We just love this nomadic live style. Our path determined by weather and curiosity. So we were feeling a little blue as we sat there in Ute Lake State Park in eastern New Mexico. We had to head east to deal with some issues, mainly our now vacant house. It will be good to see family and friends but the wanderlust we both feel is strong.
We gave some thought to spending more time in New Mexico and getting the maximum use from our annual New Mexico State Pass and then drive hundreds of miles a day to get home in a week or less. Dealing with our Interstate system for that many hours each day, while pulling Shiny, made us both cringe. So we decided to spend a month and explore our way home using our, as yet unused, Harvest Host membership.
This is a map of our planned overnights going east after we left New Mexico. Eighteen stops, all but five are Harvest Host. A Harvest Host membership allows you to access an online list of farms, museums, and wineries that are RV friendly.
Our first stop was one of the five non Harvest Host locations. Lake McClellan Campground is in Alanreed, Texas. This was the second time we stopped at Lake McClellan, the first being 41 years ago in 1978!! We were disappointed and delighted at the same time.
Disappointed because the lake was a lake in name only. Almost bone dry. We couldn’t go for a swim like we did 41 years ago. We were delighted because we had the campground pretty much to ourselves and there were lots of birds. In what little water was left the fish were floundering and the herons gluttonous.
Then off to our first Harvest Host location, Stafford Air & Space Museum in Weatherford, Oklahoma. Stafford was named after Weatherford native
Lt. General Thomas P. Stafford, the legendary test pilot and astronaut.
So, at Harvest Host locations you stay for free somewhere on the property, in this case the back parking lot. You are expected to purchase something, in this case a ticket to enter the museum. The museum was splendid and well worth the price of admission even without the free overnight.
Then on to our second Harvest Host location, Skeletons: Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. A fascinating museum. This museum was featured on Mike Rowe’s TV show, Dirty Jobs. Well, the skeletons have to be cleaned by someone!
The picnic area we had all to ourselves. We spent the afternoon perusing the delicate architecture of hundreds of animals. Skeleton heaven!
Next, we pulled into the second of our non Harvest Host locations, Devil’s Den State Park, just south of Fayetteville, Arkansas. While checking in at the visitors center the clerk asked me if I wanted the 25% senior citizens discount. I said yes but I wanted to say does a one legged duck swim in circles? We found out that it was Senior Citizens week and Susie had a great time at ‘camp’. She went on a wild flower identification hike and took a class on how to make hemp sandals. The sandals are designed like the 5,000 year old ones found in nearby rock shelters!
We loved this little corner of Arkansas, the hills reminded us of New Hampshire. We added Arkansas to our mental list of future places to explore.
After our short stay in Arkansas we drove north into Missouri for our 3rd Harvest Host stop. This one was a little different then the first two as it is a farm. A berry, fruit, and mushroom farm to be exact. Persimmon Hill Farm in Lampe, Missouri. They also had a small “Fork to Table” restaurant. We perused the small store and stocked up on home made jams and some crushed dried shiitake mushroom for seasoning.
One of the workers greeted us and gave us instructions on where to park and answered our questions. Ernie Bohner, the owner, made his way over and made sure we were happy and comfortable, then his son came over, then the grand kids. All making sure we had everything we needed and, it seemed, curious about us ‘Yankees’. I hope we left them with a good impression.
The hustling workers canning last years berries and gearing up for the next season, reminded us of just how much work it takes to run a farm.
Our next stop on the Harvest Host tour was probably one we would not have been interested in if not for the free parking. Which reminded us you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. The Vacuum Cleaner Museum in St James, Missouri was actually pretty darn interesting.
One of the most important things we learned is that Vacuum Cleaners started using headlights because early on you plugged it in buy unscrewing a light bulb. Then you screwed the vacuum cleaner cord into the empty socket. Now since you’ve removed the light bulb you have no light, hence the headlight. Fascinating, don’t you think?
After a 140 mile drive east through the green, rolling, back country hills of Missouri we set up camp at our first Harvest Host winery, the Cave Winery in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. This place was pretty cool, pun intended. Under the tasting and event room is a large open faced cave with tables and chairs set up.
We were told by the owners daughter that on any hot summer day the cave stays about 70 degrees and is packed with people. Since you have to buy something from the store before you can enter the cave, I can imagine they do a brisk business. Yes, another pun, I can’t help myself.
Beer is made and sold here under the SIL name, which is an abbreviation for Son-In-Law. Some of their beers are aged in used wooden wine barrels. Pretty clever all around I thought.
So far, so good with our return trip. We have to be careful not to spend too much at each place, which is easy to do. We are in the middle of nine days without amenities (no electricity or water hookups and no place to dump our tanks) so we might be a little stinky with our super fast showers. No guts, no glory!
Harvest Host Part Two to follow.