Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

One of my all-time favorite westerns…….It has been a roller coaster week and I have a lot of catching up to do.

 The Good…..

Guts of the solar
We arrived at AM Solar on Monday the 17th. We had a quick tour of the facility, went over our installation and spent the night in the back parking lot. The next day we pulled the rig into the shop, unhooked and headed out. We were to return on Thursday afternoon when the rig was done. We headed down to Grant Pass and spent the night there, the next day we headed over to Cave Junction to see Barb’s grandmother. What an amazing woman! At 93 she is still sharp as a tack, she heats her home with wood which she brings in everyday, drives a little Mazda pickup wherever she goes and can recall stories that Barb and I have long forgotten. Barb and I have often said that we don’t want to live into our 90’s, but if we could live like that, bring it on!
We headed back to Springfield to pick up our rig the next day only to find it was going to take an extra day. So we hung out in our motel room and spent a few hours at the dog park where Daisy explored and Bailey slept.
Grandma Adeline

Panels on top
Friday morning we went back to AM Solar and had a walk through with the tech. There is so much to learn about using this system! We focused on the basics and will have to learn the rest as we go. After hooking up and heading out we went over to Coos Bay on the Oregon coast. Barb had spent a lot of time camping in this area with the mom, dad and brother growing it, it was fun hearing her reminisce about their adventures and visit some of the areas that they went to. It is amazing to see how many places are still the same some 40 years later. We camped at Bastendorf Beach County Park. It is a very nice park with lots of large pines.

Pulling up a pot full of crabs!
My bait stealing nemesis
Over the next few days we walked on the beach, enjoyed the campfire, went crabbing and clamming (more on the clamming later). Crabbing was a lot of fun, we rented crab pots ($4 each), got 3-day shell fish licenses ($11 each) and headed for the docks! We baited with both chicken and fish carcasses. You secure the bait to the crab pot, tie it off to the dock and throw it in. After waiting 15-20 minutes, you pull it up and see what you have. The most challenging part of the day was keeping the sea lions off your bait. We learned the hard way that sea lions love both chicken and fish. We lost most of our bait within the first hour and had to go get more. By the end of the second hour we were almost out again…. Stupid sea lions were killing us! A few times I would see the line move on our pot so I would start pulling it up only to have a 300# sea lion pulling back! You can guess who won that battle! Barb was a savior as one time when she went to take Daisy to shore for a potty break she came strolling back carrying  a 4’ lingcod in each of her hands and a whole other bag of fish! Apparently she found the fish cleaning shack and talked a few fisherman out of there carcasses so we had plenty of bait now. We caught a ton of crabs but only about 1 in 50 was a keeper. At the end of the day we had about 20 keepers.
The Bad……

Bailey doing what she loved most
Bailey and Daisy hanging out crabbing
We had noticed few days before we left Wisconsin that Bailey was not acting like herself. She was drinking constantly and had lost her appetite. As days went by there was no change and I took her to the vet while we were in Grants Pass. We had battery of tests done, x-rays, blood, urine but there was nothing definitive. At 11 years old she was showing signs of age but thought she still had a few years left. When we got to Coos Bay she started shaking more and stopped drinking. We knew the time was near but one of the hardest decisions is when to take her in. Barb said she will let us know when it is time and the next day she did just that, she could see it in her eyes. Bailey was the best dog I have ever had, loyal to a fault and my companion wherever I went. She will be dearly missed but we are thankful that we were able to spend as much time as we did with her during her last few days.

A limit of clams ready for cleaning
 The Ugly…..
It's a little muddy out there!

Back to clamming…. On Monday morning we went clamming. We have never done this before but saw others out there trying it so what the heck? So armed with bucket and shovel we waited until low tide and headed out onto the mud flats. Did I mention that Barb did not have boots so we went to Walmart and got her $9 kid’s boots, she looked really
Clam necks are just plain ugly!
cute, they were pink and had little umbrellas on them. We did not know what the heck we were doing…. we walked around the flats looking like idiots and then Barb walked up to some guy and got the lowdown. You have to look for holes in the mud about the size of your thumb, then stick your finger down the hole and if there is a clam there you will feel its neck retract. Armed with this information we started sticking out fingers in holes in the mud and sure enough we felt something move! A digg’in we went and about a foot down there was a clam! About 2 hours later we had our limit of 24 and were headed back to camp.   A quick YouTube video on how to clean them and we had that done in about 30 minutes. That night we had clam strips that night and they were delicious! So what is the ugly part of this? The necks on these clams have got to be the ugliest things I think I have ever seen!

Now we are headed back to Salt Lake City to hopefully get there in time for Jessica’s baby. We talked to her this morning and it looks like we just might make it!


  1. Sorry to hear about Bailey.
    The fighting with sea lions gave me a chuckle, I could just imagine the battle! It's funny, I have a draft for my next post with the exact same title as this one. Hope you make it for the grand baby.
    Good luck and Safe travels,

    1. Thanks Scott, she was a great dog. We made it to Salt Lake in time for the baby. Now we are just waiting for the big day!

  2. Hello Jim and Barb,

    Just discovered your blog...looks great. Sorry for your lose. My wife and I will be leaving Indiana as full-timers next March. As with you we also have two grown children living in the western states. I have been looking into solar power and have visited AM Solar's website. How do you like their product and installation? Can you tell me which system you had them install and did you have them wire the inverter directly into the existing AC or use a sub panel with dedicated outlets? Thank you, Carl

  3. I would highly recommend AM Solar, I did a lot of research to see what was out there and who the best installers were before deciding on them. We did have them install a 50amp sub panel and have all the solar outlets run through that. I had them install 4 solar panels, a MSH3012M inverter, the Tri-Star 60 MPPT Controller and a bank of 4 Lifeline AGM Batteries. Good luck and let me know if you need anything else. Let us know of your progress, it is nice to hear from people who are just starting out like us!