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!
There 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:
Good Sam Club (regular membership, not the roadside assistance membership)
Why? for the discounts at Camping World and at participating campgrounds
Why? for roadside assistance, RV towing, and discounts at campgrounds, attractions, dining, hotels, general travel discounts at retailers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
Our children can use our membership to rent a campsite or a cabin rental with hefty discounts for up to 2 weeks each year.
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.
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.
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!
There are many reports about moisture issues from underneath RV mattresses. This is a real issue and one not only that can cause rotting wood structure of your bed platform but also cause unhealthy mold to form there as well as literally on the outside and inside of your mattress itself. Not good!
This issue becomes more prevalent with those who full time in their rigs or especially for those who are in high humidity areas or who winter in their rigs where internal heat temps versus external surfaces (e.g. in ours the wheel wells under our bunks which essentially are “the outside”. This converging of a heated surface (body heat, furnace heat) and a cold surface will cause sweating and condensation.
After researching and doing a lot of checking of reviews and posts from full time RVers we found the following product. We ordered it last spring and did our install before beginning our 2019 camping season.
It is sold by the foot and is I believe 4 ft wide. So for our Avion bunks @ 34″ we did have to cut to fit both width and length. The stuff is very sturdy but also simple enough for me to cut with sturdy kitchen shears.
GATHER ITEMS NEEDED:
Sturdy Kitchen Shears
Metal tape measure or yard stick
An extra pair of hands
Double faced Heavy Duty minimum 2 inch wide Velcro strips or large squares (more about this later!)
Duct or Gorilla Tape (if you have a double or queen bed and will need to piece together)
Measure width and length of your bed/bunk. If you have an Avion floor plan like ours and two bunks, simply double the length of one bunk for what total length you will need to place for your order.
Place order, will be shipped directly to you. Is not super heavy. Watch for when company may have sales on free shipping!
We took our measurements of bunk base, first cut new mat the correct length, then marked and measured the correct width and cut. Note- we have a slight molding lip on our bunk base that is intended to create a bit of a lip to prevent mattress sliding off. So we cut our mesh mat to also fall just inside that small lip.
For the actual install, we followed the manufacture’s recommendations and we placed the “mesh pocket” side down on our plywood bunk base, then placed the mattress on top of the breathable fabric side of the mesh.
** after using for a few trips this way we did find that the mesh side was very likely to cause our whole mattress to slide a lot and often found our mattresses half into the hallway after being on the road. A fix we plan to do this year is to take a few large strips of the 2 inch wide sticky back Velcro strips and place them a few places on the mesh side to stick down onto the wood bunk base. The small molding on the bunk base that DID keep the mattress itself in place was not enough to hold the mesh layer in place. The mesh layer is a woven plastic and a bit slippery. We anticipate that the Velcro strips will do the trick and highly suggest this modification.
After securing down with the Velcro strips, replace mattresses down on top of fabric side of new mesh mat.
If you have found other materials or fixes to prevent moisture from ruining your wood bed base or mattress let us know!
Location (ease of access, things to do in the area) = 4 (Lake George is 10 miles away)
Camp Site Quality (ease of getting into site, surface, hookups quality, privacy) = 4
Campground Amenities (onsite pool, laundry, common areas, snack bar, etc) = 4
Kid-Friendly = 4
Adult-Friendly Amenities/Adult getaway = 2
Pet Friendly (amenities like dedicated dog park, trails, activities) = 2
Cell Signal = 1 (2 bars on 4G, Verizon), (Wifi only around pool area)
Site # we had this trip #704
Cleanliness: excellent. Sites are cleaned after check out, public buildings are very clean, modern and in good working order
Cost $96 per night, 4 night minimum in Summer season (all sites are FHU)
We are fortunate to live in an area of upstate NY and at the base of the Adirondack Mountains where there are a plethora of campgrounds and RV resorts. Some are older, a tad run down but usable, others are newer or have kept up with upgrades and attract huge numbers of RVers with tons of amenities and great sites. To name some of the better, largers ones; Moose Hillock-NY, Lake George Escape, Lake George RV Park, King Phillips Campground, Riverbend Campground. The first two being large resorts with tons to offer, others being more modest but very decent traditional campgrounds but with great access to all that the Lake George region has to offer.
For our annual “grandson getaway” weekend this summer we chose to do a stay at Moose Hillock Camping Resort on RT 149 in Fort Ann, NY. (they say Lake George on their marketing materials only for marketing purposes, it is not located in Lake George)
There were several reasons for selecting this campground, one of which was our kids have to drive right by it to get to our house when they are coming from their home in VT- so this made the trip easier for them to drop off and pick up the kiddies. Secondly, we knew from pictures and reports from friends who had stayed here that their pool is amazing, heated and large and the kids would love it. Lastly, that the sites are super huge (room for kids to play) and very private from each other. We hate feeling stacked up like jets on a runway which has unfortunately become more the norm in many RV campgrounds these days.
I am just going to cover a few key things for us about this campground in this review. Certainly we encourage our readers to check outour review on Campendium, or others in Trip Advisor and other online review sites.
SITES: Moose Hillock opened about 8 years ago and sits on 182 acres. It has 749 sites and each one is thoughtfully carved out of the woods with a ton of privacy woods, bushes and topography between each site. 90% of the sites were definitely laid out with big 5th wheel trailers in mind. We loved all the room around our rig as it made a great space for the kids to play and for us to even park our extra car (was handy to have to shuttle up to pool and to Lake George, or drop off garbage-more on that later).
A drawback for us regarding the site was that all the roads in the park and the sites themselves are all hard pack gravel. This surface prevented me from pushing in my lawn flags and also was not a soft, nice ground for kids to play on. Even walking on our patio mat bare foot was a bit uncomfortable. On the positive side, the drainage is very good, so no muddy sites like we have experienced elsewhere so i guess comfort versus mud is a worthwhile trade off.
There were no issues with the electrical hook up (50-30-20), but we always use our Progressive Industries monitor regardless to ensure no issues. Cable worked well. Cell signal was nearly non existent and only Wifi is available up at pool area. Sewer hookup was set up for 5th wheelers and was closer to front of site and higher than normal for us. This caused us to have to pull further forward in the back in site than we normally would have because we have our discharge valve towards rear of our rig versus 5ers who typically have their mid way on their curbside.
Site privacy was excellent and certainly the best we have ever had at a privately owned for profit campground. We could barely see our neighbors curbside a little from our site, but it was not an issue. The site pad is huge and hard pack gravel with good drainage. We were on site #704 and would use again but it would be nice if we did not have the skunk smell every day and night–so maybe he will move?! Not sure if skunks were a problem in other sites and we do not leave any food out, nothing in campfire area either but wow…the smell at night even caused me to have to close my bedroom window one night- the skunk had to be right underneath me!
AMENITIES: Their pirate-themed pool area certainly is the claim to fame for this campground. I would argue, compared to other campground “resorts” we have stayed at ….this is their ONLY real claim to fame. The pool is lightly salted water, no eye stinging and hey, salt water is far better for you than chlorine! It is heated just enough for us to take that initial chill off when dipping in, but not so hot that you feel like you are in a bathtub-which we do not like either and is in our opinion a breeding ground for germs especially when loaded with kids. So we were all good with pool temp and salt water. The large 2 story rock backdrop with skull head was a “wow” for our grandsons but they were intimidated by the water slides and would not go down either one. Kevin and I did go down the big one…gotta say, had been many many moons since I one, but I wanted to show the kids that I could do it! It was fun! The pool has a whole side that is a gradual walk in so perfect for any age toddler to grown up. One side has a nice ledge for adult sitters too which we liked. There are some faux rocks around the edges shooting streams of water which we and the kids liked. A night, the whole “mountain” and skull are lit up as well as nice colored lights in the pool. See best photos of this on their website.
The max depth of the pool is 4 feet so our 6 year old grandson could touch bottom almost 3/4 of the way in. There are lots of kids in the pool, this is after all a family resort to be sure. There are no “adult only” hours or areas sectioned off. This might be a great idea for them to do as the pool certainly is large enough. Most of the kids were actually very respectful of the adults but I was surprised at the allowance of floats, tubes and ball play which the latter sometimes got a bit out of hand. The weather during our stay was not super sunny or hot, so the pool was not to capacity but i can imagine when it is, that ball play could be downright dangerous and maybe they curtail it. There are NO lifeguards on duty but there are staffers atop the two slides to ensure no foul play or too young venture down where they should not.
Their playground area in our opinion was very lacking considering this is clearly marketed as a family, kid friendly resort. The playground consisted of one piece of traditional swings and then five or so pressure treated climb on items like a ship, train, tractor with hay trailer. These were nothing unique or that captivating for our 4 & 6 year olds to be sure. They spent all of maybe 10-15 minutes in the playground and were bored. Thankfully there was one bench that we adults could at least sit down on to watch.
They do have a large 400 seat pavilion which is near the pool area and set on a large swath of nice grass. Due to intermittent showers the whole weekend we did not partake in any of the planned activities but we will assume they were still held underneath the pavilion. This is not closed in, but since the park has a pretty short season Mid May to Mid October, as long as you bring a jacket in shoulder seasons you should be warm enough. Their planned activities seem to definitely focus around weekends. The activities include live bands, musicians, magic shows, science projects and of course the proverbial bingo! This area is also the only part of the park that has nice paved trails and we saw several kids really taking advantage of it and going round and round this small rotary just to get some bike riding in. A further testament that the resort gravel and dirt roads are not bike friendly.
Laundry Facilities: There are two very clean and modern facilities, again near the main hub of the pool, pavilion and golf cart rental area. The cost was $3.00 for a wash and again for a dry. There were no signs for how long the dryer ran for that amount, but this rate is quite a bit higher than other parks we have visited. The facility I photographed was very clean, nice new machines which had an app feature that you could download, use and directly pay via a stored credit card-thereby avoiding the need to spit dollars into a change machine or carry around tons of quarters to meet the $6 it was going to cost you for one load. We did see one person using the dryer, i suspect more to just dry soggy beach towels. This park definitely attracts more regional visitors who are staying a week or so and in fact, many 5ers have their own W/D so i suspect this laundry really does not get a lot of use. There are NOT a lot of seasonal sites here that are used every day but rather they are weekend get away’s for folks living in the Albany/Capital District area which is only 1.5 hours to the south.
Main Lodge: The main lodge is located right at the main entrance to the campground. Registration lines are ample to pull off to go inside to check in. The staff was very friendly and helpful and reviewed all necessary information.
Also inside this building to the right is an arcade which features top line thrill rides like motocross, Jurassic Park, several shoot em up military modern games (my son in law would have loved) and of course several of those grab the toy game machines. They also have 2 skee bowl lanes which I love but the signs on them clearly say that they are NOT for prize tickets, so you are just playing for scores, not prizes. This deflated Lucas, our 6 year old and he moved on. At least the bells, sounds and lights of other machines were more reward for his $1. Kevin amused the boys for nearly 2 hours and $20 later on Saturday when I had errands to run into town.
Their snack bar sits off the back side of the building and overlooking the pool which you can see in the photo above. Pricing was pretty typical for a captive audience (we are talking pirate theme here afterall!) and so for the four of us for lunch, burger, chix fingers, and two grilled cheese sandwiches, one fry and 1 soda was around $33. Sawyer and I had the grilled cheese @$4 which was decent I thought and the cheapest thing on the menu. It was fun for the kids to eat at the pool area and under the Hawaiian style palm laden umbrella tables for one time.
They have a pretty decent camp store full of all the expected essentials and basic RV supplies. Their gift line focuses around a pirate theme as well as their own logo items which include their signature moose. Speaking of moose….they do have a mascot but we did not see him/her anywhere the four days we were there.
My suggestion would be they take a cue from Jellystone Parks and do a tractor pulled hayride type of thing through the park at least one x per day on weekends and have the mascot on board for the kids.
(if they do something like this I did not see it on our schedule)More of my suggestions for this park to follow below….
SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT: (these are ranked in order of importance in my opinion of importance and ease of adoption)
#1 Provide trash pick up at campsites on a daily basis. This is fairly routine at most campgrounds we go to these days both large and small operations. Garbage pickup prevents hoarding of trash outside (we do not do) which begets skunks and other varmints (could be reason for our invasion each night). Surely at $96 per night and seemingly more than enough staff and workampers this could be done.
#2 Post an adult only swim time in the evenings even if only for one hour, or better yet, cordon off a section of the pool that is for adult swimming only at all times. Easy peasy to do.
#3Pave at least the main roads in and out of each loop in campground. Thankfully it was pretty rainy during our stay, but the roads here must be so dusty when dry. The rigs along the main loop roads must get filthy (outside and in) and their towels out to dry must as well! yuck!
#4Provide some sort of “quiet inside wifi and libary area” either in main lodge or separate building. There is no table game room, no where to visit if bad weather with a bunch of friends. Have this also have adult only times so adults that may need to do work while traveling can get good signal and peace and quiet. There were no area we say with a book lending, dvd lending, etc. either. Most campground all have something.
#5 Do a tractor pull wagon ride through the camp 1 x per day at least and feature the Moose mascot on board. The moose could also do cameo showings at the arcade now and then too.
#6with 182 acres, perhaps they could create a nice paved bike trail system through the grounds for means to safely get to the activity areas or to just enjoy the woods without fear of being hit by a car or falling on sharp, hard gravel.
Some readers may think I am being overly critical of this campground by venturing suggestions for improvements. Those who know me, know my background in regional tourism. I am a former Executive Director/CEO of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB and have been deeply involved in operating both my own local tourist guide service as well as involved in other tourism attractions and have consulted local and regional businesses in tourism marketing, etc. Add onto that an RV camping background grown over 20 years off and on and staying in many parks in the northeast especially…So my suggestions come with a background of knowledge of what today’s marketplace consumer is looking for and how a business could position themselves from being good, very good…to spectacular!
Hope you enjoyed this candid review. We did enjoy ourselves at this park? Yes. Will we stay here again? maybe, but I would bring the grandsons to other “resort” campgrounds in our area first for their expert opinions to be the judge of which is the best! The kids did say they would love to visit the NH Moose Hillock to see the pirate ship pool….it does look cool!!
As always, we welcome your feedback. If you like our blog, please follow us, check out our other blog posts on how to’s, reviews, must see’s and other tips to RV travel.
Luisa and Kevin Sherman
Adventures with a Vintage Avion Luxury Coach Camper