Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pennsylvania gal tours West, South 'light'

Dawn and Bell on a windy day in west Texas. (Julianne G. Crane)

One windy afternoon in Balmorhea State Park in west Texas, I spotted a solo woman traveler walking a sweet little Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix.

After striking up a conversation, Dawn, a former health care administrator, revealed she was on the backside of a five-week cross-country trip, camping in her 2004 4X4 Ford Ranger extended cab pickup with an A.R.E. canopy.

According to Dawn, her truck and canopy are easy for traveling and camping because there is "nothing to pull, nothing to set up, and has a low profile in windy conditions."

Dawn and Bell
There is "plenty of room for one person and a dog and all our necessary equipment," she said. "I considered adding a roof carrier, but decided I’d rather limit how much I carried." 

She left her home-state of Pennsylvania, traveling through the southern states to the California Coast. She made her way over to Death Valley National Park, then south through the desert to the Gulf Coast and Florida before heading north back to the Keystone State.

Death Valley National Park was the most memorable. "The mountains were truly awe inspiring for me," she said.  "The flat parts of Death Valley did not interest me, but the mountains--the variety of colors, textures, sizes and how they changed as the light changed--were just breathtaking."

She added, "I discovered on the trip through the southwest states that it was interesting to see deserts for the first time. But they are not somewhere I want to visit again."

For her next trip, she plans to take her kayak and "camp for a few days near bays or lakes along the East Coast," she says. "My dog has a life jacket, so she’d be riding along on my paddling adventures."

--  Julianne G. Crane  (click on images to enlarge)

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Photo: Dawn and her rescue puppy, Bell, traveled five weeks in her Ford Ranger with an A.R.E. canopy. (Julianne G. Crane)


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Solo RVer Jacque Green travels with paint brushes and an energetic canine sidekick

Jacque Green paints landscapes inspired by her travels. (Julianne G. Crane)
"Building up your self confidence is freeing when traveling," observes novice full-time solo RVer Jacque Green of Tulsa, Okla. "After years of being an accountant and always on a schedule, it is nice to come and go at a whim."

In early 2016, Jacque says, she almost died.  "Laying in the hospital," she recalls, "I would visualize walking on a beach with my dog, Johnson. I had long dreamed of RVing but kept putting it off."   After recovering, she purchased an RV in April and by June she hit the road on her first extended RV trip to Colorado. "On my way home, I made the decision to do this lifestyle full time." 

It took Jacque only two months to give, donate or sell almost "a lifetime of stuff."  She closed on her house in October and has been on her RV journey ever since.  "It really felt like lifting a weight off my shoulders," she says. "I no longer wanted to care for all that stuff."

Jacque Green's rig: 2013 Coachmen Prism (Julianne G. Crane)
Her Rig: 

Jacque found a previously-owned 2013 Coachmen Prism 24G Class C motorhome with one slide. At the time, there were only 7,000 miles on its  Mercedes-Benz diesel engine.

Jacque says she zeroed in on the 24-foot Prism because of its length and ease of handling. "When I started looking for an RV the most important thing was that it had to be something I could do myself."

Her tow car is a Honda CR-V, "which doubles as extra storage," she jokes.

Jacque & Johnson (Julianne G. Crane)
Her sidekick:

Jacque's puppy, Johnson, is an energetic two-year old, blended English Cocker and Clumber Spaniel. "Most people think he is a bird dog," says Jacque, "however, he is really an old lady's (50-pound) lap dog."

As with all active dogs, Johnson loves being outdoors and needs exercise several times a day. Jacque is always looking for campgrounds near good dog parks or walking trails.

A few of her observations:

"There is a learning curve to handling an RV," she says.  "I went to the Escapees RV Club's Boot Camp and learned a lot. I also met other solos."

She says that by living day-to-day in an RV, she is aware that there are still ways to further simplify her life. "I find myself continuing to lighten my load," she reflects.  "Some items I thought I couldn't live without and had to bring with me are becoming unnecessary." 

As a daughter, an artist and a former accountant, she says: "I will keep my mother's silver tray and all my tax receipts. There are still a few things you cannot escape from." And she will keep a small amount of art supplies. "I try to capture on canvas my impressions of places I've visited."  To read more about Jacque's artwork, click here.
-- Text and photos by Julianne G. Crane (Click on images to enlarge.)  

... For more on the RV lifestyle go to


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Native artist, RV snowbird Mary Ruth Barnes

Mary Ruth Barnes by her 5th wheel in Rockport, TX  (Julianne G. Crane)
During the cold winter months in south central Oklahoma, Chickasaw artist Mary Ruth Barnes travels with her husband, Mike, to the Coastal Bend of Texas for fishing, warm weather and good RV snowbird friends.

Artist Mary Ruth Barnes in outdoor studio. (Julianne G. Crane)
Almost every day while in Texas, Mary Ruth can be spotted painting in the fresh air studio she set up alongside the Barnes' 2014 38-foot Cedar Creek 5th wheel trailer. 

"Art has been a heritage I learned from my grandfather, a Chickasaw story teller," says Mary Ruth. "He would often paint beautiful pictures in my mind as he taught me about love and caring, enkindling nature as the basis for love."

"My art is my passage into my history and my culture.  I paint to revive the stories he told me and give a continuation of my culture to my children and my grandchildren."

'Color Me Native,' gouache watercolor - Mary Ruth Barnes
"With each story he told me, I try to retell it in my images of the horse, the buffalo, the white dog, the eagle, and the turtle," she continues.

"It is a time for me to bring honor to all the Chickasaw people by creating art that is more than something just seen; art is color depicted from my heart and visually displayed on canvas to honor our forefathers. It is my legacy and my continuum in being the best Native American I can be."

'Native Free' watercolor on paper - Mary Ruth Barnes
Mary Ruth has received many honors including being selected as Chickasaw Dynamic Woman of the year for 2015.  She is one of 20 featured in "Chickasaw Women Artisans" by Alison Fields, a hardback book published in 2016 by the Chickasaw Press.

One of her short stories and watercolors were featured in the Spring issue of the Chickasaw History and Culture Ishtunowa journal. She was honored as a Chickasaw Artist in the July 2015 issue of Distinctly Oklahoma magazine. She was selected for the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Chickasaw Dynamic Woman Forum.

During the months of January and February 2017, "Native Free," (see left) a watercolor on paper, was on exhibit at the Center for the Arts in Rockport, Texas.

Her paintings can be seen hanging in the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center; new Artesian Hotel; Davis, Oklahoma, Welcome Center; and Chickasaw Nation offices in Oklahoma City.

Painting on buffalo head - Mary Ruth Barnes


To read more about Mary Ruth and Mike Barnes' RVing to the gulf coast of Texas, click here.

-- Text and photos by Julianne G. Crane (Click on images to enlarge.)

To read more about the RV lifestyle go to