Our Harvest Host Experience and Making it to Michigan!

Before starting our life back on the road, we purchased the Harvest Host membership.

With the membership, we can camp at an assortment of breweries, wineries, farms, and other attractions for 24 hours.  Because you can stay for just a night, we decided to put it to the test as we made our way from Lexington, KY up into the west side of Michigan–

Note for Debbie from The Cove: Muskegon here we come!!!

As we navigate our new Harvest Host membership, here are the pros and cons we came up with so far:

Pros

  • It’s easy to make the reservations! On the website, everything is easily broken down for what to expect, where you’ll be parking, and other members’ reviews. There’s either an option to make an online request to stay or an email address provided to contact; both are PERFECT methods, especially if you’re like me and would sometimes just rather write with someone than talk on the phone.
  • There are almost 2500 unique locations across the US you never would have thought about camping in!
    So far, we have stayed at 3 locations and all 3 have been easy to park/get in and out of, we felt safe, and uhhhh hello they were super cool!

Cons

  • One Night intended stay…
    The membership allows you to stay one night at any location. The host must be the one to offer to extend your stay, you’re not supposed to ask.
  • No hook-ups 😦 I get nervous about how loud the generator is and if it’s ever disturbing other campers or the host, but so far no problems! With no electric, water, or sewer, we tend to be prepared with a charged RV battery and generator for extra umph if we need to run the AC or microwave and a full Coleman water jug. (TMI ALERT) As for sewer, we only use our toilet for liquids, so we use the bathroom like normal and dump the tank at the next dump station.

Neither of the cons are really major cons for us, but they are absolutely important details to note for how we travel and camp!

Let’s get to some stories and pictures, shall we?

Harvest Host Stop #1


Grissom Air Museum, Peru, Indiana


Located just over an hour North of Indianapolis, where the rain all started and hasn’t stopped since.
We got in early afternoon, just after the museum had closed and boy, we were sorry we missed it. As we pulled off the main road, we turned into a parking lot surrounded by a field full of planes…
Two other RVs were already in the parking lot, both with generators running, but neither loud enough to be a disturbance.
We spent the afternoon once again unpacking and reorganizing our things, attempting to reduce the number of items we move back and forth and have to put on the bed in between trips.
One thing was for sure…It. Was. Hot. Time to break out the generator. Devon was quickly able to figure it out and hook it up to a propane tank so we could enjoy the AC. Later that evening we decided to take the bikes for a spin and take a couple laps around the parking lot.

Don’t worry fellow sign readers, I got you.

The other people parked in the lot probably thought we were crazy for taking laps in such a small area, but I was tired of just sitting around!
We were parked in a safe enough location, but for our first Harvest Host experience, I preferred to stay with the RV and not leave site.
While we rode, we were treated to a beautiful sunset just before a big storm rolled in…
Again, me being the Nervous Nelly, I didn’t want to run the generator because

1. overnight with other people so close… I feel like it runs so loud, but I now wonder if that’s just because I haven’t heard anyone else’s up close…
but also

2. because of the storm… so that night, we opened the windows, went to bed a little hot, but peacefully to the sound of rain on the roof…
oh but also the clunk….clunk clunk clunk………..clunk clunk……. of the shade hitting the frame as the wind blew through.

Ahhhh, the sweet learning curve.

Harvest Host Stop #2
Team Combat, Hobart, Indiana
We woke up the next morning at the Air Museum like we have every morning… in disbelief that it’s as late as it is because it’s so dark and cozy inside!

Nonetheless, we were on the road by 9:30 to make our way to Indiana Dunes National Park.

But first, the Harvest Host!

Harvest Host #2 was Team Combat, an extreme, military grade laser tag place just 30 min south of the park. Now, as far as the “campsite” part of it goes… Here was us:

I know we look crooked, but I promise it was level

I looked at Google Earth and saw where we were parking… I knew it wasn’t something to go crazy for, but it looked safe and secure. It was right outside their facility and had signs hanging on the fence indicating there were spaces for 3 more campers.


We went back and forth about doing a session of the laser tag, but it was $20/person and the timing just didn’t work out.
Hindsight, I wish we had made the time work, but… gives us another reason to go back I suppose!

After we got parked, leveled, and a little unpacked, we headed out to Indiana Dunes National Park!

We did the Diana’s Dune hike first and then the Long Lake Trail.

You can see the Chicago skyline across the water if you squint real hard!

Okay so the first chunk of steps was up pretty high… but HONESTLY… we’ve had stairs kill us way worse!

Again, the stairs seemed intimidating, but for the most part they were going down for us, so it really was a beautiful hike!

Now… just beyond the dune the trail gets to the beach and you have to walk a little ways back along the beach to get back to the parking lot…

I’VE NEVER WANTED TO GET OFF A BEACH QUICKER.

I didn’t want to touch the water, I didn’t want to look at the water, I WANTED TO GET OFF THE BEACH.

Here’s why:

Be sure to pause at :03. We came from that direction. The only open areas are where the lifeguard has to get down to the beach, and right here at the bottom of the stairs.

We thought VA Beach could get busy! Difference is this is a fraction of the width…SO CONSEQUENTLY, every living breathing human being in Indiana that enjoys the sand, WAS AT THIS BEACH sitting on top of one another. This video really does not do it justice either when you have to HIKE PAST ALL OF THESE PEOPLE.. so while they’re all wild happy and free in their bathing suits, there’s us, in our sneakers and fully clothed lookin like dingledorfs walking up the beach!!!!!

What was even crazier to comprehend was the number of people still walking towards the beach as we walked away from it. I wish I had gotten a video from the water looking up at the beach. f

All of the little yellow flowers you can see are cacti!!! In Indiana, can you believe it!!

We didn’t take any pictures, but we did get to see my sorority big sister, Caitlin, and her family briefly that evening, just as another storm rolled in…It was so so nice to see them, especially in such an odd but beautiful place of the world.

Harvest Host Stop #3
Blendon Pines Alpaca Ranch, Hudsonville, Michigan


Last, but not least, we stayed at the Blendon Pines Alpaca Ranch. This was by far the best location we could have chosen! We made the short journey from the northwest corner of Indiana to the northwest corner of Michigan.
Unlike any of the others, this Harvest Host location was down several backroads before we finally arrived at a beautiful home on a hill with a surrounding alpaca ranch on several acres.

Blendon Pines Alpaca Ranch

Just to the left of the hill their house sat on, was a pile of firewood and firepit; the perfect amenity for our campsite for the night.
Along the driveway as we drove up and even beyond our campsite, we could see a LOT of alpacas and even a couple pigs!
Unsure of how to approach the situation, being that this was someone’s house, I figured my best bet was to just ring the doorbell and hope for the best.
Sure enough, I was greeted by Lyn and shown where we could park. It was Father’s Day, so we didn’t want to take too much of her time.

Once we got everything all unpacked and settled, we went to explore Grand Haven and Muskegon, further along the Michigan coastline. Grand Haven was a picturesque, quaint, coastal town. We took the road straight through the downtown, and kept driving, I’ll be honest. We would love to go back, don’t get me wrong, but we were looking for something… calmer.


Deb from The Cove, if you’re reading, here we go… this is it…I made it to Muskegon! I can honestly say I do not remember a single place of where you told me to go here but WE MADE IT and I thought of you the entire time!

We found Muskegon to have far less people, always a good contributor to our decisions.
We did find a couple good breweries along the same street so we gave Pigeon Hill and Unruly Brewing Companies a try.


The town was very quiet yet for the businesses that were open, all were busy. One fun thing too is this area is small social district with regulations put in place where you can even carry your drink on the street. We grabbed our beer from Unruly Brewing and walked around a bit for making our way back to the car.

We got back to camp early enough to enjoy a little bit of the cool Michigan weather before yet another storm rolled in.
Devon grabbed his fishing pole, and I grabbed my book and camera, and we headed back to the small pond on property. Devon ended up catching 4 largemouth bass!

Their heads were so incredibly soft…
Alpaca cam


As we headed back to our site, the rain drizzled here and there.

Not enough to keep us inside though, so we had a nice fire with dinner.


Lyn later approached us and asked if we wanted to take a walk around and meet some of her alpacas.

We got to meet (and love and pet and get spit on by) a handful of the 37 alpacas she had on property. Whether they be ones of her own, or ones of a friend, it was clear that she worked very hard to care for all of them.

Davinty, the alpaca

As part of the Harvest Host program, it is highly encouraged and suggested to make a purchase from the host. Unfortunately, timing didn’t work out for the first two, so we were unable to make purchases. At the alpaca ranch, I WANTED to make a purchase.
Lyn used the wool from her alpacas to make all sorts of things– socks, large rugs, table runners, hats… but our favorite was the small handsize alpaca with real alpaca fleece that looks like and came from Davinity, one of Lyn’s alpacas! SOLD!

Before the storm rolled in that night, we got some sleep with the generator and AC (<3) running. Around 2AM as the storm started, Devon quickly got up, pulled the awning and generator in and
we again slept peacefully with the sound of rain on the roof and the cool breeze coming through the windows..

.

.

.

We woke up the next morning ready to keep making our way north camping through Michigan’s state parks.

Our first 3 experiences using the Harvest Host membership were fantastic. We got our membership for under $100 and are beyond excited to check out more of the 2500 locations.

Who knows, maybe we’ll even upgrade our package to include staying at some of the golf courses!

Until next time,

j&d

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