with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Email Letter Catching Up – Arrival in the States

– – – This was sent out a week after arrival in the US to our friends via email, catching them up. Since it includes some more info, I posted it here, to catch everyone else up, too. – – –

Well, we are in the states. I know this is late going out to everyone, but I’ve been really sick. After finally dragging me to an emergency clinic for antibiotics and viral tests, I had strep and related sore throat, runny nose, high fever, and just plain misery for the first week of our life back in the states. Not a good way to start this new chapter.

The antibiotics finally kicked in and the fever broke and I’m slowly starting to move around and catch up. There is a lot to catch up with.

I’ve started updating my online weblog (journal) with one thing a day, when I’m near to an Internet connection. When I’m not, I’m trying to keep a journal entry going so I can post them when I do get an Internet connection, so there may be 3 days of postings all at once. After 5 years of constant Internet connection, reverting to hit and miss Internet is going to be a big shift.

Here is a brief summary of life back in the states so far:

Some of it sucks, but the free access to mass capitalisticly produced crap from Twain, Mexico, and China makes some of the suck worthwhile. That’s right, we are in WalMart mecca. As soon as I was able to stand up without fainting (my ears plugged on the flight and took 20 hours to break free of the stuffed up pain!!!) or having the world swirl around me, I was in a WalMart. Yeah.

Blow up santas and christmas characters in front of WalmartOne of the first sites to greet us at a WalMart in Tulsa were giant inflatable Christmas characters. And I mean giant. And tacky. But wonderfully tacky. After all, who wouldn’t want a 16 foot Frosty the Snowman in your front yard or on your roof. Especially one that lights up from within. Brent and I were practically hysterical when we saw this line up of whose who of Christmas characters inflated to dozens of times their “natural” size lined up outside of Walmart, next to the bicycles eagerly awaiting young children’s bottoms. It will take a while to get used to the tacky and glitz that is an American Christmas.

We’ve started emptying out the trailer, finding mice remains and current evidence, as well as tons of dead moths, flies, spiders, wasps, and other nasties. It’s not as bad as it could have been, but the bugs did find their way in and now we are cleaning out their remains. Dust is layered on everything, as expected. I’ve done 8 loads of laundry of clothes, blankets, and sheets and towels, with more bags of laundry to do. I didn’t know there was so much requiring washing inside of that trailer.

Our generator under the 5th part of the trailerBrent found the trailer’s generator (provides electricity when we don’t have a connection) carburetor was varnished, an effect that happens when something sits in gasoline for a long time. Clogged it up completely. After a lot of debate, we found it would cost $60 USD to rebuild and $80 to buy a new one, so we bought a new one (saving three days or more of effort) and he had it installed in a few minutes with a roaring start. The trailer is sitting in a huge parking lot of other trailers, motor homes, cars and whatever in storage and there is no electricity. We bought new batteries for the trailer but we have to have the generator to charge the batteries if they run down, so this was critical. With an electrical source now, Brent and his dad are out there right now opening up the trailer’s slide out (a room that expands our living room/kitchen/dining/office room) to see what is really going on in there.

Mildew blackens the back corner of our carpet in the trailerWe had a leak in the back corner and the rug there is black and ugly with rot and mildew. Until the slideout is out, we can’t tell how bad the leak was and if you just have to replace the carpet or actually cut out the floor and replace it as well. There is damage on the surface of the cabinets from the leak and stains on the roof, but these are all things we can clean and live with until it really annoys us. The damage is just minimal.

What is not minimal is the refrigerator. Brent started it up to test it, letting it run for an hour, opened up the door and was kicked on his butt by the overwhelming chemical smell of ammonia. He and his dad jumped out of the trailer and shut the fridge off, letting the whole thing air out for an hour. It was really toxic. This means that the coolant is leaking, probably with damaged seals or something. This is bad. Brent wanted to just replace the cooling unit, thinking it would be cheaper, but research again showed that a replacement unit would take a couple of weeks and cost $600 to $800 and a new fridge is $800 to $1200 and installable as soon as it arrives after a week shipping. We went to a couple of places and found that we can get an awesome fridge with four interior shelves plus the Old damaged refridgerator that will have to come out for replacement veggie drawers instead of the louse fridge we had with three shelves and still have it fit easily within the space. We’re trying to order it via ebay (you can get anything on ebay – more yeah!) so it will be here either by the end of this week or start of next. It puts us a little behind schedule as we really can’t “live” in the trailer without a fridge, but there is so much cleaning to do, sleeping at Brent’s parent’s house is still okay.

So I get my dream wish of a new fridge. This is the one thing I dreaded as I hated that leaking old thing.

If Brent succeeds with opening the slideout so we have room to move, I can get in there tomorrow and start cleaning. Every surface has to be totally cleaned with bleach and cleaners. Windows, walls, ceiling, curtains, counters, everything. Yuk. Any volunteers out there to come help?

I want to make some structural changes and improvements to the trailer, but those will have to wait until we have a few months income under our belts and are settled in Alabama.

While Brent is working on the trailer this afternoon, I’ve been in the upstairs office scanning most of our critical trailer documents. In five years time, technology has improved enough for us to take advantage of it and scanning critical documents and putting originals in storage lightens the load and will make life so much easier in the trailer. The overwhelming stacks of paper are getting smaller. We’re researching buying a small scanner to have in the trailer to keep up the minimal paper load down to something manageable in the future. I’ve gotten about five boxes of papers pitched, tossed, and scanned to a condensed 1/2 box. Ain’t that wonderful!!!

But I’m tired, still, from the illness. In a few days I’ll be back to racing around, but right now, every effort wears me out completely. I’ve not resorted to napping now that I’m back moving, but the urge hangs over me. I had no jet lag because I slept for four days almost without stop from the illness. But this isn’t a way to deal with jet lag.

Brent is working hard and long to get the heavy stuff done. He’s worn out and going to bed early now, too, so we can take advantage of the shorter winter hours. We’re usually up by 5:30, though Brent doesn’t move until 6:30 or so. We talk over what needs to be done that day and make decisions and then up and moving.

The leaves have turned colors late this year to our benefit, so we have wonderful red and gold trees around Brent’s family home. Seeing all the colors picks up our spirits and makes us thrilled to be in a land of actual seasons again.

We miss everyone and really miss our support network there. If we were closer, I’m sure we’d have 20 people lined up to help us scrub the trailer and get it ready. Brent’s family is working overtime to help, but they have incredibly busy lives. Brent’s father has a prayer breakfast with six other men every morning at 7AM and is very involved with church activities and their motorhome club. Brent’s mom works long hours on social activities for the church. This weekend is a huge Saturday “tea” for a huge homeless population community center in town, feeding several hundred people. It is a church activity and she will be cooking food in advance for two days in the huge church kitchens before transporting it to the community center. They do this about 8 times a year and it takes weeks of planning and coordination, tons of volunteers and lots of effort. Brent’s dad and other family members pitch in to clean up after the lunch. We’ll probably help with that unless the trailer is at a critical point in the process. That should be interesting.

My mother’s back surgery was great and she is back getting into trouble again. Nothing holds her down for very long, not even back surgery. My dad is also recovered from his neck and shoulder surgery and spent a week camping in the mountains, so he is slowly getting back to active again.

Brent just walked in the door from the trailer and has good news. The slideout worked, the floor doesn’t appear to be as damaged as we thought, and things look good inside except for the dirt. He remembered that there is a guy at his family’s church who specializes in rug and upholstery cleaning. We’re going to call him tonight and have him come professionally clean the carpet and couch, saving a ton of energy and trying to get some kind of chemical cleaner to get the mildew and yuk off. Brent says the carpet is still damp, but leaving the slideout open will help. It won’t hurt the cleaning. This is great news.

So things are going. He also says that he bought the fridge (they called him with the final order instructions) and it will arrive in three to five days. He and his dad and uncle will install it. The old one should be out by the weekend to make sure the space is cleaned out for the new one. YEAH.

The plan is to move the trailer in the next few days (dependent upon fridge and so on) to a nearby campground so we will have electricity and water. With these two things, the serious cleaning can commence. Until then, everything is poking and prodding. So we expect by Monday we will be in a campground.

On Wednesday, VanFossen family start showing up from all over the planet. We’re still arrivals from the farthest distance, but a lot more people are facing more trouble to bring their children and grandchildren to this family event for thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is on Thursday, but people will still be flying in, so we may be on the round of airport pickups. So the VanFossen Thanksgiving Reunion (with now 29 people and growing) is on Friday. First time in 15 or more years all these people have been in one place. Amazing.

By the following Monday we should be on the road to Alabama with arrival expected by December 1 or 2. Brent meets with the company and on December 6 starts work. I was going to fly to Seattle then, but with the fridge and a lot of other costs, and being sick, I think that I’m going to wait until January. I’ll miss my mom’s big holiday party, but flying during Christmas in the states is costly and dreadful. I’ve had my fill of planes for a bit. So I’ll be there in January.

That will also give me time to get the rest of the trailer stuff done. And there is lots to do. The curtains really need replacing, and our whole filing system needs to be set up again since it’s been scattered around the world. I have a ton of business things to do, as well, so this might be the smartest thing of all to just concentrate and get it all done in December so I can get to Seattle, deal with the things I need to do there, and then back to Alabama and my writing. This is the goal. Back to writing. I’ve made too many excuses, my friends, so be sure and bug me with a lot of “you’d better be writing and not playing computer games or spending time writing back to me!!!”

So that’s the news. Oh, Kohav has totally and completely adapted to living in this huge house. She adores racing up and down the stairs and sitting on the banister threatening us with the fear she is going to fall off. She has been much better physically, though we spotted some signs of her tummy problems this morning. There is stronger medication here in the states that we have to get to put this problem down for good. She is healthy, strong, and having the time of her life racing around and playing with the grandchildren. Amazing for a kitty whose never been around kids or a lot of people. Really adaptable.

And Brent is happy to be with family and gaining weight from all the good food. I’m being very restrictive now so I don’t put on what I’ve lost (I’m down a LOT I realized – trying on clothes from the trailer. I can fit two people instead of just me into some of them!!!!). Anyway, that’s the news.

Miss you all and hope you are doing fine. Thanks again to everyone in Israel for being so supportive and wonderful during this rough transition. We miss you so much! How will we ever survive? You have to come visit!

Be sure and keep up with our travails!

Lorelle VanFossen
Note: We are moving back to the US!
On the Road: Amsterdam to Tel Aviv to Tulsa to Mobile, Alabama

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