Cotulla was founded by Joseph Cotulla (1844-1923), a Polish immigrant, in 1881 during the railroad boom. He was the first person in La Salle County to bore his own artesian well, thereby avoiding drought and providing for his household, livestock, and farmlands. The city of Cotulla soon followed his lead, and the town continued to grow.
Tip #1: At first we were hesitant about driving back and forth to work when most gates allow, or require, guards to live on-site. We weighed the pros and cons to each. Driving back and forth would add an hour of travel time to our already-long day, and would require us to spend money on gasoline. But with our RV still sitting in the RV park, we would significantly cut down on the amount of dust that would be on, and most likely IN, our home. We would not have to listen to trucks and generators while we slept, and we would put distance between our home and our work each day.
The day before we started, we met our supervisor at the gate and received the full run-down: how to use the iPad to input information and take pictures, what to wear, and our most important directive - keep the trucks off the highway! Because we wouldn't have our home with us, we would have a small 5' by 7' guard shack, complete with A/C, heat, a microwave, a mini fridge, and two chairs.
The next day, dressed in our ball caps, t-shirts, jeans, and blaze orange vests, we left our RV in Cotulla at 1:25 am and headed toward Big Wells, anxious to see what the day would bring.
But the Sandbox trucks were not the only trucks coming in. Over a dozen companies were represented each day, and for those first three weeks, we clocked in roughly 200-250 trucks each way, every day. Talk about staying busy!
But, although the job kept us on our toes, we did have a chance to do one thing that we love - photographing wildlife.
Across the street sat another ranch, this one filled with Longhorns, for which Texas is known.
The job did, however, involve some difficulties for which we were not fully prepared. Cotulla, like many small towns in South Texas, lacks a large selection of stores and restaurants like we were used to in cities like Houston. The stores that do exist in small towns lack the large selection of types of food that we were used to. Items like coffee, even in the HEB in the larger town of Carrizo Springs, occupy a very small section with only the basics available.
Overall, this workamping job afforded us a way to witness spectacular sunrises and wildlife that we would not normally see. The work itself consisted of a simple set of procedures for a fair daily wage. Our 12 hours a day, 7 days a week spent in a 5-foot by 7-foot guard shack expanded our growing list of unconventional experiences.
Currently, we are in discussions about relocating to a larger, busier, and more modern ranch nearby. Check back to learn about our next adventure!
Are you an oil field gate guard as well? Use the comments section to tell us your funny stories, to share tips about keeping moths and other critters under control, to divulge your best gate guarding or RVing advice, or just to say 'hello'!