While I appreciate the notion of stopping in rest areas may sound a little odd but easy free stopping is valuable for us when we are driving between areas we want to visit in depth. Interstate freeways get a bad rap as they deny the traveler the ability to experience the places they are driving through and I can't disagree, however the ability to get somewhere is also useful I find, and rest areas are much easier to deal with than motel check ins. We pull in and walk Rusty, brush our teeth (the sink drains to a holding tank thus no mess) and go to sleep. In the time it takes to unload your luggage in the room and find the soap we are snoring.
And then for those times that you aren't rushing hither and yon there is Harvest Host. Layne the navigator runs through the app which includes a map to pinpoint the locations. Harvest Host is an adventure and it's not meant to be the equivalent of KOA, the sort of corporate experience that guarantees the same service and identical facilities at each stop. The philosophy here is the total antithesis of the franchise plan and it is truly amazing, an overused word that I try to avoid. Amazing. Consider me amazed.
Beer, ribs and fried chicken. That was our fee to stay at a ski resort. A ski resort?? Yup, in the ever astonishing Upper Peninsula of Michigan (thinking we were still in Wisconsin - idiots loose on the road) we stayed at Indianhead Mountain Ski Resort. If you wanted to participate in corn hole tossing, or whatever it's called that was an option. The family participating eight feet away did a lot of laughing as you do in these situations. The views were spectacular as you might expect at a mountain resort.
One Harvest Host offered a shower, another offered us popcorn along with a dog to help consume it. Rusty watched and waited his turn...in between playing with the other dog. No leashes required obviously.
The rules for these places are simple: you can't sleep in a car, in a tent or in a tent on a car (Overlander-style). Be neat tidy quiet and unobtrusive and plan to spend some money. The idea is to support a small business and we are all ready to do that. Taste some wine, buy a gift, a meal or food to go. At one place we got several pounds of home cured pork in various forms. We tasted and bought wine, we ate breakfast served at our van:
We have parked in fields, alongside woods, alone and alongside strangers who thanks to Coronavirus remained strangers, but we have also parked in parking lots. I also swam in Lake Michigan at one host's private beach. No seriously.
While there Rusty met a local whose owner told us stories of growing up in Michigan while we stood in the lake and she watched her (human) child dipping in the Great Lake. These I assure you are magical memories. Rusty learning to drink the ocean was a crack up.