Tag Archives: escapees

Our 4 Week June 2022 NY to TN Trip

We are members of the national RV club called “Escapee’s”. This year, their national rally was held at the Wilson County Fairgrounds in Lebanon, TN. We have been members of the club for 4 years and had yet to get to attend one of these rallies since they have been out west and with Luise working up until Jan 2020 we could not get the needed time off to attend.

This time, on the east coast albeit 994 miles away we made the decision to go despite crazy gas prices ranging from $4.40 to 5.00 per gallon! Were we nuts? Probably, but now that we have the time to travel for 4 weeks at a clip—the event would be fun and we built in a return to our beloved Smoky Mountain National Park and a swing through PA, Amish Country OH, Mammoth Cave, KY and WV which we had stops we wanted to see. * We will be publishing specific reviews on each of the campgrounds we stayed at in the future so be on the look out for these and subscribe to our blog so you get notifications of all new articles and reviews! Thanks!

Here is a breakdown of our total trip costs, miles driven, gas consumption and all those other costs of the trip if you wish to see it. TRIP COST SUMMARY

OUR TRIP ITINERARY:

JUNE 1, 2022– leave mid afternoon, pit stop at the Seneca-Iroquois Museum in Salamanca, NY for a visit then late evening Boondock Kanona Rest Area on RT 86 Westbound in Bath, NY. Wilkins RV center is just across the highway. Good overnight stop. Link to info on rest area.

JUNE 2-4: 2 nights @ Shenago Recreation Area-Army COE Campground, Transfer, PA. Perfect spot on beautiful waterfront site. Dry camping. Campground link.

JUNE 5-6: 3 nights @ Timbercrest Campground, Walnut Creek, OH (OH Amish Country) Fun Shopping, Ft. Laurens Historic Site, zoar historic village. Not much to campground for price. We loved the Amish food grocery shop at Walnut Creek and the Sugar Valley Meat Market was awesome! Location of campground was good, but would stay elsewhere in future as there are more options in the area with better facilities/shade/walkable to shops, etc. More to see on a future trip for sure! Campground Link.

JUNE 7-8: 2 nights@ Wright-Patterson Air Force Base FAM Camp, OH *Visited the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, OH (free…and amazing!) Site #14 was great FHU pull thru. Campground link

JUNE 9-11: 3 nights@ Wilmington Thousand Trails (TT) Campground, Wilmington, OH. We are TT members so stay for FHU was free. Great pool and hot tub! Visited the Airstream Museum and Factory TOUR and Store, nice! Originally planned to visit Cincinnati but concerns over parking our large truck and over 1 hr drive changed our minds. Huge flea market down the road on Sat/Sun. was great with indoor and outdoor stalls, 100’s of them! Great campground, site # 24 was perfection! (PS- if you can stay at Wright-Patterson FAM camp, the Airstream museum is also easy day trip from there too-we just ran out of time!) Campground Link and the Airstream Museum Link. The Factory tour is worth the time, about 2 hours and well done. Research the schedules though as some days its only one time per day so you want to time your visit appropriately.

JUNE 12-18: 6 nights@ Mammoth Cave NPS Campground, Mammoth Cave, KY. Amazing and perfect site #93 with FHU (91 & 93 are only FHUs) , concrete pad and patio, convenient to all. Day tripped to Nolin State Park Reservoir for swimming. Did Extended Historic Cave Tour which is a must do! Love the little town of Horse Cave. Visited National Cave Museum and the Hidden River Cave in Horse Cave, both worth the visit. Beautiful area!! Campground link

JUNE 19-24: 5 nights@ ESCAPADE RALLY hosted by national Escapee’s RV club, Wilson County Fairgrounds in Lebanon, TN. Very close to Nashville but not our gig, so we kept primarily busy with attending seminars, meeting fellow members, social activities, live music and many sponsored happy hours by RV manufacturers, trade show and more. Never heard of the Escapee’s RV club? Check out these benefits and join our new specialty “Birds of a Feather” group (BoF) of Escapee members just for Vintage & Classic RVs (RVs 25 yrs or older). Kevin and I just started it after the rally and it has been sanctioned by the national board of directors of the club! You must be an Escapee member to join the VC-BoF.

JUNE 24-25: 2 nights @ Ripplin’ Waters RV Campground, Sevierville, TN Right on the main access road to all that is Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville. We really enjoyed our ride through the famous Cade’s cove, had a Black Bear Encounter in the Cove and did a mountaintop drive for about 11 miles on a one way mountain ridge route-never saw another vehicle. Near the campground is a Flea market just down the road on weekends, the Veteran’s Store in Pigeon Forge on the strip is a must do for any Vets, dined out at Tony Gore’s BBQ (probably walkable from campground) and rested from rally. Enjoyed their pool. Probably would not stay there again though since there are many other options in the area. We were at site 43. Campground Link

JUNE 26-29: 3 nights@ Campfire Lodgings, Ashville, NC. Beautiful mountain top edge site #2. Site #4 or 5 are best for sunset views but they also have a wonderful social gathering area with benches and chairs so all can get best view of sunsets each night. We enjoyed ooohing and ahhhing with fellow campers! FHU with concrete pad and patio. Pricey but worth it. Convenient to Biltmore and downtown Ashville is about 15 minutes away-which is very artsy, great restaurants, shops, galleries. No other campground amenities but nice very private bath facilities with showers, and nice laundry. Will stay again for sure! Steep one way access road to get to mountain top location- no early entry! Campground link.

JUNE 30: Boondock, Walmart along RT 81 in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Yeah we could finally put WV on our state travel map as having overnighted in the state. PS the 1 state rest area in WV on RT 81 is very small, busy and noisy. Go another few more miles and find this Walmart right off the highway and park broadside near the tree buffer at far end of the parking lot. Tons of walkable restaurants in adjacent parking lots. We have bookmarked this Walmart for future stays if passing through.

JULY 1: Long day, 9 hours of driving home (see our note about being flexible with travel plans below) with a pit stop at Cabela’s in Hamburg, PA our usual stop (and sometimes boondock stop). Not nearly as good as it used to be, since they were bought out by Bass Pro Shop they have reduced their footprint with no in house restaurant, the discount “cave” is gone that had great finds sometimes and their inventory is reduced, no more little cabins outside, kayaks galore, etc. its too bad really. But we still like the stop AND they still do have a dump station and rinse out if you need it. There is also a Camping World just across the street a bit for any needed supplies in their store. We chugged it home and were pulling in by the evening hours.

Total miles driven (by Kevin- bless him! I do drive on interstates when the traffic is lighter- this trip the traffic was horrible!) 3287 Miles

Total Gallons of Gas: 368 Fuel Cost: $1636.38 Average of $4.44 per gallon (southern states definitely cheaper- KY being the cheapest)

Reminder…..For more details on our overall cost categories including food, activities, dine out, camping fees, see the link to document summary above.

Map of our Trip: (we use RV Trip Wizard for our planning and love it.)

NOTE: We ended up cancelling our reservations for US Space & Rocket Museum Campground in Huntsville AL due to gas costs. So essentially we went from the RED “E” to the Red “B” directly instead.

What did we learn along the way?

  1. The highways are super busy despite super high gas prices!  We cannot wait till full retirement and hitting the roads west of the Mississippi River!
  2. We definitely like to stay 3 nights at any one campground if there is any thing remotely interesting to do in the area.  It gives you the chance to unwind from driving, at least one solid day of exploring and then a day to putter, clean and prep for new adventure.
  3. If a campground has a pool AND hot tub it is definitely worth the extra miles or cost to enjoy especially if you have been doing a lot of long driving days. Serves as a great sub for a shower too!
  4. The use of a rear view camera to see what is going on behind you is really important, especially on the east coast where traffic is so nuts.
  5. Truckers in the south head into rest areas early in the day and do not leave till late morning.  Get to a rest area early if you want a spot but try to find something other than truck stops- there are a lot of trucks these days that need those spots more than you do!
  6. We will be purchasing a plug in cooler before too long.  What we had to spend on bagged ice was ridiculous, about $150 for the month…..melted into water!
  7. When camping in 98 degree heat and 90% humidity, in an open field (our rally) be sure you have put Reflectics on the windows, run a dehumidifier and keep your AC running on low all the time and kick it up to high when you are in the rig.
  8. Be flexible with your travel plans.  Originally we planned to head to Huntsville, AL and the US Space & Rocket Museum/Campground but this would have been a one way down and back between our Rally and NC campgrounds and so due to gas expense we cancelled it and booked into Sevierville a day earlier instead.  Ditto, due to some maintenance issues on our RV that were needed before our trip in mid July to IN we cancelled stays over at Natural Bridge KOA in VA, Caledonia SP and Hershey TT in PA on the way home. Kevin drove a 9 hr day but with breaks to stretch was not that bad. Our original plans were not to be home until July 3.  You need to be flexible with travel!

If you haven’t already subscribed to this blog—please do! This way you will get an email notification when a new article, review or “how to/tips” are published by us.

We always appreciate your feedback too so please leave a comment, or perhaps you have other info for any of these stops or locations we visited that would help future travelers!

Be well, travel safe and spread happiness!

Kevin & Luise Sherman……The Pewter Palace!

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

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Avion Tuesday Talks 8 PM

 

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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