This week we got ourselves a barn, some land and some chickens. The spot is a gorgeous 10 wooded acres located right outside of Bend, OR and we just couldn’t resist. Quiet, green setting…fresh eggs…even a hot tub. It’s the kind of spot you could see yourself settling down for a while, relaxing in the woods and yet it’s only a few miles from a hopping town. I mean honestly who wouldn’t want all this fabulousness? So, how much of our retirement fund did we have to blow on this deal? Believe it or not we got it all for free. Well, not the actual land and the actual chickens (honestly, what were you thinking?), but the chance to park on someone’s lot for the week (a term I fondly call “moochdocking”). And by someone, I mean someone we’ve never met.
Now this brings up an aspect of RVing (and RV folks) that I just had to blog about. I’m one of those people who has always believed in the kindness of strangers. I’m an easily trusting (naively, many would say) kind and tend to strike up conversation & make friends just about everywhere I go. Despite this natural extroversion, my pre-RV life was mostly centered around the folks I knew from work & long-standing friends. I didn’t really interact much with my neighbors when we lived in our stix & brix (fixed home) and I certainly would never have invited someone over the internet to stay with me for a week. I mean, who does that kind of thing?
As strange as it may seem RV folks really do.
Since we’ve been on the road we’ve had more easy, instant social encounters than we ever had before. We’ve met people in a campground and ended up in their rig (their home) chatting for the night. We’ve made blog friends over the internet and invited them to stay at our boondocking sites (or visa versa). We’ve struck up conversation with couples and then ended up RVing with them for several weeks at a time. In the RV world all of this is totally normal and it’s a fascinating phenomenon. It may be the common bond of travel that we all share (I’ve had similar experiences backpacking, for example), or simply the openness to adventure and new things. Whatever the reason the barrier to friendship is lower and bonds form with an ease which I never experienced before. RV folks are just different and that’s part of what makes this a surprisingly social lifestyle.
Which brings us back to the barn. This particular offer came from a blog reader a few weeks ago and it was just too interesting to resist. This is actually the first time in 5 years we’ve stayed at someone’s spot and we weren’t really sure how it would go. Would we feel like we were imposing? Would we be in the way? Would we even like each other? Within minutes of meeting Steve, Holly and their lovely dog Mazzie our fears were completely allayed. These folks are avid outdoors-people with a love of nature (and chickens). Like almost all the people we’ve met on the road they were friendly, relaxed and we immediately formed a bond. In fact, they went overboard to make us feel welcome with the offer of fresh eggs (I can’t even tell you how good they were), dinner and no end of knowledge about the area. Typically lovely RV folk and the experience has converted us to willing moochdockers.
But what if you’re not the WheelingIt blog, say you? How can you become a moochdocker too? Honestly you may be surprised, once you start RVing, how many of these offers you’ll get from folks you meet on the road. But even if you’re not an extroverted socialite like me, there are several dedicated online sites that offer exactly the same service for a small fee:
- Boondockers Welcome -> Set-up by RVers and for RVers. People can enter their private homes as “boondocking” (free camping) spots, or you can search and find a spot to stay on someone’s property. We’ve not used it much, but have friends who’ve used it extensively, both in USA & Canada. Typical stays are a few days, but some folks will let you stay longer (weeks, even). It’s a pretty cool concept and it’s steadily growing in size. It costs $19.95/year if you have a property to share or $24.95/year if you don’t.
- Harvest Hosts -> Looking to stay on farms, wineries, breweries or agri-tourism sites? These are private enterprises that offer up a spot to stay on their property for free. Again, we’ve not used the service ourselves, but we’ve had many friends who’ve used and love it. Our RV buddies The Wynns wrote a good blog post on their experiences. Cost of membership is $40/year.
- Escapees -> If you’re an Escapee (SKP) member, the Escapees Travel Guide not only lists SKP parks and discount parks, but also includes other SKP members who have property that is open for overnight stays. They’re the only RV club I know where members can offer up personal property for stays.
We’ve got a few more days at our site here in Bend including 2 blog posts of our activities (this is a super-cool area), but I wanted to get this out to thank our hosts for their hospitality and share with you blog readers another aspect of this ever-changing and ever-interesting RV lifestyle. With a bit of luck, maybe you’ll get to sleep with the chickens one day too
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