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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When you finally have an address… 

We spent just under 3 weeks in England, Arkansas… on the tower site… with no neighbors… and limited cell service.  Continue reading

Planning a Thanksgiving Dinner in an RV

I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for myself and Allen last year in our camper (in North Dakota) and I plan to do it even better this year! 

We didn’t do too bad! 

The main challenge lies in the planning stage. Continue reading

About Us

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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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Big Top Flea Market in Thonotosassa, Florida

Thonotosassa… Try saying that 3 times fast!

Thonotosassa (I love the name) is home to the Big Top Flea Market, aka Rachel’s version of heaven!

They have just about everything you could want and when I found out Allen had a job in Riverview, FL and we would be staying at the Happy Traveler RV Park again, I got super excited! Continue reading

Moving On… In more ways than one

Yesterday we left Steamboat Bend Campground in Cincinnati after 4 nights. We got to see family and hang out with some friends. It’s never long enough, but at least we got to go home before Christmas, even if it was just for a couple days… Continue reading

Goodbye Nebraska, it’s been fun!

We are hitting the road this morning, leaving Chimney Rock Pioneer Crossing RV Park. (Check out our review here.) We had fun and will definitely come back if we are in the area. Laura and Joe, the campground owners, were super nice and we are for sure going to miss them! Continue reading

Storm runners – NOT chasers!

We left Abe’s RV Park in Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon, around 4pm.  A little later than planned, but work took a little longer for Allen.  Plus, we went to the races on Sunday for the last time, I celebrated pretty hard (with not enough food!) and I was paying for it on Monday! Continue reading

Sunday Funday doesn’t exist in North Dakota

Allen had to work today. And last Sunday. That kinda puts a damper on the so-called weekend! He works on broadcast towers, you can read more about that jazz here… But they are trying to hurry and finish this job so we can get the heck outta here… I don’t really want to be around when they close the highways! They already closed parts of I-80 that we took to get here. Seems like we left San Francisco just in time to get through the mountains with no snow…

So it’s just me and Charles hanging out today watching football. Luckily the Bengals play tomorrow night so Allen will get to see the game regardless!

I forgot to show off our new home decor I picked up while we were in South Dakota

   They are those wall decals that just peel and stick. You can remove them and move them with no damage. I think they are perfect for our camper. I try not to put holes in the wall if I don’t have to, part of the reason I love Command hooks also! “Home Sweet Home” is above the front door and the other is in the bathroom behind the toilet (I didn’t know where else to put it!)

Anyhow, the other night for dinner I made this Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork and we made tacos with it. Yum! And super simple!Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 12.32.18 PM

Here’s the recipe:

Layer the following in the slow cooker, in this order…

  • 1 large onion, quartered, and separated
  • a pork butt or shoulder roast (mine was about 3lbs), make sure you salt and pepper this guy very generously
  • a can of chipotle peppers in adobo
  • a can of Dr. Pepper at room temp (use two cans if you have a giant roast-one was enough for me)

Stick the lid on. Turn it on low.

About 4 hours in, flip the roast over. Flip it again in an hour or two. If it is falling apart, take it out and shred the meat. If not, give it another hour and check again. Once you get the meat out, try and skim some or most of the fat off the top without getting rid of too much juice. Shred it and put it back in the pot for another hour, making sure all the meat is soaking up all that juicy goodness.

I served this on warm flour tortillas (I just heated them in a dry pan over medium heat for about a minute on each side). I topped it with some homemade pico (my version follows), a few sprigs of cilantro, and some pepper jack cheese. Delicious! And we have plenty left over for dinner tomorrow…. I think you should try this tonight! (P.S. I’ve been loving The Pioneer Woman‘s recipes, that’s where I found this one! She made hers in the oven, but since I have a camper oven, I prefer my handy dandy slow cooker.)

Pico de Gallo

  • 4 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • a good squirt of lime juice
  • a palmful of chopped cilantro

I hope you are all having a better Sunday than my super hard-working, loving boyfriend!

Oh, and by the way, Allen said the Potato Bread I made this week beats out all the others for best yet! And I’ve kind of decided that If I keep it in a ziplock baggie vs. the bread baggies I bought, it stays softer and fresher longer…