with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Where have you traveled in North America?

We’ve explored a lot of North America. While much of our time was spent in the continental United States, we did spend a lot of time in Canada, especially driving up and down the Alaska Highway. We have specific information and resources for the traveler and photographer about many of the nature and foriegn places we’ve traveled to and explored in our Natural Wander pages. For more extensive stories of our life and adventures on the road, check out our Telling pages and our weblog, Journal Thoughts.

Seattle Tucson, Arizona Big Bend National Park Austin, Texas - Wildflowers Denver, Colorado Aransas National Wildlife Refuge Tulsa, Oklahoma - Home Base Santa Fe, New Mexico Sarasota, Tampa, St Petersburg, Florida - Birds Everglades National Park, Florida North to Alaska Hot Springs, Arkansas Mesa Verde, Colorado Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge Greensboro, North Carolina Moving to Israel Chased by Tornados and Bad Roads Mobile, Alabama - 2005

Move your cursor over the map and click to explore areas we’ve visited.

North American Trip Highlights

We left Seattle on Friday the 13th in December, 1996, to begin our exciting adventure on the road.
Santa Fe
We visited Santa Fe twice. In the spring of 1997 we caught the tail end of the desert bloom and explored the nearby Indian ruins and spent a great day at Los Alamos being interviewed for a television show and touring the Atomic History Museum. We spent Thanksgiving, 1997, with friends in the snow before heading south to Bosque del Apache for migrating birds.
Big Bend National Park
Heading to Arizona from Florida in the spring of 1997, we took a detour through Texas to Big Bend National Park to photograph the fascinating mountain desert lands and desert birds.
We crossed through Denver twice going to and returning from Alaska. The day before we arrived the first time a freak tornado just missed our friends’ home and the day after we arrived the second time a freak storm buried us under three feet of snow in October.
We spent a month near Austin in 1997 photographing spring wildflowers. Lorelle’s mother joined us to enjoy life on the road and got stuck with us in nasty floods. Imagine spending three days locked inside of a 30 foot trailer with your hyperactive mother?
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
A protected refuge, Aransas provides feeding and nesting areas for the endangered Whooping Cranes. We stayed there for a few days while Brent became totally hooked on birds.
Tulsa, Brent’s home town, is located in the center of the map. We took advantage of the location and time to to catch up with family Brent hadn’t seen much of in the previous 10 years.
Racing out of Florida in March of 1997, we were eager to experience the desert spring bloom of Arizona. Unfortunately a drought brought no flowers. We explored the Saguaro National Monument and the Sonoran Desert Museum, then headed north to the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde before continuing to Santa Fe.
Sarasota/Tampa/St. Petersburg
We spent two winters in Florida photographing the birds and wildlife of the area. Friends also put us up in Sarasota for way longer than they needed to as we hunted for jobs during the second year visit. We tangled with a trailer-eating mouse there. We spent a lot of time at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, considered by many as the preeminent birdwatchers haven. We also visited Loxahatchee and Wakotahatchee National Wildlife Refuges along the East Coast of Florida. Ding Darling is excellent for birding during the winter as thousands of birds concentrate there, and they largely ignore the people.
The Everglades National Park is an amazing and diverse place. We arrived early one morning to the choir of alligators mating. The diversity of the birds and wildlife captured our enthusiasm and attention for over a week.
Highway 10 and 20 – Chased by Tornados
Traveling to Florida along Highway 10, we encountered some of the most rough roads of our travels – even more than Alaska – and broke our dishes TWICE from the jarring terrain along Highway 10 and later, coming back from Florida, along Highway 20. Lousiana was the worst sections of the highways. Crossing North America from Florida to Arizona, we were chased by tornados, terrified listening to the radio and hearing the tornado spots matching the names of the exits along the highway as we passed.
Mesa Verde, Colordao
We spent an anxious week in Mesa Verde, Colorado, waiting for a new hard drive for our computer, but spent it exploring the incredible history and beauty of the Mesa Verde Ruins, learning about the Hopi Indians and the mystery of the Askanazi.
Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas
My mother came for a visit and we explored flea markets and the fun Fossil Rim Wildlife Safari nearby Dallas/Ft. Worth.
To Alaska
It was a dream for both of us to drive to Alaska. Western Canada and Alaska are great in the fall when all the colors are at their peak. We had a fantastic and adventurous time as we experienced serious truck problems on the Alaska Highway, and then closed Denali, Fairbanks and just about every campground on the way back down, chased by snow. We didn’t want to leave.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
We only spent a couple days in Hot Springs, Arkansas, but it was memorable. We were passing through to catch up with a photographer friend and the battery on the truck went dead. We took the time to explore this unusual national park and its unique history. We spent a few days, also, at Queen Wilhelmina State Park high atop the scenic Queen Wilhelmina Drive and experienced our first day of summer on the road.
State Trivia

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Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
Located not far from Lake Worth, Florida, Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge hosts a wide variety of plant life and birds. Every morning Brent would be up before the sun with the birds.
Pausing in our travels to restock our financial cupboards, we planned on spending only 6 months working in Greensboro, NC, before moving on to explore the northeastern part of the US and into Canada. We ended up staying there for a year and a half. Then out of the blue came a job offer to move to Israel and we took it, leading us off in a new direction!
In September of 1999, we moved from Greensboro, North Carolina, and the familiarity of the United States to the Middle East. Israel was a huge change. Just getting there was an ordeal, and learning to adapt to this new society and culture was a challenge, but proved to be very educational and interesting. We made it through the millenium, and then the Intifada began in September of 2000, and four years later, the job ended and we left Israel, leaving behind our hearts with this very unique place.
Mobile, Alabama
In December of 2004, we packed up our life in Israel and moved to Mobile, Alabama, another hot and sweaty climate, to begin a new chapter in our life with a new job for Brent and life back in our trailer.

You can read more about our life on the road through our weblog, Journal Thoughts, or the essays and stories in our Telling Zone to keep up with our travels and adventures.

Canada and Alaska

Map of Canada. Stars indicate where we've been.In the late summer of 1997 we headed to Jasper, then up the Alaska Highway. We returned at the very end of fall, just as winter was descending upon Alaska.

Jasper, Alberta
Jasper is one of our favorite areas without question. It has everything we love: few crowds, great wilderness, majestic mountains, fantastic and accessible wildlife, and it is just so beautiful. We spent several weeks there on the way up and down, photographing elk in rut, pikas, ground squirrels, and the lovely scenery. This a place we’ve visited many times over the years and experienced our favorite wildlife encounter here in Jasper.
Prince Albert, British Columbia
We did our last chance shopping and preparation for the Alaska Highway. Not far to the north was Dawson Creek, BC, the official start of the Highway. Until Whitehorse, there is little “civilization” to be found.
Liard Hot Springs
Nestled in the middle of the Alaska Highway is one of the best rest stops. Liard Hot Springs is a campground, hotel, and rough hot springs in the middle of nowhere. There are two pools at the end of a long boardwalk through an unusual warm water swamp. After relaxing for a few days, we left early in the morning and that afternoon, somewhere between the hot springs and Whitehorse, we wore a hole in a fluid line and burned up the transmission in the truck.
Whitehorse, Yukon
With a temporary fix we made it to Whitehorse before the truck’s transmission gave up for good. Of course it happened late on a Saturday night. We also learned a lot about asking for directions while trying to walk our bikes around town looking for a bicycle repair shop. Once we got the truck fixed, we did a side trip to Skagway to test the transmission.
Map of Alaska. Stars indicate where we've been.Alaska
We entered Alaska through Tok, and proceeded to suffer on one of the worst roads on our trip. The Tok to Glennallen Highway has been hit hard by frost heaves. As the permafrost thaws and refreezes, the ground moves and the road surface buckles. It was like riding a roller coaster. Poor Toshi rode with us in the truck, as everything was flying around inside the trailer, including our dishes. We left from there to Valdez for a few days, exploring the nearby glaciers.
Matanuska Glacier
We spent a night on the Matanuska Glacier. Toshi loved it, wandering around snooping in everything. We photographed the glacier as the sun was setting, then had a romantic dinner and danced under the stars and moon with the glacier in the background. It was definitely one of the highlights of our travels, and will last forever in our minds.
Our friend, Jo Boyett, joined us in Alaska. We played at the Alaska State Fair. We restocked and headed to Portage Lake and Seward. Lorelle came down with strep throat, so Jo and Brent explored the Seward Glacier and went on a tour boat of the Kenai Fjords.
After dropping Jo off at the airport, we headed north to Denali. We got some good images of bear and caribou and the lovely fall color. We closed the place and headed on to Fairbanks where we caught up with more friends from the RV Forum. We closed that campground, and then begain to head south, getting the hint that winter was fast approaching.
Leaving Alaska
We were chased by the snow as we spent the last open night in the campgrounds down the highway out of Alaska. Fewer gas stations were open, but we had plenty of our emergency supply just in case. We arrived in Jasper in time for more snow. Then on south towards Denver. Lorelle cried as Calgary came into view and the mountains became dots in the distance. Other than Colorado, they both knew this would probably be the last serious mountains they would see for several years.

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