DATE: September 1999
SUBJECT: The VanFossens Change Roads
Tel Aviv, Israel – “I just got a job offer in Israel.” Brent’s words were greeted with a great hiss of “What?!” from his wife, Lorelle, startling the teacher and students in their Spanish language class. Whispering that they would discuss this later, neither of the two can remember the rest of the class.
After several years living full-time on the road across North America as nature photographers and writers, making their home in a 30-foot fifth wheel trailer, Brent and Lorelle VanFossen had paused along their path to restock their financial cupboards in Greensboro, North Carolina. This also gave them time to sit still while publishing their many articles and images about their travels and adventures. Brent, also a long time structural aircraft engineer, became involved in an aircraft modification program changing passenger planes into cargo planes for Airborne Express and Timco (North Carolina aircraft maintenance and repair facility). Their stay in North Carolina was only to be for six months but had turned into a year-long project which Brent was thoroughly enjoying, though they were itching to get back on the road again. Now came this surprising offer.
Brent explained that the job was part-two of the contract with Airborne Express. Since they needed more planes than Timco could compete on time, Airborne split the contract with Israel Aircraft Industries in Tel Aviv, Israel. They needed a head engineer familiar with the project to over-see the project, and they wanted Brent.
“Since we were already mobile, why not?” Lorelle agreed. Within six weeks of the offer, they negotiated the contract, quit their jobs, packed up the trailer and crossed the country to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to put the trailer and their things in storage.
“It happened so fast, our heads were spinning,” Brent admitted.
Setting up a temporary home in Tel Aviv and leaving the mobile life behind has brought some interesting challenges and changes. “The first few days in the hotel, I loved flushing the toilet,” Lorelle admits. “I knew it would be gone and I wouldn’t have to see it a second time.” Living in a recreational vehicle, sewage is stored inside the trailer and then emptied when it fills, not the most exciting jobs that trailer life has to offer. Brent says, “It was strange to walk across the room and not feel the slight motion of the trailer moving underneath my feet.”
They adjusted quickly and set up home in the center of the city near the municipality building and Rabin Square. Lorelle says, “It amazes me that we are so close to so much history. We are practically living right next door to where Itzak Rabin was assassinated. A short walk away is Jaffa, the ancient city from which Jonah set sail from to find his whale. Jerusalem, a city filled with thousands of years of history, is less than an hour drive away. It’s wonderful.”
The VanFossens will continue their nature and travel photography as they explore Israel, studying its natural subjects as well as historical manmade subjects. They are fascinated by the diversity in such a small country and are eager to learn.
As for their photography and writing? Lorelle explains, as she runs the business side of VanFossen Productions, “We’ll do the best we can from here, but we had to leave our inventory of images behind in Tulsa. We are only planning to be here for six months, maybe a year. When we get back, think of all the new stories and images we will have to share!”
"Besdies," Brent adds. "We’re going to be in the Holy Land for the millenium. That will be a story to tell!"
For more information on the adventures of the VanFossens, their photographic and written work, visit their web pages at http://www.cameraontheroad.com.
For more information on who the VanFossens are and what are they doing as they take their camera on the road, visit their Doing Zone.