Travels

My love of faraway lands began as a young boy growing up in Southern California where my loving grandparents introduced me to many wonderful books and classic films that gave my young mind a major dose of wanderlust.  Stories by Jules Verne, Dumas, Kipling, Hemingway, and Hilton, oh, and of course Thoreau, were read every evening before bed.  Sunday afternoon moives like Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Ben Hur, and Born Free were my fondest memories of that time, and if my grades were good and I'd worked hard in my grandfather's garden my grandmother would drive me the 50 or so miles to Los Angeles to the old Grauman's Chinese Theater so I could experience these Hollywod classics in a very special way.  These were the days before Cable TV and The Internet, but I never felt short changed because these great books and films were more than enough to fill my young mind with romantic visions of distant lands. When I look back now I realize how fornunate I was to have grandparents who actually encouraged and nurtured my childhood dreams and it's because of them a young boy's fantasies became a wonderful reality.  

 

At an early age I passionately took up all manner of sports, and competitive swimming, hiking, backpacking, scuba diving, and martial arts were all a big part of my early life, because I thought these skills would be needed for when my time came to see the world.  Yes, I was just a silly kid, but I was really hooked on the thought of exploring the planet and there were days when I would sleep outside in the rain to toughen up and I even lived a for a few years in a treehouse I had built in my back yard.  Weekend hikes in the hills behind my home catching lizards, and snakes, soon became week or month long backpacking and climbing trips to Yosemite and the Sierra Nevade Mountains.  

 

Through my swimming I fell in love with bodysurfing and became a member of The Wedge Crew a group of world class bodysurfers who pushed the limits of big wave bodysurfing on the huge southswells that rolled into the the famous Wedge at Newport Beach each summer. All these activities had a purpose, and now all I needed was a way to record some of the amazing things I was begining to see on my journeys.  This is how I came to pick up a camera, and little did I know that mastering this small metal box and glass lens would become the focal point of my life for the next 30 years.

 

Today those wonderful books and films mean even more to me than they did in my youth, because I've actually been there, right there where they all took place, except of course From The Earth To The Moon, and Journey to the Center of the Earth.  Oh do I wish!  My grandfather told me that living in other lands and understanding nature and other cultures is the greatest gift a man can give himself.  He said Mother Nature was the finest teacher and traveling was the greatest show on Earth.  In so many ways my grandfather was always right, and even today after four trips around the planet and getting to live in several of the countries of my dreams, I feel the draw of faraway lands pulling at my heart as much today as the way it did when I was a child.  These days the thought of seeing the world has more meaning than ever, and I feel so lucky to finally find a partner who's intelligence and curiosity matchs and even surpasses my own. The thougth of showing her all I've seen can be very intoxicating.

 

As the years slowly passed and I grew to be a man my interests changed and obligations were now filling my days.  I was working hard to become a commercial photographer and this quest dominated those years. After my photoshoots I would stop off and see my grandfather on my way home from Hollywood, and the last time I ever saw him, he reminded me that the world is constantly changing and that I should seriously consider going to see it before it vanishes.  To paraphrase the famous poem by Robert Frost, "Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled by, and that made all the difference," I think these worlds best describle my descision to heed my grandfathers last wishes, and my life was forever changed.  I took the road less traveled and I became a world traveler. 

 

These days it saddens me that many of my favorite destinations are now litterally off limits, embroiled in sectarian violence or political insanity, and my beloved Africa has lost so much of its priceless wildlife since my first visit there 25 years ago, but now more than ever I realize that we must concentrate on preserving what's left for todays young explorers, and this task is something I'm very passionate about.

 

I believe it's not to late to save this planet, and I know from experience that there's still so much to see and feel out on the shimmering horizon.  I fervently hope that by sharing my experiences and photographs with my students and clients, perhaps they too, someday, will make travel and photography a part of their lives, and if they'll take the time to visit our Earths beautiful treasures, I know they will return forever changed, and they will vote with passionate hearts to protect our fragile planet's natual beauty and cultural diversity.

 

This year I'm very proud to be associated with World Wildlife Fund and their Panda Nation Project, and 5% of every tour, workshop, and fine-art print I sell will go to aide the endangered species they protect.

 

                                                                                                       Charles 

 

 

 

 

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"The gladest moment in human life, me thinks, is a depature into unknown lands."

                                    Sir Richard Burton

 

"Traveling- leaves you speechless, then it turns you into a storyteller."  

                                    Ibn Battuta

 

"I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world."

                                   Mary Ann Radmacher

 

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page."  

                                   Saint Augustine

 

"Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer." - Anonymous

 

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

                                    Helen Keller

 

"A mind that is streched by a new experience, can never go back to its old dimensions."

                            Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do." - Mark Twain

 

"Not all those who wander are lost." -

                                        J.R.R. Tolken

 

"We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us."- Anonymous

© 2020 CHARLES ELLENBERGER