NM, RV Park Reviews, Tiny Life, Travel

Heron Lake State Park ~ Los Ojos, NM

New Mexico has some of the best state parks in the country, IMO, and back in January of 2017 when we still had the truck camper we purchased a year pass but unfortunately never got to use it.  So when we got back on the road again in our Avion we decided we had better get our moneys worth out of it before it expired (01/31/18)!

New Mexico state park passes cost $225 a year for out of state residents and $180 a year if you’re a New Mexico resident.  Now that might seem like a lot but when you are camping and are in a non-electric site the cost is free!  If you choose a power and water site the cost is $4 a day and a full hookup site (where available) is $8!  Not a bad deal, IMO.  Also dump sites are available at most parks.

Our first state park of this tour was Heron Lake State Park in Los Ojos, NM.  Situated just 20 minutes from Chama, NM and fed by the Rio Chama.  This state park and lake offers many camping opportunities but if you’re looking for something with power and water there are only two options:  Blanco and Willow Creek.

Site #57 at Blanco. Large pull through, power/water and a picnic table with shelter
Willow Creek has smaller sites and not nearly as many pull throughs as Blanco so when we came through looking for a site we chose Blanco.  We found a large pull through almost immediately that was a non-reservation site.  All sites in Blanco have fire pits and picnic tables and some have covered shelters.  Our site had a shelter and was fairly private. Blanco also has a bathhouse with showers while Willow Creek has a bathroom with toilets only.

There are many hiking trails in the camping areas that lead down to and go around the lake.  All are easy paths to hike and offer beautiful views!

Hiking trails to the lake!

Heron Lake

A place to rest with a view of the lake
The only downside to the campsites at Blanco and Willow Creek is that none of the sites have a true view of the lake.  You can glimpse it from certain sites but there are no full views.  There are other dispersed camping sites down the road that you can see the lake from but none offer electric or power so keep that in mind.  Also, some of the other dispersed areas are not able to accommodate larger rigs.  Be sure to scout all areas before driving in!

Another view of site #57
Length of stay in all New Mexico state parks is 14 days and as we are determined to take it slow this winter we did stay the whole 14 days in Blanco.

Verizon cell service offers 1 bar of LTE but it can go in and out without a booster.  TMobile was nonexistent.

All in all, Blanco and Willow Creek offer nice pull through and back in sites that are fairly large and private, good amenities and lots of outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing.  We will definitely be back!

Gorgeous pine trees!

It was wildflower season!

Beautiful sunsets!

Goodnight!
Boondocking!, Solar, Tiny Life, Travel

And We Are On The Road Again!

This has been a crazy year to say the least. Mark experienced some really bad health issues this year which put a brake on our travels. His health issues were getting so bad we even sold our little off grid cabin. 😢

Sold!! We will miss this adventure

Fortunately we were able to figure out what was causing all his symptoms (Lupus) and now we have a game plan with his doctor and are able to get the most severe of his issues under control.  Along with his major back surgery nearly 4 years ago, things have been really insane health wise. I’m glad that we now have a handle on it and know how to deal with it!

As Mark was feeling better we started to get the itch to travel again. Our friends Doug and Denise have a cute 1978 Avion and we fell in love with it when we visited them.

Doug, Denise, Zoey and “Ava” the Avion

We made it our mission to find one and that we did. We even got to surprise them this summer with it! And of course we were fortunate to have their help for about a month with the rehab of our rig.

Now that Armani the Avion is restored to his former (and better, imo) glory we have decided to hit the road again.

All set up at our first location on our latest journey

We will be hanging in the northern New Mexico area while we finish up some doctors visits and shake the bugs out of the rig.  Oh, and we got a couple new travel partners too!! Meet Ranger (blk/wht) and Scout (tabby). So far they have taken to RV life just fine and we anticipate many fun adventures with them!

RV life is tough on kitties! 😂

See you down the road!

Adios!
General info, Remodel, Tiny Life, Uncategorized

Avion After Photos

Finally!! After nearly 3 months of working full time on Armani the Avion we are pleased to say he is ready to be a full time RV!

Not to say that everything is finished. As we all know with RV’s of any age the work never stops. We did complete the solar project as well (more on that later). And we still have to buff and polish his satiny aluminum! But now we are ready to get back on the road after our nearly 8 month hiatus! Wow! I can’t believe it’s been that long.

But without further ado I present the completed interior of our Avion. Click on each picture to see a full size version. Go HERE to see the before photos! Enjoy!

New awning installed!
New and improved lounge area!
Another view of the lounge
Love the “L” shape!
The dining area set up
New fridge (electric), new hardware on screen door and a compass rose decal!
Compass Rose decal up close!
Looking towards the lounge and kitchen area
Loving the NEW kitchen! It’s amazing what paint can do!
More kitchen
Another view
With the kitchen cart and “bar” added – the Berkey is a must!
Up close detail of my faux finished counters! They turned out great!
The new flip up desk! Replaced the old dresser that stuck out too far
Desk engaged
Another view of desk
Desk engaged – see the storage underneath?
Bedroom completed! Sweet dreams on our 10″ memory foam mattress
Looking the other way. We installed our 12 volt TV on the cabinet for easy viewing.
The rear bath. So large and luxurious now. We carried our 100% cork flooring throughout the whole rig.
Large porcelain sink. Kitty approved!
New flush toilet and the counters were faux finished in here as well.

And that’s it for now!  I hope you’ve enjoyed this virtual tour of all the updates we have done.  Now to hit the road!

1979 Avion 29J. What a fun restoration this was!

Cheers!

Shelly & Mark ~ Boondock or Bust!

 

Remodel

Faux Finish on the RV Countertops

The original countertops in the Avion were either a dark brown or a hideous yellow. I couldn’t stand them!  But I knew we couldn’t afford to replace them so I set out to find a product that I could use to faux finish them.

Hideous brown counter
Gross “harvest gold”

After all the research I ended up going with Giani countertop paint kit in White Diamond.


I was hoping the kit would be enough to do the kitchen and bathroom counters as well as the new desk, arm rest and shelf behind the lounge.

First I had to clean the counters well, tape everything off and then apply the primer:

They already look better!

Then there are three sets of minerals that you dob on with a textured sponge. In this case it was a Pearl Mica, Inca Gold and a white limestone.   First coat went well though it wasn’t quite the look I wanted.  I didn’t care for the Inca Gold.

Hmmmm… not bright enough!

I had envisioned a brighter look. Fortunately I had enough minerals to go over it again. And that gave me the look I wanted!

Much better!!

After you get the look you want with applying the minerals you apply the epoxy clear coat over it. I had enough to do 2 coats of epoxy but would loved to have do 3 coats.

All in all this was a fun project and by only spending $90 on Amazon for the kit I was really pleased how it turned out! I would certainly do it again!

Granite anyone? Sneak peek of the counters and cabinets!
General info, Remodel, Solar, Tiny Life, Travel, Uncategorized

Saving Money on a Renovation

As we are on the final leg of our Avion restoration I thought I would share some money saving ideas we used during the process. 

Let me preface this by saying, a full restoration is NOT cheap but it is possible to save some money on some things that would otherwise be expensive or time consuming. 

Here is our list!

  1. Paint: Probably the cheapest way to make a dark RV interior come to life for very little money. I estimate we spent around $275 in paint and supplies.  Of course, the hours I put into painting were crazy but it was worth it IMO. It makes everything so clean and bright!
    Cabinets – before and after
  2. Reusing old hardware:  I admit I wanted new hardware but when I added up all the cabinet doors and drawers I quickly realized the cost was more than we were willing to spend. So for a $4 can of spray paint I saved us over $200! 
    Hardware – before and after
  3. DIY:  This is definitely the big one!  Being handy will save you BIG BUCKS!  Even if you don’t know how to do something, I can guarantee that there is a YouTube video showing you how to do it. If you can follow instructions then you can do it! Also, having friends who are willing to lend their expertise helps too. While we could have built our lounge area ourselves, our friend Doug is a master carpenter and he made it much better than we could have. Knowing your strengths is key! But don’t be afraid of researching how to fix something. Sometimes it is easier than you think!
    The Lounge – even though our friend Doug built it, I did the cushions myself!
  4. Modify:  for example, we had to replace our awning fabric. Since our Avion has curved sides there is a curved arm bracket for the hardware. It’s the original Zip Dee awning hardware. We called Zip Dee and got a quote – $1300 just for the fabric! 😳. So we looked around and found awning fabric on Amazon for $200. We modified the awning fabric on our original hardware and made it work. Now we have an awning for very little money! Think outside the box!! 
    Using rivets to attach a modern awning fabric to a vintage awning hardware
  5. Consider all electric:  the fridge in our RV was no good. We had no choice but to replace it. Again we wanted to save money and by going with an Energy Star all electric fridge we saved almost $1000! Money that will be applied to our solar that will easily run this fridge while boondocking. And if you don’t boondock then an all electric fridge is a simple choice! Also, we have the added benefit of having more fridge space as the electric models don’t have all the gear on the back that the propane fridge does. And it fit in the same cabinet! Amazon for the win again! 
    New “stainless” electric fridge!
  6. Consider whether it’s a “need” or a “want”:  Sometimes the best way to save money is just to not buy something! I know, what a crazy concept, right? But sometimes there are things you can just live without. For example, I really wanted a Precision Temp hot water heater when it was apparent we had to replace ours. But again, it was a $1000+ so we said no to that dream and went with a $380 6 gallon propane one instead. 
    New 6 gallon water heater
  7. I wanted to get new countertops but again, the cost was more than we could bear. So the next best option was to redo existing countertops with an epoxy makeover! I was skeptical at first that they could make our countertops look decent again but I figured for $90 it was cheaper than the alternative. And you know what? They turned out really well! The one kit had enough to be able to do the kitchen, bathroom, desk and shelf behind the lounge! Definitely a money saving win!  And the kit can be used on almost any surface. 
    New “granite” countertops!
  8. Electrical and propane:  sometimes these systems seem daunting but with a little research the problems can be easily solved. Get yourself a test light and learn how to check for blown fuses. The 12 volt system is a pretty basic system and is easy to learn. Now be careful with the 110 system! Unless you know what you’re doing we recommend an electrician. Propane is also fairly simple and with a little working knowledge you can easily repair minor leaks or install a new changeover regulator! Just be careful to follow all safety procedures. If you don’t know what those are then seek a professional. 
  9. Don’t be afraid of hard work! Putting the effort into your remodel yourself will save you a ton of money. Granted, it might take you longer than a professional but you’ll have the satisfaction of having accomplished all this yourself. It’s a great feeling! Obviously, know your limits (especially with electrical or propane) but don’t be afraid of getting dirty! ☺️

In conclusion, our remodel of this vintage rig has been expensive due to having to replace some of the main components but the fact that we were able to do these things ourselves made the cost more bearable. If we had taken this rig to Camping World or some other RV repair place the cost would have been sky high!

And while we are nearly done with all the major stuff we know that down the line we will need to do more repairs. After all, Armani is nearly 40 years old!  ☺️ But we also know if something comes up we have the skill and moxi to be able to fix whatever is necessary.  And it’s a lot cheaper than repairing something in a sticks and bricks!

That leads me to one other thing especially if you are hitting the road for the first time. This life is not magically perfect! The same issues you had in your home WILL happen in an RV. How you deal with those issues is the biggie. The key is having fun and being able to enjoy this beautiful country in the process of tackling these issues. That’s what it’s all about! 

Cheers!!

Shelly & Mark ~ Boondock or Bust