Travelling started for us in 2001. With the kids growed up and gone (although I notice we still regularly contribute to two bank accounts 'bottomless pit' and 'prodigal son') we decided to conquer our fear of flying and start to enjoy the planet. This we did on 14 September 2001. Yep, scared of flying and we start our adventures 3 days after 9/11 when so many lost there lives to those cowardly gutter snipes that still plague our world in one form or another.
Each trip we made got a bit more adventurous. Several trips to Greece and Italy and then (lets try another continent) Morocco. Loadsa colour, beautiful skies, lots of sand...a photographers delight. Nepal and the wonderful Himalaya followed and despite Looby being hospitalised for three days this was the trip that really inspired our hunger for 'proper' travel. Then I started getting dreams and reality confused (an age thing). I thought I had dreamt of doing the Inca Trail but as it turned out I actually booked a three week trip to Peru which finished with walking the glorious Inca Trail. More steps than you can shake a stick at culminating in one of the most emotional travel experiences I have encountered, walking through the Sun Gate at the end of the trail to see the magnificent Machu Picchu bathed in the sun below. Breathtaking.
Lets be more adventurous I said. An overland trip from Istanbul to Ashgabat (where?). You know sweetheart, the Silk Road. Will it be warm in March? Of course, you'll love it. Well, warm wasn't in the meteorlogical abuse that was hurled at me as we travelled across the snow bound mountains of Northern Turkey! We travelled in a Dragoman overland truck and in fact when it came to our turn to cook for 16 people we did it over two burners in the snow and while it was snowing. The meal even got 3 Drago stars (equivelent to 1 Micheline star apparently). Did we enjoy all this hardship...you betchya. Bring it on, this planet is starting to get interesting.
We got the taste for continent hopping so Africa next but being a greedy bugger I didn't just want those photos of the wildlife, oh no. Two weeks camping in and around the Serengeti and Masai Mara were followed by climbing the highest free standing mountain in the world, Kilimanjaro. It nearly killed us both but we did it. Scarred with blisters, sceptic in-grown toe nails (sorry too much detail) and ravaged by altitude sickness we did it. Don't be fooled by the photograph, the guide propped us up against the sign for the photo! I don't think we have ever put so much effort into 7 days! It was very satisfying.
On the plane back from Africa we decided we liked the idea of being more independant with our travel. Our own vehicle at our own pace. So two weeks later on the way to wedding we purchased 'Leonard', an 12mth old Land Rover Defender. "Stick a roof rack and tent on it john" I said to the salesman and a new obsession began.....