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 in October 2015 we went to the Big Island of Hawaii (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, our dog Bonnie developed diabetes which meant that one of us would 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. Furthermore, I'm in no hurry to meet my goal of traveling to 100 countries. I have no doubt that by continuing to travel I will eventually reach that goal. But for now there are higher priorities. So instead, in September and early October 2016 I walked a couple hundred kilometers of 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 think I'm hooked on pilgrimages for the foreseeable future.

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.

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 and to Viterbo where we started our walk of the last 100 km of the the Via Francigena to Rome. We only walked about 9 km due to the heat and lack of water along the way. We took the train to the Rome airport where we rented another car and spent three days visiting the Amalfi Coast; returning to Rome for four days. On the way home l visited my daughter Rosanna, Evan, Connor and my new grandson Logan in CT. My blog related to this trip is at My Via Francigena Pilgrimage to Rome.

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. Therefore, my trip theme has switched from long pilgrimages to visiting ancestral locations where I have been able to produce our family trees stretching back more than 1500 years.

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 to visit our ancestral castles and several abbeys for two weeks in Sep 2020 was cancelled due to flight cancellations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our visit was rescheduled to 2021. When Covid continued throughout 2021, we took road trips across America to visit family and ancestors instead (see In Search of Colonial Ancestors in New England and In Search of Colonial Ancestors in Delaware and Pennsylvania). In Aug 2022, we will again attempt to visit Scotland!

In 2022 I finally made it to Scotland and added Sweden as in the three year delay I was able to identify many Viking ancestors some of whom are buried in Uppsala. Linda was unable to join me as our dog, Bonnie, needed her care. My five blogs start with Scottish Ancestral Visitations in Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, and Ayrshire.

In 2023 we flew to CA to visit my son Will, daughter-in-law Mercy, and grand daughter Olivia, for one week to celebrate her first birthday. Given the terrible performance of airlines, we decided to drive to Haddonfield NJ to visit daughter Tamara, son-in-law Ryan, and grandchildren Liam, Cecily, and Austen. We then drove to Ridgefield CT to visit daughter Rosanna, son-in-law Evan, and grandsons, Connor and Logan. On our way home we stopped in New Castle PA to visit Linda's family and Buz and Kathy, childhood friends. We stopped in Carol Stream IL to visit my sister Carol and brother-in-law Steve. Our one bit of sightseeing was at Scotts Bluff NE, a major landmark on the Oregon Trail.

In my recent research I discovered the 1953 flight schedule for the Pan Am Clipper (flying boat) from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia which I flew at that time. It turns out that there was a refueling stop at the Canton Island atoll In Kiribati (86) that wasn't included in my count to this point. I also decided to add Scotland (87), Wales (88) and Northern Ireland (89) to my number as according to many international sports associations they are separate from England as far as countries are concerned. So my number of countries visited is increased by 4, which is reflected in subsequent counts.

In February 2024, we flew to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (90) where we caught the cruise from La Romana to Willemstad, Curacao (91); Oranjestad, Aruba (92); Kralendijk, Bonaire (93); St. George, Grenada (94); Kingstown, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (95); Bridgetown, Barbados (96); Castries, St. Lucia (97); Roseau, Dominica (98); Point-a-Pitre, Guadaloupe (99) Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis (100); Philipsburg. Sint Maarten (101), where we will also visit French Saint Martin (102); and Tortola, British Virgin Islands (103), exceeding my goal of 100 countries. For details see my blog at 2024 Caribbean Cruise to my 100th Country...and beyond.

In Aug 2024, we finish visits to ancestral locations with Poland (104) and Slovakia, the homelands of Linda's maternal ancestors, and hopefully also visit Hungary and Romania (105), where our ancestors date back 1000 years. See my planning blog at Planning Our Sojourne on the Trail of Central European Ancestors. Of course, my travel won't stop after having achieved this goal.

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland » Kraków March 29th 2024

At the end of my blog at , where I recounted my travels to the burial mounds of my Swedish Viking ancestors, I indicated where the trail of ancestors would lead me next. By using to follow the trees of both Mary of Egmond and Guelders, Queen Consort of King James II of Scotland (our 17th great grandparents (ggps)) and Margaret von Oldenburg, Queen Consort of King James III Stewart (our 16th ggps) as far back a millennium ago I found a treasure trove of the Emperors and Dukes of the Holy Roman Empire (Germany, etc.), the Kings of Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Serbia, and the Emperors of Byzantium. Shortly after returning from Sweden I visited the B&N bookstore where I found the historical fiction book "The Last Crown" by Polish author Elzbieta Cherwezinska, which ... read more
Queen Świętosława "The Haughty" and "Sigrid" in Sweden and "Gunhilda" in Denmark
King Bela Arpad I of Hungary
King/Saint Ladislaus of Hungary

My travel plans for 2024 were to achieve my final two bucket list goals of: 1) Visiting 100 countries 2) Visiting the Central European nations of both Linda and my ancestors I figured that the most efficient and economical way to reach 100 was to cruise to the island nations in the Caribbean. We had been to Puerto Rico (see ) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (see ), but none of the other Caribbean countries. I had been researching cruise website, and the most countries I could visit in 10 or more days was six. Then last September I ran across a Norwegian Cruise Line 14 day cruise to 14 island countries which would achieve my goal. I booked it immediately! First a word about countries; There are various lists of countries; from 195 in the ... read more
Our Cabin - Small but with large porthole
The Pool Deck

North America » United States » Connecticut » Ridgefield October 9th 2023

I have just been inspired by a fellow travelblogger to write my own Intermezzo of what we have been up to since my last blog about my trip to Scotland and Sweden in search of ancestors. This year my plans to visit Eastern Europe and complete my travels to 100 countries was postponed to address health issues and to be with family rather than ancestors. Right after I returned from Scotland and Sweden, Linda had operations for Stage 1 breast cancer. She finished her radiation treatments by Christmas. She has follow up appointments to make sure nothing returns. Her prognosis is excellent. In December 2022 Linda and I celebrated our 50th Anniversary with Rosanna, Evan, Connor and Logan, who also were with us through Christmas. Then we were visited by a Momma Bear and her cub ... read more
Christmas 2022
Christmas 2022
Christmas 2022

Europe » Sweden » Uppsala County » Uppsala September 6th 2022

When originally scheduling my visit to Scotland in 2020, the R/T cost to Edinburgh was 60,000 frequent flyer miles. When I sough to book in 2022, the cost was 100,000, with 70,000 for the return flight. I considered taking the train from Edinburgh to Manchester, where a return flight was 33,000 miles. But then I thought outside the box. I have viking ancestors buried in the mounds at Uppsala, just north of Stockholm, so since I was in Europe (i.e., the neighborhood) I checked on what the cost would be to fly from Edinburgh to Stockholm (Arlanda airport) to Colorado Springs...only 47,000 miles vs 70,000 from Edinburgh or 33,000 (plus train) via Manchester! So, I added one day in Uppsala to my itinerary! In conjunction with my ancestral visitation to Devon in 2019, as recounted in ... read more
Viking Burial Mounds in Gamla Uppsala
Viking Burial Mounds in Gamla Uppsala
19th Century restaurant in Gamla Uppsala where I had lunch

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Midlothian » Edinburgh September 3rd 2022

I leave the Highlands after passing Kilchurn Castle in my previous blog at . This fourth and final blog of my ancestral visitations to castles in Scotland covers my visits to the Lothians. 31 Aug 2022 Wednesday. My next stop of the day is Doune Castle which was originally constructed on the site of a Roman fort in the 1200's, but restored to its current structure by Sir Robert Stewart, 3rd Duke of Albany (17th ggf), the younger son of King Robert II of Scotland (18th ggf). His ascendancy continued when his elder brother, Sir John Stewart, Earl of Carrick (17th ggf), gained the throne as Robert III (the name change was to avoid connection with the earlier English appointed King John Balliol). However, King Robert III "The Lame" suffered a debilitating injury from a horse ... read more
Linlithgow Palace with wedding in progress
Linlithgow Palace
Blackness Castle

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Ross and Cromarty » Tain August 30th 2022

This is my third blog about my ancestral visitations to Scotland. I recommend reading my previous two blogs at and before reading this one. My destination today was Tain, Ross-shire, where my Ross ancestors lived. According to my DNA, I'm 36 percent Norwegian, 32 percent English and Northwestern European, 27 percent Scots and a bit of Welsh and Swedish. Linda is 16 percent Scots, but as mentioned before, we share many Scottish ancestors. My grandmother, Anna Elizabeth Weaver's parents were James McGee Weaver and Anna Elizabeth Ross. The Weavers were from Germany with Johannes Weber (5th ggf), a Moravian who immigrated to Pennsylvania in the early 1700s to avoid religious persecution. In this line I found Anna Elizabeth Luther (12th ggm), the sister of the Reformer Martin Luther, making him my 12th great granduncle. My Ross ... read more
Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness
Huntly Castle
Elgin Cathedral

Europe August 26th 2022

My ancestral visitations of Scotland began with Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, and Ayrshire; recounted in the previous blog at . I suggest that you read that blog first. This blog covers my travels in Sterlingshire, Fife, Perth and Kinross-shire, Angus-shire, and Aberdeenshire. 25 Aug 2022 Thursday. I had reservations for Sterling Castle at 10 AM so drove there directly from Glasgow. I was able to park directly in front of the castle. In 1296 the castle came to the forefront of political affairs when King Edward I (20th ggf) of England started the Wars of Scottish Independence. The castle was captured by Edward's forces and over the next 50 years would change hands seven times. The first occasion was following the Battle of Sterling Bridge (1297) when William Wallace ambushed the English forces as they crossed ... read more
Sterling Castle
Great Hall at Sterling Castle
Bob sitting on King Robert I the Bruce's throne at Sterling Castle

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Dumfriesshire » Sanquhar August 24th 2022

"The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see." Winston Churchill Many cultures memorize their family trees, first passing them on orally, and then documenting them in sagas or in written text such as St. Matthew did in Chapter One of his Gospel which lists the 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus. I am blessed having descended from cultures that valued their genealogies; including the Scots, the Scandinavians, and the various tribes of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, which eventually combined into nation states and empires. I have been able to trace ancestors back 60 generations to King Fjolnir of Uppsala (240-300 AD), Sweden and for many others back to the the 6th century...going back further is a work in progress! Creating my family tree and my ancestry blogs are meant ... read more
Douglas Castle in Douglas
Caerlaverock Castle
Bob at Caerlaverock Castle

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Midlothian » Edinburgh July 13th 2022

I started planning this trip to find Linda and my Scottish ancestors in October 2019, but due to the Covid pandemic the trip had to be postponed from June 2020 to June 2021 to August 2021 to August 2022. Many changes were made to my original planning blog as I found out more about our Scottish ancestors. Consequently, I cancelled that planning blog and am now publishing what I hope is the final version. I've been in search of ancestors for quite some time. In May 1995, before returning to the States after living 18 years in Europe, we visited Norway to find my paternal Carlsen ancestors who came from the island of Notteroy on the Oslo fjord (see ). More recently I've resumed my search. In May 2019, I visited Devon, England to visit the ... read more
Scots in full regalia in Glen Coe
Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness
Firth of Forth Bridge

North America » United States » California » Temecula May 20th 2022

After a two year delay due to Covid, our son Will and daughter in law Mercy's wedding day finally arrived. My blog from 2020 (see ) I described our road trip to California where Will and Mercy got their marriage certificate from the Orange County clerk on 5 Aug 2020. And now their wedding celebration was happening! My previous blog (see ) recounts family members arriving from all over the United States and assembling in Temecula in the Southern California wine country. Now our time in Temecula continues. 19 May 2022 Thursday. Today the main events were the rehearsal at 3 PM at the Ponte Winery followed by the rehearsal dinner. So, sisters Judy and Carol, husband Steve, and Linda and I had most of the day to tour around the vineyards for which Temecula is ... read more
Groom William, Best Man Tim, and Ring Bearer Connor Awaiting Bride Mercy
Wedding ceremony with Officiant Steve, Bride Mercy, and Groom Will
Wedding Venue at Ponte Winery, Temecula CA

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