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)

For more on the RV lifestyle go to

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



  1. You sure didn't tell us much about this lady and what she did, other that take a trip with a truck and an "A.R.E. canopy". Just what is an "A.R.E. canopy"? Does it pop up for more room, or is it just a cover or cap on the back? Did she sleep in a tent? If so then this was just a tent trip, with a place to store her gear in the back of the truck. Or did she sleep in the back of the truck?

  2. Al and Sharon:
    Thank you reading the article and for your observations and comments.
    An ARE canopy is simple a cap on the back of a truck, not a pop-up. She slept in the back of her truck under the canopy with her dog, Bell ... so technically she was not "RVing" in a self-contained rig. She was, however, traveling in a unique, inexpensive way for a gutsy, solo woman to travel lightly and safely across the U.S.A.

  3. Where did she stay? Campgrounds to shower and etc.and night bathroom needs? this article is really lacking info ..somewhat disappointed but interested in her venture..

  4. Since there seems to be interest in more detail about her travels, I'll get in touch with Dawn and ask her if she would like to share more.

  5. Dawn said that she camped in a variety of places. Her favorites were national and state parks with restroom facilities.

    “Camping is the best way for me to travel,” she said. “I sleep better in my truck than in hotels, which tend to be noisy with doors closing and pluming, heating and refrigerators making noise.

    “Hotels don’t have quiet hours like campgrounds,” observed Dawn. However, “they do provide a private bathroom.”