My Idea of Family

We’ve had a lot going on the past couple of months. We went through some really personal stuff that I’m not going to discuss publicly, we’ve been bouncing around with work, and it’s just been an emotional time overall. What I am going to talk about is how living on the road, being in the tall tower industry specifically, gives you a different perspective on family. I’m specifying tall towers as opposed to cell towers because the industry is so small in comparison, and it’s what we do. It’s how we live.
Being on the road for work, and especially in this line of work, we move a lot. We are in cities and small towns and sometimes in the middle of absolutely nowhere. We stay places for a day, a few days, weeks or sometimes months depending on the job. We are in really awesome places with great weather and our friends and family at “home” think we are living the dream. Then we are in North Dakota in November and Minnesota in January and we can’t wait to move on! Regardless of all that, these guys go to work every day and have each other’s backs. They work up to 2,000ft off the ground and they count on each other. They trust each other. I trust them to watch out for Allen and I know he does the same for them.
When we need something, anything, we turn to the guys Allen works with. His brothers. My brothers. Our family. We depend on each other.  When we go out to watch the game on Sunday, we go with them. When we tie one on Saturday night, yeah, we are with the same group of guys. When I feel like trying to make a giant pot of seafood gumbo, we have them over to help eat it all! And if we are stuck on the road for holidays, everyone comes over and we celebrate together. Because we are family. This line of work isn’t easy. I don’t do it, but I live it. I’m lucky enough to live in Allen’s world and to get this extra family. My tower family.
On September 27, there was an accident in Miami, Florida and we lost 3 great tower hands. The industry is going to be hurting for a while. Even more, we lost 3 brothers. And our family will be hurting forever. BJ Anibal Rodriguez, Marcus Goffena, and Brach Barber. They were some of the best guys in the business.
I had the privilege to get to know BJ and Marcus personally over the years. Here’s a post I shared on Facebook last week…
“Family is family. On the road you get an extra family. You have a blast, you help each other, you do crazy things, you do boring things, you fight, you make up, you fight some more, you drink too much, you laugh. It’s family. These guys depend on each other every day. Every single day. I’ve gotten to be a part of this family thanks to Allen. The first time I made shrimp fried rice in Robertsdale, Alabama, Marcus said it was delicious. I shaved his back before we went to Panama City Beach and swore I’d never do it again! I got to witness the after wisdom teeth getting pulled, totally out of it, talking nonsense, like videos you see online, in Oklahoma City. I bought him soup and dropped him off at home to go to sleep. He was willing to fight for me when someone made fun of my karaoke singing at a tiny bar in an out of the way campground and he told the bartender at Outback that it was my birthday when Allen slacked on his boyfriend duties so I was surprised with some free ice cream. I watched him eat way too many medical pretzels in San Francisco and laughed when his sewer hose spewed shit all over the campground, because what can ya do?! I met a couple girlfriends who came to see him and witnessed him in action with pickup lines that I rolled my eyes at. I met his family and absolutely loved his mom Deborah Goffena. The first, and last time, we stayed on a cow farm in Oxford, North Carolina (the home of nothin’) BJ Anibal Rodríguez bought a ton of food from the store, along with some bud light platinum and huge bottle of wine for me, so I would make them lunch every day. I made my first bacon-wrapped pork loin and BJ and Allen cut it in half and finished the entire thing. BJ broke a camping chair one night, just totally fell through the seat and we laughed our asses off. He went running to his van (I called it the predator van) that night, I guess he was leaving and I didn’t want him to, so I ran after him. It was pitch black and the load line was running waist high from the hoist to the tower. We ran straight into it. He flipped over and I flew backward. Allen saw the whole thing! We had some snow days in Oklahoma City so of course we were drinking. I made two giant trays of nachos and we made BJ come help us eat them. He taught us, or tried, how to play dominos the right way. I went to pick him up from Home Depot in Palm Beach because his keys fell out of his basketball shorts and he couldn’t find them. I got some free Mexican from a food truck that day. We had AMFs all day at a Chili’s in Vacherie when it seemed like it would never stop raining and his camper turned into a house boat. These guys were family. I know these are just words, but for me I can remember all of these moments clear as day. My heart is breaking for everyone who got the joy of knowing these two men, and the realization that we will never be able to make more memories.”
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We attended Marcus’s funeral this past week. It was hard. Really hard. It absolutely sucks to lose a friend and a brother. But then there’s this added layer… Like I said before, these guys were some of the best out there. I still have to kiss Allen goodbye in the morning so he can go to work and do the same thing they were doing. It’s scary. I have to trust that he is going to be as safe as he can possibly be. And I have to somehow put my faith in whatever there is out there that he’s going to come home to me that night.
We love hard, work hard, play hard, and grieve really hard. And we do it together.
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If you would like to help the families of BJ, Marcus and Brach, donations can be made to The Hubble Foundation. They are an amazing organization and I highly suggest learning a bit about them.

 

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Living on Site

It really kind of annoys me when people start out blog posts apologizing for not posting recently so I won’t do that. I know I haven’t, if you follow our blog then you know too, and to be completely honest, I was busy trying my best to help my friend so I’m not really sorry.

After we did our trek from San Francisco, back east across the country in July, staying mostly for free on BLM land and at truck stops, I sort of despise paying rent. Continue reading

About Us

Featured

Hi! We’re Rachel & Allen and we live full time in our 2015 Grand Design Momentum 385 fifth wheel toy hauler.  We travel the country for Allen’s work, often only having a couple days notice of where we need to be next. And we love it!

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Allen, Rachel and Charlie

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Nebraska Bound!

There’s been some sticky moments these last couple weeks, leaving us a little unsure of what’s next for us. (That’s pretty much always the case but this time was a little different!) Continue reading

Tower Takedown at Fair Park in Dallas, Texas

I thought I’d post some pictures Allen took while they were removing the tower at Fair Park.  It’s crazy to me how big some of this stuff is!

 

the giant crane they used

  
    
    
  

all gone!

 

Here’s another post with some good photos also… My Boyfriend’s Crazy!

Operator won’t you put me on through…

I gotta send my ♥love♥ down to Baton Rouge…

We found out Friday that we need to be in Baton Rouge for work on Monday. It just so happens that “Callin’ Baton Rouge” by Garth Brooks is one of my all time favorite songs! So I’m sure Allen will be good and sick of it by the time we get there! Luckily for him, it’s less than 500 miles, so he will only have to deal with my musical selection and singing for one day…

 

We are avoiding Dallas, so it’ll take about a half hour longer, but it’s well worth it!

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I always try to use the Good Sam Trip Planner, just so we don’t get taken into any RV-unfriendly places…

We should be in Baton Rouge for a few days, then I THINK we’ll be heading to Oklahoma City… If that’s the case we will be there by the end of next week. I don’t mind this plan at all!

I’ve never been to Baton Rouge. Our friend Doug, out at Candlestick RV Park in San Francisco, went to LSU and LOVES the tigers, so he will be thoroughly jealous!

I’m super hoping we can get some delicious crawfish… I love them so much… My mouth is already watering… 

I’ve looked at the weather and it looks fairly warm. Rain on Tuesday but maybe that’ll give us time to see a little bit of the town (fingers crossed for a weather day!)

And then our friends Bob and Karen are at Abe’s RV Park in Oklahoma City so it’s always good to see them!

I found a campground right down the street from the tower site that I’m hoping works out for us. Water and 30AMP service only, but it’s only for a couple days so it shouldn’t be too bad, and they have a dump station. It’s at an equestrian park… I’m just hoping this little angel puppy of ours can behave herself and not act like a wild banshee the entire time we’re there!

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Spoiled little Charles…

I’ll probably have to bribe her with treats… So if you’d like to help out with that, you can put some money in Charlie’s Treat Fund 🙂

My Boyfriend’s CRAZY!

Nuts. Psychotic. Looney. Out of his mind. Cuckoo. Bonkers. 

He’s also very brave. Hardworking. Courageous. Adventurous. Daring. 

The proof is in the pudding.  

    
   
Thank goodness he’s done with that part of his life for the rest of the year! I get to enjoy him safely on the ground for a couple of weeks!

We are taking off tomorrow, heading to Cincinnati, well, our home won’t make it all the way to Ohio but we will! Our friends put in a 50AMP outlet for us, and are letting us use their water and septic tank! How awesome are they??! Thanks Brandi and Tommy!

Haven’t decided if we are stopping once or twice along the way yet. It’s right around 1,000 miles. I have some campgrounds in mind thanks to the Good Sam trip planner. I love that thing. 

We are going to go fill the propane tanks and get some food for the road (almost totally out of groceries now!) then get the bike back in the garage and strap everything down to hopefully get an early start tomorrow!

The City By The Bay

While Allen enjoys his view “from the office“…  

Panoramic view from atop Sutro Tower

  

Allen on top of Sutro

  

a zoomed in view

 
Charlie and I work on our tan back at the campground…  

Charlie getting in the way of my reading

  

This was a better spot but it didnt last long

  

Just keeping an eye on things

 
Here are some other jobs Allen’s worked on since I started this blog:

Taking Off for the Weekend!

Tahoe here we come!!!

San Francisco always seems to take its toll on Allen and the guys (and me, for sure).  

 This time around is especially difficult because even though the weather is nicer than it’s ever been while we were here, work is almost at a stand still. There’s some kind of lead paint issue that another company was called in to deal with, which in turn is holding up work on our end. Add this to the already existent fact that the city seems to drag its feet on everything Sutro-related.   

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 Not staying really busy makes for long days (and short pay checks). No good for anyone. So I guess they all came to some sort of decision at work that they would take a long weekend. Just for reference, this is pretty much unheard of. When they are busy, they work ten hour days, six and sometimes seven days a week. So that’s what they are used to. So am I for the most part, but I love “weather days” (rain, snow, wind, etc. that make working on a 1,500ft broadcast tower too dangerous).  

“hanging out”…

  

Allen’s view looking down!

  

Taking a break up top

 Anyhow, one guy flew home for a high school reunion and another booked a cruise to Mexico. We were looking at Santa Cruz first, then heard that it’s not as cool as Monterey. So I went motel shopping. Nope. Nothing. Nada. Zip. No rooms available, and the rates for even a Super 8 or a Days Inn were $400/night!!! Yikes! (By the way, we were looking last night, wanting to leave today, that’s just how our last minute lives are lived.) 

getting the heck out of the city

  

the old Bay Bridge

 
So then we almost gave up. But then we looked at Tahoe. We found a room in a casino resort in South Lake Tahoe for less than Monterey, AND we are staying two nights! It’s going to be like a mini-vacay! We haven’t stayed in a motel in way over a decade, let alone a fancy “resort” (ever)! I’m super excited. 

Charlie is going to stay with our neighbors and her buddy Samantha so she will have fun too.  

Charlie and Samantha relaxing

  

They thought i had food

  

Charlie and Samantha’s mom

 I’m also going to bring a little of my brother’s ashes with me. He’s never been to Nevada, so it’ll be a first for both of us. 

Off we go!