The first post in our series about solo women RVers comes from Judy Patton of Ladynomad on the Road to Nowhere. Since she has been full-timing for 9 years, she is an ideal person for kicking off this series. If you are a solo woman RVer who would be interested in contributing to this series, please let us know.
Bio: My name is Judy Patton. I am in my mid-50s and prior to my RVing, most of my career was as a logistics analyst within the aerospace industry, although I also worked as a Federal Investigator, a tax accountant and before/after school care provider. I have been a full-time RVer for 9 years. My journeys are recorded on my blog: www.ladynomad2005.blogspot.com.
I started my RVing lifestyle with my husband, Jim, in 2002. We traveled throughout the U.S., including Alaska, doing volunteer work about 5 months a year with MMAP (Mobile Missionary Assistance Program), Everglades National Park and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Florida. This went on for 3 years until Jim became ill and died of cancer in 2005.
For the next 2 years I was a volunteer at French Camp Academy (a Christian Boarding School in Mississippi) during the school year, traveling to visit family and friends during the summer months. But in the summer of 2007 things changed and I ended up back on the road again full-time. I had left to meet up with friends at the Winnebago Grand National Rally in Forest City, Iowa, planning to return and go to work full time back at French Camp Academy when the summer was over. I was going to sell my RV and everything. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the lifestyle, but I did not enjoy doing things alone. I’m a very active person, enjoying hiking, biking, and sightseeing, and although I could do these things by myself, I didn’t want to. But at the rally in Iowa I met Sharon Del Rosario who was at the time president of the Solos, the singles chapter of the Escapees RV Club. She invited me to attend one of their rallies in Kendallville, IN, in September 2007. It was there I found out about several other singles RV clubs such as the SI’s, the singles chapter of FMCA; the LOWs, Loners on Wheels, a national club with chapters in every state; and the WINs, Wandering Individual Network. Although I remain a member of the SOLOs and the SIs, I spend most of my time traveling with the WINs.
I was surprised at how many single women were out there traveling in their RVs, some full-time and others just part-time. The ratio is about 50/50 men to women within the clubs. Each club has its own benefits and style. The SIs and SOLOs usually meet throughout the year for rallies, staying a week or so, doing some sightseeing and lots of visiting and socializing, but then they scatter until the next rally. The WINs, on the other hand, give you the opportunity to travel with other singles virtually 52 weeks a year if you desire. Their style is gatherings within a circuit or caravan, moving each week or so to a new location. Many times there are multiple gatherings going on at the same time.
Let me explain. Last summer the group started in St. Louis about mid-May and ended up in Astoria, OR, Labor Day weekend, following the Lewis and Clark Trail. They kayaked various locations along the way, including an overnight trip on the Missouri in Montana.They biked several rail-to-trails, including the Hiawatha Trail in Idaho. This upcoming summer will see one group heading to the east coast, taking in Niagara Falls, NYC and Washington, D.C., while another group checks out the Pacific NW. The newsletter announces the dates and locations of gatherings and you show up at the ones you want to participate. Some people attend only a few gatherings a year, while others travel along the caravan route most of the time. To join the WINs you must own an RV, be single and under the age of 70. During the winter the club hangs out in Arizona and southern California, starting with Thanksgiving at Borrego Springs, Christmas and New Years in Yuma, AZ; moving on to Quartzsite for the RV show in January and ending with a dance rally in Casa Grande in February. In between these gatherings the group may be on the beach in Mexico, hiking in the Superstition Mountains, visiting ghost towns and dancing wherever they can. We rarely stay in organized RV parks, choosing instead boondocking locations. We find places to stay on BLM land, forest service campgrounds, National Park campgrounds and other locations. Most of us are equipped with solar panels (I have 3) and inverters. I have gone months without hooking up to electric, just finding a place to dump my holding tanks and filling up with water every 2 weeks. Many of the group belongs to various fraternal organizations. I belong to the VFW, Eagles, Elks and Moose. I can usually find one of these lodges somewhere close to where I am heading and if there parking lot is large enough and there is no prohibiting city ordinances, the lodges welcomes travelers. I truly feel like a modern day nomad, traveling with a group of friends which have become family. People come and go from gathering to gathering, but like any other community, you have friends with which to enjoy the activities of this lifestyle.
For more information on the WINs, check out their website: www.rvsingles.org.