Birding along coastal waters, whether the Gulf of Mexico or the Great Lakes, such as Lake Erie, necessitates taking time to view birds, edit photos, record observation details in eBird, and drive from location to location. My days are 24/7 outdoors with at least 6 hours of observing birds in the different locations per day. So why pay more money for a campground to only sleep 9 hours and leave? As a result, I searched for Harvest Host locations, specifically wineries and breweries. What a wonderful way to end a day with a glass of wine or mug of beer, talk with other people at the establishment and all at a lower price than an established campground!
Refresher: what is Harvest Host? If you have a self-contained recreational vehicle and need no hook-ups (electrical, water, septic) for a night, there may be a business offering its parking lot or a farmer their field for you to stay the night. Travelers arrive when requested and leave the next morning also as requested. Basically you are not interrupting the Harvest Host’s flow of business. It is recommended you pay the host $20 for this opportunity. I have spent $60 at a cheese place and $80 for a full course dinner elsewhere … which I would have done anyway if I had stayed at a state park or other campground.
I chose many Harvest Host locations: 2 in Texas, 1 in Louisiana, 1 in Mississippi and 1 in Georgia for my southern stretch of this pre-planned travel.Then during my warbler-seeking period, I visited 2 in Ohio. Here is the scoop on each of them.
Haak Winery in Santa Fe, Texas: beautiful property and building. Large parking lot so many RVs could be at his site, yet I was the only one. Interesting wines on their wine tasting menu.
Frascone Winery in Anahuac, Texas: Wish the host was there the night I was since I was looking forward to a glass of wine and alligator egg rolls, but not happening this time. Small area so I cannot imagine too many RV being in it. Quiet night except for 2 neighborhood dogs barking at times.
Houmas House & Gardens in Darrow, Louisiana: Space provided for about six RVs. I loved the mansion tour and eating dinner at the Carriage House. Beautiful property with even a garden tour possible. A cafe was available for morning meal, but I walked on the levee across the road to see birds and barges on the river and left early.
Fort Bayou Brewing Company in Ocean Springs, Mississippi: Parking lot had 4 other campers. Restaurant for meal and beer, but I ate prior to arriving here so enjoyed a beer with 4 interesting guys at the bar. A quiet night, good sleep!
Coastal Empire Brewing Company in Savannah, GA A couple and a single guy were also staying the night here, each with their fun stories. Our vehicles were on different sides of the establishment. Beer was tasty and I bought a 6-pack. Great night sleep…quiet!
I took a break from NYS visits to check out warbler migration in NW Ohio. Doing this period, I stayed one night at a Harvest Host: Debonné Winery in Madison, Ohio, then a couple of KOA nights in Perrysburg, OH, followed by a Harvest Host: Paper Moon Winery in Vermilion, OH and finally Silver Crest Cellars in Madison, Ohio. The wineries have beautiful properties and tasting rooms and serve lighter wines than California wines since their growing season is shorter here in the NE USA. Their parking lots were great for my overnights and quiet.
I discovered 4 Harvest Host locations night after night are probably my max. I truly want a shower, no matter how good wilderness wipes are to use. It is also nice every couple of weeks to have a hotel stay, unless lousy weather gets to me and then it may be sooner. Living 24/7 outdoors requires plenty of energy, along with greater flexibility when weather is rainy. Often I feel my days are short. At sunset I read in my van, walk the local area, return to the van and read, and soon after, I call it a night! When at a hotel I am often busy till 10pm. Interesting how we make use of time and place. It’s all good when I can remain flexible.
Great recommendation to see the sunset at Vermilion’s small beach:
I loved this red-light green light at Silver Crest Cellars ….