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Good Day On The Gate

You wouldn’t think a good day would start off bad but hey, that’s Texas! Was told to expect 5 oil tankers yesterday and when not one had come by 5pm, I knew they would be coming in the middle of the night all night as they so love to do. I bagged thoughts of dinner and went to bed instead. At 11pm, still no tankers but I got up, made a hearty dinner of chicken fried steak, and stayed up all night waiting for the tankers that never came. Went back to bed at 5am so of course the tankers and bunches of other trucks finally came at 7am. Can’t win. I still managed to sneak in some more sleep here and there. Once everyone straggled in here and there things quieted down.

Forgot to eat breakfast. Finally realized it at lunch time. Heated up the rest of the chicken fried steak and sat down to eat when the belt broke on the company generator. First time I didn’t get excited or anxious about it because I am now covered. I called my support guy then I backed up my truck to the rear of my trailer, dropped the tailgate, and fired up my own dang generator. Yay! It worked flawlessly. After waiting 5 minutes for the surge suppressor to kick in, the refrigerator switched back over to AC power and the air conditioner came back on. For once, I stayed cool during a generator breakdown. It was lovely. Support guy got here in an hour and fixed up the company generator. Shut down my gennie, flipped up the tailgate, and moved my truck back to its parking space. Piece of cake! Now I can get rid of the huge generator box on my bed. Was keeping it until I was sure of new generator.

Generator WorkingSupport guy fixing company gen

While all this was going on, the wonderful guys from Lehosky Welding came by after trimming the grass on all the drilling pads and whacked all the grass down around my trailer and the gate. They gave me a very nicely manicured lawn (to keep the snakes away). Don’t I feel special! I paid them off in candy. Tee hee! Silly Lehosky guy asked me if I had a lawn mower. LOL. A full-time RVer who moves around with a lawn mower. Silly wabbit.

Whacking at the gateMy manicured lawn

By the way, the price of oil is up and more gates are starting to open. I heard some oil companies are even starting to hire again though many experienced people have moved on to other jobs. I’m seeing advertisements for gate guards. The snowbird winter guards have left and many longtime guards have decided to try other things. If you are interested in this job, check out my guard company, Guard 1 Services. Sorry, no dogs allowed.

Printing Freedom

Time goes on and things change, even in the wonderful world of RVing. Having lived in an RV for 11 years now, some items that worked fine for me when I first started my journey don’t work so well for me anymore. Technology continues to advance and design new items to make life easier. Prices on older technology continue to drop. After over 11 years of paying high prices for inkjet printer ink and constantly running out of ink, I was getting antsy for something better. I just needed the cosmic winds to shift to lower prices and give me a good excuse to replace a good working printer. Things finally came together when my job changed from employee status to contractor (bah humbug!) and I started looking around at possible online businesses I could run at the same time. For business reasons, I need to change to laser printing. A look at the current costs of laser printers showed significant drops and even low-cost color laser printers if I wanted that option. I rarely print color but it is always nice to have options.

Being in an RV, I had to consider things land lubbers don’t. I needed to balance weight, space, and power needs for a new printer. Color printers seem to weigh twice as much as black and white printers. I hated to have to give up color but carrying that extra weight to print a handful of pages in color each year just wasn’t worth it to me. I can print through an office store or possibly a library if needed. Space wise, I knew the new printer would likely have a bigger footprint and not be suitable to sit on my table like the old printer. I reorganized my space to create a place on the floor for the new printer which I plan to keep covered at all times when not in use. I was a little concerned about the power draw of a laser printer compared to an inkjet but was assured a trailer could handle it.

After deciding what I wanted as options for my new printer with scanning, printing, and copying being a must, I learned the codes used in printer model numbers such as D=Duplex(two sided automatic copy), C=Color, MFC=Multifunction (Scan, copy, fax, print), W=Wireless, etc. and started searching reviews on Amazon and computer websites. Brother laser printers score high for customer service and support so I narrowed it down to a few of their models. Here is where it gets weird… Since I live in an RV without a landline phone, I have no need for faxing capability in a printer. I use Internet faxing instead. Looking at the models that interested me, the best price on Wal-Mart’s website and Amazon was for a Brother printer that had a lot more bells and whistles than what I must have. The models with less options cost more! I ended up getting a Brother MFC-L2700DW with fax, copy, flatbed scanning as well as automatic document feeder, and duplexing. The ink is easy to find, prints 1300-2600 pages depending on the cartridge type you choose, and is not much more expensive than low page producing inkjet ink or very cheap if you buy generic. At around 24-25 pounds, getting rid of my inkjet printer and another large item offset the weight.  It fits easily under my table and is still within reach. The printing is crisp, it prints great postage labels with barcodes, and as an added bonus the paper is now sealed in a drawer away from all the dust unlike with the inkjet printer.

Brother 2700 Printer

Power is the only downside with it so far. My slide out where my table is gets its power through a cord you plug into the wall when the slide out is pushed out. Until now, I have been plugging it into a large backup UPS to protect my computer and printer. The new printer draws too much power for that scheme. It has to be directly connected to the wall. There goes both my outlets in the area. Dang it! That’s the price of freedom.

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!