Many first time Avion owners wonder what the big (normally black but sometimes red) numbers mean on one of the front side and back side panels of their Avion! These are NOT your VIN#!!
These are member numbers from a prior owner of your trailer, who back in the day joined the official Avion “Travelcade Club” which conducted all sizes of Avion exclusive rallies (some as big as 2000 trailers!!) around the USA and also conducted escorted caravan tours all over the USA ….even to Alaska!
Here are some examples of these numbers on ours and other trailers! ***If you have one on yours please share a photo of it to us so we can add it to this slideshow! (we have a link to a source to order #s and unit sets at end of this post!)
If you have a “ghost” number, meaning the vinyl numbers are no longer there but due to fade, etc. you can see these aprox 3″ high numbers that was the Member’s number- you are half way there! It is NOT unique to that trailer, it belonged to the Member themselves. As we all know, and Kevin and I are examples of this, the first Avion you buy may not be the LAST Avion you buy! So by having the Travelcade # assigned to the Member, versus the trailer, you can “move” your number to your next Avion!
Having the original Travelcade Club numbers on a vintage trailer is cache and special! In our opinion, and many others share the same feeling—you SHOULD RETAIN THEM and preserve them for nostalgia purposes. Some will note, the trailer may even fetch a higher resale amount if it has the original numbers–even though we know they were not issued to you since you may be the 3,rd, 4th or 8th owner of that particular trailer.
There are Avion owners who have the originally published member annual rosters and with a little patience on your part, they can assist in helping you find out who the Travelcade member was, where they lived at the time, etc. Its kinda fun to know that part of your trailer’s history back decades! To have assistance to look up your numbers go to one of the Avion owners facebook pages, and post preferably a photo of your numbers or ghost image. The folks with the books will see it and reach out to you if they find something! (Avion owners are good folks, and generous to the core!)
Our 1973, 28 Foot LaGrande Avion we owned from 2016-2020 did have to original Travelcade member #s and we were very proud of them. Below is a photo of our ’73 with our numbers 14229.
Sadly our current (and forever) 1987, 32S model owners during the days the club was in operation never joined, so we do not have any on our rig.
YOU HAVE OPTIONS-—if you have a ghost number showing you can order a new set of those numbers and apply them. Sometimes there was also a “state unit” identified underneath the numbers. I have posted a link below to a reputable source for new replacement numbers.
If your rig NEVER had numbers, you technically can, if you wish – create your own, perhaps personalized to something that connects to you. The Travelcade Club no longer exists (died out in the 90s once Fleetwood took over the company and phased out the Avions), so technically you are ok to create something new. ******You may wish to contact one of the folks who own the old registries to see if that # sequence was already used. If it was an assigned number you may want to go with something different, or at least honor that original member and know the # history to share with others. BELOW I HAVE A LINK TO WHERE TO ORDER NEW NUMBER AND STATE UNIT SETS!
Here are some other pictures of the Travelcade Club paraphernalia and other memorabilia! Please visit our other blog articles that go into more depth about the Travelcade club and also other emblems you may find on the outside of your Avion!
NEW!!!! GREAT RESOURCE FOR HAVING REPLICA TRAVELCADE NUMBERS MADE UP FOR YOUR TRAILER! See link below. We know folks who have ordered from this Ebay store and have been very pleased.
We hope this information helps! If you have any questions or need resources for other Avion trailer items please check our Resource page! We do our best to keep links current and we apologize up front if a link is broken or no longer exists…the world is constantly evolving and its hard to keep up sometimes!
Be well!! From Kevin and Luisa Contact us at PewterPalace87@gmail.com
[Buckle your seatbelt, this is a long post but can be done in segments!]
Originally our 2021 “big trip” of the summer was going to begin by crossing over the border to Toronto, Canada and proceeding in a leisurely path west along the Canadian highways and byways reaching the “mitten” of Michigan- The Upper Peninsula and then heading south to join up with fellow Avioner’s in Elkhart, Indiana for the annual SAF rally.
The lingering Covid 19 and the pandemic restrictions of travel crossing borders and prohibition to enter Canada put a total kabash on all that. We had to cancel reservations and rethink our plans.
Answer! Let’s go South and experience the Shenandoah’s and Smoky Mountains! I have always said to Kevin, give me campsites with views of water or mountains- preferably both….and my heart sings and my soul rejoices. So in mid December 2020 we switched plans…..South we go instead of North!
PRIMARY GOALS: We would do a 3-week adventure with the goal of driving the entire length of the Skyline Drive (toll to get on), the Blue Ridge Parkway and end up at one of our “national bucket list of European-themed USA towns”–Helen, Georgia which boasted a Bavarian/German theme and set in a mountain setting.
SECONDARY GOALS: in planning this trip we also had some important secondary goals we wanted to accomplish.
(1) Stay at a minimum of one Military Base FAM/TRAVEL camps. I will do a separate blog post about this program in the future and link it back here.There are specific classifications of military or former military that can use these parks. They are not open to the general public.
(2) Stay at as many National Park (NPS) Campgrounds and State Campgrounds as possible to save $$ and see how our 32 foot travel trailer will be in these eastern seaboard, and older campgrounds.
(3) Stay at an Army Corps of Engineer Campground to see what they are like.
(4) Use Luise’s recently obtainedNational Park Service Senior Lifetime Access Pass to its fullest advantage to save $$ on park entrance and campground fees. (Mission accomplished!—you can get as soon as you turn 62)
(5) Use our new subscription to RV Trip Wizard to do the planning, routing and travel assistance. (see my notes later on how we felt this went for this type of trip)
Let’s start with the planning portion. While we are still recreational campers (not full time living yet!) and the constraints of a start and end date- planning is important to get your desired trip in within the time you have been granted vacation from work. I retired at the end of 2020 but Kevin is still working full time (bless his heart).
We had purchased a subscription to RV Trip Wizard thinking this would be the be all-end all to our planning needs. We based this on fabulous multiple reviews from bloggers we follow, fellow travelers, etc.
“The Bad/Ugly” What we found out, or rather I found out was that RV Trip Wizard likes highways….not scenic byways. It constantly tried to route me off of the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway! I tried applying the “avoid highway” setting but that did not work because some of our trip needed highways/intertstates to get from point A to point B.
“The Fix” so what I ended up having to do was to create a Part A, Part B and Part C of our trip—each with its own unique trip plan and had to save each of them seperately. This way I could segment out and use interstates when desired, or the avoid highway mode when needed for the byways and back roads we wanted. It was VERY time consuming, tedious and not at all what I had hoped the program could do. I am totally sure if you are choosing to do long trips using major highways that the software will be fabulous as it does offer a lot of nice features.
“What the Program DID do Well!” there were pluses to using RV Trip Wizard though. That included a great pin point locator of campgrounds along our route with many filters we could apply as desired e.g. National, state, private campgrounds, things nearby to see, gas station locations, etc.
In the end, although I had printed out each PART on paper (yeah about 23 pages worth) I never used one of the sheets nor did we trust to use it as our GPS- so we resorted to our Garmin RV which is also only so-so. Published paper maps from the NPS and state tourism bureaus worked in tandem with our GPS- we only took a wrong way twice!
BTW— We booked 95% of our campground reservations by January 15, 2021 ( for a May 28 departure date) so we would assure ourselves places to stay! Booking this far ahead is critical in our opinion if you have a larger rig like ours, are somewhat picky what type of site you want. You can always cancel a reservation but these days with the glut of RVers on the road- do not wait to make early reservations if you have specific destinations in mind.
SO ONTO OUR TRIP! ….WHEW! Thought we would never get there!
PART ONE- NY, PA TO VA & onto THE SKYLINE DRIVE
SECTION 1 Plan- leave home Thursday, May 28 and drive to first overnight- boondock (about 6 hrs) at Cabella’s in Hamburg, PA.LINK This is a frequent boondock for us because we avoid NYC and RT 95 completely. We prefer to loop through PA going out to Harrisburg and then south. Although the roads in PA have been in perpetual construction mode since the early 90’s we still find this route preferable to going through lower NYS, NJ and MD along RT 95-especially when towing a trailer!
ON TO VIRGINIA….FORT BELVOIR ARMY BASE- TRAVEL CAMP!As I mentioned above, thanks to Kevin’s Army service and discharge classification (there are only specific ones allowed) we are able to use these FAM or Travel camps as they are called which are right on a military base (all branches of service) and in many cases RVers are granted use of the PX the Commissary and other on base services. The rates to stay are not necessarily cheaper than the rack rate at nearby private campgrounds, but the security is outstanding, you know you are only camped next to other military folks, and the use of the other base services like pool, hair salons, gyms, etc. granted at some bases is really nice. PLUS..in this case WE CAMPED RIGHT ALONG THE POTOMAC RIVER AND A 1/2 HOUR FROM WASHINGTON DC! CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ON THE TRAVEL CAMP.
(we will do a complete campground review in the future, watch for the link!)
Our timing for over Memorial Day to be at Fort Belvoir was in hindsight not perfect. DC was a mob scene and most of the museums in DC that we had not already seen where still closed or on severe limited pre-reservation timed entry passes due to Covid-19 still. It was a bummer, but we did spend a great full day at nearby (about 35 min drive) in Fredericksburg, VA. This is a colonial town with tons of history, historic buildings, great restaurants and shopping. We enjoyed a great “German lunch” at Deutschland Downtown and had fun touring some of the historic buildings. Worth the day trip in our opinion.
OH…and did I mention there is a huge IKEA store about 15 minutes from the campground. Yup…dropped some coinage there too another day!
SECTION 2–NEXT STOP- ONTO THE SKYLINE DRIVE TO LURAY, VA
We stayed four nights at Fort Belvoir, in VA then drove essentially west to pick up the Skyline Drive just south of the town of Front Royal (we will cross paths with Front Royal on our way home too!) It was an easy drive west and Front Royal is a good place to GAS UP before starting the Skyline Drive. There is only ONE GAS STATION ON THE SKYLINE DRIVE at Big Meadows (Byrd Visitor Center) which is about a halfway point. PLAN YOUR VISIT……
**Fee to enter the DRIVE is $30 unless you have a NPS (National Park Service) Pass. I have a Senior Lifetime Access Pass so we were FREE!
–Info about Senior Lifetime Access Pass (you must be at least 62 years young!) ....Here
PRO-NOTE– if you show up after 5 PM or before 9 AM to the entry gates at any of the four entries to the DRIVE you will most likely get in for free and see a note that says….”please pay when you exit” . This, is at least the case right now, with staffing stressed to the max in part due to Covid 19 and previous years drastic funding reductions to National Parks. Be a good doobie…and pay when you leave! They need the $$!
** BE SURE TO GET THE OFFICIAL SKYLINE DRIVE MAP! You will need it as there is little to NO CELL SIGNAL for most of the drive and the map gives you mile markers, locations and services at rest areas and key sites to not miss.
** if you have a CD player in your car or available, the first NPS visitor center ( Dickey Ridge) southbound on the Skyline Drive sells a really nice auto tour CD that narrates what you are seeing as you drive along, allows you to pause it for stops and gives you background history of areas you are passing through. Worth the small cost in our opinion. Sorry…they do not have an app…and with no cell signal-not gonna work anyway! LOL
As soon as you enter the Skyline Drive you will see it is a tad winding in spots, but not too bad and there are TONS of SCENIC PULL OFFS on both sides of the road. The roadway is one lane south (our direction) and one lane north. All rest areas with/without services are accessible from both directions. That being said:
“there were many scenic pull offs that clearly were intended to visit when traveling northbound. We were traveling southbound and with our total length of 56 feet—we passed by some because the pull out was on a blind turn or there were too many vehicles already there, making it tough for us to easily get in and out. “
Best time to do pull offs is earlier in the morning. You will find the traffic lightest then too. There are no street lights, so when it gets dark…it is DARK- we recommend NOT doing the DRIVE in the dark due to wildlife, winding blind turns and narrow roadways. (there are no guardrails, no shoulders). We were traveling through on the first full week of June, 2021 and the traffic was very, very light. We were surprised and often had no one within any eyeshot of us for miles. There were many times where we felt we were the only ones left in the world!
We found the Skyline Drive to be a beautiful and very relaxing drive. the drive includes going through lush woodlands, and riding atop the mountains, slicing through carved out divides and circling around the midline of 4000 foot high mountains. No semi-trucks, no commercial vehicles, no billboards, just wooded wilderness, beautiful vistas and lots of “oh wow!”, “amazing” and “look how far we can see!”. It was enchanting and exhilarating at the same time!
Next stop….LURAY JellystoneCampground & Luray Caverns!
We picked Luray Jellystone Campground because it was easy off the SD (Skyline Drive) and had quick access to gas, the caverns, downtown shopping, etc. **There are ONLY FOUR entrances onto the SD so planning where to camp overnight you should factor that in so you are not spending a lot of time traveling back roads to get to a campground if you are only spending a night or two and hopping back onto the SD.
I will not go into detail here on this campground here. Suffice it to say, it was a typical Jellystone. Lots of kids, families with golf carts, sites were ok but nothing out of the ordinary. Please read our campground review for the good, bad and ugly details.
We stayed there two nights, mid week. Would we stay there again? probably only if we had the grandsons with us.
We LOVED Luray Caverns and their “add-on at no charge” other attractions in their complex. Just minutes from the campground on the same highway too. We arrived just as it was opening (I think we were ticket #4 & 5) so it was nice and cool. No worries…inside the Caverns is beautifully tepid cool all the time- a great place to go on a scorcher summer day! Plan to spend the day there is a lot to see and do from the caverns to the Heritage Museum to the Antique Auto Museum and the Toy Museum (not so great, a little tired and forgotten) and for an additional fee, a tree tops ropes course.
Get there early to have the cave nearly to yourself to stroll!
Just new within the past year, the caverns has gone completely NO STAIRS! They built and extensive ramp with easy grade to access the main entrance and all of the pathways through the caverns are all ramps or easy paths with sturdy handrails. This is a wonderful thing! They are very proud of this accessibility feature and rightly so!
There is a very RV FRIENDLY pull-through Gas station right at the foot of their huge parking lot. Plenty of room for RV parking if you get there in the morning!
When in Luray, take a few more minutes to visit COOTER’S GARAGE and the DUKES OF HAZZARD MUSEUM -owned by Ben Jones an original cast member! It’s just west by a few minutes from the Luray Caverns (on same highway). Its a great stop, we missed on our southbound route, so we caught it going back up north on our return trip. Easy access off of Interstate 81 that northbound or southbound direction too! There is no charge to enter the museum, but they have a nice small gift shop attached that you will want to purchase something to support their efforts. I purchased some locally made jam.
There is RV parking to the east side of their parking lot. We got there just before closing and so the parking lot was virtually empty mid week. The cafe unfortunately has very odd and limited hours so do not count on a bite to eat there. The museum is great with tons of memorabilia and actual cars (or some repro’s) used in the TV show. Dating ourselves, watched it regularly! The gift shop also has DoH stuff to purchase to show you remember when……Daisy Duke was America’s heartthrob!
PRO-NOTE: Even if you have to get there after hours, you can still see these cars as well as others like the ones used in the show displayed outside 24/7!
SECTION 3- BACK ONTO THE SKYLINE DRIVE TO LOFT MOUNTAIN!
We hopped back onto the Skyline Drive (SD) after spending 2 nights at Luray Jellystone. The drive continued to keep us in awe with beautiful scenery, the occasional deer spotting and amazing woodland vistas. The NPS rest areas are excellent, some with snack bars and all with gift shops (of course!) and clean restrooms, 24/7 maps to take, hiking maps, etc. There is usually at least one NPS Ranger during (9-4 pm) who can also answer specific questions about hikes, natural wonders, wildlife, etc.
Below is SKYLAND rest area which also features a restaurant, grab n go snack bar, gift shop and what appear to be beautiful lodging cabins that have spectacular private balconies overlooking the valley to the west. They were doing construction on the exterior to add we believe a large outside dining deck to the restaurant area. Restaurant has limited hours. If you are not camping, or want a night of blissful luxury you may want to book a stay! One of the most beautiful rest areas, however the bathrooms i the rest area itself were down a very large flight of stairs. really?? I must have missed the main floor ones! Check out the link here…
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MILE MARKERS!Skyland is Mile Marker 45, Loft Mountain is Mile Marker (MM) 80. (reminder, below you will see Big Meadow Visitor Center on the map below my fingers a bit. This is the ONLY GAS/DIESEL station on the entire 105 miles of the Skyline Drive! Top off or Gas Up here!
This does not sound like much of a trek, but when there is an awesome view from pull offs along the way and you stop to take pictures and drool….it can take a while believe me! Plus remember…the speed limit on the SD is 35 MPH and that is all you want to go anyway so you do not miss anything or anyone (like a deer or bear!)We did 25-30mph most of the time.
LOFT MOUNTAIN NPS CAMPGROUND
LOFT MOUNTAIN was our first National Park Service campground experience. I had used online booking, reviewed online sites that show photos of the actual sites and thought this would be a good fit. We were Site # F165. Non electric, no services site….which is all they have ANYWAY! I booked this in late December and there were already limited sites available so book early! We stayed 2 nights and rate was $15 per night but with my Senior NPS pass (see above for link) it was HALF PRICE…A WHOPPING $15 FOR TWO NIGHTS OF DRY CAMPING on top of a mountain with deer out our door and spectacular sunsets!
Be sure if you do camp at Loft Mountain campground that you take one of the several paths to the Amphitheater to watch the sunsets!You may get lucky like we did and see Elk literally 5 feet from you on the path! Sadly, again due to Covid restrictions/ and we think low staffing again, there were no programs scheduled at the outdoor theater but we understand there normally would be nature talks, music bands, solo musicians, etc. at least on weekends. We were there June 4-6, 2021.
Below are photos of our campsite itself in the Loop F, site # 165. We would try for other sites next time. This site is fine for a trailer under 28 feet due to the curve and the very un-levelness (is that a word?) of the site. Our power jack barely had enough pole to level us. Thank goodness we had the large red Anderson Jack Block to secure us in place. Even with this, I had nightmares of us falling off our block, and dreamt of a bear using our trailer as a scratching post and knocking us off our “perch”. (read that story “Mr MaGee Goes Camping” to my grandsons once too many times I think!)
While at Loft Mountain on our first full day we did a day ride (no trailer in tow) to Staunton, VA using the southern most entry point to the SD which is ROCKFISH GAP. We wanted to have a nice lunch at another highly rated German restaurant, The Edelweiss. You are getting the theme here about our culinary preferences aren’t you!? ** let us know if there is a super good German restaurant where you live or travel—we would love to check it out!
We also did some walking around the campground looking at sights (including views, deer and elk) but did not do any of the many hikes off of here due to my arthritic knee acting up. We would definitely recommend this restaurant if you are on the SD or doing Interstate 81 as it is right off of there as well. Just use Google!
So this will end our PART 1 from our 2021 Summer 3-Week trip over the Shenandoah Mountains and the Shenandoah National Park. Thank you for taking the ride with us! Here I am pointing to my Shenandoah National Park sticker on our 1987 Avion travel trailer we affectionately call “The Pewter Palace”!
Part 2 will include the Blue Ridge Parkway beginning in Rockfish Gap, through the rest of the Shenandoah National Park and Blue Ridge Mountain Range and on into the Smoky Mountain National Park.
Be well, travel safe, slow down and enjoy the journey!
The Good, The Bad…the Ugly! It may not be the most glamorous topic for discussion, but keeping you and your family healthy has a direct correlation to continued enjoyment of the RV travel hobby.
The UGLY! Cross contamination of the fresh water spigot tap can cause serious illness—and contamination of your entire fresh water system! It can happen very easily, without your knowledge or even innocently on your part and it DOES happen!
Here are just a few possible CAUSES OF CONTAMINATION to your fresh water tank:
HOW DOES CONTAMINATION OF FRESH WATER HAPPEN?
Campground issues…..these are out of your control!
Campgrounds are not regularly testing their potable water supply (yes, it happens*)
Local municipal contamination, causing an emergency “boil water” advisory- especially prevalent after major storms.
Fresh water pipes could be broken underground before they get to spigot.
Improper placement of fresh water spigots by campground ownership
AND THE BIGGEST/MOST COMMON REASON?? Fresh water spigot tap contamination from a previous camper!
What YOU and OTHER CAMPERS do DOES makes a difference!
Lack of proper procedures during their black water tank flush process
Improper series/order of steps when hooking up or breaking down camp- we have seen people cleaning/rinsing their septic hose by turning on the fresh water spigot and rinsing under the water flow. Do you have any idea how much bacteria is splashing back up on to that faucet outlet??
Improper storage of your fresh water and sewer hoses
Broken, cracked, frayed hoses or couplers on hoses
There are countless conversations on facebook, YouTube and other blogs about first hand witnessing of unsanitary (for you and them) practices or lack thereof. This is serious business, ecoli infections can kill someone!
TIPS TO BE MORE SAFE WHEN USING CAMPGROUND DUMP STATIONS AND FULL HOOK UP SITES:
Always wear clean disposable gloves when doing your sewer dumping and DO NOT leave those gloves anywhere but in your own trash bag!
Put a small spray bottle of H2O with a mild bleach solution in your outside fresh water compartment. I bought a 4 inch travel size one with spritzer nozzle at Wally World for a couple of $.
Spray your bleach water solution EACH and every time you hook upand break down! Spray it on…both ends of your fresh water hose, the spigot at the campground pedestal/faucet before you hook up your hose. Spray the ends of your fresh water filter(s) too. When spraying spray around the outside and into the openings of hoses, filters, and spigot.
NEVER set the open ends of your fresh water hoses or filter ends on the ground!! NEVER NEVER! Have a helper hold them. If you must set stuff down because you are alone, then take a clean new plastic kitchen garbage bag and put that on the ground near the water spigot and lay your items on it like a carpet. Throw bag away after use.
DO NOT store your water filters in your basement storage areas. (may be ok for modern campers with large storage areas where you can have lidded plastic totes) Way too much dirt, germs and debris can find their way into them. We store ours in a clean dish pan in our shower floor or kitchen sink.
If the weather has been wet, use a paper towel or sponge to slide down the length of the fresh water hose before storing to take off mud, dirt, bugs, etc. Be sure you get all or 99% of the water out of your hoses before storing.
Always screw the two ends of your fresh water hose together so nothing can get in there while not in use. Would not hurt to again spray with the water/bleach solution before storing.
Using your water/bleach spritzer spray off your dump valves regularly. Keep them properly greased/lubed up as directed by manufacturers recommendations. Keep your storage bays as clean as possible.
Store your “stinky slinky”, septic hose in a separate area from your fresh water hose and equipment.
Have a box of gloves, a bucket of clorox wipes and paper towels always handy in that basement bay or next one over.
Consider always carrying a gerry jug (we have two 6 gals) with you filled with fresh water you know you can trust. Just in case the water from your campsite smells a little off, has high iron or sulfur content even though it may be potable. Your AM coffee will thank you!
Install an under counter fresh water filter below your faucet. There are many types from electronic to flow through traditional. We have one on our dedicated drinking water faucet. It is so good it even removed the pink dye color from the winter antifreeze!
Consider buying a Berkey Water Filtration system that sits on your counter. Found on Amazon or their dedicated Berkey site. Not cheap but great peace of mind.
Dump the black water tank first….then the grey water!
Put at least 4-6 or so gallons of water (depends on size of your tank or how long you will be not camping) back into your toilet and add your black tank digester. We prefer Happy Camper or Unique brands.
You do not need to use RV toilet paper….any Septic Safe labeled T-paper is fine as long as you use sufficient water each time you flush. What I tell my grandsons is if you do #2…then hold the pedal down for as long as it takes you to slowly count to at least 6.
*I recall reading numerous reviews about a campground in south western Arizona that had multiple complaints and even was shut down by their local health department due to fouled fresh water being run through pipes to their campsites. It pays to read campground reviews before you park! (NOTE: we always have at least 4-6 filled milk jugs of our own home water with us on any given trip. If anything, we use them to “flush” when boondocking or using our toilet at a rest area.
Are you bothered by the beam of light that comes through your roof vent in the morning—saying “wake up its 6 AM??”
Even though we have MaxAir Vent covers in the smoke plexiglass color we still find that the morning light coming in really robs us of some extra ZZZZ’s! So I looked for an inexpensive way to fix this issue. We do have modern Fan-tastic in our Avion, but this fix could be used with other types of roof fan vents too! A quick look on Amazon and even just Google shows there are all sorts of sizes available out there.
Then again, you could wear a sleep mask but we find them a little uncomfortable and can be hot.
Key to choosing a window shade is that it should have perforations so that you can still use the fan feature when your “shade is drawn closed”. Here is an image similar to what we purchased, on clearance at Camping World for $6.
First thing I did was cut off the actual retraction roller bar part. I did not want to have to screw that into our ceiling and felt that I would not be able to get a strong enough bond to take the pressure that was needed to “pull” the shade across our vent screen area. I left the other end intact which had a stiff rod through it and a small fastening area (on left end below). I felt this would add some stability as this would be the end that will be unrolled/rolled up to stow the mesh.
I used the Scotch brand traditional velcro squares below. I did NOT use the heavy duty click together type which the velcro adheres far more permanently to your surface and these are usually what I use for far heavier items.
I then applied 3 pairs of 1″ white velcro squares on the cut end of the mesh.
When I work with velcro I match up the two parts of the velcro first, then remove the clear plastic sheet to expose the sticky side on one side- afix into place where I want it. On this project that was all done on the kitchen counter. Then when I am ready to install I peel off the clear plastic protector on the other ends and push entire thing into place. This method takes the guess work out of trying to line each piece up properly.
This cut off end will be attached to the rear edge of the vent shroud trim piece. I did not use removable velcro squares but you can find them in 3M product lines, though they might be rectangular and thinner- they will work. The mesh piece is not heavy so HD velcro is not needed. In the photo below you can see the 3 sets of pairs of velcro.
NOTE: I chose to put the black side of the mesh towards the roof vent. I felt that having the white exposed to our bedroom would make the mesh far less noticeable on the ceiling –as I plan to just roll it up and stow it on the ceiling. If you prefer, with using the velcro squares it is just as easy to take down completely when not in use- but the velcro will wear out quicker. The instructions on the package if used in a car application said the white to the outside, black to the inside of the car.
When you go to install the velcro squares to the fan trim piece be sure that trim piece is really clean. Ideally clean with a little rubbing alcohol first, and dry to ensure a great seal of the sticky back velcro.
Next step for me was to hold those velcro tabs in place a bit just to ensure they are well bonded to the plastic wide fan flange. I let the mesh hang for about 15 minutes as part of this process.
Next step was to hold up and extend the shade, using the original tab on the end that has the bar reinforcement in the hem. I held it up as taught as possible but not so tight to put pressure on the 3 sets of velcro on other end nor to obstruct or push against the rotator motor that hangs down.
Once I found that right point, I installed one more sticky back velcro square to the ceiling and one to the top side of that tab so the mesh would stay in place covering the vent screen area. There is still plenty of “air space” gap on each side so that the vent works properly. Using velcro here makes it easy to open the mesh to take down or to make adjustments on the fan controls if necessary when mesh is deployed.
Pictures of the complete install are below– Since the white side faces down and it is so light weight, I rolled it up and secured it with two blue laundry clamps, like clothes pins that I had handy. I will buy some small white ones to use permanently. As it stands right now, we plan to keep the mesh rolled up and on the ceiling and unroll as needed. Not the prettiest of hacks, but we believe this will surely solve the problem of sun beams on our face!
Total project time, about 15 minutes.
Pull down style car window sun blocking mesh screen
Scissors (to cut off retractor bar end and trim mesh if needed)
White Velcro sticky back squares (3M makes removable ones too!)
If you do this project, please let us know and post pictures of your own to inspire others!!!!
As always, stay safe, have wonderful journeys and hug your Avion!
WHY? People have had the windows on their Avions blow open and get broken off of the rig when a gust of wind hit their rig while going down the road or in a bad wind storm. Don’t let this happen to you!
When we owned our 1973 Avion, 28′ LaGrande Model we noticed that one of the three prior owners had put on some “make do” hardware that held the windows more solidly closed while rolling down the road or during winter or very bad weather (rain or wind). Below is one of those “make do” clips but overtime it was only functional with our little slip of a wood shim in it! So the time to find a new “fix” was due!
CAUTION! These old Hehr windows especially the “awning type” which are the one piece large windows that crank open from the bottom out…CAN AND DO have the potential to catch a wind and fly open when rolling down the road at 50+ MPH. In case you do unfortunately lose a window or purchase a reno project Avion, Hehr does still make awning style (and Jalousie) windows and some online companies also carry a limited amount of dimensions. NO ONE in our research makes the rounded front curved windows that flank your center front window so please baby those fixed windows- we also have them in the rear bedroom of our ’87!
*note, since purchasing our 1987 32S Avion (jalousie window style) we do not have this issue with rattling or fly open accidently windows but we still make double-triple sure they are fully secured before we begin towing because if open even a little bit the wind could catch the smaller pane of a jalousie and pull it open to and strip your window crank system in the process. It seems the issues of rattling windows is more prevalent with the awning style windows found on pre mid 80’s models.
Additionally, some of our window torque operators (those little metal boxes that your crank handle fits into to raise the window out) were less than perfect, wear out quickly due to soft metal gears inside and did not always “snuggly” hold our window shut.
WHAT TO DO TO PREVENT WINDOWS HAVING A MIND OF THEIR OWN??
They are cheap, come in boxes of multiples and made for a decently attractive but functional solution to ensuring our windows were all securely closed to prevent accidental opening during trailering.
We put a stainless steel screw into the pre-drilled hole and the “pin” which is intended to fit into a round hold in a bookshelf wall is actually what holds the window closed. (sorry evidently did not take a photo of this before we sold our 73 Avion!)
Part of our routine before we got underway for a trip and then when we arrive to set up at our campsite was simply to take a cordless power drill and unscrew the stainless screw to be able to rotate the clip away from the window frame to allow the window to open. We did not remove the clip entirely, merely rotated out of the way so it was ready to be deployed again to do its job once we were packing up and making ready to leave our campsite.
Last but not least….we cannot stress enough the importance of a “WALK AROUND” safety check BEFORE you tow your RV 2 feet! The walk about is Luisa’s job so there is a second pair of eyes on the hitch area and all its hook ups, etc. This Walk-Around will be where you check to see that all of your windows are secured down, if using clips like we outline above, they are engaged and tightened, awnings latched/locked in place. I will be posting a complete other “walk around” post to go into more details on this very important safety standard of practice.
We took a 3 week long, 3341 mile trip in the Pewter Palace beginning on May 28, 2021.
After a quick boondock stop at our favorite Cabella’s in Hamburg, PA and a four day stay at Camp Belvoir (Military Travel Camp-see separate reviews for military camps we are very fortunate to be able to stay at) we landed wheels at the Jellystone Camping Resort in Luray, VA on RT 211. We were there the first week in June.
WHY CHOOSE THIS LOCATION?
-Very close to the Skyline Drive/ Blue Ridge Parkway junction.
-Easy access to the famous, and well worth the visit- Luray Caverns (which also has a bonus of an antique auto museum, heritage village and toy museum all on same ticket)
-About 18 minutes from Cooter’s Garage- a museum dedicated to the legacy of the TV show…The Dukes of Hazard. Complete with autos, memorbilia, interviews, personal props, etc.
-Plenty of local retail, including a WalMart Superstore, gas, other boutique type stores in downtown Luray are all within 10 minutes.
CAMPGROUND REVIEW-AMENITIES, SITE, CAMP STORE
This campground is a Jellystone so most of the attention is towards families, kids and fun. However, during our visit that is not what we found. We honestly felt that the facility was “milking Covid restrictions” in our opinion by having most of their amenities either closed or on very limited scheduling. (note, by the time of our visit the Governor of VA had curtailed all closure restrictions, mask restrictions, etc. and masks were only required for those not fully vaccinated to enter businesses or closed in public spaces.)
For example, here are our observations.
The Pool Complex: Their pool complex is beautiful but….the four nights we were there, the water slides (evidently weekends only till mid June) and splash pad were not open, only 1 of three pools in the pool complex was open at any given time (appears they rotate which one is open) all others had caution tape strung around them (looked pretty tacky), the pool side snack bar was not open at all. The jumping pillows were open limited hours- so kids liked that. There was no posted adult only swim times, no hot tub and no scheduled activities for anyone/age group that we were aware of. On a plus note…..Their mini golf course was open and in very nice condition- perhaps one of the nicer ones we have seen at a private park. They have tons of golf carts to rent and this seems to be a major event for most campers here. They are very expensive and have a 2 day minimum rental. We have never seen so much cart traffic in a campground. Folks here do not like to walk.
Here is a link to their full scope of amenities…there is a lot. BUT-We did not see any evidence any were open except what is noted above. https://campluray.com/attractions/
Campstore Clamp Down! What really was a big turn off for us was as you walked around their very large and well stocked camp store there were signs on nearly every shelf, every hanging display and everywhere we turned that basically said…”Do NOT Touch any items unless you plan to buy them” and this they claimed was due to Covid. This was overdone and in our opinion totally a big turn off and ridiculous! Seriously???? does this mean that the management points to items they want to buy in the local supermarket when they personally go shopping for their families?
Our Site: originally we were booked (online sight unseen) to site # 97, a corner site which is typically our preference. Upon arrival it was clear the site was very unlevel, our streetside neighbor way too close and way to short for our 56 total length. To their credit, when I phoned the desk, they were very pleasant and accommodating and allowed us to immediately relocate to a pull through site #181. Most sites are lightly graveled with spotty grass. They do have upgraded sites on the ends which have concrete pads and better maintained- are they worth the extra $$- for you to decide! Our site was pretty average, nothing grand for sure, no views, width was good and it was much more level, directly across a big lawn where the rental cabins are. It was fine and certainly close enough for us to walk to the pool complex, etc. Without being self contained it would have been a decent hike to bath house facilities.
Location, Location, Location: The biggest factor for us to stay at this campground was its location and proximity to hop off the Skyline Drive and only have to travel a short way on a state highway to the campground. The Skyline Drive does have an entrance fee but once paid is good for 7 consecutive days. The Skyline Drive is beautiful and was our favorite. There are ONLY4 ENTRANCE points to the Drive,
Front Royal Entrance Station near Rt. 66 and 340
Thornton GapEntrance Station at Rt. 211
Swift Run Gap Entrance Station at Rt. 33
Rockfish Gap Entrance Station at Rt. 64 and Rt. 250 (also the northern entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway).
An entrance pass is required in order to enter Shenandoah National Park, whether you’re driving on Skyline Drive or hiking in from the boundary. All entrance passes are valid for unlimited entry for seven consecutive days, beginning on the date of purchase. Entrance passes may be purchased online or at any of our entrance stations.
Shenandoah Entrance Pass – Single Vehicle – $30.00 Unlimited entry for one vehicle and all passengers for seven consecutive days, beginning on the day of purchase. Vehicles must be private, noncommercial, and with a seating capacity of 15 or less.
We have my NPS Senior Lifetime Access Pass ($80 one time fee) so for us the entrance was totally FREE. The campground’s location is a great hub and spoke location with easy quick access to Luray Caverns, local shopping/services and all it has to offer and to Cooter’s Garage a fun attraction on the other side of town (still on RT 211 heading west towards Interstate 81). We actually did Cooter’s on our return trip home at the end of our vacation since we were traveling RT 81 Northbound.
Nuts and Bolts…. campground WiFi coverage was fair to lousy and the park was not at nearly full capacity either! So if you do not have your own internet booster/hot spot you are pretty much out of luck. We did better just using our Verizon MiFi hot spot. Fact–do not plan to have cell or any type of signal when touring most of the Shenandoah National Park.
WOULD WE GO BACK? probably not. I believe there are other campgrounds in close enough proximity to the northern terminus or middle section of the Skyline Drive near the caverns, etc. that warrant our business. Understanding we are not big into campgrounds geared towards young families anymore (used to be and still do when grandkids are with us) but rarely do we use most of the amenities that those types of campgrounds justifiably have to attract families. On our return leg of our trip we stayed about 25 minutes north of Luray, at the Shenandoah River State Park (SRSP). A drop dead gorgeous park, river swimming, kayak/canoe launch, pavillions. SRSP campground is smaller in size, no amenities (pool, etc) but very new and beautifully set up. Super nice, clean bath house, shower facilities and laundry room. I will do a SRSP review in more detail with photos, etc. once i complete it and cross link it here.
SHOULD YOU DO THE SKYLINE DRIVE?
ABSOLUTELY! IT IS A FABULOUS DRIVE, 35 MPH, “WOW” AT EVERY TURN AND OVERLOOK. We thoroughly enjoyed our drive and our time in the Shenandoah National Park for the week! If you are a hiker you could easily stay a month in the Shenandoah NP and not see or do all you would want to!
Happy Travels, stay safe, stay hydrated and enjoy every mile! If you like this post, please comment- subscribe to our blog to get notifications of new posts! We have a lot more coming about our big journey through the Shenandoah’s and Smoky’s including some amazing photography and more campsite reviews of state and national campgrounds!
Living “little” has its challenges…living little and on wheels presents even more! While we are not “full timers” quite yet, we do spend a fair amount of time on the road and camping in our vintage 1987 Avion 32 foot travel trailer.
On this snowy, 13 degree day here in upstate NY I thought I would do a post about some of the little hacks and items that I have found make trailer life and travel just a little easier.
I am in charge (primarily) of the interior decor and liveability of our Avion. I like a warm and homey feel. I also do not want to spend a lot of time taking out and putting away those decorative items and touches each time we set off for a new RV destination or trip. So in my quest to find ways to “fix in place” items…here are my go to products in no particular order.
We don’t speed, we prefer 60MPH on highways but that does not mean that things stay put…this helps!
Pro’s: clear, works well on non-porous items like china, glass, plastics.
Con’s: does not work well on vertical applications, melts in warm weather/high heat, not good for heavy items
I use a variety of items to help some of my pictures, collectibles (yes, after 30+ yrs of antique collecting I could not quite give up that obsession completely) and decorative items that I want to “stay put” in our Bavarian-decor themed RV.
For china, glass and non-porous items I use Rock N Roll clear gel putty. Link on Amazon. This product is good for things that lay flat on a counter or shelf. It does NOT work for items held vertically or in high heat climates. (yes, this is a testimonial…been there, done that as it dripped down my wood wall).
For vertical items such as pictures, textiles or wall decor I use a combination of heavy duty Velcro with sticky back, 3M hooks or velcro strips then I will also use Quakehold! Museum Putty which is a waxy, thick putty. I have used both the “collectors” and the “quakehold” versions with positive results.
Museum putty does not seem to melt in higher temps, it also works on wood and textiles better than Rock N Roll putty. Both products do allow you to remove your stuck down item with a twist and pull. I will often put two pea-sized blogs of museum putty on bottoms of frames. Roll the blobs in your fingers/hands to warm up and become pliable then place on the bottom corners of hung pictures to keep them from shifting around and possibly marring our original, beautiful Avion wood stained walls.
It may sound funny…but paper towels that “Stay Put” are also a blessing.
Viva paper towels are the only paper towels I have found that actually cling to each other on the roll. So as you “roll down the road” they do not “unroll” off your dispenser! You will note, I also use a vertical paper towel holder (on our Amazon List) and this helps as well and this one in particular is weighted and has a rubberized base. I have yet to have this dispenser move more than an 1″ on our front counter shelf during any trips. Please let me know if you have found any other brands with similar features. Viva are a little more pricey than other brands but they also are very absorbent and do the job!
Using cotton mesh shopping bags to hold fresh produce, breads and such saves precious refrigerator & counter space!
Cotton Mesh Grocery Bags: We used screw in large “safety” cuphooks (the kind with the little tabs so the hook is closed) and hang these mesh cotton bags to hold tons of stuff from apples & bananas to bagels and loaves of bread. These kinds of foodstuffs take up tons of room in an RV refrigerator and typically these items do not lend themselves to compact stacking. Using these bags they are handy, off my counter top, easily in reach and items stay circulated with air! The added bonus is when empty they are the signal to take them down and bring them along shopping to the grocery store to restock up! I found these on Amazon.com. NOTE: I do not recommend leaving them hanging in place with items in them if you are on the road. I unclip them from the hooks and simply place the bags with their contents in my sink or on my dinette cushions during the trip and hook them right back up once we have arrived at our next campsite.
Not for your carpet but for your mattress! This gripper rug pad helps to keep mattresses on the bed board foundation while you roll down the road!
While not all RVs have this issue, our ’73 Avion with the mid coach twins did and so I share it with you here. Our 87 has the rear twins and in between them is a night stand which prevents the mattresses from “taking a walk” while we roll merrily down the road.
But for those of you with RV mattresses who do like to “walk” I have found that cutting up this TrafficMaster Premium Gripper Rug Pad we purchased at Lowes did the trick! We bought the 8 x 10′ size, cut a piece for each of our twin bunks. P.S. Use any left over pieces in between your dishes and pots and pans to prevent rattle, breakage and scrapes.
We placed the gripper pad directly onto the wooden bed base under the mattress and wholla— no more sliding mattresses! The waffle texture and breathability also helps a little to protect your mattress from lack of air flow = mold issues. NOTE: for maximum protection of our mattresses we also use the fiber layer made by MattressInsider.com which is a stiff full 1″ of breathable layer to prevent any moisture issues from under the bed storage (cold) space and from body heat being trapped in the mattress. I have seen way too many moldy looking bed boards, walls and mattresses in other peoples photos of their RVs! I have a whole blog post just on that layer with links to product, etc. A breathing mattress is a happy mattress!
All or most of the items I have mentioned above can also be found in the shared AMAZON list we have on our Pewter Palace Resource/Links page. We constantly add new items, this list is for our readers benefit- we do not get any kickback or credit from Amazon.
Hope these 4 little tips/hacks help! Let us know what you have found a great trick/hack in the comment section below!
I thought I might give you a list of 5 “problem solving” tips, items or techniques that we have learned in our years of RV camping.
Enjoy and please let us know what other “problem solvers” you have discovered! Please leave comments in the “leave a reply” field!
RUN AWAY PAPER TOWELS!
PROBLEM SOLVER #1: VIVA BRAND PAPER TOWELS
If you have had the problem of entering your RV after a trip and finding that as you “rolled down the road…so did your paper towels and they have literally unrolled themselves from one end of your RV kitchen to the other….VIVA brand solves your problem!
Viva brand do not unroll with road vibration and movement. In fact, they actually stick to the roll and require you to “peel” a towel off. They are admittedly a little more pricey but they have an excellent absorbency rate as well as they stay put! Worth it in our mind for sure!
MY CHAIR MAKES HOLES IN MY PATIO RUG!
PROBLEM SOLVER #2: FURNITURE GLIDES
Many of our RV park or boondock sites we have found have very soft or sandy surfaces where we put our patio carpet out on. We have a large 6 x 20 carpet we use, purchased from Camping World it is the plastic weave type which is great for durability (we still have a smaller one that is 6 yrs old and fine) and dries well without molding.
BUT, because of the “weave” we found that the leg ends of our camp chairs would penetrate through and cause a lot of stress on the plastic fibers.
We had some heavy furniture glide discs (hard plastic on one side, foam on other side) that can be bought at any hardware or big box store.
We store the discs in one of the side pockets in our chairs so they are always handy and have found they do the trick to prevent any potential ruining of our patio carpet. We have not found we need them on our little table simply because there is never enough weight on the table to cause the legs to poke through the carpet.
RUN AWAY MATTRESSES!
PROBLEM SOLVER # 3: ANTI-SKID RUG MAT
In our Class A motorhome and in our 1973 Avion we were constantly finding that our mattress would slide off the bed board and be askew when we were finished traveling for the day.
We purchased a package of the anti-skid area carpet pad at Lowes and cut it to fit just about 1 inch in from the perimeter of our mattress. There are different grades/qualities and we found this one did the best. Problem solved, the mattresses no longer move and this also provides a buffer zone of a waffle of air between your bed board foundation and your mattress which prolongs the life of the mattress and helps prevent mold and condensation on the bottom of the mattress.
REMOVING STICKERS, BUGS, TAR AND MARS ON THE ALUMINUM SKIN
PROBLEM SOLVER #4: THE BONE TOOL
We learned about this invaluable tool from fellow RV (Airstream) long time travelers. The bone tool is versatile, affordable and takes up no storage room. Especially on the aluminum skin, owners of Avions and Airstreams have to be very careful not to mar the skin by using anything that will scratch, discolor or eat away at the aluminum. We have found we use the bone tool to help get the rubber window glaze bead into place, scrape off old unwanted stickers from the aluminum and fend off extra stuck bugs and even tar from our rig. We have this tool linked to our shared Avion Amazon list on our blog under our LINKs page.
GOSH MY MESH FAN SCREENS ARE FILTHY!
PROBLEM SOLVER #5: PET HAIR ROLLER
We found on our 1973 Avion that a simple sticky tape pet hair/lint roller did a fabulous, quick (and no water necessary) job of cleaning off dust, grime, and dirt from our vent screens. No need to even take down the screen if in a pinch for time, or on a trip. BTW if your screen looks dingy we repainted ours with an ivory colored spray paint that said it was ok for fabrics. It worked great!
Well that is our 5 tips for this time! Hope you found one or more of them helpful!
Be well, Be Healthy…..Enjoy your travels!
Please visit our online shop at www.MyAvionMarketplace.com for our uniquely designed, fun and useful Avion and AS themed clothing, gifts, trailer and household items. Lot of items are on amazing sales right now for the holidays!
Let’s get it right out on the table now….we do NOT have a microwave in our Avion trailer. We did not have one in our prior Avion trailer. We DID have one in a 32 foot class A we owned for 5 years...it was a great breadbox!
To Microwave or no Microwave…that is the question!
Our ’73 Avion was not made with a microwave in it. We did not want to destroy the pristine original cabinetry either. So we did a critical review of how we (I) cook, what we cook, space considerations. Before we tore into those pretty real wood cabinets, we would camp in her at least 1 season first before installing a microwave to do a real eval of if it was needed. That summer, due to our house being on the market (yes, it had a microwave on the counter!) we LIVED full time in our 28 foot, 1973 Avion travel trailer for 3 months. NOT ONCE did i miss my microwave. Decision made….we do not need a microwave as long as we practiced a little ingenuity along the way for reheating items normally “zapped”.
This same trend continued when we bought our 1987, 32 foot, S model Avion just as the Covid-19 pandemic was hitting in March 2020. She was delivered to us in April, by June the original huge, heavy clunker microwave was on the trash heap. The cabinet that once held it now has been usefully repurposed to hold kitchen contraptions I DO USE…my Instapot, my small sized air fryer, my mini Belgian waffle maker…and then a felt bin that holds batteries, quick little tool box and my sewing box. It will probably hold my portable sewing machine for the first few years of our full timing…cause I just wont be able to part with it yet! LOL
Our new cupboard also sports a hinged lift up magnetic blackboard purchased on Amazon that fit perfectly and was already wood framed and i just added a bit darker stain to match our cabinet colors. We installed two Earth Magnets on the ceiling which hold the door open by clamping onto the metal pull. See photos below
BEFORE….check out the size of those 1987 buttons! The thing weighed 47 pounds!
SO HOW DO I REHEAT RESTAURANT LEFT OVERS? OR THE MID MORNING COFFEE??
When we carefully analyzed what we normally eat, drink and reheat it was apparent that the 2 fry pans, 1 lid and 2 pots are all I need in my kitchen arsenal to do all my cooking (we also cook on grill or fire pit outside a lot too!). When “living small” (we are in less than 200 sq. feet) the name of the game is to strive for everything you have can be used for at least 2 or more purposes.
So for an example….recently we treated ourselves to a big lunch out at the Vermont Country Store restaurant in Weston, VT. The portion of “Northerner” Mac n Cheese I got was heaped with BBQ pulled pork and delicious but enough for two meals.
How to reheat leftovers with pans you routinely use:
To reheat this type of meal so that I could keep in the moisture (like a microwave does esp. if you use one of those plastic plate covers) I did this…
(1) Put a piece of aluminum tin foil a little larger than my small fry pan into the fry pan. Shiny side facing up towards you!
(2) Put my leftovers in center on the foil, create a loosely folded packet
(3) Place large fry pan on the burner, place smaller fry pan with foil leftover packet inside on top of it.
(4) Now pour enough water into the LARGE fry pan to come up to about a half inch from lip of smaller fry pan. Place large metal fry pan lid cover over top (yes, handle of smaller fry pan makes it so it cannot close completely. If you do not have a lid, lay another piece of foil tightly over the top and tuck under
Tip: If you have a smaller round cake pan to fit inside large fry pan that works best. I do not carry cake pans in my trailer…I bake in my instapot or air fryer if the mood hits me.
(5) Turn on the burner- I used medium heat initially then turned it down to low once water boiled, allow the water to boil in the large fry pan, heating the inner one. Keep an eye and replenish water as needed so you do not burn it dry and ruin your pans.
Essentially I have created a moist heat, buffered by two layers of metal so the leftovers do not burn– a Double Boiler of sorts. The steam also created under the lid heated the foil and created a perfect environment for luscious, reheated and a very yummy moist 2nd Mac N Cheese dinner!
Left over coffee….use a saucepan!
Potatoes? par boil, wrap in aluminum foil and grill over fire or on LP portable grill
Aluminum foil packets can be used for tons of packet cooking options. Load in veggies, like potatoes, onions, squash, tomatoes, some spices, olive oil or other marinating type of fused cooking oil and put on the grill above the fire, or you can even bury the packets somewhat into the coals themselves.
Reheating steak and other meats- TIP– I learned from a chef long ago to put a lettuce leaf on the top to exude moisture but no flavor into the meat when reheating. Use the same two fry pan method I show above!
WHAT IDEAS AND TRICKS DO YOU HAVE? I would love to hear from you!
We ventured about 2.5 hours heading east from our home near Lake George NY to spend a long weekend (3 nights, four days) in the Green Mountain National Forest of nearby Vermont in late August 2020. The drive was over hill and dale from our home in eastern side of upstate NY, peaceful through quaint NY and VT villages and bucolic farmscapes. Closer to our destination, we passed Bromley Ski Area which now also has a full compliment of summer activities including chair lift, bike trails and more. There are several notable ski areas along this route in an easy to reach too.
Sometimes its really nice to just have a short hop, skip, and jump to a pretty local place but that feels worlds away from your normal backyard.
Our destination was Hapgood Pond Campground which is under the management and inside the Green Mountain National Forest. The campground is located in Peru, VT. Peru is a very small backwater village with a town green, one quintessential VT general store ( see slide show below) , an 18th C. church on the green (of course) and a handful of beautifully restored 18th and 19th century houses dotted here and there. Just off Route 11 heading NE out of Manchester, VT, this sleepy town is the perfect and close get away. I have a slide show of the general store and more info below.
Nearby, Manchester Vt offers outlet stores, boutiques, ample varieties of unique, locally-owed restaurants and of course, the Northshire Bookstore which is a destination unto itself. This large store is worth the stop even if you are not a bibliophile….they have wonderful unique gifts, new age, inspirational and spiritual gifts and accessories and some quirky retro gifts and great unique kitchen accessories too! Warning, Manchester can be very touristy and busy on summer weekends, we hit it right because of an anticipated rainy Saturday–the rain cleared out by noon and there were not many folks downtown yet.
Hapgood Pond Campground is beautifully set with surrounding pine and forest lands, it has a beautiful and ample pond with great beach for swimming (sadly the one weekend we were there it was a late August cold snap and only in the 60s during the day so too cold for a swim). It has a 1 mile nice hike trip around the pond is worth the adventure. We did the hike on Saturday starting out at 6 PM and the lighting was beautiful and we had the whole thing to ourselves…quite magical. I suspect in peak seasons of summer weekends the trail could get busy as there also is a day picnic area as part of this 27 campsite park. The campground access road is dirt/stone dust, level and well maintained road which is a little narrow but certainly do-able for our 32 footer. Just watch the one right hand bend. We would not recommend anything larger than 35′ for sure. Please also avoid the sites 17-20 which are in a dead end loop unless you tent or have a small pop up trailer. You will not get in or out with anything bigger.
Campsites: Sites 1-8 are first come first served only for RV/Tent sites. You simply arrive, claim an open site that works for you, fill out the ticket from the main map display and put your payment info and contact info into the lockbox and your reserved ticket on the clip on the site # post. There is an onsite volunteer Camp host whose site is clearly marked as you enter the campground side of the site to the left on the main drive. To the right is the day use only which is also for a small fee.
Most of the first come, first served are very short sites, ok for lets say under a 20 foot camper, perfect for tenters, pop ups or van campers. The creme de la creme for us is Site #2. It is a first come first served but in a great location by the vault toilet building #1, has a water spigot in the site and a really easy access walk to the public beach, pavilion and walking trail, etc. We will definitely look to get this site once we become full timers and with our Senior Pass can book it for like $10 per night…great deal! The rest of the sites are reservable in advance through Reservation.gov website.
This Summer of 2020, Covid-19 and all…..We had reserved Site 26 for three nights, Fri/Sat/Sun in late August ($68.00 total through Reserve.gov) . We needed a restful get away. For our 32-foot length trying to do the online reservations they said they had only 2 sites that could accommodate 30-35 foot rigs. Looking around once we got there, we believe that at minimum sites 24, 26 and 27 (has some overhanging pines we like to avoid) could handle our size of travel trailer.
Below is a photo of our site 26. Nice site, and we would book it again! Amazingly…this is the FIRST campsite in 8 years of RVing that after Kevin backed in, I turned on our LevelMate Pro app and it was PERFECTLY LEVEL SIDE TO SIDE! Wow! that never happens! We only had to level front to back. That was awesome…bravo to the campground staff for their maintenance! Our Verizon hot spot provided some decent upload and download speeds, my cell was pulling 3 bars consistently at our campsite.
Site 26 was very comfortable for us. Nice large, deep fire ring, huge long picnic table in very good condition, the site was clean, cleared and with just a little maneuvering Kevin got it backed in. NOTE: the water spiquot and bath house/very clean vault toilets are directly opposite the campsite and close to the road edge enough so you do not have the flexibility of going a little “off road” to angle into the site. But he managed fine. We did take our front hitch storage tray that holds our generator off before trying to do the back in angles.
FYI- You are in a National Forest so…..These sites are NO HOOKUPS! The campground is pet friendly. There is no electric, sewer, cable hook ups! if you are used to these conveniences, this is not a place for you. Our site was quite shady with some beautiful sunny rays during the morning through late afternoon hours, but enough shade that we suspect even in hot summer days the shade would greatly help keep the camper interior heat level down. We did run our generator a few hours each day just to keep the batteries topped off since the are a bit on the old site and not lithium ions. Due to the cold snap and rainy day on Saturday, we never had use of our AC nor even a fan. Open windows and nice breeze was perfect.
Every other camper in the park was super respectful of all Covid-19 mask and other precautions. There was no noise issues, everyone kept their manners and cleanliness in the vault toilets which were cleaned daily, no smells, no trash and very well built *aka no spiders, etc) and ventilated. The best we had seen so far in “government campgrounds”. It was truly one of the most peaceful and restful camping weekends we had in a long, long time. Bless you Vermonters!
There is a palpable difference when you are camping in a National Forest or State campground with very little amenities or activities versus a private campground hell bent on having every bell and whistle, every type of kid oriented activity, playground, pool slides , etc. This National Forest campground was bliss!
Saturday after we ventured into nearby Manchester (about 20 min drive) for lunch and about a 1 hour stroll around to shop. On our way back, we also stopped at the adorable general store in “downtown” Peru where the campground is located. Clearly the store knows its prime clientele is the transient campers. It was the quintessential Vt general store with lovely fresh foods, baked goods, local and Vt made gifts, basic housewares, RVer last minute “whoops I forgot this!” items. I loved it–its cozy, well kept, modern of inventory but quaint in style. The locally made VT smoked cheese we bought was delicious as was the shared chocolate cupcake. They boast take away sandwiches and pizzas to order. Next time!
BTW Hapgood pond is a result of an early industrial revolution era dam put in place to power a mill. A typical story in New England and outlined in the story board near the beach and rustic, nicely maintained pavilions where larger family groups could have a nice picnic together.
Here is a photo slide show from around the park and our hike.
While spending an enjoyable rest, we got a little itchy after a rainy Saturday so by Sunday afternoon the weather was beautiful and we wanted to explore more of the Green Mountain Forest itself. So using our maps we found at the end of Hapgood Pond Road, heading north, then west you come onto Forest Road #10 which is a nicely maintained, unpaved road. It is ample in width and in super good condition (better than some RV parks!) but with very little pull offs and definitely NO TURNAROUNDS FOR RVS! We did this as a day venture just in our tow vehicle, our 2011, GMC 2500 Denali,4WD, Crew Cab and had no issues. However about 1/2 way through thinking this would be a great place for a dispersed camping site persay.. the RED FLAG happened!!!
CAUTION!! midway through our 1.5 hour back road Forest Route #10 there was a very high pitched replacement cement bridge (see in slide show below) that literally went up on an 75 degree angle over a span of maybe 6 feet!! Our RV and anything shy of perhaps a small camper van would have bottomed out royally or gotten stuck on the top of the crest!
That being said, the ride through the forest is one we would recommend. There is an access point to the “long trail” of the Appalachian Trail inside the park and many other trail heads that looked inviting! There are 4 dispersed Tent sites that we saw but none of them were very remarkable or nice. One along the stream was ok, it was at the eastern most end of the road.
The pristine greenery kept us in awe, the long forgotten apple trees in one area reminded us that at one time, perhaps 100 years ago this area was finely tended and was cleared farm land…all now reclaimed by Mother Nature into a thick, native woodland.
This bridge pitch may not look super steep in this photo but it was! Your RV would turn into aTeeterTotter with NO where to turn around and go back!
Our last little adventure was to take a trip up to the NE to Weston, VT which is along Route 11 North from Peru. It took us perhaps 25 minutes tops. Weston is home to the ORIGINAL VERMONT COUNTRY STORE! Since the 1800s the same family has operated this store in this little village. (They do have another store nearer to Brattleboro but it is more touristy I think, they also have a huge website and publish a catalog. They are known for selling long forgotten housewares, candies, cleaning items and hard to find health and beauty items)
We enjoyed our Sunday morning there, with little crowds, a yummy lunch outdoors in their picnic area (restaurant closed due to Covid). They are known for their homemade Mac n Cheese and I had the “Northerner” with BBQ pulled pork or’ top mac and cheese deliciousness. It was enough to have a full portion for dinner later that night. Kevin had a Reuben special and ranked it well among his many tests of this culinary delight from around the country he has had. I dropped some coinage in the store, always willing to support local businesses and off we went to our trip on Forest Road #10 into the depths of the Green Mountain National Forest itself.
Our trip came to a relaxing close on Monday morning as we savored our final breakfast meal and began our pack out regime after I checked my emails for work and did some correspondence. Getting out of the Site 26 was far easier than getting in, but again, we would book this site again now that the “angling” to get in was mastered on the first try.
It cannot be underestimated that sometimes, just a 2.5 hour drive can bring you such a new perspective, new vistas to see, new moon shots to honor and the peacefulness of the forest to reinvigorate the soul.
We will definitely will make Hapgood Pond Campground in the Green Mountain National Forest an annual (or at least biennial) stop on our camping itinerary in the future. We may even stay a week or two once we are retired and spending our summers in New England…so don’t take our Site #2!
Stay safe, enjoy the journey! Reddy certainly did-below she is sacked out on MY lounge chair just like the Queen of the campground she is!
Kevin and Luisa
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