Category Archives: The Full Time Life….

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!

714r3C6b+2L._AC_SL1500_

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.

roll up dish drainer in drawer61iaHuxRd+L._AC_SL1500_

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!

71DMHx0cgPL._AC_SL1500_

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

Publication1

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

 

87 Microwave Gets a Facelift (removal++)

On our project list for our new to us ’87 Avion was to remove the original 1987 humongous microwave.  In truth–the edges of interior box were rusty and surely this behemoth sucks a huge amount of juice when “fired up” and running.  Plus…do we really want to trust the safety of a 33-year-old Microwave?

As an aside, in case you don’t know…Kevin and I have over 30+ years of 18th century living history reenacting at historic sites, museums, national and state historic parks from Nova Scotia to Colonial Williamsburg.  Yes…we are THOSE people who make and wear clothing and live the life of our forefathers and mothers in 1757-1781.  As a result of the immersion into this hobby, Kevin and I have long ago learned how to cook, clean and survive without a microwave for days on end.

Yes, at home I do use a microwave, but camping life and its pace and fresh air seems to shrug microwaving for us.

When we bought our ’73 Avion right off the bat we began looking to see what cabinet we could retrofit to install a small microwave thinking we needed one in an Rv.  Doesn’t every RV have one after all? (our Class A did).  But our common sense took hold and I asked discerningly- “what do we really use it for??”.  Perhaps heating a left over cup of coffee (can be done in a sauce pan), or reheating a left over (we rarely have leftovers and if so, tin foil can do the trick on the grill, in a covered pot on the stove or in our Avion oven)So did we REALLY need a microwave and to hack into the pristine, original cabinetry that Avion’s were/are known for?  We decided to wait a year of using our 73 before we hacked.  A year turned into three and there was no doubt, no microwave was needed for us.  We are resourceful camping souls from the 1700’s after all-  having logged literally 1000’s of hours in reproduction canvas tents, hauling water and cooking over an open fire even in 95 degree summers (with 3-4 layers of wool and linen clothing to boot)!  Running water and a toilet are high style for us!

So fast forward to our newly purchased ’87 Avion.  The 32S has a front kitchen.  It’s one of the big reasons we love this floor plan.  Here is a photo of the behemoth microwave that came with her off the assembly line in Michigan 33 years ago this past February. Yeah, the # buttons were like the size of a postage stamp!

orig microwave in our 1987, 32S_ march 2020

Here below are some photos after the microwave was removed, and the cabinet interior cleaned up, a floor created over the framing and wiring for the stove exhaust hood safely wrapped, encased and secured.  Kevin did a super job on this and WOW!!  Look at all this space I have now!  More than enough for some modern convenience contraptions I really do use like…my air fryer, small InstaPot, my crockpot and metal stock pot (for the occasional Lobsta’ dinners now and then or the rally chili cook-off contest!)  Plus maybe even some oversized boxes perhaps of dry cereals, oatmeal, etc.

2020-05-12 13.25.59

2020-05-17 13.36.32

I had the brainstorm one night that instead of trying to salvage some original Avion cabinet doors to put in here, how about a corkboard?  In 225 Sq Ft of living space you always want to err on the side of versatility and each thing, full timers will tell you, should have at least 2 purposes!  So onto Amazon I went and found this beauty–a wood framed, magnetic chalkboard!  I have the link for it in our page that features our Favorite things/resources. (no, we do not have an Amazon store, we do not get any residuals from anything you order, its just us helping you to find things we love, use and have tried before)

 

I love the way the black chalkboard matches the look of the black front refrigerator and oven.  Really looks like it belongs!

So let us know?? what cha’ think?  We simply love it!  We used the same hardware as we had replaced in the kitchen (seen on right photo above) and so here is the big reveal below side by side….you decide!!  BTW…this board is chalkboard and magnetized so i am thinking a fun place to put grandsons current photos and some little magnets from special places we go to around the USA!!

 

Another project checked off the list!  This one took about a total of about 3-4 hours total including refit of interior cupboard, staining of frame, going to store to get hinges and the intallation this evening

Happy travels!

bitmoji-20200101073824

Breaking news! Sneak Peak of Our New Avion!

We thought it would not happen, but since our plans are really congealing to go full time in 2023 (and it seems like not such a far off time anymore)…we started really looking at our needs for full timing.  A slightly bigger rig with more defined “living space” areas and above all…a rear twin bedroom with panoramic window views to enjoy sunrises and awesome views as we camp at beautiful places like this below…once we start our “new chapter”.

Here is a shot of the Badlands of South Dakota- a dispersed camping area that we will definitely be visiting in 2023.  The second photo is by Mark of “AvionAwesome” who owns a vintage Avion and this shot he took is on the Utah/AZ border.  His photograpy is fabulous so check him out on YouTube or Instagram.

And…..Drum Roll Please!!!!

Here she is!  Being delivered to our RV carriage barn in NY last week!  Click here for VIDEO

2020-04-14 13.57.04

So why change from our 1973  ’28 foot LaGrande?  We love our ’28 foot LaGrande model but after some hard consideration, we had recently decided IF a 32S Avion floor plan trailer came up for sale in really good condition we would pounce on it. It was the only change we would accept over our beloved ’73.   AND we DID find one!  In early March( before all the pandemic restrictions-whew!) , a fellow member of the Avion facebook pages posted his 1987 32S Avion for sale.  He had bought a pristine ’34 foot Avion. We contacted him within 2 hours of the posting.  Kevin and I hopped into our car at 4 AM the next day and drove to eastern PA to take a look.  It was perfect for us.  Many of the upgrades we knew we were going to want to make before we began our full time journey had already been done-saving us a lot of sweat and time.  Plus it reaffirmed our decision that the 32 S with its front kitchen, separate rear twin bedroom, and its huge picture window in mid coach living room was just what we needed to complete our full time reality.  So we jumped and bought it!

YES, we will need to sell our lovingly maintained 1973, 28 ‘ LaGrande model travel trailer-so if you are interested watch for our posting soon!! You can see plenty of videos and photos of it here on this blog or on our YouTube channel, search for The Pewter Palace

Here is a shot of the rear twin bedroom.  Plenty of storage, windows on all three sides and …a TV!


Then the front kitchen makes it feel more “homey” versus a galley kitchen, plus we love having the stationary dinette and the storage underneath it is awesome.  Once we retire we hope to do way more camping with the grand kids and now each of them have have their own bed (the sofa folds down to a double bed and dinette a single).  The dinette seats are on springs so they are super comfortable for sitting on and make a super comfy single bed versus on a normal dinette plywood base.

2020-04-14 19.21.29

On our project list so far….

Interior Punch List so far:

  • Apply Restor-A-Finish “Maple Pine” to all wood cabinetry, doors and closets as it is really dry.

2018-09-08 14.39.16

  • Change out all original cabinet hardware with more contemporary look (my daughter was the final judge on which we would go with so watch for a dedicated post on the cabinet refurb soon!)
  • Clean all drapery and original pull down fabric blinds (yes, still with the “Mauve” original motif trim!) and assess what we will keep and what windows will have a different window treatment to ensure we have light and panoramic views.  Since our full timing will include “chasing 70’s (degrees) there is no super need for heavy lined drapery, etc. but the drapery in the rig is very good and nearly new.
  • Do a once over clean and then the interior will be done!  Very little needed as it was very well maintained.  We are the fourth owner.
  • Install Lithium Ion Battleborn battery system.
  • Convert remaining copper plumbing to PEX
  • Find new convention/microwave oven.  Currently the original 1987 model is just a microwave.

Exterior Punch list (so far):

  • ALL windows need to be redone with new glass bead and trim.  Time consuming and tough on the fingers but we had to do the glass bead on our ’73 front window so we know how to do it.  Now we just have the whole rig to do!

2020-03-10 09.40.59

  • Install the EasyStart system in the AC unit (Kevin had just installed that last October in our ’73 and it works great when running on a generator.
  • Remove blue midline sticker, and replace with a 3M Chrome insert (see below)

2020-04-15 18.28.04

  • Apply Eternabond to the seams where zipdee awnings meet the roofline.  Apply Parbond first, then Eternabond tape.
  • Repaint hitch and front frame area
  • Give her a super good bath

2020-03-10 09.41.41

  • Possibly replace some of the nose and rear orange running lights or seal better
  • Replace Travelcade Stickers, front and rear with reproduction ones as they are very worn out. You can buy them on Ebay, that is where our ’73’s are from.. Source for those is on our Resource/links page
  • Begin planning for solar panel installation (probably not till 2022)

With all the goings on with the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, it is questionable how many of our RV trips we planned for this summer to rallies, etc. will actually happen. This is sad for sure and we will really miss seeing everyone and going camping.  But the silver lining is that it does give us dedicated time to work on the projects above so for the 2021 season our NEW Pewter Palace will be all ready to roll and we look forward to showing her off…she is a beauty!  Watch for more interior photo shots soon!

Until we meet on the road again…

Be well, stay safe and healthy!

Publication1

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!

productgal-freshcab-12-1-800x546

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

K-L and Avion-bitmoji-withCopyright2019_bye

Which Camping Club is a Good Fit?

2018-07-03 17.37.10There are a lot of camping club membership programs to chose from.  Each RVer has to do research and soul searching to find what fits their current and future needs best.  We spent years researching and deciding before pulling the plug to join the clubs we have so far to save $$ on camping fees and support.  

I am not going to go into every club membership here in detail.  A simple search of YouTube and the web will provide our followers with plenty of opinions by full time and part time RVer’s, and those who weekend (or vacation) camp only.

What I will focus on in this blog post are the decisions we made, that we felt worked best for us at this point in time.  Each of you will have different needs, preferences, geographies to consider for traveling–so only you can make a decision that is best for you.

What we have in our “travel club kit” currently is the following:

gs_black_member_card

Good Sam Club (regular membership, not the roadside assistance membership)

Why? for the discounts at Camping World and at participating campgrounds

aaa-logo

AAA with  RV Plus  ( you MUST have the RV Plus to get adequate RV/towing covered)

Why?  for roadside assistance, RV towing, and discounts at campgrounds, attractions, dining, hotels, general travel discounts at retailers.

Header-KOA-Logo

KOA Membership Small annual fee, you build points with stays but in truth you would have to do a lot of KOA nights to really make the points amount to much.  Meanwhile we do get discount on every booking at a KOA we do with this membership.  KOA’s are fairly consistent and we happen to have a few of them at points on our regular vacation travel routes- so why not stay a little cheaper?  You can purchase these memberships directly at the campground or when making a reservation online they will ask you.

CYReward_card

Jellystone RV Park membership: (basically same set up and reasons as KOA has)

def-slider-logo-v3

Passport America:  We made the decision to purchase the LIFETIME membership.  This membership gives you discount at participating campgrounds all over the country.  There typically are # of night restrictions and many parks do not offer the discounts peak season, weekends or holiday weekends- understandable.  Discounts vary from park to park.  The reason we bought our lifetime membership pass now is that while we are both still working and have good cash flow, and can purchase at 2017 rate…why not?  Now its paid for, and one less monthly bill coming in once we are retired and our incomes are more stretched.

logo-green

Thousand Trails:  This is the big kahuna!

You can purchase an annual pass…currently on their website that is $599 per year for one “zone” e.g. Northeast.

We also chose to purchase the VIP lifetime, nationwide membership package. BUT we did not buy “new” and we did not by the annual zone type pass.  We went through a resale broker who came very highly regarded by several full time RVers we have been following for years including RV Love who has an excellent video on this and other camping membership clubs.

header

By going through a re-seller, we used Campground Membership Outlet,located in Florida the process was pretty simple for us, but it did take a few months for TT to get their act together for the final processing and to send us our membership documents, etc.  Campground Membership Outlet has been in business over 20 yrs and we felt far more comfortable going through them than purchasing from a private seller on Ebay or Craigslist.  Yes, these plans are for sale on those sites too but buyer beware as there is a lot of fine print you need to be aware of and to be sure you are getting a legit membership.  The staff at CMO, Kim & Chad were excellent to work with and sent us explanations of what currently plans they had in their inventory at the time we were looking.  This inventory is going to change since it all depends on what current members are turning their packages in for resale.  Our package originated from someone who bought in the 1990’s.  We were able to purchase a membership package for $1,000’s less but actually with better perks and less restrictions on # of overnights, less restrictions on nights out of network before you can book again and a much better 120 day advance booking window. We felt it had advantages over the annual zone pass.  Thousand Trails is a national network (though there is definitely limited participating campgrounds in the middle sections of the country.  See the map graphic below and check out their link for more info.

There a lot of research and comparing that needs to be done when you are looking into Thousand Trails.  We have heard their TT direct sales people are pretty high pressure…(another reason we liked going through the resale broker).  And yes, depending on the resold club membership package you purchase- you can also resell your membership down the road if desired and recoup some of your initial investment.

With a Thousand Trails membership you do incur the initial investment, and you do pay an annual maintenance fee.  Ours is right around $550-600 per year.  This too is locked in with only up to a 3% raise after 5 yrs.  Again, even before we go full-timing, right now if we do 8-10 nights of camping  at a TT campground we have more than paid for our annual maintenance fee.

Why did we purchase the LIFETIME membership package now in a lump sum? 

  • We saved money compared to contemporary plans which are only going to go up in cost each year.
  • We have the disposable income now  while we are both working full time
  • With inflation who knows what these packages will be once we do retire
  • The longer we wait, the less of those more lucrative older plans that are available because they are being snatched up by many full time RVers.
  • We live debt free now and want to continue that once we full time. Honestly, we have heard some folks who have purchased new plans paying upwards of $10-15K for their memberships.  YIKES!  P.S.Thousand Trails corporation does do financing but again, we did not want to have those monthly bills after we retire.
  • We use our membership now to save overnight camping costs, but more importantly we crunched the numbers and once we go full time we will literally pay for our entire package  (ours was $3500) by the very first year we are full timing after less than 100 days of overnights in participating TT campgrounds.
  1. Thousand trails participating campground fees for us now range from free to $5.00-$8.00 per night versus rack retail of $35-65 per night for the same park!
  2. With our package we can book up to 120 days in advance, stay up to 3 weeks at the same campground, get a newspaper and 2 free coffees per day
  3. Our children can use our membership to rent a campsite or a cabin rental with hefty discounts for up to 2 weeks each year.
  4. We can also gift this membership package as a legacy inheritance to our children when we no longer can be on the road- and then they have it for their lifetime.

map-all-resorts

There are add on packages (some are shown on map above as blue and gold) that also include the Trails Collection (gives you access to Encore RV Resorts).  We have chosen  not purchase this collection yet, but will as soon as we launch full time. Encore RV properties do tend to be nicer, with more amenities and are in some prime resort areas. There is one here in the Lake George Region (Lake George Escape Campground)- but even with our current plan we can stay there for a significant discount which is ok for us right now without having invested in the $200 per year additional cost for the Trails Collection.

Full disclosure…from what we have heard and experienced ourselves, not all TT participating campgrounds are equal.  In the basic TT plan, many are older parks, some certainly not what we would consider a “resort” level by any means…but when you are staying in a full hook up site for free (our program they are free for us!) to under $10 per night..we are certainly willing to deal with some cobwebs in the bathrooms, some peeling paint on playgrounds (or no playground) and perhaps worn down gravel driveways.  The way we look at it, once we full time we will plan to spend 2-3 weeks in a TT campground cheaply (do our laundry, take long showers, pump out our tanks, refill our water, perhaps dip in a pool or hot tub) then roll on out to either boondock a bit…or use the money we saved by staying in a TT campground to book a week at a luxury RV resort stay at a future date.  Works for us!

In closing, again, this is our plan and may not be right for you.  Only you can decide by doing the research needed.

This year, in 2020 we will also become life time members of ESCAPEES. 

escapees

This is a national club with a lot of member support, great online forums and meet-ups, conventions with workshops, etc.   It is not just for full timers, though many full time RVers belong to it and love it.  Reason for this is they host rallies and RV caravan trips, club members get excellent discounts on certain RV equipment needs and they too have their own RV parks where we can stay for really cheap for a great stop off point along our wanderlust trail.

Once we know our full time launch date we will most likely add Coach-net RV Roadside Assistance membership since it is deemed the most comprehensive and best for national travelers.  We plan to continue our AAA RV plus however, just to be sure we are covered in all geographies and to continue to get their travel discounts  no matter how we are traveling.

We also are members of Tin Can Tourists and Harvest Host too….but those and others are for another blog post in the future!

Happy travels from Kevin & Luisa Sherman in the Pewter Palace!

bitmoji-20200101073824wp-15389208541527304097254956314973.png

 

 

 

Prevent Moldy Mattresses! Moisture protection for mattresses- project

WHO WANTS MOLDY MATTRESSES?

There are many reports about moisture issues from underneath RV mattresses.  This is a real issue and one not only that can cause rotting wood structure of your bed platform but also cause unhealthy mold to form there as well as literally on the outside and inside of your mattress itself.  Not good!

This issue becomes more prevalent with those who full time in their rigs or especially for those who are in high humidity areas or who winter in their rigs where internal heat temps versus external surfaces (e.g. in ours the wheel wells under our bunks which essentially are “the outside”.  This converging of a heated surface (body heat, furnace heat) and a cold surface will cause sweating and condensation.

After researching and doing a lot of checking of reviews and posts from full time RVers we found the following product.  We ordered it last spring and did our install before beginning our 2019 camping season.

https://www.mattressinsider.com/mattress-condensation-prevention.html

59374459_798732200501978_9172026463040307200_n
This is the roll, as received and standing atop my curbside Avion bunk.  Note I am not sure all bunks come with the cut out handles like this.  Could have been something done by one of our rig’s previous owner, but a great idea even though you also have the below bunk cabinets!

It is sold by the foot and is I believe 4 ft wide. So for our Avion bunks @ 34″ we did have to cut to fit both width and length.  The stuff is very sturdy but also simple enough for me to cut with sturdy kitchen shears.

GATHER ITEMS NEEDED:

  1. Sturdy Kitchen Shears
  2. Metal tape measure or yard stick
  3. An extra pair of hands
  4. Double faced Heavy Duty  minimum 2 inch wide Velcro strips or large squares (more about this later!)
  5. Duct or Gorilla Tape (if you have a double or queen bed and will need to piece together)

STEPS:

Measure width and length of your bed/bunk.  If you have an Avion floor plan like ours and two bunks, simply double the length of one bunk for what total length you will need to place for your order.

Place order, will be shipped directly to you. Is not super heavy. Watch for when company may have sales on free shipping!

We took our measurements of bunk base, first cut new mat the correct length, then marked and measured the correct width and cut. Note- we have a slight molding lip on our bunk base that is intended to create a bit of a lip to prevent mattress sliding off.  So we cut our mesh mat to also fall just inside that small lip.

For the actual install, we followed the manufacture’s recommendations and we placed the “mesh pocket” side down on our plywood bunk base, then placed the mattress on top of the breathable fabric side of the mesh.

** after using for a few trips this way we did find that the mesh side was very likely to cause our whole mattress to slide a lot and often found our mattresses half into the hallway after being on the road.  A fix we plan to do this year is to take a few large strips of the 2 inch wide sticky back Velcro strips and place them a few places on the mesh side to stick down onto the wood bunk base.  The small molding on the bunk base that DID keep the mattress itself in place was not enough to hold the mesh layer in place.  The mesh layer is a woven plastic and a bit slippery.  We anticipate that the Velcro strips will do the trick and highly suggest this modification.

After securing down with the Velcro strips, replace mattresses down on top of fabric side of new mesh mat.

Sleep well!

If you have found other materials or fixes to prevent moisture from ruining your wood bed base or mattress let us know!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman

K-L and Avion-bitmoji-withCopyright2bHr

Sharing Holiday Joy from NY to AZ!

pewter palace, Christmas 2018 card

Along the way of our past six years of researching, planning and dreaming about our eventual “full time RV life” we have enjoyed and learned from many who have taken the plunge before us!

Among those who we respect and have learned from the most are a handful which include at top of our list, Steve & Courtney from AStreaminLife.

We have followed their journey from their initial change of lifestyle decision, to sale of their house, to downsize and deciding what trailer to get (Courtney was totally new to camping and RV life while Steve had grown up with parents who RV’d tons!) , to their first year commuting daily from full time RV living in a local KOA campground in Tucson AZ,  but keeping their day jobs…..to their first years + now full time on the road.

Each episode they post on YouTube we learn something, laugh (at sometimes Steve’s dry humor jokes) share similar likes, dislikes and we know we are far more better equipped when our day comes because of them and others who have taken the journey and are willing to share their successes, failures and “whoops” candidly and honestly.

For more information about AStreaminLife  visit their full website too!  link

So this year, in the season of thanksgiving for many blessings we have, we also wanted to let Steve and Courtney know how much we have appreciated their friendship and effort to allow viewers like us to be included in their daily life.  We knew they were going to be coming up to the ADK’s hopefully this summer and that they loved to visit and film waterfalls.  Well, we know the DACKS are full of neat spots but knowing Courtney loves the “epic planning” part of their trips we sent a Christmas present to them in Scottsdale AZ where they were going to be celebrating with Courtney’s folks over Christmas time.  Included in our gift to them was a travel guide to ADK waterfalls, and each of them got a pair of socks befitting to their lifestyle and their tastes.  Steve’s socks were a custom beer bottle (he loves craft beer and breweries just like Kevin does!) and for Courtney I picked out a pair of socks that had a camping theme complete with trailer, campfire, etc.   It appears they loved them and we are so happy for that!

Here is a clip of their Scottsdale AZ video published on their YouTube Channel.  Specific reference to receiving our Christmas present socks (and showing them off) is at about 5:47 minutes in–HOW SWEET OF THEM TO THANK US IN THIS VERY PUBLIC WAY!  WOW-did not expect that and they have over 11K YouTube followers!!  Please watch the whole video (and their other videos on early retirement how to and RV living and travels to magnificent places in the USA!) so you can learn more about who they are and you will see why we enjoy following them on their journey so much. Better yet!  subscribe to their YouTube Channel and see the many valuable and educational videos they have posted from selecting a generator, to downsizing tips, to finding the perfect campground…or the not to perfect dip into a BLM spot that got them stuck AND cost them a portion of an underbelly pan which had to be repaired!

BTW- they typically camp in exactly the same kind of BLM and private campgrounds that we know we plan to go to as well…over this Christmas ’18 they are in Cave Creek which is a town Kevin and I have spent quite a bit of time in already as it is only about 35 minutes north of where my son David lives with his wife Bri.  Kevin and I had already checked out and put the campground in Cave Creek (Cave Creek Canyone road below) on our list of must stays.

cave creek canyon

Happy New Year Everyone!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman, The Pewter Palace

pewter palace, Christmas 2018 card2017-12-04 11.09.00

Some of Our Favorite & Inspirational Bloggers/Vloggers for the RV Life

Over the last 9-10 years, Kevin and I have put considerable time into researching, planning and beginning to execute a thoughtful plan towards our goal of “going full time” RVing.  In this blog post we tell you about four of our most favorite RV bloggers/vloggers and include a little about them and links to their blogs and YouTube channels.  They are entertaining, inspirational, educational and oh yeah…..travel to amazing destinations!

8369288_1
This is not our rig, but very similar to our first RV a 1998 Itasca Sunrise, 32′ Class A.  No slides, under powered, but wetted our appetite for more!

Originally and shortly after we sold our Class A 32′ motor home back in 2012 we realized then–after she was not in our driveway, how much we missed life on the road.  Albeit at that time, and it continues, we only get to do long weekends and the occasional big trip of a week or two around the eastern half of the USA but—each time we do we are more and more convinced this is the right path for us.    We also know it is not for everyone.

Along our journey we have found some truly inspirational friends in bloggers/vloggers who have chronicled their similar journeys from the decision to forego the traditional and head into the non-conventional life of making a rolling home….your only home.  We also have learned there are many variances in between this.  Some people live a portion of their year on their RV while returning to their sticks N bricks for the rest of the time.  More times than not, these are snowbirds who fly south in the winter RV in tow (or behind the wheel) and spend a warm and sunny February in FL, AZ or TX.

imagesThere are others who “escape” the brutal hot sizzling summers of those same places for their “camp in the northern woods, cottage on a New Hampshire lake or the beach family compound on Cape Cod or the rugged shores of Maine.  For many and varied reasons they prefer (or cannot quite imagine not having) a structure to call home base.

For us….that decision was easily made.  We did not want to be tied to the maintenance of our rolling home AND the maintenance, cost and distance filled with concerns about the safety, etc. of a northern sticks N bricks home base.  We would rather have what we own on our back so to speak and know that where ever we wanted to be…we would be and that could change from year to year, season to season depending on where the wind and whims blew us.  I personally have owned one home or another since 1982 and I am more than ready to not have that responsibility.  We simply do not want to deal with frozen pipes, switching out storm windows or raking leaves in our retirement years.  Been there….done that….done!

So we watched, learned, read, and chatted with many who have made similar decisions such as ours to “go full time”.  This is not a decision we have made on a whim.  But don’t be fooled, we have some family and friends who think we are nuts….and others-like my adult children….who are totally supportive and know we will succeed.

After being “RV-less” for about three years the itch became unbearable.  We started falling for Airstreams but did not want to do a total restore and ones in road worthy, camping shape were out of our price range.  Quite by accident we stumbled upon Avions.  Their iconic aluminum, rounded exteriors, quality interior and exterior build and their reputation for excellent tow-ability had us sold.  It took us another two years to find one we wanted….and although we had anticipated having to fly across the country to buy one, we found one on Craig’s List right in VT not more than 15 minutes from my daughter and son-in-law’s house!

IMG_1507168528568We purchased our 1973 Avion, 28′ LaGrande in September, 2016 (some Birthday gift for me eh??!!) and we have never have looked back.  Each month we grow more and more fond of her.  We sold our house in Oct. 2017 and moved into a townhouse apartment all under the methodical plan of incrementally doing our downsizing exercises in prep for full time RV life when we retire.

Below are a few of our very favorite bloggers/vloggers and for various reasons we have noted underneath each one.  Along the way we have internalized and put into practice some of their suggestions and methods, and in other cases it forced us to have heart to hearts with each other to realize….yeah, that may have worked for them…but we will be more comfortable doing it “our way”.  Watching literally hundreds of hours of YouTube videos (we subscribe to most of our fav’s so we don’t miss an episode) to reading countless articles and books on the topic….we have grown in our understanding of what life is like on the road…and what we as a couple expect from the journey, each other and life in general.  It has been a good way to learn…together to prepare for this next chapter.

Here are our favorite bloggers/vloggers.  They are not in any particular order because each offers us different windows on life on the road that are equally important in our planning phases.  You will notice a bit of a pattern here where 3 of our 4 fav’s are also Airstream owners.  Similar enough to our Avion…we all love round aluminum corners!  LOL

courtneyAndI-1A Streamin’ Life:  Steve and Courtney.  Now mid- 30-somethings who figured out a way to retire early (31 & 34) and we have followed since their decision to sell their two houses  a couple years ago (had recently married), sell their stuff, purchase an Airstream (an older one, 30′) and hit the road full time.  Both were still working the first year in their Airstream, living stationery in an RV park in Tucson, AZ while preparing their rig (and themselves) for hitting the road full time.  They are level headed, practical and very good money savers and managers.  Their blog is full of helpful videos on managing trip expenses, planning big trips and week long trips, downsizing to what is really needed and what is not.  They travel with their two dogs which also has given us tips on travel with our dog, Reddy as well.  Courtney and Steve are a terrific resource for how to determine your financial needs to go full time, save up for early retirement and more.  The recently launched a terrific online course to teach others how to plan Epic RV Adventures for more about that click here.   To check out more about Courtney & Steve and their adventures around the USA visit…..Their Blog/website     Their YouTube Channel

P1466425Less Junk, More Journey:  Marisa and Nathan.  Once again, these are “kids” as we refer to them as…basically Marisa is one year younger than my son, and Nathan is three years older than my daughter.  I am sure in some way I live vicariously through them and their journeys trying to imagine them as extended family.  Kevin and I will often refer to them as “the kids”.  Their blog has some terrific, easy to navigate pages like their FAQ that really gives you a terrific way to see their answers to many questions you may have about how they made their decision to go full time, steps they took, etc.  Their young daughter, Hensley is a year younger than our grandson Lucas and a year older than our grandson Sawyer.  She has been on the road since infancy and it is so fun to watch her explore, learn and travel with her fabulous, down to earth parents. Watching where they go, how Hensley enjoys it and some of their methods for keeping sanity on the road with a toddler has given us great ideas for when our grandsons are with us in our RV (it is our hope and plan that they will do more and more of it as we have more time to travel) Their Blog      Their YouTube Channel.

loloho rigLong, Long Honeymoon Kristy & Sean.  Also known as “Lo Lo Ho“.  What started out as a honeymoon on an RV has progressed into well over a decade of extended travels from this wonderful couple.  For over 12 years, Kristy and Sean have made dozens of highly informational videos on everything from backing into a campsite, to dissertations on generators,hitch locks, and many more pieces of equipment, etc. to their epic journey across Alaska (actually our other two bloggers have just done the Alaska trip now too in the last year!)  Last year, Sean was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor but with proper medical intervention and a bit of a slowing down of some of their multiple month trips he is fully on the mend with no tumor reported at his recent medical check up.  Wow! miracles do happen!  This couple maintains a bricks N sticks home and plans big trips each year to various parts of the USA from the Keys to Maine, from Seattle to Atlanta and everywhere in between.  Their video titles are well organized and were especially helpful when we first started RVing….they have some great tutorials to keep you out of trouble!  Their sense of humor and little bit of Laurel & Hardy type of format is so fun.  Sean’s writing style and sense of humor is unbeatable and Kristy is the perfect foil!  Their Blog    Their YouTube Channel

cherie and chris, technomadiaTechnoMadia:  Cherie and Chris.  These were one of the very first full time RV couples we found and began following. They are wanderlust spirits who travel the country in their upgraded retro vintage bus (yes, converted from a passenger tour bus).  Their specialty is their amazing knowledge of tech tools, internet on the road gear, trouble shooting electronics and over the years they have tested, reviewed and scoped out many pieces of internet and mobile gear that full timers may need or want.  A little over a year ago, Cherie and Chris decided to park their RV bus part of the year and bought a large trawler style yacht which they plan to do the “great loop” the Inter coastal Waterway around the eastern/central USA in sections over the next five years or so.  They are typically based in the FL area but also do presentations and speaking engagements at many large national rallies so they also travel all over.  They could be considered more of the senior statesman when it comes to full time life on the road, having done so for well over 15 years now.  They travel with Kiki their cat who is a star all on her own.  Their Blog   Their YouTube Channel

Summing it all up…..

We appreciate the time and talent that each of these bloggers/vloggers bring to the world of full time RV living or mega traveling.  Each of them share a candid snapshot all the time into their lives, their ups and downs, their triumphs and tribulations.  We have learned so much and not to seem like we are bragging but we sense we are far more informed that many other would be, soon to be, or already are..full time wanderers.  We owe this all to these folks and the many others who we watch from time to time on their blogs. We follow or at least check in with about a dozen RV couples and singles who focus on various subjects.   We simply wanted to highlight the top four that we follow…otherwise this blog post would be longer than it already is!! LOL

Thanks for tuning in.  Please visit our friends above. and PLEASE……Let them know that Kevin and Luisa Sherman from “The Pewter Palace.com” turned you on to them!

Safe travels and please subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss a another post!

K-L-PP-copyrighted image footer

Luisa and Kevin Sherman- ThePewterPalace.com

14 Tips for Avoiding Damaging Hail to your RV!

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

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

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

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

Avoiding Hail Storm Damage:

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

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

hail damage, JoAnn Jackson Edgar, TX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018-01-20 11.04.142018-05-13 09.28.28

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

One life….live it!

Luisa