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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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:
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
(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!
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!
We ventured about 2.5 hours heading east from our home near Lake George NY to spend a long weekend (3 nights, four days) in the Green Mountain National Forest of nearby Vermont in late August 2020. The drive was over hill and dale from our home in eastern side of upstate NY, peaceful through quaint NY and VT villages and bucolic farmscapes. Closer to our destination, we passed Bromley Ski Area which now also has a full compliment of summer activities including chair lift, bike trails and more. There are several notable ski areas along this route in an easy to reach too.
Sometimes its really nice to just have a short hop, skip, and jump to a pretty local place but that feels worlds away from your normal backyard.
Our destination was Hapgood Pond Campground which is under the management and inside the Green Mountain National Forest. The campground is located in Peru, VT. Peru is a very small backwater village with a town green, one quintessential VT general store ( see slide show below) , an 18th C. church on the green (of course) and a handful of beautifully restored 18th and 19th century houses dotted here and there. Just off Route 11 heading NE out of Manchester, VT, this sleepy town is the perfect and close get away. I have a slide show of the general store and more info below.
Nearby, Manchester Vt offers outlet stores, boutiques, ample varieties of unique, locally-owed restaurants and of course, the Northshire Bookstore which is a destination unto itself. This large store is worth the stop even if you are not a bibliophile….they have wonderful unique gifts, new age, inspirational and spiritual gifts and accessories and some quirky retro gifts and great unique kitchen accessories too! Warning, Manchester can be very touristy and busy on summer weekends, we hit it right because of an anticipated rainy Saturday–the rain cleared out by noon and there were not many folks downtown yet.
Hapgood Pond Campground is beautifully set with surrounding pine and forest lands, it has a beautiful and ample pond with great beach for swimming (sadly the one weekend we were there it was a late August cold snap and only in the 60s during the day so too cold for a swim). It has a 1 mile nice hike trip around the pond is worth the adventure. We did the hike on Saturday starting out at 6 PM and the lighting was beautiful and we had the whole thing to ourselves…quite magical. I suspect in peak seasons of summer weekends the trail could get busy as there also is a day picnic area as part of this 27 campsite park. The campground access road is dirt/stone dust, level and well maintained road which is a little narrow but certainly do-able for our 32 footer. Just watch the one right hand bend. We would not recommend anything larger than 35′ for sure. Please also avoid the sites 17-20 which are in a dead end loop unless you tent or have a small pop up trailer. You will not get in or out with anything bigger.
Campsites: Sites 1-8 are first come first served only for RV/Tent sites. You simply arrive, claim an open site that works for you, fill out the ticket from the main map display and put your payment info and contact info into the lockbox and your reserved ticket on the clip on the site # post. There is an onsite volunteer Camp host whose site is clearly marked as you enter the campground side of the site to the left on the main drive. To the right is the day use only which is also for a small fee.
Most of the first come, first served are very short sites, ok for lets say under a 20 foot camper, perfect for tenters, pop ups or van campers. The creme de la creme for us is Site #2. It is a first come first served but in a great location by the vault toilet building #1, has a water spigot in the site and a really easy access walk to the public beach, pavilion and walking trail, etc. We will definitely look to get this site once we become full timers and with our Senior Pass can book it for like $10 per night…great deal! The rest of the sites are reservable in advance through Reservation.gov website.
This Summer of 2020, Covid-19 and all…..We had reserved Site 26 for three nights, Fri/Sat/Sun in late August ($68.00 total through Reserve.gov) . We needed a restful get away. For our 32-foot length trying to do the online reservations they said they had only 2 sites that could accommodate 30-35 foot rigs. Looking around once we got there, we believe that at minimum sites 24, 26 and 27 (has some overhanging pines we like to avoid) could handle our size of travel trailer.
Below is a photo of our site 26. Nice site, and we would book it again! Amazingly…this is the FIRST campsite in 8 years of RVing that after Kevin backed in, I turned on our LevelMate Pro app and it was PERFECTLY LEVEL SIDE TO SIDE! Wow! that never happens! We only had to level front to back. That was awesome…bravo to the campground staff for their maintenance! Our Verizon hot spot provided some decent upload and download speeds, my cell was pulling 3 bars consistently at our campsite.
Site 26 was very comfortable for us. Nice large, deep fire ring, huge long picnic table in very good condition, the site was clean, cleared and with just a little maneuvering Kevin got it backed in. NOTE: the water spiquot and bath house/very clean vault toilets are directly opposite the campsite and close to the road edge enough so you do not have the flexibility of going a little “off road” to angle into the site. But he managed fine. We did take our front hitch storage tray that holds our generator off before trying to do the back in angles.
FYI- You are in a National Forest so…..These sites are NO HOOKUPS! The campground is pet friendly. There is no electric, sewer, cable hook ups! if you are used to these conveniences, this is not a place for you. Our site was quite shady with some beautiful sunny rays during the morning through late afternoon hours, but enough shade that we suspect even in hot summer days the shade would greatly help keep the camper interior heat level down. We did run our generator a few hours each day just to keep the batteries topped off since the are a bit on the old site and not lithium ions. Due to the cold snap and rainy day on Saturday, we never had use of our AC nor even a fan. Open windows and nice breeze was perfect.
Every other camper in the park was super respectful of all Covid-19 mask and other precautions. There was no noise issues, everyone kept their manners and cleanliness in the vault toilets which were cleaned daily, no smells, no trash and very well built *aka no spiders, etc) and ventilated. The best we had seen so far in “government campgrounds”. It was truly one of the most peaceful and restful camping weekends we had in a long, long time. Bless you Vermonters!
There is a palpable difference when you are camping in a National Forest or State campground with very little amenities or activities versus a private campground hell bent on having every bell and whistle, every type of kid oriented activity, playground, pool slides , etc. This National Forest campground was bliss!
Saturday after we ventured into nearby Manchester (about 20 min drive) for lunch and about a 1 hour stroll around to shop. On our way back, we also stopped at the adorable general store in “downtown” Peru where the campground is located. Clearly the store knows its prime clientele is the transient campers. It was the quintessential Vt general store with lovely fresh foods, baked goods, local and Vt made gifts, basic housewares, RVer last minute “whoops I forgot this!” items. I loved it–its cozy, well kept, modern of inventory but quaint in style. The locally made VT smoked cheese we bought was delicious as was the shared chocolate cupcake. They boast take away sandwiches and pizzas to order. Next time!
BTW Hapgood pond is a result of an early industrial revolution era dam put in place to power a mill. A typical story in New England and outlined in the story board near the beach and rustic, nicely maintained pavilions where larger family groups could have a nice picnic together.
Here is a photo slide show from around the park and our hike.
While spending an enjoyable rest, we got a little itchy after a rainy Saturday so by Sunday afternoon the weather was beautiful and we wanted to explore more of the Green Mountain Forest itself. So using our maps we found at the end of Hapgood Pond Road, heading north, then west you come onto Forest Road #10 which is a nicely maintained, unpaved road. It is ample in width and in super good condition (better than some RV parks!) but with very little pull offs and definitely NO TURNAROUNDS FOR RVS! We did this as a day venture just in our tow vehicle, our 2011, GMC 2500 Denali,4WD, Crew Cab and had no issues. However about 1/2 way through thinking this would be a great place for a dispersed camping site persay.. the RED FLAG happened!!!
CAUTION!! midway through our 1.5 hour back road Forest Route #10 there was a very high pitched replacement cement bridge (see in slide show below) that literally went up on an 75 degree angle over a span of maybe 6 feet!! Our RV and anything shy of perhaps a small camper van would have bottomed out royally or gotten stuck on the top of the crest!
That being said, the ride through the forest is one we would recommend. There is an access point to the “long trail” of the Appalachian Trail inside the park and many other trail heads that looked inviting! There are 4 dispersed Tent sites that we saw but none of them were very remarkable or nice. One along the stream was ok, it was at the eastern most end of the road.
The pristine greenery kept us in awe, the long forgotten apple trees in one area reminded us that at one time, perhaps 100 years ago this area was finely tended and was cleared farm land…all now reclaimed by Mother Nature into a thick, native woodland.
This bridge pitch may not look super steep in this photo but it was! Your RV would turn into aTeeterTotter with NO where to turn around and go back!
Our last little adventure was to take a trip up to the NE to Weston, VT which is along Route 11 North from Peru. It took us perhaps 25 minutes tops. Weston is home to the ORIGINAL VERMONT COUNTRY STORE! Since the 1800s the same family has operated this store in this little village. (They do have another store nearer to Brattleboro but it is more touristy I think, they also have a huge website and publish a catalog. They are known for selling long forgotten housewares, candies, cleaning items and hard to find health and beauty items)
We enjoyed our Sunday morning there, with little crowds, a yummy lunch outdoors in their picnic area (restaurant closed due to Covid). They are known for their homemade Mac n Cheese and I had the “Northerner” with BBQ pulled pork or’ top mac and cheese deliciousness. It was enough to have a full portion for dinner later that night. Kevin had a Reuben special and ranked it well among his many tests of this culinary delight from around the country he has had. I dropped some coinage in the store, always willing to support local businesses and off we went to our trip on Forest Road #10 into the depths of the Green Mountain National Forest itself.
Our trip came to a relaxing close on Monday morning as we savored our final breakfast meal and began our pack out regime after I checked my emails for work and did some correspondence. Getting out of the Site 26 was far easier than getting in, but again, we would book this site again now that the “angling” to get in was mastered on the first try.
It cannot be underestimated that sometimes, just a 2.5 hour drive can bring you such a new perspective, new vistas to see, new moon shots to honor and the peacefulness of the forest to reinvigorate the soul.
We will definitely will make Hapgood Pond Campground in the Green Mountain National Forest an annual (or at least biennial) stop on our camping itinerary in the future. We may even stay a week or two once we are retired and spending our summers in New England…so don’t take our Site #2!
Stay safe, enjoy the journey! Reddy certainly did-below she is sacked out on MY lounge chair just like the Queen of the campground she is!
Kevin and Luisa
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By our grandson’s “popular demand” we booked another weekend trip to our local (45 min north) Jellystone RV Campground ( formerly known as Paradise Pines Jellystone I think). It had been two years since we had taken them there. This park is located just off RT I-87 in North Hudson, NY. Very easy access. Close enough to visit area attractions of a Buffalo Farm, Lake Placid, The North Pole, Lake George and Fort Ticonderoga on day trips as well as other small lakes and rivers that dot the eastern side of the Adirondacks.
We booked especially to go on their “SPOOK-TACULAR” Halloween themed weekendwhich was awesome to say the least. I did get our site and Avion all decked out and it was a big hit with the grandsons and nearly everyone in the park threw us mega compliments and thumbs up! Right from the entrance point to the park and all over the park they had huge blow up halloween themed decor which was really great. Many of the campers also decorated their campsites and rigs. We all got in the mood!
This campground is a favorite for those with small families, afterall who can shrug a hug from Yogi or Boo Boo right??
The park is a simple 45 minutes north of us into the Adirondack Mountains on Route 87/The Adirondack Northway. Once you exit for North Hudson, the campground is a minute up the road on the left.
We had site # 15 and were very pleased with this site for our rig. It easily accommodated our 32 foot long Avion and had full hook ups. There we are on the right
** We originally booked site 137A online based on the online map. WHOA! do not go by that map and do not book that site or site 137 which everyone will walk through! We did a reconnaissance trip 2 weekends before and 137A is what we would call an “after thought site”. It appears there are a few of them at this campground where they are trying to SQUEEZE every last inch of turf to fit some level of RV into it. Not good. However—The staff was extremely accommodating and very pleasant as we did a drive around the park to view on my phone app to view what was still available. She gladly rebooked us for Site 15 (there were only 3 sites left!) and we were very pleased with this customer service.
This pricing below was reflective of a 2 night stay. Premium Water/Electric/Sewer 1 $206.00
Adults on Site 2 $0.00
Children on Site 2 $0.00 Pet(s) 1 $10.00 (yes, Reddy costs extra, but we love her enough to pay!) VIP Site Lock-in Fee 1 $15.00 (I opted to get locked into our site, no surprises!) BYS Fee 1 $10.00 (this is an extra fee paid to the online booking company) Subtotal $241.00
Deposit Paid $133.90 (required % when booking online)
We actually ended up adding Thursday night (special rate deal only $50, so we could arrive then or earlier than 2 pm check in on Friday) so we ended up having a slightly higher bill in the end. But we love getting in there on Thursday before everything fills up and we can set up and relax before the family comes too!
Very kid friendly park (lots of kids–hey, its a Jellystone so expect that please!)
Our Site 15 had easy access to bath house/showers and in the other direction the game hall, pool and other amentities (though not much doing because of Covid19 restrictions)
Close to home for us- nice for a change!
Their camp store is one of the best we have every seen for not only gifts and food incidentals, but their supply of RV gear, parts, light bulbs, and all sorts of hardware is better than some RV dealerships we have been to. Seriously! they do a great job with that!
5.Decent hook ups, though at this park their sewer runs slow during dumps so be careful!
6.Nice level site, large area in front for kids to ride bikes and play. Our “lane” was a dead end this time which was much better than 2 years ago when we backed up to the playground (nice) but were on the main entry road for all rigs to come and go (not nice)
7. They pick up your trash at your site. Someone is always patrolling and that is a great perk they offer. We love that feature at campgrounds.
8. We totally enjoyed their adult, larger pool again this time. Tip- go early when it opens at 9, stay till about 11 then hightail it back to your campsite before it gets super busy! Evenings it will calm down again too over dinner time and later.
9. If you do not want to cook, the owner does a lot of BBQing of hamburgs, hot dogs, sausages, etc. and I think even breakfast sandwiches at the main store area.
10.Totally AWESOME Haunted Forest Trail!!! We cannot say enough for this themed “spooktacular” weekend. Wow…the trail was long, very high caliber of actor volunteers, scenes and set stages. The kids were petrified (ages 7 & 5) but we adults LOVED IT! It also was no extra charge or tickets required.
Overall, this park is tired. Most of the outbuildings really need repair, roofs cleaned off and a freshening up.
The main bath house and shower pavilion for our whole northern section of the campground is old, still has the same missing formica counter top pieces from 2 years ago and really sorely needs a total upgrade. The shower area is a little better and at least does have private doors to each stall with changing areas, etc. NOTE: there is NO handicap toilet stalls or accessibility features in this bathroom building, perhaps the newer one near the snack bar and main office does have H/C features–so you should check on this if that is a need.
COVID-19 CAUSES LESS ACTIVITIES….Not their fault but many of the activities that our grandsons LOVED last time 2 years ago like the “bubble party”, the Hey Hey Hey rides with Yogi and the bounce pillow and, dance party, etc. were either not happening or were really transformed and toned down due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. The hey rides, little train ride and bounce pillow did not run at all this weekend.
TIRED MINI GOLF….The boys did get in a round of Mini-golf with us. But the mini golf area is also not maintained the way it should be. There was debris and garbage on the ground that clearly had been there for a long time. The boards of the various # holes were moss covered, rotted away in some sections and so slanted now you cannot take a good hit. But it is in the shade and they had fun…so we played along.
LOTS OF STAFF BUT WHAT DO THEY DO? Ironically we saw tons of staff at this park. Not sure why the maintenance seems so lacking. The Activity Director, Meghan was bright, bubbly and did a nice job with the bingo game that Sarah and I treated ourselves to. Not sure why they held it on the front porch instead of the open air rec hall but whatever…I WON coverall and took home $21 so whose complaining right??!!
DEFERRED MAINTENANCE- again, our picnic tables both at the Yurt and at our site had rotten boards, not maintained. Some adjacent sites to ours did have the metal base tables which looked better. Our premium site did come with a raised charcoal grill if you needed it. we used it to set our Weber on!
YURTS ARE NOT UP TO PAR FOR THE COST…Our daughter and her husband rented one of the Yurts just across from our camper. It was small, stuffy and had horrid air fresheners going to mask the musty, closed in smell, 2 sets of bunk beds, a small kitchen kind of set up (no running water) with a microwave, refrigerator (quite big) and a plastic table/chair set. It did have A/C and also did have zip down window curtains with screens. They said the beds were like sleeping on boards. They had deep hard foam mattresses. You have to bring everything else. They determined the Yurt was definitely not worth the money they are charging. Also, they had NO privacy since a tiny tenting site was squished in on the side of their Yurt space and they were not quiet campers. There was no housekeeping done to the Yurt between renters it appears and we felt like we had to do a once over sanitizing. Yurt renters have to walk to the bath house for all their needs, washing dishes, showers, etc. too.
KIDS POOL AND SLIDE AREA VERY HECTIC AND FULL….We did not use the kids pool area. It was WAY over crowded for our personal feelings about Covid protection and need for social distancing. I did hear someone on staff taking names later on in the day while we were at Bingo so it does sound like they were doing what they could to “schedule” folks to use the pool to avoid too much close contact. They did have sanitizer in the pool area with rags asking each person to wipe down any chairs and tables they used when they were leaving (to be honest, we totally did not remember to do that!) Perhaps one of those staffers could have been assigned to do this and monitor behavior in the pool areas too?? The children’s area pool with swirling large tube slide is really way too small for a family/kid oriented themed campground like this. Almost seems like they need to invest in a new large kids pool area, or build another pool ONLY for adult swimmers. A hot tub would be nice too…but only if it is “adult only” restricted. We will often search for parks that have those amenities for adults only (yes, ok, we are getting old and crabby!)
Like I had said from the start, we booked this trip to Jellystone because our grandsons asked for a camping trip here again this summer. Will we go back? Probably not and that was the consensus from my daughter too. If you do go, any of those sites along the side we were on at site 15 are we believe the best sites in the park. There are a lot of other kid-friendly campgrounds that have as much if not more to offer and are better maintained.
Hope this review helps….We appreciate any comments you may have. Safe journeys!
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We have had a request to post some photos of the exterior, aftermarket “clips” that were on our original 1973 Avion, 28 foot LaGrande.
Here is one of them below.
A previous owner had put these on because, lets face it, those window crank mechanisms are far from reliable, or sturdy.
Last thing you want is your window to accidentally open enough to catch a gust of wind as you tool down the road and bend the window frame out of alignment or worse, rip it off!
We suspect you can probably find similar clips to the original ones on our Avion in a good hardware store that has screen door replacement parts too.
Along the way, we had to add and also replace some and what we used was actually those small shelf support holders that you see in some bookcases, kitchen cabinets, etc.
SEE BELOW for what we found worked. The rounded pin end was what was against the window frame and held it snugly in place. We reused the original holes from prior “safety clips” that were either lost or lost their ability to hold the window and used these clips below with a small screw in place.
Using these make shift safety clips does help in preventing the inadvertent opening of your window when going down the road at 60-70 MPH (we never go over 60-63 MPH when towing!). Those window cranks are not failsafe and can over time fail to hold your window securely closed. We have read where especially when traveling in high wind areas where windows have opened enough to be sheared off.
Just remember, if you do go the way of installing these or similar types of clips, you will need to bring a portable power drill with Philips head on it to loosen them up once you get to your campsite so you can rotate them out of the way and open your windows. We do not recommend taking them completely out every time (you will lose them and you may prematurely strip the holes)
Hope this short article helps! If it has…let us know with a comment!
Let us know if you have come up with another idea on securing your windows from accidental opening when towing!
We all have issues with “SPACE” in our RVs. Anything I can do to reduce weight in storage AND space in my cabinets I am all over it!
MAJOR KEY to Happy RV-ing (and your significant other not repeatedly telling you to downsize more!)…..is totry to have each item (or most items) you have on board have at LEAST 2-3 various uses.
Multi-purpose items are the name of the game when you are traveling and living in less than 210 square feet like we do.
PS: I have included links to purchase ones I have saved on my Amazon Share list for RVers at the bottom of this post. (no we do not get kickbacks from Amazon on this, just sharing to be helpful!)
THIS IS ONE OF MY BEST SPACE SAVING, MULTI-PURPOSE KITCHEN GADGETS!
A collapsible, fold-able, stainless steel dish drainer which doubles as extended hot pad AND extension of counter space when laid over your sink! Hey that’s a “hat trick!”
I love it so much, the original one I ordered (from Amazon and arrived in winter) never left my apartment kitchen! I use it every day and had to order a second one for our Avion! LOL
Flexible Stainless Dish Drainer! Watch my video to see its many uses!
What is also awesome about this gadget is that you can also cut it to any size that fits your sink(s) best. In our 1987 Avion I happen to have a gorgeous Corian huge, deep sink with a side bar sink. So I have the flexibility of using the drainer exclusively over my bar sink and I have found I can actually stand up my dinner plates as they dry, leaving plenty of space for all the other dishes, cups, etc. to dry at the same time. Simply cut through the outer rubber edges of this gadget to make it custom fit to your needs!
DID I MENTION HOW COMPACT THIS THING IS?
Yeah, they make collapsible dish drainers and small single sink ones specially for RVs (I have tried both) but you still have to either leave them in the sink or find somewhere UNDER your sink in the cabinet to store it….that takes up precious space!
Here is what this dish rack looks like when rolled up! Seriously!! Basically takes up the same size as package of spaghetti out of the box.
MULTI-PURPOSE IS THE NAME OF THE GAME in LIVING SMALL!
How many alternative uses can you find for this great gadget??!!
Oh right….AND it is a great place to dry dishes so they drain into your sink not all over your countertop!
So are you convinced? I was so thrilled with using my first one when it arrived in winter and our Avion was in winter storage, I had to order a second one for our Avion!
Once we go full time in 2022, I will probably trim down the first one, cutting it to exactly fit my side bar sink so i can leave it in place and then roll up and use my larger full sized one when i have more dishes to do, need a counter top extension quick or…cool off that fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies…yum!
Here is the link to our LINKS/RESOURCES page on our blog home page. Look for the Amazon list that I share. You can find this roll up dish drainer there in two different sizes as well as tons of other items we use routinely in our Avion RV Life!
Happy and safe journeys! WE LOVE TO HEAR YOUR COMMENTS ON THIS BLOG OR ANY OTHERS!
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Best, from Kevin & Luisa Sherman
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