Bob Carlsen

Home and Away

Bob Carlsen

I started blogging on Travelblog in 2009, entering trips beginning in 2007. However, my intention has always been to document my years of travel. Most bloggers write about their trips away from home. Mine, and eventually Linda's, homes have usually been where people travel to. So the idea eventually percolated to rename our blog "Home and Away."

The blog is not intended to be an autobiography, although I spent my entire life traveling, with Linda joining me after college, it may appear to be that way. As this is a travel blog the entries concentrate mostly on the travel aspects of our lives. The blogs about our homes (see the links below) necessarily provide the setting, with an abbreviated description of what brought us to that place, our local travel, and some of the significant events, many of which intersected with history, that might be of general interest to readers. These "home" blogs are followed by blogs about the extended trips we took while living in each place.

To start at the beginning in 1949 just go to The Beginning. I was born in Bangkok, Thailand, and lived in Thailand for a total of 8 years, Dalat, Vietnam for 5 years, and the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia for 2 years; returning to the States for college in 1968. I met Linda at Geneva College; me a senior and she a freshman. We were married in December 1972, and that's when Linda was also infected with the travel bug.

In February 1973 we moved to Thailand for 2 1/2 years (see blogs beginning with Back to Thailand with Linda - our home in Bangkok), returned to the States for 2 years (see blogs starting with Home for a couple years in the DC area), and then back overseas to Ramstein, Germany for 3 years (see blogs starting with Three Years in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany), and Boblingen, Germany for 4 years (see blogs starting with Home in Boblingen, Germany).

In 1984 we moved to Overijse, Belgium (outskirts of Brussels) for 11 years (see blogs starting with Home in Overijse, Belgium from July 1984 to November 1995), where our three children, Tamara, Rosanna, and Will were born.

We finished our overseas assignments and moved to Falls Church, Virginia in November 1995 (see blogs starting with Home in Falls Church, Virginia from November 1995 to August 2005 ). While living there for ten years, we took road trips to all 50 states and several U.S. territories looking for a place to retire.

I August 2005 we retired in Colorado (see blogs starting with Retirement in Woodland Park Colorado), which gives us even more time, but not enough money, to travel. Linda is tiring of traveling, so is very selective about when she joins me on trips, but our three children are hooked on travel for life.

On December 31, 2011 I completed all blog entries covering the period from 1949 to 2011, including travel to 65 countries. Discovering that, I set a goal of traveling to 100 countries.

So in September 2012 (see blogs starting with Our 40th Anniversary Trip Begins!) rather than flying directly to Sydney for our 40th Anniversary, we flew to Honolulu and cruised to American Samoa (66), Samoa (67), Fiji, Vanuatu (68), French Caledonia (69), to Australia; then flew to New Zealand (70) for several weeks of touring on the South and North Islands.

In March 2013 (see blogs starting with Planning my Silk Road and Baltics RTW), I flew to Beijing, China where I met up with my son Will who flew in from Bangkok. We traveled the Silk Road by train, first to Lanzhou, where we took a side trip to Xiahe (Labrang where my parents we married in 1949), then to Dunhuang, Jiayuguan, Turpan, and Urumqi in China. We flew from there via Almaty, Kazakhstan (71) to finish the Silk Road in Uzbekistan (72); visiting the sights of Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara. We then flew from Tashkent to Riga, Latvia (73) and took buses to Vilnius, Lithuania (74), and Tallinn, Estonia (75); and a ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki, Finland (76). We then took our separate ways with Will flying to Rome and I headed home via a stopover in London.

In May 2014 Linda and I explored the Pre-Colombian civilizations on our first visit to South America; first the Inca civilization exemplified by Machu Picchu in Peru (77) and Tiwanaku in Bolivia (78). We had a brief stopover in Colombia (79) and Panama (80), enough time to see the Panama Canal and the old city, before continuing to Cancun, Mexico to see the Mayan ruin of Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula (see blogs starting with Planning our Pre-Colombian Civilizations Trip.

Future trips include the following rough order subject to the vicissitudes of life:

2015 - I will fly to Dubrovnik, Croatia (81) where I will take short trips to Kotor, Montenegro (82) and Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina (83), and then head north along the Croatian coast to Slovenia (84). Linda has decided to skip this trip.

2016 - Linda and I will cruise from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (85) to Montevideo, Uruguay (86), to Buenos Aires, Argentina (87), to the Falkland Islands (88), to Ushuaia and the Chilean Fjords, to Valparaiso, Chile (89).

2017 - Linda and I will cruise of the Eastern Caribbean to include Guadeloupe (90), the British Virgin Islands (91), the Netherlands Antilles (92), St Kitts and Nevis (93), Antigua and Barbuda (94), Dominica (95), Venezuela (96), Grenada (97), Barbados (98), St Lucia (99), and Martinique (100) to reach my goal of 100 countries.

So while Travelbloggers shouldn't set such trivial goals, but just travel for the sake of travel, and learning about other peoples and cultures, I have done that. I am intimately familiar with a wide range of cultures, having lived outside my homeland for 36 years. I now look forward to visiting more places as a consequence of having set a goal. Most places will be short visits. But I did that when I first explored Europe after high school in 1968...visiting over a dozen countries in 21 days with the Eurailpass (see Eurailpass trip following high school graduation). But short visits often lead to long visits, and we eventually lived 18 years in Europe.

Today my daughter Tamara married Ryan Miller. So the last week has been very full of activities and preparation. It started last Saturday in Denver where we went to pick up our other daughter, Rosanna, at the Denver International Airport. She was flying in from Virginia at 3 pm, but without our son-in-law Evan who couldn't get time off as they had just returned from two weeks in Italy and Greece...they learned about insane itineraries from me! He has used his time since then very productively by finishing the first draft of his doctoral dissertation. He is scheduled to defend his thesis in September and then receive a PhD in Bioinformatics. Also missing was our son Will who is going to law school at Bangor University in Wales. We called him at the last minute to ... read more
Bride and Groom with Matron of Honor
The new family
Bride and Groom with Parents

Europe » Croatia June 30th 2014

After saving many frequent flyer miles on our flight from Denver to Lima in April, it didn't take long to acquire the additional miles to reach the 40,000 miles I would need to fly to Europe at the off season rate. Linda decided she didn't want to make this trip. She would rather spend the money it would have cost for her to go on new flooring for our living room, bedroom, and bath. Some people just have their priorities all messed up. Anyway, at least she can take care of the house and pets. She has agreed to take a cruise from Valparaiso, Chile via Cape Horn to the Falkland Islands, Montevideo, Uruguay, and Buenos Aires, Argentina to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in early 2016. I should have enough United Airlines miles by then. Of ... read more

North America » Mexico » Yucatán » Chichén Itzá May 10th 2014

10 to 13 May 2014 Saturday through Tuesday. Even by my standards, the ten day whirlwind through Peru and Bolivia was exceptionally fast paced. We were ready for a rest. As explained in my planning blog at , due to a lack of frequent flyer miles to fly directly from La Paz to Denver we were "forced" to take a break in Mexico, and where better than the beach and cultural location of Cancun, with the Mayan Yucatan within easy reach. As it was off season in Cancun, we booked four nights at the Marriott CasaMagna Resort at a very reasonable price...I've paid more for a two star motel. When we checked in the receptionist apologetically told us that the hotel was fully booked and that they had upgraded us from a garden view to a ... read more
El Castillo at Chichen Itza
Bob at the Observatory at Chichen Itza
Observatory at Chichen Itza

9 May 2014. What a way to wrap up a hectic schedule. This day started at 12:47 am. It was supposed to start at 12:30 am, but the front desk forgot to give us a wake up call and my standby travel alarm also failed us. Only Linda's internal clock woke us up in time to meet Juan, our guide, and driver at 1:30 am. One thing about going to airports at this time, and especially so in La Paz, is that there is no traffic. So we made it with plenty of time to catch our 4:40 am flight to Bogota, Columbia. Juan stood in line for us, calling us as he got to the check in desk. Great service! We made it through immigration, with the officers just as gruff as those we encountered ... read more
Bob at the Miraflores Lock
Miraflores Lock
Miraflores Lock

8 May 2014 Thursday. Our guide, Juan, picked us up at our La Paz hotel at 8 am and then drove to the Main Square where , a fellow Travelblogger who I have followed for several years, was waiting for us. She asked that we wait a minute while she checked a nearby coffee shop for her camera. Unfortunately, it wasn't where she had left it, and subsequent searches were fruitless. So some of the pictures is this blog were taken by Tara. As her pictures are the highlights of her blogs, we hope that she is able to get another camera soon. After this hiccup we were off for Tiwanaku, a pre-Inca civilization that flourished from 300 to 1000 AD. The Inca's learned much from this civilization; especially how to use fasteners to keep rocks ... read more
Tiwanaku platforms being excavated
Ponce stelle located in the sunken courtyard of the Kalasasya temple
Ponce stelle

South America » Peru » Puno » Lake Titicaca May 5th 2014

5-7 May 2014 Monday through Wednesday. We were again faced with another early start of a day...5:40 am with a rendezvous with the luxury bus that would he take us to Puno on Lake Titicaca departing at 7:20 am. Our tour agent used Wonder bus, a competitor to the Inca Express. We would have five stops along the way, arriving in Puno about 5 pm. The first was the town of Andahuaylillas where the interior of the 17th century church is compared to the Sistine Chapel, with paintings of the Last Judgement and extensive wall decorations. While interesting and different, I've seen the Sistine Chapel and this is no Sistine Chapel. Next we stopped in Raqchi at the Inca ruins known as the Temple of God Wiracocha, who was the supreme god. This city was on ... read more
Inca Trail at Racchi
Souvenirs for sale at La Raya Pass

South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu May 4th 2014

4 May 2014 Sunday. The driver picked us up at 8 am for the drive back to Ollantaytambo where we would catch the 9:10 Expedition train to Aguas Calientes. Here we took a shuttle bus to the top of the mountain on which Machu Picchu is located. As our tour group from the previous days were split up, we had a guide, Olga, all to ourselves. She took us on the easy route from the food storage buildings at the entrance to the observatory on the other end. We learned the following: The non-royal and non-priestly residents of Machu Picchu were carefully selected based upon their ability to work hard. They worked from age twenty to forty. Olga wasn't to clear about what happened once a worker reached age forty. As the location of Machu Picchu ... read more
Linda waiting for the train in Ollantaytambo
Linda and Bob at Machu Picchu
Linda and Bob at Machu Picchu

South America » Peru » Cusco » Sacred Valley May 3rd 2014

4 May 2014 Saturday. Today we would visit the Sacred Valley on the way to Machu Picchu. We left Cusco after breakfast. Our group included most of our tour group from the previous day. Our first stop was a tourist trap between Cusco and Pisac. Here we saw various kinds of camelids (llamas, alpacas, vicunas, guanacos, etc), and weaving demonstrations. Then it was off to Pisac, with its famous market. Saturday is not a market day, but due to tourism, everyday has become a market day. Linda shopped. We tried some empanadas with chicken filling and Inca Cola for a late morning snack. There were many children holding baby llamas who wanted a sol per picture. It was pretty sad; especially when a child put her animal down and it could barely walk, I assume from ... read more
Linda feeding an alpaca
Weaving demonstration at tourist trap
Linda about to tackle the climb up the Ollantaytambo fortress

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco » Cusco May 2nd 2014

2 May 2014 Friday. Lima was ok, but we were really looking forward to traveling through the heart of the Inca Empire, and its capital Cusco. The morning was spent flying from Lima to Cusco. We checked into our hotel with enough time for a light lunch (see picture of Linda with her chicha morala now her favorite...made of purple corn) before the tour started at 1:30 pm. First a word about tour guides. The information they impart does not seem to come from a common source that all tour guides draw from. Each has his/her own version of "facts" that is often contradicted by subsequent guides. It didn't take long for us to accept the input with a grain of salt...judging for ourselves based upon the evidence presented whether to accept the stories being ... read more
Linda with a bowl of the variety of corn
Linda enjoying her chicha morada
Terraces in front of the Temple of the Sun which is on the left

South America » Peru » Lima » Lima » Miraflores May 1st 2014

Our past travels have been for the most part east or west...directions you can never find an end to...whereas there is just so far you can go north or south. This trip would take us south of the equator to our final continent (with the exception of Antarctic). I faced this trip with some trepidation, as I was totally unfamiliar with this part of the world. Hence, I had arranged our travel through a local agency, Trip Peru. 30 April/1 May 2014 Wednesday and Thursday. Our daughter drove us to Denver to catch our flight. Our tickets stated that we were pre-checked so that we didn't have to take off our shoes or take out the computer. We did have to go through the x-ray, where I remembered at the last minute I had my Swiss ... read more
View north along the Promenade
Linda and Bob at the Garden of Love
Park on the Pacific Ocean in Miraflores

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