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).

In July 1975, at the end of the Vietnam War, we returned to the States; living in the Washington DC area for 2 years (see blogs starting with Home for a couple years in the DC area).

In August 1977 we moved back overseas to Germany; living in Ramstein for 2 1/2 years (see blogs starting with Three Years in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany), and Boblingen for 4 1/2 years (see blogs starting with Home in Boblingen, Germany).

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

In November 1995 we finished our overseas assignments and moved to Falls Church, Virginia (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.

In August 2005 we retired in Colorado (see blogs starting with Retirement in Woodland Park Colorado), which gives us even more time to travel. However, 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 Sydney, 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.

In April 2015 I flew to Dubrovnik, Croatia (81) where I took a side trip to Kotor, Montenegro (82) and Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina (83), and then headed north along the Croatian coast to Split, Trogir, Sebinek, and Zadar, before heading inland to Plitvici Lakes National Park, and back to the Istrian Peninsula, before finishing my trip at Lake Bled and Ljubljana, Slovenia (84). See blogs starting at A Day in Kotor and an Evening in Dubrovnik. Linda decided to skip this trip, so we went to the Big Island of Hawaii in October 2015 (see blogs starting with The BIG Island of Hawai'i Part I: Tropical Forests, Waterfalls, Volcanos, and and Ancient Hawaiian Sanctuary).

In 2016 I originally planned to cruise the southern coasts of South America with Linda. I'm in no hurry to meet my goal to travel to 100 countries. So instead in September and early October 2016 I plan to walk the Camino de Santiago, the thousand year old pilgrimage Way across northern Spain (see my plans at Planning My Camino de Santiago de Compostela Pilgrimage). Linda isn't going and thinks I'm nuts! I have no doubt that by continuing to travel I will eventually reach that goal. Just doing the cruises when I'm older will achieve that goal. But for now there may be higher priorities depending upon what I learn walking the Way.

So in early 2017, pending divine guidance to do otherwise, Linda and I plan to 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) or vice verse. Later in 2017 I will likely take a trip to walk another pilgrim trail, like St Olaf in Norway. And it doesn't have to be a pilgrim trail...I'm also enamored with walking Hadrian's Wall across northern England.

And then in 2018 we plan to cruise the Eastern Caribbean to include Martinique (90), Guadeloupe (91), St Lucia (92), Barbados (93), Trinidad/Tobago (94), Venezuela (95), Grenada (96), the British Virgin Islands (97), St Maarten, the Netherlands Antilles (98) and the French Saint Martin (99), Antigua and Barbuda (100), St Kitts and Nevis (101), and Dominica (102), to exceed my goal of 100 countries. Again. I may continue my walks later that year. Or an overland journey from Tanzania to South Africa. Or a missions trip somewhere. Who knows...

North America » United States » Hawaii » Big Island » Kailua-Kona October 25th 2015

25 October 2015 Sunday. As we had toured the Hamakua and Kona Coasts the previous two days (see previous blog), this left only the Kohala Coast to complete our overview of the Big Island. We had intended to attend services at the small chapel on the resort grounds, but no one called us at 6 AM on this day so we slept in. By 9 AM we were driving north along the coast...another beautiful day of blue skies and warm trade winds. Our first stop was the Pu'ukohole Heiau National Historic Site, which has the ruins of the last major ancient Hawaiian temple. The stones are said to come from the Pololu Valley; brought here using a human chain twenty five miles long. It was on this heiau (temple platform) that King Kamehameha sacrificed his rival, ... read more
Mauna Kea with lava field in foreground
Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Park
Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Park

North America » United States » Hawaii » Big Island » Kailua-Kona October 22nd 2015

The Plan We've visited the island of Oahu many times, but never any other Hawaiian island. So last year when I got a call from Hilton Vacations offering six nights at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Kailua-Kona coast of the Big Island for a very low price we decided to take the deal. The resort is situated on the northwestern side of the island. We planned four day trips to see every part of the island, with the days for each trip depending upon the weather: - a short day to Kailua-Kona and surrounding area. - a short day to the Kawaihae Coast (northwestern side), as far as Hawi and the Polulu Valley Overlook, and then inland to Waimea and ranch country; - a medium length day along the Kona Coast (southwestern side) to the ... read more
Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort
Waipio Valley - Valley of the Kings
Waipio Valley - Valley of the Kings

North America » United States » Connecticut » Danbury July 16th 2015

Our middle child, Rosanna, and her husband Evan were expecting their first child on July 9th, so of course we wanted to be there for the big event. This necessitated a road trip from our home in Woodland Park, Colorado to their home in Danbury, Connecticut and back. The 4000 mile drive was necessitated by the need to transport "tons" of stuff belonging to Rosanna and our youngest child Will, who was spending the summer with them, after they moved away without aforementioned stuff. My wife Linda and oldest daughter Tamara though it would be a good idea for Tamara and our two grandkids, Liam (4) and Cecily (2) to go along as Tamara could swap driving chores with me. So the participants were decided, and ready to go by early July. Tamara, husband Ryan, and ... read more
Tombstone of James Hair
Ryan, Tamara, Cecily and Liam at the Fourth of July in Woodland Park
Fourth of July in Woodland Park

Europe » Spain » Galicia » Santiago de Compostela May 11th 2015

As a goal oriented person, I have been fascinated for a long time by the idea of walking the eight hundred kilometer long, one thousand year old Camino Frances (French) pilgrim Way from St Jean Pied de Port in the Pyrenees of southern France to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwest Spain. I don't know exactly when the idea transitioned from being a fascination to becoming an obsession. As with many pilgrims contemplating this walk, certainly the movie "The Way" provided me with inspiration and enough details to make me believe that not only was the walk feasible, but it was something I had to do. As an extrovert I looked forward to bonding with complete strangers just like Martin Sheen's character Tom experienced, although with considerable resistance on his part. Sheen's character was grieving ... read more
Other favorite places to walk in preparation for the Camino
Other favorite places to walk in preparation for the Camino
Other favorite places to walk in preparation for the Camino

Europe » Belgium » Brussels-Capital Region » Brussels April 27th 2015

27 April 2015 Monday. So my last blog left off with me finishing writing my blogs for my Balkan trip while waiting for my 7:35 pm flight to Helsinki...yes, that Helsinki which seems to be my curse. You will recall that the last time I finished writing my blogs about my Silk Road Trip, , I ended up having a cancelled flight. So this time I didn't write anything in the last blog concerning the future travels home. Well, my flight to Helsinki went fine. I checked into the Hilton Airport Hotel, just across the street from the terminal, which would give me about 6 hours sleep before catching a 7:30 am flight to Brussels. 28 April 2015 Tuesday. And my flight to Brussels went off without a hitch. Last June when I booked my flights ... read more
Town Hall, Grand Place, Brussels
Grand Place, Brussels
Mannequin Pis

Europe » Slovenia » Upper Carniola » Ljubljana April 26th 2015

26 April 2015 Sunday My sobe was just a hundred feet from Preseren Square, so was very convenient for touring the town. Before meeting Mike at the statue of the Slovenian poet Preseren in the square named after him, I checked out the nearby tourist information office to see when there might be a guided walking tour of Ljubljana. The tour started at ten am which gave us plenty of time for café au lait and a croissant. We joined about eight others for the two hour tour, starting with city hall, a historic eatery, the cathedral, and a funicular to the castle. The views from the castle, as usual, were panoramic. We descended the funicular and walked back to the center of town, past the Market Hall and Triple Bridges designed by Jose Plecnic, and ... read more
Musician at Presernov Square, Ljubljana
Ljubljana Castle
The Market Colonnade designed by Plecnik

Europe » Croatia » Central Croatia » Zagreb April 25th 2015

25 April 2015 Saturday. We had to return our rental car in Croatia to avoid excessive drop off charges. Zagreb was the nearest town in Croatia where a rental car agency was located, and Ljubljana was on the way there. We left Lake Bled early as this was to be a long day. We wanted to drop off our bags at our sobes in Ljubljana so we wouldn’t have to carry them with us around Zagreb and then back to Ljubljana on the train. This we did with dispatch, and were soon on our way to Zagreb. We arrived at the rental car agency about noon to find it closed on Saturdays and Sundays so we dropped the keys and contract into a slot as directed. Fortunately we weren't charged for any damages to the car; ... read more
Dancing while a band played in the park
Womens volleyball in the park
A folk singing group encountered on the way to Jalacic Square

Europe » Slovenia » Upper Carniola » Bled April 24th 2015

23 April 2015 Thursday. The weather forecast for Friday in the Lake Bled area was for rain, so we drove directly from Rovinj to Bled so as to be able to walk around Lake Bled when the weather was good. This meant we missed Piran and the Predjama Castle along the way. To save time we had breakfast and lunch at rest stops along the highway. We got to Bled about 2 pm and checked into our sobe. The landlord was an interesting character. He had been an airborne ranger with the Yugoslav army at the beginning of the 1991-95 war, but switched to the Slovenian army shortly thereafter. It's normal for a sobe host to share a glass of wine with the guests when the first arrive, but in this case he shared his bottle ... read more
Church of the Assumption on Bled Island
Lake Bled in the rain as seen from Bled Castle
Bob at Lake Bled

Europe » Croatia » Istria April 22nd 2015

22 April 2015 Wednesday. We started the day as usual having café au lait and croissants, but this time on the waterfront of Opatija. Although as with most towns along the Adriatic it has a long history, its current status as a resort town began in 1845 when a nobleman built the grand Villa Angiolina on the sea, surrounded by a large park. Shortly after, the Austrian Empress Maria Anna stayed here. Emperor Franz Joseph followed, to take advantage of the warmer winter climate. One wonders why they didn’t arrive together, it being such a romantic location, but who am I to speculate as I was here without Linda. Soon the court followed, and the town became a fashionable turn of the 20th century resort. General tourism for the hoi polloi began once a railroad line ... read more
Opatija Mansions on the waterfront
Pula Ampitheater
Bob at the Pula Ampitheater

21 April 2015 Tuesday. After the huge breakfast which was also enough to make sandwiches for lunch, Mike and I proceeded the couple kilometers to Entrance 1 to the Plitvici Lakes National Park. The park, founded in 1949, is composed of sixteen lakes with travertine rock waterfalls between each one. Interestingly, the first shots of the Croatian – Yugoslav War we fired here on Easter Sunday in 1991…on such a holy day and in such a beautiful park the war’s first casualty was a park policeman. This has got to be a definition of evil. At the information center they provided advice as to which trails were open; the others being flooded due to the spring runoff or under repair as the boardwalks can deteriorate. We decided to take the cave access to the lower lakes ... read more
View of Lower Lakes from the rim at  Plitvici Lakes National Park
Cave access to the Lower Lakes at Plitvici Lakes National Park
Boardwalk at the Lower Lakes at Plitvici Lakes National Park

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