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 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 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 a temple 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 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.
A big year for travel. In Morocco we explored Marrakech and
Fez and rode camels in the Sahara. We hiked to the top of the
Rock of Gibraltar. We visited some of the top cities in Spain.
The highlight of the year was hiking the Camino de Santiago -- a
trek of some 500 miles through the French Pyrenees and Spain.
Afterwards we toured Portugal and finished off with a whirlwind
spin through Ireland plus a one-month stay in southern Ireland.
More explorations on the other side of the world. In Malaysia
we ascended the Petronis Towers and savored fusion food in
Penang. We fell in love with Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.
In Indonesia we toured Borobudur and Prambanan temples and
explored Bali for the first time. Nearly a month in Thailand let us
revel in its stunning islands and visit Chiang Mai in the north.
In Guatemala we witnessed erupting Fuego Volcano, toured the
temples of Tikal, and celebrated Easter Week in Antigua. We
swam through ATM water cave in Belize, snorkeled its barrier
reef, and flew over the Blue Hole. On a whirlwind two-week trip
to Iceland we drove its famous Ring Road and visited two of its
premier hiking destinations: Thorsmork and Landmannalaugar.
|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, 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.
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, CO, our base when not traveling.
We traveled for three months in Northern India and Nepal. In
India a Bengal tiger held our jeep at bay. We got covered with
paint during Holi, rowed the Ganges at sunrise, and finally saw
the Taj Mahal with our own eyes. In Nepal we spent a month
hiking the Annapurna Circuit in the Himalayas, reaching a top
elevation of 17,873 ft (5,416 m). We also weathered a Maoist
strike in Kathmandu and went flightseeing to Mount Everest.
We spent a month in Italy, cruised to Greece and Turkey, then
spent a month in Switzerland. Undoubtedly our most expensive
trip ever: a 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, loved our room with a
view at Lake Como, saw the Matterhorn on a picture-perfect
day, and hiked the stunning Jungfrau region for two weeks.
This was our year for Ecuador and the Galapagos. We toured
the Galapagos by yacht then island-hopped on our own. On the
mainland we 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. A highlight was our doors-off helicopter tour of Kauai.
In Jordan we saw the cliff-carved buildings 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, explored Jerusalem, and took mud baths before
floating in the Dead Sea. Our autumn road trip to Canada's
Maritime Provinces included Nova Scotia and PEI.
|Shortly before retiring early