with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Book – Home Is Where Lorelle Is

Home Is Where Lorelle Is by Lorelle and Brent VanFossenTake two photographers, four cameras, a stack of field guides, and a spoiled old cat. Put them in a 30 foot fifth wheel trailer, well greased. Mix in 50,000 miles, 1500 rolls of film, a new transmission, 6 tires, 6,000 gallons of gas, a cracked windshield, 14 oil changes, 2 tune ups, 2 sets of spark plug wires, new truck brakes, 1 computer monitor, 3 hard drives, and a motherboard. Pour through 23 National Parks, 26 states and provinces and stir for 22 months. Bake in the Florida sunshine then freeze in the Canadian Rockies.

The end result is two people who still love each other, 50,000 photographs and more experiences and lessons about life on the road than ever desired. We believe in learning from the mistakes of others. If you are planning to hit the road with your camera, we hope you’ll learn from our adventures, bungles and blunders.

As we travel, people ask us the famous question: “Where are you from?” The answer varies. Where were we yesterday? Where were we a month ago? Where were we last year? Where did we live before hitting the road? Where did we spend the greatest number of years? Where were we were born? Where did we fall in love? Or where do we claim to be from?

Our answer to the question? Well, home is where we make it. It doesn’t matter as long as we are together, that is where we call “home”. It has been in the coldest of mountain passes, in the hottest of desert sands, during flooding rains, hurricanes, and barely missed tornados. In peace and in frustration, home is wherever we make it at the moment we decide. It’s a good way to live and we highly recommend it.

Brent is from Oklahoma.
Lorelle is from Washington State.
The truck and trailer are from Washington State.
We began this trip in Washington.
The trailer is our house – wherever it is at the moment.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, is our mailing address.
And we’re currently living in Israel.
Therefore… according to Brent
home is where Lorelle is.

When tossing around title ideas for the book for our collection of journal entries about our travels, our friend, Rosemary Williams from Colorado, reached deep into her soul and told me late one night on a bus ride in Florida between events at a convention that we already had the title. I looked at her confused and she reminded me that “home is where Lorelle is.” “It is absolutely the truth and is totally perfect!” It was.

Home on the Road

Photo of the truck and trailer in AlaskaLife is not about getting through it, safe and sound until you die. It is not about making money, finding security, love, accomplishing goals. It is about the connections you make as you walk down the road. It is about the lives you touch, and the lives which touch you. It is about the changes. How you change and the domino effect of those changes influencing others. Sometimes it is all about a smile shared with a stranger, other times it is about dedicating big parts of your life for the sake of others. Life is about the flow of the river of your life and how it cuts through the land. No matter what you do, the water flows and makes an impact on the land and the family of man.

This book is about a short time in our life when we gave ourselves up to the power of the river. We went according to a loosely organized plan, allowing ourselves to find whatever we found and letting the waters flow over USA, not around us. We met people who changed our lives, some immediately, some years later, with their insights, beliefs, and lifestyles. We spent time in places few will ever see, finding different ways of living and being in all the diversity of the planet. We challenged ourselves, and let ourselves be taken along for the ride.

People’s reactions to our travels are wonderful and different. Arriving in our truck and trailer at a fancy retirement campground in Texas, the owner admonished us with “Aren’t y’all a little too young to be doin’ that?” Some create fantasies in their heads about what our life must be like. Some recognize the risks inherent in such a life and respect the journey. Others think we are just plain wacko. In response to the many questions we get about our life on the road, we like to paraphrase noted naturalist and health food expert, Euel Gibbons:

Some parts are edible.
Some suck.

Photo of the trailer driving downhill in ArkansasLife doesn’t change because you take your life on the road. Your beliefs, your habits, your faults – they all stay with you. What does change is your acceptance of how life works. If we had stayed home the stress of work would have effected our family life. If we had stayed home, we would have had plumbing problems, leaking roofs, responsibilities of owning a home and paying taxes, illness and death in the family, the struggles of survival that we all face. Taking our life on the road didn’t change any of those problems, more or less. Our home was mobile but we still had plumbing problems, leaking roofs, the responsibilities of paying for everything, AND illness and death in the family. What did change was a sense of familiarity with our environment. This added a new stress to our life, but after a year, we accepted this stress and incorporated it into our thinking, just like everyone does with change in their life. Finding gas stations, grocery stores, campgrounds, telephones, coin-operated laundries, and all the locations we are dependent upon when we live in the same place all the time, these became challenges.

Everyone needs a kind stranger to tell his troubles to.
Michael Pritchard, Comedian and Inspirational Speaker

Instead of relying upon familiar neighbors, friends and family, we learned to put our lives in the hands of strangers. There is a campground and traveler mentality of “instant family” on the road. The firm belief that “this could happen to me” or “this could be me” is immediately entrenched in the soul of a traveler. We know we are alone out there in the wilderness and reach out to protect and care for each other, crossing boundaries we would never cross if we stayed home. When our truck transmission burned up on the Alaska Highway, for a minute we freaked out as the truck rolled to a stop. We were terrified of being stuck in the wilderness so far from help. Before we had even climbed out of the cab, a vehicle passed USA, made a U-turn and came back to help us. The guy popped out and announced, “I just thought, ‘hey, that could be me,’ and knew I had to stop.” He took Brent to the nearest town over 20 miles away and I rejoiced in finding a moment of peace to get on the laptop and catch up on some work while Toshi and I waited for them alongside the road. Before I even got to the trailer door, a motor home stopped. I explained we had help already and thanked them. As I turned to walk back and they drove off, another vehicle stopped. After six such helpful people in 20 minutes, I put a big sign in the back window of the trailer instructing people “DO NOT STOP. WE HAVE HELP. THANK YOU.” I had five minutes of peace before motor someone stopped and the guy jumped out and told me through my back window that he just wanted to make sure we were all right because, “Hey, it could have been me.”

Photo of the VanFossen family, Brent, Lorelle and Toshi.Living in our safe neighborhoods, we are familiar with the same gas station we’ve been going to for years but still don’t know the name of the guy behind the counter. We are familiar with the same grocery stores, repair shops, plumbers, and people we’ve come to rely upon and trust through years of familiarity. When we went on the road, we exchanged that to find the humanity that we didn’t find at “home”. for us, the added stress of unfamiliarity is worth the reward of finding people who go out of their way to be helpful.

This book is dedicated to them and to the two people who made this story happen, giving me the familiarity of a centered, peaceful and grounded space filled with unconditional love through all of the adventures: Brent and Toshi VanFossen. No matter where you go, you still need a little bit of home with you. They are my home. And as Brent says, “Home is where Lorelle is.”

Home Is Where Lorelle Is

The following are some of our journal entries about our travels and the lessons we’ve learned in our lives. These are samples of the first draft of our book, “Home Is Where Lorelle Is”. For a listing of our journal titles, with links to some of them, check out our journal index. We hope you enjoy them.

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