We Be Robert & Robin Charlton
Who We Be
In December 2006, at the age of 43, we retired from our jobs—Robin as
a registered nurse, Robert as a proposal manager at an aerospace
firm—so we could travel the world more extensively and live life more
We prefer to travel slowly and on foot as much as possible, staying in a
country for weeks or months at a time when we can, and that just isn't
feasible with a full-time job. So we chose time over money, saving up
"just enough" and not a penny more, and took off for parts unknown
(to us, anyway). We love to hike, so most of our trips include hiking or
trekking in some form or other, and we usually choose natural scenery
and small towns over big cities.
We actually began traveling on short but exciting trips during our last
year or two at work— cruising the Panama Canal, hiking to Machu
Picchu in Peru, going on safari in Kenya and Tanzania, taking a cruise
down the Nile in Egypt, seeing the highlights of China, and visiting Italy
and the Mediterranean.
In 2007, celebrating our newfound freedom, we went on a five-month
trip to New Zealand and Fiji and pushed our personal limits with
adventures like skydiving, bungy jumping, hang gliding, jet boating,
and aerobatic flying. We swam with dolphins and seals, snorkeled with
sharks and manta rays, romped with lion cubs, rolled downhill in a
Zorb, kayaked in Doubtful Sound, and logged 300 miles on New
Zealand trails, including such Great Walks as the Milford, Kepler,
Routeburn, and Abel Tasman tracks.
In autumn 2007 we sold our Colorado home of 16 years, loaded up our
customized van, and hit the road. For the rest of 2007 and throughout
2008 we were "vagabonds by choice," making what we call "The Big
Loop" through the USA.
In 2009 we spent five months touring Argentina and Chile, beginning
with a two-week South America cruise around Cape Horn. We saw
Iguazu Falls, hiked Torres del Paine and the Fitzroy Range in
Patagonia, and sailed the Chilean Fjords by freighter ship. Back in the
U.S., in July we purchased an exceedingly small condo (380 square
feet!) smack-dab in the middle of Boulder, which gives us a base to call
home when we're not traveling.
In 2010 we traveled for three months in Northern India and Nepal. In
India we saw a Bengal tiger who laid down in the road and wouldn't let
our jeep pass, got covered with paint pigments during the Holi festival,
rowed down the Ganges at sunrise, and finally saw the Taj Mahal with
our own eyes. In Nepal we spent a whole month hiking the Annapurna
Circuit in the Himalayas, which included crossing Thorung-La Pass at
17,873 feet (5,416 m) -- the highest we've ever been on foot. We also
survived a nationwide Maoist strike for ten days in Kathmandu and
went flightseeing to Mount Everest.
In 2011 we spent a month in Italy, followed by a two-week cruise to
Greece and Turkey, then a month in Switzerland. This was undoubtedly
our most expensive trip ever, but when is there ever going to be a
cheap time to visit Switzerland? We justified it as our 25th
anniversary splurge. Highlights included seeing Athens,
Istanbul, and Ephesus for the first time, touring the Tuscan and
Umbrian countryside by car for two weeks, living in Venice for a
week, swooning over our room with a view in Lake Como, seeing
the snowcapped Matterhorn on a picture-perfect day, and hiking
the glorious Jungfrau region for two weeks.
In 2012 we visited Ecuador and the Galapagos for two months.
We luxuriated aboard a yacht during a spectacular Galapagos
cruise then went island-hopping on our own. On the mainland
we visited the second-highest capital city in the world (Quito),
kicked back in the mountain town of Vilcabamba, celebrated
Easter Week in Cuenca, flew Superman-style across a canyon in
Baños, and went on an Amazon adventure full of tarantulas,
snakes, piranhas, and monkeys. Later in the year we spent three
wonderful weeks cruising to and visiting the islands of Hawaii,
with the highlight being a doors-off helicopter tour on Kauai.
All in all, we hardly feel like we're "retiring"—more like starting to
live! Someday we may slow down, but for now the world's a big
place and we want to see as much of it as we can while we're still
(relatively) young and able.