RV Trip 10.15 – Arizona – Harvest Host Wineries, Parker Canyon Lake Forest, Harvest Host Ranch – Mar 12–19, 2023

The winds were a bit strong when we started the 370 km drive to Arizona, so we took some back roads instead of I-10, and we actually crossed the Continental Divide 3 times. We were also surprised by how much snow was in the top of the mountains as we entered Arizona. When we arrived at our Harvest Host (HH) stay the host had just started a wine tasting with 2 other couples staying overnight so we quickly got parked and joined in.  Hofmann Vineyards does German style wines.  We had 13 samples in the tasting room before heading out for a tour of the Vineyard barn and a few more samples.  The good thing about a Harvest Host location is that you don’t have to worry about driving after sampling.  Turns out the owner was making small batches of wine as a retirement hobby.  He had worked for IBM for many years in the lab in Rochester, so we chatted for a while after we’d made our purchases.

The next morning before driving to our next HH location we went to the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area famous for the Sandhill Cranes.  They are usually there until mid-March, so I think we missed most of them.  We did see a few young ones off in the distance with binoculars.  The white geese were all in the water when we walked by but must have gotten spooked by something as they all took flight.  It was interesting watching them fly around the area but beware when they fly overhead!!

Snow Geese fly overhead – watch out below!

As we drove into Sonoita Vineyards we could see burnt grass.  The owner apologized for the smell telling us a neighbour accidently set his hay on fire and the fire spread quickly.  They had smoke damage in the main building and lost 20,000 gallons of wine (so sad). They have a fabulous view from their property, and we enjoyed sampling 4 wines out on their upper balcony before making a few purchases. The insurance company had arranged for the restoration crew to start their work at the winery on the morning we left. We were tempted to say that we could fill our freshwater tank with the smoky wine they had to dump😉

The next day we had no plans!  I read about Parker Canyon Lake (part of the Coronado National Forest) and the woman at Sonoita mentioned it was a nice place to camp.  She said it might be busy due to the school holidays, but after an interesting twisty narrow uphill drive we got a spot to camp for a couple of nights.  The day we arrived it was hot and sunny and there was lots of activity on the lake.  The next day we woke to light rain.  When the sun appeared in the afternoon, we headed out to hike the lake trail.  We passed a few people fishing but the lake was deserted.  The trail hugged the lake and we saw lots of ducks, turtles, mule deer and herons.  We managed to get the 10 km hike done with some sunshine before the clouds and rain set in for the night.

After a rainy night (the first rain we’ve had in months) we headed to the town of Sonoita in hopes of getting some cell connection so we could figure out where to go next.  Once we confirmed a spot at the Sleeping Dog Ranch a Harvest Host location, we headed over to the Copper Brothel Brewery where they had excellent Porters and Stouts, my favourite was Scarlett’s Cranberry Fig Porter. For lunch we had Chili Relleno Bites, Desert Taco, and Spicy Chicken Enchiladas. We laughed at the receipt that said “Thank you for supporting your local brothel”😉 After lunch we went to the ranch and chose a water/electric site as the nights were going to be cool due to the elevation. After we were setup, we went to see the exciting ranch news, which was 2 newly born goats, just a couple of hours old. The ranch did not have cell phone coverage but did have incredibly fast Wi-Fi access so we decided to stay for 2 nights to get some blogging done and do some research on what we would do next. They also had a 1947 Boles Aero trailer they used as their shop, and it was #340 out of 500 that were built.

We had thought about driving another 1000 kms to go to Death Valley California but then when we looked at possible routes home from there and the northern paths were all going to be too cold so we would have to drop back down the 1000 kms to start going back along a southern route. Consequently, we made the decision that from the ranch we would start the journey back home.

The next day we drove the I-10 highway back towards New Mexico and saw some interesting rock formations along the route. To break up the driving we had selected a Harvest Host winery called Pillsbury Wine Company near Wilcox Arizona but in that same area was a Brewery/Farm/Restaurant called Tirrito Farm so we decided to stop for there for lunch. They had some really good beers including a Milk Stout that was my favourite and we had an Onion Ring Tower appetizer and then we split the Farmhouse Pizza (with several slices leftover for later). This farm had a really pretty location and they also served dinner, so we’d like try them as a Harvest Host another time.

As mentioned, our last stop on this short stint in Arizona was Pillsbury Wine Company. The owner of the winery was Sam Pillsbury who was a film director from New Zealand who did films like Free Willy 3. These were by far the best wines we sampled in Arizona as they made all their white and red wines in the dry style we like.   Terry the server was great, your tasting included any wines they had open, in our case that was about 14 samples!  We really liked their Rose and Chardonnay as well as their medium priced reds. We also liked their high end reds but they were $120 USD per bottle and we simply couldn’t see spending that much, especially with the lousy CAD to USD exchange rate right now! We had a pretty place to camp for the night between the vines and a row of trees. There were 4 other couples also camping through the Harvest Host membership that night so the tasting room was busy. The next morning Sam had his irrigation system working so water was dripping to water the vines. This would for sure be a repeat location when we’re next back in this area.

That concludes our quick trip in Southern Arizona (mainly wine tasting at HH😊) and now we’ve begun the trip home with State Parks in New Mexico and Texas to follow.


    • We said the same thing Danny, but the winemaker said the entire room was filled with smoke from the fire and it was in there for hours so I guess the seals on the tanks let the smoke in and it tainted the wine.


  • Yes, that wine taint from smoke is real. Remember the California vineyards that lost so much of their crops due to smoke damage? Yikes. What I really want to know is how well you supported that brothel??

    I have to stop reading your posts when I’m hungry/thirsty!! They’re too delicious.

    I enjoyed the white geese murmuration video. That was great, and also fun to hear Sharon’s comment at the end. (-:

    Then the photos of the goat kids!! They were adorable!!

    I also looked up the history of the Boles-Aero and the fellow who designed/built them. It’s really interesting! I’ll post it here for you, Joel and Sharon. Others can carry on!

    DON BOLES A dedication to quality In 1939, Don Boles, an enthusiastic young southern Californian, was one of the first thirty seven candidates chosen for a new four year tool and die apprenticeship program being initiated by the US Department of Labor under President Roosevelt’s plan to assist in bringing the country out of the effects of the Great Depression. He was assigned to work and study at the Lockheed Aircraft Company plant in Burbank, California, where he learned all aspects of aircraft design and construction and how to build tools and component parts. During his time in the program he earned a number of awards for designing and building various tools to enhance the way in which aluminum parts were fabricated. Following graduation from the apprenticeship program in 1943, and a brief assignment in Cleveland, Ohio, for General Electric Company, he enlisted in the US Navy for the duration of World War II. Following boot camp, he was stationed at a military base in Norman, Oklahoma, and, unable to find available housing for his wife and 3 children, he purchased a used 27-foot trailer to be their home while he served his stint in the Navy. When he was released from the Navy following VJ Day, he hooked up his trailer and the family took a traveling vacation on their way back to California. When they arrived at their California home, he parked the trailer in his driveway with a “For Sale” sign on it. That very day, the first lookers bought it and actually at a profit for the Boles, but several other customers continued to stop by to attempt to purchase it. Boles quickly recognized the post-war pent-up demand for good trailers so, while reemployed at his civilian job, he began, with his aircraft training, to design an all-riveted, lightweight, all-aluminum top quality trailer. With financial help and moral support from his father, he began to build his first trailer in his single car garage while they searched for a factory site. The residential garage-manufacturing site limited the size of the first trailers to only nine and one half feet in length. They quickly found an available and affordable site and began construction of their trailer factory. Shortly, a friend of Don’s became interested in the venture, and they formed a partnership as B and R Manufacturing, to build a trailer they dubbed the Roadrunner. Upon completion of the first, garage built, unit, the “For Sale” sign was again applied and this time, the trailer was parked on the street in front of their incomplete factory, next to the mason’s supply of sand and bricks. Once again, the first customer to look at it purchased the trailer for the asking price of $675.00. A neighbor’s father was also impressed with the design and quality of their new products and soon placed an order for 10 trailers to use in his business. He, however, required twelve-foot long units, which would have to wait for the completion of the factory, as they would be too long to build in the family garage where the first units were being built. The strains of business start-up and factory construction and the related financial problems shortly caused his partner to pull out of their arrangement and Don Boles took full control of the company changing the name to Boles Manufacturing and then renaming the trailer the Boles Aero. As production accelerated, the trailers were so well received that the early problems soon began to fade, and at the end of 1946, the first year in business, over 300 trailers had passed out the doors of the new factory. By this time, the rapid success of the trailer business had eliminated any time or need for Don to maintain another source of employment and he left the outside job he was holding to make ends meet. Production of various models of the Boles Aero high-line travel trailers continued for over thirty years until the company closed its doors for good in 1980. By this time the original nine and twelve-foot models had grown and larger and much more comfortably appointed models from 27 to 35 feet in length were the standards. In the 1950s, Boles, always active as a promoter of the industry as well as his own products, was instrumental in founding the consumer rally and show that by the mid 1960s became the giant Dodger Stadium trailer show and was for many years the largest RV related event in the World. Among his contributions to RV design over the years are the flush vent covers for water heaters and furnaces and recessed fillers for water tanks and even door handles so that the exterior lines would be smooth without protruding vents and fillers. These he introduced in the early 1960s and his designs, while upgraded, are still in common use today. Boles also worked with a German manufacturer of small diesel chassis to produce a small front wheel drive diesel “type C” motorhome in the late 1960s when the truck chassis mounted units were just beginning to become popular. During the Vietnam War, Boles Aero designed and built mobile photo labs that were shipped by giant cargo aircraft to the Far East for use by the US Air Force in developing aerial surveillance camera film, and also mobile medical and dental clinics for civilian use in developing areas. Don Boles was an active member and multiple term board member of the Los Angeles based Trailer Coach Association, (TCA). He was instrumental in the creation of a separate division of TCA for travel trailer manufacturers. For most of his career he was active in the TCA and of the Chicago based Mobilehome Manufacturers Association as well as a charter member of the American Institute of Travel Trailers, the first association specifically for RV manufacturers and a predecessor to today’s RVIA. He served on the board of directors of the TCA for over 30 years. Boles proved through the years that a well designed, high quality travel trailer could be sold successfully even through the times when many manufacturers were trying to cut costs and prices to the bone in order to “be more competitive”. From his earliest involvement, Don Boles was a strong proponent of strict industry standards for safety and quality and was instrumental in the lengthy and very political undertaking of getting one set of national standards approved and enforced by the various associations. For his many contributions to the RV industry over his lengthy career, Don Boles was elected to the RV/MH Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2005. copyright 2006 Al Hesselbart – printed with permission

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow that’s really cool history Ella, thanks very much for looking that up👍😎 Yes I definitely supported the Brothel and you’ll see how in one of the subsequent blogs 🍻


    • Thanks for the update Danny. Our plan is to spend 1 month to get home. We just have to keep monitoring the tornado forecasts to pick the window to come north.


Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s