Bob Carlsen

Home and Away

Bob Carlsen

I started blogging on Travelblog in 2009, entering trips beginning in 2007. My intention has always been to document my years of travel since my else was I to save all the slides my Dad took of my childhood!

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 name 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) 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. 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; this time to Germany. We lived 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 (southeast outskirt 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. Our three children are hooked on travel for life, but they have to pay for their travels!

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. I finished my trip at Lake Bled and Ljubljana, Slovenia (84) after dropping off the rental car in Zagreb. 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. However, I'm in no hurry to meet my goal of traveling to 100 countries. So instead in September and early October 2016 I walked the Camino de Santiago, the thousand year old pilgrimage Way across northern Spain (see my blogs starting with Planning My Camino de Santiago de Compostela Pilgrimage). I have no doubt that by continuing to travel I will eventually reach that goal. But for now there are higher priorities.

In 2017, Linda and I had planned to visit England and Scotland for our 45th anniversary. I was able to track our ancestors back to the "Old Country," to her 10 times great grandfather who was born in 1580 in Scotland and whose descendent James Hair immigrated to America in 1730, and my 16 times great grandfather from Devon, England, whose descendent John Northcote was the First Baronet of Hayne and another, Thomas Northcott, immigrated to Newfoundland. However, our dog Bonnie developed diabetes which means that one of us will have to stay with her. We will each take separate three week vacations except for road trips within North America when we can bring Bonnie along. For the foreseeable future I plan to take overseas trips to destinations in which Linda is not interested.

So in July 2017 I walked the St. Olavsleden pilgrim trail from the Swedish border across Norway to the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. My blogs related to this trip begin at Planning my St. Olavsleden Pilgrimage. I think I'm hooked on pilgrimages for the foreseeable future.

In September 2018 I flew into Venice to visit a colleague from my NATO days. My son Will joined me there. We rented a car to visit San Marino (country #85) as I haven't been to a new country since 2015. We continued on to Tuscany, spending the night in Montepulciano. The next day we visited Pienza and Acquapendente in Tuscany; then dropped the car off in Viterbo where we started our walk of the last 100 km of the the Via Francigena to Rome. That lasted 9 km before the heat, the total lack of scenery, and my lack of training brought my pilgrimage to an end. We rented another car and spent three days visiting Pompeii, Paestum, and the Amalfi Coast and then four days in Rome, before returning to the States. l visited my daughter Rosanna, Evan, Connor and my new grandson Logan in CT on the way home. My blog related to this trip is at My Via Francigena - Reflections on my final pilgrimage. This trip convinced me that 1) my long pilgrimage days are over, 2) tourists have overrun Europe making popular destinations total misery during the high season, which may now be all year long, 3) I like comfort in quaint inns and leisurely exploration off the tourist trail, and 4) traveling with Linda, my favorite travel partner.

In May 2019, I visited England to look up my ancestors in Devon, England (deferred from 2017), and to walk the last 20 miles of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales pilgrim walk to Canterbury. See my blogs starting with Planning my Ancestral Investigations in Devon.

Linda and my plan to travel Scotland for two weeks in Sep 2020 to visit our ancestral castles and several abbeys was cancelled due to flight cancellations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our plan covered in Planning for Scotland Ancestral Visitations will now have to be rescheduled to 2021. We plan to take road trips across America to visit family instead.

Possible future trips after 2021, not necessarily in this order, include;

Touring Poland (86) and Slovakia to find Linda's maternal ancestors, and then to Romania (87), Bulgaria (88), Serbia (89), and Hungary.

Cruising from Miami to the Brazilian (90) Amazon via Gustavia, Saint Barthelemy (91), Fort-de-France, Martinique (92), Port Spain, Trinidad-Tobago (93), Bridgetown, Barbados (94), Kingstown, St. Vincent & Grenadines (95), Roseau, Dominica (96), and Tortola, British Virgin Islands (97).

North America » United States » Connecticut » Ridgefield April 29th 2021

For those who have been following my travel blogs, you will be aware of my trips in search of ancestors (see and ). This theme gives me a personal perspective on the towns I visit and gets me off the tourist trail with its crowds and check off lists. In preparing for our trip to visit locations of our Scottish ancestors (see ), and given the Covid-19 related lock-downs that lasted over a year, I had plenty of time to do a deep dive on all Linda's and my ancestors going back five hundred years and more. I currently have almost 10,000 ancestors in our tree, and that is mostly the direct bloodline without aunts, uncles and cousins other than recent generations. In doing so, I was able to identify many ancestors who immigrated to the ... read more
Stream in the backyard
Backyard with bridge overr the stream

North America » United States » California » Santa Ana August 15th 2020

On 27 Jan 2020 stories were coming out of Wuhan, China about a new virus that had locked down the city. We have friends Tom and Wendy; Wendy was the first Consul General after the U.S. opened the Consulate in Wuhan following its closure during the Communist revolution in 1949. I read that the U.S. government was evacuating the U.S. consulate staff so wrote to them "I bet you are happy not to be in Wuhan now! I hear the consulate is evacuating U.S. employees. When you were stationed in Guangzhou during the SARS epidemic in 2003, you were quarantined there for months. Times are changing." Little did I know at the time how much times were a changing! The world shut down, travel between countries was banned, and my plans for international travel in 2020 ... read more

May 2019 was my last overseas find ancestors in Devon, England (see ) and to walk the Old Way Pilgrim route to Canterbury (see ). In October 2019 I wrote a Planning blog about a trip to Scotland I hoped to visit in September 2020 (see ). Covid-19 deferred that trip for a year. Since May 2019 I have taken a couple of road trips, but nothing deemed worthy enough at the time for a blog. However, with Covid-19 affecting everyone's travel plans I thought I must write about what visits I've done in the last year. Prior to my trip to England in March I flew to South Carolina for a week long reunion with my three sisters. We promised to get together every few years after our Mom died in 2016, and this ... read more

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Midlothian » Edinburgh October 8th 2019

Linda and I started planning our 2020 vacation in October 2019. We planned to visit Scotland, the land of her paternal ancestors, in September 2020. We picked this month to avoid the crowds associated with the Edinburgh Festivals in August and to avoid the midges (no-see-ums) that swarm during the summer. I also like the autumn the best of all seasons! And I arranged our schedule to coincide with the Blairgowrie Highland Games to be held on Sunday, 6 September 2020. Lately I've been in search of ancestors. In May 2019, I visited Devon, England to visit the towns from where my maternal ancestors lived and to find some missing links in the family tree (see ). I found the links and solved some mysteries. I had an amazing time. At the end of that trip, ... read more

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Kent » Canterbury May 6th 2019

As explained in my blog the purpose of my trip to England was twofold; firstly, to discover my maternal ancestry in Devon and secondly to walk the last few miles of the Old Way Pilgrimage to Canterbury. This blog covers the second of these two purposes. 1 - 5 May 2019 Wednesday through Sunday. I arrived on a flight from Denver to Heathrow at about noon and was met by nephew Jeremy. We had just a few minutes before he had to return to London for a meeting. We had coffee and talked about his and Nadine's forthcoming trip to Chile and Easter Island and my plans for my time in England. He has accepted an assistant professorship in Economics at Bristol University in the fall, and his wife Nadine, who is a doctor, will be ... read more

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Devon » Exeter May 1st 2019

This is a story of my maternal ancestors. Prior to visiting Devon the first week of May 2019, I had populated my maternal ancestry family tree back to 1103 and then to 240 AD (see prior blog at ). According to "The Baronetage of England" in that year, "Galfridus (Latin for Geoffrey) Miles (Knight) had his seat at Northcote, in the parish of East Down in Devonshire (north of Barnstable, Devon), and that John Fritz-Galfrid (Fritz meaning the son of) held divers lands there, and in the hundreds (a subdivision of a shire which had its own court) of Witheridge, North Tauton, Black Torrington, etc. He changed his name to John Northcote. Galfrid de Northcote (John's son) lived in 1188, and held lands in Colstan, in the Witheridge hundred." According to the family history written by ... read more

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Devon » Exeter April 12th 2019

At the beginning of each year I look at my wish list of destinations and then decide, based upon circumstances, where to spend my two or three week vacation time abroad. Linda and I will take separate vacations for the fourth year in a row as one of us has to stay home to take care of our dog Bonnie. Linda will take her three weeks or more to visit family in PA and CT after I get back. On 1 Feb I bought a ticket from Denver to London and return to JFK for $368.43...cheaper than flying R/T from Denver to the East Coast! This year I plan to take my vacation in three parts: starting on 30 April, the day after Linda's birthday, I will fly from Denver to London. Once in England I ... read more

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok March 26th 2019

As I approached the tenth anniversary of my Travelblog membership, I thought I should commemorate the occasion. After much thought I decided to write a Travelblog re-living my travels. As I've written 244 blogs, this being 245, with about 286,000 words (the equivalent of four novels) and 7000 pictures covering the years from 1949 to the present, I knew that summarizing my life of travel would be a daunting task. I figured that a picture was worth a thousand words, so I decided to write a pictorial blog summarizing these years. Little did I know how difficult it would be to cull down 7000 pictures to the 121 pictures in this blog. By the time I arrived at our move to Germany in August 1977, I knew I had reached the limit of what my dear ... read more

Europe » Italy » Lazio » Rome September 10th 2018

For the third year in a row I walked a pilgrim trail. My blogs for the Camino de Santiago in 2016 start with . For four weeks I walked across northern Spain in the footsteps of Roman legions, the early apostles James and Paul, and a million or more pilgrims since then. The movie "The Way" had inspired this pilgrimage as I yearned for the same bonding that took place between the four pilgrims. On my pilgrimage I met and talked to many pilgrims; forming a loose knit family along the way. I was not drawn to this pilgrimage to earn the Compostela, or the certificate for those who walk the last 100 km, which isn't even mentioned in the movie. I only found our about the Compostela when I started researching for the pilgrimage. As ... read more

Europe » Italy » Lazio » Rome September 3rd 2018

For the third year in a row I have decided to walk a pilgrimage. In September and October 2016 I walked various stages of the Camino de Santiago starting in Pamplona and ending in Santiago de Compostela {see blogs starting with ). In July 2017 I walked the portion of the St. Olavsleden from near the Swedish border to the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway (see my blog at ). The reasons for walking these pilgrimages without my wife Linda remains the same as previously...someone needs to be home to take care of our pets; our dog Bonnie has diabetes and cataracts. Also Linda can't walk long distances. My reason for walking pilgrimage trails (see a representative map of the trails in Europe) is that the slow pace without electronic devices and other daily interruptions allow ... read more

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