The Continuing Saga of Laurent Vermeulen
The Continuing Saga of Laurent Vermeulen

The Continuing Saga of Laurent Vermeulen

by Lynn R. Miller of Singing Horse Ranch

Belgium native Laurent Vermeulen and his dog Romany have spent years traversing North America in his magnificent owner-built modern Gypsy Caravan. First he traveled with mules, then Belgians, and finally U.S. highways posed too much of a hazard and he switched to a farm tractor carefully and artfully painted to match the wagon. He received many requests along his trek for building plans for the caravan. Before leaving the SFJ campground he left copies of his plans with us to pass around. They are detailed, large and extensive. 17 big pages in two languages (one English). Copies of the plans are available for a $20 donation to Laurent’s adventure fund. Although, for the right thing he is definitely open to trades and he’s a sucker for tender stories.

The Continuing Saga of Laurent Vermeulen

The workmanship displayed in his Caravan and in the pictures he shared with me of his construction in Europe, is outstanding so I was not surprised by the quality of the outside oven he helped to construct in California.

What follows are snippets of correspondence and narrative bringing us all up to date as to his travels. When he left us he was thinking of crossing Australia on a camel but it looks like love may have stalled that plan. We’re hoping he will join us again for our Auction in April. We’re sure we’ll hear more from this bold adventurer. I enjoyed sharing my smoked salmon and dilled garlic with him. He thinks I’m a character, I think he’s a character. We’re almost in complete agreement. LRM

The Continuing Saga of Laurent Vermeulen


We returned back to North Carolina on January 31, 2002. On March 29 we took the plane to Idaho. There was still a lot of snow on the ground. On April 7, we continued our travels, heading for the Pacific Coast in Oregon. First we drove through the Snake River Valley. Immense sagebrush areas, but also good irrigated farmland. Once in Oregon, we drove back into the mountains. We crossed the Blue Mountains in Malheur National Forest and the Ochoco Mountains. Down in the valleys there was some grassland and sometimes a grain field. The last part to Sisters was sagebrush and juniper country. That whole stretch was ranch and free-range area. This practice disturbs the natural vegetation and forest heavily.

We stayed ten days in Sisters. We arrived just in time for the Small Farmer’s Journal auction. We met many nice country folks and got lots of questions about my travels. We also enjoyed the hospitality of the people of the SFJ.

Leaving there, we got to drive over the Cascade mountains first. The main highway was open and there wasn’t much traffic yet. The secondary and the logging roads in Willamette National Forest were still closed because of the snow. The east side of the Cascades was mainly dry Ponderosa pine forest. On the west side we came into the forests of the giant Douglas Firs. But there aren’t many left. Down in the valleys there was green grass and an abundance of flowers and blooming trees in the gardens. The difference with the Sisters area was outspoken.

Then we drove father west through the Coastal mountains. Traveling was easy. There was few traffic, even on the paved roads. It surprised us to see how little was left of the original woods. Sometimes you couldn’t find a big tree in the whole area. Close to the coast we saw a lot of erosion cause of the clear cuttings.

We saw the ocean in Reedsport. We were fascinated to see two gray whales playing just in front of us. One did a backward jump. A crab-fisherman asked us to pull his boat and trailer out of the dunes where he got stuck. We did and could enjoy a supper with more fresh crabmeat then we could eat. But my companion Romany solved that.

But the coast was too busy for us and we followed mainly gravel roads without traffic, through Siskiyou National Forest. But also there we were disappointed to see the destructive logging techniques. It was hard to find a little patch with healthy older forest. We came again out at the ocean and enjoyed the scenery of the rocky coast of southern Oregon.

On May 11, we crossed the California state line.


Once again we left the coast cause of the traffic. We drove into the mountains of Six-Rivers National Forest and Klamath National Forest. We found only a few 3-4 foot thick redwood trees. They are all cut down. The forest became much drier and recovering after logging much slower. And in some areas it will never happen. Here they even didn’t leave a little patch. The wildlife is poor except for black bears. On weekends you hear gunshots everywhere. The logging roads were many times rough and very steep. In Weed we stayed three days with wonderful people we met in Sisters. They have an Eurythmy School.

From there we drove father southeast through Shasta National Forest. We explored a very different landscape. Old volcanoes with the dominant Mt. Shasta, lava fields, red and yellow clay.

There are many big wells but soon the water disappears in the ground. There are patches of grassland in the middle of the forest. Many areas are very destructive logged. It’s also a freerange area.

Lassen National Forest was even worser. No undergrowth anymore. The forests are converted into plantations.

In Susanville we saw the sagebrush again on the dry mountain slopes. In Plumas National Forest we found again a few little patches older forest with Orford-Cedars, Douglas Firs and Ponderosa Pines. But the woods were so strong thinned out, the big trees were standing alone. In North California there is also damage done by the mining (gold-copper). Mining on a small scale is still going on.

In Sierraville we drove into Tahoe National Forest. But a surprise waited us on the tops: the roads were still under the snow. But it was 90 degrees F down in the valley. I got to drive back and followed the paved highway 49. We learned once again that the woods along the main roads are better managed than those far away. To get away from the traffic we followed the only road out of the valley of the Yuba River. We made it barely. The gravel road was very steep and washed out for about ten miles.

Once again we ended up in the traffic to cross the Bear and American Rivers. Those flow through big steep valleys with few bridges. Around Sacramento there are house developments till far into the hills.

When we came into the Central Valley we expected to see farmland. We only found dry yellow grass. Farther we saw some young vineyards.

On June 6, we arrived in Galt, south of Sacramento, on an auction place. One of the auctioneers there we met in Sisters. We considered to finish the travel in North American and put our rig up for sale.

Since we left Idaho in the spring, we drove 160 miles in Idaho, 820 miles in Oregon and 853 miles in California.

The total distance we traveled with the tractor from Alberta was about 4000 miles.

The Continuing Saga of Laurent Vermeulen

Dear Lynn,

It’s a while ago you heard from me, but that doesn’t mean nothing happened. On the contrary. As I mentioned in my last letter, I sold my tractor in Sacramento, and the wagon to the McPherson’s in Weed, California. They are subscribers of the SFJ and donated a few subscriptions to other people. They invited me to stay there for a while and I did. It changed my life. It’s a private project on a 50-acre piece of land. They train young people (approximately 18 to 35 years old) to become Eurythmy teachers. This social movement art is based on the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925 Switzerland and Austria). There are 18 students this year. The last year they started also to grow their own food in an environmentally friendly way. There are two Belgians and a young Percheron involved in this.

The Continuing Saga of Laurent Vermeulen

Working over there, I thought many times of you. I am pretty sure you will like this place and the project. Michael and Karen, the owners, would like to meet you…

The Continuing Saga of Laurent Vermeulen

When I arrived, a young lady named Amber, a graduate from the school, and now the pianist, was busy building a brickaterre breadoven. She took my offer to help her and as you can see on the pictures, we did a good job together I think. We baked in it a few times and it works great…

The Continuing Saga of Laurent Vermeulen

Working daily on the oven together, it took us about a week to fall in love with each other. Today we both look towards a future together. We would like to work together at building out a self-supporting community with the school as center. I sure will never run out of work over there. I hope I will be able to find a solution for the immigration and visa requirements…

Laurent Vermeulen

Belgium and Weed, CA

The Continuing Saga of Laurent Vermeulen