Travels from New Mexico to Florida were met with a range of climate conditions and were not without their adventures.

It was so arid in New Mexico that vegetation would crumble at the touch.

May was pretty much of a road month for me; I was only home about a week for the whole month. I started the month with delivery and start-up of a new mud system to Dave Mauldin of Truth or Consequences (yeah, there is such a place!), N.M., in the desert near the White Sands missile base. There was about 30 miles of desert road from the end of the pavement to the rig, so I was going to rent a truck at the airport to make the trip. Turns out, all they had left was a wimpy Ford Taurus. Funny thing - sometimes rentals make the best off-road vehicles! I didn't bend it or anything, but it sure pulled to the right after I ran over that cactus. We got the job done in good time, everything ran well and made a good well in questionable territory; everybody was happy.

A project deep in the Everglades made Jurassic Park look like a roadside attraction. Photo courtesy of the USGS.
I headed from there up to Tijeras, N.M., to see my friend John Williamson. It was so dry up there that it was scary. I could grab a handful of needles from the juniper trees, and they'd crumble in my hand. Looked like one spark and the whole state would go up.

When I got ready to leave, I misread my travel itinerary and realized at the last minute that I only had one hour to drive 20 miles to the airport, turn in my rental car and get on the plane. Needless to say, I bent a few rules getting to the airport. I pulled the rental up in front of the terminal, jumped out, got my suitcase and headed for the door. A guy told me I couldn't leave that car there, blah, blah, blah …. I told him the keys were in it! I can hardly wait to see that credit card bill!

When I got back, I had a couple days to catch up, so I drilled a house well down the road from the shop, ordered parts and steel for my fabricators, then went to Orlando for the Florida Ground Water Association convention. That's always a good show, plenty of good drillers and exhibitors. A good time was had by all. I did a solids-control seminar there that went pretty well, except nobody could get the PowerPoint projector to work, so I had to “wing it” without visuals. Kinda disappointing, but I think I got the idea across.

While I was in Orlando, I picked up one of my rental units from a customer that had had it for about three months. Normally, I bring my rentals to the yard, clean them up and drill a well or two with them to make sure they are field-ready - you know how rental equipment gets treated (see the car rental incident). Harrell Champion of Champion Well Drilling, West Palm Beach, Fla., needed a unit for a hurry-up job we'd been putting off for a while, so I decided to take the system straight down to his job. It looked pretty clean and the original customer told me that it was running fine - I should have known better.

Wildfires caused a couple detours.
Turns out, his driller either didn't have a grease gun or couldn't operate one, because the first thing that we had to do was locate and put a seal in the desander pump. Did I mention that we were so far in the Everglades that it made Jurassic Park look like a roadside attraction?

Talk about 180 degrees out of phase from the desert where I had spent the first half of the month! The heat was the same, but the humidity was so high, I almost had a heatstroke just getting rigged up. Not only that, but the little town I was staying in was the first town in several years without ANY Internet connection. I couldn't believe it - hey, even Hooterville has Wi-Fi now.

We eventually made a good well and the unit was released. I headed the 500 or so miles home, only to have to make a couple detours from I-95 because of wildfires. It's still early, but if things keep going like this, it might be a bad fire year. Guess we need to drill more wells!

I got home in time to celebrate my 20th anniversary with my personal terrorist, bin-Lottie. How she's put up with me and my shenanigans for 20 years is beyond me. We loaded up and headed out and as I write this, we are sitting on the 10th floor, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico at an “investment center” (read: casino), checking on our retirement funds! Sure hope the market is up, or I'll have to go back to work!