4gslivingthedream

Adventures of Steve, Patti, Sami and Ozzie


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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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Wisconsin to Texas…back again!

After spending for the most part, the last two years in desert country and this past spring in southern Texas, it felt strange to see so much green all around us. We don’t recall Wisconsin ever looking so lush. In fact not much had really changed in Fond du Lac, but all the trees looked greener, bigger and fuller. There wasn’t an August drought this year and can imagine that they are having a beautiful fall right about now. Just glad we no longer have to worry about raking up all those leaves after they fall!!

It was in an odd way, strange to be back in our old home town. It’s hard to explain, but we are so used to traveling to new places and not knowing where things are, that to be in a place we were familiar with, was oddly unfamiliar to us.

However, being somewhere familiar did have it’s advantages, and for those of you who know us well, you know the first thing we did when we got here (well after we let our family know we were here, of course). Yes, we ordered Pizza! We had been craving pizza, GOOD pizza from not just one place but 3 places here in town, and they didn’t disappoint. Joe’s Fox Hut, Bob’s Pizza and Eatons….we won’t tell you exactly how many times we ordered them during our stay, but lets just say, we helped out the local economy plenty!

It was great being able to see the family again, it had been a long time. We were able to celebrate my Dad’s 75th Birthday with my family and spend time with Steve’s family as well. Steve even managed to catch a Packer’s practice when we stayed up in Green Bay for a few days.  I will take the blame for the lack of pictures from our visit home.  I am usually so good about packing the camera every time we leave the motor home, but for some reason, I really dropped the ball this time!

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Sadly, time was flying by quickly and soon it was time to go and say our goodbye’s once again. Never an easy thing to do, but we needed to head out to Indiana. We had some issues that we had been trying to get fixed on the Motorhome since we were in Vegas and no one seemed to want to touch it, so we decided to head to the one place we knew could take care of it, the manufacturer -Fleetwood, in Decatur, IN. The main issue was the overhead cabinet which holds our TV over the dash was coming loose from the ceiling. Every time we hit a bump or traveled a bad road, we prayed it would stay put and not become any looser or for that matter fall on our heads as we were driving!  OK, it wasn’t really that bad, but it needed to be fixed!

After spending, I’m sorry – wasting is a better word, almost 30$ in tolls to travel from WI to IN, we found our way to Decatur and parked ourselves in Fleetwoods waiting lot (electric hookups provided for free -NICE!). Not having an appointment, we had to arrive at the office early Monday morning to get a number for a “walk in” appointment, on Thursday we were finally called in. Service was good and they were able to get us fixed up with all our issues, well almost. But for the most part we were good to go and we hit the road on Friday for Texas, time to try to fill up the piggy bank again and time for another gate guarding gig.

This is just one of the service buildings at the Fleetwood Service Center.  Not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing that they were so busy.  But for the most part everyone who came here that we talked with were happy with the service they received.  Boy were there some nice coaches here!!!!

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The trip from Indiana to eastern Texas looked a lot like Wisconsin. Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas…we traveled through these states at a pretty quick pace and there wasn’t much to see from the highway. There was the occasional tree turning colors or river we crossed over, but most of the highways took us around the major cities such as Louisville, Nashville, Memphis and Little Rock. Someday it would be nice to come back and explore more.

Our last stop on the way down, we ended up pulling into a Wal-Mart for the night in Round Rock, TX, just north of Austin. It was a nice area and a pretty swanky Wal-Mart, nothing like we’ve seen before. After getting permission to park for the night and doing some shopping, we were all set to get some sleep and get on the road early. Well, it didn’t go down that way exactly.  The sun had set and all was quiet. We were on the side parking lot with no one was around us.  Then the cars started pouring in and before we knew it, we were surrounded by hundreds of cars and teenagers!!  They all were trying to get into Whataburger (a hamburger place) and those who couldn’t, were just hanging around the parking lot. Then the megaphones started…the cops arrived! We got ourselves caught in the football after party for a local high school!  We’ve never been in a flash mob, but I imagine this is what it would feel like.  It took the cops over 2 hours to clear out that parking lot, but finally it was all quite again and we were able to catch, well a little sleep…did I mention the train whistles around here, they really like to use them A LOT!

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Finally, we made it to our destination, Pearsall, TX. Here we would wait until a gate became available for us. The RV park was nice, had a pool, full hook ups and there was grocery store and Wal-Mart in town, so we could get stocked up with what we need and be ready to go.  and SUPRISE, there was also a rail road track across the road….once again…blaring it’s whistle at least 5 times every HALF HOUR it went through!

According to this, Pearsall is home to the worlds largest Peanut!

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Getting a gate took a little longer that we thought. They had gates available, however many of them are down long and very rough roads. The first one would have been a 9 mile drive down one of these roads, the second about two miles. Now we aren’t difficult people and we really wanted to get to work, however we just spend all that time and money-getting our cabinets re-secured to the motorhome, going down roads like those would have surely defeated that whole purpose. So we declined those two, waited a few more days and finally…we got our new gate.

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This gate is close to the major highway in Encinal and there are two major gas stations, a Pizza place, Mexican restaurant, Post Office and yes it’s also next to…wait for it….A %#$%#%# Rail Road track!  I kid you not! We are pretty used it now though.  This time around they have us hooked up with some serious power, check out the size of our generator!!  It’s very quite compared to the smaller units.

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Shopping is just 35 minutes away in Laredo, not to far. It’s different from the other gate we had, this one we have to keep the gate closed in between trucks but the traffic is much slower. The rig moved out last weekend and now there is little to no traffic at all. We still have to man it 24/7, but we switch off leaving each other time to sleep, eat and do whatever.  People here are nice and we’ve only saw one runner (illegal) cross into the property so far.  We are very visible to the main road and there is a lot of traffic around so they most likely won’t be coming to us looking for food or water, plus border patrol is constantly driving by.

There is more dust here than the other gate. Dusting is a daily event, if not twice a day on windy days. Even with everything closed up, it still gets in. There are horses across the way, stray dogs that come around but they don’t bother us. Being dog people, it’s hard for us not to try to care for them, but after  watching them for a while, we can see they are some of the happiest dogs we’ve seen. They run, play and look like they are getting plenty to eat. They just aren’t sociable to people. We have Roadrunners and Vultures too. No snakes (yet) and very few spiders here! The nights are getting cooler so we will have to be extra careful with mice and rats now.

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Speaking of weather, it’s been nice. It was humid and hot when we arrived, but the humidity has gone away for now. It’s been in the 90’s during the day but should start averaging in the 80’s here soon. No rain other than a sprinkle yet and the sunrises and sunsets are awesome!

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Even got to catch the lunar eclipse last week.

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Some one told me at our last gate that so many of the Ranchers here in Texas have gotten so wealthy from the oil industry that they don’t know what to do with all that money so they buy one of these!  Some folks pull 4 wheelers, some horses and some, well..they have their own personal helicopters!

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Not sure how long we will be here, in the oil patch, things change all the time. If all goes well, we are hoping to at least be here through the holidays.  Ozzie is good with that, he’s pretty comfy here.

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Until next time..

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM & HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!

 


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Heading back to Wisconsin

It was August and it was starting to get pretty hot in Texas.  It was time to head north to cooler temps and a visit back to Wisconsin, our first since we started full timing over 2 years ago.  We would miss the sunrises and critters that hung around our motor home….

Back 2 WI 013Oddly enough, these scorpions look like gummy bears.  They are nocturnal and were hanging out in this chair we had folded under the motor home.  There were about 5 of them, made us really glad we worked day shift, who knows how many of them are wondering around at night.

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As we drove north through Texas, the landscape changed from dry and dusty to green and lush, and eventually civilization…

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We had a pretty ambitious schedule and wanted to make it to WI in 4 days, so there wasn’t a lot of time for sight-seeing.  We came up through Oklahoma to Missouri which is home of the largest gift store and largest candy store, according to the billboards on the side of the road.  But one thing we can guarantee they have beat most states at hands down, are the worst highways ever!!  We did stop over for a night at the Lake of the Ozarks, this is one place we would like to come back and explore more.  This is the view we had at the campground we were at…a far cry from the oil fields of Texas.

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Only one more state to go through before we’d get into WI, Iowa.  I have to admit, I really never thought that there was anything special about Iowa, wasn’t it pretty much like WI?  No, not really.  Yes there are farms and crop fields, but it’s so green and manicured.  There weren’t weeds growing in the cracks of the roads or trash on the side of the highway..it was sort of like a painting with all the green rolling hills and corn as tall as either of us have ever seen.

Just one place we had to stop on the way…

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The movie set for the Field of Dreams is located just north of Dyersville, IA and in the middle of farm country.

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There were a lot of people here with their kids playing ball in the field and taking pictures of walking out of the corn, of course we had to do that touristy thing too!

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See the corn really is BIG!

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We haven’t managed to master this whole “SELFIE” thing.  For some reason every time we hold the camera up, we both think that we have to move our head back in some weird twisted way.  Something to work on but we couldn’t pass up this photo-op!

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So we left the Field of Dreams and crossed the Mississippi…Back 2 WI 123

…and we were back.  Hello Wisconsin!

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Next stop…Fond du Lac, WI.

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Still Hanging Out in Southern Texas!

As another Fourth of July holiday has passed, we’ve realized just how far we have traveled on this  journey of ours.  Our first 4th of July we watched fireworks over the St. Mary’s River in Sault Ste. Marie, MI.  Our second was in Salt Lake City, UT and this 4th of July we spent in southern Texas amongst the oil fields.  This had to be the first time we have never heard or seen any fireworks on the 4th, EVER!!  It was dead silent…except for the ongoing oilfield traffic and hum of the generators that keep us with power.  Not that the dogs minded at all, the loud noise of all those fireworks usually freaks them out pretty good.

We are approaching our 12th week working the gate here.  Traffic has been busy so the company has kept the night guard on, which is nice in that Steve and I have the same 12 hours off and can have normal meals together and sleep at the same time.  Trying to tip toe around while working when the other person sleeps is kind of hard to do in the motor home.

Weather wise, it’s been hot!  Although I think we are getting a little used to it now.  It also helps to know it’s not long before we can start traveling and seeing some new sights again.  It’s nice to be stationary and settle in somewhere for a while, but we do get that itch to move on after a while.

Even though for the most part this job can be monotonous, there are the few exciting things that happen.  Like the semi truck that took out our fence one morning or the collision between two semis just down the highway.  One of the semis crossed the center line.  I practically jumped out of my skin it was so loud, thankfully no one was hurt.

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Finally got the Javalinas on camera crossing the road.  There had to be a good dozen of them.   They look like wild pigs, but are actually smaller and can be just as mean especially with little babies like these guys have.

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We don’t see the coyotes all the time, but these tracks let us know they are around!!

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There are new bugs to deal with as the spring turned into summer.  Now there are flies, ants and an abundance of giant grasshoppers! They are huge!

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No big spiders or snakes in the last couple of weeks, but we did have a scorpion by our door step. He was pretty small and met with the bottom of my shoe!

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We have yet to figure out what this thing is, it was the size of my thumb and really ugly.  Only saw it the one time though.  Someone said it was some kind of cricket, but it doesn’t look like any cricket we have ever seen.

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This guy comes out after it rains, or maybe downpour is a more appropriate word around here!  It doesn’t rain a lot but when it does, it really comes down and there are puddles  and small lakes around for days!

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These two had no shame…get a room!!!

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Still discovering a lot of weird ugly spiders!

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We’ve been through so many different phases here from drilling to fracking to coil tubing.  There is a lot we don’t understand yet and wonder if we ever will, but it’s definitely been interesting.  Some of the trucks as are as big as a house.

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The whole border issue is big news down here.  The illegal immigrants from Mexico are crossing the border by the hundreds every day.  There was a train that derailed the other day with 1300 immigrants crossing over into the US, most of who were riding the top of the train, last I heard, no one was hurt.  Most are just walking across the border turning them selves in, others are still using Coyotes (smugglers) in which they pay a lot of money to help them cross into the border and into the states.  We haven’t had any come to our door yet, but the other guard has.  They are hot, tired, hungry and thirsty from walking miles and miles in this extreme heat, however it’s hard to tell if they are just looking for a better life here in the states or if they are part of the cartel.  Border patrol has pretty huge presence around this area since we are near such a major highway and responses quickly when called.  They seem to be on top of it when there are illegals in the area and search the ranch even in the dark of night.  With all that slithers and sneaks around here after dark, you wouldn’t catch either one of us out in all the brush.

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This will probably be our last post while gate guarding so here are our final thoughts on this experience…….

While it’s dusty, dirty, hot and sometimes tedious work, it’s also peaceful and relaxing in its own way. Beyond the highway noise and the trucks rolling by are cool animals and nature we have never seen before.  It’s given us time to catch up on books we’ve wanted to read, given us the craziest farmer tans ever…(yes we pretty much resemble raccoons) and we’ve had time to figure out what we want to do next.

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So the question is….Would we do this again? Absolutely!

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Until next time…..Happy Summer!

Steve, Patti, Ozzie and Sami

 


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Gate Guarding, TX

It didn’t take very long before we found ourselves crossing the state line into TX and back into CST.  The Guadalupe Mountains were beautiful and the temperature dropped to a very comfortable 80 degrees as we passed through.  This part of Texas is very sparse and there isn’t much around at all.  We were on one road for which seemed like forever, and only passed one car, oh…and drove over one snake.  It was so remote that we couldn’t even pick up a cell signal. As we got further south, it turned into more ranching area with lots of sheep, goats, cows and horses, but not a lot of homes. Here and there were little towns that time seemed to have forgotten, but a few folks still lived there in homes that have seen better days.

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It was Friday, and our goal was to be in Carrizo Springs by Sunday.  Monday morning we were to report to our new gig, Gate Guarding for the Oil Industry in Southern Texas.  We didn’t know at this point where exactly we were going; only the name of our gate and that it was somewhere close.  But we got the call the following day and everything was all set, were to report to our gate at 10 a.m. Monday.

But before reporting to work, Sunday night we stayed at one of the nicest little RV parks in Carrizo Springs – SB RV Park.  It was newer, mainly gravel with some areas of grass; however it had a pool and a new one at that!  They also offered free Direct TV, even giving you the receiver and cables to hook up your TV with.  Seeing that we were only there for one night, it just didn’t pay to set up our dish ourselves so we took them up on it.  We took advantage of the pool seeing it was so hot out and we knew it would be sometime before we had the opportunity to be around a pool again.  We will definitely head back there for a few days when we are done with our gate.  And if anyone is in this area and needs a park to stay at, you have to stay here!  The owners are the nicest people you will ever meet and most of the guests there are folks that work in the oil industry.  Besides the pool they have full hookup, a workout room, laundry room and they sell ice, which is a plus with the temps out here.  www.sbrvpark.net

So what is Gate Guarding?  Basically in a nutshell, this area is full of oil rich ranch land that companies lease to drill and frack for oil.  Each area is fenced and needs to be monitored as far as who comes in and out of the gate to the property, usually 24/7.  They hire folks who have an RV to live on site and track vehicles that come in and out and to basically keep an eye on things.

We are set up right off a pretty busy highway and inside a 10 foot high fence with a gate that is closed in the evening until morning unless we open it for trucks.  We run 24/7 off a generator, fresh water holding tank and septic holding tank.  It gives us all the regular comforts of being hooked up at a campsite.  The only thing I wish we had more of is shade.  We use our awning unless it’s really windy, but by 3pm it’s usually in the 90’s and if we can’t use the awning, it’s almost unbearable out for a while as we have no shade and it will only get hotter as the weeks pass.  Also dust gets everywhere out here….in your eyes, your nose, your mouth….we should have purchased stock in Johnson Co. for all the Pledge we are using inside to dust with and we don’t even open our windows much if at all.  The dust tornados are pretty cool to watch though, some small some really big.  I haven’t managed to get a good picture of any but have been in the middle of a few.

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Some of the days it’s quiet here with not much going on, other days it’s very busy.  Either way, it never fails, if you try to make some thing to eat, use the restroom or just cool off inside, a truck comes and you need to come out and either check them in or out.  But we are pretty used to it now.  I work days, Steve is on nights, but that will all be changing here soon.  They are about to begin fracking and that means we will be very busy with traffic in and out and also means we should be getting another couple in here to help us out.  It will be nice to have 12 hours off together and be on the same shift.

Today the last of the drilling rigs moved out.  It’s amazing to watch how they lower these huge rigs in almost one piece and then the next thing you see is it coming out in pieces on trucks to be moved to another location.  They have just about finished moving it out and the prep teams for the fracking are starting to move in.  But we have a few days before it gets to crazy.

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Other than that, we can honestly say that we now understand why they say “Everything is Bigger in Texas!”  Well at least when it comes to spiders and bugs in general…they are huge!  At least the snakes we saw were already dead (even though they were only 10 ft away from the front door of our motor home!) but the spiders, they come out at night!!!  Steve was sitting outside last night reading his book by the spot lights we have to photograph the trucks and no more that 12 inches from his foot, out marches a Tarantula.  This is the 3rd one of those we’ve seen.

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The first two met their end with the end of our broom, but as ugly and as creepy as they are, we just scoot them away now.  Plus our new buddies the Road Runners who have a nest behind us and are actually quite friendly, like spiders, so we will let them determine their fate.  The Road Runners are expecting baby RR’s, the nest is right behind our motor home.  If you look really closely, you can see the white egg in their nest in the tree.  Not sure if it’s just the one or if there are more, but I can’t wait until they hatch.  One of the workers here told us that a few Gate Guards before us actually tamed a few Road Runners and they would sit on the chairs outside with them during the day.  I love looking at them, but not looking to share my chair with them any time soon.

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If you look in the trees, at the middle of the picture and then look down, you can make out the egg(s) in the nest.

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There are lots of other cool birds around here. There is a pond up the road and Egrets hang out around there, there are Flycatchers – they have the really long tails, hawks and lots of Vultures. They like to circle around the highway in the morning and look for road kill…Yuk!

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Lots of other interesting creatures as well, spiders, bugs, beetles, rabbits, deer, armadillos…something new almost every day!

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These are like the Texas version of a boxelder bug.  They are everywhere, trying to fly into your ears, in your clothes, etc.  They drive us nuts!!!

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The different crews that work here are really nice and treat us well.  Took a while and a lot of evil looks due to the Packer plates on the Jeep and the Packer hats we wore to keep the sun out of our eyes….but they eventually came around, ha ha!  It has to be hard for these guys that work out here; they are on duty for 14 days straight and then have 14 off to be with their family.  I’ve seen the living units they live in being hauled off when the rigs moved, they aren’t anything to write home about.  There isn’t much to do around here either.  The area of Carrizo Springs is 14 or so miles away and other than a grocery store, a Wal-Mart and a few restaurants there isn’t much else.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice little town, but it’s grown faster than it can keep up with in the last couple of years due to the oil industry.  And the temperatures they have to work in are unreal.  They have these covered stations that have benches on either side with a fan that is 6 ft around that they can sit in front of to cool off….why can’t we get one of those at our gate I wonder???? Hmm…  But I’ve gotten a really good tan, from the elbow down, knees down and on the face everywhere but where my eyeglasses are…can you say Raccoon eyes!  Ha Ha!  I’ll have to work on that!  Steve doesn’t get to much sun since he sleeps during a good part of the day.  The days tend to be busier and how he sleeps with all those trucks going in and out is beyond me.  The generator helps though, kind of creates a “white” noise that you become accustomed to.

So that is it what we have been up to.  We’ve been here for just shy of 3 weeks so far, whether we will stay in this location or be moved remains to be seen,   but it’s definitely an adventure and you can’t beat the sunrise or sunsets!

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Until next time…..

 

 


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Carlsbad Caverns, NM

It was just a little over two weeks ago that we visited Carlsbad Caverns.  It truly is an amazing place and I can honestly say we’ve never seen anything like it before.  We took a lot of pictures and unfortunately many didn’t turn out because it was so dark, but we did manage to get a few good ones.

The Caverns are located in New Mexico in the Guadalupe Mountains. There are two ways you can enter the caverns, first is a 1.5 mile walk down (equal to 79 stories) to the natural entrance of the cave and the other is an elevator ride down 850 feet.  We had hoped to do the walk down but arrived too late in the day.  Once we got to the end of the elevator ride, we entered a whole new world.  This world was dark, damp and very cool.  The temperature of the caverns is roughly 56 degrees year round.  The self guided tour is about 1.4 miles of pathways through the caverns and takes about 2 hours.

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The great thing about this National Park is that they have a pet day care so we were able to leave Ozzie and Sami in an air conditioned area while we toured the caverns. It’s been a long time since either has been in a kennel but they did pretty good.

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This is the Great Room, it’s huge!

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There were Stalagmites and  Stalactites, as well as formations named Columns, Draperies, Soda Straws and Popcorn.

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NM to TX 166

NM to TX 162

This place was just massive, it’s so hard to explain it.  If interested, click on the link for more professional photos –  http://www.nps.gov/cave/photosmultimedia/index.htm

NM to TX 171

NM to TX 157

It’s really important that you stay on the path while in the cavern.   If you stray off the guided walk and try to explore on your own, you risk the rangers not seeing you on their last walk through, and if they don’t see you by closing, you stay there until the nextmorning, in the dark and all alone!!  And although they say that the bats no longer inhabit that area of the caves, we heard them flying around in there and no thank you!  That is the stuff nightmares are made of!!!

We left the caverns and headed south…Hello Texas, here we come!

NM to TX 201