CATONSVILLE, MD (September 22, 2015) -- Merriam-Webster defines the word wanderlust as being a strong desire or urge to wander or explore the world. But for Charlestown retirement community resident Barbara Walker it's simply doing what she loves.
"I've traveled my whole life and pretty much covered all the continents," says Barbara, who shoots, writes and edits videos of her world travels – and shares them on TV.
Barbara prefers to take the road less traveled, capturing her excursions on a handheld video camera and developing them into documentaries.
"I have a camera that fits in the palm of my hand and I take it with me wherever I go," says Barbara. "Most of the time I'm moving whether I'm on a camel, an elephant, a boat, an airplane or who knows what! I never know how the picture is going to turn out until I actually see it when I get back home."
It takes Barbara between 80 to 100 hours to produce each 45-minute documentary complete with storyline, voice over, and music. Once finished the documentaries run on Charlestown's closed-circuit television station WCTV Channel 972 and are occasionally shown in the community's auditorium. Her latest documentary detailed her trip to the artic this summer.
"I'm a curious individual," says Barbara. "I've had a long bucket list my whole life and seeing the polar bears was on my list. We were on a boat and stopped at some of the little islands throughout the artic where we saw lots of wildlife—birds, polar bears, walruses, artic fox, seals, and whales."
Barbara has been traveling her entire adult life. Her late husband, a career Army officer, was stationed around the world giving her ample opportunity to see Europe and Asia. But she didn't begin videotaping her trips until 2004 after participating in a video journalism class at Charlestown.
"I was away on a trip and a friend of mine signed me up for the course," says Barbara. "When I came home there was a note on my door that read, 'Call me as soon as you get in.' So I called and she said, 'I signed you up for a course and it's already started! But don't worry you can catch up.' She said, 'I just knew you needed to do this.' It was a month-long intensive class. They supplied us with video cameras and trained us how to edit our videos at the TV station."
At first trying to obtain quality video while at the same time trying to get the most out of her travel experience was difficult, but eventually it became second nature. Whether traveling through India or trekking across Turkey, Barbara has become quite adept at capturing the diverse cultures of the places she travels on film.
"I try to do the videos so that it feels like you're right there with me on the trip," says Barbara. "Every country is remarkable in its own way. I enjoy meeting the common people who live in these countries. I go to schools and hospitals and into people's homes to see what they are doing and how they are living. I've discovered we are all really more alike than unlike."
In one documentary, Barbara takes viewers through the streets of Vietnam and along the Ho Chi Minh trail, a network of roads built from North Vietnam to South Vietnam which provided logistical support to the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War.
"The Vietnam War was a real issue in the United States. I just wanted to know how Vietnam recovered from that period and what it was like today," says Barbara.
Earlier this year Barbara traveled to Nepal and Bhutan, two Himalayan countries located in South Asia. This October she heads to Indonesia. Because she often travels for 3 to 4 weeks at a time she says one of the joys of living at Charlestown is the fact that she can just shut her door and go.
Now a nonagenarian, Barbara's appetite for exploring and experiencing the world around her hasn't waned. She continues to plan new trips and share those trips with her friends and neighbors.
"I've had wonderful experiences with the people that I've met and I'm glad to be able to share that with others," says Barbara. "There are places I have visited multiple times and it feels like a new country each time I go."