Author takes audience around the bend
tOM VAUGHT | SUN
Judy Allen poses with her book, "Around the Bend with Lou,"
which she wrote about a real life experience. She lives in Holmes Beach.
HOLMES BEACH – The United States is a large country with many geographic features and a variety of lifestyles, and it can be enigmatic for someone from the United Kingdom, but Judy Allen got to know her new home country first-hand in a motor home – twice.
At an appearance in front of the Gulf Coast Writers, Allen said she wrote a book about her second journey and called it “Around the Bend with Lou,” which is the name of her camper.
“I was looking for a vehicle to drive, and I first looked at a van, but the bathroom was too small, and you had to stand up in the bathroom to shower,” she said. “Then I looked at campers and asked what was the best, and they said a Lazy Days, which is made in California.”
Allen said she took her brother to look at them at the factory and the prices were high, so she found a used one in Idaho, and she had a son in Colorado get it. She said it was a rather large camper with plenty of room and a shower over a small tub, mounted on top of a heavy-duty Ford van chassis.
“I always named my vehicles, and the one my father drove with me was a yellow Chevrolet, so I called it the Big Banana,” she said. “I looked at this new one, and I loved the bathroom, so I called it Lou, which is what we call the bathroom in England. I changed the spelling from loo to Lou so people wouldn’t get confused.
Allen said the first trip around the country came because her family came to the United State in 1953. Her father was in the Royal Air Force, and he was assigned to the U.S. Air Force. Her father’s commanding officer told him he needed to get a motor home and drive around the country to learn about it.
“I was amazed at the variety of people, the beauty of the country and the generosity of the people,” she said. “I married an American when I came back to the country later, but he died when I was 41.
“I bought a travel agency to keep me going, but I found myself being my best customer,” she added. “That’s when I decided to see the country again.”
Allen said when she told her family she was going on the road, they were all aghast except her son.
“He took a precaution for safety and bought me a big pair of men’s boots, which I put outside my door every night,” she said. “After that, I never felt threatened.”
She spoke of the amazing people she ran into on her journey and she started keeping a blog of it. She said that blog became the basis for her book. She said she is working on a second book about running a bar in the tropics.
“I would definitely do it again,” she said of her adventure. She said she sold Lou because he only got 11 miles per gallon on diesel. To Lou’s credit, she said she had few problems with him – a broken outside rear-view mirror and a refrigerator that quit working.
Allen said later people would ask her if she ever went somewhere she felt she would like to live.
“I tell them why would I want to live anywhere else?” she said. “I’m already living where I want here on Anna Maria Island.”
“After that trip, my theme song changed from ‘On the Road Again’ to ‘I’ve Been Everywhere,” she added.