It’s winter….not much to do but dream of our future travel and do frequent garage checks to ensure no unwanted four-footed visitors are enjoying our Pewter Palace as much as we do!
On many of the forums, being winter, there is lots of discussion about keeping varmints, specifically MICE out of your rig. Be it stationary camping-anywhere but especially boondocking, a few nights, or tucked away in storage for winter…these pesky rodents can get into even the smallest of crevices!
found on Google…you can chose to believe it or not…(we do!)
“Bobby Corrigan, noted rodentologist and award-winning pest management consultant, states that if you can put a #2 pencil into a hole, a mouse would be able to get through it as well. Others like to use the dime as an example of the width a mouse can exploit.”
Our preventative steps to rodent prevention:
Sealed up any unnecessary gaps between vent stacks, electrical inlets, etc.
Use Fresh Cab sachets all around the rig including: bottom of every closet, under bed storage, bath cabinet bases and in winter all over the place. They have a very mild lavender and pine scent and are 100% natural. Also–safe to use around pets!
3. Maintain fresh supply of BOUNCE fully scented dryer sheets under mattresses, in closets and cabinets (next to the FreshCab), in between stored linens and clothing.
4. When on shore power (and through winter in our storage garage) we maintain a white (or clear) colored bulb LED rope light that goes in a complete loop all around the ground underneath the perimeter of our rig. Mice and other varmints like rats hate light. See photo below, this is in our year round storage garage.
5. When boondocking we use solar powered spot lights that we put out each morning anywhere we can collect the most sunshine, then position them to shine overlapping each other on the ground at the edges of our four corners of our rig….yeah….pretty much making a “lit stage” under our Avion.
Others who RV have mentioned things like the ultrasonic pest plug in devices, Irish Spring Soap, etc. but we have found our combination above has served us well so far both in our Class A for 5 years and now our Avion travel trailer since 2016. Of course, a cat would help to, but that is not the direction we are going!
FYI-We also have spent over 30 years of weekend camping in historical reproduction canvas tents with sleeping bags and all gear on the ground and we have always found just even the Bounce dryer sheets have done an amazing job of keeping spiders, mice, crickets, daddy long legs at bay for sure!
More about Fresh Cab and other Earthkind company products. 100% natural!
PS: in our storage garage we DO maintain large rat/mice bait traps with poison in them because we also store a lot of household and camping supplies and equipment on shelves in our garage.
If you have any sure fire, time tested ways you have found to repel mice let us know!
There are a lot of camping club membership programs to chose from. Each RVer has to do research and soul searching to find what fits their current and future needs best. We spent years researching and deciding before pulling the plug to join the clubs we have so far to save $$ on camping fees and support.
I am not going to go into every club membership here in detail. A simple search of YouTube and the web will provide our followers with plenty of opinions by full time and part time RVer’s, and those who weekend (or vacation) camp only.
What I will focus on in this blog post are the decisions we made, that we felt worked best for us at this point in time. Each of you will have different needs, preferences, geographies to consider for traveling–so only you can make a decision that is best for you.
What we have in our “travel club kit” currently is the following:
Good Sam Club (regular membership, not the roadside assistance membership)
Why? for the discounts at Camping World and at participating campgrounds
Why? for roadside assistance, RV towing, and discounts at campgrounds, attractions, dining, hotels, general travel discounts at retailers.
KOA Membership: Small annual fee, you build points with stays but in truth you would have to do a lot of KOA nights to really make the points amount to much. Meanwhile we do get discount on every booking at a KOA we do with this membership. KOA’s are fairly consistent and we happen to have a few of them at points on our regular vacation travel routes- so why not stay a little cheaper? You can purchase these memberships directly at the campground or when making a reservation online they will ask you.
Passport America: We made the decision to purchase the LIFETIME membership. This membership gives you discount at participating campgrounds all over the country. There typically are # of night restrictions and many parks do not offer the discounts peak season, weekends or holiday weekends- understandable. Discounts vary from park to park. The reason we bought our lifetime membership pass now is that while we are both still working and have good cash flow, and can purchase at 2017 rate…why not? Now its paid for, and one less monthly bill coming in once we are retired and our incomes are more stretched.
You can purchase an annual pass…currently on their website that is $599 per year for one “zone” e.g. Northeast.
We also chose to purchase the VIP lifetime, nationwide membership package. BUT we did not buy “new” and we did not by the annual zone type pass. We went through a resale broker who came very highly regarded by several full time RVers we have been following for years including RV Love who has an excellent video on this and other camping membership clubs.
By going through a re-seller, we used Campground Membership Outlet,located in Florida the process was pretty simple for us, but it did take a few months for TT to get their act together for the final processing and to send us our membership documents, etc. Campground Membership Outlet has been in business over 20 yrs and we felt far more comfortable going through them than purchasing from a private seller on Ebay or Craigslist. Yes, these plans are for sale on those sites too but buyer beware as there is a lot of fine print you need to be aware of and to be sure you are getting a legit membership. The staff at CMO, Kim & Chad were excellent to work with and sent us explanations of what currently plans they had in their inventory at the time we were looking. This inventory is going to change since it all depends on what current members are turning their packages in for resale. Our package originated from someone who bought in the 1990’s. We were able to purchase a membership package for $1,000’s less but actually with better perks and less restrictions on # of overnights, less restrictions on nights out of network before you can book again and a much better 120 day advance booking window. We felt it had advantages over the annual zone pass. Thousand Trails is a national network (though there is definitely limited participating campgrounds in the middle sections of the country. See the map graphic below and check out their link for more info.
There a lot of research and comparing that needs to be done when you are looking into Thousand Trails. We have heard their TT direct sales people are pretty high pressure…(another reason we liked going through the resale broker). And yes, depending on the resold club membership package you purchase- you can also resell your membership down the road if desired and recoup some of your initial investment.
With a Thousand Trails membership you do incur the initial investment, and you do pay an annual maintenance fee. Ours is right around $550-600 per year. This too is locked in with only up to a 3% raise after 5 yrs. Again, even before we go full-timing, right now if we do 8-10 nights of camping at a TT campground we have more than paid for our annual maintenance fee.
Why did we purchase the LIFETIME membership package now in a lump sum?
We saved money compared to contemporary plans which are only going to go up in cost each year.
We have the disposable income now while we are both working full time
With inflation who knows what these packages will be once we do retire
The longer we wait, the less of those more lucrative older plans that are available because they are being snatched up by many full time RVers.
We live debt free now and want to continue that once we full time. Honestly, we have heard some folks who have purchased new plans paying upwards of $10-15K for their memberships. YIKES! P.S.Thousand Trails corporation does do financing but again, we did not want to have those monthly bills after we retire.
We use our membership now to save overnight camping costs, but more importantly we crunched the numbers and once we go full time we will literally pay for our entire package (ours was $3500) by the very first year we are full timing after less than 100 days of overnights in participating TT campgrounds.
Thousand trails participating campground fees for us now range from free to $5.00-$8.00 per night versus rack retail of $35-65 per night for the same park!
With our package we can book up to 120 days in advance, stay up to 3 weeks at the same campground, get a newspaper and 2 free coffees per day
Our children can use our membership to rent a campsite or a cabin rental with hefty discounts for up to 2 weeks each year.
We can also gift this membership package as a legacy inheritance to our children when we no longer can be on the road- and then they have it for their lifetime.
There are add on packages (some are shown on map above as blue and gold) that also include the Trails Collection (gives you access to Encore RV Resorts). We have chosen not purchase this collection yet, but will as soon as we launch full time. Encore RV properties do tend to be nicer, with more amenities and are in some prime resort areas. There is one here in the Lake George Region (Lake George Escape Campground)- but even with our current plan we can stay there for a significant discount which is ok for us right now without having invested in the $200 per year additional cost for the Trails Collection.
Full disclosure…from what we have heard and experienced ourselves, not all TT participating campgrounds are equal. In the basic TT plan, many are older parks, some certainly not what we would consider a “resort” level by any means…but when you are staying in a full hook up site for free (our program they are free for us!) to under $10 per night..we are certainly willing to deal with some cobwebs in the bathrooms, some peeling paint on playgrounds (or no playground) and perhaps worn down gravel driveways. The way we look at it, once we full time we will plan to spend 2-3 weeks in a TT campground cheaply (do our laundry, take long showers, pump out our tanks, refill our water, perhaps dip in a pool or hot tub) then roll on out to either boondock a bit…or use the money we saved by staying in a TT campground to book a week at a luxury RV resort stay at a future date. Works for us!
In closing, again, this is our plan and may not be right for you. Only you can decide by doing the research needed.
This year, in 2020 we will also become life time members of ESCAPEES.
This is a national club with a lot of member support, great online forums and meet-ups, conventions with workshops, etc. It is not just for full timers, though many full time RVers belong to it and love it. Reason for this is they host rallies and RV caravan trips, club members get excellent discounts on certain RV equipment needs and they too have their own RV parks where we can stay for really cheap for a great stop off point along our wanderlust trail.
Once we know our full time launch date we will most likely add Coach-net RV Roadside Assistance membership since it is deemed the most comprehensive and best for national travelers. We plan to continue our AAA RV plus however, just to be sure we are covered in all geographies and to continue to get their travel discounts no matter how we are traveling.
We also are members of Tin Can Tourists and Harvest Host too….but those and others are for another blog post in the future!
Happy travels from Kevin & Luisa Sherman in the Pewter Palace!
As we close out 2019 Kevin and I wanted to thank each of you for subscribing to our Pewter Palace blog and following along on our posts, our travels, our tips and trials of RV life.
We are sending you all our best wishes for happiest of holidays, good health and good cheer and we truly hope that our paths cross in person someday soon!
Above is our 2019 Christmas card that I made up as part of the wonderful Avion Fellowship Christmas Card exchange now in I believe its 2nd year. Deb O’Connell, out in Indiana coordinates the sign up and list process and we send cards to over a dozen Avion owners across the USA and into the Ontario Province. Some we have met in person, others we hope to meet someday on the road at a rally or with an arranged “meet up”.
The list of event on the back of our card is FYI only. Sadly there is no way while we are still both working full time that we are able to attend all of these rallies. But we WILL get to all of them once we retire, (at least attending the one in Texas and Arkansas at least every few years).
Our plans for 2020 rallies/events include the following as of right now:
July– Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in Elkhart
September– TCT rally (all makes, models, not just Avions) at Sampson State Park in the NY Finger Lakes
Never underestimate the power of the internet to connect old friends and make new ones! Sometimes those new friends are virtual and although you may not have met them in person you form connections….
Such is the case with Avion owners. There are at least 4 very active Facebook groups exclusively for Avion owners. Kevin and I have gotten to know dozens of folks quite well through these social networks and learned so much about how to take care of and love our Avion from them.
There are Avion Facebook sites that focus on:
Sharing tips and product sources
Taking Avions on trips around the country, campground reviews, beautiful views
Avion Rally Events (yes, there is one for the IN, TX and AR rallies),
Renovation projects (interior and exterior), how to’s
Avions for Sale.
Hey–there is even a FB page just for becoming part of the now annual Avion Christmas Card Exchange club!
Most of us patrol through all of them if not daily…at least weekly. If you do not belong to these groups do a simple search using the keyword “Avion” or “avion trailer” and they will pop up. I believe all are by being approved to join the group, its easy–just ask to join the group.
Kevin and I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to travel to some rallies and actually been able to shake the hand, and give a hug to those we have “met” and gotten to know through these FB pages. It has been simply wonderful.
Now for a “next level” connection and the main reason for this post….
There is a fellow Avion owner in Milwaukee, Wisconsin named Glenn Reinle. We have never met each other, but have exchanged many conversations about tires, reno projects, tips and techniques….He has seen photos of our Avion, we have seen his and he is a subscriber (I think) to this Pewter Palace blog!
So in mid-November…out of the blue, Glenn sends me a PM and says…“Hey, Luisa isn’t this the same canvas as your awning?” OH YES IT IS!!!- I shoot him back immediately!!
Glenn proceeds to share with me a marketplace listing on his Milwaukee facebook marketplace that shows an ORIGINAL ZIP DEE FOLDING chair WITH FOOT REST ATTACHMENT! WOW!!! super duper I am ecstatic! Yes, it matches our awning that we had purchased new from Zip Dee in 2017.
Not only does Glenn unselfishly share this listing to me…he volunteers to contact the seller, pays a visit to the seller to see the chair in person to make sure its in decent shape, springs are tight, etc, and after feeling it is worth the price ($80) being asked, he purchases it for me so I can just send him the money as a reimbursement through our paypal accounts. You can see the canvas is vintage, not perfect but thats fine with us as long as it was not dry rotted (he checked that out) What a guy, what a friend!!
So our fabulous Zip Dee Chair with matching canvas (and the very hard to find attachable footrest lounger piece) is sitting patiently in Glenn’s garage in Wisconsin waiting to come to its new “Mama” when we meet in person at the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally this summer in Indiana!
How awesome is that! This is surely a case of a fellow Avioner going above and beyond the call of duty to think about and support a fellow Avion fanatic!
There are many reports about moisture issues from underneath RV mattresses. This is a real issue and one not only that can cause rotting wood structure of your bed platform but also cause unhealthy mold to form there as well as literally on the outside and inside of your mattress itself. Not good!
This issue becomes more prevalent with those who full time in their rigs or especially for those who are in high humidity areas or who winter in their rigs where internal heat temps versus external surfaces (e.g. in ours the wheel wells under our bunks which essentially are “the outside”. This converging of a heated surface (body heat, furnace heat) and a cold surface will cause sweating and condensation.
After researching and doing a lot of checking of reviews and posts from full time RVers we found the following product. We ordered it last spring and did our install before beginning our 2019 camping season.
It is sold by the foot and is I believe 4 ft wide. So for our Avion bunks @ 34″ we did have to cut to fit both width and length. The stuff is very sturdy but also simple enough for me to cut with sturdy kitchen shears.
GATHER ITEMS NEEDED:
Sturdy Kitchen Shears
Metal tape measure or yard stick
An extra pair of hands
Double faced Heavy Duty minimum 2 inch wide Velcro strips or large squares (more about this later!)
Duct or Gorilla Tape (if you have a double or queen bed and will need to piece together)
Measure width and length of your bed/bunk. If you have an Avion floor plan like ours and two bunks, simply double the length of one bunk for what total length you will need to place for your order.
Place order, will be shipped directly to you. Is not super heavy. Watch for when company may have sales on free shipping!
We took our measurements of bunk base, first cut new mat the correct length, then marked and measured the correct width and cut. Note- we have a slight molding lip on our bunk base that is intended to create a bit of a lip to prevent mattress sliding off. So we cut our mesh mat to also fall just inside that small lip.
For the actual install, we followed the manufacture’s recommendations and we placed the “mesh pocket” side down on our plywood bunk base, then placed the mattress on top of the breathable fabric side of the mesh.
** after using for a few trips this way we did find that the mesh side was very likely to cause our whole mattress to slide a lot and often found our mattresses half into the hallway after being on the road. A fix we plan to do this year is to take a few large strips of the 2 inch wide sticky back Velcro strips and place them a few places on the mesh side to stick down onto the wood bunk base. The small molding on the bunk base that DID keep the mattress itself in place was not enough to hold the mesh layer in place. The mesh layer is a woven plastic and a bit slippery. We anticipate that the Velcro strips will do the trick and highly suggest this modification.
After securing down with the Velcro strips, replace mattresses down on top of fabric side of new mesh mat.
If you have found other materials or fixes to prevent moisture from ruining your wood bed base or mattress let us know!
Like many RV of ANY age (ours is 46 years old this year-2019!) there never seems to be enough kitchen counter space. Especially now with the advent of Instapots, Keurig coffee machines, etc. there are times where we just need MORE!
Here is a 1/2 day project we did to nearly double the size of our counter space in our 1973 Avion, 28 foot LaGrande model.
1 wood topped snack/TV table tray. Here is the $10 one we used purchased at our Walmart. (we already had a set of these in our sticks n bricks home, so no cost to our project!)
Aprox. 3/4″ thick x 2″wide wood strip (for support inside drawer cabinet). Length should be based on interior cabinet (under countertop) to floor of cabinet.
Screws (will vary based on thickness of your exterior wall base cabinet)
sheet of paper (for making a template)
flashlight (to have helper light up inside base cabinet for marking drill holes)
extra pair of hands-always helps and is needed!
NOTE: If you prefer to purchase a kit from Camco for a 12″ counter extension here is that product along with an install video which may help you even if you do the do-it-yourself one like we did below. Camco RV Counter Extension Kit
We took the folding legs and wood hardware bracket off of the snack table.
We made a paper template of the positions for the hinges by placing on tray back, taking measurements of the distance in between the 2 brackets we felt would provide optimal support.
This template will later help us know where on the side of the kitchen base cabinet we need to drill our pilot holes. You can choose to position your lift up counter extension at same height as your existing kitchen counter or just below. We recommend to install it just below the bottom edge of our formica countertop. By doing it that way, our extension, when folded down is flush with the cabinet. See position below.
Using the hinge template, we made marks on the exterior side of our kitchen base cabinet where we wanted the hinges placed. Careful to take into account that your hinges are going to be below the finished edge of your extension snack table board.
We measured from just under the formica counter edge down to the position of the top holes for the hinges to ensure this jived with our template.
We used the template to figure out where on the INSIDE of our base cabinet (drawers had been pulled out) that our vertical wood slat needed to be positions to provide additional support to the cabinet once hinges and extension table was in place.
Here is a photo of the wood support slats in place waiting to receive the screwed in hinges from the outside. Note, we used small screws that did not protrude through the base cabinet but were sufficient to hold the slats in place independently before we proceeded with project from outside of the base cabinet.
We then double checked and with a pencil marked the holes using our template were we would be screwing in the hinges onto the exterior side of the base cabinet, and screwed in the hinges. Be sure to ensure they are level. Install 1, then use this to hold your level in place while you position the second one the same distance apart as your wood slats are on the inside that are being used as support to receive the long screws that go from the hinge exterior, through your base cabinet wall and sink into the wood support slate on inside of cabinet.
Next we used the template again to drill pilot holes into the underside of table tray top. Ours was oak and very hard so pilot holes are a must. It should be noted that wood top snack trays come in many colors, honey oak, walnut, etc. and you may wish to select a tray top that compliments your base cabinets. We used a snack tray we already had on hand to save money-hence the “butcher block” look rather than matching our base cabinet stain.
Perhaps the hardest part of the whole project was laying the tray table down on fully deployed and locked in place hinges and from the bottom, screwing the table top to the hinges. This really does require a helper to ensure the top stays in place and is level.
Location (ease of access, things to do in the area) = 4 (Lake George is 10 miles away)
Camp Site Quality (ease of getting into site, surface, hookups quality, privacy) = 4
Campground Amenities (onsite pool, laundry, common areas, snack bar, etc) = 4
Kid-Friendly = 4
Adult-Friendly Amenities/Adult getaway = 2
Pet Friendly (amenities like dedicated dog park, trails, activities) = 2
Cell Signal = 1 (2 bars on 4G, Verizon), (Wifi only around pool area)
Site # we had this trip #704
Cleanliness: excellent. Sites are cleaned after check out, public buildings are very clean, modern and in good working order
Cost $96 per night, 4 night minimum in Summer season (all sites are FHU)
We are fortunate to live in an area of upstate NY and at the base of the Adirondack Mountains where there are a plethora of campgrounds and RV resorts. Some are older, a tad run down but usable, others are newer or have kept up with upgrades and attract huge numbers of RVers with tons of amenities and great sites. To name some of the better, largers ones; Moose Hillock-NY, Lake George Escape, Lake George RV Park, King Phillips Campground, Riverbend Campground. The first two being large resorts with tons to offer, others being more modest but very decent traditional campgrounds but with great access to all that the Lake George region has to offer.
For our annual “grandson getaway” weekend this summer we chose to do a stay at Moose Hillock Camping Resort on RT 149 in Fort Ann, NY. (they say Lake George on their marketing materials only for marketing purposes, it is not located in Lake George)
There were several reasons for selecting this campground, one of which was our kids have to drive right by it to get to our house when they are coming from their home in VT- so this made the trip easier for them to drop off and pick up the kiddies. Secondly, we knew from pictures and reports from friends who had stayed here that their pool is amazing, heated and large and the kids would love it. Lastly, that the sites are super huge (room for kids to play) and very private from each other. We hate feeling stacked up like jets on a runway which has unfortunately become more the norm in many RV campgrounds these days.
I am just going to cover a few key things for us about this campground in this review. Certainly we encourage our readers to check outour review on Campendium, or others in Trip Advisor and other online review sites.
SITES: Moose Hillock opened about 8 years ago and sits on 182 acres. It has 749 sites and each one is thoughtfully carved out of the woods with a ton of privacy woods, bushes and topography between each site. 90% of the sites were definitely laid out with big 5th wheel trailers in mind. We loved all the room around our rig as it made a great space for the kids to play and for us to even park our extra car (was handy to have to shuttle up to pool and to Lake George, or drop off garbage-more on that later).
A drawback for us regarding the site was that all the roads in the park and the sites themselves are all hard pack gravel. This surface prevented me from pushing in my lawn flags and also was not a soft, nice ground for kids to play on. Even walking on our patio mat bare foot was a bit uncomfortable. On the positive side, the drainage is very good, so no muddy sites like we have experienced elsewhere so i guess comfort versus mud is a worthwhile trade off.
There were no issues with the electrical hook up (50-30-20), but we always use our Progressive Industries monitor regardless to ensure no issues. Cable worked well. Cell signal was nearly non existent and only Wifi is available up at pool area. Sewer hookup was set up for 5th wheelers and was closer to front of site and higher than normal for us. This caused us to have to pull further forward in the back in site than we normally would have because we have our discharge valve towards rear of our rig versus 5ers who typically have their mid way on their curbside.
Site privacy was excellent and certainly the best we have ever had at a privately owned for profit campground. We could barely see our neighbors curbside a little from our site, but it was not an issue. The site pad is huge and hard pack gravel with good drainage. We were on site #704 and would use again but it would be nice if we did not have the skunk smell every day and night–so maybe he will move?! Not sure if skunks were a problem in other sites and we do not leave any food out, nothing in campfire area either but wow…the smell at night even caused me to have to close my bedroom window one night- the skunk had to be right underneath me!
AMENITIES: Their pirate-themed pool area certainly is the claim to fame for this campground. I would argue, compared to other campground “resorts” we have stayed at ….this is their ONLY real claim to fame. The pool is lightly salted water, no eye stinging and hey, salt water is far better for you than chlorine! It is heated just enough for us to take that initial chill off when dipping in, but not so hot that you feel like you are in a bathtub-which we do not like either and is in our opinion a breeding ground for germs especially when loaded with kids. So we were all good with pool temp and salt water. The large 2 story rock backdrop with skull head was a “wow” for our grandsons but they were intimidated by the water slides and would not go down either one. Kevin and I did go down the big one…gotta say, had been many many moons since I one, but I wanted to show the kids that I could do it! It was fun! The pool has a whole side that is a gradual walk in so perfect for any age toddler to grown up. One side has a nice ledge for adult sitters too which we liked. There are some faux rocks around the edges shooting streams of water which we and the kids liked. A night, the whole “mountain” and skull are lit up as well as nice colored lights in the pool. See best photos of this on their website.
The max depth of the pool is 4 feet so our 6 year old grandson could touch bottom almost 3/4 of the way in. There are lots of kids in the pool, this is after all a family resort to be sure. There are no “adult only” hours or areas sectioned off. This might be a great idea for them to do as the pool certainly is large enough. Most of the kids were actually very respectful of the adults but I was surprised at the allowance of floats, tubes and ball play which the latter sometimes got a bit out of hand. The weather during our stay was not super sunny or hot, so the pool was not to capacity but i can imagine when it is, that ball play could be downright dangerous and maybe they curtail it. There are NO lifeguards on duty but there are staffers atop the two slides to ensure no foul play or too young venture down where they should not.
Their playground area in our opinion was very lacking considering this is clearly marketed as a family, kid friendly resort. The playground consisted of one piece of traditional swings and then five or so pressure treated climb on items like a ship, train, tractor with hay trailer. These were nothing unique or that captivating for our 4 & 6 year olds to be sure. They spent all of maybe 10-15 minutes in the playground and were bored. Thankfully there was one bench that we adults could at least sit down on to watch.
They do have a large 400 seat pavilion which is near the pool area and set on a large swath of nice grass. Due to intermittent showers the whole weekend we did not partake in any of the planned activities but we will assume they were still held underneath the pavilion. This is not closed in, but since the park has a pretty short season Mid May to Mid October, as long as you bring a jacket in shoulder seasons you should be warm enough. Their planned activities seem to definitely focus around weekends. The activities include live bands, musicians, magic shows, science projects and of course the proverbial bingo! This area is also the only part of the park that has nice paved trails and we saw several kids really taking advantage of it and going round and round this small rotary just to get some bike riding in. A further testament that the resort gravel and dirt roads are not bike friendly.
Laundry Facilities: There are two very clean and modern facilities, again near the main hub of the pool, pavilion and golf cart rental area. The cost was $3.00 for a wash and again for a dry. There were no signs for how long the dryer ran for that amount, but this rate is quite a bit higher than other parks we have visited. The facility I photographed was very clean, nice new machines which had an app feature that you could download, use and directly pay via a stored credit card-thereby avoiding the need to spit dollars into a change machine or carry around tons of quarters to meet the $6 it was going to cost you for one load. We did see one person using the dryer, i suspect more to just dry soggy beach towels. This park definitely attracts more regional visitors who are staying a week or so and in fact, many 5ers have their own W/D so i suspect this laundry really does not get a lot of use. There are NOT a lot of seasonal sites here that are used every day but rather they are weekend get away’s for folks living in the Albany/Capital District area which is only 1.5 hours to the south.
Main Lodge: The main lodge is located right at the main entrance to the campground. Registration lines are ample to pull off to go inside to check in. The staff was very friendly and helpful and reviewed all necessary information.
Also inside this building to the right is an arcade which features top line thrill rides like motocross, Jurassic Park, several shoot em up military modern games (my son in law would have loved) and of course several of those grab the toy game machines. They also have 2 skee bowl lanes which I love but the signs on them clearly say that they are NOT for prize tickets, so you are just playing for scores, not prizes. This deflated Lucas, our 6 year old and he moved on. At least the bells, sounds and lights of other machines were more reward for his $1. Kevin amused the boys for nearly 2 hours and $20 later on Saturday when I had errands to run into town.
Their snack bar sits off the back side of the building and overlooking the pool which you can see in the photo above. Pricing was pretty typical for a captive audience (we are talking pirate theme here afterall!) and so for the four of us for lunch, burger, chix fingers, and two grilled cheese sandwiches, one fry and 1 soda was around $33. Sawyer and I had the grilled cheese @$4 which was decent I thought and the cheapest thing on the menu. It was fun for the kids to eat at the pool area and under the Hawaiian style palm laden umbrella tables for one time.
They have a pretty decent camp store full of all the expected essentials and basic RV supplies. Their gift line focuses around a pirate theme as well as their own logo items which include their signature moose. Speaking of moose….they do have a mascot but we did not see him/her anywhere the four days we were there.
My suggestion would be they take a cue from Jellystone Parks and do a tractor pulled hayride type of thing through the park at least one x per day on weekends and have the mascot on board for the kids.
(if they do something like this I did not see it on our schedule)More of my suggestions for this park to follow below….
SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT: (these are ranked in order of importance in my opinion of importance and ease of adoption)
#1 Provide trash pick up at campsites on a daily basis. This is fairly routine at most campgrounds we go to these days both large and small operations. Garbage pickup prevents hoarding of trash outside (we do not do) which begets skunks and other varmints (could be reason for our invasion each night). Surely at $96 per night and seemingly more than enough staff and workampers this could be done.
#2 Post an adult only swim time in the evenings even if only for one hour, or better yet, cordon off a section of the pool that is for adult swimming only at all times. Easy peasy to do.
#3Pave at least the main roads in and out of each loop in campground. Thankfully it was pretty rainy during our stay, but the roads here must be so dusty when dry. The rigs along the main loop roads must get filthy (outside and in) and their towels out to dry must as well! yuck!
#4Provide some sort of “quiet inside wifi and libary area” either in main lodge or separate building. There is no table game room, no where to visit if bad weather with a bunch of friends. Have this also have adult only times so adults that may need to do work while traveling can get good signal and peace and quiet. There were no area we say with a book lending, dvd lending, etc. either. Most campground all have something.
#5 Do a tractor pull wagon ride through the camp 1 x per day at least and feature the Moose mascot on board. The moose could also do cameo showings at the arcade now and then too.
#6with 182 acres, perhaps they could create a nice paved bike trail system through the grounds for means to safely get to the activity areas or to just enjoy the woods without fear of being hit by a car or falling on sharp, hard gravel.
Some readers may think I am being overly critical of this campground by venturing suggestions for improvements. Those who know me, know my background in regional tourism. I am a former Executive Director/CEO of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB and have been deeply involved in operating both my own local tourist guide service as well as involved in other tourism attractions and have consulted local and regional businesses in tourism marketing, etc. Add onto that an RV camping background grown over 20 years off and on and staying in many parks in the northeast especially…So my suggestions come with a background of knowledge of what today’s marketplace consumer is looking for and how a business could position themselves from being good, very good…to spectacular!
Hope you enjoyed this candid review. We did enjoy ourselves at this park? Yes. Will we stay here again? maybe, but I would bring the grandsons to other “resort” campgrounds in our area first for their expert opinions to be the judge of which is the best! The kids did say they would love to visit the NH Moose Hillock to see the pirate ship pool….it does look cool!!
As always, we welcome your feedback. If you like our blog, please follow us, check out our other blog posts on how to’s, reviews, must see’s and other tips to RV travel.
We love rallies…we love folks who appreciate “vintage”…but what we really love (now and then) is NOT having to travel through four states and over two days to get to an event. So you can imagine our utter glee when Beth Holcomb, a brand new TCT (Tin Can Tourist Club) member took on the mantle of responsibility to create and host a brand new vintage trailer rally only 35 minutes from our home! Yeah!!!
The event was supported by the national TCT club which also provides its members who are hosting events ideas on hosting a successful rally as well as some required guidelines to ensure that their TCT members get what they expect from great TCT events. Beth and her husband and events helpers did not let us down! It was a super rally.
The event was held from August 1-4th at the Whispering Pines Campground in Greenfield Center, NY. This location was only 8 miles north of Saratoga Springs which of course was humming at full steam in the middle of its annual Saratoga Race Track Season–but our campground was quietly nestled off the beaten track, tucked into a woodland setting complete with a couple nice ponds (bullfrogs were even respectfully quiet to my surprise!)
Since it was so close to home, Kevin was able to get Thursday off and arrived to set camp already on Thursday afternoon. I arrived after work on Thursday and commuted back to work on Friday. It was really nice for me even though it meant I went from my normal 1 mile commute to a 40 minute drive!
All total for this first rally there were 12 vintage trailers!! WOW! That is terrific for a first time rally and we all congratulated Beth for her efforts. She had done a terrific job of providing a lovely goodie bag for each site as we checked in…complete with Saratoga sparkling water, signature chocolate and bag of Saratoga Potato Chips-all yummy!
Thursday evening there was a welcoming pizza party. Most units were in by then, with a couple still arriving on Friday. We were thrilled to meet up with several attendees we knew already from the TCT Sampson State Park rally we have attended now for the past two years. Ellie and Gail were both their with their rigs. Ellie has a 1973 Airstream that she has renovated, and Gail set up an adorable outdoor display on her rig and has a terrific set of flags on display. Gail also was a hit when she wore a poodle skirt during open house on Saturday! (below is Gail winning a trophy too)
Friday was a free day where gallivanting around the area, heading to the track or shopping on Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs was encouraged. Several intrepid hikers also took a hike up to alocal historic fire tower. (one attendee’s dog decided to go AWOL and take a hike all by itself causing Ellie and several others to go hiking just for him for over an hour!) I missed all the excitement since I was at work. Kevin enjoyed camp, relaxing, taking Reddy for walks- oh how she loves camping and meeting other dogs, people and sniffing every blade of grass and tree!
Saturday morning we had a very nice Continental Breakfast with fresh homemade baked goods made by the campground owner. The husband and wife team here did a lot to make us all feel very welcomed and comfortable. Whispering Pines is an older campground but they do have a nice looking pool and although we did not see any, they have a cool fire truck that gives rides around the campground on select days. As with many campgrounds today there are a fair amount of seasonal sites, but where our rally was “down below” in the flat area adjacent to the small pond and near the main camp store and registration area. Site sizes were decent, some back in sites were short but just fine for the shorter vintage trailers. We took site 25 since it was a pull through as we were definitely the longest rig set up with 50′ overall between our trailer and tow vehicle. Their Tamarack Room was a perfect location to have group meals, meetings, etc. and very comfortable and worked perfectly for our rally size. Their camp store is minimal but in a pinch I am sure you can find most “forgot to bring that” items. Kevin and I did not use their bath facilities, but I understand that showers are $.
Saturday during the day we did host a “open house” from 12-4 where folks who were in modern campers as well as our rally attendees were invited to tour any of the vintage trailers/campers who were open. We loved having JP & Sue Barber visit us for the afternoon since they live minutes away. The Barber’s are fellow living history reenactors (but we tried hard to convince them that vintage camping is where its at- and far more comfortable in dog days of summer!) Open House time is always fun and we love chatting about and showing off our Pewter Palace, but as usually happens, we get so busy we end up not getting to tour other rigs ourselves! Not to fear most rally go-ers will gladly open their door to other attendees anytime. We are all extremely proud of our rigs and love to show them off.
We were so thrilled that there was LIVE MUSIC during the open house time. This was a first for us to have and it really added a festive atmosphere to the day! You wil see a bit of the music going on in the video down below.
Here is a slide show of some of the other rigs that were present at the rally:
There was a judging component to the rally and taking away first place was Chad Sherman (we are still checking to see if the other Sherman family there are relatives…probably!) Here is a video of Chad. We were blown away by the fact that his parents, his other brother and he EACH have their own vintage rig. So cool!
Saturday evening we were treated to a yummy Pork BBQ dinner complete with all the fixin’s and a “Historic Saratoga” presentation by the director of the Saratoga Historical Association. The awards presentations were fun and everyone joined in.
Sunday, for a change since we did not have a long drive we enjoyed the morning. There is nothing better than enjoying breakfast, fresh brewed coffee outside under our awning in a bathrobe. I love camping in our Avion!
We look forward to even more events hopefully happening in our area or into VT or even MA in the future. Not sure Whispering Pines will be able to handle this rally as it gets bigger since the area we camped in has only water/electric and their bathroom and shower facilities were up the hill a ways for those who are not self-contained. Having the campground’s Honey Wagon pump us out Sunday morning was a big help and saved us having to weave up into the back end of the campground just to pump before heading out. But there are plenty of campgrounds in our area and we are sure with the great turn out of this inaugural event that there is pent up demand for more rallies in eastern upstate NY!
We spent the following week preparing for our big trip out to Elkhart, Indiana to enjoy the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally with 41, count ’em…41 other Avions! While at it…we installed a mud flap system to protect our silver beauty!!
Back story.……When we returned from our longest road trip to date (16 days) to Dearborn, Michigan this past May/June for the TCT (Tin Can Tourist) Centennial Rally we noticed that at some point, we must have driven over some loose gravel, rock chips in a construction zone because on the curbside of our Avion front area (yes, the area where Airstreams have those protective “wings”) we had a whole lot of small, tiny dings into our aluminum skin. We know these were not there prior to our trip. It is worthwhile to note that with our multiple excursions now through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana…that the roads in those states are not nearly as good, or well maintained as ours are in NYS. So ok, higher gas taxes, and over all taxes may have some redeeming quality…but we still live in one of THE most expensive states in the union–so not much solace there.
So we have decided to purchase a mud flag bumper guard set up for our tow vehicle which is a 2011 GMC 2500 Denali HD, 6L gas, 4 WD, Crew Cab with Leer extended bed cap (which we LOVE!!).
A mudflap system would have most likely 99% prevented these chips from happening. Only sorry we did not do sooner, 46 years on the road and our baby got dinged! Not only does a mudflap protect from errant rocks coming up and hitting your rig, or worse yet, your rockguard or windows…BUT it also handles…well….MUD (snow, slush, dead animal debris, floating garbage or UFO’s on the highway!-yes it happens!) Kevin works for NYS DOT and can tell you amazing stories of what his crew finds on the highways. Mud was the other thing that washed up onto our Avion body front during this most recent trip.
Kevin got lucky when he inquired about pricing for a Rockstar Mud Flap bumper system at our favorite local after-market auto parts detailer and installer- Mac The Knife (Mac also is the one who redid our rock guard and spare tire cover- he does great work!) Mac happened to have a left over demo model of a Rockstar brand system that he had had on display in his shop a few years back. Yeah, it was dusty but Kevin got it for less than 1/2 price off current retail …and it is the same system being sold today for over $479 list. Here is link to similar set up that we have which is currently available through ETrailer.com. FYI-We have purchased several things from ETrailer.com and are very impressed with the ease of ordering online, their quick shipping and quality products. They have a huge inventory of tons of stuff and their customer service reps are very good.
Bear in mind, these things are heavy. We realized that since this will be a one time purchase for us…and when we are in our 70’s and 80’s and still on the road (don’t laugh…we will be good LORD willin’ and the creek don’t rise!) we needed the easiest way possible to lift this baby off the back hitch to store it away if we did not want to cruise around with it on the truck (it does add weight= lesser gas efficiency when not towing)
Here is a good video to show how you hook on the system to your rear bumper.
So Kevin had the idea to create a semi-permanent fix which was to affix the flap system to the receiver piece insert which then can be pulled out with the mud flap bumper system. Otherwise, we would also have to be pulling off the entire (and super heavy) GenY Torsion Hitch with the whole mudflap bumper system attached as one unit. That GenY Torsion Hitch is also a great piece of equipment and we will do a separate post just on that and cross link it here at some point.
Steps we did:
Retro fit a longer 12″ insert reducer from 2.5″ to 2″ so that we could bolt the mud flap guard system right to that. Here is the link to the additional hardware bracket needed as well. Link to hardware sold at ETrailer.com
Kevin used a DeWalt Saws-All with brand new blades to cut off the excess length off the reducer. Be sure to clamp down the reducer so you get as straight a cut as possible. The reducer was too long and butted right up to our spare tire, so that needed to be trimmed back by several inches. Doing this however, then threw off the alignment of the pre-drilled side holes in the reducer, making use of a hitch pin lock impossible.
He then used several different drill bits to cut new holes in the correct positions needed to now be able to throw the hitch lock 5/8 ” pin through. It has a key lock and we have had it rekeyed to match the truck ignition so you always have it handy!
We followed some video’s found on YouTube for the Rockstar brand installation because as we mentioned, this was a store demo unit and therefore we had no instructions or paperwork with it.
Once installed where we knew it was properly in place, we also had to install a Heat Shield (bought on Amazon, see our link/resource page) to prevent the heat from our large exhaust pipe from damaging (a.k.a melting!) our heavy rubber mud flaps.
It is very important to have this heat shield if your exhaust goes out back before using the mudflap unit. If your pipe exhausts to the side you will not need the heat shield.
IF you are purchasing a brand new kit, you may have to put your unit together yourself. See Video As a demo model…Kevin did not have to do these steps! Ours was ready for install!
If you have any questions about this install, or why we chose our hitch or this mudflap system, feel free to email us directly at 1973Avion@gmail.com! We would love to hear from you!
Recently there has been several newer Avion owners seeking info on the rear tire carrier and their original hard plastic covers.
Did you know this was an OPTIONAL item back in the day when Avion’s were being ordered or purchased? Yup….a SPARE TIRE CARRIER for the rear bumper would set you back another whopping $33 for tire holder and $16 for the spare tire!!! This explains why you will see some Avion’s of this or earlier vintage with nothing on their rear bumper. I am not quite sure where or if the owners carried a spare, lets hope they did somewhere! Perhaps strapped down on the top of the 1973 Mercury Station Wagon roof rack!! [ my dad had one of these!!]
Check out these 1977 AVION Trailer OPTIONS and Standard Equipment lists!
Lucky for us our 1973 Avion (that we purchased from the 4th owner who resided in VT about 2 hours from us) had the original tire carrier welded onto the rear round bumper. We would never travel anywhere without a spare tire. But we are constantly amazed at how many RV owners of all brands and styles do! Seriously?? To us having a spare tire is safety and responsibility 101.
Here is a photo of the rear of our Avion in as purchased condition in fall 2016.
Shortly thereafter, we purchased this great vinyl spare tire cover which I really love. This enabled us to take off the original hard plastic spare tire cover (another optional purchase when originally ordered) in prep for its refurb.
These hard plastic covers were originally sold with a nice locking bolt feature (see picture below), but most of those locks are long gone now. Occasionally we will see one still existing on an Avion. Below is one that we came uponm for sale in Milford, Michigan when attending the 100th Centennial of the TCT (Tin Can Tourist) club rally. The owner of this ’74 Avion had her out on the end of a driveway for sale, BTW it was sold within 1 week of the rally! Some one got a good deal at $4500!
(below is NOT our Avion. Photo is a Avion for sale on side of road in MI in May 2019)
Once our hard plastic cover was removed, we knew it was going to need suring up of the center mounting hole.
There is a considerable amount of stress over 45 years that is put on that bolt and the center circular opening had stress cracks and its thickness of hard plastic worn thinner from rubbing and wear.
We took the cover to a local auto body repair shop, Dave Ure’s in Queensbury. We were pleased with the results but it came at a higher cost than anticipated, $434.00 when all was said and done. ouch!
They did do a great job of applying some additional reinforcement material on the back interior of the tire cover around the center hole while also applying a beautiful hard auto finish paint coating and sealant of the outside of the tire cover. We had selected the color to compliment our interior color scheme and add some pop to our rear end! The finish and coating applied resulted in a very durable, hard finish that no doubt will last a very long time.
For the lettering, we wanted something that would add some “bling” and even more pop to our “rear end” of the RV. We also wanted to some double duty marketing opportunity to promote ourselves and this blog. So we laid out a rendering of the lettering we wanted and took it to Mac The Knife who we had refurb our rock guard and had done an awesome job (better and cheaper than Dave Ure’s shop) Mac followed our instructions to a tee. Mac The Knife is an auto detailer on Quaker Road in Queensbury only about a mile from our house. We are very happy with the results.
Total cost of the lettering by Mac the Knife was: $200.
So while we have a considerable investment (nearly $700) in our original cover, she is beautiful and will surely last us a lifetime of enjoyment! yes, its secured in place!
Below are some photos of our rear tire carrier hardware.
This is the optional feature that sold for the $33 in 1973 when our first owner (we are owner #5) purchased our 1973, 28 foot LaGrande.
We have yet to do a repaint on this. It honestly does not show since the cover is on, but at some point we will repaint it completely. The photos may help those of you who are chosing to have one fabricated. To the best of our knowledge there is no one who currently has these for sale in stock, so you would need to be lucky enough to find one from a parts salvager. NOTE, we believe that the 1980 models and newer of Avions had a very different configuration and system for spare tire storage.
It should be noted that this carrier is really hefty and well made. It is securely welded to the round bumper. We have since installed a clamped on (with long bolts) hitch receiver so that we can mount a bike carrier or a storage shelf on the back of our bumper when needed.
One of our plans include attaching vintage metal coolers (aluminum skinned, bought on Ebay, $25-45) to the rear bumper to serve as extra storage area for sewer hose, and spare electrical cords. They can also double as ice chests for beverages once set up at camp. They even have bottle openers built into their side handles! The original hollow bumpers are too small of a diameter to handle modern sewer hoses and couplers. We DO however keep a spare 30 amp RV power cord in stuffed in there and snake it out when needed…which has happened that we need an extension to our regular built in cord. For example, at Sampson State Park in the Finger Lakes of NY.
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Let us know if you have enjoyed this information. Also let us know if there are topics that you wish we would cover and have not yet! We are always interested in what YOU are interested in when it comes to Avion life and passion!
Kevin & Luisa Sherman
Adventures with a Vintage 1973 Avion Luxury Coach Camper