Category Archives: Gadgets We Love!

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

Great Kitchen Gadget-Flexible Dish Drain Board!

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 to try 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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

Please subscribe if you are not already a subscriber so you get a direct email when we post a new blog topic!

Best, from Kevin & Luisa Sherman

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Don’t forget our AVION TUESDAY TALKS — LIVE ON ZOOM!  

Different topics every week (or most weeks that is!).

Check our Facebook Page for current schedule!

Avion Tuesday Talks 8 PM

 

Looking to Connect with Avion Owners?

What are you doing at 7 PM (EST) on Tuesday nights? 

Join us for a live, virtual chat ZOOM meeting with fellow Avioner’s from all over the USA (and the world)!

If it is one thing that this Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic has taught me, it is how to connect virtually with people in meaningful ways despite not being with them in person.

For my work, I have become very proficient at hosting live ZOOM meetings (you can start a basic Zoom account for free!) and have found that these LIVE virtual in-person meetings have enabled my colleagues, friends and family members to share stories, tips, timely topics and even share documents, photos, etc. in a meaningful easy way.  SO WHY NOT DO IT WITH AVION OWNERS?  LET’S GET TOGETHER TO “TALK AVION!”

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SO…..Kevin and I are launching “Avion Tuesday Talks” –weekly topic —  live chats via ZOOM at 7 PM (EST).  Each week, we will have one manageable topic and hope to attract long time Avion owners to brand new owners….and everyone in between.  Even members of any of the Avion Facebook groups who are still “in the market to buy their first Avion” are welcomed.

Suggestions for future topic talks are always welcomed by shooting us an email, posting a suggestion on our facebook page or posting a comment on this blog anytime!

NOTE:  These meetings are best joined by you using a laptop with built in camera and speakers.  PC’s with audio and video are fine too.  Cell phones are ok but a little clunky to get the best experience.

My Pewter Palace Zoom account can handle up to 95 attendees.  Right now, I am also doing just the free subscription so our chat can only be 35 minutes (yup, i know i will have to put the timer on!).  If this catches on, we will explore upgrading to the paid service where longer 1 hr chats can be done.  But lets crawl….before we walk and see if the interest among Avioners is there first!

HOPE YOU WILL JOIN US AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD!  You can find the events listed by date on ourPewter Palace facebook page under the “events” tab.  This is where the topic of the week will be listed as well as the direct link info to log in and then join us at 7 PM.

Not familiar with Zoom??  It is super easy to learn and use!  Here is a terrific tutorial to view before your first live Zoom meeting!     Watch now!

Keeping Away Mice!

It’s winter….not much to do but dream of our future travel and do frequent garage checks to ensure no unwanted four-footed visitors are enjoying our Pewter Palace as much as we do!

On many of the forums, being winter, there is lots of discussion about keeping varmints, specifically MICE out of your rig. Be it stationary camping-anywhere but especially boondocking, a few nights, or tucked away in storage for winter…these pesky rodents can get into even the smallest of crevices!
 
found on Google…you can chose to believe it or not…(we do!)
“Bobby Corrigan, noted rodentologist and award-winning pest management consultant, states that if you can put a #2 pencil into a hole, a mouse would be able to get through it as well. Others like to use the dime as an example of the width a mouse can exploit.”
 
Our preventative steps to rodent prevention:
  1. Sealed up any unnecessary gaps between vent stacks, electrical inlets, etc.
  2. Use Fresh Cab sachets  all around the rig including: bottom of every closet, under bed storage, bath cabinet bases and in winter all over the place. They have a very mild lavender and pine scent and are 100% natural.  Also–safe to use around pets!

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3.  Maintain fresh supply of BOUNCE fully scented dryer sheets under mattresses, in closets and cabinets (next to the FreshCab), in between stored linens and clothing.

4.  When on shore power (and through winter in our storage garage) we maintain a white (or clear) colored bulb LED rope light that goes in a complete loop all around the ground underneath the perimeter of our rig.  Mice and other varmints like rats hate light.  See photo below, this is in our year round storage garage.

5.  When boondocking we use solar powered spot lights that we put out each morning anywhere we can collect the most sunshine, then position them to shine overlapping each other on the ground at the edges of our four corners of our rig….yeah….pretty much making a “lit stage” under our Avion.

 

Others who RV have mentioned things like the ultrasonic pest plug in devices, Irish Spring Soap, etc. but we have found our combination above has served us well so far both in our Class A for 5 years and now our Avion travel trailer since 2016.   Of course, a cat would help to, but that is not the direction we are going!

FYI-We also have spent over 30 years of weekend camping in historical reproduction canvas tents with sleeping bags and all gear on the ground and we have always found just even the Bounce dryer sheets have done an amazing job of keeping spiders, mice, crickets, daddy long legs at bay for sure!

More about Fresh Cab and other Earthkind company products.  100% natural!

 

PS:  in our storage garage we DO maintain large rat/mice bait traps with poison in them because we also store a lot of household and camping supplies and equipment on shelves in our garage.

If you have any sure fire, time tested ways you have found to repel mice let us know!

Safe and Mice-free journeys!

From Kevin & Luisa

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Winterization, Our Tips and Tricks for Avion Hibernation

It’s that time of year that I am beginning to dread more and more each year….winter is coming!   It is marked by falling leaves, the need to start our car for a few minutes to “burn” off the frost from the windshield and now this weekend….the proverbial need to ready our Pewter Palace for the coming of the winter hibernation.

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This is a photo of the first November we owned our 1973 Avion when we had not brought her to the inside storage yet.  It is recommended by many who own Aluminum trailers to NOT cover them!

Eventually, when we retire we will be doing the “Chasing 70” dance- which for those in the know..is traveling to anywhere and everywhere that it is in the ranges of the 70-78 degree weather around the USA.  Sure we have some specific places picked out like AZ (photo to right)

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I took this photo from about 1 hr north of where my Son and his beautiful wife life north of Phoenix.  It was early October. Can I handle seeing this kind of view out my door each day…you Bet!

and western CA along the Colorado River area and maybe an occasional trip to Fort Wilderness Campground in Orlando for a Disney Holiday fix—but for the most part our map is open to ideas for where to spend our winter months from Nov 1 to May 1 (at least!)

 

But for now…it is a process of putting our Avion snug in “the carriage barn” ( our rented RV storage unit) which keeps her high and dry, away from the elements of snow, ice, and sleet.  BTW for those of you who are contemplating an aluminum beauty, be it an Avion or our cousin the Airstream—please know that it is NOT recommended that these trailers be covered with the traditional RV cover sold at many camping supply and RV dealerships.  The covers can actually mar your aluminum finish and wreak havoc with your rig.  So owners basically have a few options:  they are “chase 70, put her into a garage/RV storage barn, or at minimum put your trailer under a strongly built pavilion/roof that will keep snow off the rig, but is open on the sides.

NOTE:  A simple search on Google will net you all sorts of “handy lists” in PDF etc that you can download and print off to do your check list to button up your rig for winter.  We recommend you check those out.  Perhaps even some of our fav bloggers may have some!

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So, the Pewter Palace is being prepped for winter this weekend and over this coming week.  Here are the basic steps we do and then some of my videos will go into a little more details both inside and out.

  1.  Shut off ByPass to the Hot Water Heater. Lift up the “blow off valve” and get a 5-gal pail and put underneath and unscrew the plug and let hot water heater completely drain out.
  2. Go to the city water and using my air chuck threaded for the water line hook that up.  Use an, oil-less portable air compressor to blow all the water out of the lines.  Kevin set’s it at 30lbs of pressure to blow out the water from all the lines.
  3. Open all faucets and keep them open
  4. Push the pedal and the spray nozzle in the toilet, and also shower head to be sure all water is drained out completely.
  5. Pour RV (pink) antifreeze into toilet bowl , and all other drains including the shower, kitchen and bath sinks and then be sure to pour at least a few inches of antifreeze into the toilet bowl when closed and check the bowl for evaporation over the winter as you want that liquid to be in the bowl to keep the seals moist.
  6. We leave all the faucets open all winter, all low drains open, holding tanks are drained.
  7. Outside, he gets is 2 foot extension for the sewer line and his yucky 5-gal pail and he pulls the black line let it drain out any remaining.  Shut and then do grey water whatever may be remaining.  Take this and dump it.  He takes a little bottle of water and bleach solution to clean the bucket and then store.
  8. Then disconnect the two foot sewer host, spray off with bleach and water solution and let dry.
  9. Put on a winter cap on to the sewer connect.  (he has drilled a few small holes in it for ventilation but small enough that no critters can get in).  It is suggested to spray the black and grey sewer valves and push in and out a few times to lubricate.  We keep our valves out and open to allow air flow.  Our tanks don’t stink at this point!  (also as side note, we highly recommend UNIQUE brand RV Digester.  Check out all about that here in one of our past blog posts:  Its All About the BLACK TANK!

MOVING INSIDE:

Inside is a bit more my domain for winter-ization.  Its become pretty routine now and here is what I do in some basic steps:

  1.  Remove all liquid products (again, our garage is great and secure but NOT heated!) from under the kitchen sink, bathroom sink and also the bathroom closet.  Use them over the winter at home or place in storage closet at home where they can hibernate too till spring!
  2. Remove all food stuffs, spices and anything remotely food like from the rig.  Anything that could even remotely explode with freezing temps, or whose scent might be attractive to starving varmints.
  3. Wipe down the inside of the refrigerator AND freezer area with a mild cleanser that does include either bleach or at least an antibacterial cleaning solution to ensure you have a squeaky clean fridge.  Use some sort of block/holder to keep the doors open for the winter storage time.  Do not let them close! Pool noodles work well.  We already had one of the hard plastic ones from Camping World so use that.  I actually think the pool noodles are better, that hard plastic thing is easy to knock out by accident!
  4. Strip beds, clean all bed linens and place all sheets and blankets from beds into scented (we use Febreeze scented lavender) draw string kitchen trash bags and label if needed.
  5. Lift bed mattresses and dinette seat cushions up on their side to allow air flow in and around them thereby reducing chances of any mold and also critters getting more room to hibernate in darkness.  We store the scented bagged linens on wood part of bunks next to the mattresses.

Here is a brief video to show this part of the winter storage technique.

4.  I then take BOUNCE brand fully scented (knock off brands do not work…we have tried2018-10-21-13-53-39.jpg them!) and I place at least two in each cupboard including under sinks, in pantry area, in clothing and bath closets, around toilet area.  I also place them in and around all the mattresses, bagged linens, dinette cushions, etc.  There are varying reports of these working but I know from over 7 years of experience they have worked for us.  We also use them for decades when we are reenacting camping on our tent floor cloth and under our cots and bedding to keep insects, mosquitoes, beetles, spiders, snakes etc out of our tent…and it definitely works for that too!

 

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5.  In the bathroom closet I pay extra attention (and more Bounce sheets) because this is where some of our exterior systems/hoses are coming in to the rig.  Including where our power box is on outside and near where the sewer intakes, etc are).  Here you will see where not only have I put Bounce sheets all over the floor and shelves but I have also hung a store bought (from Vermont Country Store) Mouse deterrent herbal bag.  It says it lasts a few months.  I have not used this specific brand but it says that it is good for nearly 100 sq feet–so with this cabinet shut it will more than do this bathroom area!

We do not use any snatch & kill traps because the whole idea is that we do not want them even coming in…(I do not want a rotting dead mouse inside over 5 months!)  We DO have some of those black box traps for mice and rats on the cement floor in the garage with poison in them.  We have seen evidence of some nibbles eating the poison but no dead carcasses in the traps themselves- I guess word has spread that our “restaurant” serves bad food!  LOL

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6.  Lastly, a few other places on the outside to  put Bounce sheets.  We put a few in ALL of our exterior storage bins and also most definitely in our exterior sewer area, power box and also hot water heater compartment area.  Again, these are all areas where there is a potential for a varmint to shimmy through even the smallest of openings-they only need the size of a penny or dime to get through!

Last but not least, give your rig a really good vacuuming and wipe down all counter tops, table tops, bath fixtures etc.  I use Clorox Cleaning Cloths.

Some questions people ask…

Do you keep your “camping wardrobe” in the closets?  We do but again, there are Bounce sheets in all closet floors and shelves.  We also store smaller clothing items in plastic snap lid bins all the time above our bunks.  I have put Bounce sheets tucked in between totes and on lids here too.

Do you keep your pots and pans, cookie sheets,  and silverware onboard in winter? Yes, and we have always done this with no problem.  Obviously in spring if we see any sign of mouse droppings or nesting, then everything will get a full sterilization in our dishwasher at home, but otherwise just a good wipe down does the trick each spring.

Do we keep toilet paper and paper towels under RV sink cabinets.  NO!  we do not.  These items provide a huge attraction to varmints looking for nesting and bedding materials.  We take those paper products home and use them up over winter in our apartment.

Do we close our blinds and curtains.  NO we do not.  In fact, those of you who may have the day/night pull down fabric type shades your manufacturer may caution you not to do keep them down all the time.  It releases the factory pleating too much. But we  keep our curtains open during winter too.  Because our garage is dark, there is also no need for us to shelter our interior cushions, and linens from sunlight by having our curtains closed.

How important is it to have your tires up on board or something and not in contact with the cold driveway or dirt?  VERY!  For the best life and safety of your tires, please drive up on at least 1-2 inch thick boards.  We actually drive our rig up on those heavy industrial rubber mats that can be purchased at Lowes or HD.  They have holes in them, which allows for ventilation but also as Kevin notes, rubber to rubber is the best of all worlds.  You can see a little of the black mat in our video clip above.  We also keep these mats down all year because they make a great way for us to know exactly where the RV rear should be when backing in the trailer after a trip.  No guess work for me!

This year we are also going to be laying some LED warm white rope lights on under our rig to keep on 24/7.  We learned from Courtney & Steve of AStreaminLife.com that they have found that by putting some sort of illumination under their rig they have been spared from any mice infestations–even when camping in boondocking fields.  So since we do pay $15 extra per month for electricity in our storage garage, we will put these low voltage rope lights on.  We just purchased two spools in the lighting section of Lowes today (better quality than Xmas section). These are the kind and quality that store owners may purchase to go around their display windows, etc.  They were $38 for a 48 foot length.  We bought two so we can go just inside both wheels and full length and width of the rig with  no problem. We will use them on extended camping stays with power too.  For boondocking we will get four solar spot lights (tip from Steve and Courtney too!) so we still will have lights to ward off critters.  You do not want critters in your rig…ever!  Especially when it becomes your full time home.  See some yucky videos from both AStreaminLife and from LoLoHo bloggers on their issues with mice in their Airstreams. No fun!

That’s all we have time to share for now.  We will stop in and visit the Pewter Palace a few times over the winter months to check on her.

Safe Travels—–One Life….LIVE IT!

Kevin and Luisa Sherman

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Keeping Your Trailer Safe from Thieves

It’s February and it is a great time to evaluate what equipment we have and for creating a punch list for the coming camping season.

I suspect our fellow camp trailer owners may be doing the same tasks! (Those who garden are also looking at seed catalogs right now too!)

Just this past year, two of our friends have purchased or are in process of purchasing a bumper pull travel trailer for themselves.  While we had truly hoped they were joining the vintage Avion owner family, they decided to purchase more contemporary rigs.  We wish them well and tons of wonderful miles of travels and hope we can camp together in the future!

One of the tips we would like to share with any and all travel trailer owners (motorhome owners can skip this blog entry! LOL) is how to KEEP YOUR TRAILER SAFE FROM THEFT!

I belong to many, many facebook sites and there are a few FB pages that specifically cater to sending up alerts to recent thefts of camp trailers.  It seems that the theft of especially vintage trailers is on the rise in the USA because of their popularity and growing value. If you do not currently subscribe to any of those site, I suggest you at least join one.  Who knows, while you are tooling down the road some day you may be able to help return a stolen rig to its rightful (and very distraught) owners!  You also may learn some valuable tips on how NOT to be premiered in the next new theft alert!

My husband Kevin is notorious for using YouTube and other means to carefully and methodically research RV products.  After much research, we purchased what is known by many in the know as “the most bullet-proof anti-theft hitch lock out there”.  It is made by Proven Industries, a USA based, family business who offer a LIFETIME GUARANTEE on their products. (no, we do not receive any incentive or endorsement perk from them)

Word to the wise!!!!  The traditional hitch lock that simply sends a large bolt-like pin through the hole in your hitch clamp or the kind that fits into just your ball socket with a bale type that goes over your hitch tongues are NOT going to stop thieves.

No matter how big the pin, how great the padlock.  Case in point- we had one of those MasterLock U shaped locks on our hitch two winters ago.  This is the kind that has a ball that fits into the underside of where your hitch ball normally goes then the U shaped lock goes over the top of your hitch tongue.  When we went to get her out of the winter storage garage about 40 min. from our house, we realized we had forgotten the key to the pad lock.  Kevin simply used a hammer and within about 40 seconds had busted the deadbolt U shaped thing off and removed the lock. Literally it took about two swipes of the hammer. Please do not be a statistic!

Proven Industries is the manufacturer of what is considered the Cadillac of the hitch locks and it is made in the USA and the customer service and reputation of the company is stellar.

In going to their site you will see that you must select the right lock for YOUR rig.  All hitch configurations, coupler sizes, etc. are NOT alike!  If in doubt, call them like we did especially for vintage rigs.  They know their product and can direct you to the right fitting product for your needs.

Check out their demo video’s to see the strength and effectiveness of these hitch locks.  Well worth the $$$.

A few other tips we can offer to you for keeping your rig safe are—-

  • Pull down your shades during the day if you are away so that it is not so obvious there is no one home.  Ditto at night if you are away from your trailer.
  • When you are in camp, but maybe somewhere out hiking, at the pool or walked into town, back your tow vehicle right up to or broadside to your locked hitch ball so no one can drive right up to your hitch.
  • Install trailer wheel locks (operate like a scissor system) in between your tires if you have a dual axle system.
  • Put a tire lock on your tow vehicle. (see fellow bloggers Long Long Honeymoon (AS owners)  and the TriMax lock they recommend). On our list to purchase this year!
  • If you get a Proven Industry lock system try to also lock your safety chain ends also into the lock area.
  • Install an aftermarket deadbolt on your door(s).  Factory trailer door knob locks are notoriously poor.  Especially on vintage trailers (many brands) the doors have been known to fly open as you are on the highway- resulting in lots of $$ to repair (that is if it was not left by the side of the road a mangled mess).

Hope you have found this blog article helpful.  We would welcome your suggestions, comments and any tips you have for preventing theft of your trailer.

PS:   We will be doing a post soon on LED light replacements (save money, reduce in cabin heat and save 12 V battery life!) so keep watching and reading!

Kitchen Tips…what we have learned so far living tiny!

As many of you know,  we have transitioned from 2400 sq.ft. house to 1400 sq. ft. townhouse apartment this past fall.  During the time the house was for sale and during our (not to be repeated as too stressful) move- we spent a LOT of time in the sanctuary of our 1973 Avion LaGrande, 28 foot vintage travel trailer we affectionately call, “The Pewter Palace”.  We truly count our blessings for having her and the ability to have a place to lay our heads and feel released of cardboard boxes and all that goes along with a big move.

I found as I spent more and more time cooking in our tiny RV kitchen several very important things that i have carried forward into our small galley style kitchen– and some well, are just tips for RV kitchen day to day use.  When we eventually do our final transition to full time RV living some of these will really come into play while still more remain yet undiscovered.

A few tips to get started:

In the RV having a small double bowl sink is preferable over a large sink.  In the RV the dual sink allows for putting in one of those small dish drainer racks so you do not need to clutter up precious counter space with a rack or pad. (I only have a large sink in our apartment, which i like but I do not use a dish drying rack on the counter.  I have a pad I store away under the sink for when needed, but for the most part I use my dishwasher far more, and when I do have dishes that need drying, I dry them right away and put them away instantly.  Keeping a cleaned off tidy counter is far more satisfying for me now).

My sink area in the Pewter Palace when we first bought it (on left) and before I added my personal touches. It gives you a good idea of layout though and the dual sink setup.  We luckily found the original cutting board covers for each sink buried under junk under the sink.  You can see what I mean by precious counter space!  Picture on right was from Summer 2017 at the Tin Can Tourist NE Rally at Sampson State Park in the Finger Lakes Region of upstate NY.

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Dual RV sink also allows for:

  • Easier to rinse lettuce, veggies, etc.
  • A place to store counter items when rolling down the road ( I wrap items in dry dishtowels to prevent rattling)
  • Filled with ice cubes they both make a dandy place to put cold beer or dish that needs to be kept cold during entertaining
  • You typically do not have large platters or serving pieces on an RV so you do not need a large basin sink to fully submerge dishes.
  • One sink can double as storage space for your loaf of bread or bagels (i just put the sink cover on and wholla–bread is handy for sandwich making but not taking up space in fridge or cupboard.

Collapsible Bowls, Measuring Cups, Food Storage Containers and Strainers are awesome!                                       

GET SQUARE when you can!

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I just purchased these on Amazon based on referral by a full time RVer.  Yes, it totally makes sense to have square items in a square cupboard!

There are ever increasing amounts of online and big box (Bed, Bath and Beyond for one) who are selling collapsible kitchen gear.  Get square shapes when you can because they sit next to each other or other items in storage easier in cupboards and drawers.  Ditto on the square shapes for food storage containers too.

Keep your collapsible bowls in the cupboard right above your head at the sink.  These bowls will be used at least two times a day and should be readily handy and not buried.

Try to get bowls that come with lids.  They double as food storage as needed in a pinch but do not rely on them—otherwise when you need it to scramble eggs in one morning you are SOL and have to dump your leftovers or scramble the eggs in your coffee mug.

Get one BIG collapsible mixing bowl besides 2-3 that are small , 4-7″ diameter to medium (9″ diameter).  That is truly all you need.   That big size mixing bowl (about 11-13″ diameter) does come in handy for making a big pot luck salad to share, popcorn by the fire pit or even for soaking some ketchup stained shirt in some OxiClean (yeah…been there!).

To Strain or Not to Strain—that is the question!   In my quest to go collapsible to save precious space I did purchase a collapsible strainer for the Pewter Palace.  Thinking it would be perfect for pasta straining and……hmmmm???…what else would i use it for?  Well, actually in our first year of camping (including our four months nearly full timing) I have only used it once.  I really prefer my flat Pampered Chef grey pot drainer paddle.  Here is a photo because I cannot remember what they call it.  I love this thing and use it weekly at home too.  This is one item that I admit I will have to purchase one exclusively for the RV and just have not gotten around to it.  It is so easy to use for any size pots (more on them later too!) and is flat and simple.  So who knows….the question of to Strain or not to Strain- may make my collapsible strainer end up for sale at one of our RV rally swap meet sessions.  Space is way too valuable in an RV to have stuff in a cupboard that is not used nearly every day.

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One more collapsible item I purchased was a very large collapsible bucket.  It sits kinda buried under my kitchen sink but because it folds down to only about a 1.5″ high it does not really take up much space.  We really could not fit a 5 gallon plastic bucket anywhere in our rig (inside or outside storage) so this does the trick.  Additionally, it comes in handy if you want to give your baby (I am talking about your RV here….not a real baby) a bath or as we found this summer when Kevin needed to soak his feet….it worked awesome!

In a pinch, the large collapsible bucket can also be used for:

  • toting laundry to and from the campsite laundry facilities
  • a game bucket to have your grandkids try to aim for with some balls or acorn tops or anything handy-well, almost anything handy.
  • makes a great cooler for beer when filled with ice when entertaining
  • soak dirty clothes in and do a mini laundry on the fly when needed
  • fill up to use as a clean water flush when cleaning your black/grey water systems

Another gadget that I have found to be indispensable, easy care and to store is my stove top toaster (best one ever!) which I have already done a separate blog post in detail about this gadget if you want to order one yourself.  This thing is non mechanical so great for boondocking.  Does not take up even a fraction of what an electric two slice toaster would take up in storing but also does not take away my counter space either!

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Dishes, plates, cereal bowls, coffee mugs Only put onboard a dish service for four max.  I use Corelle ware because it is light, takes a beating and does not break as easy as iron stone.  I do not like plastic plates for anything beyond a sandwich.  It is plenty, just wash your dishes and put them right away!  We do have some papergoods on board but do not use them routinely unless boondocking.

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Pots and pans can be kept to a minimum too.  You are camping—use the outside grill!  we have one small deep saucepan, one 9″ diameter deep sauce pan (that’s for that pasta or rice!) and two very small non stick fry pans, one with a lid.  I do not use cast iron because it is too heavy.  I do have one cast iron oblong sided griddle (an antique and rare) that i will bring when the grand kids or company come camping with us just to use on the grill or if pancakes are called for so I can do a decent size batch.

Coffee maker?  We LOVE our Farberware 10 cup Perculator.   I refuse to go the Keurig route because of space it takes up, wastefulness of those pod cups and the cost!  See a past blog post or our FB page for more info on our Perculator.  Again, no taking up counter space.  Easy to store in the cupboard, makes outstanding coffee.  Hint–we love to grind our own so I do pre-grind a bunch of coffee and put it in my Coffee keeper on board.  I will have to do a future post on that container because it is outstanding too and easily purchased on Amazon. (yeah, you are getting it that I do a lot of shopping there.  That is because I also have a CC tied to my Amazon so I get amazing points for stuff I would be purchasing locally every week like gas, groceries, or even co-pays at MD appointments.  Then I go “RV shopping” to Amazon and buy things with my points….no cash outlay– nice!

Hanging String Bags for Produce, Baked Goods, Fruits:  These babies are the best way to not fill up your 8 cubic foot fridge with odd sized, big stuff.  We simply screwed some of those safety clip cup hooks under this wood shelf and hook them in there.  Very secure and easy access.  Plus I have definitely noticed that the fruit and veggies keep longer because of air flow.  Plus, right handy when doing meal prep.

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They are completely washable and can also double for other things when needed;

  • Like a bag to take towels and gear to the lake, beach or pool.
  • A bag to use to put plastic dishes in to toss into a stream to wash off if water is getting low in holding tanks
  • Laundry bag for dirties
  • Tote sandbox or pool toys for kiddo’s.

We originally kept them up and with food in them when rolling down the road, but Kevin has since suggested that they come down if I have heavy things in them like in this photo where I had lot of apples.   So now I will just sit then in the sink or on the dinette bench seat when traveling just so we are not putting undo strain on the underside of the wood shelf.

12 slot large cupcake pans (one for each person).  THIS is a Keeper for sure!  We had to learn it the hard way as newbies and run to the closest WalMart when at our first TCT Rally.  Many rallies have fabulous Pot Luck Dinners built into the group social plans.  They are wonderful, provide lo-cost ways to get your meals and outstanding ways to meet fellow RVers.  True long timer’s know the best thing to do is to bring a cupcake pan as your plate!!  This way you take samples of all the yummies you want, ok–you can fill a few of the spaces with chili and desserts if that pleases you!  You may be tempted to not look quite so much like a glutton by only buying a nine or six slot pan, but honestly the 12 slot is the best because you can do salads, veggies, main course and dessert in one swoop.  As anyone knows…camping folks are hungry folks and if you do not snag something your first time in line- it may not be there when you go up for seconds! This cup cake pan plate allows you to not have to bring a separate bowl for any soups or chili’s (there are always awesome chili’s of all types that are brought to these pot lucks).  And it is FAR easier not to have to try to balance carrying all of that either.  This was one of those —wow!!…what a great idea things that we learned from experienced campers and we cherish it totally and love the fact we may be passing on this tip to someone reading this blog that is a newbie like us!

Oh—almost forgot—–Your oven?  we do have one- have not used it yet but it does work… But I, like tons of other RVers, find it great for storing things in!  I keep my stove top toasters( yes, we have two), a disposable aluminum roasting pan and one cookie sheet in there.  Just never, ever store anything on that lower level area where your gas pilot inlet is.  Only store on the wire rack shelf.

Hope you have enjoyed my musings…..get your cupcake pan!  Smell the coffee and get out there and enjoy cooking in a tiny kitchen you call home!

~~  One Life….Live it!

Its All About the BLACK TANK!

You would think we would have better things to discuss with the holidays approaching and time spent now daydreaming (or really planning) for our 2018 Avion Adventures!

But honestly, with our Pewter Palace in winter storage, it seems like a good time to discuss those not so popular things like….black tanks and sewer smells!

We are fortunate in that our 1973 Avion has both a grey water and black water tank. Up to and through 1972 Avions were built with only one discharge tank (held black and grey combined).  yikes!  That would not do for us at all–Especially once we start full timing.  These tanks, when our rigs were built were not the size that most modern trailers are.  In fact, our grey water is 25 gallons and our black is also 25 gallons.  Through our experience, we pretty much can get a little over a week with our grey water (assuming no showers – we use the campgrounds shower, and not dumping dish water on the ground outside rather than down the drain).  We can get about 5-7 days with black water tank, again, depends on if we are spending most of the day away from camp either siteseeing or going to work.

Lets remember, that up to that point (1972) these rigs were totally produced for the leisure market and living full time in them was virtually inconceivable.  Were there some full timers in the 70’s?  I suspect so, but nothing like the ever increasing rage and trends that are going on now.  The internet has certainly made it all so much easier and seamless-even for those who telecommute now for work.  Full Time living on an RV is really quite simple and easy.

Also, I would bet that most travel trailer campers also were using private or public campgrounds that at least had some hook ups with at minimum, dump stations.  We still see a considerable amount of campgrounds, especially those in more rural locations having just electric and water intake available at the actual site you have, and then you have to drive to the dump station to empty your black/grey water.  The NY State Campground we were at this summer for the Tin Can Tourist NE Rally (Sampson State Park, nice place!) had water and electric at our site, but a communal dump station area for discharge.  Many, many state and national campgrounds and parks are still this way.  Lets face it, the cost for putting separate lines to a campground with over 200 sites would be outrageous in today’s costs.

So back to the original intention of my blog post.  Black water…..how to manage it as efficiently as possible with NO smells.

When we had our 1998 Class A Itasca Motor home, we constantly had issues with “smells” which were sewer gases leaking from (I guess)  improperly constructed vent tanks. it seemed more prevalent when we were on the road down the highway but none the less, we still could “smell” when we had to dump.  We tried a variety of toilet treatment chemicals purchased at a variety of camp and RV stores…all supposed to offer the best in waste breakdown and prevention of smells.  We tried the gadget on top of the roof that was a directional rotating wing type cap that was supposed to help.  I guess the swivel vent did help a little.

But guess what…back in 1973 the engineers of the Avion’s knew what they were doing.  To date, we have NEVER had any of those smells in our Avion! And remember, we just got done living in her for three and a half months full time, stationary.   We have the vintage, standard fixed cap on the vent pipe that comes up thru the roof.  Yes, we do have a more modern (but still plastic) toilet but the fact that the black water holding tank is directly below the toilet I think helps to prevent issues.  You literally can “see” when your tank is getting filled…ok, not a great site to behold- but a good check and balance anyway.

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A photo of our 1973 Avion LaGrande, 28 foot bathroom.  What you cannot see is the tub/shower and two very spacious storage closets in addition to the under counter storage.

 

BUT…what I truly think has really made the different is using this!  UNIQUE Brand RV Digester (remember…we do not get paid for any endorsements…this is just our feedback to help fellow RVers)

Our rig came with a bunch of the traditional and well recognized brands of other digesters, but i really wanted something different to avoid past issues.  In doing research and with checking LOTS of reviews on Amazon, this one consistently rose to the top…pardon the pun.

This stuff is so eco-friendly too!  (My daughter would hopefully even approve!)  Reviews note that Unique RV Digester is also proven to “unstop clogs, dried out and caked on gunk”.  Glad we did not have that issue…but truly, we see lots of posts on RV FB chat sites where especially vintage RVs have sat for so long unattended that their sewer systems have to be pretty yucky.  Supposedly, if you load your tank with the prescribed amount of this stuff….let it sit, then take your rig on the road for a little hula dancing down the road this stuff will unshake and degrade the sludge and make it possible to drain and start reusing your system effectively again.  There were many testimonials to this effect on Amazon and honestly, I was quite impressed reading them.

Many Avion owners (and other vintage trailer owners for that matter) have realized the fact that well…those “monitor panels” really do not work well or at all after decades.  The sensors they use on even more modern units to signal when your tanks are getting full leave much to be desired.  In fact, their lousy.

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Unique RV Digester, in some cases has even proven itself to clean the detectors and get those lights working again.  That did not happen to us…but no problem…like i said–we can give it an “eye spy” and see when our black water/sewer tank is gonna need an emptying.  Nothing like an eye witness right??

What I can tell you is that the Unique RV Digester solution has worked beautifully for us.  We have NO Smells, No clogs, and everything drains beautifully.  We did follow the initial start up instructions and for the rest of the season were on the “maintenance” dosage after each dump.  We also put a little in our grey water too, just to help breakdown any food particles and grease that may have slipped down when doing dishes.

An added funny….you know part of what we love about RV camping is meeting other folks, sitting around a communal campfire and sharing stories, jokes and fun times.  Well, wouldn’t  you know, when we were at the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally this summer in Elkhart Indiana the conversation turned to RV Black Tanks.  (Don’t ask how we got there!!) but lo and behold, a fellow Avioner mentioned this same UNIQUE RV Digester with the same gusto and recommendation we had.  He also has been a long timer and it was great for Kevin and I to hear others have had such success and recommend it too.

So armed with this first season going so well, we have stocked up on our Unique RV Digester and are ready for smell free travels!

Hope this blog post helps fellow Trailer and motorhome owners too.  If you want to order this stuff…here is an Amazon link.  They do track you down and the company will offer you coupons for future purchases.  Read about their company, they are pretty cool too!

One life….Live it!

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If you see us on the road…beep, wave and say HI!!

 

 

 

 

Anderson Levelers are Awesome!

After using the traditional leveling blocks on our Class A Motorhome for five years we were anxious to find something better for our Avion.

Kevin is a YouTube Research fanatic and thank goodness he is! He found the Anderson Levelers System which is THE best thing going.

They are a bit more expensive than the blocks but are sturdy, rugged and do a far better and quicker job. They store easily too!

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We purchased the deluxe kit which also included an extra leveler and extra chocks, etc.  The Rapid Jack leveler also has come in handy with some challenging elevations we have encountered. It is called their Rapid Jack and it works on duel axles to allow for tire changing.

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Here is a great video to show you how they work.

The only thing we did wish that the levelers were just another two inches wider because we would prefer our tires did not extend past the levelers at all. This issue does not affect their use though. They are awesome!  Also as some users have recommended, on certain terrain they could slip when you are trying to roll up onto them. We did find what happened to us at one campground was the campsite had a lot of fresh new small gravel and our leveler plowed forward rather than the tire being able bite and roll onto it. We believe fixing some of those stair tread asphalt type strips would solve this problem.

Our online friends at “Less Junk, More Journey” and Courtney and Steve from “AStreamin’ Life” both use them.

Get some! You will not be sorry!!

Space Saving- Veggies, Breads, Fruits and more!

Space savers and multi-use reign supreme in trailer living! Anyone who has a vintage trailer, or any trailer or motorhome under 34 feet or so understands the need for saving what precious counter top space you have and to keep it as free from clutter as possible.  Likewise, although our refrigerator has served us well and at just under 8 cubic feet seems plenty for us (I do love the separate freezer too!).

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(This is a photo of when we first purchased the trailer but note minimal counter space)

Some of the full time Vloggers we watch like “Less Junk, More Journey” and “A Streamin’ Life” have both come up with some great tips…and we would like to share one of our own here!

We are lucky to have these great wooden shelves in our Avion which were installed by former owners but really look like they came with the rig.  Using an area previously used for a undermount toaster (we inherited and it did not work, so was removed) we mounted 3 pairs of large safety cup hooks (the kind that have the metal closure piece) and have put on them to the right of our counter area.

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On each of the hook pairs we have hung these awesome natural string, mesh shopping bags which perfectly hold our fruits, veggies and breadstuffs—all of which would normally take up a lot of room in the fridge.  The bags also then are handy to remove when empty for the next trip to the grocery store.  Very convenient!  I love them!

Where to purchase??  Mesh bags purchased on Amazon (3 bags for $11.99 and free shipping with Prime).  They are of an excellent quality.  the strap handles are beefy and the entire bag appears well made.  We will get their first workout this weekend when we travel to the Finger Lake Region in upstate NY.  Its about a four hour trip and i have them loaded with apples, potatoes and banana’s so we can see if they do the ultimate trick.

Why Bags over Baskets?  I decided to go with the mesh bag style over the tiered basket style simply because of a few reasons; bags were lighter in weight, provide additional use of taking as grocery bag to market, less chance of spillage if trailer is rocking and rolling as we go down the road, mesh bags will not rust, easy to throw in washing machine, and …they hold more!

Hope this little tip gives you some ideas!  Let us know if you decide to use this idea! we would love to see your installation or other ideas you have used these great mesh bags for!

One life….Live it!                                                                                                                                     Luisa

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