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Ways to Stay, Part 2

November 6, 2018

In my search for non-RV park places to stay, I found Harvest Hosts. This is a program where you pay them $49 for a year’s membership, and then you can stay for free at more than 600 wineries and farms across the USA.

They ask you to buy something from the winery or farm where you stay. So instead of spending $50 to $100 on a spot to park your RV for the night, you stay for free (usually without any hookups) and spend some money on foodstuffs or wine. Most places are limited to one night.

I have stayed twice so far. I was very excited about the first one, Tobin James Winery, because I had worked where we printed their labels. They were always a lot of fun to work with. I called the winery to make arrangements and the lady who answered the phone was informative and welcoming, but made sure to mention the part about making a purchase. I get it – they’re running a business.

The way the stay was in my head was a little different than it worked out. I imagined us chatting and catching up about the wine business. I imagined parking next to the autumn-colored vines.

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But when I showed up, it was 5 pm on a Friday – prime time for pre-weekend wine tasting. The place was jammed, just wall-to-wall people talking at the top of their voices, and I had no chance to chat with anyone because I freaked out about the crowd. I just quickly picked up 2 bottles of wine, paid for them, and went out to my spot…a large, desolate parking lot about 200 yards from the tasting room with one other RV. Nothing scenic about it.

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It did have the benefit of being very quiet and dark since it was so far out in the countryside and well off the road. I got up early, just after sunrise, and hit the road for points north. A gorgeous drive up Interstate 5, the hills glowing gold and the miles of fruit and nut trees left me feeling blessed and thankful.

The next night was much more charming. La Bella Vito farm is run by Holly DeVito and her family. They have 2 great dogs, fainting goats, pigs, dozens of chickens, bees, and a curious emu. (See previous post for some of their animals).

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I had brought my nephew and his daughter by – they live nearby –  so they could see the fainting goats, too.

Holly stood outside and talked for as long as she could before she had to go to an event. I learned about her animals and kids. I bought some eggs, elderberry syrup and homemade vanilla from her. I parked by her house and slept well, until the roosters started crowing about 3 am, when I put in earplugs and went back to sleep.

Harvest Hosts is great, but I would Google Street View the place and see if you’ll be parking in a desolate parking lot or next to a pen full of cute goats. In any case, I got some great wine, met some nice people, and stayed two nights basically for free. All good.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 7, 2018 08:57

    I like the overall concept; it definitely opens it up for adventure and gives you more options. Good tip using Google Street View to check it out ahead of time.

    • November 9, 2018 05:57

      The only thing is that I need a lot of electricity to stay in business, and Harvest Hosts doesn’t usually let you plug in. I bought a big battery so I can charge my laptop, wifi device and phones.

  2. Carolyn Stephens permalink
    November 7, 2018 10:09

    I am loving your new adventures. I hope you are, too.

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