As we close out 2019 Kevin and I wanted to thank each of you for subscribing to our Pewter Palace blog and following along on our posts, our travels, our tips and trials of RV life.
We are sending you all our best wishes for happiest of holidays, good health and good cheer and we truly hope that our paths cross in person someday soon!
Above is our 2019 Christmas card that I made up as part of the wonderful Avion Fellowship Christmas Card exchange now in I believe its 2nd year. Deb O’Connell, out in Indiana coordinates the sign up and list process and we send cards to over a dozen Avion owners across the USA and into the Ontario Province. Some we have met in person, others we hope to meet someday on the road at a rally or with an arranged “meet up”.
The list of event on the back of our card is FYI only. Sadly there is no way while we are still both working full time that we are able to attend all of these rallies. But we WILL get to all of them once we retire, (at least attending the one in Texas and Arkansas at least every few years).
Our plans for 2020 rallies/events include the following as of right now:
July– Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in Elkhart
September– TCT rally (all makes, models, not just Avions) at Sampson State Park in the NY Finger Lakes
We love rallies…we love folks who appreciate “vintage”…but what we really love (now and then) is NOT having to travel through four states and over two days to get to an event. So you can imagine our utter glee when Beth Holcomb, a brand new TCT (Tin Can Tourist Club) member took on the mantle of responsibility to create and host a brand new vintage trailer rally only 35 minutes from our home! Yeah!!!
The event was supported by the national TCT club which also provides its members who are hosting events ideas on hosting a successful rally as well as some required guidelines to ensure that their TCT members get what they expect from great TCT events. Beth and her husband and events helpers did not let us down! It was a super rally.
The event was held from August 1-4th at the Whispering Pines Campground in Greenfield Center, NY. This location was only 8 miles north of Saratoga Springs which of course was humming at full steam in the middle of its annual Saratoga Race Track Season–but our campground was quietly nestled off the beaten track, tucked into a woodland setting complete with a couple nice ponds (bullfrogs were even respectfully quiet to my surprise!)
Since it was so close to home, Kevin was able to get Thursday off and arrived to set camp already on Thursday afternoon. I arrived after work on Thursday and commuted back to work on Friday. It was really nice for me even though it meant I went from my normal 1 mile commute to a 40 minute drive!
All total for this first rally there were 12 vintage trailers!! WOW! That is terrific for a first time rally and we all congratulated Beth for her efforts. She had done a terrific job of providing a lovely goodie bag for each site as we checked in…complete with Saratoga sparkling water, signature chocolate and bag of Saratoga Potato Chips-all yummy!
Thursday evening there was a welcoming pizza party. Most units were in by then, with a couple still arriving on Friday. We were thrilled to meet up with several attendees we knew already from the TCT Sampson State Park rally we have attended now for the past two years. Ellie and Gail were both their with their rigs. Ellie has a 1973 Airstream that she has renovated, and Gail set up an adorable outdoor display on her rig and has a terrific set of flags on display. Gail also was a hit when she wore a poodle skirt during open house on Saturday! (below is Gail winning a trophy too)
Friday was a free day where gallivanting around the area, heading to the track or shopping on Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs was encouraged. Several intrepid hikers also took a hike up to alocal historic fire tower. (one attendee’s dog decided to go AWOL and take a hike all by itself causing Ellie and several others to go hiking just for him for over an hour!) I missed all the excitement since I was at work. Kevin enjoyed camp, relaxing, taking Reddy for walks- oh how she loves camping and meeting other dogs, people and sniffing every blade of grass and tree!
Saturday morning we had a very nice Continental Breakfast with fresh homemade baked goods made by the campground owner. The husband and wife team here did a lot to make us all feel very welcomed and comfortable. Whispering Pines is an older campground but they do have a nice looking pool and although we did not see any, they have a cool fire truck that gives rides around the campground on select days. As with many campgrounds today there are a fair amount of seasonal sites, but where our rally was “down below” in the flat area adjacent to the small pond and near the main camp store and registration area. Site sizes were decent, some back in sites were short but just fine for the shorter vintage trailers. We took site 25 since it was a pull through as we were definitely the longest rig set up with 50′ overall between our trailer and tow vehicle. Their Tamarack Room was a perfect location to have group meals, meetings, etc. and very comfortable and worked perfectly for our rally size. Their camp store is minimal but in a pinch I am sure you can find most “forgot to bring that” items. Kevin and I did not use their bath facilities, but I understand that showers are $.
Saturday during the day we did host a “open house” from 12-4 where folks who were in modern campers as well as our rally attendees were invited to tour any of the vintage trailers/campers who were open. We loved having JP & Sue Barber visit us for the afternoon since they live minutes away. The Barber’s are fellow living history reenactors (but we tried hard to convince them that vintage camping is where its at- and far more comfortable in dog days of summer!) Open House time is always fun and we love chatting about and showing off our Pewter Palace, but as usually happens, we get so busy we end up not getting to tour other rigs ourselves! Not to fear most rally go-ers will gladly open their door to other attendees anytime. We are all extremely proud of our rigs and love to show them off.
We were so thrilled that there was LIVE MUSIC during the open house time. This was a first for us to have and it really added a festive atmosphere to the day! You wil see a bit of the music going on in the video down below.
Here is a slide show of some of the other rigs that were present at the rally:
There was a judging component to the rally and taking away first place was Chad Sherman (we are still checking to see if the other Sherman family there are relatives…probably!) Here is a video of Chad. We were blown away by the fact that his parents, his other brother and he EACH have their own vintage rig. So cool!
Saturday evening we were treated to a yummy Pork BBQ dinner complete with all the fixin’s and a “Historic Saratoga” presentation by the director of the Saratoga Historical Association. The awards presentations were fun and everyone joined in.
Sunday, for a change since we did not have a long drive we enjoyed the morning. There is nothing better than enjoying breakfast, fresh brewed coffee outside under our awning in a bathrobe. I love camping in our Avion!
We look forward to even more events hopefully happening in our area or into VT or even MA in the future. Not sure Whispering Pines will be able to handle this rally as it gets bigger since the area we camped in has only water/electric and their bathroom and shower facilities were up the hill a ways for those who are not self-contained. Having the campground’s Honey Wagon pump us out Sunday morning was a big help and saved us having to weave up into the back end of the campground just to pump before heading out. But there are plenty of campgrounds in our area and we are sure with the great turn out of this inaugural event that there is pent up demand for more rallies in eastern upstate NY!
2019 marked the 100th birthday of the originalTin Can Tourists club and we were excited to be part of honoring its rich history. The best part of THIS particular rally was that there were 17 Avions!
More about the history of this international club can be found here at Tin Can Tourists can be read here on their very interesting history page.
We joined TCT in 2017 when we purchased our 1973 Avion travel trailer. Its super affordable at $20 per person per year. This grants you access to their forums, newsletters, TCT swag, and of course, to attend TCT rallies that are held all over the USA! This club promotes safe, fun camping and camaraderie among fellow campers. It does focus on antique, vintage and classic camp trailers but is open to all modes of wheeled campers, motorhomes, and car/tent campers and no longer has a mandatory vehicle age to join as long as members support the goals and mission of the club. It’s no wonder that the club theme song is “The More We Get Together”. We certainly can attest to them holding up these goals. So far we have attended TCT rallies 2 times in the Finger Lakes of NY and this trip put us square one in their large Centennial rally which was held at Camp Dearborn in Milford, MI and have had terrific times. We will look forward to hopping around the country once we are full timing and attending more and more TCT events.
We arrived on Monday, May 13 at Camp Dearborn in Milford, MI. This massive city-owned park has a very unique history itself and is filled with a variety of camping options. TCT uses this camping site annually for their Fall rally which is well attended. But this spring Centennial Rally had over 170 rigs registered…for a total of over 350 attendees which was terrific. Even more terrific was the sheer variety of the rigs that converged! I took so many photos that I am going to put most of these into slideshows on this blog in an effort to save space. However some of the trailers were just SO notable that I have chosen a select few to post their photos individually as well as our photos to show what a great time we had and our campsite.
Our campsite at Camp Dearborn all set up….Site 98 (paved site, huge 8 person table, fire ring with full hook ups, 30 Amp service, special rally rate I think of $37 per night) which was right on what could be considered the 100% corner intersection which was awesome because we had such nice sweeping views of the campground and no one on one side of us since it was a corner lot. Also, the bath house is right across the lane if that is important to you.
We had been experiencing some very chilly and rainy weather along the trip, but as soon as we got to Camp Dearborn it seemed the Sun God decided it was time to give us a break and it reached into the mid to high 70’s nearly every one of the 5 days we were at the rally. Perfect camping weather!
The Centennial rally boasted a nice selection of group activities each day. Not too many to where you feel you are on a hamster wheel but each evening there was a different nationality themed dinner. (actually we would have liked to see a few more “how to” or other types of learning/sharing workshops during the day as options to attend). Italian, French, Canadian, Polish Buffet dinners all were good. It was actually fun standing in line with 100’s of fellow “Canners” and those lines moved fast but allowed all of us to get to know each other. The “big tent” was also the site of live band music 2 different nights, a few slide shows, safety workshops, new member welcome and the Centennial Rally Dance which touted a “Roaring 20’s” theme that we dove into (well, I dove….Kevin came along for the ride as a wonderful husband will do!)
Here is a slide show of some of the unique campers that I took photos of. These certainly are just a sampling of what was there. Kevin and I enjoyed taking full walks around the entire massive campground on their paved roads at least 1 x per day to see what had just pulled in since some folks started coming in on Monday like we did, but others continued to come in all the way up to Friday afternoon. So each walk held new surprises to see!
One of the special features of this particular Centennial Rally was that any vintage rigs “Made in Michigan” were specifically featured and showcased. TCT did that by issuing each of us a special commemorative sign that we had out and could keep. Also one evening a guest speaker did a great presentation on Michigan “wheeled” industry from car making in Detroit to RV trailer making history.
Even our dog Reddy got into the act by wearing her “Avion” sweater I had recently crocheted for her. She also loved her stroller since at age 11 her arthritis gets the best of her on long walks we did around the rally. Many thanks to Avioner Rhonda who has now given me a Travelcade patch to sew on Reddy’s coat to complete the look!
With this “Made in MI” focus, 17 Avion trailer owners descended on this rally and it was so completely awesome to see Avions of all ages, sizes, and levels of renovation!! We met several new Avioners who we had only known of by mutual facebook posts (so nice to put faces with names!) , but also got to get even better reacquainted with several Avion owners who we had met 2 years ago when we attended the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in Elkhart, IN. (which we are attending again this summer!) Truly building these relationships with fellow Avion and other vintage camper lovers is such an important part of our zest for this hobby. We learn, laugh, share and support each other.
HERE IS THE AVION TRAILER SHOWCASE!!
We stayed at the rally until Sunday morning and then pulled out to take a fairly easy time home. We (well, Kevin did) drove 7 hours through MI, OH, PA and into NY along Interstate 90.
As part of our trip home we overnighted at a winery who is a member of Harvest Host which is a membership organization that allows wineries, museums, golf courses, historic sites, organic and regular farms an opportunity to showcase their facilities by allowing Harvest Host RV members to stay overnight on their property. These are typically boondocking overnights and only fully contained RV’s (motorhomes and trailers) are allowed. No tent camping is permitted. Some hosts we have seen do have some limited hook ups, some will allow a few nights if requested. The impetus of this is that the RVer will support the business by taking a tour, a tasting in their winery, purchasing of goods at their site store in lieu of being charged for a camping stay.
We stayed at Merritt Estate Winery, a Harvest Host member which is a nice place, but admittedly, their parking lot and accessibility could be really challenging if you are not coming in at a very “off” time, e.g. early in morning or definitely before 2-3 pm. After that time of day, if there are any trucks, vans or cars in their parking lot- where they want you to turn around in is going to be really tough unless you are a small camper van or small class A. When we got there, they had not moved a large white truck or van of theirs out of the parking area where they wanted us to turn around in . They say they are tour bus friendly but I suspect that the buses disembark their passengers at the top of the driveway, not below in their small parking lot.
We did enjoy having a nice quiet picturesque site and the wines were good and gift shop had some nice cheeses and I bought three bottles of their wine…so we more than paid for our site in the end. But a Harvest Host site is a nice alternative, and this site was only about 10 minutes off I-90 which made it also convenient. Below is a slideshow of some more pictures of our overnight at Merritt Estate Winery.
A word of warning to fellow Harvest Host members, PLEASE check out their Harvest Host site using Google Satellite before committing to go. Call the host on the phone and clearly discuss what kind of space and turn around area and access they have. These owners (normally non RVers) do not understand the turning and backing capabilities of RVs. Our combined rig and trailer is just under 50 feet long and cannot spin on a dime. One Harvest Host site in OH we had checked out enroute to MI would have been a disaster trying to use, although the owners were very willing to have us stay over.
If you are interested in joining Harvest Host, please use our exclusive 15% discount code! You save money and we get a small referral fee credit (that we put towards future purchases at Harvest Host site gift shops to support their businesses)
Hope you have enjoyed our Part 2 of our Spring 2019 trip in our 1973 Avion. Here is a link to Part 1 (Watkins Glen/Finger Lakes to Frankenmuth MI) if you want to check that out! If you want to be sure to get notifications of future posts and travels, please subscribe to our blog!
Sampson State Park, Romulus, NY was once again the site of the Annual Northeastern Tin Can Tourist Rally September 12-15, 2018. This was our second year attending and we were fortunate to have Thursday as our travel day this year so we could enjoy the evening festivities that night AND be able to select an awesome campsite more in the “hub” of the action.
(Avioners sure to read all the way to the end to see photos of fellow Avions at the rally too!)
Reddy helped co-pilot…of course! (ha ha- you should have heard her snoring!)
We arrived (after a five hour trip) at around 1:30 PM and selected site #53 this year. It was a great choice because we could park parallel to the street, be more in the center hub and also an quick walk down the slope to the concert and happy hour tent and bathroom building (which saves on black water tank use) since this state campground only provides electric hook ups. They have a communal dump station and fresh water fill at end of campground drive. More about that later in another post.
Towing this 28 foot Avion is a breeze. Kevin continues to remark how you hardly know it is there. We average a cruising speed of 60 mph which we feel is safe and comfortable for us, our truck and the trailer. The weather was warm, mid to high 80’s and expected to be that for the entire weekend which for this time of year is very warm. We like 70’s thank you!!
Once at the campground Kevin proceeded with his normal set up routine and I with mine. I have the responsibility of decor, outside amenities and helping with the flag install. This was the first time we were officially using our new flag holder which holds 5 flags. Sadly not all of the ones we ordered came in on time, but we did have our American Flag and our TCT (Tin Can Tourist) flags. I will be doing a specific post on how we repurposed things from Lowe’s to make our flagpoles since the cost of ready made ones were crazy expensive!
Many of the vintage campers had already come in and more rolled in as we were setting up our campsite. Here are some great photos!
These rallies are chocked full of great people and many opportunities to socialize and get to know each other, and their RV’s better. Rarely can you take your pet for a walk, or saunter to the Rec Hall or lavatory without sparking up a conversation with someone else who is passionate about their vintage rig. We feel right at home!
Thursday evening we had a pizza party in the Rec Hall which is reserved exclusively for our TCT group use all weekend. Yes, we indulged in Pizza and it was yummy and plenty pot luck salads and desserts! (these “canners” know how to party and cook!) We also indoctrinated several new TCT members (flash back for me how i totally messed up the theme song last year when we were newbies!) Everyone had a blast!
Friday morning was a coffee and donut informal gathering back at the Rec Hall. These are always great ways to move around, sit with different people and share tips, travels and tales about vintage RVing. Friday and Saturday we also were each allowed to have a “flea market table” at our sites if we wanted to. Luck will have it we still have plenty to sell and were able to sell quite a bit of stuff which essentially paid for our entire trip! Nice!! and it clears out more from our RV garage and home that we need to downsize.
Friday night there was a happy hour under the huge social tent which is set up in the middle of the campground making it easy for everyone to get to. (it is also next to the bathroom pavilion which is doubly handy cause lets face it, there is quite a bit of libations flowing! Happy Hour was at 5 PM with pot luck appetizers. I made cantalope melon bites wrapped in prosciutto then put on skewers with mozzarella balls, and a sprig of fresh mint. Then laced with Balsamic glaze, these little beauties were gobbled up by the over 30 attendees in a heartbeat. They were yummy and perfect for a warm, very warm September evening. A little later we all strolled en-mass up to the Rec Hall at 6 PM for the Famous Mac N Cheese and Chili Cookoff Dinner competition. I did not partake in competing this year, but I brought a tossed salad. Once again, the wonderful food selections were amazing and plentiful with 13 varieties of homemade chili and nearly that many Mac N Cheese casseroles. Add to that tons of various salads and a whole table of desserts and no one would go “home” hungry! We sure did not! It is so great not having to plan to make all your own meals for four days! Wow!
Friday night beginning at 7 PM there was a great bluegrass four piece live band under the social tent. We went close by for a while then moved up to our camper and could enjoy the great music wafting over the lawn while stoking up our own nice campfire. We were only perhaps 100 feet from the tent so it was like our own private concert. We were tired after a full day of flea market sales and giving tours!
(this photo above is actually Saturday night’s impromptu Happy Hour , not on the schedule but we all said….”why not”??!!
You are beginning to see a theme here…..Canners like to party…and EAT! (did I forget to mention that at every evening meal and happy hour there is wine and other non alcoholic beverages!)
Saturday was no exception, first a pancake breakfast in the Rec hall, Come dressed in your favorite RV Jammies contest!…… then Saturday night the catered Chicken BBQ with again a myriad of pot luck dishes and desserts. Check out these photos above!
In between during the day on Saturday we all hosted three hours of an OPEN HOUSE TOUR where most of us have our trailers or RVs open for public visitors and fellow canners to tour, talk with the owners and share stories. I did not count how many visitors we had but it had to be at least 80 people. Some were vintage camper owners who had gotten nixed out of being in the TCT loop because the event sold out this year in 31 minutes! Next year, there is talk to expand into a second loop at the campground so more TCT member can get in on all the special events, etc. that comes with your official TCT event registration package. That would be good.
One outstanding RV this year was just two sites away from us. Called “THE ROCKET” this 42 foot 1956 trailer is right out of an I Love Lucy story! Check out these photos. This was a “field find” with trees and yuck growing out of every crevasse and has been completely and faithfully restored and used quite regularly for camping. It was set up in a Christmas theme this year and totally awesome!
Saturday night was capped off with the awards for Best Lights, Best of Show and Best PJ’s awards being given out at the Chicken BBQ dinner. Fun times and great conversation!
Below is the vintage Airstream that won Best in Show….beautifully restored we believe the owners are from Canada. As participants we do get a list of everyone who has attended with their year of rig, name, address and email so we can keep in touch. Nice again!
Sunday we decided to loaf around our camp in the morning and cooked breakfast (our favorite meal when camping) and savored a beautiful morning having breakfast in our PJ’s at our picnic table. I love morning coffee, etc. outdoors….so nice! By 11 AM most were leaving and so were we. We stopped at the campground at Turning Stone Casino in Verona on our way back to scope out our reservations for the end of the month….we will be out camping again from Sept 28-Oct 5 while I attend a convention at the Casino event center.
I would be remiss without thanking publicly Ed and Miriam Moore who have orchestrated and coordinated this rally for at least the last 5-8 years. They are lovely folks who try and succeed so well to make everyone happy and to plan so many great aspects of this rally. The Moore’s announced they are retiring from coordinating after this year and their successor has yet to be announced, but will have big shoes to fill. It will be nice for Ed and Miriam to be able to actually fully enjoy just being participants next year!
I HAVE SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST! There were FOUR (including us) Avioner couples present at this years TCT Rally and we understand next year a few more are going to make every effort to attend. Since this is an Avion blog I will leave you with the photos of our Avion buddies at the rally!
So this draws to a close the fun time we had once again at the Northeastern Tin Can Tourist Rally at Sampson State Park. Clearly as we get more time to travel we will make attending other TCT rallies in other states a priority. We love the club and all it is about and encourage our fellow Vintage Camper lovers to get involved in TCT!
Info about this year’s gathering of fellow Avion owners has been posted on Facebook. I will try to insert the link below but for some reason the link is not working when I have tried to post it on our Pewter Palace Facebook page. If you have trouble just go to Facebook and search for “silver avion fellowship rally” and find the one that is in Elkhart Indiana.
We may not get to this awesome rally this year just because I only have limited vacation time from work and other obligations and planned travel may gobble up that precious time.
But we had such a good time last year as newbies that I would encourage any Avion owners to attend.
The folks were so friendly and welcoming and we learned a lot. It is so cool seeing the inside of other Avions too!!
Have fun and tell them Luisa and Kevin Sherman sent you!!