with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Road Statistics – Statistics from Travels by the VanFossens

We’ve been a few places and collected a few statistics about our travels across North America: VanFossen's home on the road. 
 Photo by Lorelle VanFossen

  • From December 1996 to May 1998, we covered 60,000 miles in our truck and trailer.
  • Our truck is a dually crew cab pickup and we hauled a 30 foot fifth wheel trailer with a 14 foot slideout.
  • We explored 24 US states and 3 Canadian Provinces.
  • We purchased over $9,000.00 USD in 6,000 gallons of gasoline, paying the highest price in Canada at $2.05 USD per gallon (Almost twice the average price in the lower 48 at the time).
  • We used the same quantity of fuel as an average flight of a Boeing 747, calculated by Brent, former Boeing Flight Line Engineer ;-)
  • We visited 26 national parks, and 14 wildlife refuges, and dozens of nature preserves and protected areas.
  • We used 1500 rolls of slide film, 36 exposures on each. This equals about 54,000 pictures.
  • As of January 2004, we’ve been living in Israel for 4 years and 4 months, through a year of peace and prosperity in Israel, and three years of the Intifada (uprising – terrorism and war), filled with violence, terrorism, military action, and about two thousand people dead on both sides.
  • Since September of 1999, we have filled our passports and had to get additional pages due to all the stamps, work permits, and visas.
  • Since September of 1999, we have traveled to X countries.
  • Escaping Israel as “refugees” in 2003, avoiding Bush’s attack on Iraq, Brent, Lorelle and our cat, Dahni, traveled through sixteen airports in four countries, and passed through at least 20 security checks and x-rays within a three month period.

Highlights

Life on the road begins
Our travels began on Friday the 13th, in December 1996 in Seattle, Washington. It was an amazing thing to get behind the wheel of our huge truck and trailer combination and strike out on the road, home on our back, and begin a life without a permanent address, telephone, or email connection. We changed locations every couple of days or weeks, never staying too long anywhere, led by the need to photograph the best of nature in North America wherever it is and in the best weather we could find. Okay, we were full of great expectations and naive dreams…we made most of them come true, though.
We explored North America
We covered most of the southern and western United States and the West Coast of Canada to Alaska. In synopsis, we traveled from Seattle to Florida to Arizona, Colorado to Texas to Arkansas then Oklahoma, then north through Colorado, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, and ending up in Alaska. We moved south in the early winter of 1997 to Oklahoma then again to Florida, then heading back north along the east coast of the United States in the spring of 1998. We tell some of our stories about life on the road in our Telling Zone.
Beit Shean ruins in Israel, photo by Brent VanFossenMove to Israel
In September of 1999, we put the truck and trailer in storage and flew to Israel where we have been living for four years, through a year of great times of peace, and then through three years of suicide bombers, terrorist attacks, and then Bush’s war on Afganistan and Iraq. It’s been quite the ride.
Exploring Israel
Beginning in September of 1999, we have started exploring and photographing Israel. Some highlights include the biblical sites such as Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, as well as the unique natural areas of Israel such as the Hula Valley Wildlife Refuge and the dramatic Hagadol and Ramon Craters. Israel is overloaded with so many historical, archeological, religious, and just pretty places…it’s really hard to see all of it, but we are doing the best we can.
Exploring Europe
We have started exploring Europe with short trips lasting from a weekend to a couple of weeks. As of November 2000, we’d explored Paris, Prague, the Greek Islands, Petra in Jordan, Istanbul, Dubrovnik, and have places on the schedule such as Madrid, Palma Mallorca, Switzerland, and Eygpt.
Living as Refugees
Beginning in August of 2002, we began to prepare ourselves to evacuate Israel as US President Bush whipped up a fury about attack Saddam Hussein and Iraq. We went through training for bomb shelters, gas masks, and emergency response to evacuations and military attacks. We lived with boxes of food by the door, in the car, and at work, ready to survive if we suddenly came under seige. Suitcases were packed by the door, ready to grab and run. We trained the cat to get into his traveling bag upon command and waited for the bombs to fall. We finally got out a couple weeks before the first attacks by the US forces hit Iraq, flying with our cat, Dahni, to Spain, renting a motorhome and traveling all over the center and north of Israel, waiting for the “quick and speedy war” to be over. Six weeks later, the war not over, we flew to the states, not knowing what our next steps would be. A couple weeks later, Bush declared the war over and we slowly returned back to Isarel, our home watched over by friends and neighbors. Slowly we recovered from being temporary refugees and found a new appreciation for those forced from their homes due to war. It isn’t fun, though we had a wonderful time traveling, the six months of stressful preparation and the uncertainty, trying to predict when the war would start – it was horrible.

THE TRUCK

We called our truck the space shuttle - photography by Lorelle VanFossenWe call it a variety of names. The first was “monster truck”, but after a visit to the Kennedy Space Center and “wasn’t it amazing how astronauts could survive on the Mir Space Station for months and months at a time, a space not much more than 30 feet long” – well, it didn’t take long for our trailer, an 8×30 foot mobile living quarters, to become the Space Station and the truck to become the Space Shuttle.

We drive a 1979 Chevy with dually wheels, crew cab (four doors), long bed, and a 454 engine with added on Thorley Headers. Our gas mileage is 6 – 7 mpg on the highway. Pronounced “trooahk” in North Carolina, it may look like hell with all the white surrounded by a wide blue stripe, but it got us where we needed to go and always brought us home.

States We’ve Visited

States marked in blue indicate places we've exlored in our trailer. across North AmericaWe’ve explored much of the United States as we’ve traveled together in the trailer. We left Seattle on Friday the 13th, December 1996 in the middle of horrible winter weather. We were always just one step ahead of the worst of it. We got to Oklahoma for Christmas with Brent’s family, then south to Texas for a conference and to work the bird migration in the area. We rushed to Florida to spend a few months exploring the area and photographing birds and alligators, then back across the country to do a program in Arizona and catch the desert spring bloom. Unfortunately there was a bad drought, so we scooted up to Colorado then New Mexico, arriving in Texas in time for a tremendous wildflower bloom and massive flooding in the Hill Country. Then to Arkansas to catch up with friend and photographer, Tim Ernst, and back to Oklahoma for a bit of a break with family, and preparations for heading North to Alaska!

Heading north, we spent a while in Colorado then raced up to the Canadian Rockies for time in Banff and Jasper, then onto Alaska. We caught the wonderful fall color there, then closed every campground including Denali as we were chased by snow all the way back down to Colorado, where it finally found us. Three feet of snow and a week later, we headed south to New Mexico again for birds at Bosque del Apache, then Christmas again with Brent’s family in Tulsa. Then another rush to Florida for a conference and to spend much of the winter battling horrible storms and chasing more birds.

Spring of 1998 found us with our financial cupboards getting a bit empty, and we needed to hunker down for a while and make some money, and figure out what we were doing with our crazy life on the road. Brent got a job in Greensboro, NC, and we spent the next 18 months there. A job offer in Israel was exciting enough that we hauled the trailer to Oklahoma to put into storage and then flew to Israel for a few years. Who knows what is next for us!

Time Zones

We have an interesting time keeping up with time zones, even in the United States. Sometimes we would cross several time zones within the same week.



Graphic of International Clocks

Post a Comment

Your email is kept private. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>