If you are like us you are always looking to maximize storage spaces on your RV.
In our 1987 32S Avion we have a gaucho style sofa. This pulls forward and then down to create essentially a double sized bed for guests. It is original to the trailer, but was fully reupholstered by the previous owner in about 2018. As you can see from the photo above, we do keep a quilted sofa cover on it not only to protect from our dog (sadly Reddy died in Dec 2020) but also, grandkids and us spilling something since the fabric is a similar color to the grey throw and plain so it will show any and all stains, etc. I don’t know if it was scotch guarded and do not want to take the chance it was not! This was a cover we already had from our other 73 Avion. Our 87 sofa is a bit longer.
In early Spring 2021 Kevin had the brainstorm that we could expand the under sofa storage by elevating the frame of the sofa. We would also gain the benefit of the sofa being a little higher so as we age, it would be easier to get up from sitting on it. Not that it was super low but any little bit helps once arthritis sets in!
Another reason for this project was that I found it very hard, and downright uncomfortable to try to have to kneel on or straddle that flip down solid upholstered sofa skirt panel when trying to get things out from under the sofa. It was so in the way! The skirt panel had the hinges and sat off the floor by at least nearly 2″ so that also reduced the height of what I could fit under there—and get out! See next photo below if we have you totally confused on what we are talking about here!
EASY STEPS to our Project:
(1) Unscrew the flip down front padded sofa skirt panel and remove floor mounted hinges, hardware. We decided not reuse this after completing our project. You could, I suppose opt to make either (a.) a new flip down panel out of wood then upholster with sofa material and reinstall the flip down hinges or (b.) add an extension board to the top of the existing flip down panel somehow and support it and then recover it all so it looks like one piece. We opted to make a fabric pleated sofa skirt that simply velcro’s across the front of the sofa and hangs to the floor. Since the fabric skirt weighs less than that original panel it’s another win!
(2) Unbolt and get sofa out of the way. TIP- we recommend NOT trying to get the sofa completely out of the rig due to narrowness of the entry door. This thing is heavy and bulky AND honestly the project went so fast, it would have probably taken us longer to maneuver the sofa out of the door than the entire project took! So leave it just tipped forward and out of the way. NOTE- we left the panel nearest refrig in place on the side of the sofa end. See more on this later.
NOTE we have carpet tile flooring done by previous owner. The brownish linoleum you see is original to the trailer when manufactured.
(3) Use this time to clean up, check water and waste connections and apply steel wool around pipe openings to ward of mice and other crawling critters from entering your living space! Note– we still have the original grey water piping for our fresh water to kitchen sink. As of this post, we have purchased all materials to change everything out to PEX plastic piping and that is on the to do list for Spring 2022- ha ha so the sofa will have to come out again to the middle of the living room!
(4) Cut 6 blocks of 2×4 wood (2 for each mounting- laying on their side for a total elevated height of 3″) to a size sufficient to carry the floor mount sofa hardware to be rebolted back in. Kevin fastened the 1st wood block layer in by itself using the old holes left in the floor as guides so they would be in the correct position. He used 2 1/4″, #10 heavy duty wood screws. He predrilled all holes in 2x4s to avoid any possible splitting. He then mounted the second layer of the blocks directly on top of the first layer, and used 3 1/4″ #10 wood screws to mount it to the lower layer. Be sure you know where those first screws are so you don’t try to screw down on top of them!
NOTE- we had LEFT the panel (bottom right corner of photo below it can be seen) at the tongue side of the original sofa in place since we hoped it would still work to hide that open end of the sofa. And it did!
***This is also a good time to put some small, low wood “stops” mounted into the floor just in front of your water pipes to prevent anything stored under the sofa to get hooked on or that could push back the water tubing. We held off doing this until we install our PEX system and will know exactly where the tubes will lie.
(5) Put the sofa back in place and re-screw it down in all locations. NOTE- since now the crossmember support arm no longer hit the wood box along back, we put a 4×4 in underneath it, clamped it to the 4×4 with a “U” and secured the 4×4 to the wood box by toenailing (screwing) it in with more wood screws. We did not want to put holes into the sidewall of the trailer. It is very secure. Considering when we unbolted the sofa to begin with, this cross member had never been secured- we figure its more secure now!
(6) Load in the totes! I tried various combinations of totes to find just the right mix for what we store under here. Your needs may be different but I store the following under our sofa: our Dyson Vacuum, totes with table cloths, Set of Sheets for sofa bed, multiple exterior solar light strands, swim floaty rafts, our cuckoo clock for traveling time, citronella table candles, and our Avion spare parts tote. It a lot of stuff but its all in various totes that fit like a puzzle. With the extension height of an additional 3″ I was able to now lay two totes on top of each other. I prefer totes because it is far easier to pull out a tote than to have to reach under to pull out each separate item. Also being in totes there is less concern over something hooking onto and tugging at or pushing against the water piping that lays along the bottom of the sidewall.
In the photo below where you can see I now have a blue lidded and white lidded tote—I could only fit ONE of them before this project. Essentially we have doubled our storage space under our sofa!
Additional Comments & Notes:
As much as we would have preferred that the previous owner had carpeted completely under the sofa, actually we have found that even that little 1/4″ lip transition from the linoleum to the carpet aids in keeping the tote bottoms very well in place even during travel. If you do not have that carpet lip, you may want to install a 1/8″ or 1/4″ strip of molding flush to the floor in between the sofa support blocks. This will help keep totes in place during travel.
I did find after a few trips that attaching an elastic bungy cord from one leg support (behind the sofa skirt) to the other was necessary to keep the higher tier of my totes from sliding out during travel. This has solved that issue completely.
We found that the sticky back velcro we tried first to hold the new fabric skirt on did not hold up well enough during travel or “leg traffic” from us using the couch. I will have to secure the velcro either by sewing it on or by using a glue to adhere, letting it dry with clamps to ensure a good seal. In the meantime, what I did was extended the length of the quilted sofa cover we use making it longer in the front and that covers 90% of the opening and really is working fine for now.
Kevin and I are not tall, we have pant inseams of 30″ (a.k.a short legs) and we have found that the raised height of our sofa is extremely comfortable for us. Our feet just touch the floor now and it feels more relaxing on our legs. If you are a taller person you may find raising your sofa could make your muscles relax even more! We also find that as we age getting up and down from the sofa will be even easier as arthritis no doubt will kick in.
BEST TIP OF THE DAY! I should mention that at some point one of the owners of our trailer put a full shelf behind our sofa. It is simply attached with 4 angle braces screwed into the sidewall and it about 4″ wide. We would be lost without this shelf and store all sorts of things there. I have found wire framed fabric bins at Bed, Bath and Beyond that fit there perfectly and keep things organized. We also have one magazine storage holder (sits mostly behind our curtain) there for travel books, brochures and maps when currently on a trip, then the bins hold things like our battery lantern, binoculars, a plant, a container for our TV remote and other small misc items. One bin is open for me to set a mug or cup in while reclining on the sofa! The change in height of our sofa had no impact on the usefulness of this shelf and we highly recommend you install one during this project while the sofa is out! It runs the entire length of the sofa back.
Sorry I do not have a photo of the sofa back in form with the pleated skirt attached. I will try to get that done in spring when our RV is out of winter storage and update this post when available.
Hope you enjoyed this project article. If you decide to undertake this project we would LOVE to hear from you and see your photos! Please feel free to leave us any comments on this project- we love to hear from our subscribers!
Anyone who has an Avion (or Airstream for that matter) knows that the clearance underneath these silver babies is less than optimal and can really cause issues especially trying to do boondocking or dispersed camping-which is something we plan to do a lot of once we are full timing starting in 2023. We found in our 28′ we had issues, but it was even more pronounced in our 32′ since our tail end extends that much further back from the tire axels.
At times we were even limited as to what gas stations, parking lots or even campsites because of the “dip” from street to lot/site. NO MORE!
HERE IS A GREAT VIDEO about the IS and disc brake systems in easy to understand language. We are happy to share with you from vloggers Crazy Family Adventure.
After lengthy research, discussion with people who have installed it and with Technicians at MORryde and then more research we decided to take the big plunge and have the MORryde Independent Suspension System AND Kodiak (7K lb) hydraulic disc brakes installed on our 1987, 32S model Avion. This decision is not for the faint hearted and a huge investment (just over $7K total for axels/suspension/Kodiak Disc brakes as of this post in Fall 2021) and this does not include the new 8 Lug tires and rims we needed to get for the hydraulic brake install we wanted.
Anyone who has the original MORryde suspensions on their Avion’s (late 60s into late 70s) knows that the center rubber sheer spring that hangs down (encased in steel) in between your tandem tires takes a ton of the impact from road travel and it is certainly touted as one of the best suspension systems that Avion installed back in the day and any travel trailer can have. We loved it on our ’73 and missed it once we started traveling with our ’87. This new version from MORryde, called their “I.S.” (Independent Suspension) system basically replicates that type of system from the older Avion’s WITH ONE HUGE DIFFERENCE!
We now have that 70’s type of MORryde Rubber Sheer Spring on EACH OF OUR TIRES! The results is a super smooth ride, less wear and tear on the trailer frame–and with new axels and all these new components there is piece of mind that we will not likely have problems with axel failure/breakage and have a hard time trying to find the correct old “split axels- the Dexter Adjust-a-ride” we did have.
If you think about your suspension like we do, it is the foundation of your “house”. It needs to be strong, in good working order and built to last. Our Avion is our home (full time starting in 17 months, 3 days, 2 hours, 29 seconds but who is counting right??) and we want a strong foundation for the tens of thousands of miles we plan to do each year with her over some pretty challenging terrains.
For the sake of brevity, we will list PRO’s and CON’s of our experience, the system and the end results. In the end, would we do it again? yes, but read on!!
PRO’s to our process-products-end result:
Increased our ground clearance from 8.5″ (at low point of old axels) to over 15″. No more worries about getting off road, into gas stations or parking lots. Our rear side frame and front tongue frame sit at right around 26″. NO more worrying about dips into parking lots from the street or uphill grades from street.
The MORryde website has excellent information and videos. And phone calls in advance to their tech folks were very helpful in our decision making to go with the IS versus the 3000 or 4000 systems. Your Avion may benefit from the other systems and worth inquiring about!
The Kodiak Hydraulic Disc brakes are game changers! Wow! what stopping power and peace of mind. So different than electric brakes! Makes braking of the trailer feel totally “as one” with our tow vehicle. No more grabbing, no more concerns on long down or uphill travels. These are beefy! Just the new brake system alone was worth the install!
All new axels, rotors and all brake components so less chance of failure or need to hunt down vintage parts to fit/work. We like having a new, rocksteady foundation under our trailer.
During install process we were able to examine the trailer frame since belly pan was removed (we had not done that prior) to see it was in excellent condition- even our Tech was super impressed with quality and condition of this 34 yr old frame!
MORryde allows you to park the night before your appointment in their lot outside garage, then once install commences you are allowed back onto your “elevated rig” after the day shift is done. This saves on hotel costs– our install took 2.5 days.
The MORryde Service center staff are very good. The Tech and Service Manager listened to our questions, were responsive to our concerns and talked us through the process as it was happening in real time. (BTW we were the first vintage trailer to get an IS install) They also gave us a tour of the entire facility so we could see these IS systems being fabricated on site.
We knew what our costs would be before they started and this was all reviewed with us in advance. There was no type of upselling or gimmicks. The products stand on their own and we really feel their shop labor rates were very fair.
The Tech you get is assigned to your rig from start to finish and are highly skilled and trained. They are very professional, the shop is clean, well managed and everyone is super friendly. (well you are spending a bundle too!)
The waiting area during the day is stocked with goodies, drinks, etc. and very comfortable with overstuffed sofas and with WIFI and rest rooms. You can also order and get a complimentary lunch from several area restaurants who delivers to the MORryde office. No charge to you- we did Panera both days.
To their credit, when an issue was relayed from us back to MORryde they made good on sending out new parts at their cost and covered the labor costs in a refund to us to have this correction done locally at a shop we found near to us. Kudos out to Adirondack Truck of Queensbury!
CON’s to our process-product and end result
We did not know that the rig was going to be lifted SO high. Originally we were told up by 4-6″ and we were fine with that. Then as install progressed we were told it changed to 7-8″. We now have a full 11.5″ from top of our tire to top inside of wheel well. Looks odd because all of us are used to seeing our low lying, stealth to the ground rigs. To counter this somewhat we have purchased Fender Flares (aftermarket bought at Bontragers near Elkhart) to install by riveting on the exterior of the well lip to help mitigate the space visually. We will temporarily remove the track you see below that we riveted on to slide our Zipdee Tire Shades into, then will rivet the fender flares on using the same rivet holes and refasten the tire shade track over top of this once again. Due to the curvature of the wheel well opening (at approx. 1 pm and 11 pm locations) we are going to have to apply small sheets of anodized alluminum from behind to fill in those gaps. Not an ideal fix, but its the best we have come up with. If you have another idea please let us know!
Our frame, (measured at front and rear frame on tail before it rises upward) now sits at 26″ above the ground. Before this install it was approximately 18″. This height has resulted in perhaps a lessening of the aerodynamic nature of the Avion design. However on our trips since we have not encountered any issues with this even on highways with winds and Semi trucks zooming by- but we also use a Hensley hitch which certainly is a big help and have a high top cap on our pick up which deflects wind.
No pre install weigh in like video’s said they would do. When we watched the MORryde videos during our decision making process we really liked the fact that part of the process included weighing your rig so that the correct sheer springs weight range would be installed. We know our trailer is street side heavy due to Corian countertops and all appliance on that side. We had hoped this weighing step and install to account for this would solve any undo stress on one side of the axels/tires. Needless to say when we arrived we were told they no longer do that weighing part of the process. We were not happy with that explaining again we knew we were heavier on one side and in the end (keep reading full story) it would have saved a lot of angst as a result.
We were not made aware that our specific I.S. axels were going to be wider than our original ones. We were told this is due to the necessary deflection needed for the tires to toe out or in independently we now had our tires extending out about 2.5-3″ outside of the wheel well! We question the need for this still. Was it really because this is the standard length for modern RV’s and what their shop is set up to make? This was a total surprise to us and not a happy one . We did not realize it until the entire install was complete. It really changed the look of the trailer profile. Hence another reason to purchase the aftermarket tandem aluminum fender flares at about $75 each. We have added another project to our list to rivet these in place after removing our tire shade track and replacing it over top the fender flares (a project just completed). ** The tires extending past our sidewall profile also can mean more damage should a tire fail, and certainly without the fender flare, way more road grime, water from wet roads, mud etc. spewing onto our vintage aluminum skin trailer body.
“Houston we have a problem!” On our trip back to upstate NY (Lake George area) from Elkhart, IN- this is a 780 mile trip of all highways we found at our pit stops that some of our interior decor, drawers, gear, and equipment that NEVER had bounced around or shifted before was now doing just that! Wait a minute!!!!!!
We were supposed to have a smoother ride, not a bumpier one! We also noticed porpoising (rocking nose down to nose up) of our trailer when hitting even slight road seam bumps that we had not seen before. Houston!!???? another issue!
Not all communications via email were responded to in what we feel was a timely manner by MORryde staff, especially with our issue after install was brought to their attention. We do recognize that Covid-19 certainly had a part in this as did some staffing changes at MORryde. We know everyone is busy but waiting weeks for a reply is not appropriate in this tech age. Once a reply was gotten, we were instructed what measurements we needed to do and send to them. With this information, MorRyde determined that indeed the WRONG SHEER SPRINGS had been installed *Yup, that weight thing again”- Avion’s are heavy!!-they are not the cardboard box trailers produced today. Even though we had given them our weight parameters…someone obviously did not compute this correctly from the get go. So what was happening was that the #2 Sheer springs originally put on at the shop were insufficient to carry our weight and were causing the axels to bottom out when hitting even mild to medium bumps in the roadways-trashing our trailer inside and pounding on our frame unnecessarily on that first trip.
Sheer Spring REDO! With new #3 sheer springs in hand, you can see the big difference in size! See photo below. We had to take another day off from work and had a local shop (Adirondack Truck on Big Boom Rd, Queensbury- who were great!) take out the springs from our install and replace with these beefier ones. We are very happy to report a 2.5 hr trip two days later on our next camping adventure proved we had no more jostling, drawers were shut, gear not strewn about–so issue appears to be solved and the ride is smooth as we had hoped for and been promised. Needless to say, the issue we had caused us undo stress wondering what on earth we spent all this money for? Did we ruin the quintessential look of our Avion only to have a bumpier ride? In the end…the ride is better, the clearance is better and we have the peace of mind of a very strong foundation (suspension) and a new braking system second to none!
Final thoughts read below…..
For those who wish to see some of the quick video footage we took during the install process here you go!
Welding of new brackets to support axels. Video link
New axels with highlight on the Kodiak Disc Brake system. Video Link
Our Tech, Matt doing the welding of first axel onto frame. Video link
Closer look at streetside axels after being welded to frame. Video link
Balancing and aligning our new tires on axels-Hunter System. Video link
In summary...it was a stressful project from start to finish. We were under the gun to have our house batteries relocated before we left for Elkhart, then a 780 mile trip out there. We did not get our Avion into the shop until 2pm on first day of appointment, ended up being there 2.5 days and missed two days with fellow Avioners at our SAF rally. We were shocked by the resulting height of the trailer and over extended tires past our sidewalls. AND, the saga did not stop and we had to have our sheer springs replaced within a month due to a size miscalculation on their part of which they did send us the correct replacements and covered labor. But all is well now and we are happy!
In the end…we have a super rugged, solid foundation to our home and now we have an AVION OVERLANDER® rig now….and that is the beginning of a new story!
PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG SO …You can stay tuned so you can see the debut of a new separate off grid adventure blog from us with a separate, additional URL at AvionOverlander.com that will only focus on off-grid, off road- boondock and dispersed camping adventures, tips and more—coming in 2023 when we hit the road full time and do a lot of boondocking and off road/off grid adventures! (not to worry thePewterPalace.com will not be going away and will continue to be the repository for our campground reviews, regular trips, projects, tips and more!)
As always, if you have any questions, want more measurements, etc. please do not hesitate to reach out to us at any time via direct email to PewterPalace87@gmail.com!
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!
If you haven’t already please subscribe to our blog Www.thepewterpalace.com and our YouTube channel! We appreciate it!
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!
We have completed our walk through video of our BIG Avion trailer mid bath expansion project!
As loyal subscribers to our blog YOU GET TO SEE IT FIRST!
If you LIKE this video please give it a “thumbs UP”, if you disliked…a thumbs down.
If you have not checked out the many videos we have made over our Avion ownership, or trusted other bloggers videos we have in our YouTube library now is a great time to explore. Happy travels in 2021!
Sometimes, just a “short get away” is the perfect stay!
That was the case when Kevin and I chose a camping trip to Cumberland Bay State Park this autumn. We were super lucky to even get a beach front site with only a week advance booking! Then again, it was September so weather in this part of NY can be chilly—but we had great weather in the 70s during the day and 50s at night. Perfect!
This NYS campground is part of the (Reserve America) NYS system in nearby (2.5 hours north of us) Plattsburgh, NY. This campground sits just north of the city and directly on the huge Lake Champlain which serves as the link boundary between NY and VT to the east.
CLOSE IS NICE SOMETIMES!
Getting there from our home in Queensbury, NY is a beautiful and easy drive north on I-87 “The Adirondack Northway”. If coming from VT you can take the Ferry that leaves from Grand Isle, VT. FYI- the Adirondack Northway, RT 87 is also our direct way to Montreal, Canada just 3 hours from home. The Northway itself is a beautiful road passing exits for Lake Placid,Ausable Chasm and other notable and beautiful scenic trips in their own right. Those locations really deserve their own dedicated camping trip.
Here are links to the campground and reservation system.
Please note, unfortunately NYS in trying to do a “nice thing for campers during Covid-19” opened up their reservation booking window through 2021. In my opinion it would have been OK to allow NYS residents to do this, but it was opened for anyone to do. What has resulted is 99% of all decent campsites in the state park campground system have been already booked through next year and I suspect many by out of state campers who may or may not ever really use that reservation. Sadly, i think most of this was to grab up sites…but in reality I bet many of these reservations will be unused or cancelled. I am not alone in this perception. What it has done is closed out many NY state residents from enjoying camping in campgrounds our state tax dollars pay for. Many fulltime RVer’s are discussing this same thing on their YouTube channels and blogs so NYS campers are not alone.
ABOUT THE CAMPGROUND:
The campground sits right on Lake Champlain but also includes a day-use beach area so we suspect during peak summer months this place is going to be a lot busier, noisier and bustling than our sublime autumn getaway. There are only really 6-7 sites that are “direct waterfront” and we were thrilled to get one of these. There is a large 4 foot “sea wall” style barrier between the campground and the beach. There are some places where there is a set of stairs to get down onto the beach as well. The beach is very wide, very well kept. Along the wall there is a walkable sidewalk which many folks used too. We honestly feel that our adolescent grandsons will have more fun at this campground with the beach and bike riding than they did at Jellystone!
Sites 43 to 48 are the only sites that are truly water front with no obstructions of this beautiful view!
We had site #46 which was a great site for our 32 foot travel trailer. It was also the widest of all of these beach front sites too. Our top choice recommendations here are in order: 46, 43 or 47 due to their length, width and scenic value. They are also on lawn but do not have really any privacy buffers between sites.
The sites that are on the same road but directly opposite our site are ok but beware they are quite sandy and not very well kept up as of Fall 2020. Also, some of the sites in this campground are very short so do trust the “max length” notation they have when you are making a site selection.
These sites along the beach row are NO HOOKUPS! In fact, most of the sites in the campground are no hook ups. They have built nice new bath houses around the north end of the park up on the hill. The southern end still use a large older bath house that was OK. The campsites opposite from the beach front sites (shown above) do have electric only. These tend to be where you will see a lot of large 5th wheels.
We boondocked with no issues at all. There is a water fill spigot on the way into the park on the right side of main drive and a very modern, 2 lane, dump station as you exit, or if you are there for longer and don’t have your own porta-dolly and need a mid-stay dump, the access is very good and easy.
While camping we used the main beach house toilets quite a bit besides our own RV bath. The public day use bath house is only a couple years old, very ADK looking, beautiful and very clean and modern. It was only a short walk from our site. there is a very nice children’s playground there too with rubberized ground pad which is always very nice.
The fellow campers at the campground were very nice, all were very cognizant of the need for face masks and social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation. It was very quiet, reserved and peaceful and we really enjoyed just relaxing watching the throngs of Canada geese who came in in the morning then the other water fowl who came in at other times of the day. They seemed to be taking turns!
We stayed four nights (thurs through Sun) and while there is not much to see and do directly around the campground itself or within walking distance, just a 5-10 minute drive you are in the City of Plattsburgh a great place to check out!! The city is home to the State University of NY at Plattsburgh (SUNY Plattsburgh) and also an international airport due to its proximity to Montreal so this creates a nice downtown vibe.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN DOWNTOWN PLATTSBURGH!
A DAY TRIP OR OVERNIGHT TO MONTREAL IS CLOSE-BY!
Also, for those who may be staying a little longer and looking for a super terrific full “day trip” Montreal, Canada is only a 1 hour 15 min easy drive by highway. The border crossing will add a little time to this but if you avoid commuter times you should be ok. Downtown historic Montreal is fabulous with great shops, dining, the underground and more! There are not a lot of easy access campgrounds near Montreal so this might be a great day trip or even overnight option! (if you bring your RV over the border, remember there are in-bound and out-bound food restrictions on things like beer (limits) and restrictions on fresh meats, veggies and fruits, etc. Check the border crossing sites before you end up having to throw good food into a bin at the border!)
NOTE: We did not go to Montreal on this trip since the borders in/out are closed due to Covid-19. Besides, we live only 3 hours south of Montreal so we can go anytime once the borders re-open.
Besides…why go anywhere when we saw this each evening while enjoying our own wine, beer, cheese & crackers while we warm up around our portable Outland LP fire pit! This was literally our view from our site. Deep breath……ahhhhhhhh.
Just a few more photos of our stay at Cumberland Bay State Park. We had a wonderful time, in fact, we tried to book a stay for next summer and should not have been surprised all of the waterfront sites are booked solid from June through mid-September. Bummer! but we will be back!
We hope you do check out Cumberland Bay State Park for yourself and enjoy the relaxation of the park, but also the great offerings in downtown Plattsburgh.
Looking for awesome “Avion-branded” gifts, clothing, camping gear or decor? please check out our exclusive designs at MyAvionMarketplace.com
Let us know if you go! We would love your feedback!
Kevin & Luisa Sherman proud owners of a 1987, 32S Avion!
We have had a request to post some photos of the exterior, aftermarket “clips” that were on our original 1973 Avion, 28 foot LaGrande.
Here is one of them below.
A previous owner had put these on because, lets face it, those window crank mechanisms are far from reliable, or sturdy.
Last thing you want is your window to accidentally open enough to catch a gust of wind as you tool down the road and bend the window frame out of alignment or worse, rip it off!
We suspect you can probably find similar clips to the original ones on our Avion in a good hardware store that has screen door replacement parts too.
Along the way, we had to add and also replace some and what we used was actually those small shelf support holders that you see in some bookcases, kitchen cabinets, etc.
SEE BELOW for what we found worked. The rounded pin end was what was against the window frame and held it snugly in place. We reused the original holes from prior “safety clips” that were either lost or lost their ability to hold the window and used these clips below with a small screw in place.
Using these make shift safety clips does help in preventing the inadvertent opening of your window when going down the road at 60-70 MPH (we never go over 60-63 MPH when towing!). Those window cranks are not failsafe and can over time fail to hold your window securely closed. We have read where especially when traveling in high wind areas where windows have opened enough to be sheared off.
Just remember, if you do go the way of installing these or similar types of clips, you will need to bring a portable power drill with Philips head on it to loosen them up once you get to your campsite so you can rotate them out of the way and open your windows. We do not recommend taking them completely out every time (you will lose them and you may prematurely strip the holes)
Hope this short article helps! If it has…let us know with a comment!
Let us know if you have come up with another idea on securing your windows from accidental opening when towing!
On our project list for our new to us ’87 Avion was to remove the original 1987 humongous microwave. In truth–the edges of interior box were rusty and surely this behemoth sucks a huge amount of juice when “fired up” and running. Plus…do we really want to trust the safety of a 33-year-old Microwave?
As an aside, in case you don’t know…Kevin and I have over 30+ years of 18th century living history reenacting at historic sites, museums, national and state historic parks from Nova Scotia to Colonial Williamsburg. Yes…we are THOSE people who make and wear clothing and live the life of our forefathers and mothers in 1757-1781. As a result of the immersion into this hobby, Kevin and I have long ago learned how to cook, clean and survive without a microwave for days on end.
Yes, at home I do use a microwave, but camping life and its pace and fresh air seems to shrug microwaving for us.
When we bought our ’73 Avion right off the bat we began looking to see what cabinet we could retrofit to install a small microwave thinking we needed one in an Rv. Doesn’t every RV have one after all? (our Class A did). But our common sense took hold and I asked discerningly- “what do we really use it for??”. Perhaps heating a left over cup of coffee (can be done in a sauce pan), or reheating a left over (we rarely have leftovers and if so, tin foil can do the trick on the grill, in a covered pot on the stove or in our Avion oven). So did we REALLY need a microwave and to hack into the pristine, original cabinetry that Avion’s were/are known for? We decided to wait a year of using our 73 before we hacked. A year turned into three and there was no doubt, no microwave was needed for us. We are resourceful camping souls from the 1700’s after all- having logged literally 1000’s of hours in reproduction canvas tents, hauling water and cooking over an open fire even in 95 degree summers (with 3-4 layers of wool and linen clothing to boot)! Running water and a toilet are high style for us!
So fast forward to our newly purchased ’87 Avion. The 32S has a front kitchen. It’s one of the big reasons we love this floor plan. Here is a photo of the behemoth microwave that came with her off the assembly line in Michigan 33 years ago this past February. Yeah, the # buttons were like the size of a postage stamp!
Here below are some photos after the microwave was removed, and the cabinet interior cleaned up, a floor created over the framing and wiring for the stove exhaust hood safely wrapped, encased and secured. Kevin did a super job on this and WOW!! Look at all this space I have now! More than enough for some modern convenience contraptions I really do use like…my air fryer, small InstaPot, my crockpot and metal stock pot (for the occasional Lobsta’ dinners now and then or the rally chili cook-off contest!) Plus maybe even some oversized boxes perhaps of dry cereals, oatmeal, etc.
I had the brainstorm one night that instead of trying to salvage some original Avion cabinet doors to put in here, how about a corkboard? In 225 Sq Ft of living space you always want to err on the side of versatility and each thing, full timers will tell you, should have at least 2 purposes! So onto Amazon I went and found this beauty–a wood framed, magnetic chalkboard! I have the link for it in our page that features our Favorite things/resources. (no, we do not have an Amazon store, we do not get any residuals from anything you order, its just us helping you to find things we love, use and have tried before)
I love the way the black chalkboard matches the look of the black front refrigerator and oven. Really looks like it belongs!
So let us know?? what cha’ think? We simply love it! We used the same hardware as we had replaced in the kitchen (seen on right photo above) and so here is the big reveal below side by side….you decide!! BTW…this board is chalkboard and magnetized so i am thinking a fun place to put grandsons current photos and some little magnets from special places we go to around the USA!!
Another project checked off the list! This one took about a total of about 3-4 hours total including refit of interior cupboard, staining of frame, going to store to get hinges and the intallation this evening
Adventures with a Vintage Avion Luxury Travel Trailer