Estherville, Iowa

We were so excited to check out our first Harvest Host spot. If you are not familiar with HH let me share with you the wonders they hold. Harvest Host is an organization for people who own campers or RV's, you pay a small membership of $40 a year and get to stay at Wineries and Farms for free across America. It's a wonderful change of pace from normal camping spots and a great way to save on travel cost.  You do have an unspoken agreement to buy whatever they make and for me a bottle of wine in exchange for a beautiful camping spot is a win-win.

So we went on to the Harvest Host website the night before and looked for something that would be on our way to my folks in Iowa. We found Little Swan Lake Winery in Estherville, Iowa. It would be about 230 miles so we would have to leave early.  Google maps says 3 hrs 40 min and we were realizing in a camper to add about an hour or two to that. We left Chisago early that morning and made our way on two lane highways to the Northwest tip of Iowa, avoiding as best as we could a summer storm that was making its way across the Midwest.  We have opted out on having internet access on our phones so we have to plan ahead and use maps and our trusty GPS. It's a bit frustrating at times but we are getting used to it. On our way to the winery we found ourselves on some beautiful gravel roads and learned to trust one another even if it makes us nervous. We rolled over the hills of the Northwest Iowa and found the Winery.  The owner had just pulled in before us and greeted us. We got a tour of the property, we learned how it had come to be theirs. He had painted to farm house in the 70's and always loved the property, he kept his eye on it and when it up for sale he and his wife grabbed it. They not only make what we soon found to be delicious wine but they also have a Buffallo farm on about 110 acres of land. We grabbed a bottle of wine and start to explore the property.  We walked through to talk prairie grass down to the water where two bald eagles had made nest up far up in the trees.  The wind blew over the grass and the Buffalo ran over the hills, it was all so surreal and so American haha.  We started our way back to the camper and started to make dinner.  As the night grew dark we noticed how many more stars were out.  Coming from Chicago you don't get to experience the night like that, it was calming, and finally the stress of the year long build out was starting to fade away.  As we got ready for bed we heard a rucus in the buffalo pin and realzied the owners dog was trying to play where he shouldn't be playing. After we got the pup out of the pin we realized nature might just be as loud as the city.  We would fall asleep and something would happen.  The farm cat climbed up on the camper for a visit, he then later tried to trap a rabbit, a blackbird let us know we were a little to close to his nest. It was all so lovely but would take some getting used to.

We woke up slightly less rested then we wanted but still very happy.  We made our way to say goodbye to the owners and grabbed a bottle for the road and headed towards my folks place in central Iowa.