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Sep 21, 22 - Vista Ranch & Cellars, Harvest Host

Harvest Host, Vista Ranch and Winery, California's Central Valley

sunny 25 °C

We are in the Central Valley of California, along the Highway 99 corridor from Merced to Bakersfield. This corridor is a vast garden.
We come from the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, which is considered to be one of the garden spots of Canada, but this dwarfs it. Literally, as far as the eye can see, are fruit trees of every type, walnut, pistachio, and almond groves. We even drove through the Sun Maid raisin empire, thousands of acres of grapes drying in the sun.

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You are quick to note that as much as 50% of the population is Mexican, all store signs are in English and Spanish, the clerks in the stores speak both languages. An amazing place, this valley.

We spent the night of Sep 20 at the Merced River RV Resort, just north of Livingston. This was clean up time, laundry, showers, etc, after 4 nights of dry camping. Interestingly, Livingston has a mosque:

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We learned this morning that we dodged a bullet up on Tioga Road. We seriously considered spending an additional night at Tuolumne Meadows campground, and driving down into the Yosemite Valley for the day. We would have been down there all day, 6,500 feet closer to sea level. Up at Tuolumne Meadows, on the night of Sep 20, got 1 1/2 feet of snow overnight, closing the road completely for most of two days. The temperature dropped to -5 C and it snowed all night. Lucky us to avoid that mess. There were hundreds of people out backpacking in the wilderness so they must have had a miserable night. And tenters, what a mess that must have been in, and there were lots of tenters.

We did a bit of shopping on the 21st, picking up just a few supplies for our planned supper at our stop for the night...Vista Ranch and Cellars, just outside Merced. George and Karmen Reid, out travel buddies belong to Harvest Hosts, a website through which wineries, breweries, organic farms and the like offer free RV parking on the expectation that you will sample and purchase their wares. They arranged for us to join them for a free night of camping in the parking lot of the place.

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The ranch has been in existence for close to 100 years and has developed a full farming/winery operation. The property hosts weddings and parties, and in the summer has a wood fired pizza business that draws lots of locals. In the fall they do the full harvest festival thing, with pumpkin patch, corn maze for the kiddies and so on. The gardens are something to behold, grapes, zucchini, as huge as can be, tomatoes, hot peppers, almond groves, pomegranate trees, laden with fruit ready to pick.

We set up camp in the parking lot:

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Olives, grapes, pomegranates, hot peppers, almonds, and veggies galore, this place is great:

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The 4 of us went for a wine tasting, which turned out to be very good. Karmen ended up buying 5 bottles of wine, and Jenny and I two, a Chardonnay and a Red Blend. So, our "free' camping ended up costing us $43, but it was money well spent.

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We had supper with the Reid's; with pasta being the dish of choice. A great evening with our travel buddies. The winery even provided electrcity and water hook-ups, which is unusual for Harvest Hosts: usually all you have is dry camping.

We parted in the morning after picking some fresh veggies for the road, with us headed for Sequoia/KIngs Canyon National Parks. Jenny and Karmen posed for a picture at the front of the property. We were invited to pick some fresh veggies for the road. We would recommend this place to anyone looking for a different camping experience.

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For our neighbour Milt back home, who is keeping an eye on things, this photo of a Massey tractor:

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We are ending the day in Three Rivers, California, where we are staying in a full service RV park. It was good that we made a reservation for the National Park, just down the road has banned all trailers for the rest of the season. Apparently, once the main tourist season is over, it is construction time, They have a very short window to get road work done by the end of October when mother nature shuts things down for the winter.

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Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 17:05 Archived in USA Tagged california's_central_valley harvest_hosts vista_ranch_cellars Comments (1)

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