Thursday, September 28, 2023


RVing is my life—all my life

I was 10. Or 10 ½, as we liked to call it back then.

It was the summer of 1965 and Dad was between jobs at the university and had six weeks off.

We had camped before in our Scamp popup, but this trip would be different because of the length of the trip and the miles traveled.

On June 23, six of us jumped on Route 66 in Normal, IL, with the goal of making it to California in 11 days. Our plan was to visit Grandma’s best friends in Lancaster, CA. They had left her hometown in southwest Wisconsin about 45 years earlier.

Mom, Dad, Grandma, my older sister, older brother, and I were supposed to fit into one popup trailer. My sister ended up sleeping in the back of our station wagon.

I have vivid memories of this trip—maybe because my brain hadn’t filled up yet. My sister, age 15, remembers very little—except for missing her boyfriend.

I distinctly recall on our way back, on some northerly route (not sure which) thinking, “I want to do this for the rest of my life.”

I figured I would travel in a VW bus. I figured I might have to wait until I retired. The only role model I had was my mother’s cousin who cruised the country with his wife in a gorgeous Airstream.

But for the next 50 years, I told anyone who would listen: This is what I am going to do when I retire. I am going to buy an RV and I am going to hit the road. And I am going to stay out for a long, long time.

We traveled a lot as a family and I traveled a lot as an adult. But this particular journey is especially special because Grandma wrote down in her daily diary where we went each day and what we did.

Fifty years later, to the exact day, I headed out on my own (in a 2008 Navion, which was much better than a VW bus) to replicate the expedition as closely as possible. Day for day I visited the same attractions we saw in 1965—the Will Rogers Museum in Claremore, OK, Grand Canyon, Albuquerque, and Calico Ghost Town at the California-Nevada border.

My first big trip in 2015 was 3.5 months. Ten months later, I sold my house and hit the road full-time. Seven years later and I am still on the road—in my third RV, a Phoenix Cruiser. I cannot imagine any other life.

Somewhere in my first year, I discovered Wandering Individuals Network and, as I am single, this group fits my active lifestyle perfectly. I’ve probably been to 40 states with them. We tend to only stay in one spot a week. Every summer I head to Seattle to visit my nephew’s family. Winters have been spent in Arizona, Mexico, Texas and Florida. Lots of Florida. For six years I have edited the monthly newsletter for WIN.

This quote sums me up: “I haven’t been everywhere yet. But it’s on my list.”


Jan Steele
Jan Steele
Former newspaper editor Jan Steele started her career in third grade as a school correspondent for her local newspaper and has been writing for publication ever since, including a 30-year-stint at the Herald-News in Joliet, IL. She decided in fourth grade she wanted to hit the road as soon as she could—and retired eight years ago to RV full-time.


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Bill Byerly
1 month ago

Yes, looking forward to more of your adventures

1 month ago

Welcome and safe travels.

Bob P
1 month ago

Welcome! You probably were not at the Joliet Herald during the times I lived in Romeoville and New Lenox but I got that paper for about 15 years.

Janette Steele
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob P

Hey Bob I was at The Herald-need 1977 to 2007, almost to exact day in July… my byline back then was Jan Larsen… when were you in area?

Neal Davis
1 month ago

Welcome, Jan! Great start. 🙂 Thank you, and safe travels!

1 month ago

Looking forward to reading of your travels!

Bob M
1 month ago

I’ve been to Lancaster, Ca many times while stationed at Edwards AFB from around Apr 75 thru Aug 77.

Patti Panuccio
1 month ago

It was 1961 and we drove from Tampa FL to AK. We didn’t camp but I was hooked. And now at 70 I still have itchy feet to go somewhere, anywhere.

1 month ago

I haven’t been everywhere yet either. But I know quite a few people who have been everywhere, and done everything, too.

1 month ago

Thanks for the article. Just a clarification. Calico Ghost town is not on the border of Ca/Nv. It’s about 105 miles to Nevada (Primm) from Calico. Some Nevada borders are farther. Happy Travels!

1 month ago

I’m looking forward to more of your articles.

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