In a normal year, you might find Chuck and Martha Hayden visiting a speakeasy in Chicago, traveling to ancient ruins in Arizona or stopping by a replica of Stonehenge made with automobiles in Nebraska.
The Lowell couple relishes the opportunity to get off the beaten path, and since 2018, they have documented their adventures on their website The Restless Viking. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant their travels look different this year, but they are still seeking out parts unknown.
From Skillagalee Island swarmed with bird to the lost city of Marlborough, Chuck and Martha are off to see the remote areas of Michigan in 2020 and share their discoveries with others online. Plus, the duo hopes to head to places farther afield, such as Canada and Iceland, should current events allow.
Decades of Adventure Travel
While The Restless Viking website is only two years old, Chuck and Martha aren’t new to adventure travel. Chuck spent 15 years as the director of the Fortune Bay Expedition Team, and Martha backpacked her way across parts of Europe before starting a family.
When the kids came along, that didn’t mean an end to travel either. “When we began a family, we didn’t have the resources for extravagant travel and going to out of the way places was cheaper,” Martha explains. Even when the couple were heading somewhere remote, their son and daughter came along. Martha notes, “We feel it developed well-rounded humans who can adapt to many perspectives and [gave them] a great start to make the world a better place.”
In a typical year, Chuck and Martha may take a dozen trips to points across the country and globe. However, this year, they will be staying closer to home and expect to travel more frequently to see many remote sites in and around Michigan.
Skipping Guardrails and Gift Shops
Chuck and Martha say their method for selecting destinations is less about actively pursuing a list of locales and more about seeing which spots present themselves through recommendations from friends and family, online reading or other resources. Typically, their favorite places aren’t the ones you’ll find in travel brochures or on top ten lists.
“Tourist destinations that are commercialized are crowded and disappointing,” Martha says. “Guardrails and gift shops are not our thing.”
That isn’t to say the couple hasn’t been to some of the world’s most famous cities, such as Paris and Rome. However, they are always looking for opportunities to see these sites through the eyes of a local or use them as a jumping off point to other less-travelled places. “Recently we were amazed by the culture, people, geography and history in Sardinia, an island to the west of Rome, Italy,” Martha explains.
The two have an open mind when considering destinations and even took a cruise once. That resulted in Martha enjoying the sunshine and wine while Chuck felt confined and undoubtedly vowed, never again.
For the most part, though, the couple says the key to their travels is connecting with people who can share where to go and what to do. Martha says that in putting their adventures on The Restless Viking, the couple hopes to inspire others to take a similar approach to travel. “Our goal is to show what travel could be, not just tourism and experiences, but connections and wonder,” she explains.
Plans for 2020
With COVID-19 making it more difficult to travel far afield, the Haydens have 2020 travel plans that include remote islands in the Great Lakes, abandoned lighthouses, ghost towns, the Polar Bear Express and more. Plus, Chuck is hoping to take their son Noah, a recent Lowell graduate, to Iceland, and Martha would like to see the redevelopment of Hamilton, Missouri by the Missouri Star Quilt Company.
Being semi-retired, Chuck can work on the road when needed, and the couple enjoy flying their own aircraft or sailing to destinations when possible. Rather than confine themselves to traveling during a particular season, they take trips year-round. “We do like to visit more popular places during the off season, when the locals are more open to travelers.” Martha adds.
All photos courtesy of Chuck and Martha Hayden.