Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Misadventures of Roger and Dianne

Roger here...  We are currently parked in a bucolic and peaceful setting in the middle of the Paso Robles wine country, but our visit to this beautiful place did not start in a peaceful way.

Moving from Three Rivers (Sequoia NP) to Paso Robles was uneventful, other than a little wind -- but our arrival was certainly not uneventful.  

We are members of Harvest Hosts, a $20/year club that allows its members to park their RVs overnight in selected (more than 100) winery parking lots.  The rules are simple:  Make sure that the parking area is big enough for the size of motor home that you have by looking at the icon on the website, call the winery to ask permission, and show up on the designated day.  It is a good deal for the RVer (free parking) and the winery (probable wine purchases).  We like the concept and like the way it is organized.  We did this in North Carolina and had a great time.  Here's a link to their web site, for our rv'er friends who might be interested:

Harvest Hosts

We had hoped to spend nights in two different winery lots in Paso Robles.  We picked wineries that indicated they could accommodate 45+ foot motor homes, called ahead, received permission and thought we were set for two pleasant, non-hassle days.

It started badly, got worse, got a little better, got worse, and finally ended well.

In following the directions to our Saturday-night winery, we were directed to Peachy Canyon Road. I was hesitant to turn onto the road (should have followed my instincts).  The road, though paved, was extremely narrow, did not have shoulders, but did have hills.  It was also full of blind, sharp turns.  When meeting a car, we were forced to come to a complete stop while the vehicle squeezed by.  (Dianne here:  We held our breath each time we neared one of these blind curves, praying there was no oncoming car or truck).  We were only supposed to travel on the road for a mile, so on we went.

When we arrived at the designated winery, we discovered that there was no way to even make the turn into the extremely narrow parking lot.  A large pickup truck would have had trouble.  If we had been able to make the turn, we would have bottomed out while going down the extremely steep drop.  From where we sat, it did not look like there was room in the lot for even one large motor home, even though the website said it could fit four.  What to do?  We could not get in the lot, and honestly did not want to attempt it.  We had no place to spend the night.  We were stopped in the middle of the road, with no place to turn around, no place to turn around, no place to turn around.  We did not have a map of the area.  The car behind us with the honking horn forced our decision.  We moved forward, hoping to find a place to turn around or a better road.

One mile later, several hills and turns -- no place to turn around.

Two miles later, several hills and turns -- no place to turn around.

Three miles later, several hills and turns -- no place to turn around.

Four miles later, several hills and turns -- no place to turn around;  however, we were able to ask a lady in an oncoming car if there was a way to get off the road or a place to turn around.  Hope.  She smiled, shrugged her shoulders, and said good luck.

Four and a half miles later - ANOTHER WINERY!  However, we could not see the parking lot at the top of the steep hill, and were reluctant to drive to the lot where we might discover a tiny lot (with no place to turn around).  So....  we stopped in the middle of the road, blocking traffic, disconnected the Toyota and parked the Toyota on the side of the road.  Dianne then helped me back the motor home into the uphill entrance of the winery (now blocking the winery entrance and the road).  I was able to get the motor home turned around, but we still had to stop in the roadway to reconnect the Toyota.  A big breath of relief.  We were on our way out!  I directed a few unkind words at the winery that gave us incorrect information as we passed it on the way back to civilization.  Fortunately, no one except Dianne heard me :-)

We still needed a place to stay.  I remembered that the Tobin James Winery that we had passed on the main road was also a Harvest Hosts member.  Even though we did not have previous permission,  I thought it would be worth asking.  BIG unpaved parking area across the small road from the winery:-)  I went in to ask permission.  It took a while.  Lots going on (bacherlorette party, bus tours, limo tours, laughter, people having a good time).  After finding the right person, I was given permission to park overnight.  Couldn't wait to park, get Dianne and enjoy the rest of the day.  

However, the very kind manager then told me that heavy rain was expected, and that the parking area turns into mud.  At least one motor home had to be towed in the past. :-(  She said we could park on the side of the road.  (Seemed risky to me.)  She said that there was a private RV Park (Wine Country RV Resort) just down the road.  The way the day was going we opted for the RV Resort, and decided to spend two nights rather than possibly find a muddy parking lot at the second winery, as well.  Finally, a good decision.

Wine Country RV Resort was a little pricey, BUT it truly was a resort.  In this case we got what we paid for.  We had a beautiful site (vineyard views, concrete, level), just across from the adult-only spa.  There was even a fenced dog run for the boys.  Oh, and the management could not have been more helpful. 

Whew, the rest of the day was great.  We parked the motor home and drove the car back to Tobin James where we tasted some wine, enjoyed the upbeat atmosphere, bought a couple bottles, and thoroughly enjoyed the outdoor areas at the winery - some of the most beautiful stonework I have ever seen.

Before dinner, we enjoyed some relaxing time back at the RV Resort at the outdoor spa.  Wow, the setting was surrounded by boulders, gardens, water falls and even a fire pit.  After an hour, the stress of the day drifted away.

Our second day in Paso Robles was a day of enjoying scenery, meeting new people, and oh, yes, a little wine sampling.  (Actually quite a bit of wine sampling....  :-)   -- D.)

We ate an early lunch in the motor home before visiting our first winery of the day, J Lohr.

Then Peachy Canyon (not in Peachy Canyon!).  Then Windward.

Then Bianchi.

The day ended back at the spa -- this time in a misty rain; the best time to enjoy a spa.

The Whippet Picture of the Day shows the dogs enjoying their every-morning routine:  Keeping warm under the blanket until it's time for their walk.


Nancy and Bill said...

Hate that you had the misfortune, but glad you are both OK and had no damage to your RV or car..

Safe Travels and Happy Trails....

Linda said...

Don't you just love that sick funny feeling in your stomach when you realize there is no where to turn around!! You two certainly have your misadventures!! But don't they make a great story! :)

John and Judy said...

Glad that you got turned around and out of Peachy Canyon RD! We stayed at Wine Country RV Pk a couple of times and enjoyed it,always grumble about the price, but keep coming back. Last time we were in Paso Robles we discovered the Opolo Winery and their Mountain's now our new favorite!

Margie and Roger said...

OMG - this post sure reminded me of our winery adventure! I felt your pain. I guess we need to both write to Harvest Hosts and offer "suggestions". I still like the concept, but am very leery of taking a MH our size into them. But, everything worked out well for you - that RV resort was gorgeous. What a great way to relax - a beautiful spa and wine. Isn't this lifestyle just grand!

Travelwithwhippets said...

Margie -- This lifestyle IS grand! I wouldn't trade it for anything. Roger did notify Harvest Hosts about the snafu. We know now to ask some very specific questions before we go!! Still love the concept, though.

John & Judy -- We're driving back to Paso Robles (from Morro Bay)today with friends and will check out Opolo Winery for sure! Thanks for the tip!