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More Power!

generator01The last thing I picked up before heading home from my vacation was my very own portable generator. My 5th wheel didn’t come with one. Since I live off a company generator full time while guarding gates in the Texas oilfields, having a backup power source is critical for when the main generator goes down as they all do at some time. Last summer I went through 4 bad generators and had to wait in my truck for hours with the AC on until the support guys could get to my location to fix or replace the company generator. In this heat, you really need air conditioning and that takes power. It is also important as part of my job to keep the floodlights on at night to light the gate and driveway.

While in Camping World in New Braunfels, I noticed they now carry Champion generators with 30 amp RV hookups at a reasonable price. Champion is getting very good reviews except for sound. At 68 decibels, they are definitely louder than the 50 decibel Hondas and Yamahas that everyone loves. You probably shouldn’t use these in a campground unless the area near you is completely empty. For me, sound doesn’t matter because I am always within range of a very loud company generator. You get used to it. Price matters to me. Near $1000 for a Honda 1000-2000 watt generator or $319 for a 4000 watt Champion. No, the Champion is not a pure sine wave generator so you do need to take extra steps to protect electronics but I already have a master surge guard installed for the whole RV, and run my electronics either off the RV batteries or through a UPS. When a company generator previously surged and took out my microwave oven and a fan before I added the main surge protector, my computer and TV were fine.

As luck would have it, I stopped by Tractor Supply on the way back to my hotel one day. Something told me I needed to go there to see if they had generators so I did. Sure enough, not only do they carry them, they carry Champion and the generators were on sale for $279 for a 4500 watt unit. Yes! I had them put one aside for me to pick up on the way out of town.

I got my new baby’s cover at Camping World and as soon as we got home, I added oil and fuel then burned it in for 5 hours per the manufacturer recommendations. I just changed the oil as recommended after burn in and have to agree with other reviews that they located the oil plug in a terrible place. I’ll need to find a 1” high oil pan or rig up something with a flexible collapsing funnel I have for cooking. The generator came with a long solid funnel. You have to buy 10W30 oil separately to get it started.

It does start up in one to two pulls. One outlet is switchable between 240 volts and 110 volts. The running power is 3650 watts which is more than enough to power the main RV AC or my portable AC but not both. I should be able to run the microwave at the same time.

Spring Vacation 2016

I decided to celebrate my birthday this year by going on vacation for a few days. If I hadn’t had personal business to take care of I would have gone south to explore but I figured a day or two at my favorite waterpark in my home base of New Braunfels would make up for the disappointment. As it was, I got out a day late when the person who was to sub for me at the gate got stuck elsewhere.

On the way to New Braunfels, I stopped off to take care of the main personal issue and get that out of the way. Let the fun begin! I whipped through the Goodwill in New Braunfels to drop off the old inkjet printer and a bunch of VHS movies I wanted to get rid of to make more room for my food storage projects. Then on to check into the Redroof Inn. It’s not a fancy motel and the free breakfast leaves a lot to be desired but the rooms are clean, in order, cheap, and located in the heart of prime shopping and eating territory as well as close to Schlitterbahn. Usually I pay a little extra for their Superior King inside rooms with microwave oven, refrigerator, and computer desk work area but this time I thought I would try the peon quarters with outside entrance. I won’t be making that mistake again. The room while adequate had a bed that was hard as a rock and the maid kept making it up with the blanket only coming up to my waist. What is the point of a blanket that doesn’t cover your shoulders at night?! I did miss the size of the other rooms and the other amenities too. I’ve gotten spoiled.

On Friday, I scavenged a blueberry muffin and pastry from the breakfast at the motel then went to Schlitterbahn. Only one of the two parks was open and half that parking lot was empty. I got there later in the morning but so did everyone else it seemed due to the morning cold. At least the water was heated as promised. I saw the slide tower was empty for once so I made a beeline for it. Instead of having to wait 90 minutes per ride in season, I got on in 10 minutes easy. Of course, I had to climb the tower first which was a feat in itself. I climbed that high tower several times and got on all 3 of the slides finally. I can now state without a doubt that Master Blaster is the best. The others are nice but not in its league. Master Blaster is an uphill waterslide in big rafts. Very fast, wet, thrilling, and cool.

Schlitterbahn 2016

The only other attractions that were open were the hot pool which felt very good on a cool day and the wavy Torrent River. It goes around and around like a lazy river but has high waves going through it so don’t get too lazy.

Instead of my usual turkey leg I had a Bahn Burger and waffle fries for lunch. Good Lord! That thing was a huge double decker. It filled me up so much that I skipped both dinner and breakfast afterward. It was delicious but I think I’ll stick with the turkey leg in the future.

After Schlitterbahn, I went to Camping World for parts. I didn’t find everything I was looking for but did find the replacement for the light under the front of my 5th that I somehow broke. I renewed my Good Sam Membership there for two years on a special offer to get a $25 gift certificate (one year’s member fee) back. Out in the parking lot, I realized I locked my keys in the car and didn’t have a spare in my purse though I usually do. OOPS! Some people celebrate birthdays with parties and cakes. I celebrate by locking my keys in my truck. Ha ha! It was fun though calling Good Sam Emergency Road Service and telling them I was safe and located at their place in their parking lot (Good Sam owns Camping World). Half an hour later, Pop-A-Lock showed up and had it open in less than 10 seconds. Of course, doing the paperwork took longer. LOL

Saturday was shopping day for all the little things on my big city shopping list and to scout out options for new projects I’m working on. I scored much better that day and sure got my exercise even though I couldn’t get out of bed until 11am and had a little bit of sunburn. I tried to go to the cinema in the evening but the parking lot was full. I noticed it was still full the next day. Geez! Is “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” really that good?

Sunday, my last full day, I finished the shopping and scouting then went back to Schlitterbahn for the afternoon. Ahhh. One last Master Blaster ride, some time in the hot pool, and the rest riding the waves on the river. I still had some energy when I finished so I went for a drive through Landa Park. Every time I tried to go before they were busy remodeling or something so this was my first time. The park was full of families having Easter picnics and egg hunts. It’s really quite lovely. The lake was covered with folks in paddle boats ($3 to rent). Lots of kids were wading in the Wading Pool area of the river. Some folks were playing miniature golf or volleyball. The Olympic pool was not open. I rode the little train around the park for $3 and paid for a couple kids whose Mom didn’t bring cash. Then I took a long walk through the park to smell the charcoal and burgers. Unfortunately, my pitiful dog act didn’t work to score me a hot BBQ burger. So sad…

Landa Park picnicsLanda Park Paddle BoatingLanda Park Train

Landa Park Wading Pool

Monday I checked out of my room then went grocery shopping to take them home with me. The last thing I did before heading out of town was pickup the portable generator I bought. No way was I going to leave that unattended while shopping or sleeping so I left it for last.

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig. I should mention that my GPS tried to take me off the I35 freeway both going and coming again even though my gate and New Braunfels are close to it. I’m on to that stupid game. It loves to try and get me to go on two lane farm roads and through a major mall area with lots of traffic. The distance may be a little shorter but it definitely ain’t faster. I ticked her off by ignoring her until she decided to go my way instead. Aar! Aar! Aar!

RV Health Insurance

If you don’t have insurance, you got hit with a big penalty this year. While I did have insurance all of last year, I was very happy to see my veteran status and access to the VA also counted as having insurance all year to avoid the penalty. I never could get a clear answer on that until now.

I had insurance all last year through a job but if you don’t have a regular job, are stuck being (probably illegally) classified as a contractor, or are self-employed then you are on your own to find and pay for insurance.  Gone With The Wynns recently did a pretty good post on insurance you should read though you should keep in mind that the low figures they give are for them and their situation. I tried pricing through the health exchange and they wanted $600 a MONTH for a healthy single person with a $6000 deductible! That is absofreakinglutley ridiculous! That is NOT insurance. It is also well over the 8.05% of my income required to claim a hardship exemption if I needed to. So much for affordable healthcare. Welcome to another government lie. At that cost, it is cheaper to pay the penalty if I couldn’t get an exemption and wasn’t a veteran.

If you need to shop for insurance, there is a new site specifically for RVers at https://www.rverinsurance.com/ . They can give you a quote and have a lot of good information and ideas to save money beyond this crap our government claims is insurance.

One really good tip they give is using telemedicine which is not only cheaper than an office visit but can also get you to a doctor 24/7 even out in the middle of nowhere if you can get phone or internet signal. Using video, they can chat with you to discuss your issue and send in a prescription for you to your nearest pharmacy. It is said that 70% of office visits could be handled over the phone. Based on my experience with doctors visits, I believe that though you should still see a doctor in person at least once a year or anytime you aren’t getting better. The cost for telemedicine is very reasonable too at only $12.95/mo for a single or $14.95/mo for a couple. I joined up at https://www.rverinsurance.com/telemedicine/ .

Another good option is using discounts on medications. All pharmacies are NOT ALIKE! They do have different prices and some, like Wal-Mart have special programs with a list of drugs that are only $4 for a month’s supply. My doctor tries to prescribe from that list when possible and changes to other drugs only if the listed drugs don’t work for me. It’s a good starting place and we adjust as necessary.

You may also find a discount drug card in you doctor’s waiting room. I found one that worked at Wal-Mart that way. Look around while reading that old magazine.

There are also websites and phone apps that can get you steep prescription discounts. I joined Blink recently and installed their phone app. It is free to signup and get the app. You find the cheapest price they have for the drug you need and buy it online from them then pick it up at your local participating pharmacy. The app shows you which pharmacies in your area will accept Blink payments. You can even purchase on the go on your phone. Enter in the medications you take regularly and have Blink remember them to make ordering easy peasy. Blink also gave me $5 off on my first use and my own referral code to refer others (see above) and get some more cash back.

Another discount group I joined is GoodRX. They have a free website and app also but you don’t buy through them as you do with Blink. They do show you the discount prices at various pharmacies in your area so you can find the best price.

My first test of the drug discounts was last week. I went to a nearby Wal-Mart and reordered 3 months of two medications. One was on the $4 list so I got charged their usual $10 for 3 months worth. The other is not on the list anymore since our “wonderful” Obamacare took over so it is now expensive to buy 3 months worth at a time. I checked Blink which had other pharmacies’ prices at around $14+ while Wal-Mart was at $9.95. That was pretty good and much cheaper than buying without Blink but I decided to check GoodRX too. Sure enough, GoodRX had a price of $7.77. I selected that one, showed my phone to the pharmacist, and they honored it after typing in the info provided by the app. I saved $20 at Wal-Mart using the phone app! Wow! I LOVE smartphones and highly recommend getting these two apps.

Lastly, if you are near the border with Mexico, prescription drugs and care are often quite cheaper in Mexico. A favorite among RVers is Los Algadones near Yuma, AZ. You can park your car on the American side in the parking lot and walk a short distance into town where they specialize in pharmacies, dental offices, and eyeglass shops. Many who go to Quartzsite, AZ for the winter RV swap meet drop down to Los Algadones at least once during their stay.

Sugar Beet Harvest Now Hiring

Thinking of trying workamping or looking for a different workamping job. Camp hosting isn’t the only workamper job out there. Saw this ad the other day.

“Workampers – How would you like to harvest UP TO $2500 in 2 weeks!?

Express Employment Professionals is hiring for the American Crystal Sugar Beet Harvest and positions are going FAST! Positions are located in Eastern North Dakota and Western Minnesota. Wages: $12+/hr., with anything over 8 hours at time and a half and Sundays at double time. Jobs start end of September through mid-October. Jobs require that you work outside up to 12 hours a day. These positions are at the sugar beet receiving stations, NOT in the fields!! Seeking self-contained units with campsites and hookups paid by us!

APPLY ONLINE: www.sugarbeetharvest.com/apply

Check out our Facebook page by searching “The Unbeetable Experience”

Questions? Call the harvest team at 888-791-6738”

For a fun overview of what it is:

 

For a more in depth review of what working the beet harvest is like, see http://bigredanddove.weebly.com/blog/workamper-review-2015-sugar-beet-harvest-with-american-crystal-sugar-company