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CAMPGROUND REVIEW: Hapgood pond CampGround, Green Mountain national forest, Peru, vt

We ventured about 2.5 hours heading east from our home near Lake George NY to spend a long weekend (3 nights, four days) in the Green Mountain National Forest of nearby Vermont in late August 2020. The drive was over hill and dale from our home in eastern side of upstate NY, peaceful through quaint NY and VT villages and bucolic farmscapes. Closer to our destination, we passed Bromley Ski Area which now also has a full compliment of summer activities including chair lift, bike trails and more. There are several notable ski areas along this route in an easy to reach too.

Sometimes its really nice to just have a short hop, skip, and jump to a pretty local place but that feels worlds away from your normal backyard.

Our destination was Hapgood Pond Campground which is under the management and inside the Green Mountain National Forest. The campground is located in Peru, VT. Peru is a very small backwater village with a town green, one quintessential VT general store ( see slide show below) , an 18th C. church on the green (of course) and a handful of beautifully restored 18th and 19th century houses dotted here and there. Just off Route 11 heading NE out of Manchester, VT, this sleepy town is the perfect and close get away. I have a slide show of the general store and more info below.

Nearby, Manchester Vt offers outlet stores, boutiques, ample varieties of unique, locally-owed restaurants and of course, the Northshire Bookstore which is a destination unto itself. This large store is worth the stop even if you are not a bibliophile….they have wonderful unique gifts, new age, inspirational and spiritual gifts and accessories and some quirky retro gifts and great unique kitchen accessories too! Warning, Manchester can be very touristy and busy on summer weekends, we hit it right because of an anticipated rainy Saturday–the rain cleared out by noon and there were not many folks downtown yet.

Hapgood Pond Campground is beautifully set with surrounding pine and forest lands, it has a beautiful and ample pond with great beach for swimming (sadly the one weekend we were there it was a late August cold snap and only in the 60s during the day so too cold for a swim). It has a 1 mile nice hike trip around the pond is worth the adventure. We did the hike on Saturday starting out at 6 PM and the lighting was beautiful and we had the whole thing to ourselves…quite magical. I suspect in peak seasons of summer weekends the trail could get busy as there also is a day picnic area as part of this 27 campsite park. The campground access road is dirt/stone dust, level and well maintained road which is a little narrow but certainly do-able for our 32 footer. Just watch the one right hand bend. We would not recommend anything larger than 35′ for sure. Please also avoid the sites 17-20 which are in a dead end loop unless you tent or have a small pop up trailer. You will not get in or out with anything bigger.

Site # 2, First come, First Served site. No Advance reservations on this one. A great site, easily could fit our 32 foot Avion travel trailer and tow vehicle! No hookups but easy access to vault toilet bath house, public beach and water spiquot.

Campsites: Sites 1-8 are first come first served only for RV/Tent sites. You simply arrive, claim an open site that works for you, fill out the ticket from the main map display and put your payment info and contact info into the lockbox and your reserved ticket on the clip on the site # post. There is an onsite volunteer Camp host whose site is clearly marked as you enter the campground side of the site to the left on the main drive. To the right is the day use only which is also for a small fee.

Most of the first come, first served are very short sites, ok for lets say under a 20 foot camper, perfect for tenters, pop ups or van campers. The creme de la creme for us is Site #2. It is a first come first served but in a great location by the vault toilet building #1, has a water spigot in the site and a really easy access walk to the public beach, pavilion and walking trail, etc. We will definitely look to get this site once we become full timers and with our Senior Pass can book it for like $10 per night…great deal! The rest of the sites are reservable in advance through Reservation.gov website.

This Summer of 2020, Covid-19 and all…..We had reserved Site 26 for three nights, Fri/Sat/Sun in late August ($68.00 total through Reserve.gov) . We needed a restful get away. For our 32-foot length trying to do the online reservations they said they had only 2 sites that could accommodate 30-35 foot rigs. Looking around once we got there, we believe that at minimum sites 24, 26 and 27 (has some overhanging pines we like to avoid) could handle our size of travel trailer.

Below is a photo of our site 26. Nice site, and we would book it again! Amazingly…this is the FIRST campsite in 8 years of RVing that after Kevin backed in, I turned on our LevelMate Pro app and it was PERFECTLY LEVEL SIDE TO SIDE! Wow! that never happens! We only had to level front to back. That was awesome…bravo to the campground staff for their maintenance! Our Verizon hot spot provided some decent upload and download speeds, my cell was pulling 3 bars consistently at our campsite.

Our site #26. Spacious, no pine trees to drop unwanted sap. on a bend in the road so more privacy space on sides than some sites. Directly opposite the toilet house (very clean vault toilet house) and potable water spiquot. Easy, grassy walk to the beach, nice areas to walk a pet.

Site 26 was very comfortable for us. Nice large, deep fire ring, huge long picnic table in very good condition, the site was clean, cleared and with just a little maneuvering Kevin got it backed in. NOTE: the water spiquot and bath house/very clean vault toilets are directly opposite the campsite and close to the road edge enough so you do not have the flexibility of going a little “off road” to angle into the site. But he managed fine. We did take our front hitch storage tray that holds our generator off before trying to do the back in angles.

FYI- You are in a National Forest so…..These sites are NO HOOKUPS! The campground is pet friendly. There is no electric, sewer, cable hook ups! if you are used to these conveniences, this is not a place for you. Our site was quite shady with some beautiful sunny rays during the morning through late afternoon hours, but enough shade that we suspect even in hot summer days the shade would greatly help keep the camper interior heat level down. We did run our generator a few hours each day just to keep the batteries topped off since the are a bit on the old site and not lithium ions. Due to the cold snap and rainy day on Saturday, we never had use of our AC nor even a fan. Open windows and nice breeze was perfect.

Every other camper in the park was super respectful of all Covid-19 mask and other precautions. There was no noise issues, everyone kept their manners and cleanliness in the vault toilets which were cleaned daily, no smells, no trash and very well built *aka no spiders, etc) and ventilated. The best we had seen so far in “government campgrounds”. It was truly one of the most peaceful and restful camping weekends we had in a long, long time. Bless you Vermonters!

There is a palpable difference when you are camping in a National Forest or State campground with very little amenities or activities versus a private campground hell bent on having every bell and whistle, every type of kid oriented activity, playground, pool slides , etc. This National Forest campground was bliss!

Saturday after we ventured into nearby Manchester (about 20 min drive) for lunch and about a 1 hour stroll around to shop. On our way back, we also stopped at the adorable general store in “downtown” Peru where the campground is located. Clearly the store knows its prime clientele is the transient campers. It was the quintessential Vt general store with lovely fresh foods, baked goods, local and Vt made gifts, basic housewares, RVer last minute “whoops I forgot this!” items. I loved it–its cozy, well kept, modern of inventory but quaint in style. The locally made VT smoked cheese we bought was delicious as was the shared chocolate cupcake. They boast take away sandwiches and pizzas to order. Next time!

BTW Hapgood pond is a result of an early industrial revolution era dam put in place to power a mill. A typical story in New England and outlined in the story board near the beach and rustic, nicely maintained pavilions where larger family groups could have a nice picnic together.

Here is a photo slide show from around the park and our hike.

While spending an enjoyable rest, we got a little itchy after a rainy Saturday so by Sunday afternoon the weather was beautiful and we wanted to explore more of the Green Mountain Forest itself. So using our maps we found at the end of Hapgood Pond Road, heading north, then west you come onto Forest Road #10 which is a nicely maintained, unpaved road. It is ample in width and in super good condition (better than some RV parks!) but with very little pull offs and definitely NO TURNAROUNDS FOR RVS! We did this as a day venture just in our tow vehicle, our 2011, GMC 2500 Denali,4WD, Crew Cab and had no issues. However about 1/2 way through thinking this would be a great place for a dispersed camping site persay.. the RED FLAG happened!!!

CAUTION!! midway through our 1.5 hour back road Forest Route #10 there was a very high pitched replacement cement bridge (see in slide show below) that literally went up on an 75 degree angle over a span of maybe 6 feet!! Our RV and anything shy of perhaps a small camper van would have bottomed out royally or gotten stuck on the top of the crest!

That being said, the ride through the forest is one we would recommend. There is an access point to the “long trail” of the Appalachian Trail inside the park and many other trail heads that looked inviting! There are 4 dispersed Tent sites that we saw but none of them were very remarkable or nice. One along the stream was ok, it was at the eastern most end of the road.

The pristine greenery kept us in awe, the long forgotten apple trees in one area reminded us that at one time, perhaps 100 years ago this area was finely tended and was cleared farm land…all now reclaimed by Mother Nature into a thick, native woodland.

This bridge pitch may not look super steep in this photo but it was! Your RV would turn into aTeeterTotter with NO where to turn around and go back!

Our last little adventure was to take a trip up to the NE to Weston, VT which is along Route 11 North from Peru. It took us perhaps 25 minutes tops. Weston is home to the ORIGINAL VERMONT COUNTRY STORE! Since the 1800s the same family has operated this store in this little village. (They do have another store nearer to Brattleboro but it is more touristy I think, they also have a huge website and publish a catalog. They are known for selling long forgotten housewares, candies, cleaning items and hard to find health and beauty items)

We enjoyed our Sunday morning there, with little crowds, a yummy lunch outdoors in their picnic area (restaurant closed due to Covid). They are known for their homemade Mac n Cheese and I had the “Northerner” with BBQ pulled pork or’ top mac and cheese deliciousness. It was enough to have a full portion for dinner later that night. Kevin had a Reuben special and ranked it well among his many tests of this culinary delight from around the country he has had. I dropped some coinage in the store, always willing to support local businesses and off we went to our trip on Forest Road #10 into the depths of the Green Mountain National Forest itself.

Our trip came to a relaxing close on Monday morning as we savored our final breakfast meal and began our pack out regime after I checked my emails for work and did some correspondence. Getting out of the Site 26 was far easier than getting in, but again, we would book this site again now that the “angling” to get in was mastered on the first try.

It cannot be underestimated that sometimes, just a 2.5 hour drive can bring you such a new perspective, new vistas to see, new moon shots to honor and the peacefulness of the forest to reinvigorate the soul.

We will definitely will make Hapgood Pond Campground in the Green Mountain National Forest an annual (or at least biennial) stop on our camping itinerary in the future. We may even stay a week or two once we are retired and spending our summers in New England…so don’t take our Site #2!

Stay safe, enjoy the journey! Reddy certainly did-below she is sacked out on MY lounge chair just like the Queen of the campground she is!

BE well,

Kevin and Luisa

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Rock Guard Rescue- PT 3

For those following our Rock Guard 3R’s (rescue, restore, reinstall) we are on the final step.  Installation of our beautiful, newly rehab’d rock guard we salvaged off of a 1983-84 crunched Avion we found by sheer luck not more than 1.5 hours from our house and in a campground bone yard in a tiny town in VT.

Here is the before….and after…..then…..”THE REST OF THE STORY” ( yes, dating myself)

Below (left) is soon to be salvaged rock guard off a ’83-84 found in VT, (right) is completely rehabbed and now rehung back onto our 1973 Avion.  Note the “bling factor” and read on to see how and what we did!

Obviously the first steps of this rehab was literally just elbow grease to take off years of grime.  You can see all the steps we did including photos and videos in our Phase 1 & 2 blog posts.  We chose a high gloss finished on the interior and exterior of the guard which was professionally painted and finished by a local auto body detailer, Mac the Knife on Quaker Road in Queensbury NY.  He loved the diversion this project gave him over the long Adirondack winter!

The final phase 3 of this big project has been to reinstall the guard.  But there were some issues.    The hanging track of our original (the part installed to nose of trailer) was smaller than the “new” rock guard.  In fact it was 7 inches longer.

We determined that this longer length was actually preferable as it would take more of the pressure off those areas that historically start to show stress cracks on countless Avion’s we have seen (yes believe this was a 45 yr old design flaw on part of original manufacturers).

This meant, we had to first remove our original hanging track.  A little scary since we had never worked with rivets, etc.  But as usual Kevin had watched 100’s of hours on “how to rivet” on YouTube, purchased a few books and then all necessary equipment from Vintage Trailer Supply.  He felt confident in what he had to do.

First step:  Drill out old rivets holding hanging track on our rig.  Old track drilled out and removed.  Clean up of area really well is very important. We use a “bone tool” we buy at the auto parts store to remove old grime, butyl tape, any sticky stuff.  This one works perfect, it has a flat scraper end and a rounded end.  It is actually a hard nylon plastic which will not scratch your aluminum but give you the ability to get stuff off…even smushed bugs too!   Kev is “all about the prep!”

Installed 3/4 inch Butyl tape strip on back edge of new track before installation.

Install replacement (longer) hanging track onto trailer front.  Use stainless steel rivets for install, use Parbond to cover over each rivet head to prevent any possible water penetration.  Parbond along seam that runs along top of guard hanger where attaches to trailer.  This is a critical step.  When riveting or screwing anything into the skin of your trailer, you create a possible way for water to eek in behind and roll down into the holes made by the rivets or screws.  Using Parbond, (we use silver/aluminum colored and and our handy dandy dental hygiene syringe applicator (Amazon, 8 for $10) to a make perfect thin line edges.

We tried reusing as many of the original holes we could from where the original guard track was hung.  Unused holes were pre-filled with Parbond completely sealing them.  Kevin snipped off the tines of the rivets and used the rivet shaver to smooth them down.  Photo above with my gorgeous purple gloves shows rivets before trimming all of them.  Note the small magnetic level to ensure you are keeping the track placement level.  You can see some of the Butyl tape has softened and eeked slightly below the track.  No worries, as this will be unseen and underneath the top of the guard.  Better to have a great seal.

We let the track sit for two days to allow Parbond to dry out pretty well.  Then time to hang the rock guard.  NOTE:  All arm hardware had been removed before hanging so it was not in the way.  WE ONLY REMOVED THE ACTUAL ARMS, NOT THE RECEIVING HARDWARE since that had been re- riveted on and reinforced during the rehab by our auto body person!

We also found that the hardware locations on the NEW guard were not exact to our original.  So we did have to re position the “plunger” receiver on the bottom of the window on one side (only) about 1/4 ” out so that the receiver slot, see right photo below would meet the plunger pin.  Plunger pin hardware (bottom photo) is the one on streetside, note parbond behind, on top and in screw holes before reinstalling with stainless screws.  To re position the curbside one, Kevin drilled the holes into slot shaped and pushed the bracket to align as needed.  Once parbonded and screwed in place it is secure.

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How to Hang:  Carefully we hung the new rock guard

NOTE:  done as a two person job only please!!!  lift guard parallel to the ground and both people using step ladders, you slide the track on top of guard into receiver hanging track that is installed on trailer, slide guard across length of hanging track.

Hanging Problem!  Once hanging the guard- we noticed that our new guard was not seated very securely in its track.

This was the track salvaged with the guard so we knew it was right (and longer which was good) but for some reason it was way too easy to pop out when lifted up.  To combat this we studied the lifting process closely, watching the relationships between the track on rig and track on guard.  We realized there was too much “play” in the track on rig and that we needed to put something back there so that the bent “J” portion of the track on guard could not rotate back and the guard come unhinged should we hit some pot hole, etc. on the road.

We found some “U” shaped aluminum in the exact length needed at Lowes.  Cheap enough, under $15.  You can see it in photo below just in front of the wood strips we used as shims to force it close to the hanger on the guard.  We then used stainless screws and screwed this track (parbonded over each) 5 places on this track thereby securing it into the hanger track affixed to the trailer.  This process allows the rotation of the guard perfectly but it cannot slip upwards and pop out unexpectedly.

Below you can also see some of the added steel reinforcement strip that we had our auto body fellow fabricate to provide additional rigidity and support to the top of the plastic rock guard itself.  As mentioned previously, these guards are notorious for cracking where the arm hinges are due to years of stress on that particular part when traveling down the road.  These reinforcements are on the outside and inside so the plastic guard is sandwiched between.  They are applied with rivets and were painted at same time as guard so all match, inside and out.

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Here is the results, we are very pleased and safe in the knowledge that the guard is not going anywhere with our filler aluminum track safety addition.  You can see the reinforcement steel strip clearly on the video below too.  Obviously we removed the wood shims after this part of the project was tested and done.

 

Some still shots of the aluminum U track we added.  The last image shows the track before we installed this added piece.  You can clearly see all the “play” space that was there and needed filling up to prevent the guard’s track from jumping out by accident.

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Next came the re-installation of the support arms.  Here Kevin is showing a prelim of how we plan to add additional support arms when set up in camp.  First we needed to order additional arms, and do some changes to hardware.

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We had decided to copy a fellow long time Avioner we met at the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in IN in 2017 and ordered two additional awning lift arms from Vintage Trailer Supply.  These would be used in conjunction with our originals to create add on support arms when we are camped.  More on that in a minute.

The new sets (sold separately) from Vintage Trailer Supply were a little shorter than our originals but would work.  Kevin drilled out the receiver hardware off the new ones opting to use our original hinge hardware to mount in its original location and holes on our window frames.  He used stainless screws, lock washers and nuts to install the arms to the hardware rather than riveting like was originally done.  Using screws allows for adjustments, replacing or repairs on the fly far easier than riveting.  Below is original mounting bracket that goes on window frame but with the NEW guard arm from VTS installed with stainless screw and lock washer, nut.

 

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We applied Parbond again behind the hardware before installing back on to the window uprights.  Using the original mounting hardware we could reuse the original holes which is always preferred over making more holes in your Avion.

Once we did this, we reattached to the bracket on inside bottom of guard.  These arm brackets stay attached permanently and are adjusted using wing nuts and washers on stainless screws (1 inch #10) so that the guard can be raised or lowered to just about any height.

The “new” old arms, now with just holes on both ends will be used for additional support for the guard when we are set up in a campsite.  These are screwed on with washers and nuts each time they are applied.  We strongly feel that this additional support (downward) provide superior support for the guard and take away some of the stress on the permanently mounted cantilever ones that hold up and out the guard.  We will simply store them in a little pouch and inside our exterior battery box so they are handy.

Finishing up the new support arm system and we are all done with this major rehab project.  Notice we have repainted the underside of our rock guard in a lite off white, high gloss.  What this does is it serves to reflect back out the light coming from our lamp (when guard is closed) and also to create a far brighter feeling when guard is open.  Previously, the back of the guard was the medium dark grey of the plastic composite material of the guard.  This darker color absorbed the light rather than reflecting it.  This small change to white has made a huge effect and one we highly encourage. Even just spray painting the underside white with over the counter high gloss paint yourself will help if you do not want to spend the money on the whole auto body finish like we did.

 

There is nothing more heartwarming and welcoming to us than the Avion Glow!!

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“We travel not to escape life….but for life not to escape us”

Safe journeys!

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Sharing Holiday Joy from NY to AZ!

pewter palace, Christmas 2018 card

Along the way of our past six years of researching, planning and dreaming about our eventual “full time RV life” we have enjoyed and learned from many who have taken the plunge before us!

Among those who we respect and have learned from the most are a handful which include at top of our list, Steve & Courtney from AStreaminLife.

We have followed their journey from their initial change of lifestyle decision, to sale of their house, to downsize and deciding what trailer to get (Courtney was totally new to camping and RV life while Steve had grown up with parents who RV’d tons!) , to their first year commuting daily from full time RV living in a local KOA campground in Tucson AZ,  but keeping their day jobs…..to their first years + now full time on the road.

Each episode they post on YouTube we learn something, laugh (at sometimes Steve’s dry humor jokes) share similar likes, dislikes and we know we are far more better equipped when our day comes because of them and others who have taken the journey and are willing to share their successes, failures and “whoops” candidly and honestly.

For more information about AStreaminLife  visit their full website too!  link

So this year, in the season of thanksgiving for many blessings we have, we also wanted to let Steve and Courtney know how much we have appreciated their friendship and effort to allow viewers like us to be included in their daily life.  We knew they were going to be coming up to the ADK’s hopefully this summer and that they loved to visit and film waterfalls.  Well, we know the DACKS are full of neat spots but knowing Courtney loves the “epic planning” part of their trips we sent a Christmas present to them in Scottsdale AZ where they were going to be celebrating with Courtney’s folks over Christmas time.  Included in our gift to them was a travel guide to ADK waterfalls, and each of them got a pair of socks befitting to their lifestyle and their tastes.  Steve’s socks were a custom beer bottle (he loves craft beer and breweries just like Kevin does!) and for Courtney I picked out a pair of socks that had a camping theme complete with trailer, campfire, etc.   It appears they loved them and we are so happy for that!

Here is a clip of their Scottsdale AZ video published on their YouTube Channel.  Specific reference to receiving our Christmas present socks (and showing them off) is at about 5:47 minutes in–HOW SWEET OF THEM TO THANK US IN THIS VERY PUBLIC WAY!  WOW-did not expect that and they have over 11K YouTube followers!!  Please watch the whole video (and their other videos on early retirement how to and RV living and travels to magnificent places in the USA!) so you can learn more about who they are and you will see why we enjoy following them on their journey so much. Better yet!  subscribe to their YouTube Channel and see the many valuable and educational videos they have posted from selecting a generator, to downsizing tips, to finding the perfect campground…or the not to perfect dip into a BLM spot that got them stuck AND cost them a portion of an underbelly pan which had to be repaired!

BTW- they typically camp in exactly the same kind of BLM and private campgrounds that we know we plan to go to as well…over this Christmas ’18 they are in Cave Creek which is a town Kevin and I have spent quite a bit of time in already as it is only about 35 minutes north of where my son David lives with his wife Bri.  Kevin and I had already checked out and put the campground in Cave Creek (Cave Creek Canyone road below) on our list of must stays.

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Happy New Year Everyone!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman, The Pewter Palace

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