Ruth and Max at the Natyra e Qete Restaurant & Camping near Berat, Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Berat, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? South towards Greece.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Blogger Interview...Episode #2

Welcome to the second edition of our weekly Blogger Interview series!

Today, we would like to introduce you to a single lady who has recently completed her first ever RV'ing adventure. She has also only recently began her own blog, and I think that many of our readers will be interested in following her adventures! Currently back in California, she spent the winter in Mexico and is in the process of trying to decide on a different RV...and a new destination!

And so, here we are with Mary-Pat from Butterflies and Heart Songs.

Kevin and Ruth: Mary-Pat, maybe we could start off with a little personal background. Where were you born, and what state do you now call home?

Mary-Pat: I was born in San Francisco, CA on February 3, 1943, the older sister with one brother - a year and a half younger.  My dad was a career Army officer (Colonel) and I was born when he was almost 40 years old - during the middle of WWII.  He happened to be stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco when I came along - I actually 'lived' in SF for a whole 6 months!  Mom and baby "Patsy" and later, brother, Jim, traveled back and forth across the US depending on where my dad would be in between assignments in the Pacific theater.

After over 30 years in the military, Mom and Dad retired in Campbell, California when I was about 8 years old, where Dad became the Post Master.  I went through high school in Santa Clara County and married at the ripe old age of 17.  My husband and our family moved many times during our 32-year marriage, actually buying 19 houses in six US states!

I've been divorced for 20 years(!) and retired in 2011 after a long career in nursing - from surgical staff nurse to hospital administration.  I currently own a home in Roseville, CA (near Sacramento); although I've been adventuring out of the country and/or in my Toyota Dolphin for all but two months of that time.

Kevin and Ruth: Wow, so you've been moving around your whole life. Can you tell us about some of the places you've traveled to outside of the United States?

Mary-Pat: I think, due to all the travel my dad did in his military career and that I did in my own family life (husband, three kids), I truly have the 'wander bug' firmly imbedded.  In my life I've visited all Continents except Antarctica - that's still on my bucket list of places to go.

I spent six months taking a college course in the history of Chinese art in order to qualify for a month-long visit to China with a group of art enthusiasts.  I 'lived' in Southern France for six months studying French, my mother's native language that she didn't teach me.  I spent a month in India visiting with a small group of textile-interested people visiting the magnificently talented Indian embroiderers, weavers and dyers all over that country.  I also spent a month in Peru with the same group the following year and three weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico too.

Last November I returned from a year and a half in Guatemala studying Spanish, and can honestly say I felt very comfortable with my language skills on my first RV adventure as a woman traveling solo in Mexico these last several months.  I didn't have ANY bad experiences as far as safety and security go - I think speaking the language is a really definite advantage.

Let's see I've been all over Europe having made ten trips there over the course of my life, many countries in Asia, a little of Africa with lots more to see.  I went to Australia and New Zealand several years ago; unfortunately I was injured in an automobile accident and didn't get to many of the planned stops on the itinerary; but the six-week trip did last six weeks and I met some of the most extraordinary doctors,nurses and people who helped me with my recovery - with some of whom I still communicate 25 years later.

I've visited almost all of South and Central America and loved every minute of my time in those wonderful countries.  The BIG holes in my adventuring are NORTH AMERICA I'm sorry to say.  I've flown over the US and Canada umpteen times - now I intend to become very conversant in the wonders of our own homelands.  I want to take at least a year to travel to all the places I've heard and read about and see them for myself!

I still have lots of places outside North America on that ever-lengthening bucket list too:
the Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, Bali, the Azores and Easter Islands, many countries in Africa, Cambodia, Antarctica of course.  Then there're Egypt, Jordan, Turkmenistan, Latvia ......  OMG I'd better get going!

Kevin and Ruth: "My first RV adventure as a woman traveling solo in Mexico". Whoa, back up a second! Traveling alone in Mexico in an RV? Can you walk us through the thought process that led to that?

Mary-Pat: Originally, I'd planned to travel with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, who live in Redding, CA and who've visited Mexico many times in their RV.  Entering the country through Nogales, we spent our first night in Hermosillo, a city I'd flown to many years ago and would have enjoyed staying for several days but they wanted to head on.  Then we visited a lovely pueblo, Los Alamos, Sonora and did stay there two nights.  From there we went to Navojoa and then on to Mazatlan.

If/when I make that same trip on my own there are so many places I'd like to visit in Sonora and Sinaloa states.  They were most interested in getting to Mazatlan - we stayed at the Mar-a-Villas RV Park north of town.  If I go to Mazatlan again I'd rather be at California RV Park right in where the action is.  From Mar-a-Villa I had to either take a bus, hitch a ride with others or stay right there as I don't (yet) have a tow vehicle.  I did do some bike riding but I'm not comfortable in heavy traffic so most was in and around the RV park.  My sister-in-law is very happy to stay in Mazatlan and we were there for a month; I realized that if I wanted some real Mexican (cultural) adventure I was going to have to head out on my own.  From Mazatlan we headed towards Sayulita, where we were to meet other relatives and friends from home; so I did stay with Barb and boyfriend throughout the time in Sinaloa - but skipped lots of places I'd love to spend some time - lots of beach areas and some inland cities, towns and villages.

I struck out completely on my own from Sayulita - headed to Villa Corona and stayed at the Chimulco Water and RV park for a week.  There I met several lovely couples and took in lots of travel information from them.  I was tentatively planning to head towards Patzcuaro, Jalisco from there; however one US couple told me about Mazamitla in Jalisco  ("pueblo magico") so I decided to head there.  I found an RV park between Mazamitla and Valle de Juarez - and there I met you and Ruth, and so many wonderful new friends that I can still hardly believe it!

Mary-Pat, with Lacy the dog and Daphne the Dolphin motorhome.

Kevin and Ruth: Single female RV'ers aren't that common, especially in Mexico. We were all lucky to meet another single lady on her first RV trip to Mexico, and you two kind of hit it off, didn't you?

Mary-Pat: Yes, during my stay at Hacienda Contreras I met and befriended another solo woman traveler, Renate.  She and I decided to head north (kind of) together - not exactly caravaning, but meeting up at destinations along the way.  We're both very independent ladies and like our 'space' so we very nicely respected each other's and had a fantastic time.  Sometimes we did things together, sometimes not.

Our trip home (Arizona for her and California for me) went something like this:  Valle de Juarez to San Miguel de Allende (incredible place - met Mike and Terri Church and count them among my new best friends - they are authors of "Camping Mexico:  The RV-ers' Guide") - 2 weeks, Matehuala - 2 days, Saltillo - 3 days (fantastic city), Nuevo Laredo - Colombia River Bridge crossing.  [Arrived at the crossing at 1PM on a Saturday afternoon - no other cars or trucks in sight - total time for crossing:  50 seconds!!!  Now, I didn't have a tow vehicle which takes more time; but the crossing could not have been easier].

I spent one night at an RV park only about 20 miles from the border. (Because of all the hoopla about how long it was going to take at the border I wanted to get to an RV park to 'rest' soon after crossing - well that wasn't necessary)!  From there on to several days in San Antonio during their yearly Fiesta Week (fun) and stayed at a fantastic KOA - definitely worth the price with city bus right outside the gate.  Renate and I did some activities together and some solo; it's a very fun city - and the shopping after months in Mexico was sublime!!!

Across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona I stayed in State Parks - two or three nights at each and can give more info if people would like it.  I visited my son-in-law's parents while staying at an RV park in Mesa, Arizona for about 5 days; then I headed into California and spent three days in the process of heading to Dockweiler State Beach RV Park where I stayed for several days for the Loyola Marymount University graduation of my granddaughter - lots of fun and activities with my family, who I hadn't seen in months!  From LA to Bakersfield, then Modesto and on home to Roseville, outside Sacramento.

I stayed home for two days and am now living in my RV at my son's home in Cottonwood, CA - off I-5 south of Redding.

Kevin and Ruth: Have you owned an RV prior to this? Can you tell us about your current RV, and how long you've had it? I understand you're looking for a replacement...?

Mary-Pat: No, this is my first RV.  I bought the 1993 Toyota Dolphin in November 2011 and only used it for a couple of weekend trips close to home.  Then there was almost 18 months while I was in Guatemala during which "Daphne Dolphin" was stored at my son's home waiting for my return.  I got home mid- November 2012 and left for Mexico in January 2013 ... my very first true RV adventure.  My idea was to test out the life and then decide how I wanted to progress and where I wanted to go.

The longer I was living in Daphne the more I loved the life - and my little RV (20 feet long).  But, there are two things I really want to improve my adventures:
1)  I want to be able to either have a tow vehicle or scooter or carry my electric bike - for more mobility while parked in a location for an extended time.
2)  I really need an awning for shade in hot weather.  And, since I have the time I'd like to visit places with respect to warm seasons - therefore I need awning(s).

I have recently found that neither of these additions is possible for Daphne.  So, I'm presently looking seriously for a replacement RV.  I've had lots of suggestions with regard to my blog entry.  Lazy Daze, Coachman Freelander, Fleetwood Flair, Fleetwood Jamboree, etc.

I'm open to any / all suggestions.  I'm even enjoying the process of looking.  Yesterday I found out about a 2006 Fleetwood Jamboree 23E - I love the floor plan!  I'm traveling solo (at least now I am!!) but I love to cook.  This rig has the kitchen with more work room in the rear of the unit - I love that.  The one I spoke with a dealer about is listed at $35K - steep for me, so I'm canvassing the Net for others.  I'd like all the things I think we all look for:  newest, cleanest, lowest mileage, best engine, most amenities, lowest price - not much to ask for!

Kevin and Ruth: Well I'm sure our RV'ing readers will have some help and suggestions for you too Mary-Pat. We've covered a lot already, but is there anything else you would like the readers to know about you, or do you have anything else you would like to add?

Mary-Pat: Thanks for the opportunity to give my personal and relatively new experience with RV adventure and travel.  I do look forward to words of wisdom from your readers - and invite any who wish to take a look at my blog.

I've just begun work on a new blog - especially for my grandchildren, all 8 of whom are growing up too fast for me.  But, I want them to have lots of family recipes to take out into the World with them; so, soon I'll have a second blog for food adventures ....

Thanks again, Kevin, and Ruth too.  I look forward to seeing you this coming Winter in Mexico.

Kevin and Ruth: That's all the time we have for today, thanks for joining us Mary-Pat, and good luck with your future travels! We'll be following along and we eagerly await your next move!

Readers can check out Mary-Pat and her adventures at


  1. It's nice to meet Mary-Pat. Thanks for sharing about her adventure. I would never have had the guts to venture around Mexico alone! I will be checking out her the title...butterflies and heart songs!

  2. Mary-Pat is a true inspiration for not only single women, but women in general. We are very hopeful that we'll spend more time with her in Mexico this coming winter and perhaps even in our neck-of-the-woods this summer. As an amiga, she's a keeper! :o) Great interview!

    1. We totally agree with you Paula and Jerry. Mary-Pat has spirit and loves life. We are also hoping to see her in our neck of the woods this summer.

  3. So glad we got to meet Mary-Pat in Valle de Juarez in March..she is an inspiration to just about everyone!
    Also glad to have met you Kevin and Ruth, hope to see you again in future travels, and love your blog!

    1. You are right Mary-Pat is an inspiration to us all. It was great meeting both you and Al as well at Hacienda Contreras RV Park. I am sure our paths will cross again one day.

  4. She is so much more brave than I will ever be. Thanks for the interview.

  5. Keep the link to the contest at the end of your blog for readers convenience! I noticed you fell back today...

    Nice meeting Mary-Pat BTW...

    1. We will include the link to the contest in tomorrows post. Thank you Kevin and Kim.

  6. Nice interview, I have a new heroine! :c)

  7. Mary Pat, how did you find your Dolphin rv? Those are a pretty sought after rv these days? It looks in really good condition. Just curious.

  8. Hi MaryPat nice meeting you.Very good responses to Kevin's queries.
    Sounds like your first long trip was a good one. If you are ever in the st louis area in your travels you are welcome to driveway camp at our place.

  9. What a great story MaryPat and so well told. What a life you have lived. Great questions Kevin. I think your little RV may be more valuable to you in terms of sale revenue than you think. She's close to a classic. You might be able to handle that $35K rig you want after all.

  10. Nice blog post again today - really enjoy reading about rvers and their travels!


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