RV Fresh Water Hook up Safety Tips

The Good, The Bad…the Ugly!  It may not be the most glamorous topic for discussion, but keeping you and your family healthy has a direct correlation to continued enjoyment of the RV travel hobby.

The UGLY! Cross contamination of the fresh water spigot tap can cause serious illness—and contamination of your entire fresh water system!  It can happen very easily, without your knowledge or even innocently on your part and it DOES happen!

Here are just a few possible CAUSES OF CONTAMINATION to your fresh water tank:

HOW DOES CONTAMINATION OF FRESH WATER HAPPEN?

Campground issues…..these are out of your control!

  • Campgrounds are not regularly testing their potable water supply (yes, it happens*)
  • Local municipal contamination, causing an emergency “boil water” advisory- especially prevalent after major storms.
  • Fresh water pipes could be broken underground before they get to spigot.
  • Improper placement of fresh water spigots by campground ownership

AND THE BIGGEST/MOST COMMON REASON??  Fresh water spigot tap contamination from a previous camper!

What YOU and OTHER CAMPERS do DOES makes a difference!

  1. Lack of proper procedures during their black water tank flush process
  2. Improper series/order of steps when hooking up or breaking down camp- we have seen people cleaning/rinsing their septic hose by turning on the fresh water spigot and rinsing under the water flow.  Do you have any idea how much bacteria is splashing back up on to that faucet outlet??
  3. Improper storage of your fresh water and sewer hoses
  4. Broken, cracked, frayed hoses or couplers on hoses

There are countless conversations on facebook, YouTube and other blogs about first hand witnessing of unsanitary (for you and them) practices or lack thereof.  This is serious business, ecoli infections can kill someone!

TIPS TO BE MORE SAFE WHEN USING CAMPGROUND DUMP STATIONS AND FULL HOOK UP SITES:

  1. Always wear clean disposable gloves when doing your sewer dumping and DO NOT leave those gloves anywhere but in your own trash bag!
  2. Put a small spray bottle of H2O with a mild bleach solution in your outside fresh water compartment. I bought a 4 inch travel size one with spritzer nozzle at Wally World for a couple of $.
  3. Spray your bleach water solution EACH and every time you hook up and break down!  Spray it on…both ends of your fresh water hose, the spigot at the campground pedestal/faucet before you hook up your hose.  Spray the ends of your fresh water filter(s) too.  When spraying spray around the outside and into the openings of hoses, filters, and spigot.
  4. NEVER set the open ends of  your fresh water hoses or filter ends on the ground!! NEVER NEVER! Have a helper hold them.   If you must set stuff down because you are alone, then take a clean new plastic kitchen garbage bag and put that on the ground near the water spigot and lay your items on it like a carpet.  Throw bag away after use.
  5. DO NOT store your water filters  in your basement storage areas. (may be ok for modern campers with large storage areas where you can have lidded plastic totes)  Way too much dirt, germs and debris can find their way into them.  We store ours in a clean dish pan in our shower floor or kitchen sink.
  6. If the weather has been wet, use a paper towel or sponge to slide down the length of the fresh water hose before storing to take off mud, dirt, bugs, etc.  Be sure you get all or 99% of the water out of your hoses before storing.
  7. Always screw the two ends of  your fresh water hose together so nothing can get in there while not in use.  Would not hurt to again spray with the water/bleach solution before storing.
  8. Using your water/bleach spritzer spray off your dump valves regularly.  Keep them properly greased/lubed up as directed by manufacturers recommendations.  Keep your storage bays as clean as possible.  
  9. Store your “stinky slinky”, septic hose in a separate area from your fresh water hose and equipment.
  10. Have a box of gloves, a bucket of clorox wipes and paper towels always handy in that basement bay or next one over.
  11. Consider always carrying a gerry jug (we have two 6 gals) with you filled with fresh water you know you can trust.  Just in case the water from your campsite smells a little off, has high iron or sulfur content even though it may be potable.  Your AM coffee will thank you!
  12. Install an under counter fresh water filter below your faucet.  There are many types from electronic to flow through traditional. We have one on our dedicated drinking water faucet.  It is so good it even removed the pink dye color from the winter antifreeze!
  13. Consider buying a Berkey Water Filtration system that sits on your counter.  Found on Amazon or their dedicated Berkey site.  Not cheap but great peace of mind.

and remember…..

Dump the black water tank first….then the grey water!

Put at least 4-6  or so gallons of water (depends on size of your tank or how long you will be not camping)  back into your toilet and add your black tank digester.  We prefer Happy Camper or Unique brands.

You do not need to use RV toilet paper….any Septic Safe labeled T-paper is fine as long as you use sufficient water each time you flush.  What I tell my grandsons is if you do #2…then hold the pedal down for as long as it takes you to slowly count to at least 6.

*I recall reading numerous reviews about a campground in south western Arizona that had multiple complaints and even was shut down by their local health department due to fouled fresh water being run through pipes to their campsites. It pays to read campground reviews before you park! (NOTE: we always have at least 4-6 filled milk jugs of our own home water with us on any given trip. If anything, we use them to “flush” when boondocking or using our toilet at a rest area.

Here’s to happy and SAFE camping!

From Kevin & Luisa Sherman

Cheap DIY Hack- to get more sleeptime in your rv!

Are you bothered by the beam of light that comes through your roof vent in the morning—saying “wake up its 6 AM??”

Even though we have MaxAir Vent covers in the smoke plexiglass color we still find that the morning light coming in really robs us of some extra ZZZZ’s! So I looked for an inexpensive way to fix this issue. We do have modern Fan-tastic in our Avion, but this fix could be used with other types of roof fan vents too! A quick look on Amazon and even just Google shows there are all sorts of sizes available out there.

Then again, you could wear a sleep mask but we find them a little uncomfortable and can be hot.

Key to choosing a window shade is that it should have perforations so that you can still use the fan feature when your “shade is drawn closed”. Here is an image similar to what we purchased, on clearance at Camping World for $6.

First thing I did was cut off the actual retraction roller bar part. I did not want to have to screw that into our ceiling and felt that I would not be able to get a strong enough bond to take the pressure that was needed to “pull” the shade across our vent screen area. I left the other end intact which had a stiff rod through it and a small fastening area (on left end below). I felt this would add some stability as this would be the end that will be unrolled/rolled up to stow the mesh.

I used the Scotch brand traditional velcro squares below. I did NOT use the heavy duty click together type which the velcro adheres far more permanently to your surface and these are usually what I use for far heavier items.

Shade with retraction part cut off (right edge). Velcro squares is what I used to attach rear end of shade to vent trim in our bedroom ceiling.

I then applied 3 pairs of 1″ white velcro squares on the cut end of the mesh.

When I work with velcro I match up the two parts of the velcro first, then remove the clear plastic sheet to expose the sticky side on one side- afix into place where I want it. On this project that was all done on the kitchen counter. Then when I am ready to install I peel off the clear plastic protector on the other ends and push entire thing into place. This method takes the guess work out of trying to line each piece up properly.

This cut off end will be attached to the rear edge of the vent shroud trim piece. I did not use removable velcro squares but you can find them in 3M product lines, though they might be rectangular and thinner- they will work. The mesh piece is not heavy so HD velcro is not needed. In the photo below you can see the 3 sets of pairs of velcro.

NOTE: I chose to put the black side of the mesh towards the roof vent. I felt that having the white exposed to our bedroom would make the mesh far less noticeable on the ceiling –as I plan to just roll it up and stow it on the ceiling. If you prefer, with using the velcro squares it is just as easy to take down completely when not in use- but the velcro will wear out quicker. The instructions on the package if used in a car application said the white to the outside, black to the inside of the car.

When you go to install the velcro squares to the fan trim piece be sure that trim piece is really clean. Ideally clean with a little rubbing alcohol first, and dry to ensure a great seal of the sticky back velcro.

Three pairs of velcro squares spaced evenly at corners and center. This photo shows the mesh hanging down. Notice I opted to put the black side to face the vent screen. The width as bought was perfect, no cutting needed! Pardon the dusty screen on fan!

Next step for me was to hold those velcro tabs in place a bit just to ensure they are well bonded to the plastic wide fan flange. I let the mesh hang for about 15 minutes as part of this process.

Next step was to hold up and extend the shade, using the original tab on the end that has the bar reinforcement in the hem. I held it up as taught as possible but not so tight to put pressure on the 3 sets of velcro on other end nor to obstruct or push against the rotator motor that hangs down.

Once I found that right point, I installed one more sticky back velcro square to the ceiling and one to the top side of that tab so the mesh would stay in place covering the vent screen area. There is still plenty of “air space” gap on each side so that the vent works properly. Using velcro here makes it easy to open the mesh to take down or to make adjustments on the fan controls if necessary when mesh is deployed.

Pictures of the complete install are below– Since the white side faces down and it is so light weight, I rolled it up and secured it with two blue laundry clamps, like clothes pins that I had handy. I will buy some small white ones to use permanently. As it stands right now, we plan to keep the mesh rolled up and on the ceiling and unroll as needed. Not the prettiest of hacks, but we believe this will surely solve the problem of sun beams on our face!

Total project time, about 15 minutes.

Black out mesh screen fully deployed. The little fold in one edge was how it came from package.
Finished with use for the day, simply roll up and clip to itself inside ends.
I will replace these make do blue clips with smaller white ones soon!

Materials needed:

Pull down style car window sun blocking mesh screen

Scissors (to cut off retractor bar end and trim mesh if needed)

White Velcro sticky back squares (3M makes removable ones too!)

If you do this project, please let us know and post pictures of your own to inspire others!!!!

As always, stay safe, have wonderful journeys and hug your Avion!

Loose windows? Here’s a quick fix!

WHY? People have had the windows on their Avions blow open and get broken off of the rig when a gust of wind hit their rig while going down the road or in a bad wind storm. Don’t let this happen to you!

When we owned our 1973 Avion, 28′ LaGrande Model we noticed that one of the three prior owners had put on some “make do” hardware that held the windows more solidly closed while rolling down the road or during winter or very bad weather (rain or wind). Below is one of those “make do” clips but overtime it was only functional with our little slip of a wood shim in it! So the time to find a new “fix” was due!

The original after market “make do” window securing clip needed a shim when we bought the 73 Avion!

CAUTION! These old Hehr windows especially the “awning type” which are the one piece large windows that crank open from the bottom out…CAN AND DO have the potential to catch a wind and fly open when rolling down the road at 50+ MPH. In case you do unfortunately lose a window or purchase a reno project Avion, Hehr does still make awning style (and Jalousie) windows and some online companies also carry a limited amount of dimensions. NO ONE in our research makes the rounded front curved windows that flank your center front window so please baby those fixed windows- we also have them in the rear bedroom of our ’87!

*note, since purchasing our 1987 32S Avion (jalousie window style) we do not have this issue with rattling or fly open accidently windows but we still make double-triple sure they are fully secured before we begin towing because if open even a little bit the wind could catch the smaller pane of a jalousie and pull it open to and strip your window crank system in the process. It seems the issues of rattling windows is more prevalent with the awning style windows found on pre mid 80’s models.

Additionally, some of our window torque operators (those little metal boxes that your crank handle fits into to raise the window out) were less than perfect, wear out quickly due to soft metal gears inside and did not always “snuggly” hold our window shut.

ABOVE- Sill Torque Operator, for LEFT side
ABOVE- Awning style window on our 1973 Avion opened and you can see the Torque Operator installed on right side of this window with its arm extended, cranked out.

WHAT TO DO TO PREVENT WINDOWS HAVING A MIND OF THEIR OWN??

We purchased these simple metal “shelf clips” at our local hardware store. https://www.lowes.com/pd/Hillman-20-Pack-0-25-in-Shelf-Pins/3013872

They are cheap, come in boxes of multiples and made for a decently attractive but functional solution to ensuring our windows were all securely closed to prevent accidental opening during trailering.

We put a stainless steel screw into the pre-drilled hole and the “pin” which is intended to fit into a round hold in a bookshelf wall is actually what holds the window closed. (sorry evidently did not take a photo of this before we sold our 73 Avion!)

Another closeup of the original “clips” that had been installed on our 73 Avion by a former owner to prevent window rattle and secure when towing to prevent possible blow open and ruin!

Part of our routine before we got underway for a trip and then when we arrive to set up at our campsite was simply to take a cordless power drill and unscrew the stainless screw to be able to rotate the clip away from the window frame to allow the window to open. We did not remove the clip entirely, merely rotated out of the way so it was ready to be deployed again to do its job once we were packing up and making ready to leave our campsite.

Last but not least….we cannot stress enough the importance of a “WALK AROUND” safety check BEFORE you tow your RV 2 feet! The walk about is Luisa’s job so there is a second pair of eyes on the hitch area and all its hook ups, etc. This Walk-Around will be where you check to see that all of your windows are secured down, if using clips like we outline above, they are engaged and tightened, awnings latched/locked in place. I will be posting a complete other “walk around” post to go into more details on this very important safety standard of practice.

Be well, happy travels!

Luray, VA Jellystone-Campground Review & Tips about the Skyline Drive!

We took a 3 week long, 3341 mile trip in the Pewter Palace beginning on May 28, 2021.

After a quick boondock stop at our favorite Cabella’s in Hamburg, PA and a four day stay at Camp Belvoir (Military Travel Camp-see separate reviews for military camps we are very fortunate to be able to stay at) we landed wheels at the Jellystone Camping Resort in Luray, VA on RT 211. We were there the first week in June.

WHY CHOOSE THIS LOCATION?

-Very close to the Skyline Drive/ Blue Ridge Parkway junction.

-Easy access to the famous, and well worth the visit- Luray Caverns (which also has a bonus of an antique auto museum, heritage village and toy museum all on same ticket)

-About 18 minutes from Cooter’s Garage- a museum dedicated to the legacy of the TV show…The Dukes of Hazard. Complete with autos, memorbilia, interviews, personal props, etc.

-Plenty of local retail, including a WalMart Superstore, gas, other boutique type stores in downtown Luray are all within 10 minutes.

Cooter’s Garage- Museum & Gift Shop. Daisey’s Diner was not open when we were there. The diner has very limited hours. There is sufficient parking for RVs if you get there early or just before they close at 5 pm. There is a field to east side for overflow parking.

CAMPGROUND REVIEW-AMENITIES, SITE, CAMP STORE

This campground is a Jellystone so most of the attention is towards families, kids and fun. However, during our visit that is not what we found. We honestly felt that the facility was “milking Covid restrictions” in our opinion by having most of their amenities either closed or on very limited scheduling. (note, by the time of our visit the Governor of VA had curtailed all closure restrictions, mask restrictions, etc. and masks were only required for those not fully vaccinated to enter businesses or closed in public spaces.)

For example, here are our observations.

The Pool Complex: Their pool complex is beautiful but….the four nights we were there, the water slides (evidently weekends only till mid June) and splash pad were not open, only 1 of three pools in the pool complex was open at any given time (appears they rotate which one is open) all others had caution tape strung around them (looked pretty tacky), the pool side snack bar was not open at all. The jumping pillows were open limited hours- so kids liked that. There was no posted adult only swim times, no hot tub and no scheduled activities for anyone/age group that we were aware of. On a plus note…..Their mini golf course was open and in very nice condition- perhaps one of the nicer ones we have seen at a private park. They have tons of golf carts to rent and this seems to be a major event for most campers here. They are very expensive and have a 2 day minimum rental. We have never seen so much cart traffic in a campground. Folks here do not like to walk.

Ariel view from their brochure of pool complex, jumping pillows, fishing pond (catch/release), mini golf, etc. It is a nice resort, but do not expect full service until after middle of June.

Here is a link to their full scope of amenities…there is a lot. BUT-We did not see any evidence any were open except what is noted above. https://campluray.com/attractions/

Campstore Clamp Down! What really was a big turn off for us was as you walked around their very large and well stocked camp store there were signs on nearly every shelf, every hanging display and everywhere we turned that basically said…”Do NOT Touch any items unless you plan to buy them” and this they claimed was due to Covid. This was overdone and in our opinion totally a big turn off and ridiculous! Seriously???? does this mean that the management points to items they want to buy in the local supermarket when they personally go shopping for their families?

Our Site: originally we were booked (online sight unseen) to site # 97, a corner site which is typically our preference. Upon arrival it was clear the site was very unlevel, our streetside neighbor way too close and way to short for our 56 total length. To their credit, when I phoned the desk, they were very pleasant and accommodating and allowed us to immediately relocate to a pull through site #181. Most sites are lightly graveled with spotty grass. They do have upgraded sites on the ends which have concrete pads and better maintained- are they worth the extra $$- for you to decide! Our site was pretty average, nothing grand for sure, no views, width was good and it was much more level, directly across a big lawn where the rental cabins are. It was fine and certainly close enough for us to walk to the pool complex, etc. Without being self contained it would have been a decent hike to bath house facilities.

Location, Location, Location: The biggest factor for us to stay at this campground was its location and proximity to hop off the Skyline Drive and only have to travel a short way on a state highway to the campground. The Skyline Drive does have an entrance fee but once paid is good for 7 consecutive days. The Skyline Drive is beautiful and was our favorite. There are ONLY4 ENTRANCE points to the Drive,

Front Royal Entrance Station near Rt. 66 and 340

Thornton Gap Entrance Station at Rt. 211

Swift Run Gap Entrance Station at Rt. 33

Rockfish Gap Entrance Station at Rt. 64 and Rt. 250 (also the northern entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway).

An entrance pass is required in order to enter Shenandoah National Park, whether you’re driving on Skyline Drive or hiking in from the boundary. All entrance passes are valid for unlimited entry for seven consecutive days, beginning on the date of purchase. Entrance passes may be purchased online or at any of our entrance stations.

  • Shenandoah Entrance Pass – Single Vehicle – $30.00 Unlimited entry for one vehicle and all passengers for seven consecutive days, beginning on the day of purchase. Vehicles must be private, noncommercial, and with a seating capacity of 15 or less.
  • We have my NPS Senior Lifetime Access Pass ($80 one time fee) so for us the entrance was totally FREE. The campground’s location is a great hub and spoke location with easy quick access to Luray Caverns, local shopping/services and all it has to offer and to Cooter’s Garage a fun attraction on the other side of town (still on RT 211 heading west towards Interstate 81). We actually did Cooter’s on our return trip home at the end of our vacation since we were traveling RT 81 Northbound.
One of the first overlooks on the Skyline Drive heading south from Front Royal entrance.

Nuts and Bolts…. campground WiFi coverage was fair to lousy and the park was not at nearly full capacity either! So if you do not have your own internet booster/hot spot you are pretty much out of luck. We did better just using our Verizon MiFi hot spot. Fact–do not plan to have cell or any type of signal when touring most of the Shenandoah National Park.

WOULD WE GO BACK? probably not. I believe there are other campgrounds in close enough proximity to the northern terminus or middle section of the Skyline Drive near the caverns, etc. that warrant our business. Understanding we are not big into campgrounds geared towards young families anymore (used to be and still do when grandkids are with us) but rarely do we use most of the amenities that those types of campgrounds justifiably have to attract families. On our return leg of our trip we stayed about 25 minutes north of Luray, at the Shenandoah River State Park (SRSP). A drop dead gorgeous park, river swimming, kayak/canoe launch, pavillions. SRSP campground is smaller in size, no amenities (pool, etc) but very new and beautifully set up. Super nice, clean bath house, shower facilities and laundry room. I will do a SRSP review in more detail with photos, etc. once i complete it and cross link it here.

SHOULD YOU DO THE SKYLINE DRIVE?

ABSOLUTELY! IT IS A FABULOUS DRIVE, 35 MPH, “WOW” AT EVERY TURN AND OVERLOOK. We thoroughly enjoyed our drive and our time in the Shenandoah National Park for the week! If you are a hiker you could easily stay a month in the Shenandoah NP and not see or do all you would want to!

Happy Travels, stay safe, stay hydrated and enjoy every mile! If you like this post, please comment- subscribe to our blog to get notifications of new posts! We have a lot more coming about our big journey through the Shenandoah’s and Smoky’s including some amazing photography and more campsite reviews of state and national campgrounds!

Sneak preview Video, Our big Bathroom expansion VIDEO! just for our Blog Subscribers!!

We have completed our walk through video of our BIG Avion trailer mid bath expansion project!

As loyal subscribers to our blog YOU GET TO SEE IT FIRST!

If you LIKE this video please give it a “thumbs UP”, if you disliked…a thumbs down.

If you have not checked out the many videos we have made over our Avion ownership, or trusted other bloggers videos we have in our YouTube library now is a great time to explore. Happy travels in 2021!

4 Little fixes… Big Helps with RV travel & living!

Living “little” has its challenges…living little and on wheels presents even more! While we are not “full timers” quite yet, we do spend a fair amount of time on the road and camping in our vintage 1987 Avion 32 foot travel trailer.

On this snowy, 13 degree day here in upstate NY I thought I would do a post about some of the little hacks and items that I have found make trailer life and travel just a little easier.

I am in charge (primarily) of the interior decor and liveability of our Avion. I like a warm and homey feel. I also do not want to spend a lot of time taking out and putting away those decorative items and touches each time we set off for a new RV destination or trip. So in my quest to find ways to “fix in place” items…here are my go to products in no particular order.

We don’t speed, we prefer 60MPH on highways but that does not mean that things stay put…this helps!

Pro’s: clear, works well on non-porous items like china, glass, plastics.

Con’s: does not work well on vertical applications, melts in warm weather/high heat, not good for heavy items

I use a variety of items to help some of my pictures, collectibles (yes, after 30+ yrs of antique collecting I could not quite give up that obsession completely) and decorative items that I want to “stay put” in our Bavarian-decor themed RV.

For china, glass and non-porous items I use Rock N Roll clear gel putty. Link on Amazon. This product is good for things that lay flat on a counter or shelf. It does NOT work for items held vertically or in high heat climates. (yes, this is a testimonial…been there, done that as it dripped down my wood wall).

For vertical items such as pictures, textiles or wall decor I use a combination of heavy duty Velcro with sticky back, 3M hooks or velcro strips then I will also use Quakehold! Museum Putty which is a waxy, thick putty. I have used both the “collectors” and the “quakehold” versions with positive results.

Our faux Deer Head Mount/clock is hung with a 3M hook strip then bottom corners secured with a pea-sized blobs of Museum Putty on either bottom corner. It has not fallen once!

Museum putty does not seem to melt in higher temps, it also works on wood and textiles better than Rock N Roll putty. Both products do allow you to remove your stuck down item with a twist and pull. I will often put two pea-sized blogs of museum putty on bottoms of frames. Roll the blobs in your fingers/hands to warm up and become pliable then place on the bottom corners of hung pictures to keep them from shifting around and possibly marring our original, beautiful Avion wood stained walls.

It may sound funny…but paper towels that “Stay Put” are also a blessing.

Viva paper towels are the only paper towels I have found that actually cling to each other on the roll. So as you “roll down the road” they do not “unroll” off your dispenser! You will note, I also use a vertical paper towel holder (on our Amazon List) and this helps as well and this one in particular is weighted and has a rubberized base. I have yet to have this dispenser move more than an 1″ on our front counter shelf during any trips. Please let me know if you have found any other brands with similar features. Viva are a little more pricey than other brands but they also are very absorbent and do the job!

Using cotton mesh shopping bags to hold fresh produce, breads and such saves precious refrigerator & counter space!

Cotton Mesh Grocery Bags: We used screw in large “safety” cuphooks (the kind with the little tabs so the hook is closed) and hang these mesh cotton bags to hold tons of stuff from apples & bananas to bagels and loaves of bread. These kinds of foodstuffs take up tons of room in an RV refrigerator and typically these items do not lend themselves to compact stacking. Using these bags they are handy, off my counter top, easily in reach and items stay circulated with air! The added bonus is when empty they are the signal to take them down and bring them along shopping to the grocery store to restock up! I found these on Amazon.com. NOTE: I do not recommend leaving them hanging in place with items in them if you are on the road. I unclip them from the hooks and simply place the bags with their contents in my sink or on my dinette cushions during the trip and hook them right back up once we have arrived at our next campsite.

Not for your carpet but for your mattress! This gripper rug pad helps to keep mattresses on the bed board foundation while you roll down the road!

While not all RVs have this issue, our ’73 Avion with the mid coach twins did and so I share it with you here. Our 87 has the rear twins and in between them is a night stand which prevents the mattresses from “taking a walk” while we roll merrily down the road.

But for those of you with RV mattresses who do like to “walk” I have found that cutting up this TrafficMaster Premium Gripper Rug Pad we purchased at Lowes did the trick! We bought the 8 x 10′ size, cut a piece for each of our twin bunks. P.S. Use any left over pieces in between your dishes and pots and pans to prevent rattle, breakage and scrapes.

We placed the gripper pad directly onto the wooden bed base under the mattress and wholla— no more sliding mattresses! The waffle texture and breathability also helps a little to protect your mattress from lack of air flow = mold issues. NOTE: for maximum protection of our mattresses we also use the fiber layer made by MattressInsider.com which is a stiff full 1″ of breathable layer to prevent any moisture issues from under the bed storage (cold) space and from body heat being trapped in the mattress. I have seen way too many moldy looking bed boards, walls and mattresses in other peoples photos of their RVs! I have a whole blog post just on that layer with links to product, etc. A breathing mattress is a happy mattress!

All or most of the items I have mentioned above can also be found in the shared AMAZON list we have on our Pewter Palace Resource/Links page. We constantly add new items, this list is for our readers benefit- we do not get any kickback or credit from Amazon.

Hope these 4 little tips/hacks help! Let us know what you have found a great trick/hack in the comment section below!

Be well, stay safe and happy travels!

-Luisa

A Tribute to our RV Travelers…Reddy & Anna

Pets are a blessing….but there are also reasons NOT to have pets when RVing. I cover both in this blog post….

2020 was certainly a challenging year for everyone with all the issues surrounding the novel Coronavirus 19. Many lost loved ones…and we did not escape this either. There were things beyond our control in 2020 that touched close to our heart more than any other…..

On December 7, 2020 our beautiful 13 yr old Reddy crossed over the rainbow bridge. Reddy was a purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who died 3 yrs and 3 days to the date since our first “Cavy” Anna also crossed over the rainbow bridge also at the age of 13. This blog post is a tribute to both of our beloved dogs- who were by far the best four-legged traveling companions we have ever met. But I have also included in this post reasons why we have chosen NOT to get another pet this close to going into full time RV living.

We rescued Reddy (yes, she is the Blenheim coloring of red and white) 7 years ago as an adult dog and she and Anna (the tri-colored ) enjoyed years of RV travel with us. Both lived the lives of princesses with us, they were truly our children. They absolutely loved car rides, loved being with us on camping vacations because that meant they had us “24/7” while RVing. The instinctively knew this and as soon as we started our ritual packing for a trip you could see their excitement building.

Here is a chronicle of photos of our two girls mostly while we were camping either in our ’73 Avion (our first) we owned from 2015-2020 or our ’87 during the summer of 2020.

It was Reddy though that really got into the camping mode, especially after losing her pal Anna in December 2017. Reddy wanted and needed to be with us humans even more to fill her daily and abundant companionship and “snuggle” quota.

She loved walks around campgrounds and RV parks particularly because she, unlike any other female dog I have ever owned, had to sniff every tree, every rock and every blade of grass where another dog had been previously. As she grew older and had less stamina due to her increasing debilitating heart condition we resorted to purchasing a dog/cat stroller so she could do the rounds at rallies, and long walks around campgrounds which we all continued to enjoy.

If ever there are dogs who seem perfect for RV living it is Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Ours at least, did not jump, did not bark, are small enough to pick up and carry when needed in a sling or pack and loved car rides no matter how short or long.

But we knew from experience with them on the road RVing that once we went full time, it is far more difficult to maintain dogs on the road. Surely many full time RVers do, but there are considerations, limitations and other things that must be considered if you are totally honest. Kevin and I had vowed, once our two pups were gone, if it was even remotely close in years to the time we were going to begin full timing…we would not get another pet to have full time onboard. Here are our reasons—be they selfish, one might say yes. But we also know in our hearts that we provided our two rescue Cavies with the lives of princesses while they were on this earth…and none can ever replace the love they had for us and we for them.

While there are many, many reasons why people choose to have pets, especially dogs while they RV (companionship, safety, security) I just want to offer some food for thought on why we have chosen not to get another dog while full-time RV living:

Reasons to consider why NOT to have a pet while being a full time RVer:

Size matters: You are living in a very small “tiny home” on wheels. Pets take up some of that space with themselves, their food, their bedding, perhaps their toy basket, other pet equipment. Small dogs are less of an issue…the bigger the dog, the more space they need to share with you.

On the road health & upkeep Especially for older dogs, health conditions warrant accessibility to vet services, be that routine or emergency. There is not a great “chain” network of vet services, some have found PetSmart or others can fill this gap, but its not the same. Keeping up with required vacinations, check ups, medications, etc. needs to be a consideration- especially if you are campers who like remote boondocking locations, or plan to cross borders into Mexico or Canada. There are additional issues with border crossings and pets. Pets also can bring fleas, ticks and lots of mud, sand and dirt into RVs- just be prepared for more cleaning and proactivity to keep away fleas and ticks.

Climate Considerations: When we travel, we like to be fluid and flexible and if we want to stop for a meal inside a restaurant, visit a local attraction or quaint downtown enroute…what do we do when its 90 degrees and our RV is parked in a parking lot with no hook ups? Similarly, what to do if it is 30 degrees outside? Do you run the AC or furnace while you go to the attraction, or take a 4 hour hike so your pet is safe inside the rig with climate control? We love our Avion, but all aluminum trailers are like a tin can heating up in the summer sun! In truth we already experienced this issue many times even while we have been only in our vacation-mode of RV travel and for us this is the leading reason why we will not have pets once we full time. Call it selfish, but we are choosing this lifestyle to be flexible in our travel and to explore and see this beautiful country. So having a pet inside your trailer poses restrictions on flexibility of site seeing, meals, hikes, etc. YES, perhaps a local pet day care could be the answer—just needs advance research and planning-and is an additional expense to your trip budget! Rover.com I believe is an option some have used.

RV Parks & Campground Restrictions: Some parks, even state parks and national parks have restrictions on what area or # of sites where they allow pets. Most if not all campgrounds we have encountered forbid certain breeds of dogs entirely. Be careful of your selection if you value the flexibility of where you can camp around the USA! This could cause issues when finding a site in high demand times of year or locations. Many National and State parks do not allow dogs on trails at all, so again, leaving Fido in the trailer must be accomplished somehow in potential extreme weather conditions.

Campground Etiquette: We were very fortunate in that our Cavaliers never barked (seriously we heard Anna bark about 4 times in 7 yrs and Reddy 7 times in 7 years). This cannot be said for other dogs we have encountered or know from family experience. So if you have a dog that does not do well when left alone, and/or is a barker (or rips apart the inside of your rig) this is a big issue that could in fact, get you tossed out of a campground. NO ONE wants to be camped next to an RV with a barking dog inside or outside. We camp for peace and tranquility.

“Clean up on Aisle 5”—yes, you must walk your dog and pick up after them. Look for dog walk designated areas if the park has them. Not a biggie…but it must be done in rain, sleet, snow, wind or stiffeling heat…just like the Postal Carriers!

Golden Rule #1- walk your dog on and keep them on the campground roads, do not let them go into other camper’s sites which are someone’s “front yard” for the weekend, week or month. It’s like that saying…”we don’t swim in your toilet…so please don’t pee in our pool”

Golden Rule #2- if you know your dog does not like or get along well with other dogs as a rule, then please walk them in a more remote location of the campground so that barking at another dog or God forbid a dog fight or getting lose does not ensue. (We were at a rally where a Great Dane on a leash with his owner nearly had our little 14 lb Reddy for lunch!)

Golden Rule #3- if you do have your dog outside your camper, make sure they are securely tied up or in an escape-proof pen. If they tend to be a pup that tries to bolt out the door of the camper every chance they get to “break free” be prepared. (at another smaller rally we attended in 2019 a dog that got loose was gone for hours in the woods while the “search party” of fellow campers tried in vain to find her).

It’s 10 PM—Do you know where your Fido is?? I was greeted by a wandering huge (thankfully docile) dog last July at a rally when the owners were packing up their rig to leave and no one had thought to secure the dog on his leash…he meandered over 8 sites away to see what we were doing! When I brought him back and put his leash securely under the leg of the picnic table, his owners were surprised…they had not even realized he was gone!

So here’s a toast and tribute to our two sweet girls in heaven. We will have their clay paw prints and their pictures in our Pewter Palace and remember them fondly as we travel down the backroads and highways for sure.

Be well, have safe journeys. Treasure your four legged loves.

Here’s to a FAR better 2021 for everyone!

—Luisa

sharing 5 Problem-solver tips for rv-travelers

I thought I might give you a list of 5 “problem solving” tips, items or techniques that we have learned in our years of RV camping.

Enjoy and please let us know what other “problem solvers” you have discovered! Please leave comments in the “leave a reply” field!

RUN AWAY PAPER TOWELS!

PROBLEM SOLVER #1: VIVA BRAND PAPER TOWELS

If you have had the problem of entering your RV after a trip and finding that as you “rolled down the road…so did your paper towels and they have literally unrolled themselves from one end of your RV kitchen to the other….VIVA brand solves your problem!

Viva brand do not unroll with road vibration and movement. In fact, they actually stick to the roll and require you to “peel” a towel off. They are admittedly a little more pricey but they have an excellent absorbency rate as well as they stay put! Worth it in our mind for sure!

MY CHAIR MAKES HOLES IN MY PATIO RUG!

PROBLEM SOLVER #2: FURNITURE GLIDES

Many of our RV park or boondock sites we have found have very soft or sandy surfaces where we put our patio carpet out on. We have a large 6 x 20 carpet we use, purchased from Camping World it is the plastic weave type which is great for durability (we still have a smaller one that is 6 yrs old and fine) and dries well without molding.

BUT, because of the “weave” we found that the leg ends of our camp chairs would penetrate through and cause a lot of stress on the plastic fibers.

We had some heavy furniture glide discs (hard plastic on one side, foam on other side) that can be bought at any hardware or big box store.

We store the discs in one of the side pockets in our chairs so they are always handy and have found they do the trick to prevent any potential ruining of our patio carpet. We have not found we need them on our little table simply because there is never enough weight on the table to cause the legs to poke through the carpet.

RUN AWAY MATTRESSES!

PROBLEM SOLVER # 3: ANTI-SKID RUG MAT

In our Class A motorhome and in our 1973 Avion we were constantly finding that our mattress would slide off the bed board and be askew when we were finished traveling for the day.

We purchased a package of the anti-skid area carpet pad at Lowes and cut it to fit just about 1 inch in from the perimeter of our mattress. There are different grades/qualities and we found this one did the best. Problem solved, the mattresses no longer move and this also provides a buffer zone of a waffle of air between your bed board foundation and your mattress which prolongs the life of the mattress and helps prevent mold and condensation on the bottom of the mattress.

REMOVING STICKERS, BUGS, TAR AND MARS ON THE ALUMINUM SKIN

PROBLEM SOLVER #4: THE BONE TOOL

We learned about this invaluable tool from fellow RV (Airstream) long time travelers. The bone tool is versatile, affordable and takes up no storage room. Especially on the aluminum skin, owners of Avions and Airstreams have to be very careful not to mar the skin by using anything that will scratch, discolor or eat away at the aluminum. We have found we use the bone tool to help get the rubber window glaze bead into place, scrape off old unwanted stickers from the aluminum and fend off extra stuck bugs and even tar from our rig. We have this tool linked to our shared Avion Amazon list on our blog under our LINKs page.

GOSH MY MESH FAN SCREENS ARE FILTHY!

PROBLEM SOLVER #5: PET HAIR ROLLER

We found on our 1973 Avion that a simple sticky tape pet hair/lint roller did a fabulous, quick (and no water necessary) job of cleaning off dust, grime, and dirt from our vent screens. No need to even take down the screen if in a pinch for time, or on a trip. BTW if your screen looks dingy we repainted ours with an ivory colored spray paint that said it was ok for fabrics. It worked great!

PetLovers Lint Rollers for Pet Hair Extra Sticky 6 Pack - Lint Remover for Clothes

Well that is our 5 tips for this time! Hope you found one or more of them helpful!

Be well, Be Healthy…..Enjoy your travels!

Please visit our online shop at www.MyAvionMarketplace.com for our uniquely designed, fun and useful Avion and AS themed clothing, gifts, trailer and household items. Lot of items are on amazing sales right now for the holidays!

-Luisa

cumberland bay ny state campground- review

Sometimes, just a “short get away” is the perfect stay!

That was the case when Kevin and I chose a camping trip to Cumberland Bay State Park this autumn. We were super lucky to even get a beach front site with only a week advance booking! Then again, it was September so weather in this part of NY can be chilly—but we had great weather in the 70s during the day and 50s at night. Perfect!

This NYS campground is part of the (Reserve America) NYS system in nearby (2.5 hours north of us) Plattsburgh, NY. This campground sits just north of the city and directly on the huge Lake Champlain which serves as the link boundary between NY and VT to the east.

CLOSE IS NICE SOMETIMES!

We love basically where you see the word “Falls” on the map above. That is Glens Falls NY.

Getting there from our home in Queensbury, NY is a beautiful and easy drive north on I-87 “The Adirondack Northway”. If coming from VT you can take the Ferry that leaves from Grand Isle, VT. FYI- the Adirondack Northway, RT 87 is also our direct way to Montreal, Canada just 3 hours from home. The Northway itself is a beautiful road passing exits for Lake Placid, Ausable Chasm and other notable and beautiful scenic trips in their own right. Those locations really deserve their own dedicated camping trip.

Here are links to the campground and reservation system.

RESERVATION WOES

Please note, unfortunately NYS in trying to do a “nice thing for campers during Covid-19” opened up their reservation booking window through 2021. In my opinion it would have been OK to allow NYS residents to do this, but it was opened for anyone to do. What has resulted is 99% of all decent campsites in the state park campground system have been already booked through next year and I suspect many by out of state campers who may or may not ever really use that reservation. Sadly, i think most of this was to grab up sites…but in reality I bet many of these reservations will be unused or cancelled. I am not alone in this perception. What it has done is closed out many NY state residents from enjoying camping in campgrounds our state tax dollars pay for. Many fulltime RVer’s are discussing this same thing on their YouTube channels and blogs so NYS campers are not alone.

ABOUT THE CAMPGROUND:

Our front yard at Site #46.

The campground sits right on Lake Champlain but also includes a day-use beach area so we suspect during peak summer months this place is going to be a lot busier, noisier and bustling than our sublime autumn getaway. There are only really 6-7 sites that are “direct waterfront” and we were thrilled to get one of these. There is a large 4 foot “sea wall” style barrier between the campground and the beach. There are some places where there is a set of stairs to get down onto the beach as well. The beach is very wide, very well kept. Along the wall there is a walkable sidewalk which many folks used too. We honestly feel that our adolescent grandsons will have more fun at this campground with the beach and bike riding than they did at Jellystone!

Sites 43 to 48 are the only sites that are truly water front with no obstructions of this beautiful view!

We had site #46 which was a great site for our 32 foot travel trailer. It was also the widest of all of these beach front sites too. Our top choice recommendations here are in order: 46, 43 or 47 due to their length, width and scenic value. They are also on lawn but do not have really any privacy buffers between sites.

The sites that are on the same road but directly opposite our site are ok but beware they are quite sandy and not very well kept up as of Fall 2020. Also, some of the sites in this campground are very short so do trust the “max length” notation they have when you are making a site selection.

These sites along the beach row are NO HOOKUPS! In fact, most of the sites in the campground are no hook ups. They have built nice new bath houses around the north end of the park up on the hill. The southern end still use a large older bath house that was OK. The campsites opposite from the beach front sites (shown above) do have electric only. These tend to be where you will see a lot of large 5th wheels.

We boondocked with no issues at all. There is a water fill spigot on the way into the park on the right side of main drive and a very modern, 2 lane, dump station as you exit, or if you are there for longer and don’t have your own porta-dolly and need a mid-stay dump, the access is very good and easy.

While camping we used the main beach house toilets quite a bit besides our own RV bath. The public day use bath house is only a couple years old, very ADK looking, beautiful and very clean and modern. It was only a short walk from our site. there is a very nice children’s playground there too with rubberized ground pad which is always very nice.

The fellow campers at the campground were very nice, all were very cognizant of the need for face masks and social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation. It was very quiet, reserved and peaceful and we really enjoyed just relaxing watching the throngs of Canada geese who came in in the morning then the other water fowl who came in at other times of the day. They seemed to be taking turns!

We stayed four nights (thurs through Sun) and while there is not much to see and do directly around the campground itself or within walking distance, just a 5-10 minute drive you are in the City of Plattsburgh a great place to check out!! The city is home to the State University of NY at Plattsburgh (SUNY Plattsburgh) and also an international airport due to its proximity to Montreal so this creates a nice downtown vibe.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN DOWNTOWN PLATTSBURGH!

A DAY TRIP OR OVERNIGHT TO MONTREAL IS CLOSE-BY!

Also, for those who may be staying a little longer and looking for a super terrific full “day trip” Montreal, Canada is only a 1 hour 15 min easy drive by highway. The border crossing will add a little time to this but if you avoid commuter times you should be ok. Downtown historic Montreal is fabulous with great shops, dining, the underground and more! There are not a lot of easy access campgrounds near Montreal so this might be a great day trip or even overnight option! (if you bring your RV over the border, remember there are in-bound and out-bound food restrictions on things like beer (limits) and restrictions on fresh meats, veggies and fruits, etc. Check the border crossing sites before you end up having to throw good food into a bin at the border!)

NOTE: We did not go to Montreal on this trip since the borders in/out are closed due to Covid-19. Besides, we live only 3 hours south of Montreal so we can go anytime once the borders re-open.

Besides…why go anywhere when we saw this each evening while enjoying our own wine, beer, cheese & crackers while we warm up around our portable Outland LP fire pit! This was literally our view from our site. Deep breath……ahhhhhhhh.

We left our picnic table where it was, though they are moveable. We loved meals right next to the waterfront!
Our evening sunsets every night were like this. Simply beautiful!

Just a few more photos of our stay at Cumberland Bay State Park. We had a wonderful time, in fact, we tried to book a stay for next summer and should not have been surprised all of the waterfront sites are booked solid from June through mid-September. Bummer! but we will be back!

Reddy loved Cumberland Bay State Park too!
Trying to show here that the beach is literally at the end of that grass line that you can see!

We hope you do check out Cumberland Bay State Park for yourself and enjoy the relaxation of the park, but also the great offerings in downtown Plattsburgh.

Looking for awesome “Avion-branded” gifts, clothing, camping gear or decor? please check out our exclusive designs at MyAvionMarketplace.com

Let us know if you go! We would love your feedback!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman proud owners of a 1987, 32S Avion!

QuiCk Take!- No Microwave? No “reheat” problem!

Let’s get it right out on the table now….we do NOT have a microwave in our Avion trailer. We did not have one in our prior Avion trailer. We DID have one in a 32 foot class A we owned for 5 years...it was a great breadbox!

To Microwave or no Microwave…that is the question!

Our ’73 Avion was not made with a microwave in it. We did not want to destroy the pristine original cabinetry either. So we did a critical review of how we (I) cook, what we cook, space considerations. Before we tore into those pretty real wood cabinets, we would camp in her at least 1 season first before installing a microwave to do a real eval of if it was needed. That summer, due to our house being on the market (yes, it had a microwave on the counter!) we LIVED full time in our 28 foot, 1973 Avion travel trailer for 3 months. NOT ONCE did i miss my microwave. Decision made….we do not need a microwave as long as we practiced a little ingenuity along the way for reheating items normally “zapped”.

This same trend continued when we bought our 1987, 32 foot, S model Avion just as the Covid-19 pandemic was hitting in March 2020. She was delivered to us in April, by June the original huge, heavy clunker microwave was on the trash heap. The cabinet that once held it now has been usefully repurposed to hold kitchen contraptions I DO USE…my Instapot, my small sized air fryer, my mini Belgian waffle maker…and then a felt bin that holds batteries, quick little tool box and my sewing box. It will probably hold my portable sewing machine for the first few years of our full timing…cause I just wont be able to part with it yet! LOL

Our new cupboard also sports a hinged lift up magnetic blackboard purchased on Amazon that fit perfectly and was already wood framed and i just added a bit darker stain to match our cabinet colors. We installed two Earth Magnets on the ceiling which hold the door open by clamping onto the metal pull. See photos below

BEFORE….check out the size of those 1987 buttons! The thing weighed 47 pounds!

AFTER……

SO HOW DO I REHEAT RESTAURANT LEFT OVERS? OR THE MID MORNING COFFEE??

When we carefully analyzed what we normally eat, drink and reheat it was apparent that the 2 fry pans, 1 lid and 2 pots are all I need in my kitchen arsenal to do all my cooking (we also cook on grill or fire pit outside a lot too!). When “living small” (we are in less than 200 sq. feet) the name of the game is to strive for everything you have can be used for at least 2 or more purposes.

So for an example….recently we treated ourselves to a big lunch out at the Vermont Country Store restaurant in Weston, VT. The portion of “Northerner” Mac n Cheese I got was heaped with BBQ pulled pork and delicious but enough for two meals.

How to reheat leftovers with pans you routinely use:

To reheat this type of meal so that I could keep in the moisture (like a microwave does esp. if you use one of those plastic plate covers) I did this…

(1) Put a piece of aluminum tin foil a little larger than my small fry pan into the fry pan. Shiny side facing up towards you!

(2) Put my leftovers in center on the foil, create a loosely folded packet

(3) Place large fry pan on the burner, place smaller fry pan with foil leftover packet inside on top of it.

This is just before I poured in the water to create essentially a double boiler!

(4) Now pour enough water into the LARGE fry pan to come up to about a half inch from lip of smaller fry pan. Place large metal fry pan lid cover over top (yes, handle of smaller fry pan makes it so it cannot close completely. If you do not have a lid, lay another piece of foil tightly over the top and tuck under

Tip: If you have a smaller round cake pan to fit inside large fry pan that works best. I do not carry cake pans in my trailer…I bake in my instapot or air fryer if the mood hits me.

(5) Turn on the burner- I used medium heat initially then turned it down to low once water boiled, allow the water to boil in the large fry pan, heating the inner one. Keep an eye and replenish water as needed so you do not burn it dry and ruin your pans.

Essentially I have created a moist heat, buffered by two layers of metal so the leftovers do not burn– a Double Boiler of sorts. The steam also created under the lid heated the foil and created a perfect environment for luscious, reheated and a very yummy moist 2nd Mac N Cheese dinner!

OTHER REHEATS…

Left over coffee….use a saucepan!

Potatoes? par boil, wrap in aluminum foil and grill over fire or on LP portable grill

Aluminum foil packets can be used for tons of packet cooking options. Load in veggies, like potatoes, onions, squash, tomatoes, some spices, olive oil or other marinating type of fused cooking oil and put on the grill above the fire, or you can even bury the packets somewhat into the coals themselves.

Reheating steak and other meats- TIP– I learned from a chef long ago to put a lettuce leaf on the top to exude moisture but no flavor into the meat when reheating. Use the same two fry pan method I show above!

WHAT IDEAS AND TRICKS DO YOU HAVE? I would love to hear from you!

–Luisa

Adventures with a Vintage Avion Luxury Coach Camper