Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tex's Eye Emergency

As some of you know, Tex woke up Tuesday Jan 18th with a really red right eye and it was really itchy.  He thought it was just allergies or the beginnings of a sinus infection.  All week, he would put hot compresses on it and would put Visine in it.  It progressively got worse but he did not think he needed to go to the eye doctor.  We were out of town the whole week and he didn't want to find a doctor so we just kept going.  On Monday Jan 25th, he got up to go to work and his eye was so painful he could hardly open it.  His vision was blurry and even the right side of his face was red, swollen and was hot to the touch.

He went to work and saw the medical doctor who immediately made him see the eye doctor.  He is lucky that the military doctors are just one floor up in his building where he works.  Once the eye doctor saw his eye, she immediately called a civilian specialist and got him an appointment for the same day. 

The civilian specialist said that he has an infection in the iris part of the eye, that the cells in his eye are extremely swollen and that he is very, very close to losing his vision and that his eye could even explode due to the massive swelling and pressure that has built up. The pressure is so high and there is so much swelling in the cells in his eye and that is why the right side of his face is swollen, red and hot.  It is very severe!

The doctor gave him one eye drop medicine that he has to put in his eye every hour.   We have to do this around the clock for the next 10 days!!!!  He also prescribed another eye drop but we could never find a pharmacy that carried it.  I called the doctor back and they called in a different eye drop that is somewhat similar to the first one.  We couldn’t find that one anywhere either.  I called the doctor back again and they finally said not to worry about it.  They said that the doctor will put a stronger version in his eye the next day, which was Tuesday.

So Tex is off work until further notice.  He will be off all this week and next week will be determined depending on how his eye is on Friday.  He has drops that he has to put in every hour and I have to drive him back to the eye doctor every day for a check on it.  The pharmacy special ordered the second eye drop so he now has two.  One every hour and one 3 times a day.  At this point, nothing has changed.  He has very little vision in his right eye and it is super painful and red.    Light still hurts so he keeps a patch over his eye.  Thankfully the swelling on his face as gone away.

I am never letting me talk him out of going to the doctor again!  I really felt like he needed to get seen last week but he didn’t want to go through the trouble since we were out of town.  I hope everyone can learn something from this horrible situation.  Please do not hesitate to see the doctor if something isn’t right.  It is not worth getting sicker and potentially having life long repercussions from it. 

Monday, January 25, 2016


Hi everybody!

Last week, we went to Woodland WA and Eugene, OR to get some upgrades done on the RV.  The biggest upgrade that we have ever done was last week when we decided to install solar. 

Our first stop was Dave and LJ’s Interior Design in Woodland, WA.  Late last year, Dave and LJ’s installed new AutoMotion Shades throughout the RV.  The cornice boxes over the driver side window and passenger door had to be extended down about 4 inches to cover the top of the blinds.  When they were re-installing the pillar cap on the left side of the front windshield, they accidentally cut the wrong end.  It had to be cut down in order to go around the new window cornice boxes.   This meant that they had to order a new pillar cap from Newmar.  It took quite some time to be shipped and delivered.  Dave and LJ’s finally received it in mid-November, but we couldn’t find the time to get back down there before our trip to OKC in December, so our first opportunity to get it replaced was last week.

Because we were going to be in Woodland, we decided we would take this opportunity to drive 2 more hours south to AM Solar, Inc. in Springfield, OR to get a quote to add solar to the RV.

So, on Monday, January 18th, we drove to Woodland and stayed overnight at Columbia Riverfront RV Park.  It is the same park that we always stay at when we go to Woodland.  You can see our review on this blog under the tab “Campground/RV Park Reviews”.

On Tuesday morning, we had a 9 am appointment at Dave and LJ’s.  It took them about an hour to replace the pillar cap.  Once that was done, we drove to Coburg, OR, which is just 5 miles north of the Eugene/Springfield area.

We stayed at Premier RV Resorts.  You can see our review on this blog under the tab “Campground/RV Park Reviews”.  The next morning, we had a 9 am appointment at AM Solar. 

So why go solar?  Solar, for most people, is not a cost-saver.  Depending on the panels, equipment and installation, it can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000.  The return on investment can take a few years to make sense financially.  If you mainly use campgrounds or just stay off the grid for a day or two, then solar is not necessary.  If you like to go off the grid and boondock for days and weeks at a time, then solar makes a lot of sense. 

We have been thinking of adding solar for quite some time because we want to be able to boondock once we start traveling full time.  With the 30% tax rebate ending in December 2016, we thought we should get a quote now so we could see how much it was going to cost.  Armed with that information, we could then decide if we wanted to go ahead and get solar or not.  We also knew that AM Solar books out several months in advance and we needed to make that decision now so we would have time to get on their calendar.  In fact, as of last week, they were booked through July with just a couple of random weeks free.

We chose AM Solar because they are well known throughout the RV community for being experts in RV solar installations.  People come from every corner of the U.S. to get their solar installed here.  We are very lucky that they are within driving distance for us.  Several of the employees are full time RVers and every employee understands the specialized needs of an RVer.  Our appointment was with Roger, who was super smart and extremely helpful.  He put everything in layman terms that we could understand and walked us through the process. 

Let me preface this next part by saying that I have almost no clue what I am talking about and I am only providing the bare minimum information.  There were several calculations that Roger did that were way above my head but the bare essentials are listed below.  At the end of this article, I will link several different RV blogs and websites that go into more detail that would be very beneficial reading if you are considering solar for your RV.

The first step for any solar installation is to determine your average usage in amp hours.  When you are contemplating solar, your average usage should be for those “necessary” items.  For us, that is our residential fridge, Tex’s CPAP and that is about it.  Lights, phone and laptop charging even watching TV are not “necessary” as you can get by without them. 

To determine our average usage, we looked up the yellow energy sticker for our fridge.  We used the yearly average kWh and converted that to amp hours and divided that down to the daily average.  We then went out to the RV and turned on Tex’s CPAP and used a voltage meter to determine how many amps it used and then multiplied that by 8 hours of normal sleep time.

So how many panels did we need? After all the final calculations were conducted, Roger determined that we needed a minimum of 500 watts of solar to run just our fridge around the clock and CPAP for 8 hours a day.  Roger then priced two different systems for us to consider.  One was for 640 watts and the other was for 840 watts.   

I should also state that we already upgraded our inverter/charger in May of last year when we installed the new residential fridge.  We have a Magnum 2800-watt pure sine wave inverter/charger so we did not need to purchase an inverter along with the solar.  We also had to replace our coach and house batteries last summer and we chose to go with flooded batteries so we do not need new batteries right now.  We will more than likely upgrade to AGM batteries before the end of the year so we can include the cost with our solar tax rebate.   The reason we will upgrade to AGM batteries is because they charge faster and since they are sealed, there is the bonus of no more maintenance.  Because of this, we will be able to reconfigure the battery compartment and will be able to add 2 additional AGM batteries, which will bring the battery capacity more in line with our solar wattage capacity. 

So what did we decide?  Well, let me just say it was an expensive week!  We did decide to go ahead and get solar and we decided to get the 840 watt system.  The 640 watt system would have barely met our minimum requirements and would have left hardly any capacity for any other electrical usage such as watching TV (football, Nascar, baseball etc anyone?), cooking or charging devices etc. 

We had planned to get the solar installed towards the end of this year so we could take advantage of the tax rebate and because we won’t be traveling full time until next year.  But once we made the final decision to get solar, I made a joke to Roger asking what their schedule looked like Thursday and Friday.  I knew they were booked out over 6 months in advance and was really just teasing. We had Thursday and most of Friday available as we didn’t plan to drive back home until Friday afternoon and Saturday so I thought I would just throw that idea out there. We were very surprised when Roger said that they did in fact have Thursday and Friday open as the people that had those two days reserved couldn’t get over the mountain passes due to the snow. 

Putting cardboard down to measure and make proper placement.

Putting cardboard down to measure and make proper placement.

Starting to place panels on roof

So, that is how we ended up having the solar installed in such a quick fashion.  This also saved us several hundred dollars in diesel costs and RV park costs to drive back down to Oregon in addition to Tex having to take another few days off of work. 

The main part of system we ended up getting is listed below:
    •      TriStar MPPT 60 Controller
    •       Roof Combiner Box
    •       4 – SF 160 watt Solar Panel Kits
    •       2 – SF 100 watt Solar Panel Kits
    •       5 Tilt Bar sets
    •       Battery Monitor Kit (BMK) for Magnum Inverters
    •       BMK Power Wire Harness
    •       On/Off Switch for Solar System
    •       Extra fuses
    •       Dicor Lap Sealant
    •       Various cables/parts
    •       Labor to install above

We also have room on the roof for two more solar panels if we decide to add more in the future.  The controller we chose also allows us room to expand our system as well.

In addition to the above equipment, we also added an on/off switch so that we can isolate the house batteries from the inverter as well as a few other improvements to our battery and inverter system. 

Let me now say a few things about AM Solar, Inc.  Every single employee is amazing.  Each one went out of their way to make us comfortable and feel welcome.  They answered all of our questions, some of them several times and were extremely patient with us. 

They have a great waiting area with a couch, table and chairs, lots of books and magazines, tea, soda, coffee, free wifi, lots of electrical outlets for charging your devices and anything else you may need.  They even shared a “Mock Apple Pie” with us!  They are extremely dog friendly.  They have a doggie gate for across the door to the waiting area and have the funniest doggie water bowl in the waiting room.  They also have a patio door off the waiting room to the outside so you can come and go as you need.

The girls loved the water bowl!

Love this doggie bowl!!

Working equipment so you can see how it works and
what they are talking about during your consultation

Their business is located on a huge piece of property that is heavily wooded with lots of squirrels and has a large pond with resident geese.  They have several sets of outdoor lawn furniture and even have some adult swings that are actually chairs with cup holders.

Some of the lawn furniture and part of the
pond in the background.

River that runs behind the property.

View from the back portion of the property at AM Solar

Loved these swings!
Elsie loved swinging with me!

Part of the pond on the property

Another part of pond

They continually kept us informed on their status and offered recommendations on ways to improve our current battery and inverter setup.  Based on their recommendations, we did have them do several different upgrades and we are so thankful for their expertise.  Each employee there is very knowledgeable in regards to RV solar and electricity and they have such a natural way to explain it to you in ways that you can understand.  We can’t recommend them highly enough. 

There are several RV bloggers on the Internet that have written extensively about solar and how they set up their system.  There are also several websites that we have found to be very helpful.  I will list a few below but just know that there are a lot more out there than the few I will list.  Be sure to do due diligence if you are considering adding solar to your RV.

A few of the websites we found helpful were:

Now that we have solar, we can’t wait to get out and use it.  Even if we can’t get anywhere to boondock any time soon, having the solar will allow us to disconnect from the RV park power and enable us to save on our monthly electric bill. 

So, that is our story in a nutshell.  If you are thinking about solar for your RV, be sure to call AM Solar at 541-726-1091.  They will spend as much time with you as you need and will answer all of your questions. 

~Until next time!

Friday, January 22, 2016


Well, how can it be that two months have past since I have blogged??!!  It has been a crazy two months, that is for sure!


In December, Tex and I flew home for the birth of our second grandson.  Our oldest daughter, Megan and her husband Aaron, have a little boy, Caleb, who is now 17 months old and our youngest daughter, Amanda and her husband James, just had their first child, a boy as well!

Kegan Emit Harrison was born at 4:46 pm on December 15, 2015 and was 7 lbs even and 20 inches even. 

His birth story is a little crazy because of what all was happening at the same time.  Kegan was born on a Tuesday.  The day prior, I (Susan) came down with a bad stomach virus.  I could not stay out of the bathroom and was extremely nauseas.  Tex and I spent the day taking care of Caleb but I was so sick I slept all day so Tex had babysitting duty. 

Late Monday afternoon, Amanda had a doctor appointment and the doctor stripped her membranes.  Within a few hours, she started having contractions but they were not regular.  About 10 pm Monday night, James started throwing up.  OH NO!  James now has the virus!

The contractions started getting stronger so she finally had to make James get up and take her to the hospital around 4 am.  James was very nauseas and felt horrible.  About 6 am Tex woke up and he was throwing up and had diarrhea.  OH NO!  Tex now has the virus!

So, in recap, James, Tex and I now all have the horrible stomach virus and Amanda is in labor.  Just wonderful!

Around 10 am Tuesday, I got ready and went to the hospital but I was still extremely nauseas and super weak.  I could not eat a thing.  James felt the exact same.  We stayed with Amanda all day at the hospital.  James mainly slept just as I had the day prior. 

During the day, I would keep checking on Tex at home.  He could not stop throwing up and could not stop the diarrhea.  He was the only one who had the double whammy.  James just threw up and I just had diarrhea even though we both we extremely nauseas and tired.

Finally about 1pm, Tex decided that he was now super dehydrated and needed to go to the emergency room.  Since we were all at a hospital downtown about 30 minutes away, our good friend and neighbor, Johnny, took Tex to an ER that was just a few miles from our house.  They kept him at the ER and gave him a couple of bags of IV fluids as well as some nausea medicine.  In fact, he was still in the ER when little Kegan was born at 4:40.  Tex didn’t even get to see Kegan until Kegan was released from the hospital the next evening.

And poor James, he couldn’t even stand beside the bed as Amanda was pushing.  He was sitting in the recliner when Kegan was born even.  He was just so sick!

Thankfully, throughout all of this, Amanda never got sick!  We think the common denominator was Caleb.  He and Megan had been sick the week prior to our arriving.  James, Tex and I all hugged and kissed on Caleb and Amanda didn’t.  He must have still been carrying the virus when we arrived. 

Even through all of this chaos of everyone being sick, Amanda stayed calm and in control.  She was a trooper and did a great job!  Little Kegan is amazing and is such a calm, happy baby.  He never really cries and has been sleeping 3-4 hours at a time since he was born. 

It was super hard having to leave little Kegan when he was just under a week old but Tex had to fly back to Seattle for work.  I was able to stay a few more days and flew back on Christmas day.  Kegan was 10 days old when I left. 

Before we left, we were able to take a few pics.  We totally forgot to get Megan, Aaron and Caleb just by themselves and we forgot to get a pic with Tex, me and the grandsons.  Oh well.   


It is very hard being away from our grandkids but we are very fortunate to have technology to make it tolerable.  Caleb Facetimes with us every day or two.  It is so fun to see him and watch him play and just to talk to him.  We have even been Factiming with little Kegan, even though he doesn’t know it quite yet!  LOL! 

Another way we are keeping in touch is a little different than usual.  Amanda has a baby camera in the crib that is made by Smugmug.  It has an app that we can open and see and watch and even talk to Kegan when he is in his crib.  Amanda can move the camera any where in the house in OKC and we can see and speak to them from Seattle.  Pretty cool!


While in OKC, we celebrated Chrstmas the weekend before Amanda was due.  One of the presents we opened was the following from Megan and Aaron.

Yep!  We are now expecting our third grandchild in August 2016!  Megan was about 6 weeks along when we arrived in OKC.  Megan and Aaron are so excited!  We are thrilled and Caleb has no idea what is about to happen!  I am not sure he is going to like not being the center of attention when baby #2 comes along!

SO, there you have it!  We go home to celebrate grand baby #2 and find out grand baby #3 is on his/her way!  We are so lucky and extremely blessed to have 2 healthy grandsons and are so excited for #3 in August!

In my next post, I will update you on the RV upgrades we decided to do in January.  Let’s just say it is a very expensive month!

Until next time!