RV Podcast #203: Finding Great Places to Overnight with Harvest Hosts

Lots of us have had it with crowded campgrounds. And we resent having to pay $30 bucks and up for a simple overnight stay. But then, we’d like something a little better than a Walmart parking lot. Sure, there are alternatives.

But just for overnight, finding a dispersed camping spot in a state or national forest is often too much of a hassle. Well, we have a much better alternative: Harvest Hosts, a unique membership service that lets you stay for free at hundreds of wineries, farms, breweries, museums, and other attractions across the country.

Coming up in our interview of the week, you’ll meet the new owner of Harvest Hosts and learn just why you should consider joining the service and what it offers you.

You can get 10% off the Harvest Host annual membership ($49) using the discount code: HHFriends

Plus your RV questions, RV tips and a wonderful off the beaten path report from the Burketts.

Click the player below to Listen Now or scroll down through the show note details. When you see a time code hyperlink, you can click it to jump directly to that segment of the podcast.

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Show Notes for Episode #203 August 1, 2018 of Roadtreking – The RV Podcast

WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK [spp-timestamp time=”2:15″]

MIKE

This episode is coming to you from our sticks and bricks home in Michigan where we just returned after about two months of travel that had us crisscrossing North America, traveling over 10,000 miles and visiting 14 different states and a Canadian province. Whew! No wonder we’re tired!

JENNIFER

But we won’t be here very long. We take off in a few days for a family vacation along the Lake Michigan shore. Naturally, it’s a camping vacation and we’ll be in our RV. Joining us will be two of our three children and four of our eight grandchildren. Son Jeff and his family will be in their 27-foot travel trailer and Wendy and her family will be tenting. We’ll be in our Class B Roadtrek campervan with Bo, our Norwegian Elkhound.

This is the cover of our “Ultimate Guide to RVing with a Dog” ebook. It's free to download at https://roadtreking.com/dogguide

MIKE

Bo’s a great camper. He loves the adventure of it and the togetherness. We love traveling with him. Speaking of which, we have put together a new ebook called The Ultimate Guide to RV Travel with a Dog. It’s filled with lots of tips, suggestions and information about RVing with your dog and its absolutely free. You can get an instant download of it by going to https://roadtreking.com/dogguide.

JENNIFER

Meanwhile, here’s the RV News you need to know about this week…

Extreme dry conditions trigger wildfires throughout western states

The devastating fIres out west really is THE story this week. Extremely dry conditions are contributing to fires throughout the western states… some on federal land and in or near national parks.   Wildfires were reported on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, but there are also wildfires burning at Yellowstone, Crater Lake and Sequoia national parks. A fire in northern California has claimed several lives, and fires are also burning in Oregon. For a summary of what is happening at the national parks click here. For more on the northern California wildfires click here or Oregon wildfires click here.

MIKE

Yosemite expected to open this Friday as firefighters work to protect ancient sequoia grove

Yosemite National Park is expected to remain closed until Friday, August 3 as officials work to contain the fire ravaging the forest just outside the park. The fire is on the edge of an ancient sequoia grove, with trees believed to be more than 1,000 years old, towering more than 200 feet in the air. The park has been closed since July 25 because of massive smoke infiltrating the park. When it opens this Friday all services – including campground and food related ones- are expected to be very limited. To learn more click here.

JENNIFER

RV wholesale shipments down for second month

RV wholesale shipments were down 11.4 percent from the previous year, according to a story out of Goshen, Indiana last week. The story was based on information released by the RV Industry Association's survey of manufacturers. It also found shipments were down last May from the previous year. The RV industry  reported a record year in 2017, with 504,600 units shipped to dealers. To read the story, click here.

MIKE

Admission to Colorado state parks free for veterans & active-duty military in August

Are you a veteran or currently serving in the military? If yes, you can visit all 41 of Colorado's state parks for free anytime in August. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is offering free state park admission throughout August with proof of service as a way of saying thank you for your service. To learn more, click here.

JENNIFER

New campground on island overlooking Manhattan, Statue of Liberty making headlines

We all keep hearing that camping is “cool” right now, so I can't say I'm completely surprised by a story I came across last week about camping in New York City. That's right, it is now possible to camp in the city that never sleeps. There is a 172-acre plot of land on Governor's Island, which sits overlooking the tip of Manhattan and Statute of Liberty now open for camping. But this type of camping might be hard for many of us to recognize. the campground is only reachable by ferry, luxurious tents are supplied, complete with full beds, plush towels, a personal chef …. The cost? $700 a night.

This part of the program is brought to you by AllStays Pro, the best tool for RVers looking for places to camp, boondock or stay free overnight. Go to https://roadtreking.com/allstays for more info.

 JENNIFER'S RV TIP OF THE WEEK [spp-timestamp time=”14:31″]

Have you ever been boondocking, trying to conserve water to stay out in the backcountry as long as possible, but your hair just feels – well – disgusting? Taking a Navy shower – that is a quick rinse and soap off – can be done pretty efficiently with minimal water. But when it comes to washing and conditioning your hair, especially for many of us women with full heads of thick hair, there is no way to get that shampoo and then conditioner out without using lots and lots of water.

Well, let me share with you a product I recently learned about called dry shampoo. It is designed to refresh your hair and prevent a greasy feeling between washes. Several companies make it, and it really does help

Here's how it works. It comes in a spray can.  Shake it thoroughly. Then hold it about 8-12 inches from the roots of your hair and spray. You will need to section off your hair, and spray it directly on those oily roots systematically all over your head. Then use the palm of your hand to rub any extra powder directly on to your roots, letting it absorb the oil, and watch that yucky feeling – and look – go away.

Many companies now make dry shampoos. You can find it at Walmart, drug stores, and even Amazon.  Suave's version sells for about $13 on Amazon.

Personally, the hardest thing about boondocking for me is the challenge of washing. I do not like how I feel when I go too long between shampoos and finding something that can make me feel better when out there is totally worth it

I will put links to the Suave product I mentioned in the show notes, in case it can also help you.

And be sure to send me your tips and suggestions for the RV lifestyle. You can use the “Leave Voicemail” link at Roadtreking.com. Just click it and then use the built-in microphone on your computer or mobile devise to record a message to me. You can do it over as many times as you want, until you are satisfied. And then you just click a button and it comes right to my email inbox.

I love hearing from you!

Jennifer's tip of the week is brought to you by RadPower Bikes , an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping

LISTENER RV QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK [spp-timestamp time=”19:18″]

Michelle has a very old campervan she just bought but needs a power solution for her various electronic gadgets.

One I suggest is the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station. It costs about $400 but it is a battery power supply that can power up to seven devices at once. It lets you charge phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, and most small devices. It is even enough backup power for small appliances, lights and so on. It is billed as an off-grid solution for places without power and has USB, AC, and 12V outputs. It is rechargeable and at home is completely charged after plugged in for 5 hours from a wall outlet with the included AC charger. You can pug it into your towing vehicles cigarette adapter and it will be completely charged in 13 hours with the available car charger. They even have solar panels you can buy that can top it off in about 8 hours.

A listener headed to Alaska next year wants to avoid the insects up there, where the mosquitos are so big they are the unofficial state bird. Since Mike was just interviewing an e entomologist for the Centers for Disease Control for something we’ll be reporting on next week, I put the question to here. Dr. Janet McAlister answers

Terry had a comment about a recent video story Jennifer did on cooking with the RV’s convection oven

And Gene says he now understands how the Alde hydronic heating system works in and RV after reading this story in on our RV Lifestyle blog.

Roseann asks about finding an owners manual for an old Roadtrek. Here’s the link for finding owner manuals on all Roadtrek models going back to the 1980s – http://www.roadtrek.com/support-contact/#section-manuals

This part of the podcast is sponsored by Steinbring Motorcoach, Roadtrek’s newest dealer and a third generation family business in Minnesota’s beautiful Chain of Lakes region built on quality motorhomes and excellent pricing and service.

RV INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK [spp-timestamp time=”35:27″]

Our guest today is Joel Holland, the new owner of Harvest Hosts.

Harvest Hosts is a network of wineries, farms, and attractions that invite self-contained RVers to visit and stay overnight.

Membership costs $49 a year but, as you’ll hear later in the interview, there’s a special discount to our RV Lifestyle community that will save you 10%. Use the discount code: HHFriends to save 10%. 

Here’s a video version of the Interview:

 

Here’s a full transcript of the interview:

Mike Wendland:         Well, Joel Holland joins us right now from his home in Vail, Colorado. Wow, Joel, Hi. If I had a place in Vail, Colorado I don't know if I'd be an RVer. You've got the best of both worlds up there.

Joel Holland:               Well, thank you. So, my wife and I moved here two years ago from Washington DC. We kind of just hit this breaking point. We were tired of the congestion and the traffic. We'd always wanted to live in the mountains and we did it. We jumped in the RV and drove across country. I'll say, actually, as an RV-er, Colorado's a great jumping off point because we're able to … We were in Moab last weekend and that's only about three and a half hours away. So, it's nice and central.

Mike Wendland:         You truly are in the central part of the country. I wanna do, if not next year, I wanna do a circle tour of Colorado. Maybe we can get involved with you guys there and stay in some of those great places that are part of Harvest Host.

Let's about that. Our regular listeners and viewers that one of my key grips about the whole RV lifestyle is the bill of good that we're sold on one hand by the industry, that you can find these great wonderful campgrounds in these idyllic settings. There are some out there, but for most of them, most who get out there, it's commercial campground clutter, I call it. Almost like [inaudible 00:01:30]. They're old campgrounds.

The industry can't keep up with the demand and so we've turned a lot to boondocking. We love the wilderness, but there is a whole nother area, which arguably, may be the best way to stay and that's where Harvest Host comes in. For those who are watching this and listening and are not familiar with Harvest Host, give us a minute to summary of how it came to be and where it is right now.

Joel Holland:               Perfect. So, I'm with you. My wife and I, we love RV-ing because we feel this sense of freedom, unbridled freedom when we're driving down the road. That illusion of freedom is crushed when we reach many of these campgrounds where at best, they're just all the same and you're 10 feet away from your neighbor.

Harvest Hosts is a huge camping experience. We have over 600 hosts in the program: farms, wineries, breweries, distilleries, a lot of unique locations like lavender farms, alpaca farms. The idea is you pay $49 a year to Harvest Hosts and you can then stay at any of these hosts for free. As a good guest, we hope that you give back a little, buy some local wines, buy … When I went to an alpaca farm recently I bought really nice alpaca scarf for my wife. It was still less than staying at a traditional campground and the experience was phenomenal. I stayed on a 1,000 acre farm and I parked my RV looking over this endless Kansas farm vista. It was wonderful. It was that freedom I was looking for.

Mike Wendland:         Now, $49 to join and that's for a year's membership. By the way, we'll mention at the end of this interview, a way our viewers, our listeners can get a discount off of that and get a part of it. So, you go to the website or an app, and how do they find these places as they travel around the country?

Joel Holland:               Yeah, there's a couple ways you can search. If you use the website you can either search by state, you can search by host's name, you can search by type, or you can actually put your route in. I like to use a route planner. I'll say, “Starting in Vail, Colorado. Ending in Charlottesville, Virginia,” and in that case it'll route you probably down 70 and show you all the different hosts that are very close to your route. That's how I found most of the locations I've stayed.

Mike Wendland:         When you find a host, you don't just pull in. You should give 'em a call, right, and tell 'em that you're coming and make sure they're open or they leave the gate open for you. Where, typically, do people stay? Are there any services or perk ups at those places?

Joel Holland:               Yes, great question. Like you mentioned, on our website or on the app, we give contact information for the host. Typically it's a phone number. You call and say, “Hi, I'm with Harvest Hosts. I'd like to visit you tomorrow and stay with you for the night. Do you have availability?” It's almost all dry camping. So, it's almost entirely boon docking. Some hosts do offer hookups, but that is not … I'd say those are the exceptions. Typically, you're coming in. Make sure you have a fully self contained vehicle, bathrooms, water.

The locations all vary. I've stayed now at a number of vineyards. A lot of times they try to … either you're staying in the parking lot or somewhere pretty scenic right near the vines. On the farms, really there's … a lot of times you show up and they say, “Here's the property. Park either in this location or this location,” but you have a lot of flexibility.

Mike Wendland:         Looking at some of the photos and some of the places that are offered, they're just stunning, beautiful places, and in great areas. How can we go wrong with an alpaca farm? I noticed some of the other places looking at the list, the Mount Washington Cog Railroad, the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor's Center in the largest rail yard. That is pretty cool, in the Midwest there. The Gulf Coast Gator Ranch, those are just some of the examples, and of course, you mentioned the lavender farm, which is called Purple Haze, by the way, which is a great name.

I stayed at a winery once as we were coming up from the south. I think what I'm gonna do is, our next big road trip is in about two weeks. We're heading from roughly Michigan down to the Florida, Mississippi, Alabama coast, and I'll plug it in and we'll actually show folks what these are like as we go along.

Joel Holland:               Wonderful.

Mike Wendland:         Now, there are no hookups. Many of our people travel with pets. So, what's you're advice to them with pets, 'cause farms have dogs also running around. What's the advice on pets?

Joel Holland:               Yes. When you actually pull up the host page, either on the website or on the app, we'll show you whether they're pet friendly. That's actually one of the sections 'cause we know that RV-ers, myself included, travel with pets. Some farms are perfectly fine with pets, some are not, but they always tell you on their page whether they are or are not.

Mike Wendland:         Just be smart, check up, and if they don't bring pets, we don't have to tell people clean up after 'em. RV-ers know that.

Joel Holland:               Yes.

Mike Wendland:         That's great. The only cost when you're there is do some shopping. You're in a winery, sample the wine. If you're at a farm, maybe pick up some produce. It sounds like … how would you describe [inaudible 00:07:08]? It's boon docking or dry camping, but it's on a higher level than being in the wilderness. Give us a sense of image [inaudible 00:07:16] places. We've talked about some others. What's it like out there, Harvest Hosts site?

Joel Holland:               Yeah. So, to me, you kind of mentioned it. There's three categories. You have your traditional campground and sometimes that's great. You just need a hookup, turn on the air conditioner, and sit back. Those serve a purpose and they're everywhere.

You've got true boon docking out in the wilderness or in some of the parks. Those are also quite nice, very remote, but sometimes you want a little bit of culture. That's, I think, where Harvest Hosts comes in. I think we provide access to the hidden gems of America. I went to a vineyard two weeks ago in Kansas. I never though about Kansas as a state for growing wine. I've always driven through it on 70, not thought much about it, and here I was meeting these wonderful hosts that took me on a full tour of the property. The wine maker actually showed me how he makes the wine, and they make really unique fruit wines. I tried a plum wine that was really good and he walked me through the whole process. At the end of the day, I felt like I made two new friends, learned something, and had a very, very enjoyable stay.

Mike Wendland:         Are you often alone? Are you usually often the only RV-er or are there just a couple others there or do these get pretty crowded at times?

Joel Holland:               No. Let's see, I've stayed this year at about five of them, and only one time was there another RV. That was a pretty popular vineyard in Tennessee. Typically, you have the place to yourself.

Mike Wendland:         No campground clutter.

Joel Holland:               Zero. I mean, zero. There's something nice about showing up at the end of the day and feeling space and quiet. Again, it just keeps that whole concept of freedom, and I love that.

Mike Wendland:         Now Joel, you've recently bought Harvest Hosts after the founders have kind of retired. We had them on the program about a year ago. What can we join this thing, what can we look forward to as Joel Holland takes over?

Joel Holland:               Yeah, it's funny. I used the program. I fell in love with the program, and I then reached out to Don and Kim Green who were running it. I said, “Look, I genuinely love what you've built. I would be honored if you would sell it to me. I wanna be a good steward of the program. I want to grow the program responsibly.” We got to know each other over a few months, and actually just recently, finished the transaction in May.

They did so many things correctly, that there's not a ton for me to do. I will say we're going to focus on improving the technology. The last company I started was a technology company. We're going to rebuild the website, rebuild the app, and make it a lot easier for members to find hosts, and then actually stay with them. We're gonna add a lot of new hosts to the program. So, I'm excited about … just the other day I added a distillery here in Colorado, and I think there are thousands of cool places around this country that should be in the program.

Mike Wendland:         Yeah, it's great for the hosts and of course for RV-ers. I'm just looking at your statistics. 621 Harvest Hosts in the program today. That's a lot. 291 wineries, 34 breweries and distilleries, 164 farms. You've got museums and attraction, 86 of those, and 3 restaurants, of all things. You can really plan a trip and not have to go through that commercial campground clutter or have to be struggling with reservations.

Well, Joel Holland, I think this is a great program. We're gonna talk about it in the future on our podcast. Let's talk now, for those who are following us either on the podcast or through YouTube, how they can get in a little cheaper than that $49.

Joel Holland:               Yeah. We're very big fans of what you've done with RV lifestyle, and we would love to offer your listeners, your readers, a 10% discount on the program. So, when you're signing up on our website, just enter the coupon code RVLIFESTYLE, all together, all caps. It probably doesn't matter, but RVLIFESTYLE, one word, and that should knock $5 off your membership.

Mike Wendland:         Okay, and the website again? The address is?

Joel Holland:               Is harvesthosts.com.

Mike Wendland:         Pretty easy. Harvesthosts.com. I gotta do one more thing. I need to put up a picture of your RV. Tell the audience what the Holland's are driving around with.

Joel Holland:               We drive around in a Reflection by Grand Design. It's 33 foot, fifth wheel, and we just recently had the entire thing wrapped head to toe in Harvest Hosts branding. That's actually been a lot of fun as we drive down the highway and pull into campgrounds or gas stations. We get a lot of questions about it, but we're very proud of the program. So, I'm excited to wear it as a badge of honor.

Mike Wendland:         I've actually thought about doing a wrap on our RV as well, promting RV Lifestyle on YouTube and all that

Joel Holland:               No, you really should. I think that would be a good look for you.

Mike Wendland:         It can be kind of fun, too. I don't know if Jennifer would go for that. Well Joel, we'll see you out there on the road. We'll be talking a lot about you guys going forward and in a couple weeks I'm going to follow one of the routes I'm doing, and we'll get people the sense of what it's like out there. I think the encouraging thing is that you don't have to stay in a campground ghetto. You don't have to be … now, there's some great campgrounds and the industry is trying to build new ones. Don't get me wrong there, folks, but the fact of the matter is most campgrounds are over filled, over booked, and many, many of them need a lot of repair. That's not the case as you'll find when you're out there enjoying the beauty that Harvest Hosts offers at many of its member sites.

Joel Holland, thanks so much for being on the program and being our interview of the week.

Joel Holland:               Thank you, Mike. I appreciate it.

The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new or used Roadtrek motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country

TRAVELING RV TECH TIP [spp-timestamp time=”51:46″]

By Andy Choi
Verizon Wireless

We are still thinking back to school. And we’ve got some great apps for kids to get a jump start before the school year. These are apps you can easily find in the Google Play or Apple app store.

First there’s the Easybib app: It’s never been easier to include citations in your schoolwork! Simply scan the barcodes of the books you are referencing or drop in the URL of the website and Easybib does the rest!

Look up Free Graphing Calculator: on your smartphone, and that’s what you’ll get! Graph up to four equations at once, quickly reference constants like the speed of light, gravity, etc., and have instant access to the quadratic equation.

Let’s stay on the subject of math with Mathway: If you’ve ever run into a math problem you just couldn’t figure out, then this app is for you. Just enter in the equation and choose solve. Rather than simply give you an answer like a calculator, Mathway even shows you the steps along the way. ‘Cause you know it’s all about showing your work!

And lastly, the Office Lens app: Not every professor makes their slides available for download. No worries. Just fire up this app and point it at the screen. No matter if you’re sitting straight on or at an extreme angle, it’ll make sure you capture slides and whiteboards for easy viewing later. And if you prefer to annotate, you can do that as well!

In the meantime, enjoy those last few weeks of summer.

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Verizon, which operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 112 million retail connections nationwide.

OFF THE BEATEN RV PATH REPORT  [spp-timestamp time=”1:03:42″] 

By Tom & Patti Burkett

Patti and Tom Burkett

If you're someone who enjoys boondocking, you're sure to have discovered the treasures to be found in the US National Forests. Some of these tracts are huge, and most of them include at least some variety of campsites.

The Wayne National Forest, in our home state of Ohio, is small compared to some of the western lands. Nevertheless, it offers several options. Some National Forest campgrounds are developed, with running water and even a showerhouse here and there. Mostly, though, they're primitive, with simple sites that include a picnic table and a nearby vault toilet.

Lane Farm Campground near Marietta, Ohio is one of these. Four tree-shaded sites with picnic tables and fire rings, a ten minute drive from the first city settled on the Ohio River. Even better, the Hidden Hills Orchard is just three miles down the road, offering fresh fruit throughout the camping season.
National Forests encompass some of the most dramatic and unspoiled scenery on the continent, and even though they're managed for resource production (among other things), the vistas to be seen while traveling through them are often spectacular.

For many years, we've relied on a set of books to help us include these out of the way gems on our travels. National Forest Scenic Byways has been extended into several volumes since it first came out in 1990, and now there are even detailed guides to some of the longer drives.  There's also a website that offers an interactive map.
But let's get back to camping. One of our favorite spots is just west of the Continental Divide on the edge of Colorado's South Park. Jefferson Lake is a stunning and pristine alpine lake nestled at about 11,000 feet in the Pike National Forest. There are a couple of Forest Service Campgrounds nearby, but we've not seen a sign prohibiting overnight stays in the picnic area that overlooks the lake itself.

Flipping pancakes on a Coleman stove under the watchful eyes of the scrub jays and the chipmunks, while looking over the lake, makes for an unforgettable morning. Our last visit even include sighting a moose.
We really like the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway through the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina, which passes by Sliding Rock and the Forest History Center. Just recently we traveled the King's Hill Scenic Byway in Montana, and there were small streamside campgrounds every few miles.

Another favorite is the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, a loop that includes Taos, NM and some of the nearby ski areas in the Santa Fe National Forest. Part of the old Taos Trail runs through it, so it has interesting history as well as mountain views.
Don't forget that many of the busiest National Parks adjoin National Forests that have nice campgrounds. These are frequently less crowded and more available on short notice than the sites in the parks themselves.

Sites on the water often offer boat launches, good fishing spots, and immediate access to hiking trails. No matter what you're looking for, there's a good chance you'll find it in a National Forest.

And keep your eyes open for us, Patti and Tom Burkett, out there off the beaten scenic byway.

RV CALENDAR OF EVENTS [spp-timestamp time=”1:01:09″]

AUGUST
9-12
Midwest RV Super Show
RV/MH Hall of Fame Elkhart, IN
AUGUST
17-19
Hampton Roads RV Super Sale
Hampton Roads Convention Center Hampton, VA
SEPTEMBER
6-9
The Real RV Show – Sacramento
Cal Expo     Sacramento, CA

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