4gslivingthedream

Adventures of Steve, Patti, Sami and Ozzie

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Tampa and Fort Desoto, FL

We pulled into the Tampa area and found a place to stay.  The resort was just 6 miles East of Tampa, appropriately enough named Tampa East RV Resort.  Anywhere south of here was pretty much booked for the winter so we decided this was good as any place to stay for the winter or longer.

The park was huge, it had 3 pools which came in handy as October, November and December were very warm and humid.

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Florida’s weather was a bit of an adjustment.  The humidity and dew point often were about the 80% range, which made it hard to be outside for any length of time.  Fortunately we had a nice shaded lot and were under huge trees on each side.  It was even nicer once all the acorns finally dropped and the constant pounding of them falling on the roof at all hours of the day was over! Gecko’s and tree frogs were everywhere.  They seemed to love hiding in the compartment doors of the motor home and jump out every time we opened them. The bug issue wasn’t bad, at dusk the mosquitoes came out and everyone seemed to stay indoors.

We had a little friend who came by each day around noon.  I think someone spoiled him long before we arrived and he learned that if he stood up on the picnic table and stared at us long enough, we’d give in and feed him. It worked!!

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Around Christmas the park started to get festive as people decorated their rigs. They even had a Christmas parade with Golf carts and they tossed out candy.

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Venturing out in this area takes careful planning and timing.  The traffic is just plain crazy.  Shopping trips can take over a half hour just to drive 8 miles.  If it’s a Friday after 3pm, it could take you an hour.  We came to rely on our traffic app to avoid the more congested areas.

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Airstream Ranch, right around the corner and off of I-4.  You don’t see something like this everyday..

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We decided to take a little side trip for the weekend and check out Fort Desoto just south of St. Petersburg, FL.

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The park has gorgeous white sand beaches, one is even designated as a dog park where they can run off leash and swim in the Gulf of Mexico.  Sami and Ozzie love the water , we were hesitant to let them off leash with the worry they loved it so much, they would just keep running or worse yet, swim to far out.  When it was time to go they didn’t want to leave.

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Next to the beach they have huge gated dog runs with doggie showers.  You can rinse of the sand and let them run until they dry off.  I know of two very spoiled dogs who were going to sleep very well tonight!

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The north beach was by far the nicest of all them.

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Wasn’t sure what to make out of this, but there were quite a few washed up on the beach.  Apparently, it’s a Horseshoe Crab.

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We walked the beaches until the clouds rolled in and then checked out the rest of the park.

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Back at the campground, the dogs were out like a light.

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The sites were tight, lots of vegetation and it was very tropical.

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It was hard to leave and wish we could have come back here again, but like usual, our plans change….we had to break the news to the kids…

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We’re moving to California!!

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Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach… it all looked a little different from the spring break destination that Steve saw back in 1986.

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Found a great RV Resort to stay at, it even had a guard at the entrance but I don’t know how effective he really was, it appears he not only lost his mind, but his whole head!

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The snowbirds hadn’t arrived yet so it was quite and most of the time, we had the pool to ourselves.  Loved the zero entry pool!

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Well, not completely to ourselves…. These little guys are everywhere…

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We were only about 2 miles away from the Daytona Speedway.  This place is huge!

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Checked out the beach area.   The sand here was hard packed and really easy to walk on.  Hurricane Patricia was off in the distance, we lucked out that it turned and didn’t hit land.  The water was like bath water, it was so warm.

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The hotels were massive along the beach and the homes big and expensive.

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We would have liked to stay longer but with winter comes the snowbirds and they were booked solid.  So we decided to head to the Gulf of Mexico.

Tampa here we come.

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Florida – FINALLY!

People ask us all the time, “where are you going next?” and we have been answering Florida for what seems like the last few years.  So when we finally crossed the state line and arrived here,  it was a great feeling.  It’s here we plan to spend the winter, exactly where we weren’t sure of, but it didn’t matter really, as long as we have the ocean and warm weather, we would be happy!!

We arrived at our first stop in Florida, St. Augustine – the Nations oldest city.    We pulled into a little park that was right off the highway and set up to stay for a few days.  This sign was posted right across the road, only 6 ft away.  NICE!

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We are in Florida now, better get used to all sorts of new bugs and creatures. Right next to our park was a huge flea market and when we weren’t exploring the Historic District of St. Augustine, we strolled around and looked at all the stuff folks were selling.  Kinda made my stomach sink as it brought back all the memories of the never-ending rummage sales we had selling off all our belongings before we set off on this journey.

The Historic District was beautiful, the buildings were colorful and architecture was amazing.

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Below is Flagler College.

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It is

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The ocean front homes….no words.

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This little guy was for sale and was only one house away from the beach…looks affordable….

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Only if you have a half a million dollars!

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After touring downtown, we decided to check out the beach.

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The sand on the beach was mostly crushed shell.

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Definitely one the prettiest beaches we’ve been to!

Next stop…Daytona Beach!

 

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To Mrytle Beach, SC

We’ve traveled to a lot of different places these past few years, the mountains, the deserts and everything in between.  However, there is just something about the ocean.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico or where we are now, the Atlantic.  There is just something about the soft sand, salt air and soft winds that keeps drawing us in.  Wish we never had to leave.  Maybe this time we won’t!?

Before getting here we spent a good amount of time this summer in Wisconsin.  We stayed at some familiar places and some we’ve never been to before.  La Crosse, WI is very scenic and there is a lot to see and do.  Although the sun wasn’t cooperating, we took a drive up to Grandad’s Bluff, 590 ft about the surrounding land and 1183 above sea level.  The views were amazing, I can only imagine how beautiful it would be in the fall.

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The La Crosse Queen padlewheeler on the Mississippi River.

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Mississippi River Bridge connecting La Crosse, WI and La Cresent, MN.

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From there we headed north and spent sometime at a little county park in Warrens, WI.  It was called McMullen Memorial Park.  Our site was the largest site we have ever had.  We took a picture from the front and the back of our pull through site from the road.  Easily could have fit another 3 motor homes on our site.

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From there of course, we spent some time in Green Bay.  Steve got to check out the Packers training camp and oh yeah, we got a new windshield!  What started out as a tiny crack from a stone, didn’t take to long to grow into a nice size crack across the glass.  Green Bay has to have the most roundabouts we have ever seen in one city, but they could use to invest a bit on the regular roads. Who would have thought glass could be so expensive!!

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We were able to spend a few nights in Fond du Lac and spend time with family before heading down to Indiana for some repairs.  Seems we always are heading somewhere for repairs, but when you travel as many miles as we do and live in your RV, things come loose, wear down or need replacing often.  But finally we were all set now and ready to hit the road again.

We traveled south through Kentucky into Tennessee.  The drive was beautiful but that shiny new windshield filled up fast with bugs and many of our pictures looked more like a crime scene than scenery!

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Smoky Mountains up ahead.

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Driving through the mountains.

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We drove through North Carolina briefly and then South Carolina.  On the side of the highway were all these dilapidated shacks.  Some open for business, others empty. Not sure where one could pull over even if they wanted to purchase what they were selling, which was mostly sweet grass baskets. Honestly, I have never heard of them but after doing some research, I wish we would have stopped to buy one.

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Once we hit Columbia, SC we did what I loved the most.  We changed our mind on a dime and headed east.  Myrtle Beach, here we come!

We stayed at a state park that was covered with huge Oaks and moss.  The walk was a few hundred yards to the beach, but the weather was beautiful, hot and humid, but beautiful.

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The airport was really close and the planes would fly really low over the beach area.

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White sands and warm water! Lots of dogs on the beach!

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We definitely need to invest in a good beach umbrella and beach chairs.  Check out the little guy in the shade.  He had a blast in the water.

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We have never seen a dog worn as a wrap before!

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To much fun, he was all pooped out!

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We would have loved to stay longer but…..

Welcome to Fl

Next stop, the oldest settlement in the United States, St. Augustine, FL.  Ozzie’s getting rested up!

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“Who can sleep, i’m too excited!”

 

 

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Mother nature tried to tell us something..GET OUT OF TEXAS…glad we listened!

After leaving South Padre, we moved north along the Gulf.  We didn’t go very far, we were starting to experience the beginning of the months of rain that Texas experienced this spring.

Along the way we stopped to check out North Beach in Corpus Christi.  The USS Lexington and Texas Aquarium are here.  The day after we came through local news announced that most of the fish in three of their exhibits died.  They were trying to treat a parasite that they had detected in the tank and when they added the medicine, it had an adverse effect and all but 2 died.  Very sad!

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We stopped off at one of the nicest little parks in Aransas Pass, TX.  Not much to the town but we were just a short ferry ride away from Port Aransas.  The ferry ride is the only way to get to the island and is free.  That weekend they had 4 running non stop, back and forth from the island.  You would think it would be worth it to just build a bridge, but the waterway between there and the mainland is used by the shipping industry and it would have to be a very tall bridge for the short distance between the two.

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We decided to check out Sand Fest one afternoon. This was right on the beach in Port Aransas. The sculptures were amazing, the weather…not so much!  Sorry for so many photos, but we couldn’t decide on which to post.

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They had an amateur sand sculpture competition too, however vandals got ahold of those the night before.  I just don’t understand some people.  There were food stands, live bands and vendors of all kinds.

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Most of the homes were rentals and the main means of transportation were golf carts.

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There were even pirates walking around.

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I think he was looking for his ship.

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The weather was rainy and dreary our first week there, however the second week was beautiful with low humidity.  The mosquitos were horrible, you couldn’t even step outside without getting them in your mouth or eyes.  But finally the town sprayed a few days and they went away.  We found ourselves staying longer than we anticipated because of the weather.  North was the tornado outbreak and here, the constant threat of storms.  When living in an RV it’s a little scary to be in storms or potential threatening weather.  At one point we were under a tornado warning  There are no shelters in the park since they are only a foot above the water table.  We saw some suspicious looking clouds and it turned out there was a F1 tornado touch down a few miles away.  ap2

The rain came down hard and flash flooding was an issue everywhere.  Even in our park we started to see the signs that Mother Nature was telling us to get out of Texas.  This is the road into our RV park.  The only way in our out and more rain was on the way.

ap1So we finally decided we couldn’t put it off any longer, the forecast was for rain, rain and more rain, but we needed to keep heading north.

We drove north to the Houston area to Brazos Bend State Park and stayed there for 2 days.  Texas has some of the nicest state parks.  This one was lush wetlands with huge trees with Spanish moss hanging down.  Deer roamed everywhere and one of the first signs we saw was DO NOT FEED THE ALLIGATORS!  WHAT?  Yes, alligators live in this park, but luckily for us we didn’t have any come and visit us.  There were lakes in the park where you could go to observe them, but again, it rained most of the time and mosquitos were as big as dragonflies!  A few days after we left they closed the park until the threat of flooding was over.

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It was hot and the humidity was near 100%.  This poor guy was exhausted.

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It was becoming a reoccurring theme, more rain was coming.  We thought for sure we would beat the approaching storm that was heading through Houston, no luck, it met us right smack in the middle of downtown.  Houston highways are not designed to drain water off the roads.  In fact, in no time rain water was pooling everywhere and some areas were starting to flood.  How Steve kept his cool and drove through that storm is beyond me, traffic was thick and everyone was in a hurry.

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Minute Maid Park – home of the Astros.

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We would have liked to have gotten better pictures but the rain wouldn’t cooperate.  Much of what we drove through was under water 2 days later.

Louisiana wasn’t looking much better, any more rain and these roads would be covered in water…pretty sure within a day or two, they were.

h3 h4Stopped for the night at a casino in Shreveport, it was right on the Red River which was expected to crest in a day or two, by watching the news I think that it crested and then some.  I don’t know if the RV park we were in flooded, it was pretty high up the bank, but a lot of the area has.  There was a really nice Prevost Marathon bus parked next to us.  Someday maybe….we can dream…..

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At this point, the news was going crazy about what had been going on in Texas.  We could only imagine what life would be like if we were still working in the oilfields.  Not only the rain and mud, but some folks were stuck on their gates with no way out and no one could get in to fuel them or bring fresh water. One couple even had to get airlifted out from their RV, leaving all they owned behind.  Many people ask, why didn’t they just leave, didn’t they know was coming?  It’s not that simple, you have no idea which way the water will go when roads wash away or dry creeks fill up and crest.  Our prayers go out to all who were affected by this horrible flooding.

After reaching Missouri the weather was beautiful.

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Drove by the Arches – St. Louis

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Illinois – great on gas mileage, nice and flat!  Stayed in Peoria, nice city with great Riverfront district.

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Next stop, Wisconsin where we managed to pull a few surprise visits off (which is the reason for the delay in blogging) and get some work done on the RV.  Not sure where we head next….until then here’s a Sami Selfie!

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South Padre Island, TX

If we would have fallen asleep and magically awoke here, we would have sworn we were on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean. South Padre Island in the Gulf of Mexico is nothing like we expected and everything we love, sandy beaches, blue ocean waters and warm weather!

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As with each time we have left a gate in the oilfields, it takes us a good couple days to get back into a normal routine. More so with Steve because he works the night shift. Sami and Ozzie take some time adjusting too. But here, with all this sand they are loving it! Sami seems like she’s a puppy again once her toes hit the sand. Ozzie plows right into the ocean and loves the waves. Now getting all the sand out of their coats is a whole other story.

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The Island is only 30 miles long and 1/2 mile at it’s widest point. To get to the Island you first cross through the town of Port Isabel and then cross the Queen Isabella Causeway bridge. This is the only way on or off the Island other than by boat and is 2.37 miles long and 84 feet above the channel.

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Once Holy week was over, there wasn’t much activity other than the kite surfers and paddle boarders, the beach was pretty quite.  We drove the the north end of the island as far as we could. Here all you could see is sand and the crystal clear blue waters. There were no buildings and it almost felt as if you were on some deserted island, except for the half dozen or so other people that had the same idea as you did and came to check it out.

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And just like that….there was no where else to go…

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Beautiful buildings and resorts line the island as well as more traditional “beachy” type homes.

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The weather here is very nice, although 80-100 percent humidity was a little hard to get used to. The temps range from 75-80 degrees and it’s usually pretty windy.  There is always a fog rolling in somewhere, but the sun is still shining above?

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It’s a very touristy area, so there are lots of shops and restraurants around. We just missed spring break, well more like we planned to miss it. There are still some MTV signage left around town and a few straglers that you can tell found a party somewhere but otherwise it’s very tame.

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This morning on the beach this poor guy had washed up on the shore.  They really are beautiful creatures and it was very sad.  We helped move him up the beach so that he wouldn’t wash away until someone from the research facility could come and get him.

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Ships and fishing boats of sizes pass through the port, each of them greeted by this massive statue.

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DSCN8487We are really enjoying our time here..so much more to see!

Happy Birthday to Steve’s Dad – Mark!  Hope you had a great day yesterday!

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Where does the time go?

It’s been six months since we returned to Texas and back to the exciting life of gate guarding. Figuring that the summers here are around 120 degrees, we thought it would be a great place to spend our winter and stay warm. But I honestly can say I don’t know why snowbirds come down here for the winter. Florida, California or Arizona, that’s the place to be. Southern Texas….it just gets darn right cold down here!!  Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating some….there were some nice days in there.

We’ve been on 5 different gates since we returned and celebrated most major holidays working – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and even Valentines day.

There is no time off in the oilfields! The guys out here are very nice and bring us treats every now and then.

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We have had some nice breaks in between gates, most recently at Lake Casa Blanca International State Park. This was a  pleasant surprise to find in the Laredo area. Most RV parks cater to the oilfield workers and aren’t much more than a dirt lot.


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This park actually had grass and a nice lake. It was George Washington’s birthday celebration in Laredo while we were there. It’s a big deal here, they have their carnival, parade and a huge fireworks show. We could see the fireworks show right from our site!  Bigger show than a lot of the 4th of July fireworks we’ve seen.

As I said before, winters here can be on the cool side.  Highs during the day can linger in the lower 40’s and dip below freezing in the very early morning hours. It also foggy most mornings and it rains/drizzles a lot! The rain makes things worse as most of the oil lease roads are made of caliche, which is made of lime stone. It’s a nice hard surface when it’s dry, but turns almost to a clay type mud when wet. We worked on one gate where we had to wait a week for the road to dry out and be re-graded before we could even leave. Poor dogs – we had to carry them into the shower every time we took them out to clean up their paws.

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Even with all the rain and mud, it dries up really quickly and the amazing sunrises and sunsets make up for it all.

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Now the weather is warming up nicely. But along with that, so is the illegal immigrant traffic. We see Border Patrol often, have even called them a few times ourselves. The last gate we were at, 4 young men came up to the gate most likely looking for food and water. It’s a difficult situation to be in when you’re in the middle of no where and you would love nothing more than to help someone in need, but you also do not know what their intentions are. We’ve been advised that if any illegals approach us, to not engage them if they are carrying backpacks or are in large groups, as they more likely part of drug or human trafficking.

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I don’t know how the Border Patrol Agents know when illegals are in the area, but out of the blue the helicopters and horses arrive. They track them by their foot prints in the dirt. We’ve heard some of the illegals actually wear carpet on the bottom of their shoes to throw Border Patrol agents off their trail. These agents are really brave though, they will go off searching on their own, not knowing what they could run into.  But I guess if I was armed like they are, I’d feel pretty safe too.

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Seen some new birds as the weather is getting nicer – Pyrrhuloxia, Mocking birds, Green Jays and Vermilion Flycatchers.

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At the last ranch we were at had these friendly guys come around to say hello.

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At this gate we have Jack Rabbits everywhere! Coyotes, javalinas, deer and even a wolf hang out down the road. A year ago that would have totally freaked us out, not so much anymore. But soon we will be back into tarantula and snake season…that we’ll never get used to. There is a Road Runner that has been hanging out here so that’s good. He eats both of those!

This gate will probably be coming to an end soon and we find our selves wondering what’s next. The oil industry is not doing as well as it was last year, a lot of companies are laying off and shutting down gates. So if we don’t get another gate right away, we’ll probably hit the road again.

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Until next time…here’s Ozzie and his buddy sending you a big hug!

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