They call themselves “Loners on Wheels” (LoWs) and they travel far and wide—single folks who love to RV and socialize with other singles. The Pacific Northwest Chapter (Nor’West LoWs RV Club) consists of mostly Western Washington, Canada and Oregon participants.

Carol Ortiz, who lives in Olympia, owns an Airstream and is one of the rally coordinators for the group’s upcoming event from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6 at Washington Land Yacht Harbor, an RV park in Lacey, WA where Ortiz resides.
“We often say we are not a matchmaking club,” said Ortiz, “just singles who enjoy camping together.”
Campouts and rallys include trips to local attractions, opportunities to play cards and games, campfires, lots of great conversation and of course, food and fun.

The upcoming rally will offer senior driving classes, fire extinguisher seminars, RV maintenance seminars, crafts, entertainment, happy hours, games, a variety show, remote car races, a silent auction and hay ride, a pet parade and more.

April through October Nor’West LoWs try to have a campout each month. “There is a secure feeling traveling with a group,” said Ortiz who has been a member for about three years.

Ortiz enjoys exploring new places and appreciates the camaraderie of the group. She just turned 70 and said the age of members ranges from 50 to 80. “We have some inspiring older folks in their 80s who are still RVing,” said Ortiz, adding “They are my heroes!”

Chapter President Inez Hybholt, who is 84 years old and still drives her RV to events, joined in 1991. “LoW’s was formed in 1969,” she said, “as a group for single people to get together that liked to RV.” LoW’s chapters exist throughout the United States.

When asked why she joined Nor’West LoWs, Hybholt said she was in her early 60s when she realized she always wanted to travel the U.S.

“I thought it would be fun to RV so I looked in the newspaper for RVs and saw clubs listed in Seattle.” She went to a Nor’West LoWs rally in Shelton and was hooked. “I thought these are my kind of people. I went out and bought a used Class B in September of that year and was ready to hit the road in October.”
Now on her third RV, Hybholt has clocked well over 100,000 miles in her adventures.

Acknowledging that the security of traveling with a group is important, Hybholt likes the company of other folks as well. Now everyone has a cell phone, but when she first joined every member had a CB to stay in touch.

Anyone interested in joining LoW’s can call membership chair Al Cottler at 253-906-8222 or e-mail him at The website for the group is and the national group’s website is

Loners on Wheels has 50 regional chapters in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Four years ago Tony McKennon moved to Washington state.  Intent on writing and illustrating children’s books, McKennon said he saw the Tacoma area as a “great blend of urban and natural in close proximity.”

Born in Nashville, Tenn., McKennon displayed a flair for the artistic arena early on, but was discouraged from pursing that talent.  Rising above those early negative messages, McKennon was educated in TV and film production and ran a children’s theater for three years.

He developed a variety of interesting skills.  An avid naturalist and bird watcher, McKennon was also a member of the National Ski Patrol in New England.  He has worked in all four corners of the U.S.

Saying he has been an artist all his life, McKennon has written and illustrated four books.

His book, “You’re Moving Where?” focuses on an inner city boy named Gus, whose family moves to the country.  McKennon weaves his story about Gus from the time the moving van pulls up to the happy ending with a visit from his city friends, who find the country is not really a scary place at all, but one that offers lots of good, wholesome and fun entertainment.

Currently, McKennon is looking for someone to help him produce his latest book, “Willy the Wannabe Wallaby,” into a musical production.

The two main characters in the book are Jabaroo Jack, showing values of tradition and preservation, and Khaki Man, who displays blind ambition at all costs.

The book’s focus is the message that every single living thing has value, even though it might take people a bit of time to realize that.

In addition to writing and illustrating the book, McKennon has completed the script and written poems, which have been translated to songs for the production.

A music professor from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) read the script and said he could easily visualize the play being produced.McKennon was thrilled.

Saying that “Willy the Wannabe Wallaby” has broad appeal from youngsters to adults, McKennon said the book demonstrates the values of personal growth, friendship, community, self-acceptance, loyalty, self-realization and a strong sense of sacrifice.

He stressed that children can identify with “Willy” being on the endangered species list and enjoy the songs and colorful dances, and adults can “enjoy a little good-natured fun poking at a world that is both fascinated by nature and yet capable of destroying it at times with careless abandon.”

A music student from PLU scored the music for the play from McKennon’s poems.

McKennon said he sees a lot of opportunities for aspiring producers, actors, singers, dancers, choreographers, and costume designers if the play were to make it to the big stage.

“I am already heartened by the extraordinary contributions of the musician (who scored the music) and the encouragement of the PLU music professor to continue pursuing the production.”

Adding that he is always open to suggestions and advice that will contribute to the play’s potential, McKennon encourages anyone interested in helping with this production to call him at (253) 627-8303.

Sheila Wray and Timiann Smith
Sheila Wray instructs Timiann Smith in jewelry making at a B.R.I.D.G.E. meeting in the Fred Oldfield Heritage Center. Photo by Joan Cronk

Joan Cronk
Senior Scene

A couple years ago Darcie Pacholl came up with an idea to build interactions between the youth and the American Indian/Alaskan Native Elders.

An acronym for Building Respectful Interactions to Develop Goals for American Indian Elders and Youth, B.R.I.D.G.E. is now up and running smoothly, thanks to the love and attention of Pacholl.

“We meet once a month for cultural gathering and to share food and practice our culture and language at these gatherings,” said Pacholl.

Geared to increase the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional well being of elders and youth, the cultural exchanges are something everyone looks forward to.

As the younger generation works alongside an elder making a necklace, conversation moves naturally to incorporate important topics such as the internet, sex, bullying, dating or anything else that the youngsters have on their mind.  In this safe and protected environment, young people are able to ask questions and learn about their culture from elders, while learning useful skills they can use in today’s world.

The group meets monthly at the Spirit House at the Puyallup Nation on Portland Avenue or, when that venue is not available, they meet at the Fred Oldfield Western Heritage Center at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.
Oldfield has been extremely generous to the group, opening up the Heritage Center whenever they need a place to meet.  The Heritage Center is filled with over 215 artifacts and baskets.

B.R.I.D.G.E. is Pacholl’s baby.  She personally funded the group until they obtained their 501(C)(3) and outside financing and donations became available.

“There are tons of programs for elders, and lots of things for young people, but not together,” said Pacholl.  “Who do we look at to keep the traditions alive?”

Twelve-year-old Timiann Smith is grateful for the program.  When asked for her definition of an elder she replied, “Somebody who is a role model and helps and cares about us.”  Smith works hand in hand with elders on crafts and thrives on the new friendships she’s formed at B.R.I.D.G.E.

Sheila Wray, who weaves with cedar, said she became involved with B.R.I.D.G.E. when she worked with Pacholl at the Northwest Basketry Guild.  She now works with youth and elders. “Cedar is central to life,” said Wray.  “Our goal is to help people learn about the culture.”  She said B.R.I.D.G.E. inspires her to be a better person.

Pacholl said the younger generation learns patience while working alongside the elders.  “If you tell me, I’ll forget it but if you show me, I’ll remember,” she stressed.

Pacholl’s mother, Maggie Fennell is a strong supporter of the program.  Raising several grandchildren, Fennell is an active participant in B.R.I.D.G.E.

“I tell Darcie the ways I grew up in Alaska.  I learned useful skills and went to school.  I didn’t want to be on this earth and not leave something,” said Fennell, the youngest of ten children.  Pacholl said her mom is her greatest teacher.

Jared Fennell, a senior at Gig Harbor high school, is the youth director for B.R.I.D.G.E.  He said his job is to “include youth and make them feel confident.  It is fun and everyone has a good time.”

B.R.I.D.G.E. offers programs on healthy eating, traditional exercise, diabetes prevention and drug and alcohol awareness, just to name a few.  They also help students navigate the confusing waters of preparing for college and applying for scholarships and grants.
They participate in beach clean up projects and take part in activities designed to take them back to their ancestral roots of caring for Mother Earth.

B.R.I.D.G.E. meetings are open and free to all American Indians/Alaskan Natives and those who have their best interests in mind.
For more information about B.R.I.D.G.E. contact Pacholl at (253) 884-6748 or visit their website at  Volunteers and donations are always welcome.
B.R.I.D.G.E. works hard to build relationships between youth and elders.  Valuing their elder population, B.R.I.D.G.E. offers assistance to elders to help them offset boredom and develop feelings of usefulness, while making that important connection with the youth of their culture.