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 fully.
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 visited Ecuador and the Galapagos in March and April. We
toured the Galapagos by yacht then did some island-hopping
on our own. On the mainland we kicked back in relaxing
Vilcabamba, celebrated Easter in Cuenca, flew Superman-style
across a canyon in Baños, and went on an Amazon adventure
full of tarantulas and snakes. In October we went on a cruise to
Hawaii and extended our trip with a stay on Kauai. A definite
highlight was our doors-off helicopter tour of Kauai.
In Jordan we saw the cliff-carved Treasury of Petra lit up by a
thousand candles, rode camels in the Wadi Rum desert, and
slept in a Bedouin tent. In Israel we dipped our feet in the Sea
of Galilee, ascended to Jerusalem, and got all muddy before
floating in the Dead Sea. In the autumn we did a road trip to
Canada's Maritime Provinces including Nova Scotia and PEI.
We traveled for four months in Southeast Asia. We spent one
month in Cambodia, one month in Laos, and one month in
Vietnam, followed by a week in Bangkok and ten days in Japan.
Highlights included Angkor Wat in Cambodia, a zipline jungle
adventure in Laos, touring by motorcycle in Vietnam, and
walking through endless orange gates at Fushimi Inari in Kyoto.
We drove down the entire length of the Baja Peninsula, Mexico
and got to pet gray whales, release baby sea turtles, swim with
whale sharks, and even spot blue whales. We put a lot of miles
on our car with another trip to Glacier National Park and Banff,
Alberta. Our big international trip was to Brazil where we
explored the Amazon and Pantanal and went hang gliding in Rio.
|We Be Robert & Robin Charlton
|We actually began traveling on short but exciting adventure
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 affectionately call "The Big Loop" through the USA.
We spent five months touring Argentina and Chile, beginning
with a two-week South America cruise around Cape Horn.
Highlights included seeing Iguazu Falls, hiking Torres del Paine
and the Fitzroy Range in Patagonia, and sailing the Chilean
Fjords by freighter ship. Back in the U.S., we purchased a tiny
condo (380 sf!) in Boulder, Colorado, which gives us a base
when we're not traveling.
We traveled for three months in Northern India and Nepal. In
India we saw a Bengal tiger who wouldn't let our jeep pass, got
covered with paint during Holi, rowed the Ganges at sunrise,
and saw the Taj Mahal with our own eyes. In Nepal we spent a
month hiking the Annapurna Circuit in the Himalayas, reaching
our highest elevation at 17,873 ft (5,416 m). We also survived a
ten-day nationwide Maoist strike in Kathmandu and went on a
flightseeing tour of Mount Everest.
We spent a month in Italy, followed by a two-week cruise to
Greece and Turkey, then a month in Switzerland. Undoubtedly
this was our most expensive trip ever but we justified it as our
25th anniversary splurge. We saw Athens, Istanbul, and
Ephesus for the first time, toured Tuscany and Umbria for two
weeks, lived in Venice for a week, swooned over our room with
a view in Lake Como, saw the Matterhorn on a picture-perfect
day, and hiked the stunning Jungfrau region for two weeks.