January 20 to February 14, 2014 NOMADS Project, Mercedes, MS

February 15 (Approximately) to June - Gate Guarding, TX or LA.

June, 2014 - Up to Alaska!

September - NOMADS Annual Meeting, Branson, MO

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Len in hospital - everything has changed.

Huntsville, TX

In February when we were working on a NOMADS project in Mercedes, TX Leonard showed me how his left leg was swollen.   He thought maybe he twisted it while working.   We went to the local clinic where they took XRays that showed nothing was broken.  The doctor gave him prescription for pain relievers and diuretics.  The swelling has not gone down.

As the drilling crew left Friday and the line crew is not coming in until tomorrow or Tuesday we have a couple of days we could both leave the site.   Yesterday I insisted he have the leg checked.  We first went to an Urgent Care center.  They would not look at it but told him to go to ER.  

At the ER they did tests that show he has a blood clot in the thigh.   This could have been fatal had it traveled.  He has to stay in hospital 3 or 4 days while treating with blood thinners.   Before we knew he had to stay in hospital they gave us the ER bill.   Over $4,000 !!!   Are they serious?    Just for the ER?   I can only imagine the final bill.  

So, no Alaska trip or other plans in our horizon.   When he retired he attempted to get health insurance and was turned down in Texas and SD.  Both times we wanted a high deductible Health Saving Account.

As we were getting ready to retire he had numerous tests done to determine if he had any issues.   Everything came out satisfactory.  However, when someone in our doctor's office responded to the insurance companies, the letter listed everything he was tested for.  According to the letter, it looked like he was actually TREATED for all these ailments and not just tested.    So we took a gamble and lost.  He will turn 65 in January when he will get Medicare. We were trusting he would not have a problem until then.

But it looks like now that most of what we've worked for over the last many years will pay a huge hospital bill.  Even at that, I would not take back the last three years of full timing and still be working.   I am five plus years older than Leonard.  If we had waited until he was 65 for Medicare I would be 71.   I was burned out when I retired at almost 66.  

The doctors made it clear to him that he is not to drive long distances again.  No more 400-500 mile days.  That is fine with me.  

My issue now is I might be required to do the job here myself or have to  leave.  I can not work 24/7 until he comes home.   I also do not know how I am going to hook up this fifth wheel and move it.

For now I  will try not to worry.  I am most thankful he is going to be okay.  Everything else will work itself out.   I'm off to the hospital to see what's happening!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Almost like a vacation.

Huntsville,  TX

We started gate guarding 40 days ago.    The well is drilled.  The drilling crew and all the others involved at this time have left, the last person leaving at 7:15 tonight.    It took 4 days for move most of the equipment.   As the housing units are gone, there are no people left here but us.    Tomorrow morning trucks will come in to take the few remaining things out.  They should be done by 9.

Where does this leave us?    Most of Saturday and all day Sunday OFF!!!!     On Monday the work out crew arrives.   We were asked to stay for the 2 to 6 weeks they will be here.   We were also told today that another well will be drilled on this site.   It is expected to start in 2 to 4 weeks.  We are hoping 2 as we receive quite a bump in pay when there are two separate crews and rigs coming and going at the same gate.

So tonight, Saturday and Sunday we will sleep like "normal" people.   We asked, and are permitted, to leave the site on those days.  And keep on getting paid.  We will leave a sign on the locked gate with our numbers in case of emergency.

We are looking forward to this little bit of downtime and the opportunity for both of us to leave at the same time.   So where will it be tomorrow..... Golden Corral?   We might even get to go to church on Sunday.

Happy Easter or Passover friends!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Maybe getting ready to leave the dusty trail

Huntsville,   TX

We have been here on site gate guarding for 5 weeks now.   Yesterday and today have been the busiest.  This is our view of the rig yesterday early.

Same view today.

They started moving out the equipment yesterday and late last night dropped the derrick.    What this leaves us is a dusty mess.   As shown in this picture, we are practically right on the driveway which is laid with lime stone.

The drive back to the rig, about 500 feet.

Often in the last two days its looked this --- backed all the way out almost to the highway.

Quite a parade of equipment leaving.

We were told that everyone would be out by tonight.   Whew!   It's been five weeks since I've gone to bed before 2:30 am and able to sleep without being awakened through the night by the ding of the bell.    

We do not know how long we will be here.  There is talk of us staying until the "workout crew" is done - whatever that means.   We would like to get 4 more weeks of work if not here, then someplace else close.  The manager from Gate Guard Services told us last week they have a tough time getting workers this time of year because the snow birds are heading north.   Here we are!  We are available!

One thing we will have to do is give our home a good cleaning.     This is why.  A truck leaving today right in front of our door.  Can you find it?

Until next time......

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Three years of expenses - letting it all hang out!

Huntsville,  TX

When we first talked about full timing one of my big questions was .... how much will this cost and can we afford it?    I began my research on the Internet.   I found a few good folks who posted their expenses.  Some were WAY beyond our reach.  I remember one couple spent more than $200 a month on CLOTHES  and at least that much on liquor.    Even when we worked full-time  I know we never spent that kind of money on clothes.  And as far as liquor - maybe a 6 pack a year?  maybe a bottle of Bailey around Christmas?  Maybe.....

Then there were others who lived on very little money.   But they boondocked a lot, never went out to eat and never traveled much.  Didn't want that life either.   One site that provided good info was RV Dreams.    I appreciated their sharing their expenses.

So, now that we have completed three years of life on the road, I will share our information as I know many wannabes and planners are looking for some guidelines.

Realize this lifestyle is what you make it.  Expenses vary greatly.  People who stay in one area are not as affected by the cost of fuel/gas as we are.  Since I am from NJ and Leonard from Louisiana, we make lots of trips back and forth.   Also, we enjoy eating out, another major factor.  Having 5 kids, 14 grands and 4 great grands, we have a higher expense in Birthday and Christmas gifts than others might have.  Also, we still financially support our home church, any church we visit, NOMADS  and other charities.

This chart is broken down to monthly expenses but some items such as RV and Truck insurance are made in one annual payment.


55                      Admissions/Entertainment                                      
213                    Campground fees                                              
194                    Cell/Internet                                                      
244                    Church/Charity                                                      
42                      Clothing                                                                  
594                    Diesel                                                                    
284                    Dining out                                                          
243                    Miscellaneous                                                      
194                    Gifts                                                                      
208                    Household                                                            
10                      Laundry                                                                      
15                      Life Insurance                                                        
40                      Mail Service                                                            
113                    Medical/Dental/Eye/Presc.                                    
24                      Memberships                                                          
13                      Hair cuts/Personal Expenses                                      
102                    Medicare Supplement                                                              
39                      Propane                                                                    
112                    RV Expenses                                                    
16                      Tolls                                                                      
158                    Truck Service/Tires etc.                                      
46                      RV Insurance                                                          
14                      RV Registration                                                    
8                        Truck Registration                                                    
40                      Truck Insurance                                                        
312                    Groceries                                                            

Monthly Average                         $  3,333                  

Now for some explanations:

2010    When we first took off we went to Texas and became Texans.   We were shocked at how much more we paid for insurances and registration than what we paid in NJ.  We were only Texas residents 5 weeks when we changed our domicile to SD.  That is why our mail service is higher in 2010.  We paid for a years mail services in Texas and then had to pay for a years in SD.  One big expense in 2010 was $500. deductible on the RV when Leonard got into a fight with a diesel pump barrier and lost separating the back end of our fifthwheel from the side.

Also in 2010 Leonard's mother was quite sick eventually passing away necessitating  us to return to Louisiana from various places several times adding to our diesel consumption.  


106                      Admission/Entertainment      
243                      Campground Fees              
246                      Cell/Internet                        
291                      Church/Charity                    
34                        Clothing                                
688                      Diesel                                
333                      Dining out                            
237                      Miscellaneous                       
265                      Gifts                                    
336                      Groceries                            
169                      Household                          
11                        Laundry                                
15                        Life Insurance                      
23                        Mail Service                        
137                      Medical/Dental/Eye            
21                        Memberships                        
46                        Personal (Hair etc)              
108                      Medicare Supplement        
64                        Propane                          
234                      RV Expenses                      
115                      Satellite                              
22                        Tolls                                    
134                      Truck Service/Repair          
48                        RV Insurance                        
14                        RV Registration                    
8                          Truck Registration                
47                        Truck Insurance                  

Monthly Avg                      $ 3,995

2011   This year we were able to purchase several items for the RV due to having settlement on our house in NJ.  We replaced our two recliners at a cost of $1,300.   We wanted wall hugger recliners as they can be placed much closer to the wall.   We bought a new F350 Dually (paid cash so it is not in our monthly expenses)  We found this truck really rides a lot harder when towing so we got an Air Ride Kingpin that cost $1,200.   We got a DirecTV satellite system and a dome at a cost of $1,100.     New truck meant new Ranch Hand Bumper costing $1,500.   Len wanted a bigger tool box.  He fabricated it but the materials set us back $600.  Another accident when we had two tire blow out so a deductible of $375.   RV tires $350.

In this year my mother was ill so we made an unplanned trip to NJ.   She also passed on.


87                     Admissions/Entertainment
300                   Campground fees
222                   Cell/Internet
296                   Church/Charity
35                     Clothing
710                   Diesel
353                   Dining out
106                   Miscellaneous
202                   Gifts
320                   Groceries
161                   Household
14                     Laundry
15                     Life Insurance
19                     Mail Service
178                   Medical/Dental/ Eye./ Presc.
41                     Memberships
45                     Personal (hair cuts, etc)
137                   Medicare Supplement
59                     Propane
411                   RV Improvement/Service
78                     Satellite
10                     Tolls
243                   Truck Service/ Tires Etc
56                     RV insurance
14                     RV registration
8                       Truck Registration
50                     Truck Insurance

Monthly Averages           $4,170

2012     We decided we needed an A/C unit in the bedroom so took the fiver in for that and found we also needed new brakes.  Cost at the dealer $3,748.  This shows in our RV expenses category.   Since we had difficulties with tire blow outs on the Fifthwheel we decided to upgrade them to G rated - cost $900. Also in RV expenses category.    We also bought 6 tires for the truck - $1.528.  I needed new glasses - $300.   Len had an issue with an eye - $275.    We decided to ditch our Sprint and change our cell phones and Internet to Verizon - $350.     In 2012 I paid for multiple  years memberships to Good Sam, Escapees, Passport America causing that line item to be higher.

So, here it is.   Sure, we could have gone without some items such a new recliners, bigger tool box, Airride Hitch, Ranch Hand bumper (although Len would argue that point) DirectTV and eating out as often.   But so far we've managed quite well.

Hope this helps anyone looking for input on costs of living on the road.    It's worth every penny!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Making a small change

Hunstville, TX

Sitting here for these weeks we are looking for something to do beside read, sleep, play on Internet, watch TV, read, sleep, .......

When we've been stationary for more than a few days, we've put family pictures on our slides.  Sometimes one would fall and we've even had broken glass from a few frames.  So we've talked about adding quarter rounds which would give the frames something more to secure them.   Sitting here seemed like a good time to do that.

The other day Len got the quarter rounds at the local Home Depot.   It took him only a few minutes to cut and nail them in place.  They were already stained.  It is a close enough match.

Before --- over the entertainment/fireplace slide.


The long side slide over the dining table and recliners before:

And with pictures after:

He also put quarter round on the kitchen slide over the fridge, stove, pantry and microwave.   No pictures taken, only one family picture sitting there.

We have most of our picture albums in our storage trailer but wanted some picutres in view.  Leonard is one of 10 children, I have a brother and sister.    We have 5 children (2 from my first marriage, 3 from his).  We are proud to have 14 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.    We display pictures of our parents, siblings, kids, grandkids and greats.  WHEW!

One project done, now what to do.   I know -  read, play on the Internet, sleep, watch TV.  

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Answering Rick's Question

Huntsville, TX

Rick (www.rickpaulettervjournal.blogspot.com)  posed a question regarding gate guarding.  He asked if there were particular problems which would occur to necessitate a gate guard.

Here's why:

When an oil rig is being drilled there is a variety of personnel working on the site.  There are people from the energy company which contracts with other companies to provide their services.  This includes the drilling company, safety personnel, geologists, etc. 

The main person in charge is the "Company Man".   He works for the energy company.   The "tool pusher" is the supervisor for the drilling company.   The geologists are there to inspect the rocks for signs of oil.   Most personnel work 12 hours shifts.  The Company Man works 14 days on, 14 days off.  The geologists are here until the well produces oil.   The drillers at this location work a week on and a week off.  The employees live onsite in trailers.

In addition, other vehicles are coming in and out of the site.  They bring water, fuel, chemicals, pick up trash.  Trucking companies are contracted to take out cuttings, which is the gravel, shale and other stuff that is brought up to the surface by the drill.  "Mud" is also  brought in.  The mud is water and chemicals that help bring up the gravel and stone from the well.   At this site they permit sales people to come in two days a week for 4 hours each day.  

So why gate guards?   Because there is such a variety of personnel in and out both night and day, there needs to be a record on who is on site in case of an emergency.   The gate is not closed and locked but there is a sign stating everyone must stop to register.   We've had a couple of instances where employees of the drilling company decide not to stop.  We've reported it to the Company Man or Tool Pusher and it's been taken care of promptly.   Should it continue the employee becomes an ex-employee.

There has not been an instance yet where anyone has asked to see the traffic log.   We've been told by the gate guarding company that the records are stored in boxes in their facility.   Not long ago in this area there was copper piping stolen from an nearby building.  The records were subpoenaed for the investigation.

During our first week here the Sheriffs department came.   They said that a woman reported her cell phone stolen the night before at a local bar and they traced it's signal to here.   They questioned the people on site.  Two of the young guys claim they "found" it outside the bar.   Yea, so why did they keep it and use it.   I had bad feelings about them from day one.   They left every night around 9 and got back around 3 am.  I was wondering when they slept.  Once they did not stop to log in.   I notice they did not come back on their next shift.  Had it been necessary I have records that they were not here when the cell phone went "missing".

So, why gate guards?   With so many different people and in and out , this is the how records are kept in case of accidents or other emergencies.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Signs of Spring

Huntsville, TX

Our view here is limited as we sit and "guard a gate".   But sitting outside today and looking around I see welcome changes.

A flowering tree in the cemetery across the road:

A visit from a butterfly

Budding of the oaks

And Leonard dressed in his best Spring Ensemble..

Friday, March 1, 2013

The time goes by

Hunstville,  TX

The days are passing by as we get into our routine as gate guarders.    Leonard goes to bed around 7 pm and sleeps until I wake him around 2 am.   Then it is my turn to try to sleep.  Sometimes sleep comes easy, other days I lay there with my insomnia.    I wake around 8 most mornings.   I find as I've grown older I require much less sleep. 

As I got out of the shower this morning the delightful scent on bacon frying caught me by surprise.   As I groggily found my way to the kitchen I found Leonard at the stove.   Potatoes would be nice too.   I opened a can of sliced potatoes which he cooked up.   He asked if I would fry the eggs - three for him, two for me.  That and some whole wheat toast and we had a fine breakfast.

Len puttered around today attempting to do some repairs on the mud flaps of our truck.  When he could not find the bolts he needed to finish,  I drove the 13 miles to the post office and was delighted to find two large envelopes of mail waiting.  One was from Fanny in Mercedes who took Flat Stanley around to have his picture taken.   She sent not only my brother copies of the pictures, but to me also.   I am sure my great-nephew will like the pictures especially one taken of Flat Stanley in Mexico on a burro.

The other mail package was one I thought I would never see.   It was originally mailed from our mail forwarding service in South Dakota in mid January.   They received it back last week and re mailed it.    I've talked to daughter Terri today who will check to see if there are statements at her house (our old house) from our Financial Planner and our savings account.  Once these are gathered I will get busy with Turbo Tax.

The rest of the day was spent reading the latest issue of Gypsy Journal and a book on RVing on my Kindle that was a free download today only -  This Restless Life.   In this book the author ( an  apparent blogger) mentions the death of Bruce and Margie.   Margie was an inspiration to many of us.  She enjoyed her chosen lifestyle - that of a fulltime RVer.  

I think of our three years "on the road".  Now here we sit for the next two months.   This is so different from what we have done over the three years.   I am okay with that.  We have slowed down giving us time to reflect and breathe.    There are times when the traffic through the gate is frequent.  Other times, especially from midnight to 4 am, when the traffic is almost non-existent.    I find myself napping but the sound of the bell alarm brings me around with a snap.  Just as I am getting to know the names of many of the oilfield workers, they are off for 7 days and the other crew arrives.

After some homemade soup we settled in for a few hours - Len watching Encore Westerns, me reading.  Now at 8:20 he is well asleep and I will rest a bit on the sofa waiting for the bell alarm to move me.  Oh, and this time at night I have control of the remote.