The following is a draft of chapter one of our book, Home is Where Lorelle Is about what started as a one year life on the road experience that turned into almost 16 years living on the road traveling across the planet.
“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do — especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.”
William Least Heat Moon, Blue Highways
Journal: Friday the 13th
Junction City, Oregon
December 18, 1996
He thought we were coming back. From the tightening in his eyes, his face growing pale in the truck’s side view mirror, I could tell he now knew the truth. We weren’t coming back. We were gone.
After 18 months of hard work and preparation, we were not coming back. Not for a long time. As I crept further down the street, feeling the weight of the trailer pulling backwards on the truck towards the lone man standing in the road, I tried to resist a last glance behind.
I could see the realization hit him hard. He was starting to shake, his hand still out stretched where I had grasped it through the open window as the the truck has rolled past him. Not only was he growing small in perspective, he seemed to shrink even smaller, tears running down his face. I wanted to stop and run back to assure him. Really, you’ll be okay without me. The stronger side of me screamed, “Get the fuck out of here!” So, I kept moving, leaning forward with the effort to drag the trailer forward, down the road before me, leaving my father behind me.
I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t feel. Every moment leading up to this one had been a struggle. Nothing came easy. Even today, everything was just too complicated, too many obstacles thrown in the path of our life on the road. Vowing to leave well before noon, here I was, crawling through the heavy late afternoon rush hour traffic of Snohomish County towards Seattle along Interstate 5, caught up with everyone moving in and out of Everett, to and from Seattle, and the bedroom communities in between. One giant truck and trailer heading out of town among commuters heading home.
December 13, 1996. Friday the thirteenth.
Was this an omen? If I were a superstitious person, what impact would leaving everything I’d ever known behind on such a traditionally ominous day mean? A sign from the gods that we must be crazy? Or a prophecy predicting that if we could survive hitting the road on a Friday the thirteenth, the rest of the trip would be a breeze? Little did I realize that the former was our destiny.
The winter evening’s freezing temperatures turned to ice as I suffered the honks of cars trying to move around the lumbering trailer through my childhood city home of Everett towards Bothell and waiting husband and friends. Eagles and hawks sat on the tops of many of the fence posts along I-5 as it crossed the Slough, the strange mix of salt and mountain fresh water where the Snohomish river system and Port Gardner Bay and the Puget Sound mixed together. Normally, the beautiful twists and turns and mudflats of the slough along and under the interstate would relax me, but the tension was so great, I let the physical and mental strain of driving such a big rig fill my head. Don’t think about anything but what you’re doing. Concentrate on the traffic. Think ahead down the road. Be prepared for the lane to end up ahead. Find a wide break in the lane next to you. Watch out for the idiot cutting in front. Doesn’t he know that the weight of the trailer behind this truck increases the time to come to a stop by – Brent’s not here to do the numbers for me so I just comfort myself with curses under my breath and ease off the gas to let the driver think he’s safe from me. For the moment.
Brent and I said our goodbyes over the past year to friends and family. We were ready to leave. Well, at least I was. Brent was still mentally chained to his 8-5 job with Boeing. For four years we’d planned this down to the finest detail, revised the plan, changed details, then changed them some more as we realized we needed more flexibility in our schedule to give us a chance to enjoy the process and not race from place to place across North America for the next year. Our goal was to be in the perfect nature place at the perfect time to photograph the perfect nature, and seasons and nature do not pay attention to maps nor convenience to two 30-somethings traveling around in a 30 foot fifth wheel trailer. Continue reading