musings about food, travel, creativity and life

My Kind of Camping

The traveler in me is looking for creative ways to be happy. Right now, close-to-home VW van trips seem to be doing it for me and us, and for that I am thankful.

Our latest trip in Baci—our van’s name, meaning kisses in Italian—was to Paso Robles. On that trip, we experienced a first—camping in a winery!  As my post title says, “my kind of camping.”

Friends from Oregon had told us about Harvest Hosts, an organization one can join, which has close to 3000 venues—wineries, farms, breweries— across the United States that one can reserve for one-night stays.  It is for self-contained RV/Van camping only.  Our van, with a few internal additions (!), qualified.  One can read all about the opportunities and stipulations on their website  

After paying the membership fee, the suggestive cost of each stay is a purchase of a wine tasting or wine or other available product—like olive oil, or honey, if one isn’t into drinking—to a minimum of $20.  Pretty amazing!

Our first stay was at a sweet family winery called Rio Seco just outside Paso Robles.  Family owned and operated, it was a pleasure in every way. We had one of four campsites right on the edge of their vineyards and olive groves.  After we parked in our spot, we immediately found an outdoor table under a grape arbor and started our wine tasting with many small groups of other wine tasters.  The owner and her daughter poured our wines and told us about the winery’s history.   We bought a few bottles of wine, some olive oil, and another item which you will see under “Tidbits, ” below.

Everything surrounding our Rio Seco experience was delightful: a warm quiet night of camping, an early morning walk through the autumn-colored vineyards and olive groves, and fun conversations with our camping neighbors as we all prepared to leave.


We would happily return to Rio Seco—to camp, if we’re lucky enough to get a camp spot—or to taste more wine and enjoy the hospitality of the owners and the beauty of the natural setting. Their website is

As an impromptu add-on to our Rio Seco experience, we went to Sensorio— a spectacular outdoor evening light show by Bruce Munro which includes 15 rolling acres of lights, and 69 Light Towers made of illuminated wine bottles.  Wowza!   One can make reservations—probably wise; we took a chance, went for “general admission” at 7 pm, and got in. To see images of Sensorio and to check out visiting possibilities, the website is



On My Bookshelf:Food for Thought

My current food read is the Fall 2021 edition of our local Edible Magazine; with over 80 local editions around the U.S., perhaps your community has one— you can check at   It is a delightful and informative exploration of local food and drink including seasonal fruits and vegetables, recipes to try, places to visit, new wines to taste, restaurants to explore, and agricultural/food issues to consider.  It’s like a little travel guide to one’s own local edible landscape.  And the articles and recipes on the website are dynamite, too.

Eating Out

In Paso Robles, one of our favorite restaurants is Roots on Railroad (; they have a nice varied menu, but we are especially hooked by their smash burgers, both beef and vegetarian.  They are located at  The Backyard (, a bright, cheery, dog-friendly outdoor eating venue filled with yellow sun umbrellas, picnic tables, craft beer, cider, wine on tap, non-alcoholic drinks, fast and friendly service, and a happy clientele.  A winner!


One of my purchases at Rio Seco Winery was the wine bottle sleeve pictured here.  I think, if you read my last blog post, you’ll understand  why I just had to make this impulse buy!


Have a blessed and healthy Thanksgiving, Everyone!  I am so thankful for all of you being a part of this joy endeavor!









4 thoughts on “My Kind of Camping”

  • Happy Thanksgiving to you both! Sounds like a lovely camping trip, just your style. I have friends who are world travelers like you and John, and they are currently doing a U.S. east to west coast van camping road trip. They have planned 1/4 of their overnight stays with Harvest Hosts. Who wouldn’t love to stay near a vineyard for a night instead of an RV campgraound? And all for the price of a bottle or two of good wine! Way to go.

    • Woo-hoo❣️What a fun trip for your friends! I’d love to hear more—about their routing and favorite Harvest Hosts stops. And to you, dear friend, may you and your wonderful family have a very Happy Thanksgiving. We are both so thankful for you all in our life💓

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