Tag Archives: camping

Luray, VA Jellystone-Campground Review & Tips about the Skyline Drive!

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.

Cooter’s Garage- Museum & Gift Shop. Daisey’s Diner was not open when we were there. The diner has very limited hours. There is sufficient parking for RVs if you get there early or just before they close at 5 pm. There is a field to east side for overflow parking.

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.

Ariel view from their brochure of pool complex, jumping pillows, fishing pond (catch/release), mini golf, etc. It is a nice resort, but do not expect full service until after middle of June.

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 Gap Entrance 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.
One of the first overlooks on the Skyline Drive heading south from Front Royal entrance.

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!

Adirondacks Jellystone Park- Campground Review

August 2020

By our  grandson’s “popular demand” we booked another weekend trip to our local (45 min north) Jellystone RV Campground ( formerly known as Paradise Pines Jellystone I think).  It had been two years since we had taken them there.  This park is located just off RT I-87 in North Hudson, NY.  Very easy access.  Close enough to visit area attractions of a Buffalo Farm, Lake Placid, The North Pole, Lake George and Fort Ticonderoga on day trips as well as other small lakes and rivers that dot the eastern side of the Adirondacks.

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We booked especially to go on their “SPOOK-TACULAR” Halloween themed weekend which was awesome to say the least.  I did get our site and Avion all decked out and it was a big hit with the grandsons and nearly everyone in the park threw us mega compliments and thumbs up!  Right from the entrance point to the park and all over the park they had huge blow up halloween themed decor which was really great. Many of the campers also decorated their campsites and rigs.  We all got in the mood!

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This campground is a favorite for those with small families, afterall who can shrug a hug from Yogi or Boo Boo right??

The park is a simple 45 minutes north of us into the Adirondack Mountains on Route 87/The Adirondack Northway.  Once you exit for North Hudson, the campground is a minute up the road on the left.

We had site # 15 and were very pleased with this site for our rig.  It easily accommodated our 32 foot long Avion and had full hook ups. There we are on the right

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SITE # 15 ON THE RIGHT…THAT IS OUR SILVER 32 FOOT 1987 AVION!

** We originally booked site 137A online based on the online map.  WHOA!  do not go by that map and do not book that site or site 137 which everyone will walk through!  We did a reconnaissance trip 2 weekends before and 137A is what we would call an “after thought site”.  It appears there are a few of them at this campground where they are trying to SQUEEZE every last inch of turf to fit some level of RV into it.  Not good.  However—The staff was extremely accommodating and very pleasant as we did a drive around the park to view on my phone app to view what was still available.  She gladly rebooked us for Site 15 (there were only 3 sites left!) and we were very pleased with this customer service.

This pricing below was reflective of a 2 night stay.  
Premium Water/Electric/Sewer 1 $206.00
Adults on Site 2 $0.00
Children on Site 2 $0.00
Pet(s) 1 $10.00  (yes, Reddy costs extra, but we love her enough to pay!)
VIP Site Lock-in Fee 1 $15.00  (I opted to get locked into our site, no surprises!)
BYS Fee 1 $10.00  (this is an extra fee paid to the online booking company)
Subtotal $241.00
Total $241.00
Deposit Paid $133.90  (required % when booking online)

We actually ended up adding Thursday night (special rate deal only $50, so we could arrive then or earlier than 2 pm check in on Friday) so we ended up having a slightly higher bill in the end.  But we love getting in there on Thursday before everything fills up and we can set up and relax before the family comes too!

PRO’s:

  1. Very kid friendly park  (lots of kids–hey, its a Jellystone so expect that please!)
  2. Our Site 15 had easy access to bath house/showers and in the other direction the game hall, pool and other amentities (though not much doing because of Covid19 restrictions)
  3. Close to home for us- nice for a change!
  4. Their camp store is one of the best we have every seen for not only gifts and food incidentals, but their supply of RV gear, parts, light bulbs, and all sorts of hardware is better than some RV dealerships we have been to.  Seriously!  they do a great job with that!

5.Decent hook ups, though at this park their sewer runs slow during dumps so be careful!

6.Nice level site, large area in front for kids to ride bikes and play.  Our “lane” was a dead end this time which was much better than 2 years ago when we backed up to the playground (nice) but were on the main entry road for all rigs to come and go (not nice)

7. They pick up your trash at  your site.  Someone is always patrolling and that is a great perk they offer.  We love that feature at campgrounds.

8. We totally enjoyed their adult, larger pool again this timeTip- go early when it opens at 9, stay till about 11 then hightail it back to your campsite before it gets super busy!  Evenings it will calm down again too over dinner time and later.

9. If you do not want to cook, the owner does a lot of BBQing of hamburgs, hot dogs, sausages, etc. and I think even breakfast sandwiches at the main store area.

10. Totally AWESOME Haunted Forest Trail!!!  We cannot say enough for this themed “spooktacular” weekend.  Wow…the trail was long, very high caliber of actor volunteers, scenes and set stages.  The kids were petrified (ages 7 & 5) but we adults LOVED IT!  It also was no extra charge or tickets required.

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CONS:

Overall, this park is tired.  Most of the outbuildings really need repair, roofs cleaned off and a freshening up.  

  • The main bath house and shower pavilion for our whole northern section of the campground is old, still has the same missing formica counter top pieces from 2 years ago and really sorely needs a total upgrade.  The shower area is a little better and at least does have private doors to each stall with changing areas, etc.  NOTE:  there is NO handicap toilet stalls or accessibility features in this bathroom building, perhaps the newer one near the snack bar and main office does have H/C features–so you should check on this if that is a need.

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This is looking WEST from the end of our dead end lane. They do have small Yurts and nice log cabins that line the opposite side of our lane.

  • COVID-19 CAUSES LESS ACTIVITIES….Not their fault but many of the activities that our grandsons LOVED last time 2 years ago like the “bubble party”, the Hey Hey Hey rides with Yogi and the bounce pillow and, dance party, etc. were either not happening or were really transformed and toned down due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.  The hey rides, little train ride and bounce pillow did not run at all this weekend.
  • TIRED MINI GOLF….The boys did get in a round of Mini-golf with us.  But the mini golf area is also not maintained the way it should be.  There was debris and garbage on the ground that clearly had been there for a long time.  The boards of the various # holes were moss covered, rotted away in some sections and so slanted now you cannot take a good hit.  But it is in the shade and they had fun…so we played along.

  • LOTS OF STAFF BUT WHAT DO THEY DO?  Ironically we saw tons of staff at this park.  Not sure why the maintenance seems so lacking.  The Activity Director, Meghan was bright, bubbly and did a nice job with the bingo game that Sarah and I treated ourselves to.  Not sure why they held it on the front porch instead of the open air rec hall but whatever…I WON coverall and took home $21 so whose complaining right??!!
  • DEFERRED MAINTENANCE- again, our picnic tables both at the Yurt and at our site had rotten boards, not maintained. Some adjacent sites to ours did have the metal base tables which looked better.  Our premium site did come with a raised charcoal grill if you needed it.  we used it to set our Weber on!
  • YURTS ARE NOT UP TO PAR FOR THE COST…Our daughter and her husband rented one of the Yurts just across from our camper.  It was small, stuffy and had horrid air fresheners going to mask the musty, closed in smell, 2 sets of bunk beds, a small kitchen kind of set up (no running water) with a microwave, refrigerator (quite big) and a plastic table/chair set.  It did have A/C and also did have zip down window curtains with screens.  They said the beds were like sleeping on boards. They had deep hard foam mattresses.  You have to bring everything else.  They determined the Yurt was definitely not worth the money they are charging.  Also, they had NO privacy since a tiny tenting site was squished in on the side of their Yurt space and they were not quiet campers.  There was no housekeeping done to the Yurt between renters it appears and we felt like we had to do a once over sanitizing.  Yurt renters have to walk to the bath house for all their needs, washing dishes, showers, etc. too.

 

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My daughter Sarah and I snuck away from the kids for some Bingo!

  • KIDS POOL AND SLIDE AREA VERY HECTIC AND FULL….We did not use the kids pool area.  It was WAY over crowded for our personal feelings about Covid protection and need for social distancing.  I did hear someone on staff taking names later on in the day while we were at Bingo so it does sound like they were doing what they could to “schedule” folks to use the pool to avoid too much close contact. They did have sanitizer in the pool area with rags asking each person to wipe down any chairs and tables they used when they were leaving (to be honest, we totally did not remember to do that!)  Perhaps one of those staffers could have been assigned to do this and monitor behavior in the pool areas too??   The children’s area pool with swirling large tube slide is really way too small for a family/kid oriented themed campground like this.  Almost seems like they need to invest in a new large kids pool area, or build another pool ONLY for adult swimmers.  A hot tub would be nice too…but only if it is “adult only” restricted.  We will often search for parks that have those amenities for adults only (yes, ok, we are getting old and crabby!)

Like I had said from the start, we booked this trip to Jellystone because our grandsons asked for a camping trip here again this summer.  Will we go back? Probably not and that was the consensus from my daughter too.  If you do go, any of those sites along the side we were on at site 15 are we believe the best sites in the park.  There are a  lot of other kid-friendly campgrounds that have as much if not more to offer and are better maintained.

Hope this review helps….We appreciate any comments you may have.   Safe journeys!

Kevin & Luisa

Great Kitchen Gadget-Flexible Dish Drain Board!

We all have issues with “SPACE” in our RVs.  Anything I can do to reduce weight in storage AND space in my cabinets I am all over it!

MAJOR KEY to Happy RV-ing (and your significant other not repeatedly telling you to downsize more!)…..is to try to have each item (or most items) you have on board have at LEAST 2-3 various uses. 

Multi-purpose items are the name of the game when you are traveling and living in less than 210 square feet like we do. 

PS: I have included links to purchase ones I have saved on my Amazon Share list for RVers  at the bottom of this post.  (no we do not get kickbacks from Amazon on this, just sharing to be helpful!)

THIS IS ONE OF MY BEST SPACE SAVING, MULTI-PURPOSE KITCHEN GADGETS!

A collapsible, fold-able, stainless steel dish drainer which doubles as extended hot pad AND extension of counter space when laid over your sink!  Hey that’s a “hat trick!”

I love it so much, the original one I ordered (from Amazon and arrived in winter) never left my apartment kitchen!  I use it every day and had to order a second one for our Avion!  LOL

Flexible Stainless Dish Drainer!  Watch my video to see its many uses!

What is also awesome about this gadget is that you can also cut it to any size that fits your sink(s) best.  In our 1987 Avion I happen to have a gorgeous Corian huge, deep sink with a side bar sink.  So I have the flexibility of using the drainer exclusively over my bar sink and I have found I can actually stand up my dinner plates as they dry, leaving plenty of space for all the other dishes, cups, etc. to dry at the same time.  Simply cut through the outer rubber edges of this gadget to make it custom fit to your needs!

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DID I MENTION HOW COMPACT THIS THING IS?

Yeah, they make collapsible dish drainers and small single sink ones specially for RVs (I have tried both) but you still have to either leave them in the sink or find somewhere UNDER your sink in the cabinet to store it….that takes  up precious space!

Here is what this dish rack looks like when rolled up!  Seriously!! Basically takes up the same size as package of spaghetti out of the box.

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MULTI-PURPOSE IS THE NAME OF THE GAME in LIVING SMALL!

How many alternative uses can you find for this great gadget??!!

Oh right….AND it is a great place to dry dishes so they drain into your sink not all over your countertop!

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So are you convinced?  I was so thrilled with using my first one when it arrived in winter and our Avion was in winter storage, I had to order a second one for our Avion!

Once we go full time in 2022, I will probably trim down the first one, cutting it to exactly fit my side bar sink so i can leave it in place and then roll  up and use  my larger full sized one when i have more dishes to do, need a counter top extension quick or…cool off that fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies…yum!

Here is the link to our LINKS/RESOURCES page on our blog home page.  Look for the Amazon list that I share.  You can find this roll  up dish drainer there in two different sizes as well as tons of other items we use routinely in our Avion RV Life!

Happy and safe journeys!  WE LOVE TO HEAR YOUR COMMENTS ON THIS BLOG OR ANY OTHERS!

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

Best, from Kevin & Luisa Sherman

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

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

Check our Facebook Page for current schedule!

Avion Tuesday Talks 8 PM

 

Campground Review: Erie KOA HOLIDAY, McKean, PA

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July 2020: We stayed one night as a stop over enroute from attending our annual Silver Avion Rally in Elkhart, Indiana headed home to upstate NY. We wanted to just pull in, (not unhitch), but enjoy a restful evening…and a dip in the pool after a very hot rally week!

Erie KOA HOLIDAY is a very nice campground, and made a perfect respite stop for us after a 6 hr drive heading East from Indiana.

Reasons to like this campground:

  1. The online reservation system of the KOA franchises is very good. Easy to use and you get instant confirmation online. I booked our Monday night site on Sunday afternoon. 🙂
  2. Beautiful lush plantings, expertly maintained. (check out that front of the main building! By far the nicest landscaping we have seen at a campground around their main buildings.
  3. Super easy access directly off the Interstate, but far enough to be very quiet
  4. Sites are well maintained, though they are close together. We were site 42 (yellow right by the office) SITE MAP
  5. They have a small to medium sized in ground pool which was open and the temperature was perfect! It was one of the cleanest pools we have encountered in years!20200720_182815
  6. Very efficient and friendly reservation staff at check in (I believe we had the owner)
  7. They pick up your trash at your site (we love and appreciate that feature!)
  8. They have a beautiful quite large catch and release “Rainbow Lake”…below is the shot I took giving Reddy a walk…..beautiful at sunset!

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As mentioned, we chose this campground because it fell right into our plans to go 6 hours and stop for the night. We arrived around 4 PM. Our site was a pull through (#42) with 30 amp, W & S. MAP It was just down from the main check in building and quite tight among the other trailers on either side but since we do not have slides, and Avion’s are narrower than most we were just fine. I do not think I would want a weekend or week in that site due to lack of lawn or privacy for relaxing outside of your rig, but it did have a fire ring, wood picnic table if desired. for our overnight rest stop and pool dip it was perfect. Price for one weeknight in July 2020 was $62.00 inclusive.

We had a short happy hour after getting set up, then headed to the pool for a cool dip. It was luscious! The Covid-19 pandemic has caused some changes in operations and the owner noted when she gave me our instructions that there is a limit of 25 in the entire pool area allowed at a time. They are going on the honor system during the week (this was a Monday evening) as long as they could but staff would enforce if needed. There is a nice covered pavilion area just off the pool area with tables and chairs and I suspect during “normal activity” times this is a popular spot, perhaps a snack bar, etc.appeared to be there too-but not functioning when we were there.

Their camp store in main building was pretty basic. Some nice selection of tee shirts and some kids trinkets, but the rest was a bit scant, certainly very limited if you were looking for any repair items for your RV. You would need to go shopping elsewhere for them. Their map and website says they have a petting zoo area and snack bar. In our brief walk around we did not see these, but according to their map they do have them. (not sure if open due to pandemic issues)

This is a KOA and therefore, they do cater to families with children. There were plenty visible in the pool and playground area, but we managed to only get splashed on by jumping in kiddo’s a couple times. There were no issues with kids making too much noise in the campsite rows that we experienced.

For Kids they have:

  • playground
  • giant lawn checkers
  • jumping pad
  • rental pedal go carts, hot wheels
  • mining activity, panning for “gems”
  • tether ball
  • volley ball
  • of course…the pool

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Would we stay again?? YES! we do plan to make this a regular stop when we are heading to or from our Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in Elkhart, Indiana in July each year!

KOA Holidays

Erie KOA

Open April 17 – October 18
Reserve: 800-562-7610
6645 West Road
Mckean, PA 16426

87 Microwave Gets a Facelift (removal++)

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

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

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

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

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

orig microwave in our 1987, 32S_ march 2020

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Happy travels!

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Our ’73 Avion is Sold!

Update 6-20-20.

Yes, We have sold our beloved 1973 Avion, 28′ LaGrande! This hard decision only came because we have just recently purchased a 1987 32S model that has a little more space for grandkids and visiting family/friends from out of state when we go full time living and will be traveling around the USA and Canada in our Avion beginning in 2023. Ironically, we have found out that the 28′ actually has more storage capacity than our “new” to us 32′!-more downsizing is on the “to do list”!

So our 28 footer has found a new home and new owners Val and Michael. Ironically we bought this trailer from someone on VT in 2016 and now 4 yrs later she is moving back to VT to a lovely active family who no doubt will enjoy her like we have and make many great memories!

Which Camping Club is a Good Fit?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thousand Trails:  This is the big kahuna!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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