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


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Solo RVer Diana Pace loves the outdoors, hiking National Parks, and her simple van

Diana Pace of Roseburg, Ore., visits Badlands National Park, South Dakota
As a mom, Diana Pace of Roseburg, Ore., tent camped with her sons until they were about 14, "after which,” she mused, "they didn't want to be seen hanging out with their mom. Actually when they were in their 20s we started backpacking together and had some awesome trips.”

After a lifetime of camping, she wasn’t about to give it up when she became an empty-nester. Sometime in the 90’s, she went on a hiking trip with a friend who owned a VW Vanagon.

"I loved it,” Diana recalls. "I knew I didn't want a motor home or to pull a trailer and I didn't need a TV or air conditioning. I was used to tent camping and backpacking. A camper van seemed just right for me. No tent to put up, or worries about rain, and easy to get around in.  Simple.”

In 2000 she found a 1994 Ford Aerostar converted van. She named it “Dakini" after a trip to Bhutan when she learned that it means "angel."

Diana Pace travels in “Dakini” her 1994 Ford Aerostar van. 
"It's a simple setup with a pop-up roof, bed, sink, counter, lights and frig,” says the retired nurse. "I use a single burner propane backpack stove to cook on.”  She installed a solar panel for power because she usually dry camps where there are no electric hook-ups. Through the years Diana has had the transmission replaced and the engine rebuilt.

The 4-wheel drive van allows her to camp and hike "pretty much anywhere" she wants. And where she wants are national and state parks from Canada to southern California and from the west coast to the midwest.

In the summer of 2015, Diana made an epic 6,080-mile journey from Oregon to 14 national parks and monuments in Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Diana Pace hikes Sierras Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park.
"Everything went smoothly on the entire trip, from getting campsites to boat tours on Lake Superior to cave tour tickets in South Dakota, to meeting great folks in spite of the demands of high tourist season,” says Diana.

"I have made many trips to the Southwest and I can't seem to get enough of the parks in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico,” says the retiree. "I love visiting the Puebloan/Native American sites.”

This past winter she spent part of the snowbird season camping and hiking near Quartzsite and Lake Havasu in Arizona; Joshua Tree National Park in southern California; and Lake Mead, Lake Mohave and Death Valley National Park in Nevada.

Diana does not hesitate to travel alone. “Early on I did several Oregon trips with my granddaughter. Other than that, I travel solo meeting nice folks from all over the country and the world."

-- Julianne G. Crane 
Read about the RV lifestyle at

Photos: Courtesy of Diana Pace

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Good place to store earrings in your RV

Earrings are small and easily misplaced. Most RVers bring along a basic selection on their trips. Here's an easy, handy way to store them that will keep them all in one place and easily accessible when it's time to put on a new pair.