Getting my kicks…on Route 66!

The great adventure continues…

I waved goodbye to the extended family in Fayetteville, Arkansas and headed back to I-40 on the road to Albuquerque, NM.   First fun stop – the overlook on The Pig Trail Scenic Bypass just below Fayetteville…what a beautiful view of the lower Ozark Mountains!

Overlook on The Pig Trail Scenic Bypass, Route 23, Ozark Mountain region of NW Arkansas
Overlook on The Pig Trail Scenic Bypass, Route 23, Ozark Mountain region of NW Arkansas

Just a short hop on I-40 and I was back in Oklahoma (graduated high school there in 1974, Edmond).  The wide open sky and miles of Native American country was a welcome sight!  The many historical markers showing which tribe lived in each area and the sight of so many casinos gave me such mixed emotions.  I am so ashamed of how we treated the Native Americans, and how we continue to treat them is not much better.

I spent the night boondocking at a well-lit truck stop outside Oklahoma City in the rain – I sleep so well with the rain drumming on my rooftop! As I continued crossing the state the next day, I found myself picturing in my mind how this must have looked back in the early 1800’s.

When I first moved to Oklahoma in 1970 (from New Hampshire – a real culture shock!), I was required to take a semester class in Oklahoma history in order to graduate there.  What an interesting story unfolded as I sat next to Native American students in class.  How I wish I had been bolder back then and taken advantage of our proximity to develop some friendships that would have magnified my education and understanding! Now we are having protests at Standing Rock, ND, and I wish I had a better understanding of these American brothers and sisters.

I love watching the clouds out of my van's large windows -it was a gray, drizzly day and the cloud formations were awesome!
I love watching the clouds out of my van’s large windows -it was a gray, drizzly day and the cloud formations were awesome!

As I crossed into the Texas panhandle the following day, I realized it was Election Day.  I had already sent in my absentee ballot, and I purposely tuned out the media and just enjoyed myself on Route 66.  I found myself singing some good old road trip songs:  America the Beautiful, God Bless America, This Land is Your Land, I’m Proud to Be an American, etc.  I really do love this country, and the whole 2016 election process has been so horrible and divisive.  I’m not willing to live with hatred, and will take every opportunity possible to stand for and with each person in dignity and respect, regardless of political viewpoint, sexual preference, gender, religion, immigration status, or any other defining category.  We are all Americans and all deserve to be heard and valued.  We can do better; I can do better!

The numerous wind farms on the panhandle made me smile, as I love these monstrous beauties!  But I was also smiling at all the old Texas windmills, and was happy when I was able to capture both in one photo – the old windmill in the foreground, and the wind farm in the background.  This is my favorite picture of my adventure so far!  The wind is out there – waiting to be used!

Texas windmills – past and present!

I spent the night in Amarillo, Texas and used a 50%-off coupon for a hotel to take a shower and launder clothes, as it had been several days of rain on this leg of the journey.  The next morning was clear, and I followed Route 66 as it continued into New Mexico. I loved the changing vista from flat lands to mesas, with all the beautiful scenes outside my windows as I drove – although the speed limit was 75, I drove at 60-65 so I wouldn’t miss all the amazing views.  I stopped in Tucumcari for lunch (mainly because I just wanted to keep saying “Tucumcari” – what a great name!), some delicious smokehouse brisket, yum!  The scenery changed to high mesas, and finally into the Sandia Mountains and my destination of Albuquerque.

The sky is so HUGE in New Mexico, with 320+ days of sunshine per year – love, love, love!  Of course, seeing my family is one of the best parts of this adventure and I am very happy to be spending some time with Tara and Morgan. It is so gratifying and satisfying to see your adult children living successful lives and choosing to be wise and compassionate members of society — makes Mama Bear very proud!

There is so much to see and do here in New Mexico, and Albuquerque in particular.  I will be spending some time here with Thanksgiving just around the corner, albeit with a flight back to New York for Christmas. (Gram will see you soon, Genevieve and Ben!)


What book are you reading now?

From my bookshelf:

“Trust in intuition is the exact opposite of living in fear. In fact, the role of fear in your life lessens as you come to know that you will listen to the quiet wind chime and have no need for claxons [loud alarms].”

from  The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker, 1997


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Safety First!!!

The most frequently asked question of solo women RV-ers:

“But what about your SAFETY ?!?!?”

Personal safety is, of course, a very important issue.  However, conversations with RV-ers both on social media and in person all come to the same conclusion:

Our best defense is common sense/intuition

always being aware of your surroundings…

choosing wisely where to stop…

moving on if you feel “ummmm, doesn’t feel safe”…

keeping someone informed of where you are.

So what else can a gal do to stay safe?  Personally, I carry on my key ring a small device that emits a 120 decibel alarm if I pull the pin, and a very bright LED flashlight with strobe. This is with me at all times.

High decibel personal alarm on key ring - just pull the pin
High decibel personal alarm on key ring – just pull the pin

 I also have a Louisville Slugger (baseball bat) in my van.

Louisville Slugger - made famous by Carrie Underwood
Louisville Slugger – made famous by Carrie Underwood

Additionally, when any door is opened on the van, four LED strips light up the world inside my van — powerfully bright.

Small LED lightstrip
Small LED lightstrip
4 of these LED lightstrips really illuminate the entire van

From extensive readings and interviews, I see that a few women carry a gun of some kind.  If someone is licensed and trained, a firearm could be of benefit, but I know I personally do not want to drive around “armed and dangerous”! I also do not have a dog with me, or pet of any kind, although I know many women travel with canine protection.  I have taken a defensive strategy class, and recommend that as well. Growing up with six brothers had taught me most of this already, but a good refresher class was part of my start-up strategy!

Vehicular safety is also an important facet of all RV-ers.  Preventive maintenance is key, and saves an abundance of breakdowns and problems on the road, which can be particularly unsafe.  Besides a full tool kit, fire extinguisher, a good spare tire, jack and flares, etc., I also have an emergency kit with water, protein, safety blanket, surgical and CPR masks, etc.

Jumper cables, Flat fire foam, flares, etc.
Jumper cables, Flat fire foam, flares, etc.
Home emergency backpack with water, protein, weather radio, space blanket, first aid supplies
Home emergency backpack with water, protein, weather radio, space blanket, first aid supplies
Auto fire extinguisher on passenger door panel next to other emergency supplies
Auto fire extinguisher on passenger door panel next to other emergency supplies

When parked at a rest stop or campsite, I lock my van doors from the inside and add a locking steel-corded bungee cord (actually bike lock cord) so the doors will not open if the lock is busted. Only the driver door can be entered with just the key.

Bungie cords are locked inside the doors to prevent opening during travel stops

Very few RV-ers have a story of when they were in an unsafe situation, and few have encountered violence of any kind.  Media tends to portray our American world as full of violent crazies and while we recognize there are some out there, they are not usually encountered by RV-ers.  Most solo female RV-ers have just used common sense, and never remained in a place where they felt unsafe, so the fear is reduced significantly with experience.

An excellent book recently recommended is The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.  The emphasis on learning survival signals and trusting your instinct is fantastic!  Passing on the recommendation to everyone!

A great protocol in traveling which I discovered in a Facebook group post, and now follow, is the 9-2-4 rule:

9) Leave your overnight location around 9 am (avoid those hurrying off to work in the morning and school buses);

2) drive in 2-hour increments with a break in-between so one doesn’t get over-tired;

4) arrive at your next destination by 4 pm — and if you feel unsafe, you have another hour or more of daylight to find another (safe) overnight place.

This usually has the RV-er traveling about 250-350 miles a day at an unhurried pace, with time to explore and relax.

Smartphone apps are abundant and provide great assistance on the road, especially with boondocking and destinations.  Most travelers use a GPS, and apps like RV Parky, AllStays, RVovernight and Gas Buddy are terrific resources that are free to upload and use. There are many more apps that help a traveler plan and execute a safe trip.

How many travel apps do you have?

While many folks like to plan ahead, there are a significant number of us who may have a general idea of where we want to go but we don’t plan much beyond today and perhaps tomorrow.  By the time I pull onto the road in the morning, I usually have several options in mind for my next overnight destination.  But since I am always ready to turn left instead of right, or detour to something I want to see along the way, those plans may change throughout the day.  When I have parked for the night (by 4 p.m.) I send a text message of my location to my home base, my son and daughter-in-law in New York.

If stopping to hike (alone as that is how I travel), I will let my home base know the logistics of where I am, how long I expect to be hiking, etc.  If I am hiking from a campground, I will let my campground neighbor know the same.  NOTE: It is always a good idea to befriend a couple or several couples in your chosen campground, and also to let them know you’ll be gone from the campground for a while.  Good neighbors will keep an eye on each other’s RVs and equipment.

There are also some “tricks of the trade” which I have seen:

some solo female RV-ers will place a pair of men’s workboots and an extra camp chair outside their RV;

A heavy-duty dog chain/collar hung up by the RV may offer a measure of security, especially combined with an audible “bark”;

Sitting a teddy bear with men’s cap or a cardboard cutout of a male (I have Sheldon Cooper from the TV show The Big Bang Theory) in the driver’s seat works for some. I don’t think this Sheldon could protect me, or the real Sheldon character either! LOL, sorry Jim Parsons!

Car alarms, emergency road assistance, HAMM and CB radios, On-Star or HUM diagnostics and service, AAA, etc. are all good options.

Safety is very important, but the fear is usually unwarranted or greatly exaggerated.  Above all, step outside of your comfort zone in a wise manner that keeps you safe but allows you to adventure beyond what most people live.  I find that many people who are negative about a solo female RV-er are speaking from a place of good intentions, even love, but misplaced…and sometimes even jealous or envious of your adventure while they feel stuck in their own lives.

 If you dream of traveling, or any other dream, use your resources to learn and plan well, but then step out and find your adventure!


What book are you reading now?

From my bookshelf…

“Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between two points, life has a way of confounding geometry.  Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us.  There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition, and a willingness to be surprised.”

Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart   by Gordon Livingston, M.D., 2004


Disclosure:  Amazon is my only affiliate link – I get commissions for purchases made through this link.  If you click on  “Search Amazon” below the following ad, my affiliate link is coded into that click. Thank you!