Campground Review: Alpine Lake RV Resort-Corinth, NY

We were looking for an easy, close get-a-way camping weekend and chose Alpine Lake RV Resort campground in Corinth NY which was literally 14.4 miles door to door from where we store our Avion.

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Things went well….till check in….then backing into site……Not for the faint of heart!

Website:  Alpine Lake RV Resort (Note:  this is a Thousand Trails/Encore resort but accepts non-members-like us)

  • Dates of Stay:  July 27-29, 2018
  • Site # 221– “elite” category FHU site, waterfront to Alpine Lake.
  • Price points:  $62-70 per night
  • Arrival time:  around 3-3:30 PM. Friday, (too late-read post to find out why)  Check in rules are 1PM, check out is noon (nice!)
  • Discount programs:  they only accept Thousand Trails or Encore member discounts. They do not accept AAA, Good Sam or Passport America.
  • Pets and kids.…friendly to both, and there are lots of them.

Monday.... we decided the weather forecast looked decent enough for the upcoming weekend to catch a quick camping trip just to relax and so I could finish putting up and installing all the decor goodies, etc. I had purchased over the winter months for our trailer.  Tuesday we went on a scope out mission to tour the campground and to jot down various # sites at this campground.  It is a nice, rural drive about 40 minutes from our home.  We make it a practice to try to visit campgrounds first when possible IN SEASON to get a real feel for what the park is like in full bloom (people and rigs that is) rather than off season when sites are empty, facilities winterized, etc.

So we came up with about five sites that truly interested us for their views, size and privacy to some degree.  The sites we would recommend are:  parallel sites 218-220, 223, back in sites 207, 208, then along the lower south shoreline, back in sites 15, 16, 17- all these having water frontage.    I have only two basic requirements or must haves for most of my camping excursions….water or mountain views or preferably both in the same venue from my campsite!  To me, then it really feels like a relaxing change of pace.  We tried to book our top pick on Tuesday night while we were there,  but were told by a nice staffer at reservation desk that she has to keep those waterfront “elite” sites open until Friday mornings in July and August in hopes of getting someone to book at least a 7 night stay. Ugh…ok, so we were told to call back on Friday morning and if one of our choice #’s was available we could book it for the two nights we desired.

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This is what the site road looked like Tuesday evening during our “scope out” mission.  Our Suburban is on right in site 220. Yes, the Airstream was vintage and from PA.

Friday came around, weather forecast still looked good.  Reservation desk opens at 8 AM.  At 8:03 AM I was dialing.  BINGO!  our site #220 was available!  Yeah! “book it Danno” (those of you old enough will understand that phrase).  We were happy campers….till we got there around 3 PM. 

Hmm….no check in packet was ready for us..a sign all may not be well.  Oh, ok, found us on the computer….site 221.  Ah….no, that is not the site that is on my email confirmation or that we wanted and was told was available at 8:03 AM this morning and confirmed by Susan (who by the way, ended up we find out was the assistant manager).    So now I am upset, I just had my heart set on a water view for the weekend.  In luck!!…says a new and very pleasant young desk worker who was trying very hard to calm me down and doing a good job of it.  She had two other sites in the same locale available and we could have our choice of either one (221 or 223).  So, ok, not prime, but comparable with a few more trees blocking the lake, but livable and not sandwiched in like other parts of the park or among the many, many seasonal set ups that have everything from Tiki bars to 8 person fire pits to full blown landscaped (some nice, some junk) or the topper…the triple length dining canopy with count ’em four picnic tables together end to end right next to the road (whoa, that must sound like a rock concert or a NASCAR Tailgate party when they get ripping on a Saturday night!).

 

So off we go to our site road which is on a narrow peninsula causeway with a pond on north side and Alpine lake on the south side.  We stop shy of the first site, 221 to scope it out and also look at 223 which was to be available.  Whoops…no, someone with a large trailer had already claimed 223 and it was no longer an option.  (still wondering how the computer did not know this and wonder if they actually were supposed to be at another, less priced, site and hijacked the site to be next to their friends in 222)  So, #221 was it, or go home.  Home was not an option for me at that point—but then again I was not going to be the one to have to “thread the needle” trying to back our Avion into our site with TWO HUGE 5th Wheels as bookends on either end.   Wait…it gets better.

We got attitude from the lady in the 5er that was in 222 because she had to fold up her “rear porch” because it literally extended into our site where our tow vehicle was going to be parked.  Mind you, they already had their awning out facing the water and each campsite does come with a very nice cement patio which they already had their dog pen and chairs on.   To quote her, “this is why I wanted lake view so i could sit on the porch and see it”.  Oh well, pack it up folks- which they did with some grumbling.  About this time, a staffer from the campground showed up to assist Kevin with backing in instruction—I am sure it helped that we figured out, he also was the owner of the campground so our 5er figured they better not push things.  Hey, all the campers on the street pay the same price for their sites.  If a huge fifth wheel with 4 slides and towering what seemed like a full story above our Avion needed or wanted a porch (which is like four feet off the ground!)…they certainly always have the option to purchase two sites…then no issue right??

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Us on left in between two monsters!  After Kevin stealthy “thread the needle” back in and got us in position.  A Mighty Midget Among the Monsters is what I call this photo!

As it was, if we had allowed them to keep their porch down, we literally feel like we would be having them for breakfast, lunch and dinner under our awning each meal. Not to mention, we would not have been able, nor any one else save a mini Rpod get in to 221.

The folks in 220 (the site we had reserved) were actually really nice.  They explained they had booked the site back in January.  We suspect that they had actually booked 221 but because that big “porch” 5er was already parked, our nice neighbors could not maneuver their 5 slide huge fifth wheel there either. They let it slip that when trying to get into the site they backed over our sewer hook up.  Nevertheless, they were nice and good neighbors for the weekend.  We were impressed that with four teenagers we did not see them all hunkered down over ipads or cell phones or blaring music.  Instead the kids were out fishing, kayaking or biking–nice job raising kids to disconnect during camping (LOL…wish i could get Kevin to do that—he was on his ipad a lot and I am just as guilty on my phone posting photos, etc. to facebook)!

Well so now to the good part.  The campground is nice (busy…but it is summer afterall) and the amenities are nice.  So many of the other campgrounds in the region are minimal, run down and do not offer much.  There are a couple higher end resorts, this one is kind of upper/upper middle but not quite at the top.  The pool is well kept, there are two of them.  One is only max 3 feet deep.  Graduates from 1 foot to 3 foot. Great for toddlers, our grandkids would have loved it…..we did too because we were the only ones in there for a while and even once some young kids came in it still was less busy than the main pool  The main pool is a little wider, same length but deeper.  Nice thing is this is one campground that actually posts there are “Adult only” hours from 8-9 PM nightly.  Sure wish more campgrounds did this rule!  The chairs, lounges and umbrella tables were plentiful and the entire area was very well maintained and landscaped.  In fact, the landscaping throughout the campground was very good for this region.

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The main lodge, which is waterfront has a very decent snack bar restaurant with everything from pizza to quesadilla’s, ice cream to jalapeno poppers.  I had a chicken 2018-07-28 11.49.56Caesar salad, $9 which was very decent.  Kevin had a burger with toppings and chips, again, $9.

They serve lunch and dinner x 7 days per week and breakfast starting at 8 AM on Sat/Sun only. The breakfast special was two different kinds of omelets for $7, add homefries and bacon for an additional $2. Not bad, but we prefer breakfast in camp and relaxing in our PJ’s and bathrobes enjoying the quiet view of the lake.  The pizza smelled good later that night as we took a 7 pm dip in the nearby pool.  The restaurant was packed for dinner from what we could tell on Saturday night.

Other amenities:  The laundry facilities were just OK.  Did not seem large enough for the amount of total sites on property but when we were there on Saturday afternoon, none were being used so perhaps its fine. As I mentioned there are a lot of seasonal sites and I suspect a lot of folks do laundry mid week at their homes, not at camp.  The main shower room was a hike from our campsite and next to the laundry room.  It was decently clean but not spotless.  What i did not like was that the shower stalls only had flimsy curtains for privacy.  They did each have a bench to put your towel, but that was right next to the shower so not sure how dry your towel is going to stay.  I prefer showers to be separate with their own exterior entrance with a lockable solid door rather than feeling somewhat like a high school locker room.  The shower stalls were clean.  Kevin said he tested one of them and it ran 6 minutes before you would have to reach outside the curtain to reactivate the button to turn it on again.  Not a great system but I understand why they must be timed to prevent from being left on by pranksters or absent mindedness.

Beware of visitors! The sites along the lower lake level, southern edge of Alpine Lake are all back in’s and because of their being literally on grade with the lake I would be careful when tons of rain is forecast. You may end up with a very soggy site, or worse, your tires sinking.  You will most likely always end up with two legged visitors….Canada geese.  There is a large flock of them on the lake and while they look majestic gliding smoothly along the lake, they make a total mess with their poop along a lot of the walkways, roads and yes….lakefront low lying campsites.  We could see from across the lake on our high ground, many of the low lying sites having to constantly shoo away the geese who were coming to visit their campsite.  Signs everywhere say please do not feed them.  No kidding-they might try to hop onto your picnic table if you are not careful and put on a bib!

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Beach and fishing areas:  We did not try out the beach area- it is large and roped off so fishing folks do not enter, but one thing is for sure, both lakes (or some may call them ponds) on either side of our site road are good for fishing. We could see the little devils rabidly groping at flies as the sun set in front of our campsite.  Not sure if they stock but there were lots of folks enjoying fishing.  Some put their bass boats in the pond on our north side and could use the beach to pull them up for mooring.  The campground does have kayaks, peddle boats, sail boards for rent as well as golf carts if you are so inclined.  BTW a lot of the seasonal folks have their own golf carts and the roadways are quite busy with back and forth traffic.  I can’t say I blame them.  This is a large park and if you have one of the seasonal sites far back it is a long hike to the pool, lodge and other activity areas which are clustered near the main entrance.

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Roped off beach area.

Other amenities at the site include a few activity pavilions, a camp store (not the best we have seen, but decent) staff is friendly and do their best to make you feel welcomed.   The park does offer a daily trolley ride service ($4 pp) if you want to spend the day in Lake George without bringing your car and dealing with parking meters, etc.  In July and August the trolley also goes to nearby Saratoga Springs in case the horse race track is your thing.  Saratoga also has awesome boutique shopping and really good restaurants in their downtown.  We did not partake in any of their organized activities but could hear the DJ clear enough on Friday night (was on the calendar as a movie night with DJ on Saturday night- so not sure what happened there).  Quiet times appeared to be enforced while we were there however other reviewers have said that noise after hours has been a problem…I suspect they were on that seasonal row with the four picnic table freight train!.

Oh, BTW…yes, they have dinosaurs too….but honestly they are out of place in the ADK’s and they need a bit of TLC at this point.  Not sure why they are here, but could be a throw back to when the park first opened in the early 1970’s when kiddie themed type stuff was big in this part of upstate NY.  (There is a giant chipmunk next to the lodge restaurant too).

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So despite a rough start not getting the site we paid for, we still enjoyed a lake view site, relaxing time and will plan to come again to Alpine Lake RV Resort.  Next time though we are going to hold out for sites 207 or 208 which are opposite the beach, on the high ground (sans Geese) and back in sites.  This will make for a far easier in and out no matter how packed the park is.

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The park and weekend was also “Reddy approved”.  She loved the nice breeze from the lake!
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This makes my heart sing!  This is view from the high ground sites 218-223.  Each does have a nice sized cement pad as well so no muddy tracks into the RV.

Hope you enjoyed this review!  Let us know if you plan to visit this campground in the future!

One life…Live it!

Our Baby Has New Clothes! Our New Zipdee Awning Systems

In June of 2018 our “Pewter Palace” got a new set of “clothes!  Our original main awning fabric had been replaced by the trailer’s most recent owner about 7 years ago.  He had purchased a Carefree brand, vinyl awning (see below right photo) which for us was too dark and the color scheme and design was not vintage looking enough for our taste. 2018-07-14 12.41.52.jpg

The main awning hardware was still the original Carefree equipment (1973) as well and functioning fine.  The side and rear bath windows of our Avion had never had their own awnings and we really wanted to add them to our rig for the following reasons:

Positives about Window awnings…..

  1. Keeps the interior of your trailer cooler by preventing sun from streaming in during hot weather.
  2. Lessons the fading of your interior fabrics (curtains, bedspreads, dinette cushions, etc.).
  3. Provides the ability to open windows even in most rain or drizzle, thereby affording continued air flow through trailer.
  4. Look downright awesome! and we think add to the vintage homelike feel.

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Why switch to Zipdee all the way around?  Because we were going to install window awnings for the first time, the logical choice was Zipdee based on their reputation for quality, outstanding customer service and for the fact that during certain production years the Avion Corporation did install Zipdee awning systems on the trailers on the assembly line.  Also, the Zipdee Corporation is still going strong and has not varied their design to much over the decades and they continue to produce older parts so you can always get them.  Carefree stopped making these bent arm model awning systems many moons ago and in fact our original 1973 hardware is very hard to find and in demand by folks who need parts or are purists and want the original for their period rig.  Lastly, since we were putting on window awnings we wanted everything to match from the hardware to the “software” of the awning fabric itself.  When we considered removing our old vinyl awning fabric, the cost to have a new one made out of our new Sunbrella material–between labor and materials it just did not make sense.  Not to mention the fact that we have read horror stories of lay folks like us trying to switch out awning materials themselves.  It is not easy and requires at least three strong individuals to manage this feat.  We were not going there!

The ordering process:  We looked on the Zipdee Awning website which is expansive and offers some great information about ordering, history, parts, installs, how to videos and more.  (see links in this blog for some of these pages) but also they have a very good variety of Sunbrella patio awning fabrics to pick from.  You WANT to get specific patio awning material because it is going to hold up to wind, rain, rot and fade issues and the elements of weather far better than any lesser grade or household canvas awnings would.

We wanted a color scheme that would compliment our Bavarian feel and predominate colors of deep red, hunter green and spikes of Dresden blue and yellow.  Wholla!!!  We found just what we wanted in their “vintage fabric” list by choosing their (#4751) Hemlock Tweed Fancy.  Honestly, if my memory serves me correctly, my paternal grandmother had this very same stripe on her camp chairs at her circa 1940’s lake cottage in South Jersey when I was a little girl.  It brought back a flurry of wonderful summertime memories.  So that was it, hands down!  We had to laugh when Chuck Cayo called us to say that the awning had been delivered and he described it as “wow its really bright and looks like a Mexican blanket”!  Once we explained our Bavarian/German color scheme and motif he understood since there is still a lot of German influence to be found in Michigan for sure (hunter green and deep red are very traditional German/Bavarian colors and seen on  many chalets and houses in Europe)!

Adding more shaded living space:  Chuck actually did the ordering and install process for us so we cannot comment much on that other than we also gave instructions that we wanted to have the longest awning possible (given the curvature of Avion’s front and rear) on our curbside main awning.  Our existing awning was a tad short and we knew we could go at least two feet longer which would provide just that much more space underneath the awning for a picnic table in case of hot or rainy weather besides our camp chairs and side table, etc.  The longer awning also ensures that the curbside bedroom window is fully protected from rain and sun and can be opened and never worry about a rain soaked bed (on my side of course!)  Our new awning is 19′ 6 3/4″ long–we gained nearly 3 feet over our Carefree system!  Score another reason to replace!

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The Zipdee awning has proven itself to be a real winner!  It is lighter in weight which is always key with Avion’s since they do tend to be far heavier than other trailers of their size.  This is because of the quality construction, beefy frame, solid wood cabinetry and construction techniques.  We are not knocking that…this is one of the key reasons why we chose an Avion in the first place…but it does bring with it issues of needing to really be mindful of how much you are loading into the rig.  Even if your tow vehicle can handle it, your Avion was not made to transport an elephant!

Rear Bath Window Awning System Our rear window is far more useful too now!  As those who own Avion’s know, the rear bath models have a sliding window (others are crank out awning-style) and so without an awning in place you had to close that window even if the slighted hint of rain was coming so that the interior cabinetry etc. did not get wet.  The window is slightly tipped so that the bottom of the window is out a little more than the top due to the design of the overall body (at the mid-belt area the trailers actually are at their widest).  So this window was essentially a “water catcher”.  With the rear awning system, once you deploy that awning, you can fully keep your rear bath window completely slid open.  NOTE: in our ordering spec’s we also told Chuck to order as long a rear awning as possible to extend as far beyond the rear window frame sides as possible, again to provide more shade and protection from rain driving in.

The rear awning hardware system is slightly different than the side windows or main awning.  It does not get the “hook in ” system for the strap like others.  This hardware actually has small lightweight swing arms that set in place into the awning bracket arms to fix the awning in place.  This is necessary again, due to how the body of the Avion is designed.  This awning, like the others has a self wrapping metal cover to protect it when rolled up (really nice!) and is very easy to deploy and put small arms in place.  You can see them mid-way down each of the side arms.

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One Minor Complaint…..One thing we have noticed is that it appears Zipdee really should have centered the stripes on this rear awning.  In other words, there should have been a few inches of green on the left side and on the right.  We will be showing this to Zipdee and get their feedback on this.  To many folks this may not be an issue, but as a one time Art Major, it drives me nuts!  The other awnings are fine, so perhaps this was a end of the bolt or a lazy day issue at Zipdee that day!

Zipdee Customer Service:  is outstanding!  When we arrived at Cayo to pick up our Avion, Chuck had not ordered the center support bar.  Kevin was sure that due to length of awning we needed that.  Chuck found a used one in his shop that worked for the short term and to his credit and in 90+ degree weather did install on the spot.  But when we did our first camping trip we realized it actually was too short and came unhitched at the slighted breeze that lifted the awning a bit. So obviously it was not going to do what it is intended to do which is to help stabilize the awning and add additional support to the awning arms.  So we called Zipdee right from the campsite.  Did photos with a tape measure and they sent us the correct one within one day.  Chuck also had not installed the one safety clip which does come with the main awning ayatem.  So they included one of those with complete instructions on install of both of them.  Kevin will most likely do this project on his own- seems simple enough for us to do. Through it all, the customer service folks at Zipdee have been friendly and outstanding to work with.  Our entire awning system is Model AV2.  Here is the tag which remains on the main awning for reference for any future need.  Zipdee needs this # for any orders.

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Pennant Embellishments:  When we were attending the Tin Can Tourist Rally last fall and also in many Vintage Camping magazines, etc. we review I noticed that many folks were using fabric pennants as a way to embellish their vintage-ness!  So over this past early spring I got to work creating our pennants for the Pewter Palace.  I used a bunch of fabrics that I had already, some given to me by a German friend in Lake George, Margit Herzog, and a German linen table cloth that I had purchased on Ebay that had German people and town shields.  To create a little continuity I also purchased the yellow fabric to create a bit of color pop!  This was an easy project.  I made my own triangular pattern, sewed them on two sides, turned, pressed then set into a full length strip of Wrights, double fold bias tape quilt binding in red.  The tape is .875″ wide x 3 yards long.  I used one 3 yard length for across the rock guard front of trailer, then 2 of the 3 yard strings for along awning length.   I was tickled pink when a fellow modern RVer (with a huge 5th Wheel) came over to our camp one morning that we were at Jellystone RV park with grandkids over July 4th and complimented on the pennants and said she loved them and they have inspired her to make some for her awning because hers is so plain.  VBG!  Also, the next day, the owner of the campground mentioned to Kevin that he loved the pennants and that “back in the day” when he was just starting out in RVing that everyone had fabric pennants on their trailers.  He loved the nostalgia look!  Yeah again!  You will see from the photos that I simply used the same (conference name badge clips) to hold up the pennants to the awning edge- then tucked in my fairy light string like I always do to hold everything together.

Clips to hold my solar fairy lights and homemade fabric pennants:  I use a tip gotten from Airstream Vlogger Courtney Adcock (www.AStreaminLife.com). She recommends purchasing a bag of the plastic and aligator clips that are used at conferences to clip through a name badge.  I have ordered them really cheaply from Amazon and they work great.  And they are FAR cheaper than the clips that are sold at most RV supply places.  As of this posting, the link above has them on Amazon for 150 of them for under $15. A Deal! Best thing is that if you have to take down your awning in a hurry, e.g. storm or wind coming in quick) you can pull these off in a flash compared to the ones that slip into your awning track.  IMPORTANT NOTE--Zipdee awnings DO NOT have that internal open track (Carefree does)  for the more traditional light clips to slide in. That also means you cannot insert any of those LED light strips either.  So purchase some of these badge clips and hang from them!  I have used them now for two years and they still look new.

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So here is a shot of the “finished” new set of clothes for our baby!  She looks so happy!  We love them and hope you consider Zipdee as an awning choice as many, many Avion and Airstreamers do.  (Zipdee is the brand that Airstream uses for all of their trailers so if you do have a problem on the road, any AS dealer will be able to fix for you!)

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PS:  The only two other things to add to her “wardrobe” –the first is we will be making up tire skirts in the Hemlock Tweed Fancy to snap in place covering the tires from sun and so we are not looking at them when sitting under awning.  The other one is that once we go full time living on our Avion, we plan to purchase an “add a room” system to put up on the main awning when we are staying more than a week or two in one location. This additional screened in space will allow us to extend our 24/7 living space and create a spare bedroom if need be for visitors.  More on that as it develops….that’s a blog for another day!

Have fun and remember…ONE LIFE…LIVE IT!

Cheers!

Luisa

Cayo Whirlwind!

Our 1973 Avion LaGrande 28ft travel trailer was ready to pick back up at Cayo Repair Service in Watervliet MI on June 29. So we hopped into our tow vehicle and pulled off a whirlwind trip! Nothing like cutting it close… We have to leave Tuesday afternoon for a five day camping adventure with our two you grandsons. Could not disappoint them (or me!)

Check out our video during our return trip. All total with Kevin and I sharing the driving we did 1650 miles with 30 hours of actual drive time all in 2.5 days. Ugh! But worth it.

https://youtu.be/uKidUdlaoc8https://youtu.be/uKidUdlaoc8

This video I talk about some of our tow friendly gadgets, our new GenX hitch and more.

14 Tips for Avoiding Damaging Hail to your RV!

My husband Kevin and I are avid YouTube watchers and follow about a dozen full time RVers.  A handful of them are in Airstreams, one is in an Avion.  From time to time, these Vloggers end up talking about how they dodged a bullet and were able to miss a potentially damaging hail storm.  In other cases, folks have not been that lucky.  Owning a vintage aluminum trailer takes special attention.  We and fellow owners know these shiny (or in our case, anodized) aluminum beauties require care and protection not only from the elements of weather but also from what it can dish out like falling trees, baking sun rays, forest fires, lightening….or hail!

In this blog I have gathered up some tips and suggestions from fellow RVers (of any type rig really) on how to try at least to minimize (or escape completely) the horrible and expensive damage that a hail storm can do to your Avion.  Having to replace any of the skin panels on a vintage Avion is expensive and time consuming.  To date, I am really only aware of one person who most would entrust to this task and that is Chuck Cayo of Watervliet, MI.  I have Chuck’s contact info on my resource page and as a foot note on several of my blog posts.  Chuck’s grandfather, uncle and father owned the Avion corporation.  He grew up with them and repairs and restores them to this day.  We drove our “Pewter Palace” to Chuck this spring (2018) –a 15 hour drive so we could have him work on it.  Yes, he has that stellar of a reputation for anything Avion.  SO–if my tips below come too late, and your Avion (or Airstream for that matter) has been damaged by Hail….call Chuck!

STEP #1 IS TO PURCHASE A GOOD QUALITY WEATHER ALERT RADIO AND KEEP IT ON WHEN USING YOUR AVION!  Be sure to get one that runs on batteries too!

There are several good Apps found in the Iphone and Google Play Store that offer weather alerts.  Keep them on when you are RVing but maybe away from your rig so you know when to ditch that grocery cart and get running! We use one from the National Weather Service and are sure to put in our location at the time.

Avoiding Hail Storm Damage:

 #2—GET ‘OUTTA THERE!  We are fortunate to have wheels on our beauties and hopefully yours is towable and with good tires.  So hitch her up and get out and away if you have any forewarning that hail is even possible!  Spend the weekend or a few days in a nice place away from harm.

This Avion did not escape…a hail storm! (photo by JoAnn Jackson Edgar (TX)

hail damage, JoAnn Jackson Edgar, TX

The saving grace is most hail storms are very fast moving….your task is to move before the storm moves over top of you!

if leaving your locale completely is not an option…..

#3  Hitch up your rig and tow it to one of these possible shelters:

  • Many are free and available in most locations (if you are out in the open on BLM land, sorry…cannot help you other than try to find some trees somewhere to get her under).

Look around your neighborhood or a local town for any of the following:

(Hint—scope these out as you are approaching your overnight campground or stop if there is even a chance you may get a hail storm rolling through!)

  1. The Contractors entrance with large overhang at a LOWES or HOME DEPOT
  2. The outlying lanes of a drive up bank area with large overhang
  3. Local town, etc. park with lots of tall trees, or side road with same. Even getting tucked as far as you can under trees will break the direct fall of many hail stones.
  4. Highway Underpasses are perfect places to hide out.  Just don’t run over the motorcyclist that is also seeking shelter from the storm!
  5. Do It Yourself Car Wash Bays.  these are perfect!  even if you have to let your tow vehicle be exposed, that is what insurance is for and the tow vehicle will be far easier to get fixed than your vintage Avion or AS.
  6. If you are fortunate enough to know someone who owns an airplane hangar-ask if you can bring your trailer into safety there till storm passes.
  7. If you know someone who owns a car dealership, or a large repair garage they may let you bring your rig in for the short time needed till storm passes.
  8. A covered pavilion at an Elks Club or similar, or a local park.  Often these are flush to the ground on cement pads and can be driven on. (careful about permission first!)
  9. Some campgrounds we have seen in AZ ,TX and southwest actually have whole rows that are with covered pavilion style sites (often with solar panels on top)
  10. A local storage facility may have lockable storage garages large enough.  Worth the call to find out and to ask if in a pinch like a storm coming if they would allow you to rent one just for a day in case of emergency. Bird in the hand, some may allow this!
  11. If time permits, you could I guess even get some sheets of thin 4 x 8′ plywood laid atop your rig (throw some guy ropes over top to secure down tie off on cement blocks, etc. on ground along side of rig) as best you can to protect the aluminum skin at least a good percentage of it.  IF you have solar panels up there, this is a must to protect them!
  12. Keep your Avion in an RV Storage Garage (this is what we do) for the piece of mind that she is always protected from all elements when not in use. *this also prolongs the life of awnings, curtains, Eternabond tape on roof, Everbright or similar finish treatments, all sealants around windows, roof vents, skylights, etc too!  We figure its an investment in the long run we would rather pay now…than pay later!
  13. If you are in a location in the USA (or elsewhere around the world) that is prone to hail storms, (tornado’s and hurricanes too) then investing if at all possible in your own secure built shelter/garage for your favorite Avion may be the best option-obviously if you have enough room on your property to do this.

Our RV Storage Garage.  It was specially built for RV and Boat storage.  Check your yellow pages!

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If you have any further suggestions or tips please reach out to me so I can add them to this as an update.  By no means do I consider myself an expert….I merely like to pass along what I have learned from others and “pay it forward”.

One life….live it!

Luisa

Being a Part of the Travelcade!

Anyone who has done even a modest amount of Avion researching has stumbled across the term “Travelcade” or “Travelcaders” on more than one occasion. But what is this term all about?

  • Why do some of our vintage trailers have large circular Travelcade stickers (and ID # numbers) and some do not?

WHAT WAS THE TRAVELCADE CLUB?

In brief, the Avion corporation started an “Avion owners fan club” if you will of Avion owners who liked to get together and host large and regional rallies with their trailers. The term Travelcade was used as the name of these gatherings and the people who attended were called “Travelcaders”. Belonging to the membership club was optional for Avion owners and hence that is why some Avion trailers do not have ID #’s and others do. Bob Muncy’s book goes into great detail about the Travelcade club and is a must read. Additional information about owners/#’s can be found at Dr. G’s website and others.

Sadly, after the Avion production was sold to the Fleetwood Corp, the club began allowing owners of any type of Fleetwood RV into the fold. This created a homogenization of the camaraderie which was ultimately perhaps led to the demise of the Avion portion of the club. (also, originally the Avion Corp provided funds to host rallies, Fleetwood did not continue that tradition and began charging members). Thankfully we have branches of the Silver Avion Fellowship around the country that are doing their best to keep that kind of owner gatherings and camaraderie going!

Vintage photo of a Travelcade gathering-note the knitted caps with the official “Travelcade” patch on them! (yes—we have TWO of these originals!) See our previous blog post for more photos of original Travelcade swag we have purchased and proudly wear when we are at Tin Can Tourist rallies and the annual Silver Avion Fellowship rallies which are held today!

travelcaders around the fire with hats

The member number was applied to your trailer (facing the trailer on streetside front and back) so that when you rolled into an event the spotters at registration could identify you quickly AND there were large membership directories printed and published so you could easily find friends, locals to your state, etc. by those numbers on their rigs.

TRAVELCADE CAPS AND SEW ON PATCHES:

From time to time you can find an official original travelcade cap for sale on Ebay. That is where we found ours which were being sold by a gentleman who grew up with his parents Avioning at many big rallies (over 500 Avions or more!). He was also parting with some other Travelcade swag which we gladly purchased and love to wear at rallies! Here is Kevin sporting his cap!

There is someone selling the reproduction sew on patches and we have purchased several. They are excellent quality!

avion patch, new on ebay

You will see they are slightly different than our originals but at $6 each they are great to have to sew on your own windbreaker or baseball cap.

FYI- we have seen original photos of men wearing official “Avion Pith” helmets at the original rallies (makes sense as many where held in Florida where heat had to be a huge issue!). The pith helmets were traditional white. We have yet to find any of those for sale.

TRAVELCADE MEMBER ID NUMBERS:

Our original numbers are still in very good condition (perhaps at some point one of the three prior owners did replace them but they are the original numbers. You can tell this because there is no ghost images other than those numbers we have) and at some point, when we find someone with a directory from the New England Unit we will be able to verify once again our original owners name and home address back in the day.

The best place to find out the history of the Travelcade club is to visit Dr. G’s website. He has a comprehensive online story about it as well as a list of Travelcade members (I believe original owners with their member ID #s) and also current Avion owners. The lists are not comprehensive by any means, nor, i think kept too current. That would be a daunting task for anyone. I know, for example, we have asked to be added quite a while back but this has yet to happen. Nevertheless, its a great resource and the story of the Travelcade club is told well. So sit back, visit the site and enjoy reading!

Want to see some original Avion Travelcade event brochures and ephemera? click here!

OFFICIAL TRAVELCADE TRAILER STICKER EMBLEMS

If your Avion does not have any Travelcade stickers, or originals are in bad shape and you want to replace them, here is a link to a fellow who sells them on Ebay. The price is reasonable enough and we have ordered from him with very good results. The stickers came promptly and are of good quality. So stay tuned on their life expectancy!

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Buy reproduction Travelcade circular stickers here (FYI- you need one on front and back- that is the way they were originally applied so please try to keep the momentum and tradition going!!

Here are some photos of our trailer to show you where the circular stickers above are to be placed on your Avion.

our 73 Avion nose, breadloaf style
Center front (original sticker) above running lights.
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Our original sticker is seen on Rear of trailer above bathroom and running lights, pardon the dirt-this was pre-bath day! The sticker basically disintegrated during her first bath.

Here is another great find on Pintrest! Someone has taken a lot of time to capture dozens of images of Avion trailers, vintage advertising pieces, brochures etc, Worth the visit!

TRAVELCADE SECURITY TEAM EMBLEMS

Again, not everyone will have these SECURITY UNIT stickers to the right of their entry door above the handle. These Avion owners, from what we understand were often times police or security officers in their “day jobs” or were very involved with the organizing group of volunteers for the Travelcade rallies. These rallies were huge and could exceed 500 trailers so an amount of decorum, safety and management had to be maintained. Our trailer does have such a sticker and again, for purposes of anyone who was attending the rallie (from young children to adults) you would be able to quickly locate a safety person to assist you if you got lost, or needed medical or safety help. We understand that some of these folks primary functions was during load in and load out days where hundreds of trailers needed to be parked and maneuvered. We are not aware of any reproductions of these stickers currently being made and that is really kind of neat for us…we are proud to have ours in such perfect condition for an original (most likely from the late 70’s-80’s)-our original intact and on our trailer is pictured below.

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The original sticker is still on our 1973 Avion, 28 foot LaGrande.
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Note sticker location to right of door above handle. From what we have seen this was the universal location to put them so that everyone knew in a quick minute where to look.

UPDATE 6-23-18

Many thanks to fellow Avion owner Sherry Holmes Kinzey (PA) who just posted this photo of memorabilia found in her parent’s Avion. Obviously those who were part of the Avion security were also issued a badge to wear! (photo by Sherry Holmes Kinzey)

avion security items, sherry Holmes Kinzey

More travelcade nostalgia–pictures from Travelcade rallies in the 60’s-80’s….enjoy! If I recall correctly, we took these photos from archives at the RV & Manufactured Homes National Museum in IN.

1972_AVION_23- big rally ariel view, plus other pics

1972_AVION_15- around the campfire, rally1

Hope to see you at an upcoming Tin Can Tourist or Silver Avion Fellowship Rally (which is basically the modern day equivalent of the Travelcade clubs).

There are currently Silver Avion Fellowship clubs based in Texas, Arkansas and Michigan. All host rallies and welcome fellow Avion owners to attend. The easiest way to find them is via a search on Facebook!

Visit my previous blog post regarding more about stickers and logo medallions!

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One of our two original Travelcade pewter mugs from the 70’s! Awesome huh!!

Avion Medalions and Emblems and more….including Resource List

Clearly anyone who owns an Avion understands that they are historic preservationists in the most fundamental sense.  Not only do they maintain, restore and covet their aluminum beauty…they also USE it as it was intended to be used—for enjoying the outdoors, sheltering from weather and creating memories with loved ones and dear friends.  If they did not revere history and love nostalgia they would own a modern cardboard box, flat top trailer with little to no personality and certainly not built for the longevity that the Avions can boast to this day.  (our Avion turned 45 years old this year-2018, and I challenge any modern box campers to be on the road in excellent running order in 45 years!).


NOTE:  at the end of this blog post I have a list of resources for reproduction items talked about throughout this post.  Enjoy!


Almost monthly, there are questions about, or seekers of information on the various medallions, decals, numbers and company markers on the trailers. 

In this article I will attempt to answer many of the questions and in some cases provide some current links to where some of these items (or reproductions of same) may still be obtained today.  Also included are links to other websites where directories of the Travelcade member ID # may still be looked up.  Sadly, currently no one source of all those numbers exist so the hunt is on and if someone would eventually scan and post the books in an archive it would be like winning the lottery for a lot of us!  More about that in a subsection below.

Lets start at the beginning…the birth so to speak when an Avion was coming off of the assembly line.

As a side note, see our post about our trip to Benton Harbor MI in April 2018 to see a video of the plant that still exists but now is a cheese factory.

Avion Coach Company Medallions and Logo Markers:

pre 73 avion nose front
This is the company logo on front of a pre-1973 Avion.  How to tell?  The originals from 1956-1972 have the “pie slice” multiple riveted sections converging in the front, then from 1973 onward the design changed dramatically -see example below which is our Avion.  This was the first and only real major structure change the Avion (Cayo) corporation ever made to these trailers.
our 73 Avion nose, breadloaf style
Notice that the design change in 1973 created what many of us call  the “breadloaf” style.  This design change added significant headroom inside and more front storage over sofa or dinette and far more headroom in the rear bathroom area.  It also meant a far larger, and curved three section front window which was fitted with a rock guard.  The rock guard is on hinges and raises up.  The guard provides protection to windows and shade for the interior.   I will put a source to purchase a reproduction rock guard at end of this post.  The metal Avion Logo was moved to below the window and a stenciled AVION motif added to the rock guard.  We will be repainting ours this spring.
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This is the rear of our Avion the day we bought her.  She was quite dirty and needed a bath!  You will see the Avion logo medallion also on the rear above the bathroom window. More about the decal sticker above the light later in a separate blog post.

These logo medallions from what we have seen were almost always painted red.  Today many look like a pale/faded tomato red, but from what we understand a deep true red was more similar to its original color. Over time, the colors have faded.  This is the same with the rub rail- that vinyl strip that slides into a channel that goes around the trailers mid-belly in two layers with a shiner (non-anodized) strip in between them (at least on the years surrounding our years of production.  In the 80-90’s the colors for Avions turned more to using blues and black.  You can see that along the way one of the three previous owners of our trailer replaced the rub rail with black which is very common to see these days.  The rub rail material is not easily found in the right size.  Resource list at end of this post.  Some people have taken to painting the rub rail vinyl back to red, or from faded black to black.  It can be done, but I have seen them and to me it looks a bit like a cob job.  Perhaps if you were to actually remove the vinyl and spray paint it it might be better—but no way am i promising you will ever get that rub rail back in the channels again very easily!

2018-04-01 14.08.23As another side note to the company medallions, above is the dealership plate from where our 1973 Avion was originally sold from.  This dealership does not exist anymore but we have located where it was through old news clippings and at the time surely it was on the outskirts of Dearborn Heights in a rural area– but now that address is smack dab in the middle of a very built up almost urban environment.  Our little lady did not travel that far from her birth place to be purchased for the first time.  Many Avion’s also still have their original dealer emblem on them.  Again, its all about nostalgia for us and we wear it proudly.

Below is our LaGrande “model” medallion which appears on both sides of the trailer to the rear-basically even with where the bathroom is located (at least with 70’s models).  Early Avion photos (50’s-60’s)  we have seen do not appear to have these though there were some model names.  See second photo below for placement.  Many of these model plates that we have seen are, like ours is pitted.  They are stainless but age, and in our case, being kept in Florida near the ocean in the winters for many years has caused the pitting.  If a rig has been kept under cover or in a garage these emblems may be in far nicer condition.  The background is dappled/textured a bit and supposed to be painted all flat black. Only the raised lettering is supposed to be shiny.  The “Travelcade” models (a wee bit of a step down, basic model of Avion) also have them in the same locations.  It is not advisable to remove these unless you really know what you are doing.  (again, this was before our baby had her first bath!)

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This photo is after her bath!  Note location of the LaGrande emblem on rear, about even with the bathroom shower area.  These are also riveted on.

HOW CAN I TELL HOW OLD MY AVION IS AND HOW LONG IT IS?  In the photo below you will see the vehicle details on the orange plate that was afixed to the trailer upon completion at the Avion assembly line plant.  This is not our trailer but you can see and tell the year, month, and production # as well as the model style “LaGrande”.

These plates are very important when looking at purchasing a new to you Avion or for reference for a rig you currently own.  Hopefully you still have one on your trailer.  This one is located just to the right of the door entry.  This is also where ours is, however there is another plate on the streetside as well that also has important trailer information and should be documented.

There is an excellent resource website maintained by “DR G”, Dr. Don Gradeless that is a treasure trove of manuals (PDF by year) you can download or view, info regarding Avion specs and also early rosters of some Travelcade member units.

His website is at:      http://my.execpc.com/~drg/avionrem.html

Here is how to read the numbers (see image below)- this stands for trailers made at least in the 1970’s that we know and cannot attest to how earlier or later models may be marked.

 SERIAL NUMBER         75-L-28043

1975 production year   L = LaGrande Model      28 = foot length   043 = 43rd trailer made that year.

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Trailer Travelcade Member ID Numbers and Units:

I will be including a whole separate blog post about the history of the “Travelcade” membership club because it really was cool!  But for purpose of this post, I refer to the wonderful Avion history book written by Robert Muncy (link to purchase here) entitled SILVER AVIONS AND CAYOS.  Muncy writes that the Travelcade club of Avion owners got its start in 1959 and had its highest rendezvous turn out of 818 Avions in Coldwater MI in 1970.  Please see my future post about the Travelcaders and their club soon!

The photo below is our Avion, our “Pewter Palace” as we call her with her original Travelcade ID numbers and geographical unit emblem.  Not all Avion owners joined this optional club and so if you do not see any type of stickers like this (front and rear streetside is where they should be) then the owners did not partake.  Benefits of the club included a printed newsletter, attendance at rendezvous (FL, MI, WI) and the ability to order and wear some of the truly awesome “Travelcader Swag” like earings, jackets, knitted caps, pith helmets, bolo ties and more….remember….this IS the 1960-70’s!!  See some of the swag we have gotten so far in this previous post or on our Avion Swag post page.

Our trailer’s second owner was from CT and therefore was part of the New England Unit which sadly no longer exists.  In fact, the whole “Travelcade” club and movement died out after the corporation sold to the Fleetwood RV company in the 80’s.  Happily, a diehard group have resurged the zeal for hosting rallies of Avions again and now there is are very active “Sliver Avion Fellowship ” units based in MI, TX and more recently one started in Arkansas.  The trend and desire to all get together again is growing each year as is the popularity of owning one of these classic, well-built beauties.  We attended the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in Elkhart MI in the summer of 2017 and had a blast with over 25 Avions of all designs, lengths and styles present.  The MI group, I believe is the one who got the whole Fellowship rolling again.  Search Facebook for The Silver Avion Fellowship and ask to join. There is a similar named fb site for the event too. I believe that black numbers and letters were the standard issue of these rigs.  People attending the Travelcade official rallies back in the day would register with their trailer number.  There were published member directories for each year and geographical unit.  If you are lucky, someone at one of today’s Fellowship Rallies may come with one and you can look up your original Travelcade member’s name, address, etc.    On occasion someone will also post out on one of the Avion FB pages that they have access to one of the books , or you can post out on the Avion Owners facebook pages that you are seeking a “look up” for the numbers on your rig.  Folks are more than happy to help find this nostalgic piece of history out for a fellow Avion owner.

As you can see by our membership number—our trailer owner’s were the 14229 members enrolled.  WOW!

Below these emblems, or on the curbside somewhere near the front side panel, some Avions also have a vertical list with smaller letters of the location and date of EACH Travelcade Rendezvous that they had attended.  It is an amazing story for your Avion and we highly recommend that you LEAVE it, or if needed get repro stickers if some of the letters or dates are worn off.  Some trailers only have a shadow (left from fading of the finish) on their rigs.  Again—this is a badge of honor that should be maintained in our opinion and we know many other Avioners agree.  So please keep them visible!  We wish we had some but perhaps our owners were more interested in just reading the member newsletter than traveling south.  We do know they took our trailer to Alaska twice though!

If you look very closely below you will see under the “pie slices” a discolored area on the body.  In the right light, you can see EACH of the rendezvous that this trailer has been to.  It was quite amazing and yes—a badge of honor we are happy to see they have kept even though the actual black letters are long gone.  Those letters were issued to you when you arrived at the Travelcade Rendezvous.  Today’s Silver Avion Fellowship Rally we attended in MI is reissuing these once again and we will put it on our trailer once we get our clear coating done by Chuck Cayo this spring.

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Below are some resources for items mentioned above.  Please do remember to check back to my blog often as I will be adding an entire post about the Travelcaders and club which will include some vintage photos of rallies, people wearing Travelcade swag and more… including where to buy reproduction Travelcade Large Member Stickers like what is on the front and rear of our rig (we have purchased new ones to replace our very faded and worn out ones)

CURRENT RESOURCES THAT WE ARE AWARE OF: 

(these were viable at date of this post, sorry if no longer active)  Please contact me if you find new or other sources!!

Our Facebook Page for the Pewter Palace: https://www.facebook.com/PewterPalace/


Avion reproduction Rock Guards:   Chuck Cayo- Cayo Repair, Watervliet MI.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cayo-Repair-Service/116726535054286  (Chuck is an old school kinda guy—-and is the guru of Avions (his grandfather co-owned the original company and Chuck grew up with them from his father.  They do not have a website, but this listing gives phone info)


SILVER AVIONS AND CAYOS, book by Robert Muncy (a must have for any Avion owner)

https://www.muncywinds.com/silver-avions-and-cayos.html


Rub Rail Vinyl strips:

(1)  Chuck Cayo (above) keeps black in stock most of the time.

(2)  Others have used sources found on Airstream (gasp!) forums, recently someone used vinyl stripping found on a website that sells it for lawn chairs.  He said it worked well.  I got some samples, nice colors but is very thick and not sure how well it will last with temp changes/extremes of full timing plus would be really hard to insert in because it is flat, not curved and very stiff.  They said do it on a sunny warm day, and use a heat gun to soften and insert- perhaps with a putty knife to help tuck into track gutter.

(3)  Vintage Trailer Supply also at least from time to time does carry limited sizes and colors since this is a type of trim that is found not only on Avions, but Airstreams and other vintage rigs.  https://www.facebook.com/vintagetrailersupply/


(4)  Travelcade Member ID #’s and Units:  This is a very recent link that I found posted on one of the handful of Avion facebook pages that i belong to.  So far, I believe the folks who have ordered from her have had a positive experience.  Mind you, you must have a steady hand to apply these…or take the letters and numbers to a professional sign shop or automotive detailer who does this kind of thing and have them apply them!  As mentioned, so far, we have only seen black letters on originals but I believe some current owners are using red for their numbers.  I guess its a matter of choice.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/598338016/avion-number-decals-airstream-avion-rv?ref=shop_home_active_1

As always, I hope you have enjoyed this post and gotten some “take aways” from it.  I would love to hear your feedback, or if you have other sources for the items discussed above or anything to do with Avions.  Its all about helping each other to preserve and enjoy our beloved Avions as much as we call.

We look forward to meeting fellow Avioners on the road in days ahead….till then…

ONE LIVE–LIVE IT!

–Luisa

2017-09-17 10.41.56

 

 

April Trip to the “Motherland”, (Cayo)

2018 will go down as the winter that never ends…yes, it is April- long past the Easter holiday and we are still getting snow.  We had chatted with Chuck Cayo (a.k.a Avion guru) over the winter about bringing our Pewter Palace to his repair and service business this spring so we could have a punch list of things done including the installation of a new ZipDee awning system, replacing our old Carefree system and vinyl awning PLUS installing new awning systems all way round the rig.

Chuck is the grandson of one of the two original owner brothers of the Avion (and Cayo) corporations in Benton Harbor, MI.  We were in luck and Chuck said he had a window of scheduling that could put us in the ques for Mid April.  Perfect!  By then, Kevin would be off of his extremely rigorous and mandatory 24/7 “on call” status with NYS DOT (yes, overtime this winter was big with so much snow…but I also once again became a “snowstorm widow” not seeing him sometimes for what seemed like days on end!)

So we booked it in figuring also that perfect weather would be our guide.  NOT!!!  We hit the road a little earlier on Friday than originally planned just to be able to scoot out of NYS before yet another sleet, snow and rain storm came barreling through.

NY, PA TO OHIO BORDER:  We got as far as over the Ohio border and found an excellent rest area/truck stop directly off Interstate 90 Westbound at exit 223.  This Flying J truck stop has about 8 dedicated RV parking spots on the left front area of lot.  Much quieter there than in back with big rigs.  There is a Denny’s restaurant that opens at 6 AM.  Nice breakfast.  And the Flying J store and bathrooms were great, spotless with store having very good variety of foods, snacks and beverages even at 10 PM when we arrived.

As we approached through OH and into Indiana and Michigan the next day we caught a storm of rain, and some snow….yeah…it followed us!  Ugh!  There were some high winds (25-35 MPH)  but Avion’s are so aerodynamically designed that honestly Kevin said that the wind is really a non issue.  We cannot say the same for other RV trailers and Class A’s we saw along the route who were blowing all over the place!

A great thing we also learned was that the state of Ohio has really become RV Friendly in that they have been upgrading some of their rest areas and creating some dedicated RV overnight parking WITH ELECTRIC HOOKUPS!  there is also potable water and a dump station area onsite at these special rest areas.  You can pick up the info flyer on these at any of the rest areas.  There is a self-pay kiosk where you pay $20 for an overnight with electric and put the chit on your dash so you don’t get rousted in the middle of the night.  Bad part in their planning was the sites are quite short and close together.  We are talking a parking lot folks!  But honestly, with the 28.7 feet of our trailer plus our Chevy Suburban’s length we were hard pressed at the first one we checked out to be able to fit our rig.  And God help us if someone pulled into either side of us because the first rest area were all straight back in’s (no angle to pull out or in) so to make that “J” turn to get out with approx. 48 feet of rolling metal- would be impossible.  The photo below shows that back in only lot.  Fine for small bumper pulls, vans, small class B & C’s.

 

Below is the flyer detailing some of the info about these special rest areas.  Again, only in OH on RT 90 (wish NYS would take cue and do this!) and it is only for ONE night stays.  Good in a pinch, esp. if it is so late at night that its too late to get to a campground and you want an easy off, easy on in the morning.  We suspect these spots are very full in season!!! They are first come, first served.  The Rest Area as Mile Post (MP) 79 on the Westbound side did have 8 pull through sites on angles which was a little better, but again we just fit nose to tail.  BTW–the OH rest areas are beautiful! huge, have pay showers if needed, and you can eat off the floor they are so clean.  Decent offering of typical fast food Starbucks, Burger King, etc.  Nothing to write home about food wise for this gal.

new_rv_lots_brochure_2016  This is a printable brochure from the OH Interstate Authority all about the program.  Check it out!

Of course the 90 degree turn in Cleveland OH is always fun!  Check out the very cool building on the right but then please………Take it slow please!!!!

AT this point it is lightly snowing…

On through Indiana for a bit, still is amazing when going through the Elkhart area to see all the many manufacturers of RV parts, trailers and motorhomes just finished their assembly line and waiting to be shipped to dealerships all over the US.  Elkhart is the RV capital of the world (no kidding!) and if you want to stop there, you can even go on factory tours that are scheduled (advance reservations are suggested because of set times/days of the week they are done).  We did not stop this time, but had visited the RV Hall of fame during our last visit to this area last summer when we attended our first Silver Avion Fellowship Rally.  The RV/MH Hall of Fame sits right off the left side of the highway as we were heading west.  Easy in and out, plenty of RV parking.  Worth supporting and definitely worth the visit to see some of the really rare, early tent campers on Model A’s etc right through to modern styles.

On to Michigan and nearer the “Motherland” by every passing mile!  This was now Saturday, April 14 and we had made reservations to stay in Coloma/St. Joseph KOA just north of Benton Harbor MI.  We had always planned to get to MI early enough on Saturday to visit the ORIGINAL AVION FACTORY AND HQ in Benton Harbor first.  Onward we went, despite frigid temps and blowing winds and the occasional snow flake or two…

We had reached out to a historical facebook page of folks who love Benton Harbor history. They, along with the wonderful book published by Bob Muncy about Avion’s were key to us finding the original location.  Bear in mind, to those who live in IN and MI this pilgrimage may seen downright ridiculous, but for us, who are so literally obsessed by “everything Avion” we just had to find the original site, buildings, and location of where our “baby” was born!!  And we did!!!

1300 East Empire Ave, Benton Harbor, Michigan.  Thanks to some clues from those facebook folks, google satellite image maps (comparing them to Muncy photos) we found the Avion Maternity Ward–still intact, but now a Cheese Factory/Importer was in the manufacturing plant and next door, the Avion HQ and Sales room was empty but perfectly intact as it was in the heyday!  This was an awesome experience, brought chills to our spines (disregarding the weather!) and truly was so cool to park our rig right in front of both buildings.  Kevin was in his glory!!  It was so cool!  Good we were there on a weekend as there were no cars to jockey around in the parking lots!

Check this out!!  Here is our video as we pull up in front of the original Avion HQ

On to our KOA in Coloma/St. Josephs.  Nice campground, easy access.  We had the honor of being their first “American” campers of the 2018 season….yes…it is now snowing a bit with the rain!  It got down to 29 degrees that night.  We did have to take a different site than we were assigned because as nice as this campground is (and the owners were very nice!) the campground lies very low and many of the sites were flooded due to rains for the past few days.  Since the rain was supposed to continue through our stay we did not want to have to test out the Avion’s buoyancy much less need a tractor pull competition to get her out of mud.  The owners understood and were accommodating for sure.

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We ventured into Coloma for dinner, cute downtown, neat boutique type shops including one very original 5 & 10 Store that functions much like it did in dime store heydays. The owner obviously loves retro and loves his G & M Variety store.  You can get everything from fishing tackle and slogger shoes to makeup and very nice home decor or hardware items….and penny candy, etc. still too!!  The set up is just like original dime stores (just minus the little old/ancient sales ladies following you around every corner and every aisle for fear you were going to steal some pair of socks or something)…it was very cool!I only wish it has fountain service where we could have gotten a yummy grilled cheese or roasted hot dog on a grilled bun!  (ahh the memories!!).  We ate at the local brew pub in downtown.  Decent, but nothing out of the ordinary for us.  Back to camp, bundle up and relax.

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Sunday we spent day tripping in our car going to visit Holland MI.  Sadly, lesson learned not much is open on a snowy, cold Sunday in Mid-April.  We hit a terrible snow storm enroute and were very happy to not be towing anything.  Eight cars spun off the highway in one hours worth of the trip, no DOT trucks in site.  Waylaid at a great Antique shop which worked out well to let the snow pass by and melt off highway a bit.  Holland was a bust, most was all closed and we got there so late due to 25 mph max on highway during storm.  We did eat at a great restaurant in one of the shopping mall areas.  I think the name had “Annies” or “Ann’s” in the name.  Also a “wooden shoe” antique mall on outskirts heading out of town was worth the stop.  Prices for antiques are alot better in MI compared to NY!

Monday morning it was up bright and early and off to see Mr. Chuck Cayo in Watervliet which was only about 15 minutes from our campground.  We arrived to find the door to the main shop locked.  oh no……the service door was open and in we went to meet one of his helpers “Bill” who explained to us that Chuck had been hospitalized on Friday due to emergency medical situation—clogged artery!  Nearly took him to the big Avion lot in the sky!  YIKES!  So Bill assured us Chuck was doing well, but would be in hospital for at least the rest of the week.  He took our three page (yes, three page) punch list and keys, we parked our baby the Pewter Palace, gave her a hug around the beam and wished her well.  We also took time again to check out the other Avions in the lot for sale or for repair.  Always fun to see after market creative fixes, additions, etc. and variety of rigs.

We had told Chuck we just need her back for Mid to Late June….seems like so far away…we miss her already but know she is in very good hands!  Till June little lady!!

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