When you picture yourself in your 80s, what do you see? Many people envision a life of comfort and ease, but best friends Sandy Hazelip and Ellie Hamby see things a little bit differently.
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“Don’t sit in that chair and waste away,” Sandy said emphatically. “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
Those are words to live by for this delightful duo! Ellie and Sandy are from Abilene, Texas, but they met while traveling in Africa many years ago. Ellie, an international documentary photographer, has traveled to 107 countries and visited all 7 continents for her work. Sandy, or Dr. Sandy as she’s known, is a physician who specializes in hospice and geriatric care.
Two years ago, the now-81-year-olds started planning an epic adventure they called “Around the World at 80,” inspired by the Jules Verne novel, “Around the World in 80 Days.” Their goal was to travel to all seven continents, see 9 Wonders of the World, and visit 18 countries in about two-and-a-half months. Unfortunately, their plans were put on hold for a few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in 2023 they finally hit the road with a new motto: “81 and still on the run!”
So far, they’ve marveled at the Northern Lights, stood in the shadow of the Easter Island statues, frolicked with penguins in Antarctica, gone dog-sledding, flown over Mt. Everest in an airplane, and enjoyed many other fabulous excursions. Everywhere they go, they chat with the people they meet and make new friends, which is all part of their mission.
“The Number One thing is meeting people,” said Ellie. “We love people. We just love to talk to people, and the world is full of the greatest, most exciting, most interesting people.”
Nothing slows these two octogenarians down, not even total knee replacements for both of them. Ellie documents their journey with photos on Facebook, and they maintain a blog.
When it comes to traveling, they’re not fancy. Sandy admits that when someone says they want to travel with them, the first thing she looks at is their hands.
“We don’t travel first class,” she explained. “And so when we have other ladies, especially who say, ‘Oh, I would love to travel with you two,’ the first thing I always do is look at their hands. If they are well-manicured, they do not want to travel with us.”
Sandy and Ellie hope to inspire others to keep moving into their golden years, and it’s working for us. We suddenly have a new vision for our retirement years, and it doesn’t involve sitting around!
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