Friday, February 20, 2015

Longtime solo tent camper Catherine Woods moves up to 13-foot Scamp travel trailer

Solo RVer Catherine Woods at Catalina State Park. (Julianne G Crane)
"It seems I was born to live outdoors," said Catherine Woods of Ashville, NC.

Catherine grew up a city girl in Syracuse NY,  but always loved going to children's camp in the Adirondacks. "As much as possible, I went for the whole season because I loved being in nature."

In the 1960s, Catherine's husband introduced her to camping on their honeymoon. "After that, however," she reflected, "we didn't camp much because his family had a cottage on Keuka Lake (one the Finger Lakes in upstate New York) and we went there often."

Catherine, a registered nurse, and her husband soon moved to a small town of 800 on the lake and raised their family. "We hiked and did a lot of outdoor activities," she said. "But not much overnight camping."

After 30 years of marriage, Catherine and her husband divorced.  In her 50s, she went on a few organized outdoor group camping vacations and "loved it." The wilderness was calling her back.

She soon accomplished her dream job as a camp nurse. "I live on the camp's land--600 acres--in Georgia for five years," said Catherine. "I had my dog there, as well as starting my holistic health business."

The business did well, however, she discovered Georgia was not for her. "I closed it all down and with my dog and my tenting gear I went out West looking for a place to live."

For two years, Catherine worked as a traveling nurse, taking jobs where housing was provided. Between assignments she lived in her tent. "Now that I recall it, that was pretty gutsy," she said.

In 2001, Catherine decided to move to Asheville where a daughter lives.

She found work at the local hospital as a critical care nurse. "I'm fortunate to have a PRN job where I can work when I'm available," she said. "I enjoy the work, the money and the people." Each summer she continued to tent camp in the Tetons near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. "I have loved it and have a community of friends there."

Catherine Woods with her Subaru and 2014 13-foot Scamp. (Julianne G Crane)
 Last year Catherine decided she wanted to pursue winter camping.  "I thought that since I'm going to be 75 years old, maybe my future needs might include a little hard-sided camper."

She did a lot of research online for new and used options. Wherever she tent camped, she rode her bicycle around the campground looking at different RVs and asking questions.

Because she was single she knew she did not want another vehicle, such as a class B, C, or A motor home, and she was looking for something small enough that could be towed with her late-model all-wheel 4-cylinder Subaru.

Front of Scamp. (Julianne G Crane)
She decided on a new 13-foot fiberglass Scamp travel trailer. This winter has been her maiden voyage and admits that she has made a few small mistakes.

"It has been a challenge," she said, "but I've always liked being challenged and think it is necessary for keeping a vibrant lifestyle. I never was in an RV nor pulled a trailer, but thought it must be in me to do it."

"Here's how I look at things," she mused. "I can either do these scary things or live a joyless life. Those are my only two choices."

Rear bed area (Julianne G Crane)
"However,  I had some scary experiences tenting too," she said. "When I look back on them I choose to look at how well I handled them and what I might do different next time. I mostly try to be proud of myself."

"I am a critical care nurse who has handled plenty of life threatening situations," she reflected. "I think it's important to know that I will be guided to do the right thing and then notice how I did and be grateful for it."

"I feel so well and mostly free of fear when I am out on the road. The things I love most are the people and how we all are willing, and wanting, to share our true feelings without fear of rejection."

Story and photos by Julianne G Crane
Read more RV lifestyle articles by Julianne G Crane at


  1. 75? WoW!!!!!
    Enjoy, Live Long and Prosper!!

  2. that's awesome! What a way to live. :)

  3. Your amazing - I so admire you and your brave way of looking at life!!

  4. My kind of girl. You go girl..

  5. Love everything about you, Catherine! You are my idol.

  6. I'd love to talk about your experience if you can write or call me. I travel, and have a scamp. I'm a PTA. I just left Bath, NY.