Category Archives: Towing an Avion

Baby’s Got New Shoes! (Tires & Rims)

Today in  90 degrees and 64% humidity…..we (well, ok Kevin did all the work, I did my typical go-fer job and took photos) installed 4 new tires and a spare onto our 1987 Avion 32S.

The tires that came on our 87 Avion were a mixed batch with DOT codes ranging from  2015 to 2018 (the spare).  3 were Load Star brand and 2 were Power King Tow Max STR.  We were not real comfortable with the miss match and ages.  So The Pewter Palace needed new shoes!

After  much research Kevin made the decision to go with new 16 Inch aluminum rims and 16 inch radial tires.  This effectively raised the trailer a 1/2 inch overall.  Not a lot, but since these Avion’s are notoriously low to the ground, anything helps.

There is a huge debate and preferences of radials to bias ply tires.  To each his own.  Our feeling is we are going to be doing a lot of long distance multi day travels on highways especially as full timers.  Radials can handle that 6-8 hour day of driving in high heat conditions better than bias.  But this is our opinion from research and we believe everyone had their preferences and their reasons and we do not plan to get into a debate over it.  If it works for you….then that is great.

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Here is what we bought to complete this project:

TIRES:

LT225/75R16 Michelin Agilis CrossClimate  M3JH02CX2220                                             (July 2020 price in NY@ our local tire store, Warren Tire, Queensbury NY, $240.95 per)

https://www.michelintruck.com/tires-and-retreads/selector/info/agilis-crossclimate

RIMS:

16X6 6-Lug on 5.5″ Aluminum T02 Trailer Wheel – T02-66655T                                     (July 2020 price, online-$121.99 per rim)

https://recstuff.com/trailer-wheels/aluminum-trailer-wheels/16×6-6-bolt-on-5-5-aluminum-t02-trailer-wheel/

CENTER CAPS FOR RIMS:

4.25″ Stainless Steel EZ Lube Center Cap CCS002 (July 2020, $10.99 each online)

https://recstuff.com/trailer-tires-wheels/wheel-accessories/4-25-stainless-steel-ez-lube-center-cap-ccs002/

METAL VALVE STEMS: (we strongly urge metal valve stems, why?  rubber breaks down over time due to exposure to sun, etc.  Also if you have tire pressure monitoring devices on the stems, they add weight and over time the rubber will flex enough that they will crack and you lose air out of the valve stem….been there…done that!)

High pressure, Bolt in Metal Valve Stems (0-131 PSI)  ($3.99 each)

https://recstuff.com/trailer-tires-wheels/wheel-accessories/valve-stems/high-pressure-bolt-in-metal-valve-stem-0-130-psi/

HERE ARE SOME PHOTOS TO SHOW COMPARISONS FROM THE 15″ TO 16″

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New Michelin 16″ on left…….original Load Star 15″ on right.                                                               Both are mounted on Aluminum rims.  We chose the new rims to match what is on our tow vehicle, our 2011 GMC Denali 2500HD, 4WD, Crew Cab, Gas Engine. Sorry due to close quarters in our RV garage I could not take the photo head on, so actually the 16 inch looks a little smaller…its not!

 

Even with the addition of the 16″ size there is still plenty of “head room” above the tire.  Original 15 inch is on right.  NOTE:  This FACE WIDTH  of the tires are the same width!

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We did have these tires professionally mounted and balanced at our local, very reliable Warren Tire shop here in Queensbury NY.  We always recommend having your tires balanced professionally!!

STILL TO COME….(due to shipping delays have to go on later when we do bearings and brake checks)

We have ordered Centramatic Balancers: 

GENERAL INFO ABOUT THIS PRODUCT:  https://www.centramatic.com/balancers.rhtml

OUR ORDER:   AJP-10″ Light Duty 6 on 5.5″   (July 2020, pricing  4 pc set, $199.00 online only)

https://www.centramatic.com/wheel-balancer.rhtml?modelNumber=200-223

Wheel Bearing Check and Brake Checks will be done before our trip to the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally hopefully (leaving in 8 days), if not this will be done upon our return.  We had been told by previous owner bearing and brakes are good….appear so, but we always like to create our own “new benchmark” on our trailers for our own piece of mind.

Happy and safe travels….hope this post has helped you!  We LOVE COMMENTS!

Be safe, hope to meet  you on the road or at a campground or rally someday!

Kevin and Luisa Sherman

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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!

Mud Flap Install- Protecting the Beauty!

We spent the following week preparing for our big trip out to Elkhart, Indiana to enjoy the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally with 41, count ’em…41 other Avions! While at it…we installed a mud flap system to protect our silver beauty!! 

Back story.……When we returned from our longest road trip to date (16 days) to Dearborn, Michigan this past May/June for the TCT (Tin Can Tourist) Centennial Rally we noticed that at some point, we must have driven over some loose gravel, rock chips in a construction zone because on the curbside of our Avion front area (yes, the area where Airstreams have those protective “wings”) we had a whole lot of small, tiny dings into our aluminum skin.  We  know these were not there prior to our trip.  It is worthwhile to note that with our multiple excursions now through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana…that the roads in those states are not nearly as good, or well maintained as ours are in NYS.  So ok, higher gas taxes, and over all taxes may have some redeeming quality…but we still live in one of THE most expensive states in the union–so not much solace there.

So we have decided to purchase a mud flag bumper guard set up for our tow vehicle which is a 2011 GMC 2500 Denali HD, 6L gas, 4 WD, Crew Cab with Leer extended bed cap (which we LOVE!!).

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A mudflap system would have most likely 99% prevented these chips from happening.  Only sorry we did not do sooner, 46 years on the road and our baby got dinged!  Not only does a mudflap protect from errant rocks coming up and hitting your rig, or worse yet, your rockguard or windows…BUT it also handles…well….MUD (snow, slush, dead animal debris, floating garbage or UFO’s on the highway!-yes it happens!)  Kevin works for NYS DOT and can tell you amazing stories of what his crew finds on the highways.  Mud was the other thing that washed up onto our Avion body front during this most recent trip.

Kevin got lucky when he inquired about pricing for a Rockstar Mud Flap bumper system at our favorite local after-market auto parts detailer and installer- Mac The Knife (Mac also is the one who redid our rock guard and spare tire cover- he does great work!)  Mac happened to have a left over demo model of a Rockstar brand system that he had had on display in his shop a few years back.  Yeah, it was dusty but Kevin got it for less than 1/2 price off current retail …and it is the same system being sold today for over $479 list.  Here is link to similar set up that we have which is currently available through ETrailer.com.  FYI-We have purchased several things from ETrailer.com and are very impressed with the ease of ordering online, their quick shipping and quality products.  They have a huge inventory of tons of stuff and their customer service reps are very good.

Bear in mind, these things are heavy.  We realized that since this will be a one time purchase for us…and when we are in our 70’s and 80’s and still on the road (don’t laugh…we will be good LORD willin’ and the creek don’t rise!) we needed the easiest way possible to lift this baby off the back hitch to store it away if we did not want to cruise around with it on the truck (it does add weight= lesser gas efficiency when not towing)

Here is a good video to show how you hook on the system to your rear bumper.

So Kevin had the idea to create a semi-permanent fix which was to affix the flap system to the receiver piece insert which then can be pulled out with the mud flap bumper system.  Otherwise, we would also have to be pulling off the entire (and super heavy) GenY Torsion Hitch with the whole mudflap bumper system attached as one unit.  That GenY Torsion Hitch is also a great piece of equipment and we will do a separate post just on that and cross link it here at some point.

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view of bumper step, where guard sits atop for custom look

Steps we did:

  1. Retro fit a longer 12″ insert reducer from 2.5″ to 2″ so that we could bolt the mud flap guard system right to that. Here is the link to the additional hardware bracket needed as well.   Link to hardware sold at ETrailer.com
  2. Kevin used a DeWalt Saws-All with brand new blades to cut off the excess length off the reducer.  Be sure to clamp down the reducer so you get as straight a cut as possible.  The reducer was too long and butted right  up to our spare tire, so that needed to be trimmed back by several inches.  Doing this however, then threw off the alignment of the pre-drilled side holes in the reducer, making use of a hitch pin lock impossible.
  3. He then used several different drill bits to cut new holes in the correct positions needed to now be able to throw the hitch lock 5/8 ” pin through. It has a key lock and we have had it rekeyed to match the truck ignition so you always have it handy!
  4. We followed some video’s found on YouTube for the Rockstar brand installation because as we mentioned, this was a store demo unit and therefore we had no instructions or paperwork with it.
  5. Once installed where we knew it was properly in place, we also had to install a Heat Shield (bought on Amazon, see our link/resource page) to prevent the heat from our large exhaust pipe from damaging (a.k.a melting!) our heavy rubber mud flaps.

heat shield

It is very important to have this heat shield if your exhaust goes out back before using the mudflap unit. If your pipe exhausts to the side you will not need the heat shield.

IF you are purchasing a brand new kit, you may have to put your unit together yourself.  See Video    As a demo model…Kevin did not have to do these steps!  Ours was ready for install!

 

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This is showing the install WITH the GenY Torsion hitch in place.  The GenY now can be removed by itself and the mudflap guard system stays on the vehicle unless we decide we want to take it off for non-towing times, or touring. Still to do was install the heat shield, and apply some bumper pads on truck bumper to protect from rubbing of mud flap bumper tabs.

If you have any questions about this install, or why we chose our hitch or this mudflap system, feel free to email us directly at 1973Avion@gmail.com!  We would love to hear from you!

Safe journeys!  Share photos of your mud flap project with us on our facebook page!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman

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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!

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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

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!

Mor-Ryde Jack Lift Hook for Avion Travel Trailers

Here is our video on how to use the original Mor-Ryde Bottle Jack Lift Plate.

This original piece of equipment has become quite rare to find because along the way subsequent owners did not know what that somewhat rusted, odd shaped thing was. Lucky for us, our previous owner inherited his trailer from his Uncle who was an old-timer and had owned our trailer for over 20 years taking her to Florida annually and also to Alaska and California.  He knew the value of having this little piece of metal to ensure no damage would be done to the Mor-Ryde suspension in case of a need for a tire change.

We hope this video will assist those who have this equipment, maybe packed way low in one of the storage bins on your trailer.  This coming winter, Kevin plans to get these replicated and we should have them for sale.  Let us know if you are interested and we will follow up with you when availability and pricing becomes known.

We appreciate your comments on the video.  If you like it please give us a thumbs up!

 

 

Tow Vehicle….update

It has been a very long winter here in the Southern Adirondacks.  A lot of snow, cold and dreary days.

Last weekend, while riding back in our tow vehicle, our 2005 Chevy Suburban, 1500 Z71 4 x 4 our transmission went on RT 28A south of Vergennes VT–about an hour north of our house.  Thank goodness for AAA RV Plus and we were towed back to our local transmission shop for repairs without a dime out of our pocket.

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We love this vehicle and did not hesitate to put the new trany into her…but to a tune of $2800 ouch.  We did beef up a few of the components which did add a couple $100 to the ticket–but worth it when towing our 1973 Avion trailer.

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We are so thankful that we were not towing when the transmission went, or that we were not half way down the east coast or mid-west.  It is worth it to put the money into her since she is expected to last us a good  many years and will need to be in prime shape for towing our Pewter Palace this summer and many more.

Kevin and I enjoy watching many of the great Vlogs on YouTube with full timers who have Airstreams (Like “A Streamin’ Life“, “Long Long Honeymoon” and “Less Junk, More Journey” and are learning a lot from them in preparation for the day/year we take our final step to full time RV living.

One thing we noticed is that all or most of them have adopted pet names for their tow vehicles.

I have been trying to come up with a pet name for our Suburban and yesterday when I was hopping in to go to work it hit me when I wasn’t even trying—whammo!

Darth Vader!!  “Darth” for short.

Notice the resemblance?? (pardon the mud on “Darth” I was off-roading a bit today)

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So home from ABC Transmissions in South Glens Falls, who by the way were awesome and really stand behind their work.  Its a quality deal, with quality people and we would recommend anyone to go there.  Heck, the owner owns a 2004 LT Suburban…a kissing cousin to ours so he can’t be all that bad right!?? (BTW–he did love our vehicle and loved all of our bells and whistles that comes with the Z71 package…and he said wow, that is a sharp looking vehicle)  We agree…

So parting shot, here is Kevin with Darth and the Pewter Palace!!

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Happy Trails!  many more miles to go…..