3 losses +1 argument + 1 muddy dog = 1st Harvest Host experience

Hi, Girlfriends.

Rolling again

June 1st, 2017.  It was exciting to be back on the road after our 3-month stay at the Voyager RV Resort (located in Tucson, AZ).  

I was behind the wheel for the first leg of our trip to Deming, N.M., and luckily the 208-mile drive was uneventful.   

St. Clair Winery was our destination and to be our first Harvest Host experience.  

(Harvest Hosts are a very cool program that allows RVers to stay free for one overnight at farms, museums, wineries, airports and other businesses.  We pay an annual fee of $35 for the benefit of staying in these unique settings.  Parking your RV without electric hook-up or sewer hook-up is referred to as “Boondocking” or “Dry Camping”. When you see RVers parked in Walmart for the night, you have witnessed Boondocking.)     

Back to my story

Tall skinny Cypress trees lined the road that led to the Winery, and I wondered if they had done that on purpose- because it felt like we were entering a French or Italian village.  We pulled into the large parking area and went inside to check in.  

By 2 pm we had eaten lunch AND completed our list of “What-to-do-when-you-arrive-at-a-new-place-in-your-RV.”  Yes, we have an arrival/departure checklist that we are anal about following.  

We sauntered back towards the building to enjoy a wine tasting.  (Correction, I was going to taste, John doesn’t drink alcohol.)  

 Hatch Green Chile’ wine?

Teri, an employee behind the counter, described the selections I sipped.  I chose 3 different wines to purchase, my favorite being a Hatch green chile-infused white.  (Yes! Deliciousness. You have to experience it to believe it.)    

We paid $120+ for the half case (so much for free camping, right?) and strolled outside to enjoy the fenced garden.  It may sound silly, but I kicked my sandals off to feel the grass.  As much as I enjoyed the desert beauty of Tucson, my feet had a new appreciation for the soft green stuff.  

 Unexpected loss #1

Around 5 pm, we were on our way to a recommended restaurant, The Adobe Deli, when my sister Julie called on the phone.  

She had bad news to share.  My favorite Uncle had died.  

I couldn’t believe it.  The prior week Uncle Ed and I spoke on the phone.  And now he was gone?

I was in shock.  

Luckily, we were still in the car and had not entered The Adobe Deli.  (It would have been a wasted experience.)  John and I left the parking lot and chose to grab bags of comfort food from Taco Bell.  I cried and cried over the loss of my beloved Uncle.

 Unexpected loss #2

The next morning, we were up at 6 am figuring to leave at 8 am to drive 300 miles to Santa Fe.

My personal barista (a.k.a John) brought coffee to me as I sat in my lawn chair on the gravel parking lot.  Together we stared at the horizon knowing the sun would pop up any moment, and talked about my Uncle.

About every third sentence, I would burst into tears and my nose turned snotty, so John goes back into the coach and comes out with a tissue for me- which only makes me cry harder because he is so kind and tender.

Luckily, we were the only overnight guests at the Winery, and I was free to howl and process my pain as loudly as I wanted.     

Locked In and LOSS OF TIME

After one hour, three cups of coffee and several kleenexes, we walked over to check the closed gate which would be our exit.

Unfortunately….we found the entrance/exit gate locked.  

Uh oh.  

The Winery didn’t open till 10 am and we wanted to leave by 8 am.  

Hmm…no problem…

Unleashed Penny and I, took a short-cut across the soft grass of the massive front yard heading towards the employee parking area and processing plant.   An old wire fence separated these two areas but I figured there HAD to be an opening somewhere that I could squeeze through.    

There it was!

I carefully climbed through (not snagging my scarf), leaving Penny to guard my barbed-wire re-entry spot.    

After about 15 minutes of searching, I found an employee who promised to unlock the main gate for us and headed back towards the yard where I left Penny.   

1 wet dog

As I approached my re-entry portal, I noticed the automatic sprinkler system spurting inside the yard.  

Uh-oh again.  

There was Penny, mud-splattered, and happily awaiting my return.  I successfully squeezed back inside the barbed fence avoiding the auto-sprinklers reach, torn clothing, or her muddy paws.  

I instructed Penny to run to the coach…

But nooooo…  

My dog detoured to harass a poor baby robin floundering under a tree.  I sprinted through the sprinkler-soaked sod/mud, to scold Penny, but instead, was horrified to witness several large robins squawking and dive-bombing my dog in their attempt to protect the young baby bird.    

Scenes from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” whizzed through my mind.  (And…my crazy brain already envisioned the trip to an emergency Vet for Penny’s pecked out eyeballs.)

Luckily we escaped without blood loss, and Penny and I headed to the coach for a quick outdoor bathing session.   

Emotions got the best of me…

Meanwhile, back at the coach, John is waiting for us.  

He, of course, is completely oblivious to the traumatic/frustrating 30 minutes I’ve endured. 

I quickly grab all the dog washing stuff together and proceed to spot wash Penny’s muddy paws with our shower nozzle located in one of our outside bays.  When I was done, John asked a logical/innocent question of why I didn’t wash Penny’s ENTIRE body but instead washed JUST her legs?

My emotional floodgate broke open.  I lashed out in high pitched estrogen style:  

(with SNARKY voice):

“Um-because-we-are-running-late-and-someone-had-to-find-the-gatekeeper-climb-through-barbed-wire-avoiding-snagging-cute-scarf-spurting-sprinkler-pecking-bird-trauma-quickly-wash-dog-paws-and-don’t-you-feel-sorry-for-me-cuz-my-favorite-Uncle-died .”

For added effect, I stormed off.    

2 minutes later, (when my senses reappeared amidst the estrogen storm) I ran to John to apologize.  Gracious as always, he laughed and stated “I forgive you” and tenderly pulled me into his arms.  

My snotty nose marked his shirt.   

Now, back to the story…

By now it’s 7:30 a.m.  No problem.  All we have to do is hook-up the jeep,  pull in the slides, and drive off…

Unless of course, we experience the unexpected loss #3.


It’s too complicated (boring) to go into the details, but let’s just say a routine hook-up of the jeep to the coach became an hour and a half of head scratching and erratic maneuvers.

And the reason?

I had DROPPED the frickin’ 10 amp fuse into the engine block and we could not retrieve it. (SEE HOW TINY IT IS?!)

Oh, and since the Jeep dealer supplied us with ONLY ONE FUSE, we had no other alternative but to drive without the system setup.

And THEN…when we did our brake light test, it seems we were void of a brake light or blinker on the left rear of the Jeep.

Ugh, deep sigh, and double grrrr…

What time frame?

Now it’s 9:00 a.m. Yes, we were 1 hour behind “schedule”…

Wait… Schedule?  What?  

What difference did it make? We faced no deadlines, there were no meetings we’d be late to.  

In fact, now we were free to rearrange our travel to join my family in St. Louis for my Uncle’s funeral.

We drove off, leaving all forgiven SNARKY COMMENTS in that parking lot.  

8 Life Lessons learned

17 hours earlier we had entered the St. Clair Winery gates.  Our first Harvest Host experience has memories that I never would have imagined!  Life is that way.  We never know what each day will bring, right?  Here’s what I learned in that very short amount of time.     

  • Feeling frustrated usually means a lesson is about to be taught to me.   
  • Being teachable is a choice.     
  • Apologizing for snarky remarks is always healthy.
  • Being forgiven for said snarky remark will help me be humble in the future.  
  • My Patience grade that day landed as a solid C+ (need more practice here for sure.)
  • My Communication abilities weighed in at  B+ (hopefully improving.)
  • My (our) Problem solving ranked a solid A. (Mainly because lack of that FRICKIN’ DROPPED FUSE left us with few alternatives!)
  • And most of all…Losing a favorite Uncle hurts. Because losing love hurts.

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