Everyone here at North Ranch, whether they continue to RV or they have hung up the keys, has extraordinary memories. Jan Allen is one of those with extraordinary memories. At 97, she is widowed and no longer drives but her good health allows her to go to church nearly every Sunday and take part in many of the North Ranch activities. We were visiting last week and she said she had stayed at “The Slabs” many times during her RVing years. Until she remarried, she traveled solo and met other interesting friends who also spent winters in the desert of southern California.
One such friend, a younger RVer (now 92), had lived an extremely unusual life. Jan thought I would be interested because she knew I had driven the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in 2001 (See Silver, Single, Solo columns for Apr & May). This friend, Edna Arend Wilcher, recently wrote a book about her life called Engineer in High Heels, specifically as the first professional woman engineer working on the Dalton Highway construction.
In 1958, Edna was married to a husband who suddenly left her with $12.50 in the bank, a house in foreclosure, no job, and four children to raise by herself. Not to be stopped by these dire circumstances, the book tells how Edna raised her family through college, got her own degree, and did it all while keeping the threatened male population at bay. She did her job wherever it took her. In 1971, she made her move to Alaska.
I was fascinated with the book from the first sentence until the last! Bravo that she did it all despite cataclysmic bumps in the road that would daunt most of us. In the process, Edna managed to encourage women that with a giant-sized portion of gumption, they could overcome almost anything and do something spectacular if they tried. I’m sure woman engineers that came after her, are still thanking her for her bravery and expertise. In her retirement years, she became an RVer. Smart lady. The book is available through Amazon.com.
I feel like such a drifter after reading that! God Bless until next week.
Winter in the Wilderness, the first e-book novel published by Minshall, is offered at most Internet book sites, and is now available as a print edition. The fourth edition of RVing Alaska and Canada is available through Amazon.com.
At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”