeral. We got back from Buffalo to find that our truck was still not finished and it was another 10 days (total of 26 days) before we finally left to continue further south. However, not until we paid $2,800 for the repairs! Four days later in Ingram TX we had the same issue return on the truck. This time though Ford ate the charges, but it did delay us for 2 more days. We finally made it to our winter site in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas on the 14th. We got set-up and I got a phone call from my step-father’s hospice nurse saying that we should get there ASAP as he was in his last hours of life. We left the next morning at 10:30 am for the 1,400 mile trip and arrived 3 days later in Crawfordsville Indiana. We did all of this in just 5 weeks!
|Saw this road runner when I was taking the garbage out the day we left Ingram TX.|
Tuesday the 11th we got the rig ready to leave and then at 8:00 am I picked up the truck at Ken Stoepel Ford. Got the truck gassed up and then went to Home Depot, Lowes, and then to The Tractor Supply Company where I picked up a portable propane heater. I got the Mr. Heater Buddy that has been recommended by many people online. The heater uses the small 1lb propane cylinders so I got a pack of 4 before I headed back to the RV. Our plan was to use the Mr. Heater while we are at the Gate guard site in Cotulla, TX boondocking. The weather is to get pretty cold there (highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s) and the RV furnace is not very efficient so we can use the heater.
We are headed to Cotulla TX about 180 miles straight south from Ingram TX. We are visiting our new friends, George and Tebra, we met via the internet that are gate guarding at an oil well field a few miles outside of the town of Cotulla TX. Actually, Tebra first sent us an e-mail that went into our spam bucket. She then later sent a message through our blog that I got and then responded to. They have the same RV, Sanibel, as we do just a year newer. They also purchased the rig at the same dealer as we did and they went full-time almost to the day a year later than we did, August 2013 and us in August of 2012. So we had much in common.
So we made a date to meet them at their gate guard site on our way down to Elsa TX. We kept moving the date due to our truck and parent issues but here we are finally at their site. George and Tebra have been at this gate since January of this year. I had originally thought that gate guards only worked a couple of months and then moved on. Well, I learned a lot about gate guarding from George and Tebra and in fact there are both short and long term gate jobs. They work 24/7 with each taking a 12 hour shift. The work is long but not hard either. They are furnished with their camp site, water, sewer, and electric as well as a daily wage.
|George and Tebra's Sanibel is on the left and ours is on the right. They were telling the truckers that they were starting a Sanibel lot.|
|This is the gate guard support flat bed. It contains the diesel generator, the water tank, and the diesel fuel tank. The flat bed also contains the water pump.|
We got to really see a busy gate while we were there. They said that it was usually slow, about 20 vehicles a day they checked in and out. It looked like they were now doing that every hour while we were there. This is an interesting work idea but it would not be for us. First, we are not really wanting to work and certainly not that many hours. Also, Patty sees way to many doctors to make this something we could consider. However, we really did like meeting George and Tebra and seeing this job in action.
|George and Tebra. Great hosts!|
We found that the Mr. Heater was not a good solution when using the small 1lb cylinders. They just didn’t last long enough to make it worth the cost of the convenience. The heater has 2 settings, low and high. On low we got 4 hours per cylinder and on high we got 2 hours. The low setting is about equivalent to our electric fireplace on high which keeps us 25 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. The Mr. Heater high setting is almost 10,000 BTU which kept the RV at 70 inside with the outside temperature of 29. Actually, we needed to turn the heater down or it would have been over 70 inside. To make the Mr. Heater a better solution I bought the adaptor hose for our 20lb BBQ cylinder. After we started using the 20lb we were very comfortable for the next couple of days.
|Entrance to the gate.|
|Looking back toward the entrance to the oil rig site. Note both of our Sanibels. Ours is on the right.|
|Pictures of the oil rigs.|
We said our goodbyes to Tebra the night before we left as she would be sleeping when we left on Friday. Friday the 14th we packed up and said our goodbyes to George before heading the 230 miles further south to our winter place, Natures Resort in Elsa TX.
We arrived at Natures around 4pm after the office was closed but it didn’t matter as we already knew we were in site 120 and we could take care of paying later. We took our time setting up as we will be here for the next 5 months.
|Our site at Natures resort in Elsa Texas.|
A few days ago my step father (Leon) was placed under hospice care. The main reason to go with hospice was to make him more comfortable as his condition was not going to improve. He and his wife are in an assisted living facility where he can still go to dinner and he can mostly carry on a conversation. He really wasn’t on watch for eminent death, at least at this point.
On our way down to Natures from Cotulla we got a call from the hospice nurse to let us know that Leon was not doing well. She went on to say that we did not need to come back to Indiana just yet. She said that she normally gives family a call when it looks like death is within a week. She didn’t think Leon was in this stage but that nothing is guaranteed. We fully understand that.
While I was setting up the site, Leon’s wife’s daughter Kathy left me a message to say it looked like Leon was going to pass soon. I called Kathy and explained what the hospice nurse said and she said that Leon had a major change just after the nurse called me in the afternoon. Kathy and the nurse were meeting with Leon later that evening and they would give me an update then. The call was from the hospice nurse and it was the one where he will pass in the next 2-3 days if not sooner. She said not to catch the red eye tonight but I need to think about getting there tomorrow.
We made the decision to rent a car and drive the 1,400 miles to Crawfordsville, IN. We could fly and be there on Saturday but at considerable cost and we didn't know when we would be returning. I also do not like flying due to the very small airplanes that they use for these small markets like we are in and going to. Also, my stepfather and I are not close but he is the only father I have really known (my real father died when I was 7). All of that said, and I know he would understand, we decided to drive.
Driving turned out to be the right thing to do. Just after we left Leon started to improve. We drove 9 hours on Saturday and stayed the night just north of Dallas TX. Sunday we drove another 10 hours and stayed just over the Illinois state line in Marion IL. Then on Monday the 17th we drove the last 4 hours into Crawfordville IN. We went first thing to see Leon and see how things are. We found him to be stable but somewhat fragile. Anyway, we are not really sure of how long he has to live. He is not doing well but he seems he could stay like this for a while. We stayed and had dinner with Barbara, his wife, at the facility and then called it a night.
|Our first snow in Marion Illinois.|
|First stop in Indiana. The non-antifreeze windshield cleaner from south Texas froze so we stopped here to clean the windows.|
We are planning to stay here for the next week or unless something changes.