Tag Archives: RV camping

You Just Bought an Avion….Now What?

A useful quick guide to getting support from fellow Avion Owners !

In this article:

  • Tips for finding and using online Facebook and other Avion Owner Forums,
  • 6 Basic Tips for New-to-You Avion Owners,
  • Links to Avion Rally Event Sites,
  • Resource lists including a printable “check list” for setting up to camp and preparing to tow your Avion.

At the end of this article we have a great downloadable/PDF document we are happy to share with you- “Our Avion TAKE OFF & LANDING Camp list”. We have also includes links to Avion Facebook and Rally Event groups and also links to several of our other blog posts and videos to help you out on your new journey as an Avion owner!

The great news is, you have taken the first step to buy what we all concur is one of the most iconic designs and best made campers ever–AN AVION! 

Of course, owners of other vintage campers will tell you theirs is the best- we have to politely disagree!  LOL.

  • We know it can feel pretty overwhelming!
  • Where to start? 
  • What questions to ask and to who? 

It’s not like you can call up an Avion Dealership anymore right?  (click here to see what we feel is one of the best and most  up to date articles on the Avion History.  The article is published by the non profit national vintage trailer/RV club called The Tin Can Tourists (TCT)- which by the way you should join, its very cheap ($25 p/yr/2022) and the club hosts rallies around the USA and has great resource info, newsletters, etc.) There were 18 Avion’s at the TCT Michigan Rally in 2019!

MORE QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE…..

  • Where do you get parts? Who can fix these things if you cannot? Check out our RESOURCES & LINKS page!
  • What tools are “must have’s”? 
  • How to determine just what needs fixing and what does not?
  • Are there ways to connect to other Avion owners with experience?

What is super important is that you have purchased an Avion and there is a huge Avion Family out there rooting for you and there to help!  If you are also brand new to the world of RVing and camping- we definitely have your back!  There…do you feel better already?  Hope so!

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DID YOU KNOW? 

We AVION OWNERS rock!!

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SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE: oh yeah!!!!  We are SOCIAL!  🙂

There are no less than 5 online Facebook Pages solely dedicated to Avion travel tips, repairs, buy/sell forum and general owner share pages?  Hey there is even a FB Avion owners group to exchange Christmas & Holiday Cards with each other!  There are Avion Rally groups too!     

YES!  and each of them has some overlap but each has its own purpose too—so we suggest you ask to join ALL of them.   I have posted the links to each of them at the end of this article. (sneaky huh…I want you to read on first!)

AVION INSIDER TIP:  while each of the Facebook group pages do have their own generalized specific purpose- sometimes you may have a post that is worth sharing/posting on all the FB pages- that’s OK, but my personal recommendation is to use that “broadcasted ” share sparingly. WHY?  well most of us Avion owners do belong to all of the FB groups so if we start seeing every one of your posts like 4 times in our feed we may start to tune you out a bit.  So, in my opinion, be selective. 

  • If you have something to sell, put it on the sell page group first. 
  • If you have a repair question, post on the repair/restoration page first- wait for answers, if none after a week- then go ahead and post on the two Avion owners group pages to cast a bigger net. 
  • if you have some great travel tips, campgrounds or general info to share- post it on one of the “owners” themed pages 
  • An exception to all this is if a piece of info you have is “time sensitive” for example a new rally announcement,  or rally registration reminders or God forbid you are traveling and stuck with a breakdown–you should definitely should be broadcasted on all pages!

Here is a great example of the above: 

TRUE STORY! In 2018 Kevin and I were doing just a nice Sunday drive just over the border into western VT from where we live.  We decided to check out some campgrounds for future stays.  Lo and behold one had a wrecked Avion in its back storage yard.  It had an intact rock guard and we wanted a spare!!  I posted out on all four FB pages from the campground parking lot in VT asking fellow Avion owners if a rock guard from an 84 would fit our 73?  Within 3 minutes I had folks responding that it would! We borrowed tools from the campground owner and drove away with our spare rock guard treasure!

Again, just my opinion to be selective on what you post where.  I think it better supports each of the group pages in their own right to exist if you post questions etc. on the Facebook page that best suits your question or information-however, some Avion owners do choose to put 90% of their general posts on all the page groups-and that works for them so its ok by me too!  We’re all easy to get along with!

REMEMBER—WE ALL HAVE BEEN NEW, FIRST TIME AVION OWNERS AT SOME POINT! 

Based on a plethora of posts made by fellow Avion owners who have all been in your shoes (a brand new owner) at one time or another here is a short list of what we have seen as recurring tips, suggestions and worthwhile bits of info for brand new Avion owners!

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6 BASIC TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED:

(1) Take your time!!!!  Do not rush to completely gut the inside and start from scratch.  Live with the interior a little (unless totally ruined by mold or deconstructed already).  Mr. Clean Magic Sponges, Awesome Spray Cleaner (at dollar stores) are great for cleaning interior walls and ceilings.  Howard’s Restor-A-Finish is excellent for reviving cabinetry.

We have seen so many people go for the complete gut job only to run out of steam, money or time and have to forfeit their RV dreams and sell their now gutted rig (less of a resale market!)

(2) If you do decide to gut the inside of the trailer, put the cabinets, etc up for resale on one of the facebook sites and/or on Ebay!  There are 1000’s of fellow Avion owners always in the market for Avion parts, door handles, locks, windows, hinges, and hardware-no matter how small and insignificant it may seem all are in demand.  Cabinet trims, lights, cabinet pulls, louvered doors, sinks, tub bases, mirrors, etc. all have a chance at a new life in someone else’s Avion.  Please try to recycle rather than take it to the dump.  These items are NOT made today and many are irreplaceable!

(3) Give your baby a bath-But Do It Right!  You know how good you feel when stepping out of the shower or after a nice warm tub bath!  Your Avion will feel the same!  BUT—there are definite do’s and don’t to bathing an anodized all aluminum body camper! Once your Avion is clean you will have a better idea of condition. Please listen to our instructional podcast first before doing your first wash down!  

(4) Secure from the Top Down!  Just like a sticks ‘n bricks home, your roof condition and ongoing roof maintenance is vital to the longevity of your Avion.  First on your agenda of “to do list”, after a first bath,  should be repairing all the exterior (side and roof) seams, and ensuring that the roof seams, places where vents, A/C, etc are on the roof also have good seals to prevent water penetration in between your exterior and wood interior.

(5) Install a Deadbolt Lock NOW!   Time after time we see the tragedy of a door swinging open while and Avion is being towed or camped in a super windy location.  Reminder, these doors are not being made anymore!  The old, original Bargman locks are nice but they do NOT provide enough security to keep latched.  Avion’s have a certain amount of flexing of the aluminum body that happens when being towed.  We and many other strongly recommend installing a deadbolt lock in ADDITION to your door handle lock.  We also bungy cord ours It is safer for you when camping inside and certainly safer for your door when trailer is being towed. 

(6) Reseal and Secure Window Seals if Cracked, Missing or Falling Off! Just like the exterior seams, the windows in many Avion’s that have not been maintained properly have seals that have failed. Many times, the seals have pulled away from the corners and where spliced.  This is another major area where leaks happen.  On a priority list, windows rank right  up there with exterior side and roof seam repairs.  It can feel daunting to do, but with practice, it can be done in a couple weekends.  Good news is, once they are redone, you should not have to muss with them for at least 5-8 years or more! 

More

As promised, here are valuable links just for you!

Below is our “Take Off & Landing” Checklist.  You can download and print it out to carry with you too!   Bear in mind, depending on the specific equipment you may have – some of the steps we outline may be a bit different.  Use this checklist as a general guide to help you practice the art of setting up a camp and breaking down your camp and hitting to road accordingly.

ONLINE FORUM PAGES: There are a couple of active online FB forums that have great resources and people in them.  Just another platform to look for answers and post questions!  See we are all in it to win it and help!  these are by subscription, so you will need to ask to join!

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DEDICATED AVION FACEBOOK PAGES:

Use the simple search of “Avion trailers” on social media and you will be amazed! here are some that we belong to and comment in fairly regularly on Facebook: (note, most if not all of these are monitored very well and do require you request to join)

kimg3148LOOKING FOR AVION RALLIES TO ATTEND? 

These are facebook group sites so again, ask to join.  Many of us travel to these rallies from all over the USA.  You can be a member of for example the Texas group but live in NY (like us!)  Avioner’s  know how to have fun, learn together and break bread—so come to a rally!!  Check out our post on the Indiana Rally we have attended for years now! Read  more….

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KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR MORE TIPS AND ARTICLES GEARED SPECIFICALLY FOR FIRST TIME AVION OWNERS!

A sample of our blog posts, podcasts and videos coming soon…

  • Punch list of what to inspect when looking to purchase your first Avion (will include what tools, etc. to bring with you!)
  • Basic repair and maintenance tool kit must have’s for Avion Owners
  • ABC’s of Using Stabilizers for your Avion trailer
  • Tips on how to repair and maintain exterior seams on aluminum trailers
  • I am just boondocking at Walmart for the night—what should (or shouldn’t) I do besides put my vehicle in park and go to sleep?

How do you find them once we post them AND how do you find all the other articles and videos we have published?

  Be sure to subscribe to this blog/website AND to our YouTube Channel! By subscribing you are the first to be alerted to new info!

We thank you for subscribing —- and really look forward to meet  you (and your Avion) on the road or at rally in the near future!

All the Very Best, from Kevin and Luise Sherman

Luise & Kevin Sherman, we own a 1987 Avion, 32S Model and currently are based in the Lake George Region of upstate eastern New York. We LOVE to hear from our subscribers!

Making your RV Feel Like Home- Keeping Things STUCK in Place Even When on the Road!

View of our 32 S model 1987 Avion. This “rare breed” floorplan was only produced for three years by the Avion Coach Corporation.

One of the first things anyone says when they visit us in our Avion is how “homey” it feels, comfortable, cozy and not sterile like many “off the lot” modern RV’s today.

Often, the next question we get is…

“it must take you a long time [when setting up camp] to put out all of these décor items (some would say clutter or chachkies! ) and knickknacks and then store them all away again”. 

Actually—no!  Everything you see in our coach stays in place where it is displayed.   I do not have to move anything except dish soap bottle on the kitchen counter, our authentic cuckoo clock, and the soap dispenser in the bathroom!

In the photo above you will see I have opted to keep the upper and lower curtain rails in place and just have narrower side curtains.  These curtains are wide enough to create privacy for the curved front windows when the center pull down shade does the rest at night.  Notice I use the bottom curtain rail to store some things during travel time too! ( I DO take down the white vintage ’70’s swag lamp and it sits in the left corner of the front counter when we roll down the road)

HERE IS A QUICK LIST OF TIPS & PRODUCTS I USE TO KEEP THINGS IN PLACE IN YOUR RV—EVEN WHEN TOWING DOWN THE ROAD!

A 6″ wide shelf behind the sofa creates a great storage space with metal framed fabric bins!

Metal Framed Fabric Bins Sit on Shelf behind our Jack knife Sofa.
See purchasing link below.

The photo above shows three of the five storage bins I purchased at Bed, Bath & Beyond in 2021.  They have a wire frame for durability and are perfect for storing those things that we use routinely when traveling including:  TV and other remotes, LED lanterns and flashlights, Binoculars, Travel Journal, Travel brochures, etc. and a vase of artificial flowers I often put outdoors on our dining table.  We are still able to pull out our jack knife sofa when we have guests staying over. * I left about 5″ in between two of the bins.  This is where I tend to put my beverage water bottle or travel mug of coffee when relaxing on the sofa when we are set up at camp. Source, 2021

Using forms of “anchor” putty’s to hold things in place are perfect for RVs.  Read on to read ‘my reviews’ on three products I have used.

The photo slideshow above shows various items in our RV we leave out and do not move during towing.  Things like a ceramic beer stein with flowers that sits on our front kitchen counter, our mid-century modern looking table organizer (link) with a vintage 70’s table lamp and other items set in place.  In our bathroom, my mother’s china cup and saucer- now a home for a gnome sits on our bathroom vanity and back in the living room/salon even our faux “stag head clock” in our living room–all stay out and stay put every day we travel. 

We have clocked multiple trips over 3000 miles each, up mountains of 17-24% grade roads to 5K elevations (and back down) as well as dirt roads, washboard roads and surviving way too many roads with pot holes and frost heaves!

Review of THREE putty brands I have used: and my recommendation!

Quake Hold (Museum Putty) 

 This is my “GO TO” product!  It is great and what I have used successfully on the ceramic beer stein, the gnome in the tea cup,  the dinette table shelf organizer and our faux (plastic but very real looking) stag head wall clock.  I also put this behind each corner of any framed pictures I put up on picture hooks.  It keeps the pictures level and keeps them from potentially swinging and marring stained walls or wallboard.

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Pro’s:  Terrific holding power, re-useable, no smell, no staining on walls. Holds up well under all interior temperature conditions we have been in so far (-10 to 95 degrees).  It allows you to remove items from their hold by twisting and pulling at the same time.  You will truly be impressed by how secure it makes things and how hard you have to twist/pull to release its hold.  I have not had any issues with its color staining any surfaces.

Con’s:  it is a light off-white in color )they call it “neutral”- so it is not completely invisible when used under items.  You can see this from my photos as little white stuff sticking out from underneath Honestly, it is really hardly noticeable.  Through trial and error I have found the best holding power is when you allow some of the putty to be on the outside of the edge of your item as well as underneath for those items that sit on flat surfaces.  For framed photos, etc. held vertically you do not need to do that.  I simply put pea sized blobs under each frame corner.

Rock N’ Roll Clear Gel Putty

As the packaging says, this GEL is really only for glass and china type stuff.  They do also now make a putty similar to Quake hold but I prefer the quality of Quake Hold better.  I have tried this Rock N Roll Gel and found it does not hold as well as the Quake Hold.  Also a real ‘con’ is that this stuff MELTS when your rig gets hot inside (aka if you are away for the day not using AC/or when stored at home when not camping and temps rise above 80 degrees. Source* (*note, this is not where I purchased from so I cannot validate reputation of online source)

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Pro’s:  it is clear, highly pliable.  Does work well on glass or mirror items (not sure how many of us have crystal figurines on display in our RV’s though)

Con’s:  It melts when temp inside RV gets hot.  It melted and puddled under some items on our dinette table. Does not do well on vertical applications in my experience. (yes, I tried to use it behind corners on picture frames, only to find it melting and running down my wall one summer day!- ugh)  Because of its propensity to melt, I no longer recommend this for RV use.

Museum Putty Wax

I have used this on a variety of surfaces from metal to wood to ceramic and it does work but I find it not as convenient as the white putty Quake Hold above- nor does it have the same holding power for heavier things, especially those made of wood and/or sticking to a wood surface.  

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Pro’s:  it is somewhat clearer and less conspicuous when used than Quake Hold putty.  It does a decent job of holding not too heavy items.  Somewhat easier to twist/pull items you need to reposition.  Does not stain finishes.

Con’s:  Due to its consistency, I find it harder to get out a blog from the container- I use a bottle cap with its serrated edges to dig into the container to get out sufficient for use.  It is simply too hard to dig any out with your fingers.  It is a wax base and therefore may also have a tendency to melt in hotter environments.  For this reason I would not recommend a vertical application either.  In my experience it does not work well on wood items  but works ok on plastic, ceramic and glass.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST….WHAT TO DO WITH “RUN-AWAY” PAPER TOWELS!

How many times have you opened the door of your RV after a day of travel to find your paper towels have unrolled and are strewn across your kitchen floor?

These ARE THE ANSWER!

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Viva Paper towels do cost a little more but they will not unroll after a day of road travel.  They are also darn good paper towels and very absorbent so in truth you will use less overall.  We currently have this vertical paper towel holder but in our old ’73, 28 foot LaGrande model we had a traditional horizontal holder above the counter and we never had unrolled paper towels with Viva brand– AND I did road test others like store brands and Scott’s brand and other name brands and none did the job of staying on the roll on the road!

PARTING TIPS….. FOR HANGING PHOTOS, FRAMED ART, ETC and other WALL DECOR ITEMS:

Most folks already know that 3M stick on hooks are a Godsend for RVers.  We use them all the time! 

BUT I have found that if you really want pictures or things of any weight like barometers, framed art, etc. I use these stick on Velcro strips.  Specifically, the type that have the lock-n-grip type, not the traditional type that has soft fuzzy on one side and teeth on the other.  I use the heavy duty type of Velcro that have teeth which interlock when put together.  I  always purchase the one that is rated for heavier than my item really is.  These work really well and so far (knock on wood) I have found that I can also peel off the Velcro strip I may have secured to our Avion wall board since it is a vinyl composite board, not paper applied to wood.   I have also used the Command Brand similar type too on less heavy hanging items, apply as directed.

DISCLAIMER: As with all the products we have discussed here, it is best you test out products first.  For wall applications, your interior walls may have had some sort of after market application that could make it different than ours.  Please don’t send me a bill for any broken item!  [smiling]

Well, that is my review of keeping things in place!  We all love to have a homey feel in our home on wheels!  Hope you have found this little article helpful! 

Let us know what types of tricks/products you have found help with this issue! To be sure, a simple search on Amazon nets many companies touting great sticking power of their putty’s and other products.  

Please visit our YOUTube Channel and please subscribe!    We have great videos on many topics from renovations, tips, other favorite gadgets, as well as travel videos and campground reviews.  We appreciate your support of our efforts to help others along the way!

-Luise

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3 weeks along the Shenandoah National Park-Summer ’21(Part 1, NY-PA-VA)

[Buckle your seatbelt, this is a long post but can be done in segments!]

Originally our 2021 “big trip” of the summer was going to begin by crossing over the border to Toronto, Canada and proceeding in a leisurely path west along the Canadian highways and byways reaching the “mitten” of Michigan- The Upper Peninsula and then heading south to join up with fellow Avioner’s in Elkhart, Indiana for the annual SAF rally.

The lingering Covid 19 and the pandemic restrictions of travel crossing borders and prohibition to enter Canada put a total kabash on all that. We had to cancel reservations and rethink our plans.

Answer! Let’s go South and experience the Shenandoah’s and Smoky Mountains! I have always said to Kevin, give me campsites with views of water or mountains- preferably both….and my heart sings and my soul rejoices. So in mid December 2020 we switched plans…..South we go instead of North!

PLANNING……..

PRIMARY GOALS: We would do a 3-week adventure with the goal of driving the entire length of the Skyline Drive (toll to get on), the Blue Ridge Parkway and end up at one of our “national bucket list of European-themed USA towns”–Helen, Georgia which boasted a Bavarian/German theme and set in a mountain setting.

Alpine Helen, Georgia- This will be handled in the Part 3 blog post in more details along with best campground near by!

SECONDARY GOALS: in planning this trip we also had some important secondary goals we wanted to accomplish.

(1) Stay at a minimum of one Military Base FAM/TRAVEL camps. I will do a separate blog post about this program in the future and link it back here. There are specific classifications of military or former military that can use these parks. They are not open to the general public.

(2) Stay at as many National Park (NPS) Campgrounds and State Campgrounds as possible to save $$ and see how our 32 foot travel trailer will be in these eastern seaboard, and older campgrounds.

(3) Stay at an Army Corps of Engineer Campground to see what they are like.

(4) Use Luise’s recently obtained National Park Service Senior Lifetime Access Pass to its fullest advantage to save $$ on park entrance and campground fees. (Mission accomplished!you can get as soon as you turn 62)

(5) Use our new subscription to RV Trip Wizard to do the planning, routing and travel assistance. (see my notes later on how we felt this went for this type of trip)

Let’s start with the planning portion. While we are still recreational campers (not full time living yet!) and the constraints of a start and end date- planning is important to get your desired trip in within the time you have been granted vacation from work. I retired at the end of 2020 but Kevin is still working full time (bless his heart).

We had purchased a subscription to RV Trip Wizard thinking this would be the be all-end all to our planning needs. We based this on fabulous multiple reviews from bloggers we follow, fellow travelers, etc.

“The Bad/Ugly” What we found out, or rather I found out was that RV Trip Wizard likes highways….not scenic byways. It constantly tried to route me off of the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway! I tried applying the “avoid highway” setting but that did not work because some of our trip needed highways/intertstates to get from point A to point B.

“The Fix” so what I ended up having to do was to create a Part A, Part B and Part C of our trip—each with its own unique trip plan and had to save each of them seperately. This way I could segment out and use interstates when desired, or the avoid highway mode when needed for the byways and back roads we wanted. It was VERY time consuming, tedious and not at all what I had hoped the program could do. I am totally sure if you are choosing to do long trips using major highways that the software will be fabulous as it does offer a lot of nice features.

“What the Program DID do Well!” there were pluses to using RV Trip Wizard though. That included a great pin point locator of campgrounds along our route with many filters we could apply as desired e.g. National, state, private campgrounds, things nearby to see, gas station locations, etc.

In the end, although I had printed out each PART on paper (yeah about 23 pages worth) I never used one of the sheets nor did we trust to use it as our GPS- so we resorted to our Garmin RV which is also only so-so. Published paper maps from the NPS and state tourism bureaus worked in tandem with our GPS- we only took a wrong way twice!

BTW— We booked 95% of our campground reservations by January 15, 2021 ( for a May 28 departure date) so we would assure ourselves places to stay! Booking this far ahead is critical in our opinion if you have a larger rig like ours, are somewhat picky what type of site you want. You can always cancel a reservation but these days with the glut of RVers on the road- do not wait to make early reservations if you have specific destinations in mind.

SO ONTO OUR TRIP! ….WHEW! Thought we would never get there!

PART ONE- NY, PA TO VA & onto THE SKYLINE DRIVE

SECTION 1 Plan- leave home Thursday, May 28 and drive to first overnight- boondock (about 6 hrs) at Cabella’s in Hamburg, PA. LINK This is a frequent boondock for us because we avoid NYC and RT 95 completely. We prefer to loop through PA going out to Harrisburg and then south. Although the roads in PA have been in perpetual construction mode since the early 90’s we still find this route preferable to going through lower NYS, NJ and MD along RT 95-especially when towing a trailer!

Overnight Day ONE at Cabella’s in Hamburg, PA. Of course we dropped some $$ shopping. Sadly restaurant closed due to low staffing and Covid 19. NOTE- they have dedicated RV parking area to far left of lot and have a dump station , dog walk area, horse exercise pens for RV users too. The lot is not the most level- we used our Anderson levelers while hitched up on our return overnight stay.

ON TO VIRGINIA….FORT BELVOIR ARMY BASE- TRAVEL CAMP! As I mentioned above, thanks to Kevin’s Army service and discharge classification (there are only specific ones allowed) we are able to use these FAM or Travel camps as they are called which are right on a military base (all branches of service) and in many cases RVers are granted use of the PX the Commissary and other on base services. The rates to stay are not necessarily cheaper than the rack rate at nearby private campgrounds, but the security is outstanding, you know you are only camped next to other military folks, and the use of the other base services like pool, hair salons, gyms, etc. granted at some bases is really nice. PLUS..in this case WE CAMPED RIGHT ALONG THE POTOMAC RIVER AND A 1/2 HOUR FROM WASHINGTON DC! CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ON THE TRAVEL CAMP.

(we will do a complete campground review in the future, watch for the link!)

Our timing for over Memorial Day to be at Fort Belvoir was in hindsight not perfect. DC was a mob scene and most of the museums in DC that we had not already seen where still closed or on severe limited pre-reservation timed entry passes due to Covid-19 still. It was a bummer, but we did spend a great full day at nearby (about 35 min drive) in Fredericksburg, VA. This is a colonial town with tons of history, historic buildings, great restaurants and shopping. We enjoyed a great “German lunch” at Deutschland Downtown and had fun touring some of the historic buildings. Worth the day trip in our opinion.

OH…and did I mention there is a huge IKEA store about 15 minutes from the campground. Yup…dropped some coinage there too another day!

Here we are just down the street from the Deutschland Downtown restaurant and going into the visitor center in Fredericksburg, VA

SECTION 2NEXT STOP- ONTO THE SKYLINE DRIVE TO LURAY, VA

We stayed four nights at Fort Belvoir, in VA then drove essentially west to pick up the Skyline Drive just south of the town of Front Royal (we will cross paths with Front Royal on our way home too!) It was an easy drive west and Front Royal is a good place to GAS UP before starting the Skyline Drive. There is only ONE GAS STATION ON THE SKYLINE DRIVE at Big Meadows (Byrd Visitor Center) which is about a halfway point. PLAN YOUR VISIT……

**Fee to enter the DRIVE is $30 unless you have a NPS (National Park Service) Pass. I have a Senior Lifetime Access Pass so we were FREE!

“Ca-Ching”…first savings on my NPS Senior Pass!

–Info about regular annual pass....Here

–Info about Senior Lifetime Access Pass (you must be at least 62 years young!) ....Here

PRO-NOTE– if you show up after 5 PM or before 9 AM to the entry gates at any of the four entries to the DRIVE you will most likely get in for free and see a note that says….”please pay when you exit” . This, is at least the case right now, with staffing stressed to the max in part due to Covid 19 and previous years drastic funding reductions to National Parks. Be a good doobie…and pay when you leave! They need the $$!

** BE SURE TO GET THE OFFICIAL SKYLINE DRIVE MAP! You will need it as there is little to NO CELL SIGNAL for most of the drive and the map gives you mile markers, locations and services at rest areas and key sites to not miss.

** if you have a CD player in your car or available, the first NPS visitor center ( Dickey Ridge) southbound on the Skyline Drive sells a really nice auto tour CD that narrates what you are seeing as you drive along, allows you to pause it for stops and gives you background history of areas you are passing through. Worth the small cost in our opinion. Sorry…they do not have an app…and with no cell signal-not gonna work anyway! LOL

As soon as you enter the Skyline Drive you will see it is a tad winding in spots, but not too bad and there are TONS of SCENIC PULL OFFS on both sides of the road. The roadway is one lane south (our direction) and one lane north. All rest areas with/without services are accessible from both directions. That being said:

there were many scenic pull offs that clearly were intended to visit when traveling northbound. We were traveling southbound and with our total length of 56 feet—we passed by some because the pull out was on a blind turn or there were too many vehicles already there, making it tough for us to easily get in and out. “

Best time to do pull offs is earlier in the morning. You will find the traffic lightest then too. There are no street lights, so when it gets dark…it is DARK- we recommend NOT doing the DRIVE in the dark due to wildlife, winding blind turns and narrow roadways. (there are no guardrails, no shoulders). We were traveling through on the first full week of June, 2021 and the traffic was very, very light. We were surprised and often had no one within any eyeshot of us for miles. There were many times where we felt we were the only ones left in the world!

We found the Skyline Drive to be a beautiful and very relaxing drive. the drive includes going through lush woodlands, and riding atop the mountains, slicing through carved out divides and circling around the midline of 4000 foot high mountains. No semi-trucks, no commercial vehicles, no billboards, just wooded wilderness, beautiful vistas and lots of “oh wow!”, “amazing” and “look how far we can see!”. It was enchanting and exhilarating at the same time!

Next stop….LURAY Jellystone Campground & Luray Caverns!

We picked Luray Jellystone Campground because it was easy off the SD (Skyline Drive) and had quick access to gas, the caverns, downtown shopping, etc. **There are ONLY FOUR entrances onto the SD so planning where to camp overnight you should factor that in so you are not spending a lot of time traveling back roads to get to a campground if you are only spending a night or two and hopping back onto the SD.

I will not go into detail here on this campground here. Suffice it to say, it was a typical Jellystone. Lots of kids, families with golf carts, sites were ok but nothing out of the ordinary. Please read our campground review for the good, bad and ugly details.

We stayed there two nights, mid week. Would we stay there again? probably only if we had the grandsons with us.

We LOVED Luray Caverns and their “add-on at no charge” other attractions in their complex. Just minutes from the campground on the same highway too. We arrived just as it was opening (I think we were ticket #4 & 5) so it was nice and cool. No worries…inside the Caverns is beautifully tepid cool all the time- a great place to go on a scorcher summer day! Plan to spend the day there is a lot to see and do from the caverns to the Heritage Museum to the Antique Auto Museum and the Toy Museum (not so great, a little tired and forgotten) and for an additional fee, a tree tops ropes course.

PRO-NOTES:

Get there early to have the cave nearly to yourself to stroll!

Just new within the past year, the caverns has gone completely NO STAIRS! They built and extensive ramp with easy grade to access the main entrance and all of the pathways through the caverns are all ramps or easy paths with sturdy handrails. This is a wonderful thing! They are very proud of this accessibility feature and rightly so!

There is a very RV FRIENDLY pull-through Gas station right at the foot of their huge parking lot. Plenty of room for RV parking if you get there in the morning!

My FAV photo inside the Caverns. This is the reflecting pool. What you see on the bottom is water…with the reflection of the stalagtites from above! This is my photo…not a postcard!

When in Luray, take a few more minutes to visit COOTER’S GARAGE and the DUKES OF HAZZARD MUSEUM -owned by Ben Jones an original cast member! It’s just west by a few minutes from the Luray Caverns (on same highway). Its a great stop, we missed on our southbound route, so we caught it going back up north on our return trip. Easy access off of Interstate 81 that northbound or southbound direction too! There is no charge to enter the museum, but they have a nice small gift shop attached that you will want to purchase something to support their efforts. I purchased some locally made jam.

There is RV parking to the east side of their parking lot. We got there just before closing and so the parking lot was virtually empty mid week. The cafe unfortunately has very odd and limited hours so do not count on a bite to eat there. The museum is great with tons of memorabilia and actual cars (or some repro’s) used in the TV show. Dating ourselves, watched it regularly! The gift shop also has DoH stuff to purchase to show you remember when……Daisy Duke was America’s heartthrob!

PRO-NOTE: Even if you have to get there after hours, you can still see these cars as well as others like the ones used in the show displayed outside 24/7!

SECTION 3- BACK ONTO THE SKYLINE DRIVE TO LOFT MOUNTAIN!

We hopped back onto the Skyline Drive (SD) after spending 2 nights at Luray Jellystone. The drive continued to keep us in awe with beautiful scenery, the occasional deer spotting and amazing woodland vistas. The NPS rest areas are excellent, some with snack bars and all with gift shops (of course!) and clean restrooms, 24/7 maps to take, hiking maps, etc. There is usually at least one NPS Ranger during (9-4 pm) who can also answer specific questions about hikes, natural wonders, wildlife, etc.

Below is SKYLAND rest area which also features a restaurant, grab n go snack bar, gift shop and what appear to be beautiful lodging cabins that have spectacular private balconies overlooking the valley to the west. They were doing construction on the exterior to add we believe a large outside dining deck to the restaurant area. Restaurant has limited hours. If you are not camping, or want a night of blissful luxury you may want to book a stay! One of the most beautiful rest areas, however the bathrooms i the rest area itself were down a very large flight of stairs. really?? I must have missed the main floor ones! Check out the link here…

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MILE MARKERS! Skyland is Mile Marker 45, Loft Mountain is Mile Marker (MM) 80. (reminder, below you will see Big Meadow Visitor Center on the map below my fingers a bit. This is the ONLY GAS/DIESEL station on the entire 105 miles of the Skyline Drive! Top off or Gas Up here!

This does not sound like much of a trek, but when there is an awesome view from pull offs along the way and you stop to take pictures and drool….it can take a while believe me! Plus remember…the speed limit on the SD is 35 MPH and that is all you want to go anyway so you do not miss anything or anyone (like a deer or bear!) We did 25-30mph most of the time.

LOFT MOUNTAIN NPS CAMPGROUND

LOFT MOUNTAIN was our first National Park Service campground experience. I had used online booking, reviewed online sites that show photos of the actual sites and thought this would be a good fit. We were Site # F165. Non electric, no services site….which is all they have ANYWAY! I booked this in late December and there were already limited sites available so book early! We stayed 2 nights and rate was $15 per night but with my Senior NPS pass (see above for link) it was HALF PRICE…A WHOPPING $15 FOR TWO NIGHTS OF DRY CAMPING on top of a mountain with deer out our door and spectacular sunsets!

Loft Mountain NPS Campground, atop Big Flat Mountain in Crozet, VA.
Best photo I took in the entire trip! this was from the Amphitheater, not from our campsite itself.

Be sure if you do camp at Loft Mountain campground that you take one of the several paths to the Amphitheater to watch the sunsets! You may get lucky like we did and see Elk literally 5 feet from you on the path! Sadly, again due to Covid restrictions/ and we think low staffing again, there were no programs scheduled at the outdoor theater but we understand there normally would be nature talks, music bands, solo musicians, etc. at least on weekends. We were there June 4-6, 2021.

Below are photos of our campsite itself in the Loop F, site # 165. We would try for other sites next time. This site is fine for a trailer under 28 feet due to the curve and the very un-levelness (is that a word?) of the site. Our power jack barely had enough pole to level us. Thank goodness we had the large red Anderson Jack Block to secure us in place. Even with this, I had nightmares of us falling off our block, and dreamt of a bear using our trailer as a scratching post and knocking us off our “perch”. (read that story “Mr MaGee Goes Camping” to my grandsons once too many times I think!)

While at Loft Mountain on our first full day we did a day ride (no trailer in tow) to Staunton, VA using the southern most entry point to the SD which is ROCKFISH GAP. We wanted to have a nice lunch at another highly rated German restaurant, The Edelweiss. You are getting the theme here about our culinary preferences aren’t you!? ** let us know if there is a super good German restaurant where you live or travel—we would love to check it out!

We also did some walking around the campground looking at sights (including views, deer and elk) but did not do any of the many hikes off of here due to my arthritic knee acting up. We would definitely recommend this restaurant if you are on the SD or doing Interstate 81 as it is right off of there as well. Just use Google!

So this will end our PART 1 from our 2021 Summer 3-Week trip over the Shenandoah Mountains and the Shenandoah National Park. Thank you for taking the ride with us! Here I am pointing to my Shenandoah National Park sticker on our 1987 Avion travel trailer we affectionately call “The Pewter Palace”!

Part 2 will include the Blue Ridge Parkway beginning in Rockfish Gap, through the rest of the Shenandoah National Park and Blue Ridge Mountain Range and on into the Smoky Mountain National Park.

Be well, travel safe, slow down and enjoy the journey!

Sincerely, Kevin & Luisa Sherman

RV Fresh Water Hook up Safety Tips

The Good, The Bad…the Ugly!  It may not be the most glamorous topic for discussion, but keeping you and your family healthy has a direct correlation to continued enjoyment of the RV travel hobby.

The UGLY! Cross contamination of the fresh water spigot tap can cause serious illness—and contamination of your entire fresh water system!  It can happen very easily, without your knowledge or even innocently on your part and it DOES happen!

Here are just a few possible CAUSES OF CONTAMINATION to your fresh water tank:

HOW DOES CONTAMINATION OF FRESH WATER HAPPEN?

Campground issues…..these are out of your control!

  • Campgrounds are not regularly testing their potable water supply (yes, it happens*)
  • Local municipal contamination, causing an emergency “boil water” advisory- especially prevalent after major storms.
  • Fresh water pipes could be broken underground before they get to spigot.
  • Improper placement of fresh water spigots by campground ownership

AND THE BIGGEST/MOST COMMON REASON??  Fresh water spigot tap contamination from a previous camper!

What YOU and OTHER CAMPERS do DOES makes a difference!

  1. Lack of proper procedures during their black water tank flush process
  2. Improper series/order of steps when hooking up or breaking down camp- we have seen people cleaning/rinsing their septic hose by turning on the fresh water spigot and rinsing under the water flow.  Do you have any idea how much bacteria is splashing back up on to that faucet outlet??
  3. Improper storage of your fresh water and sewer hoses
  4. Broken, cracked, frayed hoses or couplers on hoses

There are countless conversations on facebook, YouTube and other blogs about first hand witnessing of unsanitary (for you and them) practices or lack thereof.  This is serious business, ecoli infections can kill someone!

TIPS TO BE MORE SAFE WHEN USING CAMPGROUND DUMP STATIONS AND FULL HOOK UP SITES:

  1. Always wear clean disposable gloves when doing your sewer dumping and DO NOT leave those gloves anywhere but in your own trash bag!
  2. Put a small spray bottle of H2O with a mild bleach solution in your outside fresh water compartment. I bought a 4 inch travel size one with spritzer nozzle at Wally World for a couple of $.
  3. Spray your bleach water solution EACH and every time you hook up and break down!  Spray it on…both ends of your fresh water hose, the spigot at the campground pedestal/faucet before you hook up your hose.  Spray the ends of your fresh water filter(s) too.  When spraying spray around the outside and into the openings of hoses, filters, and spigot.
  4. NEVER set the open ends of  your fresh water hoses or filter ends on the ground!! NEVER NEVER! Have a helper hold them.   If you must set stuff down because you are alone, then take a clean new plastic kitchen garbage bag and put that on the ground near the water spigot and lay your items on it like a carpet.  Throw bag away after use.
  5. DO NOT store your water filters  in your basement storage areas. (may be ok for modern campers with large storage areas where you can have lidded plastic totes)  Way too much dirt, germs and debris can find their way into them.  We store ours in a clean dish pan in our shower floor or kitchen sink.
  6. If the weather has been wet, use a paper towel or sponge to slide down the length of the fresh water hose before storing to take off mud, dirt, bugs, etc.  Be sure you get all or 99% of the water out of your hoses before storing.
  7. Always screw the two ends of  your fresh water hose together so nothing can get in there while not in use.  Would not hurt to again spray with the water/bleach solution before storing.
  8. Using your water/bleach spritzer spray off your dump valves regularly.  Keep them properly greased/lubed up as directed by manufacturers recommendations.  Keep your storage bays as clean as possible.  
  9. Store your “stinky slinky”, septic hose in a separate area from your fresh water hose and equipment.
  10. Have a box of gloves, a bucket of clorox wipes and paper towels always handy in that basement bay or next one over.
  11. Consider always carrying a gerry jug (we have two 6 gals) with you filled with fresh water you know you can trust.  Just in case the water from your campsite smells a little off, has high iron or sulfur content even though it may be potable.  Your AM coffee will thank you!
  12. Install an under counter fresh water filter below your faucet.  There are many types from electronic to flow through traditional. We have one on our dedicated drinking water faucet.  It is so good it even removed the pink dye color from the winter antifreeze!
  13. Consider buying a Berkey Water Filtration system that sits on your counter.  Found on Amazon or their dedicated Berkey site.  Not cheap but great peace of mind.

and remember…..

Dump the black water tank first….then the grey water!

Put at least 4-6  or so gallons of water (depends on size of your tank or how long you will be not camping)  back into your toilet and add your black tank digester.  We prefer Happy Camper or Unique brands.

You do not need to use RV toilet paper….any Septic Safe labeled T-paper is fine as long as you use sufficient water each time you flush.  What I tell my grandsons is if you do #2…then hold the pedal down for as long as it takes you to slowly count to at least 6.

*I recall reading numerous reviews about a campground in south western Arizona that had multiple complaints and even was shut down by their local health department due to fouled fresh water being run through pipes to their campsites. It pays to read campground reviews before you park! (NOTE: we always have at least 4-6 filled milk jugs of our own home water with us on any given trip. If anything, we use them to “flush” when boondocking or using our toilet at a rest area.

Here’s to happy and SAFE camping!

From Kevin & Luisa Sherman

Cheap DIY Hack- to get more sleeptime in your rv!

Are you bothered by the beam of light that comes through your roof vent in the morning—saying “wake up its 6 AM??”

Even though we have MaxAir Vent covers in the smoke plexiglass color we still find that the morning light coming in really robs us of some extra ZZZZ’s! So I looked for an inexpensive way to fix this issue. We do have modern Fan-tastic in our Avion, but this fix could be used with other types of roof fan vents too! A quick look on Amazon and even just Google shows there are all sorts of sizes available out there.

Then again, you could wear a sleep mask but we find them a little uncomfortable and can be hot.

Key to choosing a window shade is that it should have perforations so that you can still use the fan feature when your “shade is drawn closed”. Here is an image similar to what we purchased, on clearance at Camping World for $6.

First thing I did was cut off the actual retraction roller bar part. I did not want to have to screw that into our ceiling and felt that I would not be able to get a strong enough bond to take the pressure that was needed to “pull” the shade across our vent screen area. I left the other end intact which had a stiff rod through it and a small fastening area (on left end below). I felt this would add some stability as this would be the end that will be unrolled/rolled up to stow the mesh.

I used the Scotch brand traditional velcro squares below. I did NOT use the heavy duty click together type which the velcro adheres far more permanently to your surface and these are usually what I use for far heavier items.

Shade with retraction part cut off (right edge). Velcro squares is what I used to attach rear end of shade to vent trim in our bedroom ceiling.

I then applied 3 pairs of 1″ white velcro squares on the cut end of the mesh.

When I work with velcro I match up the two parts of the velcro first, then remove the clear plastic sheet to expose the sticky side on one side- afix into place where I want it. On this project that was all done on the kitchen counter. Then when I am ready to install I peel off the clear plastic protector on the other ends and push entire thing into place. This method takes the guess work out of trying to line each piece up properly.

This cut off end will be attached to the rear edge of the vent shroud trim piece. I did not use removable velcro squares but you can find them in 3M product lines, though they might be rectangular and thinner- they will work. The mesh piece is not heavy so HD velcro is not needed. In the photo below you can see the 3 sets of pairs of velcro.

NOTE: I chose to put the black side of the mesh towards the roof vent. I felt that having the white exposed to our bedroom would make the mesh far less noticeable on the ceiling –as I plan to just roll it up and stow it on the ceiling. If you prefer, with using the velcro squares it is just as easy to take down completely when not in use- but the velcro will wear out quicker. The instructions on the package if used in a car application said the white to the outside, black to the inside of the car.

When you go to install the velcro squares to the fan trim piece be sure that trim piece is really clean. Ideally clean with a little rubbing alcohol first, and dry to ensure a great seal of the sticky back velcro.

Three pairs of velcro squares spaced evenly at corners and center. This photo shows the mesh hanging down. Notice I opted to put the black side to face the vent screen. The width as bought was perfect, no cutting needed! Pardon the dusty screen on fan!

Next step for me was to hold those velcro tabs in place a bit just to ensure they are well bonded to the plastic wide fan flange. I let the mesh hang for about 15 minutes as part of this process.

Next step was to hold up and extend the shade, using the original tab on the end that has the bar reinforcement in the hem. I held it up as taught as possible but not so tight to put pressure on the 3 sets of velcro on other end nor to obstruct or push against the rotator motor that hangs down.

Once I found that right point, I installed one more sticky back velcro square to the ceiling and one to the top side of that tab so the mesh would stay in place covering the vent screen area. There is still plenty of “air space” gap on each side so that the vent works properly. Using velcro here makes it easy to open the mesh to take down or to make adjustments on the fan controls if necessary when mesh is deployed.

Pictures of the complete install are below– Since the white side faces down and it is so light weight, I rolled it up and secured it with two blue laundry clamps, like clothes pins that I had handy. I will buy some small white ones to use permanently. As it stands right now, we plan to keep the mesh rolled up and on the ceiling and unroll as needed. Not the prettiest of hacks, but we believe this will surely solve the problem of sun beams on our face!

Total project time, about 15 minutes.

Black out mesh screen fully deployed. The little fold in one edge was how it came from package.
Finished with use for the day, simply roll up and clip to itself inside ends.
I will replace these make do blue clips with smaller white ones soon!

Materials needed:

Pull down style car window sun blocking mesh screen

Scissors (to cut off retractor bar end and trim mesh if needed)

White Velcro sticky back squares (3M makes removable ones too!)

If you do this project, please let us know and post pictures of your own to inspire others!!!!

As always, stay safe, have wonderful journeys and hug your Avion!

Loose windows? Here’s a quick fix!

WHY? People have had the windows on their Avions blow open and get broken off of the rig when a gust of wind hit their rig while going down the road or in a bad wind storm. Don’t let this happen to you!

When we owned our 1973 Avion, 28′ LaGrande Model we noticed that one of the three prior owners had put on some “make do” hardware that held the windows more solidly closed while rolling down the road or during winter or very bad weather (rain or wind). Below is one of those “make do” clips but overtime it was only functional with our little slip of a wood shim in it! So the time to find a new “fix” was due!

The original after market “make do” window securing clip needed a shim when we bought the 73 Avion!

CAUTION! These old Hehr windows especially the “awning type” which are the one piece large windows that crank open from the bottom out…CAN AND DO have the potential to catch a wind and fly open when rolling down the road at 50+ MPH. In case you do unfortunately lose a window or purchase a reno project Avion, Hehr does still make awning style (and Jalousie) windows and some online companies also carry a limited amount of dimensions. NO ONE in our research makes the rounded front curved windows that flank your center front window so please baby those fixed windows- we also have them in the rear bedroom of our ’87!

*note, since purchasing our 1987 32S Avion (jalousie window style) we do not have this issue with rattling or fly open accidently windows but we still make double-triple sure they are fully secured before we begin towing because if open even a little bit the wind could catch the smaller pane of a jalousie and pull it open to and strip your window crank system in the process. It seems the issues of rattling windows is more prevalent with the awning style windows found on pre mid 80’s models.

Additionally, some of our window torque operators (those little metal boxes that your crank handle fits into to raise the window out) were less than perfect, wear out quickly due to soft metal gears inside and did not always “snuggly” hold our window shut.

ABOVE- Sill Torque Operator, for LEFT side
ABOVE- Awning style window on our 1973 Avion opened and you can see the Torque Operator installed on right side of this window with its arm extended, cranked out.

WHAT TO DO TO PREVENT WINDOWS HAVING A MIND OF THEIR OWN??

We purchased these simple metal “shelf clips” at our local hardware store. https://www.lowes.com/pd/Hillman-20-Pack-0-25-in-Shelf-Pins/3013872

They are cheap, come in boxes of multiples and made for a decently attractive but functional solution to ensuring our windows were all securely closed to prevent accidental opening during trailering.

We put a stainless steel screw into the pre-drilled hole and the “pin” which is intended to fit into a round hold in a bookshelf wall is actually what holds the window closed. (sorry evidently did not take a photo of this before we sold our 73 Avion!)

Another closeup of the original “clips” that had been installed on our 73 Avion by a former owner to prevent window rattle and secure when towing to prevent possible blow open and ruin!

Part of our routine before we got underway for a trip and then when we arrive to set up at our campsite was simply to take a cordless power drill and unscrew the stainless screw to be able to rotate the clip away from the window frame to allow the window to open. We did not remove the clip entirely, merely rotated out of the way so it was ready to be deployed again to do its job once we were packing up and making ready to leave our campsite.

Last but not least….we cannot stress enough the importance of a “WALK AROUND” safety check BEFORE you tow your RV 2 feet! The walk about is Luisa’s job so there is a second pair of eyes on the hitch area and all its hook ups, etc. This Walk-Around will be where you check to see that all of your windows are secured down, if using clips like we outline above, they are engaged and tightened, awnings latched/locked in place. I will be posting a complete other “walk around” post to go into more details on this very important safety standard of practice.

Be well, happy travels!

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!

Sneak preview Video, Our big Bathroom expansion VIDEO! just for our Blog Subscribers!!

We have completed our walk through video of our BIG Avion trailer mid bath expansion project!

As loyal subscribers to our blog YOU GET TO SEE IT FIRST!

If you LIKE this video please give it a “thumbs UP”, if you disliked…a thumbs down.

If you have not checked out the many videos we have made over our Avion ownership, or trusted other bloggers videos we have in our YouTube library now is a great time to explore. Happy travels in 2021!

cumberland bay ny state campground- review

Sometimes, just a “short get away” is the perfect stay!

That was the case when Kevin and I chose a camping trip to Cumberland Bay State Park this autumn. We were super lucky to even get a beach front site with only a week advance booking! Then again, it was September so weather in this part of NY can be chilly—but we had great weather in the 70s during the day and 50s at night. Perfect!

This NYS campground is part of the (Reserve America) NYS system in nearby (2.5 hours north of us) Plattsburgh, NY. This campground sits just north of the city and directly on the huge Lake Champlain which serves as the link boundary between NY and VT to the east.

CLOSE IS NICE SOMETIMES!

We love basically where you see the word “Falls” on the map above. That is Glens Falls NY.

Getting there from our home in Queensbury, NY is a beautiful and easy drive north on I-87 “The Adirondack Northway”. If coming from VT you can take the Ferry that leaves from Grand Isle, VT. FYI- the Adirondack Northway, RT 87 is also our direct way to Montreal, Canada just 3 hours from home. The Northway itself is a beautiful road passing exits for Lake Placid, Ausable Chasm and other notable and beautiful scenic trips in their own right. Those locations really deserve their own dedicated camping trip.

Here are links to the campground and reservation system.

RESERVATION WOES

Please note, unfortunately NYS in trying to do a “nice thing for campers during Covid-19” opened up their reservation booking window through 2021. In my opinion it would have been OK to allow NYS residents to do this, but it was opened for anyone to do. What has resulted is 99% of all decent campsites in the state park campground system have been already booked through next year and I suspect many by out of state campers who may or may not ever really use that reservation. Sadly, i think most of this was to grab up sites…but in reality I bet many of these reservations will be unused or cancelled. I am not alone in this perception. What it has done is closed out many NY state residents from enjoying camping in campgrounds our state tax dollars pay for. Many fulltime RVer’s are discussing this same thing on their YouTube channels and blogs so NYS campers are not alone.

ABOUT THE CAMPGROUND:

Our front yard at Site #46.

The campground sits right on Lake Champlain but also includes a day-use beach area so we suspect during peak summer months this place is going to be a lot busier, noisier and bustling than our sublime autumn getaway. There are only really 6-7 sites that are “direct waterfront” and we were thrilled to get one of these. There is a large 4 foot “sea wall” style barrier between the campground and the beach. There are some places where there is a set of stairs to get down onto the beach as well. The beach is very wide, very well kept. Along the wall there is a walkable sidewalk which many folks used too. We honestly feel that our adolescent grandsons will have more fun at this campground with the beach and bike riding than they did at Jellystone!

Sites 43 to 48 are the only sites that are truly water front with no obstructions of this beautiful view!

We had site #46 which was a great site for our 32 foot travel trailer. It was also the widest of all of these beach front sites too. Our top choice recommendations here are in order: 46, 43 or 47 due to their length, width and scenic value. They are also on lawn but do not have really any privacy buffers between sites.

The sites that are on the same road but directly opposite our site are ok but beware they are quite sandy and not very well kept up as of Fall 2020. Also, some of the sites in this campground are very short so do trust the “max length” notation they have when you are making a site selection.

These sites along the beach row are NO HOOKUPS! In fact, most of the sites in the campground are no hook ups. They have built nice new bath houses around the north end of the park up on the hill. The southern end still use a large older bath house that was OK. The campsites opposite from the beach front sites (shown above) do have electric only. These tend to be where you will see a lot of large 5th wheels.

We boondocked with no issues at all. There is a water fill spigot on the way into the park on the right side of main drive and a very modern, 2 lane, dump station as you exit, or if you are there for longer and don’t have your own porta-dolly and need a mid-stay dump, the access is very good and easy.

While camping we used the main beach house toilets quite a bit besides our own RV bath. The public day use bath house is only a couple years old, very ADK looking, beautiful and very clean and modern. It was only a short walk from our site. there is a very nice children’s playground there too with rubberized ground pad which is always very nice.

The fellow campers at the campground were very nice, all were very cognizant of the need for face masks and social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation. It was very quiet, reserved and peaceful and we really enjoyed just relaxing watching the throngs of Canada geese who came in in the morning then the other water fowl who came in at other times of the day. They seemed to be taking turns!

We stayed four nights (thurs through Sun) and while there is not much to see and do directly around the campground itself or within walking distance, just a 5-10 minute drive you are in the City of Plattsburgh a great place to check out!! The city is home to the State University of NY at Plattsburgh (SUNY Plattsburgh) and also an international airport due to its proximity to Montreal so this creates a nice downtown vibe.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN DOWNTOWN PLATTSBURGH!

A DAY TRIP OR OVERNIGHT TO MONTREAL IS CLOSE-BY!

Also, for those who may be staying a little longer and looking for a super terrific full “day trip” Montreal, Canada is only a 1 hour 15 min easy drive by highway. The border crossing will add a little time to this but if you avoid commuter times you should be ok. Downtown historic Montreal is fabulous with great shops, dining, the underground and more! There are not a lot of easy access campgrounds near Montreal so this might be a great day trip or even overnight option! (if you bring your RV over the border, remember there are in-bound and out-bound food restrictions on things like beer (limits) and restrictions on fresh meats, veggies and fruits, etc. Check the border crossing sites before you end up having to throw good food into a bin at the border!)

NOTE: We did not go to Montreal on this trip since the borders in/out are closed due to Covid-19. Besides, we live only 3 hours south of Montreal so we can go anytime once the borders re-open.

Besides…why go anywhere when we saw this each evening while enjoying our own wine, beer, cheese & crackers while we warm up around our portable Outland LP fire pit! This was literally our view from our site. Deep breath……ahhhhhhhh.

We left our picnic table where it was, though they are moveable. We loved meals right next to the waterfront!
Our evening sunsets every night were like this. Simply beautiful!

Just a few more photos of our stay at Cumberland Bay State Park. We had a wonderful time, in fact, we tried to book a stay for next summer and should not have been surprised all of the waterfront sites are booked solid from June through mid-September. Bummer! but we will be back!

Reddy loved Cumberland Bay State Park too!
Trying to show here that the beach is literally at the end of that grass line that you can see!

We hope you do check out Cumberland Bay State Park for yourself and enjoy the relaxation of the park, but also the great offerings in downtown Plattsburgh.

Looking for awesome “Avion-branded” gifts, clothing, camping gear or decor? please check out our exclusive designs at MyAvionMarketplace.com

Let us know if you go! We would love your feedback!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman proud owners of a 1987, 32S Avion!

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!

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Best, from Kevin & Luisa Sherman

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