Musings and Info about life on the road

A Creature of the Night…..or How I Feel Like I Am Becoming One of the Undead!

Or so it seems like it sometimes at night out here amongst  the mesquite. Especially, at say, three in the morning when Kay is abed, and the dogs and Stinky Uno (the cat) are asleep. I sit here and listen to the generator a runnin’ and the oil company trucks a drivin’ by and to quote David Byrne:

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right?…Am I wrong?
And you may tell yourself

But hey, the money’s good and there is no where to spend it. What more could you want? And, at this very moment, an 18 wheel oil tanker is heading up the road towards CHECKPOINT TAYLOR and I will decide if it passes through our gate or not! What power!  Muuwaaahaahaa!

When last I wrote we were on the Springer Ranch outside of Encinal, TX. As soon as the Coilers were finished with their job there we moved on with them to the Light Ranch which is located between Artesia Wells and Catarina. It was another coiling job that lasted but a few days. Here are some pics of our gate that site:



In the picture above, the buildings you see in the background house very large compressors used to move product through a pipeline. They were a wee bit noisy. The Light Ranch is one of quite a few of rather peculiar Texas ranches. It is a hunting ranch, as was Springer Ranch. For a rather large amount of money you can go on guided hunts on the ranch for either native species, or exotic types. We are talking thousands of dollars to kill yourself a large racked whitetail, or perhaps an oryx. While we were guarding the gate at Light all we saw were some type of unusual sheep.


Having raised sheep for a number of years, I hope these weren’t for hunting. I cannot imagine paying really big bucks to bag a sheep. A SHEEP! Some challenge for a Great White Hunter.

We were only at the Light Ranch for a few days until the Coilers were finished. Our boss Tony called and told us that he had a permanent post for us at the Briscoe Ranch which is situated about twelve miles to the west of Catarina, TX. It is a huge place with more acreage than the state of Rhode Island. So off we went again to our new digs which proved to be pretty nice actually:


And flat. Here is an aerial of the mesquite plain:


And all of the rules:


This isn’t a bad spot at all. It is isolated with not too much noise except for the traffic that travels the road day and night, and the constant sound of the generator (God bless it) which I don’t even notice anymore. The temperatures have been in the 70’s and 80’s during the days, and in the 40’s and 50’s at night. On Monday it actually reached 92 degrees. There are a variety of birdies and beasties about, and on our first night here we were visited by a small herd of young steers that I managed to chase off.  They haven’t returned, but the Coilers will….on Black Friday. Life is good.

Well, the night grows old and I must away before the coming of the dawn! Happy Thanksgiving y’all!


Workin’ in the Oil and Gas Fields of Texas! ….

After spending six days in the Carrizo Springs area of Texas, which seemed quite a bit longer than six days, we received a call from our boss at Guard 1 Services. He had a gate assignment for us nearby  at a place called Vivian Ranch in Catarina, TX, a virtual ghost town, which is about 20 miles or so southeast of Carrizo Springs. We would be guarding the entrance to the ranch, 24 hours a day, which has active oil and gas leases on it. The company working there is called Rosetta Resources who was going to be doing a coiled tubing at one of their well sites. What is a coiled tubing you ask? Well, a coiled tubing is like a colonoscopy for a gas or oil well. A very long metal tube that is coiled on a huge spool and sent down into the well to perform any number of functions. Here is an article about the process if you are interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coiled_tubing.

So, last Wednesday we left Carrizo Springs and drove the Casa over to Catarina, found Vivian Ranch, and settled ourselves into our assigned post. The owner, Eddie Vivian, who is a warm and friendly man in his 70’s came by and welcomed us to the ranch. Later on about sundown, Nick our boss, whom we met for the very first time, showed up  and gave us a quick lesson on what gate guarding consisted of : having one or both of us at the gate to check-in and check-out everyone who comes through the gate 24 hours a day. Photographs, and various other information is entered by us into an iPad and then synced off to Guard 1 Services. After our boss Tony was there for a while another man from another company came with a big diesel generator on wheels to power both our trailer, and a rather large four light tower for nighttime illumination of our dirt road and the vehicles coming in and out. It was a very busy evening to say the least. The next morning, on our 1st official day of work, we were also brought 200 gallons of potable (sort of) water in a tank to which we quickly added a filter, and a large septic tank to attach to our toilet. Here are some pics of the sight. Both day and nighttime views:



We were set as the trucks, after trucks, after trucks started to stop and check themselves in. The came in all shapes and sizes, pickups to eighteen wheelers. Cranes, tankers, flatbeds with the coiled tubing on them. Workers from Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma; all of whom have been very friendly and polite. A lot of “Yes Mam”s and “Yes Sir“s. Nice!



The data entry in the iPads took some getting used to as the training was brief and then we were on our own. But, we managed to catch on fairly quickly. It is the working twelve hour split shifts that really takes some getting used to. My loyal dog Harry and I have been doing the Graveyard Shift this week. I try to stay awake while he sleeps, but I suppose it’s the thought that counts. Fiona likes to sleep in the bed with Kay.  Kay’s turn for the dark of night starts tomorrow.

Vivian Ranch is a no hunting ranch…. in Texas….how can that be???  They certainly have their share of critters and birds. We saw Crested Caracaras, Cactus Wrens, Roadrunners, and Mockingbirds. There were also deer, rabbits, jackrabbits, coyotes, javelina, and I got to see my first armadillo.

This past Monday evening one of the bosses from Rosetta stopped by to tell us that they were finished with the coiling, and the next day at 8 a.m. we were to leave from Catarina with a convoy of “coilers” for a new spot on the Springer Ranch ( a hunting ranch…ahh,… that’s the Texas I’m familiar with) right outside of Encinal, TX.  Tuesday morning we were up early, packed, and on the road by seven-thirty for the 40 mile drive to our next station. Our directions were good and we found our current gate. Soon after we arrived the convoy of coilers started to roll in to their new job and our new home.


Not long after the coilers arrived Tony appeared as if by magic with a GenPac for Kay and I. Its a small utility trailer with a 30 amp diesel generator, fuel, and potable water tank all on the trailer. Very compact and easy to set up.


The gate sight is right off of Highway 44 and I-35. There is a constant flow of traffic, mostly oil an gas related, that goes by day and night. I know this because I am writing this at 2 a.m. I took this picture at sunrise yesterday morning:


A Texas oilfield sunrise. Aaah. Very picturesque.

With the sunrise came some excitement. Kay spotted two Mexican Green Jays. They are a neotropical species of jay that range up into this part of Texas. It was quite a treat for her, and I got to see 6 more of them around sundown.  Here is a stock picture (rather small, sorry) of one of the little beauties if you have never seen one. I wasn’t able to get a picture of one…. yet.


So, that’s what is going on here in Texas. We expect the coiling here to refinished by the weekend, and we will then be following the crew off to another site on the Light Ranch which is somewhere in the area. Or, so rumor has it.

Now, Goodnight Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea. Kay will soon be arising for the dawn patrol and I’ll be off to bed.


Deeeep in the Heart of Texas….

Let’s see….when last I posted anything we were leaving Ojo Caliente –


and making our way south to the ol’ Bosque Del Apache to visit with some friends and see some birds. Well, that we did. The Sandhill Cranes were beginning to arrive at the Bosque along with some Snow Geese. Here are some of the cranes on a rather cloudy morn:


Later that same afternoon the dogs came bird-watching with us, and the weather was quite nice. That’s Fiona in the foreground:


It was Monday and would be the last nice weather we would see, up thru and including today.  On Monday night we went to dinner at the Owl Cafe in San Antonio, NM with some old friends and caught up on all of the Bosque gossip. There were stories aplenty.

Tuesday morning we continued on our Texas odyssey with a rainbow to bid us farewell.


We went from the Bosque south to Anthony, TX  which is just over the New Mexico – Texas state line, stopping for a bit in Las Cruces to have drug tests done which the company we are going to work for requires. Then we spent the night in Anthony in a howling windstorm. The old trailer was a rockin’ and a rollin’. The high wind (+30 m.p.h.) was because of a massive frontal system that was starting to reveal its ugly head as came out of Mexico.

On Wednesday we drove from Anthony through El Paso (no fun!) to Fort Stockton on I-10 eastbound in the rain. Yesterday we went from Fort Stockton to Del Rio, then on to Eagle Pass following the Rio Grande until we swung east at Eagle Pass to our destination at Carrizo Springs, TX. Again the drive was in the rain. Texas is in a drought right ?


So, here we will sit until we receive our Oil Field Gate Guard assignment. Carrizo Springs ( carrizo is a type of reed by the way) is a small, not very picturesque town located in one of Texas’ oil  field areas. The country here a bouts is very flat and brushy with, not getting too technical, a lot of oil field “stuff” going on all over the place. When we find out where our final destination is I’ll be sure to let you know. Maybe we’ll see a sunny day tomorrow. Here’s hoping!


Still Heading South…..

November already….time’s changing….Old Man Winter is on the way…. and here ‘s proof!

Photo courtesy of William Kukes

Photo courtesy of William Kukes

Just kiddingActually the photo was taken by our friend Bill Kukes  whom we worked with in Yellowstone. Pat and Bill just got back from Churchill, Manitoba on Hudson’s Bay where they went to see the Polar Bears, and see them they did! I guess they didn’t see enough bears in Yellowstone.

Tomorrow we are leaving Ojo Caliente for the Bosque Del Apache. We’ve seen the Sandhill Cranes migrating south here at Ojo. I’ll keep you all posted from the Bosque. It’s kind of like going home for a while.


Ojo Caliente…..

We bid adieu to Rabbit Valley and the Grand Junction area on Thursday, and  continued our way south heading towards New Mexico. From GJ we took Highway 141 through Unaweep Canyon and the Dolores River Canyon. We then swung over to Dove Creek, and on to Cortez and Durango. It was quite the pretty drive being Autumn and all. When we got to Durango we called it a day, and overnighted in the luxurious (not) Walmart parking lot.

We were up and away early on Friday….Walmart parking lots do that to you. Friday’s route was Durango to Pagosa Springs, then south into New Mexico with our destination being the Abique Reservoir where we stayed last fall for a while. But, Ooooh…the campground was closed for the season. After a quick consultation Kay and I decided to try the campground at Ojo Caliente, home to its world renowned hot springs. Ojo is about thirty five miles or so north of Espanola. It turned out to be a win…win…win situation.  The campground had plenty of vacancies, it was relatively inexpensive, and it was located in the bosque along the banks of the Rio Ojo Caliente. A pretty little spot indeed. Plus, a very, very big plus for Kay, the hot springs are within walking distance from the trailer. Here are some photos of our camp in the cottonwoods, and the surrounding scenery.:




About a quarter of a mile or so from our site there is this rather unique round, wood and adobe, horse barn  that was built in the 1920’s and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.


Here is a shot of the inside second floor and roof:


One never knows what will turn up when you are out and about in New Mexico – such as this meditation circle / labyrinth:


So, we are going to be here for a few days longer and the we’ll head down to the ol’ Bosque Del Apache to visit with some friends.



In Grand Junction….. For Now

When last I wrote Kay and I had left Yellowstone and were headed in the direction of Grand Junction to visit for a while with Emily and our friends Carl and Sandy. Well, made it we did. After leaving Yellowstone we went Buffalo Bill State Park outside of Cody, and then on to Boysen State Park south of Thermopolis, WY., and stayed there for a couple of days tucked away  inside the Wind River Canyon at the park’s campground.




After leaving Boysen we drove south to Craig, CO via  Riverton, Rawlins, and Baggs, WY. We overnighted in Craig and continued on to Rabbit Valley outside of Grand Junction on Monday the 6th.


We camped at Rabbit Valley until this past Friday, and then went to stay with Sandy and Carl while we have some work done on our trailer.

Emily looks good and is doing well… which is always good news.

The weather has been warm here in the Grand Junction area. It is hard to believe Columbus Day is tomorrow. Yesterday we took a ride to the north up over Douglas Pass with our hosts to look for Fall colors, and actually found some!


While we were in that neck of the woods we also stopped to look at some Fremont Style Pictographs that Sandy wanted to see:



The figure in the center of this panel is alleged to be Kokopelli, the humpbacked flute player. The figure to the right on the panel is, without question, a DALEK…..



Goodbye to Yellowstone…..

Dateline: Buffalo Bill State Park, Cody, WY

Tuesday, Kay and I said farewell to the Bookstore and our co-workers after finishing the store’s end of season inventory. Wednesday, on the morning of our departure from Yellowstone, we awoke to a dusting of snow – the season’s first – which reinforced our desire to be gone. And go we did. We headed out the East Entrance of the park bound for Cody, WY and Thermopolis. From there we will continue on to Grand Junction, CO…..the land of no –


Buffalo!  The Yellowstone critter that both Kay and I have decided we enjoyed the most.

So, I thought I would close out the Yellowstone Chapter of our travels with these final photos that I took last week in the Upper Geyser and Biscuit Basins, and along the Firehole River.






Yellowstone is a very lovely place, but when the urge for going hits it is time to be gone.


Reunion in Yellowstone….

Last Monday morning Kay received a call on her fancy new electronic, magic, iPhone from her elder brother Bob whom neither one of us had seen for 20 years. He informed her that he was in Boise, Idaho. Kay told him to come and visit. And, to our amazement, he pulled into Yellowstone that afternoon. Bob stayed with us until Friday morning when he headed back home to California. Kay and Bob spent the next three days sightseeing in the park and catching up.

Here are sister and brother along the Firehole River with Riverside Geyser erupting in the background:


A good time was had by all during Bob’s stay. And kudos to our houseguest for sharing the sofa bed with the dogs. Bob, you are a brave man, and you are welcome back any time.


Miscellanea – Critters, Hot Springs, etc….

We awoke this sunny morn with a temperature of 18 degrees. Dear God….it’s only September 12th! Those pesky Canadians sent the cold down on us.  Anyway…..

About a week or so ago we took a drive through the northern part of the park that included a stop at Mammoth. We we there a couple of years ago about this time of year and the place was loaded with elk. So we thought we would see if they were there this year. Indeed they were. The bulls had their harems were right smack dab in midtown Mammoth:




There was only one bull that we could spot in town. Unfortunately he was to far off to get a decent picture.

As we continued our odyssey through the northern area we saw a couple of wolves far, far away – a white one and a black one -which was quite a treat for sure. And of course the ubiquitous Bison:


Last Friday Kay and I, along with Pat and Bill,and Harry and Fiona, piled into our rather then crowded Subaru and went to see Mesa Falls, which lies to the south of West Yellowstonistan and a few miles outside of Ashton, Idaho. It is a pretty and very impressive waterfall with an upper and lower section. Here is a photo of the upper falls:


If you go to the falls in the morning the sun’s position in relation to the falls, and its mist, guarantees you a delightful rainbow.

Last Saturday, a bit before sundown, I went with Pat and Bill to check out some hot springs nearby that I hadn’t had the opportunity to see yet. The first was Black Sand Pool which has a neat little surprise for you when you are there:


The pool sends up large bubbles from the depths of Hades and right before they reach the surface of the surface of the pool they make a very, very low booming sound. But wait! There’s more! If you are sitting, standing, or leaning against the fence that surrounds Black Sand Pool you can feel booms… like a very, very subtle earth tremor. A very neat place for sure.

The runoff from Black Sand Pool with all of its minerals creates a colorfully dramatic landscape as the sun is setting:


And as it does at Punch Bowl Spring, which is quite close to Black Sand Pool as far as Yellowstone’s vast distances go:


Only 18 days to go here at the Park, but who’s counting? Me? You Betcha! ;)


An Announcement….


Whenever an eruption of Old Faithful (pictured above) is due to take place, which happens every ninety minutes or so, the rangers in the Visitor’s Center make the following announcement :

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Old Faithful Visitor’s and Education Center! We are now entering the window for the eruption of Old Faithful. If you want to see, feel, and hear Old Faithful, please go outside and find yourselves a seat or, if you wish, you may watch from the window here in the Visitor’s Center.

We hear this announcement a number of times during the day. But, the announcement I am waiting for is:

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Old Faithful Visitor’s and Education Center! We have exciting news! We have just received word from our geologists that the Yellowstone Super Volcano is going to blow! No need to hurry and find a seat, or go outside to see, feel, or hear the eruption because we are standing on the volcano itself! And, it will erupt in TEN….NINE….EIGHT….SEVEN….


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