Thursday, September 19, 2013

More Laundry, Baby Watch and Hats in the Little RV

Picking up where we left off in the last post I have now washed, dried, folded and put away at least 397 loads of laundry.   Because something on the bed seemed to be what was causing the problem I focused there first.  Sheets, blankets, mattress pad, down pillows, pillow covers, decorative pillows and more.  I flipped the memory foam topper and put all the clean fresh bedding back on the bed.  

When we went to bed later that evening, I was just falling asleep when Rob said, "I'm itching again!"  After blurting out some choice words, I started thinking about the situation.  Then I asked Rob where he was itching.  It was his chest and the only thing touching his chest was the blanket.  I went and got a lighter fleece blanket and switched them and the itching stopped.  This really confirmed what I thought was going on.  The blankets had built up a residue of detergent that my washer is just too small to remove.  The blankets have to go!  Rob has been itch free for about 36 hours. 

We'll be replacing them with less bulky blankets that will rinse out better.  I'm going to continue using the organic laundry detergent because it seems to work well and it is so concentrated it's great for the Little RV because it just doesn't take up much space. 

We're still on baby watch.  Christina and her family had some maternity photos taken last weekend.  They are gorgeous! I snagged a couple to post here.  

I'm still crocheting.  Camden asked for a zebra hat so I found a pattern and made one. I also made him a dinosaur hat.
Rob has some medical appointments next week so we'll be heading back to Washington in a few days... with lots of hats and clean laundry!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Organic Laundry Detergent in the Little RV?

Houston we have an allergy!  Rob has been experiencing intermittent itching for the last couple of weeks.  We absolutely couldn't figure out what was causing it until we slept on fresh, clean sheets and he woke up itching like a mad man.  

I love my washer and dryer.  The washer is a High Efficiency front loader.  They use significantly less water than top loaders.  I had heard so many bad things about RV sets that my expectations were pretty low and I knew we were limited to small loads.  Even after having this problem I still love my washer and dryer.  I just know they have to be used differently.  
Clean sheets are the best so I change them, and the blanket every 4 or 5 days.  I've used the same laundry detergent for several years and never had a problem but after reading about sensitivity to the ingredients in laundry detergent I think the problem may be the fact that my washer is very small and may not be rinsing all of the detergent out of the blankets.  

First I called my daughter.  She's "crunchy"... her word, not mine.  She is into all things natural and knows a lot about laundry as she is a cloth diaper washing expert.  She suggested I thoroughly clean or "strip" my washer first.  I looked the process up online and found more than one way to do it but I choose to run a long cycle with very hot water and 2 cups of vinegar.  Then I ran another cycle with bleach and after those where finished, I cleaned the seal and all the nooks and crannies with vinegar and a rag.  Some of the pictures I saw were so gross but my washer wasn't bad at all, thank goodness!  I also cleaned my dryer with a rag and vinegar to remove any residue.

Now that my washer and dryer are clean and residue free I can start washing EVERYTHING.  
Not my laundry pile but it sure feels that big!

I did some research online and consulted my crunchy daughter to find good organic detergents that I will be able to find fairly easily no matter where we are camping.  I need one that doesn't have chemicals that will cling to the fabric and cause irritation.  I choose BioKleen.  The main reason I choose that brand is because I have used their Bac-out cleaning products and had exceptional results. 

My first task is to wash all of the bedding twice and with an extra rinse cycle.  With such a small washer and dryer that will be a long process.  I should be finished with enough today so that I can remake the bed with all fresh bedding and hopefully Rob can stop scratching and taking Benadryl. Then I can start on the clothes.

Wish us luck!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Can the Little RV go Off the Grid?

This week visited AM Solar in Springfield, Oregon.  Wonderful people!  We wanted to get an idea of what is required to get us off the grid with a solar set-up.  The big power sucker we have to deal with is Rob's oxygen concentrator.  It uses a lot of power and puts out a ton of heat.  It lives in the closet of our bedroom.   They asked us how long Rob uses it daily but that varies greatly depending on how he is feeling.  Some days he needs to sleep for much longer.  

We are complete solar rookies.  I'm pretty sure my eyes crossed a few times when the guy at AM Solar was talking to us because I had no idea what he was talking about.  I did find this very basic diagram on the interwebs that gives a simple version of how a solar system works.  

When we purchased the Little RV we had a generator and a bank of four batteries installed.  AM Solar suggested we might want to double our battery bank so we can store more energy.  We also need an inverter a battery monitoring system, solar panels and a lot of wiring.  

In order to get started so that we can support the oxygen machine and our basic needs they suggested a 600 watt system that can be expanded over time.  The oxygen machine draws about 300 to 350 watts so 600 is really the minimum we can get by with.  The cost of this starter set-up is about $5,800 including installation.  This does not include doubling the battery bank.

If we wanted to just take the bull by the horns and get it all done at once they suggested a 1000 watt system.  This would require a whole house inverter that runs over $3000.  The whole 1000 watt system runs about $12,000 including the additional batteries and installation.

We're mulling over our options.  

I drove up to Portland yesterday to see Christina and Camden and pick up a package I had sent there.  I presented Camden with his shark hat and completely forgot to take a picture.  We visited for a while and I headed back.  Clearly there is an Oregon Ducks football game today as I seemed to be traveling in a flock surrounded by yellow and green all the way back to Harrisburg. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

We're Celebrating our First Anniversary of Full-Time RV Living

One year ago today we set out on this crazy adventure.  We were wide eyed, wet behind the ears RV greenhorns.  Ha! (Don't tell anyone but sometimes we still are.)  

The first question most people ask us is what was our favorite place visited along the way.  I don't have a favorite and so many different places come to mind when I try to answer that question. Charleston, the tiny tunnel we drove the truck through... so many.
The other day I asked Rob if he had it to do over again, would he?  His answer was yes.  I would too.  Even if we knew about all of the problems we would encounter along the way the good times outweighed the bad by a long shot.

I also asked him what he would do differently.  He said he wouldn't buy a DRV Tradition.  Ditto!  We agree that we would buy a Class A RV rather than a 5th wheel because we think it would work better with his physical limitations.... and because it would be easier to back into a campsite. ;-)

The other big thing I wouldn't do is travel 10,000 miles in 10 months.  It's just way too much.  We are much more suited to a leisurely pace.  I'd love to spend more time in one place and I really want to boondock.  We've got some work to do before we can make that happen.  

One of the most highly recommended RV solar experts has a business right near here in Springfield.  We're planning to go and visit this week and see what we need in order to meet our power needs.  We have spent up to $1000 a month paying for campsites so I feel certain we can recapture the cost in site rental savings fairly quickly.   

We have started planning our next adventure starting in January.  This time we're heading south to California, Arizona, New Mexico and who knows where else we'll end up. Let year 2 begin!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Baby Watch and Loving the Feel of Fall in the Little RV

We're on baby watch around here these days.  Christina (our daughter) is due at the end of the month but had her first early and has been having a lot of really strong contractions on and off for the last week so we're just going to stick around for the arrival of #5.  If we were to head out I'm pretty sure Murphy's law would kick in and the little one would arrive without Grammie and Grampie.  This simply will not do.

I love fall.  I know it's technically not fall yet but I can feel it in the air.  I love waking up to a cool morning but knowing we'll have a bright, sunny afternoon. I love the shorter days and making soup for dinner.  I especially love the sound of the wind high up in the trees.  It reminds me of being at my grandparents house for some reason. 

I always seem to take up my crocheting in the fall.  This morning I am sitting in my cozy chair crocheting with a blanket over my lap and feet.  If it were any cooler I'd have the fireplace on too.  

I made these tiny pants for the new little on we are waiting for. 

I've been crocheting fun hats for our grandchildren lately.  I have a little girl owl,

a shark,


and this colorful big girl hat.  I'm working on a dinosaur today. 

Rob decided to get an Oregon fishing license so he can do some fishing since we are right here on the banks of the Willamette River.  He's finding that most of his old fishing gear has seen better days so a shopping trip may be in order.  Rob used to work in his woodworking shop back at home but over the years he just couldn't tolerate it any more.  Fishing is tough too but he can sit part of the time and that helps.  He also loves photography so we do some of that to keep busy.  He shot a couple of beautiful sunset photos the other day.  I'll share them with you.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Where Will the Little RV Camp Next?

Over the past few days we have been slowly working through a to do list while relaxing and attempting to shrug off some stress after a string of medical appointments and RV repairs.   We decided to stay put in Harrisburg, Oregon over the Labor Day weekend in order to avoid the throngs and masses of people celebrating the last weekend of summer.  We really enjoy this campground.  It's spread out and there is a lot of open land for Grant to run and play.
The park is laid out in a dog leg shape.  We are near the paw!  Their WiFi doesn't work out there so it's pretty sparsely populated and we love that. 

We installed a new faucet in the kitchen a couple of days ago. The faucet that came in the RV actually broke along a seam and was spraying water from the wrong place.  Imagine that!  

Rob has worked on buffing out some scratches we have accumulated during our travels.  We have a couple of broken blinds that we have to fix or replace.  

My big, ongoing problem that I can't quite conquer,  is the pantry drawers.  The weight in the drawers causes them to push the doors open and is tearing them up and making a huge mess when we travel.  I thought I had solved the problem with my fancy baby locks but the weight actually breaks them and they fail.  I have tried to install several types of latches and locks but none of them has worked.  Before you ask, I have considered moving some things around but it just doesn't work.  I'm going to the hardware store today to attempt again to find something that will work.  

Yesterday we decided to go and check out the Mckenzie River area for camping and fishing opportunities.  The area starts about 25 miles from where we are currently camped.  It's a beautiful, wide river in rugged terrain.  While we were driving along we discovered this beautiful, old covered bridge.  
There was just no good angle for photographing the bridge but then I discovered this staircase from the bridge down to the riverbank. The bridge is Goodpasture Bridge built in 1938.  From this angle I was able to get some good shots. 

We didn't find any great campsites but there were many day use sites and boat launches.  We're going to look elsewhere for our next camp.  It's sometimes hard to find a place that isn't crowded but will take an RV our size that is near a place we can access for fishing with Rob's balance and breathing problems but persistence will pay off!