with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Scrapbook of Life on the Road

Taking our camera on the road, we left behind many friends and family. Home for Lorelle is Seattle and Tulsa is home for Brent, though home is wherever we happen to be together right now. We’ve found many more friends on the road as we’ve traveled. We thought we’d share a bit of our scrapbook with you.

Some of the pictures are ones we’ve taken on our travels, but we love getting pictures from our friends and relatives. Since we are so far from home, we love sharing their lives with them through email, letters, and photographs. We hope you enjoy meeting our friends, too.

NOTE: Our scrapbook got so large as we added to it, we decided to break it into two pieces. This page is dedicated to our travels and friends and family. We have another scrapbook for photographs from our life living in Israel. Enjoy both of these!

Brent and Lorelle having fun at a partyOpening presents is a time to get goofy. We love covering ourselves with the wrapping, enjoying that as much as the gifts. It’s a part of our traditions in my family, the person the most covered (my mother and I would do this) got the most attention. Brent and I try to carry on the few family traditons we have, especially being so far away from family as we travel.
Brent and Lorelle dressed to the nines at his sister's wedding.We share a moment just after Brent’s sister (Lisa) got married in Tulsa. Brent looks so handsome in a tux. I promised him I would only make him wear one for weddings and then never again until his funeral. But I’m sure I’ll come up with another excuse since he looks so sexy in one!
Brent and Lorelle on their wedding dayOn our wedding day, just after tying the knot in the Heart o’ the Hills Campground at Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park, Washington.
Brent in his office in IsraelBrent’s office near the Tel Aviv Airport in Israel. He wanted to impress people with his two computers, but they were just installing his new computer system. The calendar on the wall is of US National Parks so he could remember all the places we’ve traveled over the past few years.
Brent sits on the ground with his sister, Lisa, trying to figure out his camera.Brent’s interest in photography started very young, and so did help with his photography from women. His sister, Lisa, is helping him out here. She also helped him get his famous red-legged frog picture years later.
Photo of Bruce GroningerBruce Groninger has been Brent’s best buddy for years, beginning when the two worked for Boeing in Kansas. Bruce followed Brent, by a fluke, to Boeing in Seattle a year after Brent. He was best man at our wedding and the keeper of our 75 gallon fish tank for several years when we started on the road.
Lorelle's mother, Ramona, is dressed up as a punk rockerLorelle’s mother, Ramona, shows off her wild side. Here she poses as a punk rocker mama as the two head to Seattle’s popular Bumbershoot festival. She has a lightning bolt drawn on her check and safety pins in her ears. Shades of Michael Jackson!
Deborah Kirsner and the rest of our photo group stop for ice cream in Port Townsend, Washington, after a day of photographing the island.Deborah Kirsner risked all to leave Manhattan to come to the unknown wild west. As an incredibly gifted fine art nature photographer, Lorelle and Deborah hit it off well and eventually Deborah replaced Lorelle in producing the Mountaineers photography educational programs in Seattle. One of her beautiful images hangs in a prestigious spot in the VanFossen’s trailer, having covered much of North America with them.
Duane Hansen takes aim with his camera.Duane Hansen is one of Lorelle’s dearest buddies, and he quickly became a best buddy of Brent just before Brent and Lorelle met. A more willing and determined nature and adventurer you will rarely meet. All you have to say is “we’re thinking about going to…” and he’s already out the door.
Jo Boyett and Brent visit the new Seward Aquarium under construction in AlaskaJo Boyett and Lorelle have been friends for what feels like forever. Jo has helped us get ready for life on the road in more ways than we can count, including hosting two weekends of garage sales of the VanFossen’s stuff in her driveway. She is now the keeper of the fish tank, keeping her granddaughter amused as the thing takes up half their living room. Jo flew up to spend a week with us in Alaska, even braving a huge hike up the Seward Glacier.
Photograph of a Pacific Northwest Forest interiorA bit of the Pacific Northwest that Brent and Lorelle miss dearly: green, luscious forests. Such forests are not found over much of the world any more. There is very little that is green, or even natural, in Israel, so the greens of the Pacific Northwest seem thousands of miles away. Oh, they are!
Laurie Dahlberg and Lorelle dress up in scarfs at the local KMart.Laurie Dahlberg and Lorelle began their friendship when Lorelle moved to Mukilteo, Washington from Lake Stevens, terrified about a new community and new school. Here, they model their “beauty” in rack of scarfs at the local KMart in Everett, Washington. Both graduated from Mariner High School in Mukilteo, Washington.
Laurie Dahlberg and Lorelle dress up as Western saloon girlsNot long before graduation, with dreams of traveling to Florida after graduation dancing in their heads, Laurie and Lorelle “dress up” for photo gifts for their parents. Within 6 months of graduation, Lorelle made it to Florida, but Laurie didn’t. A few years later, Lorelle returned home to drag Laurie to Lake Chelan in Eastern Washington for a summer of having too much fun and making too many pizzas.
Photograph of the Matterhorn taking from the Zermat countryside.Lorelle’s first image sold, when she was 15, was this picture of the Materhorn. At this tender age, she had just finished camping across Europe, visiting 11 countries and skiing on the Matternhorn.
Susan Siverson and Lorelle at a birthday party Susan threw for LorelleLorelle’s best friend, Susan Siverson, is someone who inspires Lorelle every day. An incredible classically trained concert pianist, she continued to maintain her passion for music with a serious professional career as a bank manager. With a huge gap between the second and third child, with husband, David, playing stay-at-home daddy for the first two, Susan decided to reverse roles with him and now she is the stay-at-home mother home-schooling the now four children in Seattle. Susan, with the incredible support of her family, has been able to find balance in a world that often condemns working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. She’s been both!
A look inside of our trailer, photo by Lorelle VanFossen
No, we don’t live like pigs all the time. Every few months we would pull everything out and give it a thorough cleaning and inspection. As you travel, you just collect things, and we hadn’t left our serious collecting habits behind when we started traveling, so yes, we did have too much stuff. I don’t know how wiser we are, but we’re still learning that you have to work with the space you have. Anway, this is what the trailer looks like when it is truly a mess. Thought you’d be impressed or something.
The VanFossen family with Lorelle's mom at a theatrical wedding in SeattleLorelle’s mom hosted a unique “party” when Brent’s parents came to see us before we hit the road in Seattle. We all attended “Tony and Tina’s Wedding.” This is part play, part musical, part wedding, part party, part dinner, and a lot of theatre. We all thought it was insane and horrible, but we loved talking about how awful it was afterwards! We all dressed up as if going to a real wedding.
The VanFossen family joins the newly wed couple in the woodsAt our wedding, there were more VanFossens than any other group in the audience. Here they all are, including Grandmother Matthews in the middle, having flown across the country to honor us with their presence.
Laurie Dahlberg and Lorelle win stuffed animals at the Evergreen State FairLaurie and Lorelle play at the Evergreen State Fair, thrilled to have just seen their favorite performer, Jim Stafford, whom Lorelle would work with two years later.
Lorelle on stage singing.In addition to being a writer and photographer, Lorelle has gotten on and off a few stages in her time. This was from a performance, accompanied by Susan Siverson, in Vancouver, BC, Canada, just before receiving a standing ovation.
Lorelle holding a lion cubLorelle has always had an affinity with animals. While traveling with Up With People, when the Lion’s Club brought this lion cub to the stage for presentation to the local zoo, Lorelle was the only one to calm the poor terrified creature.
Susan and David SiversonSusan and David Siverson take a moment for Lorelle’s camera. Lorelle always swore that if Susan died, Lorelle would take David. They had arguments about how cold her body would have to be before she claimed him. David was thrilled and relieved when the pressure to do away with his wife ended with the arrival of Brent.
Photograph of Brent trying to drive a 747-400Sorry to disappoint you all, but Brent builds these. He does not fly them, but that is only because they haven’t invited him to drive one yet. He probably could. He is sitting inside the new computerized Boeing 747-400 flight deck.
Lorelle helps friends with their computer problemsBrent’s childhood friend, Mark, visited with us in the Olympic National Park when he came through on a business trip not long before we hit the road full-time. Lorelle helped him fix his computer as they hid from the pouring rain in Jo Boyett’s trailer. Not long later, Brent and Lorelle came out of the trailer to find their tent floating on a newly formed pond.
Brent performs his famous fish face contortionLorelle can’t look at this picture of Brent without cracking up. And Brent knows that he will get a smile and giggle (and a few groans!) whenever he tortures her with this. All the VanFossen kids can do the “fish face”. We wonder if it is hereditary but the parents aren’t talking.
Brent visits with family and friends at a partyBrent converses with two of the most important women in the world at a party, his mother, Lynda, a dedicated Christain leader in her community, on the left and a friend of Lorelle’s, Py Bateman, one of the world’s leading experts in sexual assault prevention education. He claims that he loves to surround himself with only the best. What a combination!
Toshi VanFossenToshi VanFossen, the traveling, monster kitty, explores the Matanuska Glacier with joy! Toshi loves nothing more than getting out of the trailer and seeing what is out and about and around. He is almost fearless in his curiousity. He picks at the door screen begging to be let out. We are extremely cautious, but it is a challenge against such determination. Toshi is a cat who really wants to be out in life and not just sleeping through it all.
Ivory Roberts and her wonderful familyLorelle became best buddies with Ivory Roberts and her great family while teaching water aerobics in Greensboro, NC. A former surgical nurse, Ivory’s spirit and energy helps keep many of the students in the water aerobics morning classes on their toes. She is rarely without a smile for everyone, and she tackles all the struggles life hands her with a class and style that is completely “cool”.
Harell Roberts and his grandson, JulianIvory’s husband, Harell, holds his grandson, Julian. Harell and Ivory really helped Lorelle and Brent get situated in Greensboro, as well as both pitched in with a vengence after the massive storms hit as we tried to get out of Greensboro. Without their help, we feel like we would still be packing up and trying to get out of there. Not that we really wanted to, leaving such wonderful friends behind.
Ivory and her grandchildrenRaised in a huge family, there is nothing Ivory loves more than being surrounded by friends and family. Here she is with her two grandchildren, smiling that famous smile of hers! Their home, built on a small lake, hosts many family parties and social events for friends and family. For a great cook-out, this is the place!
Brent and his grandmother MatthewsBrent, the handsome grandson, models with his beautiful Grandmother Matthews. You can see where the smile was inherited from. We lost her just before we left for Israel, a sorrow we carried with us, and still do. She was always the glowing, smiling, totally supportive family cheerleader. The whole family would tell the stories over and over again about how the sun rose and set with her baby, Brent, and how her first grandchild could do no wrong. She taught Lorelle two very important things in dealing with Brent in our marriage. First, never go to bed mad, and second, a back scratch can solve just about anything.
Artist displays on the Charles Bridge in Prague, photo by Lorelle VanFossenExploring Prague was a highlight of our time in Europe. It is a fascinating city and so lovely how it has not only worked hard to preserve its history in architecture but also in spirit. While now home to the world businesses and financial institutions, the city still has a healthy and vibrant artistic community. Prague is famous for not only their theatre and music but their puppetry. We spent an afternoon exploring the famous Charles Bridge, closed to traffic, watching puppet shows, musicians, and many painters and photographers plying their wares.
Brent snuggles with Toshi in the trailer, photo by Lorelle VanFossenMy two best boys in their favorite position. Toshi loves sleeping with Brent, in any position. And Brent’s favorite pastime is sleeping, so they make a good couple. After a long morning of photographing and exploring the wilds of Florida, the two crash out in the bedroom of the trailer.
Brent cleans up after the mouse damage in the trailer, photo by Lorelle VanFossenAfter being invaded by the mouse from hell, we spent many hours and days cleaning out all of the kitchen and storage compartments with bleach and water to protect from the ickies that mice can bring. Little did we realize that we weren’t just being visited by field mice but a true monster mouse. Check out our mouse from hell story in our Telling Zone.
Owl Nest sign in Cape Coral, Florida. Photo by Brent VanFossenBased on a tip from friends and some bird books, Brent set out to find a subdivision on Cape Coral near St. Petersburg, Florida. After a frustrating evening driving around, he didn’t have any luck, but he perserved and found the owl nest the next afternoon. Surrounded by new homes, little cheap boxes of houses, one lot remained untouched. Next to the hole in the ground was a sign explaining, “Owl’s Nest”. Next to that sign was another explaining the property was for sale and was now sold. I’m sure not to someone worried about protecting the home of the owl, who has no Baby burrowing owl, photo by Brent VanFossenmoney to buy their home. They can only borrow a hole in the ground left by another burrowing resident. Animals just don’t have good mortgage ratings. Brent worked for several afternoons photographing the owl family capturing some of their antics and impressive beauty. I’m sure that when we return in a few years a home will be on the spot and the owls will be homeless. Too bad.
Blue Mosque in Istanbul, photo by Brent VanFossenExploring Istanbul fills a person with a dicotomy of sensations and emotions. On one hand it is like stepping back in time to a world beyond our imagination with palaces and extraoridinary artistry. On the other hand it is like visiting a city designed by WalMart. Located at a famous crossroads of the ancient world, it has seen its share of rulers and wanna be rulers and history in general. People who live here represent much of the known ethnic groups of the world from the deepest Africa to the coldest reaches of Scandinavia. With the recent flood of refuges, Russians, Pakistanis, and Romanians fill the streets hawking their wares. Next and inside the ancient bazaars and markets, most underneath or next to the famous ancient mosques, you can buy just about anything you want from fake identification papers made on the spot to televisions and ripped off software selling for less than USD $5.00. It is a place filled with over 12 million people and it must be experienced to be believed. Disneyland ain’t got nothing on Istanbul.
Laces and handicrafts on display in Rhodes, Greece, photo by Lorelle VanFossenWe absolutely fell in love with the handicrafts of Greece while spending a few days in Rhodes (Rhodos), Greece. Their lace making and embroidery work is fantastic, but so is their woodwork. We got some lovely hand carved wood bowls and platters for parties and then purchased some leather goods for gift giving. We had a blast exploring the island and look forward to going back.

I collect tatting and other handwork like special crochet projects. I’ve found some beautiful Romanian crochet which includes tatting and crochet techniques, and the handiwork from Greece is really extraordinary and beautiful. As we travel, I look for unique pieces to add to our collection.

Camping our trailer in Monument Valley, Utah, photo by Lorelle VanFossen
We had an interesting couple of days exploring Monument Valley. Actually, Brent explored the park while I stayed in the trailer battling a computer hard drive crash. The hard drive crashed at the Grand Canyon and our next stop was Monument Valley, so I dealt with it there. We worship the ground Gateway Computers float over and once again they proved to us that they are the best company in the world for buying computer products from. One phone call on a payphone next to the campground office had Gateway telling me that I should have gotten a notice about my defective hard drive (a little difficult to get while living on the road) and that they would send out a new one immediately. Just say where. I got information on a campground in Mesa Verde, Colorado, our next stop, and asked them to ship it there. They did, no questions asked. We arrived there three days later and it was waiting for us. Is that awesome or what.

We remember camping at Monument Valley for another reason. They had these beautiful drive through campsites, but to pull through you had to enter a road on a hill. The angle of the hill to the flat campsite caused a boo-boo as our truck’s tail went up while the trailer stayed flat and we hooked the corner of the tailgate on the underside of our fifth wheel ripping the skin of the trailer open. The agony just never ends. A very helpful nearby resident helped us roll the trailer on blocks to lift it up as we rolled “up and over” the angle on the turn downhill, and then helped us pound close and tape the ripped skin. A few months later in Florida we got help from some friends of ours to make an aluminum “bandaid” for the ripped skin and life went on.

Brent photographs flowers in Texas, photo by Lorelle VanFossen
We use the truck a lot to help us with our photography. It is big enough to hide behind when working with animals. It can block the wind a bit when working with plants and flowers. It’s huge white sides can make a decent reflector for bounding light on a subject. And it does still take us from photographic spot to photographic spot. Brent works here to photograph wildflowers in the Texas Hill Country.

While we hate the truck and have problems parking and driving in tight quarters, the monster truck offers some great advantages for the photographer. We can stand in the back of the truck or on its roof to get up and over to photograph a subject. Because it is high, we can also just sit inside and get above our subject or a fence or something blocking our view. With a crew cab, Brent can have the front seat and I can have the back to move back and forth between the windows with our cameras. The serious downside of this kind of vehicle is the cost to run it. It eats gasoline by the massive bucketload.

Getting gas in Tok, Alaska, photo by Lorelle VanFossen
We were so thrilled when we finally crossed the Alaska border, leaving Canada behind. While the gas prices were expensive, they weren’t as bad as they were in Canada, so that was part of our relief. There are gas stations all along the Alaska Highway, averaging about one every 50 miles, so we didn’t feel much of a panic then, but we had just left Whitehorse, Yukon a day or so back and that is where we had the transmission replaced, and we were just thankful to still be moving down the road in one piece.
The highest price we ever paid for gas during out two year travels, Watson Lake, Yukon, photo by Brent VanFossen” />
The average price of gas in the United States when we hit the road was just over a dollar, running between USD $1.15 and $1.30. Imagine our shock when we range up this big price tag in Watson Lake, Yukon, Canada. Even though it is in Canadian Dollars, it was still an absolute shockeroo. We just had to photograph this moment as we stood there shellshocked. You have to laugh at moments like these because you have no choice but to laugh or cry. I gather that now, several years later, the average price of gas is closer to what we saw on this pump, but then we aren’t living in the US right now. We are in Israel where we are paying about USD $4.20 per gallon. Next time you think about complaining, think again. It can be worse and it does get worse. We look at this photograph now and laugh. That was CHEAP now.
No gas, photo by Lorelle VanFossenComing back down from Alaska on the Alaska Highway, a couple of times our fears were realized and we came across “no gas” signs. We had extra and prepared for this, but it was still frightening. In general, most vehicles can make the Alaska Highway with no fear or problems. Over 90% of the road is smooth, paved, and an easy drive, almost monotonous. Just about any vehicle can make the drive easily. The hard parts begin just near the Alaska border as it is under construction and repair a lot, mostly due to “frost heaves”, a situation when the drastic temperature changes between freezing and thawing causes the road to “heave” up and down making driving brutal on the vehicle as well as the people inside it.


  • Susan Dugat
    Posted November 1, 2006 at 0:17 | Permalink

    Dear Lorelle, I am a good friend of Susan Siverson from her days in grad school. Ahem, I’m somewhat older, but she can tell you about that. Anyway, I was bored tonight as DH is watching something on TV, put in Susan’s name and searched the net for her–thought maybe she’d written something and discovered your site with a picture of her and David (who I’ve never met). I was so thrilled. She’s a fine person and I admire her a lot.

    I just wanted to let you know you enlightened my evening with your interesting text and pictures.

  • Posted November 1, 2006 at 10:15 | Permalink

    Susan continues to be my best friend and we’ve shared a lot of life and living together. She is doing great and I’ll let her know that you were “looking her up”. I will be seeing her hopefully later this week. I just had dinner with her and the family a few days ago as I’m currently visiting and working in Seattle for a short time.

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