ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — Abilene’s ageless adventurers are back on familiar ground. Dr. Sandy Hazelip and photographer Ellie Hamby landed in Dallas on last Saturday, 80 days after they set out to circumnavigate the globe. They’ve been making friends and memories in all parts of the world, and all at 81 years old.
“I have said before, but I’ll say it again. People get tired when they go on a vacation, but we didn’t get tired because this was not a vacation. This was an adventure,” Dr. Hazelip told KTAB/KRBC.
In taxi cabs, dog sleds, and on camel back, they traveled to places most have only dreamed about – living quite a few lifetimes worth of memories in the past two-and-a-half months. With nonstop adventure each day, they said they’re a bit disoriented to be back to the norm.
“For 80 days we’ve been on the go, and my first morning here I thought, ‘what can I do?’ I was ready to jump up and get ready and see whatever the world was out there,” said Hamby.
Dr. Hazelip had a similar feeling, “I woke up the next morning and I said, ‘yes, I am at Kennedale, Texas at my son’s house… Where is Ellie?'”
As strange as a taste of home may be, the memories made are still fresh on their minds. Hamby and Dr. Hazelip recounted their most memorable encounters in an exclusive interview with KTAB/KRBC.
“The one thing that I did not expect was the husky sleigh ride… I mean, we take off with the race and we won! I guarantee you, we were going so fast,” beamed Hamby.
Dr. Hazelip followed in suit, “Getting to see the northern lights, oh my gracious, that was just… Ahh!”
As incredible as those moments were, it ended up being not the sights and sounds they recalled most fondly. The ladies said no matter where they went, one common theme has united their trip.
“Our greatest memories that we’ve made are the people that we’ve met,” shared Dr. Hazelip.
Whether it was the hotel employee who returned Hamby’s money when she left $300 behind in a near hotel fire, or the various strangers who took them into their homes for a night or two – they said people are the same all over.
Thousands more people cheered them on from the internet, following along through their blog, Facebook, and TikTok posts.
“People have loved it, and they’ve frequently said to us, ‘we love having something on the news that’s good news,'” Dr. Hazelip soothed.
Their fans and followers left comments of joy, telling the two that they are inspirations in a world which is too often darkened by sad stories. Many even said they hoped to be just like them when they reach their 80s.
“It’s great because we really want people to stretch themselves and get out and see the world and meet people and don’t be afraid,” wished Hamby.
Dr. Hazelip continued, “It brings joy into our hearts when we are told that we have brought joy into their lives by following our adventure.”
Their story doesn’t end in a scrapbook of memories made. Hamby and Dr. Hazelip told KTAB/KRBC they’ve gathered a few ideas on how to spend the latter years of their 80s.
“We’re not revealing it yet because we’ve only been back two days. So, we have to wash some clothes… But we have some things in the mill that we’re working on for 2024,” revealed Hamby.
Mrs. Ellie Hamby and Dr. Sandy Hazelip will be honored with a welcome home party at the place where it all began; Wesley Court Senior Center (2617 Antilley Road) on Thursday, April 13. KTAB/KRBC’s Noah McKinney will be there to conduct an interview of their travels.
As they plan their future exploits, Hamby and Dr. Hazelip said they hope more opportunity will arise right here in the states. They said they will be looking for events to speak at and share their stories, photographs, and experiences to help raise funds and awareness for willing causes. Follow this link to see all their updates.