Blog 1818 – 09.15.2020
Little Mouse on the Prairie
Little Mouse on the Prairie
Today’s children’s book title like many other book, article and movie titles is a play on Laura Ingles’ famed book series and the later TV series, “Little House On The Prairie.” As a girl it was one of my daughter Emily’s favorite TV shows.
Shortly after she passed in July of 2012 which was just after her thirty second birthday, I got my third in a row traveling work assignment that time to wonderful Wyoming. Upon arriving in the state from a long, but beautiful drive from Kenai, Alaska, and on the way to the office where I was told to report, I saw an RV lot with used travel trailers for sale. After meeting with the client project manager regarding my new assignment in Green River, Wyoming I stopped at that RV lot just a few blocks from his office and purchased a nineteen foot pull behind trailer to take with me to Baggs, Wyoming, the closest town to the twenty nine mile new 16” gas pipe line construction that I had been hired to help inspect.
The project was expected to take about six months, and did, and for those months I happily lived in my “little house on wheels on the prairie” parked at the Happy Camper Campground there in Baggs. The tiny town is about two hundred miles from Green River. That was the first move I made of many with my little house on wheels in tow. After a six month work assignment in Wyoming, due to the deep snow, I was forced to leave my trailer behind from February to mid June when the snow melted in Baggs and I could pull it to Loveland, Colorado and store it there near where I was staying in an extended stay place and a month later to an RV park in Hudson, Colorado just a few miles from where I was inspecting a new natural gas processing facility. That assignment ended abruptly so I put the camper back in storage in Loveland where I was also storing a 1960 Willys Jeep that I had bought off the right of way clearing crew supervisor on the job in Baggs and new car hauler that I had purchased for it in Craig, Colorado just thirty miles south of Baggs.
I drove without my camper trailer to Chesapeake, Virginia where I lived in a motel for three months while I worked there, then drove to the western slope of Colorado town of Delta for a couple of months, then after winter closed down that job back to Houston, Texas to wait a month for a new work assignment. I did have a few days of work inspecting some big tanks being welded just north of town.
My camper was still being stored in Loveland when I accepted a longer work assignment to Indiana as a gas utility inspector on mostly plastic pipeline installation of gas main and services. It was much cleaner and more consistent work than the steel oil and gas pipeline work at the time. My first assignment was to shadow a gas utility inspector in Lafayette, Indiana but since my job was to be in Terre Haute I had secured a motel there and drove up to Lafayette the couple of weeks till my crew started working in Terre Haute. That job lasted for four months and then I was asked to follow a crew out of the Lafayette Office of the same gas utility client and so I got a motel for a week in Crawfordville (30 miles south of Lafayette), near a KOA where I had reserved a space to park my traveling buddy. After almost a year in storage in Loveland I drove out to Colorado on the Memorial Day weekend to get her and pull her the long eleven hundred miles back to Crawfordsville. There she and I stayed together for sixteen more months in Indiana. She stayed behind a month while I worked a short assignment at a pipe mill in Birmingham, Alabama working on an order of pipe headed to a natural gas utility client in Wisconsin. My next over two year work assignment would be with that same client there in Wisconsin. I pulled my little house on wheels from Indiana to the small town of Lone Rock, Wisconsin where I lived in her for two years except winters (November to April) while the camp ground was closed. During those two winters, I spent the first in Mineral Point, Wisconsin in the Travelers Inn there, and the second in the Star Lite Motel, in Center Point, Wisconsin. From Wisconsin the trailer and I moved on to a six month gig in Bemidji, Minnesota where she spent the last month, October, out back of the Candlelight Suites where I stayed due to the camp ground closing for the winter. After that we made our way back to Houston where I enjoyed a month home with my wife and the camper spent a month at Aztec Storage just a few blocks from our home while I awaited the next work assignment. The last day of November the trailer and I made the trek to Cheyenne, Wyoming and a trailer park in the city from where I drove sixty or so miles each day to a natural gas processing facility being upgraded just across the state line east of Cheyenne in Colorado.
After five months there it was back to Indiana, this time south of Bloomington where I parked my little house at the Lake Monroe Village RV Park and Resort. Seven months later that work assignment ended and I returned to Houston, trailer in tow, to spend last Christmas with my wife and son, a rare treat during my last seven years or so of traveling.
While I was awaiting a new work assignment with trailer parked again at the nearby Aztec storage facility, this time in a more expense covered space, all they now have available, COVID-19 arrived changing my work plans as well as those for many of us. I admit I am as surprised as anyone that my savings have thus far kept us going with little change, but then thankfully I had made better preparations for that proverbial rainy day over especially the last four years of my working life. I am as you might guess ready to get back on the road with my faithful traveling companion with eight extra wheels. Neither of us knows how many miles we have left In us, but we are itching to find out and be back on the road again.
If details bore you especially oft’ repeated ones, I apologize, but sharing what is on one’s mind is after all what blogging is all about.
Your friend and fellow traveler,
On The Road Again
In case anyone was wondering about what happened to the 1960 Willy’s Jeep and the car hauler, I kept them there in storage for another year in Loveland offering, but offered them free of charge to my son back in Texas if he wanted them. He evidently did not, not enough at least to drive up from Houston to get them, so to recoup a years’ worth of storage fees, I ended up selling them both. I did have fun tooling around the work right of way on the Baggs job in that Willy’s Jeep till the weather got too cold for such a wide open buggy ride. Details, details.