The Fourth of July is always an emotional time for me. It was my late husband's birthday. And although he has been gone eleven years, every time I hear fireworks popping in the distance, his words come to me, "Everyone celebrates my birthday!"
At times I still miss him even as I remember the struggles we dealt with in our relationship, and I am reminded that it is our struggles in life that make us stronger and life sweeter. So on this Fourth of July, as I recall the price of my free Freedom and yours, I also remember to thank my higher power, for the good and the seemingly bad, for it is through our tragedy that we find truth.
For those of you whom haven't met me and Sportster, please enjoy this wonderful interview by Julianne Crane of Women RVers. I will be hitting the road soon and hope to cross paths with you. I would so like to meet you.
RVer, author Judy Howard travels 'Coast to Coast with a Cat and a Ghost'
|Author and solo RVer Judy Howard with pet companion Sportster (Julianne G. Crane)|
In 1955, she recalls, "We traveled in our Willys Jeep towing our travel trailer from Springfield, Ill., to visit Disneyland" in California. "For a ten-year-old girl, that experience was unforgettable, not only because of Disneyland, but also because of the journey itself--Route 66, small towns, horned toads and Indians."
Now, nearing 70, Judy says she still feels "just as much passion for the journey as for the destination. Every day I am filled with gratitude for the privileged lifestyle I am able to enjoy."
|Judy Howard's traveling rig.|
"In 2000 my husband and I purchased a 1997 24-foot Class C Winnebago Itasca. We were only able to enjoy a few trips before he fell ill to lung cancer and died in 2004."
While she nursed her husband, she also nurtured a dream of driving their motorhome from southern California to Florida to visit a friend.
"After watching the Tom Hanks movie, Cast Away, I created a life-sized doll like the Wilson (soccer ball) character in the movie. He would become my companion and I would tell him my plans," she says.
"Afraid and alone, three months after my husband passed away, I made that trip, accompanied by the doll and my cat, Sportster, riding shotgun. With country music cranked and blaring for 3,000 miles all the way to Florida, I cried and sang my lungs out. However, the woman who drove the 3,000 miles back home had changed. She sang 'I will survive,' 'I am woman,' and 'I’m Proud to be an American.'"
|Inside Judy and Sportster's motorhome. (Julianne G. Crane)|
Judy has traveled solo in her Winnebago for 11 years now. "I love its size and the coziness of the Class C floor plan."
In 2010 Judy discovered she had a talent and love for writing. "I’ve had a custom desk built in my motorhome so that I can spend my future doing the two things I love--writing and traveling."
|Judy Howard's books (Julianne G. Crane)|
In 2012, Judy published: Going Home with a Cat and a Ghost "a romantic mystery appealing to everyone in the second half of their life who have asked themselves, What if? Even in this work of fiction, Judy Howard delivers to the reader a message about how to rise above life's tragedies."
Her third book, Masada's Marine: A Story of a Service Dog and her Wounded Marine Warrior came out in 2014. The novel, "the uplifting message of overcoming life's dramatic hurdles is delivered. Howard draws the reader into the life of a Marine Corps veteran who struggles with PTSD when he comes home from Iraq and, also, into the life a dog named Masada, who becomes a service dog for the wounded warrior."
About Sportster, the cat
|Sportster (Julianne G. Crane)|
"He arrived in my life when someone brought him into my grooming shop as a small kitten, asking where the humane society was located. I was considering adopting a dog, but I agreed to take the kitten and find him a home," she says.
"I didn’t particularly like cats, but my employees talked me into making him a 'shop cat.' He didn’t last long in the shop cat position before he had purred his way into my heart, and I took him home. Now I would not own a dog. Cats are amazing, at least Sportster is."
He is a traveler, a companion, an explorer and a co-author. "He writes a blog, The Cat’s Perspective On Reading, Writing and Life, and has begun to write his memoirs. He too, loves to travel and gets very excited when he sees me loading the motorhome."
More about Judy HowardJudy also presents inspirational seminars about writing and self-publishing at RV rallies, libraries, schools and veteran centers. "I believe writing is healing, and that we owe it to our youth to record our history."
Although not a full time RVer, she says, "the lure to do so is strong. I travel four to five months out of the year."
Always before a long trip she says she is scared. "The 'What If’s' try to consume me. Always before I publish my next book I am nauseous with worry. What will people think? Life is scary," she says.
"My message to everyone–and Sportster would agree–whatever it is you want to do with your life, don’t let fear keep you from getting behind the wheel. Pack up your doubts, put your dreams in gear, and step on the gas. Life is for living."
Blog: The Wandering RV Widow.
She is currently working on books four and five.
– Julianne G. Crane