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.

Monday, March 09, 2015

RVer, author Judy Howard travels 'Coast to Coast with a Cat and a Ghost'

Author and solo RVer Judy Howard with pet companion Sportster (Julianne G. Crane)
Solo RVer Judy Howard's lust for traveling became ingrained during a family vacation when she was a young girl.

In 1955, she recalls, "We traveled in our Willys Jeep towing our travel trailer from Springfield, Ill., to visit Disneyland" in California. "For a ten-year-old girl, that experience was unforgettable, not only because of Disneyland, but also because of the journey itself--Route 66, small towns, horned toads and Indians."

Now, nearing 70, Judy says she still feels "just as much passion for the journey as for the destination. Every day I am filled with gratitude for the privileged lifestyle I am able to enjoy."

Judy Howard's traveling rig.
She's married three times during her life. "My third was the longest of 25 years, the hardest and, amazingly, the best."

"In 2000 my husband and I purchased a 1997 24-foot Class C Winnebago Itasca.  We were only able to enjoy a few trips before he fell ill to lung cancer and died in 2004."

While she nursed her husband, she also nurtured a dream of driving their motorhome from southern California to Florida to visit a friend.

"After watching the Tom Hanks movie, Cast Away, I created a life-sized doll like the Wilson (soccer ball) character in the movie. He would become my companion and I would tell him my plans," she says.

"Afraid and alone, three months after my husband passed away, I made that trip, accompanied by the doll and my cat, Sportster, riding shotgun. With country music cranked and blaring for 3,000 miles all the way to Florida, I cried and sang my lungs out. However, the woman who drove the 3,000 miles back home had changed. She sang 'I will survive,' 'I am woman,' and 'I’m Proud to be an American.'"

Inside Judy and Sportster's motorhome. (Julianne G. Crane)
In the beginning of her RVing adventures, Judy worked full time as the owner of a pet grooming business, The Canine Beauty Salon.  She joined a Good Sam chapter called the Rolling Singles and tried to be content with close-by, monthly camp outs. "But I yearned to go farther and longer."

Judy has traveled solo in her Winnebago for 11 years now. "I love its size and the coziness of the Class C floor plan."

In 2010 Judy discovered she had a talent and love for writing. "I’ve had a custom desk built in my motorhome so that I can spend my future doing the two things I love--writing and traveling."

Judy Howard's books (Julianne G. Crane)
She wrote her first book about her 2004 trip, Coast to Coast with a Cat and a Ghost. (2011). It is "a memoir about my loss, but more importantly, about my new beginning as an RVing widow," she says.

In 2012, Judy published:  Going Home with a Cat and a Ghost "a romantic mystery appealing to everyone in the second half of their life who have asked themselves, What if? Even in this work of fiction, Judy Howard delivers to the reader a message about how to rise above life's tragedies."

Her third book,  Masada's Marine: A Story of a Service Dog and her Wounded Marine Warrior came out in 2014. The novel, "the uplifting message of overcoming life's dramatic hurdles is delivered. Howard draws the reader into the life of a Marine Corps veteran who struggles with PTSD when he comes home from Iraq and, also, into the life a dog named Masada, who becomes a service dog for the wounded warrior."

About Sportster, the cat

Sportster (Julianne G. Crane)
"He has more fans and followers than I do," says Judy.

"He arrived in my life when someone brought him into my grooming shop as a small kitten, asking where the humane society was located. I was considering adopting a dog, but I agreed to take the kitten and find him a home," she says.

"I didn’t particularly like cats, but my employees talked me into making him a 'shop cat.' He didn’t last long in the shop cat position before he had purred his way into my heart, and I took him home. Now I would not own a dog. Cats are amazing, at least Sportster is."

He is a traveler, a companion, an explorer and a co-author. "He writes a blog, The Cat’s Perspective On Reading, Writing and Life, and has begun to write his memoirs. He too, loves to travel and gets very excited when he sees me loading the motorhome."

More about Judy Howard

Judy also presents inspirational seminars about writing and self-publishing at RV rallies, libraries, schools and veteran centers. "I believe writing is healing, and that we owe it to our youth to record our history."

Although not a full time RVer, she says, "the lure to do so is strong. I travel four to five months out of the year."

Always before a long trip she says she is scared. "The 'What If’s' try to consume me. Always before I publish my next book I am nauseous with worry. What will people think? Life is scary," she says.

"My message to everyone–and Sportster would agree–whatever it is you want to do with your life, don’t let fear keep you from getting behind the wheel.  Pack up your doubts, put your dreams in gear, and step on the gas. Life is for living."

Blog: The Wandering RV Widow.

She is currently working on books four and five.

Julianne G. Crane

Read more RV lifestyle articles by Julianne G Crane at