What ya looking at, punk?

What ya looking at, punk? Our new neighbors….

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.

Our new spot for the week

Our new spot for the week

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.

Throw the stick already! Polly & Mazzie

Throw the stick already! Polly & Mazzie play by the lake

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 :)

Share the love (JPG)

You pay the same, we get a few dimes…

70 Responses to Chickens, Eggs & Moochdocking

  1. Rowanova says:

    With the Beast beside the barn, either the barn doors better be closed or the Beast doors better be closed, otherwise there could be a barn beast in the Beast!
    Sorry, just couldn’t resist. Lol

    • libertatemamo says:

      That would indeed create a beast of a problem tee hee
      Nina

      • Rowanova says:

        Lol indeed.
        Since you’re staying in or near Bend, I’d strongly encourage a trip to the nearby town of Sisters. It’s a theme town where all the stores, shops, and businesses look like buildings from the 1800s. Kinds like an old Wild West movie. A fun little town.
        Have fun!

  2. Ann says:

    Love Bend! Don’t miss going to Three Sisters to see all the fabulous quilts or to the High Desert Museum…

    • libertatemamo says:

      Believe it or not our week has ended up so busy we’ve managed to miss both of these :) we’ll just have to come back (as if we needed an excuse)!
      Nina

  3. john says:

    I follow you guys religiously and guess where we are as I read this? We are in Bend also. But alas, heading to mount Hood in the morning. It would have been awesome to meet up over a beer.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh bummer! Too bad we missed you. We managed to miss a few other folks too. It’s been a whirlwind of a week here.
      Nina

  4. We just had the same experience in Fort Bragg, CA with a couple we had only met once before. Their yard turned out to be a beautiful campsite in the redwoods, and they went overboard to make us feel welcome and show us the highlights of the area. Meeting like-minded people and making new friends has been one of the unexpected pleasures of our full-time RV life.
    Looks like we’re following you guys this time. We’ll be in Bend sometime next week.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Love it when I hear other RVers describe the same interactions that we’ve enjoyed! Sounds like you guys had the perfect visit in Fort Bragg. Enjoy Bend. It’s a pretty neat town.
      Nina

  5. Carol says:

    You almost stopped my heart. I thought you had really got off the road before I got a chance to get out there and RV with y’all.
    Bend sounds like a marvelous place. Enjoy.
    Carol Chidlow

    • libertatemamo says:

      LOL…I figured I’d get someone with those first couple of lines. I tell you though, the week here has made this quite tempting. I could totally see owning a bit of land to part-time from. Maybe down the line…
      Nina

  6. judy says:

    Years ago when we owned a boat we experienced the same wonderful friendliness of other boaters. Must be the relaxed aura of “no particular place to go” that brings out the best in folks. Looking forward to more about your moochdocking :)…fresh eggs!haven’t had one of those since I was a kid. Enjoy

    • libertatemamo says:

      I like that analogy. I’ve heard other boaters tell me exactly the same thing. There’s definitely a special type of community spirit amongst travelers.
      Nina

  7. How cool is that! It’s always a good thing when taking chances works out, isn’t it! We are into the fresh eggs this week too–one of my yoga buddies has chickens.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Nothing like fresh eggs still warm from the coop. Wow! I have to admit the chickens are very pretty too.
      Nina

  8. John and Pam says:

    RVers are a wonderful group for sure. This was a super offer and even Polly had company:)

    • libertatemamo says:

      Polly definitely had fun. She wasn’t sure what to make of the chickens, but was absolutely fascinated by them. Her and Mazzie got along great.
      Nina

  9. john H says:

    these type of encounters are what adds a special twist to the lifestyle we have chosen…

  10. That looks like the kind of property I could settle on, and on the outskirts of one of my favorite towns! Perfection!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yeah, it’s a pretty perfect spot. I must say Bend is a super neat town. Pretty much everything you could ask for in a great location.
      Nina

  11. Jim says:

    I know what you mean about friendliness related to the nomadic lifestyle. Most animals are about the same. If we don’t have a territory to protect then we let our guard down, and go from protect mode to cooperate mode.

  12. Amanda says:

    How wonderful! This is the kind of thing that just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside :) Sounds like an amazing experience and a great home base from which to explore one of our favorite towns!

  13. Mark says:

    Very Cool! Looking forward getting out on the road in July and meeting new friendly people, that without the RV would have never met.

  14. In addition to the three excellent organizations you cited take a look at RVillage (RVillage.com). The SKPs are involved in a big way and both Boondocker’s Welcome and Harvest Hosts have set up groups.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Ah yes, THANK YOU. I didn’t mention RVillage ‘coz it doesn’t directly offer places to stay, but it’s a GREAT RV social site and well worth mentioning. Plus, as you said both SKP, Harvest Hosts & Boondockers Welcome have groups on there. Thanks again.

      Nina

  15. Donna K says:

    Wow…that looks like an ideal spot. Bet Polly is sure enjoying it too. Bend is a wonderful area with so much to see and explore. The High Desert Museum is a great place to spend a few hours.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Both Polly and the cats are loving it. This is like having our own little forest next to a great town. The best of everything.
      Nina

  16. hobopals says:

    So true about the RV community. I think it’s probably because they are people who enjoy their lives and are anxious to share “the good life”. Thanks for another great post. :)

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yes, I definitely feel that’s part of it. I guess it wouldn’t be too far fetched to say that RVing helps to make us better as people :)

      Nina

  17. Gary & Deb says:

    Nina & Paul,
    Love Bend! Don’t miss the Crux Fermentation Project, and RatHole Brewery!!
    We spent a week there in April, hitting 70’s & sunny weather, great hiking along the river. Take a Segway tour of Bend from our friend Bret Graham at The Bend Tour Company, tell him we sent you!!
    Cheers!

    • libertatemamo says:

      We’ve been going gaga over Crux (best brewery ever), but have yet to try RatHole. Probably won’t make it there this time around, but we have no doubt we’ll be back here in the future.
      Nina

  18. Walt says:

    I tend to be a bit more introverted (some might even say anti-social), but that all seems to change when I am out with the RV. We hooked up with a full-timing couple about seven years ago when we got our first tent trailer and have stayed in contact with them ever since. We have had any number of wonderful conversations with fellow RVers, some of whom we never saw again, and all of them perhaps people I would have never met or spoken to if they had lived next door to my house. Having an RV is a wonderful icebreaker. :)

    • libertatemamo says:

      So interesting to hear the perspective from an introvert. We’ve heard that same thing before, and I do find it fascinating. Even the more timid folks seem to find themselves more open to approach and interaction on the road. Like you said, the RV is a great icebreaker.
      Nina

  19. We’ve had a few offers to stay on someone’s land/property, but we’ve yet to take anyone up on it, only because we’ve never been to the places where the offers were made. Bend would definitely be a very easy one to say yes too. Can’t wait to read about what else you’ve done there!

    • libertatemamo says:

      It’s been the same for us too. This is the first time our plans, and this kind of offer have lined-up. Great experience all around.
      Nina

  20. Mari says:

    For someone who is really tempted to make the leap and do 52 weeks on the road after our gorgeous Montana summer, you are making it very hard to wait that long! Thanks for the posts, for your great sense of humor and enjoyable blog reading.

    Mari in Montana

    • libertatemamo says:

      The snow this year in MT has been something else. I’ve been following the weather there (from afar) via other blog buddies. Hope you finally get some spring and warmth!
      Nina

  21. Marianne says:

    Thanks for mentioning Boondockers Welcome. There are welcome mats already rolled out for you all over North America including our home in Ontario. Come moochdock here any time!

  22. mike g says:

    Bend is awesome, and I concur see Sisters, head South a bit to the Newberry Volcano area, High Dessert Museum, even head into Sunriver Resort to the Lodge. Paulina lake and East Lake have camping too.

    • libertatemamo says:

      We managed to see the Volcano area a few years ago (wonderful). Sadly most of the big lakes around here are still under snow. They just opened the Cascade Hwy yesterday!
      Nina

  23. Michael says:

    Nina,

    If you tend to be trusting, people tend to trust you right back. If you stay naive, you invite wonder. Your just getting back what you’re putting out there. Both in person and in your blog. Pretty cool how that works. The eggs are just the icing on the cake, so to speak. I think you should start a new group on RVillage “Moochdocking”.

    Michael-

    • libertatemamo says:

      I do believe very much in the concept of Karma and getting back what you give out. Totally with you on that one. Great observation.
      Nina

  24. Cathy Myers says:

    Just found you via boondockers. Am currently in Rye, NH, across the street from the beaches on the Atlantic, discovered the Common Eider, all free and thanks to Harvest Hosts. Traveled from Reno to the East Coast, solo, for the fifth time in four years! stopped at many wineries across the country, again thanks to HH. Thanks for a great blog, just subscribed…..

    • libertatemamo says:

      Glad you’ve enjoyed Harvest Hosts…I’m hearing more and more feedback from other RVers about this program, all positive. We’ll probably check it out at some point.
      Nina

  25. Jodee Gravel says:

    Reminds me of nomads who invited others to share their fire and meal in exchange for a few good stories……bet your hosts are as delighted as you and Paul. Enjoy the farm (even farmers’ market eggs can’t compete with fresh-from-the-coop).

    • libertatemamo says:

      That’s a nice analogy Jodee, and right on too. Traveling in an RV is like migrating from campfire to campfire…lots of stories and social interactions along the way.
      Nina

  26. It is truly an adventure your life. I find your lifestyle attractive and I’m a bit like you. Some will say naive as you put it but I have never had any bad experiences. Lovely narrative, Nina.
    Congratulations with land and chickens <3
    All the best,
    Hanna

    • libertatemamo says:

      I do feel, reading your blog, that we have much in common :) hope I get to meet you in person someday.
      Nina

  27. Nice writeup. Looking forward to your other finds in Bend. We will be there in June. We enjoyed our stay at a winery in Paso Robles and will be staying at another Harvest Host site in the Willamette Valley on the way to Bend.

  28. Lynda says:

    We’ve been blessed with similar experiences over the years, but they never cease to amaze me! A “days end” Escapee post turned into a week alongside the Santiam River, a Harvest Host overnighter at Emerson Vineyards near Salem,OR morphed into a Friday night music fest and many bottles of fine pinots. We shy away from most encounters as we don’t want to take advantage and always try to give back.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Exactly the kind of great RV experiences that I love! You never know what you’ll experience once you open yourself up to possibilities. Nice to hear another positive review of Harvest Hosts.

      Nina

      Nina

  29. Gaelyn says:

    I’ve managed to ‘moochdock’ several times and was always a good time. I called it ‘best friends campground’ back then. Bend area is awesome.

    • libertatemamo says:

      We’re way more open to “moochdocking” after this experience. It’s a great way to be both social and private at the same time. Of course, we had some great hosts too :)

      Nina

  30. Jil says:

    Being the paranoid New Yorker it took a while to get used to just letting things happen and saying yes to someone’s invitation…but I have done it and it has been great each time…your experience looks like it was great….if I remember correctly it is how we met…a invite and a glass of wine….including the pooch…and that was years ago…:)

    • libertatemamo says:

      Indeed You and Tom were actually one of the very first RV friend experiences we had…met you at the campground out of the blue and we ended up spending the evening drinking wine in your rig. Years later we are still friends. Great story!

      Nina

  31. Susan Copeland says:

    Thanks so much for your wonderful blog! My husband and I have been vacation RVers for years! We have enjoyed meeting folks on our trips but have now put the house up for sale and excited to becoming full-timers soon! I love the idea of lighthouse camp hosting and like you we love the Oregon-Wash coast ! Thanks for all the links ideas and adventures as that I love reading it all! It’s an emotional roller coaster planning our adventure and your blog keeps us on track! Keep sharing and maybe some day we will see you out there!!! Susan and Mike looking forward to RVing our dream!

  32. Terry M formerly of Coral Spgs says:

    Like the HDR shots. Pushed within the bounds of good taste.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Great to hear the feedback. I’m still learning about HDR so it’s nice to hear the results are working. It’s a fun medium!

      Nina

  33. Dan & Jen says:

    We’ve gathered many friends from our annual trip to Jamaica who live all over the U.S. and Canada. We’ve already warned them that when we get in our motorhome, were going the their houses to “moochdock.” All of them tell us they can’t wait.

    • libertatemamo says:

      I think it’s a great way to travel. See friends, stay in cool spots and save some camping costs. Good combo!

      Nina

  34. Thanks all for the really nice comments about Harvest Hosts. We will continue to work hard to provide fun experiences for RVers!

  35. […] the lighthouse and hanging by the Dungeness bluff we really didn’t manage much else in town. Our moochdocking buddies from Bend were in the area so we joined them  for a day in a dog-friendly hike on the Miller […]

  36. Steve says:

    Nina and Paul,
    Just had our first Harvest Host camp site. It was at Devitt Winery near Jacksonville OR. Great host. Not only a wonderful campsite but a chance to try and buy a wine we would likely near had encountered. A true win win. Now with the new solar setup, we’ll try more wine at small vineyards. Thanks for your info.

    Steve

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