Our first official stop on the six-month road trip was Rochester, New York, by way of Niagara Falls. Visiting Niagara in April isn’t ideal, but when the only other option is not visiting at all, you settle for the less-than stellar views and closed exhibits. But, before the Falls, we made an overnight stop at Freedom Run Winery. Thanks to the advice of pretty much everyone we asked, Harvest Host was one of our first travel investments and it’s quite genius actually. The premise is simple: For roughly $70, their membership connects you with hundreds of small businesses, farms, museums, and golf courses across the nation. If you agree to support their small business, they let you spend the night on their property for free. (Yes, I know it’s not technically free, but it has been a GREAT way for Jamie and I to have a date night without feeling guilty for spending money on ourselves. When a lot of your living expenses are funded through the generosity of others…. you start to think about things like that.)
This was our first night at a Harvest Host location. We arrived about 15 minutes before closing and made a great first impression by using the wrong entrance and then finding ourselves unable to turn around… or back up. Thankfully, the owner helped us out by moving her car, giving us enough room to make the wide turn. Jamie decided to drop me off at the winery and told me to order something for him while he got the kids set up. It seemed simple enough. He wasn’t going very far. Literally 200 yards. So, in the meantime, I began talking to the owner and his son about the winery and life in Niagara. (Did you know that area of New York is ideal from making wine?!?)
Eventually, the conversation switched over to faith. It usually does with me. I never know how people will react. Some are an open book, willing to tell me their every thought on the topic, while others look for any opportunity to duck out of the conversation as soon as possible. But, on this occasion, I found someone willing to talk at length about his history with organized religion… about his belief in God, but his lack of tolerance for the hypocrisy of many professed Christians. And he isn’t alone. In every state we’ve been to, it’s like a broken record: I believe in God, but don’t really care for the church. It’s obviously something that resonates with our family, but it’s also something that breaks me. I’ve cried so many times over this issue the past few months.
Eventually, Jamie made it down the join us, but he didn’t look good. The expression on face was new to me, but it has become one he wears pretty frequently lately. It’s the face of defeat. On this occasion, he wrestled with the car tow… and the car tow won. I guess the guys at the RV dealership put the tow on incorrectly, so when Jamie went to take the car off… the bumper decided to stay on the tow. So we were 0-2 when it came to RV experiences so far. Two days in. I don’t think I can stress this enough: Two days in and we were seriously wondering if we made the biggest mistake of our lives. But, the next couple of days made up for it. In a BIG way.