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  • Writer's pictureWine & Whiskey

Harvest Hosts Fail

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

Once again we were headed out for an overnight trip to a location where Whiskey has a work assignment. This time is was in the Middlebury Vermont area which is about three hours from home. This trip started out great but ended badly. You can skip the bottom to read the ending first. I have a habit of writing in chronological order. I need more practice to figure a way not to do that. (Writers, chime in and give me advice.)

While Vermont is a small state it has lots of mountains which make getting from A to B not straight forward, especially when driving an RV. Therefore we planned the trip avoiding the scenic curvy mountain roads and taking more highway around the mountains. The Vermont countryside is beautiful with rolling green hills and rustic farms making the sight-seeing a pleasant drive.

As Whiskey did his work, I walked doggies and made lunch. I sound like a broken record, but it is just so darned convenient having a mobile bathroom and kitchen.

We chose to stay overnight at a Harvest Hosts in Waterbury Center. The reviews are great both on Maps and Harvest Hosts. An added benefit is that this location is about a half a mile from a chef-owned farm-to-table restaurant, Michael’s on the Hill, with an interesting menu making for a unique evening.

At the Harvest Hosts I was greeted with super friendly staff which presented a packet of info about the store and a map showing where to park. Wonderful, I thought. Whiskey and I scoped out the area and parked for doggie walks and feeding. And then walked back to the store to browse.

The store has a barn style décor and is stocked with specialty foods, pickles, sauces, maple syrup, cheeses, kitchen accents, candles, and their well-loved cider donuts. I saved Whiskey from shopping as I gathered up pickles, cheese, maple syrup, and donuts while he walked the brown dog.

An early dinner reservation meant that we didn’t have time to settle for long before we drove up the road for dinner. During that time another RVer arrived and set-up in the HH parking area and were settling in. It’s always nice to see fellow travelers, these from Missouri.

Michael's On The Hill did not disappoint. The cocktails and food delicious, the décor relaxed yet interesting, and the location setting lovely. Overall it was a very nice experience. We skipped dessert so that we could get back to the HH to enjoy the sunset and a quiet evening.

This is where things take a turn for the worst. As we drove in to the lot around 7pm we saw a loose dog (a friendly looking pitbull) with a harness and collar in the parking lot. We stopped and I called out from the RV cab and was acknowledged by the dog. As dog lovers we are aware of how dogs can get lost or away from owners so that was our first concern because there did not appear to be any residences immediately around the business, and the other RV’ers didn’t have a dog. The dog was quickly moving around the expansive lot and grassy areas.

Looking Forward to the Sunset

As we parked and set-up we noticed people near the roadside of the property grilling and then saw the dog over there. The dog is young and fast and running all around. The people grilling didn’t seem to pay attention to him so it didn’t seem certain that he belonged to them. Hmmm, odd I thought.

After Dinner Getting Relaxed

We get our doggies out and they are all on leashes as is the protocol. Once I see that the loose dog is headed our way, at this time we don’t know if this dog is friendly, I get the bulldog inside since she does not like new dogs. Next thing I know the dog is sizing-up our brown dog. This is where we can see that the dog is an intact male. I then get the little dog inside.

The loose dog however is friendly and is actually trying to play with our brown dog who is old and not interested. Whiskey engages with the dog and discover his name is Charlie Brown who is full of energy and will not leave our brown dog alone. We are so very fortunate that our bulldog was inside because I can without a doubt say that she would not have liked this dog being up in “her business” and there would have been a serious problem.

Whiskey literally has to pick up the brown dog and hold back the bulldog at the RV door while I try to get Charlie’s attention away from the RV door so that the brown dog is secure inside and we can close the door. Charlie is one persistent dog while the bulldog is barking and trying to get a look at him. Stress is at high level here because I have seen the bulldog fight with another dog and that is scary.

Whiskey Getting Ready to Leash Charlie

Whiskey leashes up the dog and heads way over to the grilling people who are completely ignoring the approach. As I watched that I thought that was very odd. Whiskey was told to get the f@#king leash off his dog. After a heated exchange, a gun was mentioned by this individual. That is not what one is expecting hear in a conversation requesting that someone to control their dog.

This took Whiskey by surprise. Before going further, let’s get to the mindset of responsible gun ownership. A responsible gun owner would NEVER mention a gun. You don’t show-off or talk about your gun to strangers, especially belligerent ones you are having a heated exchange with.

Sidebar: As stated in prior blog, we conceal carry where it is legal. And Vermont is a constitutional carry state Vermont Constitutional Carry | Gun Lawsuits. Which means that the state does not issue any type of gun permit or license, you can open and conceal carry without a permit. The age requirement to open and conceal carry in Vermont a minimum of sixteen years, a deviation from the federal gun law of eighteen years old. It does not matter if you are a resident or non-resident of the state, you can possess a firearm either by open or concealed carry without a license.

Whiskey had a lot of thoughts going on in his head, as I watched from at least fifty yards away. He may write about this separately because it gave him an experience that you can’t get at a shooting competition or the gun range. We have been talking about this experience a great deal since it happened. Processing, evaluating, and learning.

Beat-ass Van

After the exchange Whiskey walks back to the RV and says “we are out of here!”. It’s 7:30PM and we are three hours from home. While I am getting the synapsis of the discussion with Charlie’s owner, another guy drives over in a beat-ass GMC van and tell us his dog can go where ever he wants and we are not welcome here.

We continue to pack up our outside chairs, retract the slide-out, and prepare to depart. And we pull out of the lot at 7:45. UGH!! Driving at night sucks especially in rural areas where deer and moose are roaming about. But we motored on and arrived home at 11PM.

I stayed up till past midnight trying to decompress and reviewing the event in my head over and over. I cannot stress enough how extremely odd and rare this whole situation is. In all of our travels the we have seen that the majority of RV’ers have dogs and follow the leash up protocol, and there have been NO problems anywhere. Normal and responsible dog owners are apologetic if their dog is invading space uninvited; most dog owners know that not all dogs are dog-friendly. Charlie’s owner is the exact opposite of this.

The following morning I spoke with the business manager in charge of Harvest Host program and I am even more disturbed after the call. I learned that the guy in the van is the property care-taker and full-time employee and the belligerent guy is a boyfriend of the daughter of the guy in the van. Now I might not have the relationship chart correct because in my head I am thinking what the hell does any of that have to do with this. The summary is that this cool and calm business manager did not sound horrified or shocked by her tenant and employee having an exchange like this with a guest on their property. She apologized. Apology not accepted.

The takeaways:

· You never know when what should be a simple exchange is going to turn nasty and potentially deadly.

· You never truly know the mindset of a stranger.

· If you concealed carry, don’t mention your gun or show your gun to strangers.

· When a situation goes way off course, you must retreat and leave the situation; avoid any situation where you may have to use your gun.

· Be aware of your surroundings.

· You CAN judge a book by its cover. Beat-ass vans are driven by weirdos. And owners of intact male pitbulls are…??

· In a constitutional carry state like Vermont the belligerent dude should watch his mouth; he must not know that travelers from any state can be locked and loaded legally.

· Don’t expect a beautiful country setting like Vermont to be safe.

Scenes from the road:

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Mia Ziemniak
Mia Ziemniak
May 21, 2021

Wow! My heart was pounding reading this! There is no doubt you did the right thing by removing yourselves from this aberrant situation. The owners of the property are clearly not equipped to evaluate their "employees" for proper and accepted host behavior not to mention a complete lack of consideration for other pets and pet owners. As the Italians in my family say, "Disgrazia!"

Wine & Whiskey
Wine & Whiskey
May 21, 2021
Replying to

100% agree. An eye opening experience.

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