RVing Solo Across America’s Wineries
Two-and-a-half years ago I was hit by a truck while riding my bicycle. I survived with only a small amount of nerve damage to my arm where the trucks wheels ran over my arm. How he missed my head, lying only two inches away is for one spiritual practice to say. For me, I got the message to, go and do now.
This past summer I decided I wanted to hit the road in my RV. My criteria was to take six weeks, go to Natchez Trace Parkway and come back home via the Florida panhandle. So this trip was going to be planned in a serendipitous manner—ah the luxury of time and carrying your house with you, like a turtle. Except that I have indoor plumbing and a kitchen. Still, many things came up to delay my departure.
Finally in September, I was ready to go one day after my birthday on September 11. I thought I might be able to see the trees’ leaves turning color along the way.
I learned that for $40 a year, I could park my RV and stay overnight at their facilities for free.
Fortunately for me, a single lady who is a full-time RVer, who I recently met on a list-serve called rvsingles, came traveling through my town of St Augustine, Florida just before I was leaving. She graciously gave me hints and encouragement for being solo on the road. One recommendation was to join Harvest Hosts.
Well, being a chef and a dietitian, my eyes lit up with the possibility of visiting wineries and farms that are the major participants of Harvest Hosts. I learned that for $40 a year, I could park my RV and stay overnight at their facilities for free. Having lived in Northern California, I knew the beauty of wineries and always wanted to “live” on them for awhile. Here was my opportunity.
I left St. Augustine, heading for the central part of the US, first stopping in Atlanta to see family and friends. Then I headed toward Nashville to go to my first winery in Baxter, Tennessee. The beauty of this winery and all others is expansive. To have your vision focus on rows of grapes is relaxing to the soul, especially if you enjoy the juice of the grape. They locked the gate at night so I was safe to roam the vineyards alone with the moonlight lighting up the grapes that were plump and waiting to be picked for this year’s harvest.
The most pleasant of all was the personal connections I got while staying at the farms and wineries; it felt like I was a welcome house guest.
I continued on to Kentucky where I met up with a woman who put her notice out that she was looking for travel partners. She and I sat with maps, so we could figure out a route for me. We outlined a plan that would take me through Missouri, Southern Indiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and back to Florida. This would take me through the Ozarks. I envisioned music and crafts. Then I coordinated my travel using maps to Harvest Host’s wineries and farms.
I parked at beautiful state parks, national recreation sites with lakes to kayak, as well as RV parks. I stopped in Branson, Missouri to hear an acapela group, stopped at a local crafts museums and hiked in the mountains and through paths that locals as well as Native Americans had roamed. The most pleasant of all was the personal connections I got while staying at the farms and wineries; it felt like I was a welcome house guest.
Besides the personal attention, I was able to do wine tastings, pick vegetables in the fields, or purchase them. At one farm I woke up early and fed the animals. At one winery, Chandler Hill, outside of St. Louis, they asked if I wanted to help pick grapes the next morning. I gladly said yes! We picked grapes that were treated with a natural pesticide that was so new they were testing it to see if the yield of the grape harvest was also increased. It was! The company has since sent me samples to pass out on my next adventure. Every day was filled with such joy.
Because I was traveling alone, people seemed to reach out and help and offer their time and companionship with so much warmth and pleasantness.
When I went to the welcome center upon entering Kentucky, I was told there was going to be a Bourbon festival in Bardstown. So I thought about it for one minute and said, “Yes, I want to go.” I called the Chamber of Commerce and asked them where I could park my RV. I was given great directions and parked in a neighborhood on the street. It was fun eating bourbon popcorn, cakes, nuts and even drinking it while seeing how it was made. This is the beauty of making decisions on your own….you grab onto whatever comes your way.
I felt safe everywhere and being a single woman traveling alone gave me opportunities to meet people, be invited into their homes and receive praise and support for making this journey, especially from other women.
Each place offered something fun to see and do. Because I was traveling alone, people seemed to reach out and help and offer their time and companionship with so much warmth and pleasantness.
This week I am headed to glacier National Park–a bit of a more ambitious drive.