with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Almost on the Road….Again

After 5 years living trailer-free, we are about to move in and hit the road for real again. Amazing. So we will be off-line for a least a week while we cross the southern United States from Oklahoma towards Mobile, Alabama, and part four of our life on the road.

For those not keeping up with our story, part one was traveling back and forth across North American photographing all things beautiful and natural for almost two years, adding up over 60,000 miles on our truck and trailer. From Seattle to Florida to Alaska and back to Florida. Part two was a year and a half spent in Greensboro, North Carolina, where we learned to live in the trailer sitting still and learned how to become part of a community from scratch. Part three was moving to Israel for a six month adventure that turned into five years and the Intifada. We left as Arafat laid dead but on machines in Paris, hopefully the end of the four year uprising.

Now, we are heading towards Mobile, Alabama, for another “short term” stay living still in our trailer, revived after 5 years sitting in the hot sun and cold winters of Oklahoma.

After fixing the toilet, we finally after water in the trailer and (so far) no leaks. Delaying much of the major cleaning in the trailer for five days as we battled leaks and water problems, we dragged all of our dishes, pots, and pans, etc., to the house and Brent’s mother and I spent the whole morning washing them. What a pain, but had to be done. It was also a bit of a walk down memory lane for her.

The tiny 2 cup crock pot we carried back and forth across North America, was the one that Brent’s mother bought for him to take to college. Two plastic cups we loved to drink from because they are 1) unbreakable, 2) lightweight, and 3) memorable, are from Eskimo Joes, a popular restaurant and clothing line in Oklahoma and Kansas, also from Brent’s college days. In fact, several of the dishes and glasses we use in the trailer came from his parents, purchased lovingly and with hope as their child headed off to college and a life away from home. Little did they realize how far “away” would become.

During the Christmas tea presented by the family church, the guest speaker was a singer and musician who raised her two daughters on the road as she and her husband traveled all over singing and spreading the gospel. The theme of her talk, though, was home and what it meant to her. She spoke of her childhood and the symbol of home as security and love, as the second from the bottom of nine children. When she finally left to go to college, she spoke of the overwhelming experience of coming home for the first time, after never having been away for so long from home. And then, as a mother, the experience of preparing and waiting for her own daughter to come home from college, also never having been gone for so long away from home. As a person waiting for the home-comer, she spoke of the difference. She worked so hard to make the home ready, with small reminders of “home”, making her daughter’s favorite food and cleaning up the rooms and setting them exactly as the daughter liked it, with favorite ornaments and photographs. She related it all to “home” as “heaven” and the religious connections, but for me, it was more powerful than the religious.

I thought of how Lynda Kay and Kent always went out of their way to make sure everything was ready for our visit and how they cleared their schedule to spend as much time as possible with us. During this visit, for example, Kent gave up meetings and Sunday at church to help Brent fix the leaks in the trailer bathroom. Even when they could have spent the time with family, especially with the whole VanFossen tribe descending upon Tulsa, part of that was given up to driving us around and helping us get things ready to leave again. Last night, they were all tired and yet they hauled us to their favorite oriental restaurant and on the way home asked if there was anything we needed. I mentioned that “if it was on the way, and only if it was on the way” could we stop by a Wild Bird store to pick up something I needed. Kent said, “it’s on the way” and before I knew it, we were driving all over town to get to the bird store only to find it closed. Never a complaint or comment. Then Brent mentioned he needed a Radio Shack. At least that was “on the way”, and off we went. Whatever we need, they are there giving up their time.

They understand that the time they get to spend with their oldest and bestest son is precious. I don’t feel guilty because it isn’t me pulling him away from his family. I understand that now. It is his life and our life together, and for the past five years, I’ve been tugged around by Brent’s life, too. The first five years were me tugging him, but now, he is doing the tugging. This is his choice and while he and his family are incredibly close, Brent likes his life away and on the road. Not that he likes being away from them. He doesn’t. He hates it. But he does love the stories of adventure he brings back to the family, helping them grow a little vicariously through him.

I also think of my mother preparing for one of my visits. While her life is overfilled with busy activities and commitments, she does go overboard preparing the home for my arrival. This is another way of looking at the concept of “home” that I’m getting a better understanding of. Home isn’t just a place to come back to, it is also a place of welcome, of return, of history restored – if only for a short time.

So, we washed up all the dishes while Brent and his dad drove all over the place trying to get the truck gas tank fuel switch fixed, only to find out that it was actually the fuel pump on the other tank that was broken, and they picked up the repaired storm glass window for the trailer, and fixed the bathroom leaks to restore water. Oh, and Brent and his father installed the newly made oak doors for the new refrigerator and Brent tells me they are gorgeous. So the trailer and truck are DONE and ready. Most of the stuff inside the trailer has been laid away. I’ve packed up all the stuff in the house except for another two days of clothing and toiletries and those will be hauled to the trailer today for a final packing and loading.

Brent and his dad will pick up the old fridge from the storage unit and haul it to Kent’s friend for disposal. Then they will come back and pick up the truck (we’re using Terry’s truck today while ours is in the shop) from the repair shop and do a vehicle exchange, and then pick me up at the trailer for a final dinner with the family. Hopefully, tomorrow morning we’ll be on the road. Whew!

So apologies again for putting a delay in these journals. I’ll try to keep them up but will be unable to post them for a few days, but it is more likely that I will be falling into bed, surrounded by boxes and bags awaiting unpacking, as we sleep in truck stops and WalMart parking lots until we arrive in Mobile. Honestly, we are looking forward to this, even though it sounds horrid. We have missed traveling in our trailer, even the ugly parts of it. And sleeping next to refrigerator trucks running all night might be a refreshing change from listening to people partying in the park all night and yelling at their dogs, skate boarders tearing up the sidewalk….a nice change.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

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