When you envision your retirement, what will you be doing?
Richard and Amy Lynn, both 61, have been chasing wild dogs in Africa, hanging out with orangutans in Indonesia and venturing to remote regions of Tasmania to spot a platypus.
The couple’s passion for traveling and wildlife has led them to all seven continents and 50 states, photographing animals in their natural habitat.
While they admit that they’re no photography pros (Richard says he doesn’t understand what a jpeg is), they’ve compiled over 750 photos into a self-published book, The Sarcastic Lens, which includes animal facts and short humorous stories about their travels.
“We’re just two schmoes, and we’ve been able to do a lot of incredible stuff without the fancy equipment,” says Amy, a medical technologist. (Richard is a retired corporate attorney.)
The couple, who met at the University of Massachusetts and married in 1975, have long loved traveling, although the nature of their adventures has changed throughout the years. When their two kids were younger, their trips were more family-friendly. Now that they’re empty nesters, the Lynns are trotting the globe, from Antarctica to Botswana.
On average, the couple, who reside in Franklin Lakes, N.J., take two to three major trips a year that are two to three weeks each, with smaller trips in between.
Both believe that following your passions, whatever they may be, is vital to a happy life.
They’ve always had a “get-up-and-do-it-now” attitude, but especially since Amy received devastating news years ago that she had breast cancer.
“Go do it now,” she says. “Your life can change with one phone call. Mine certainly has, and I was glad I had always had that mentality of ‘get up and go,’ because I didn’t have to face that situation of ‘there are still many things I want to do.’ I had done them all already.”
Richard and Amy hope to inspire people of all ages to seek out adventure. They say that anyone can travel — regardless of age, physical limitations or money — simply by designing the trip for their needs.
“It’s very simple: get up and go,” says Amy, who has also had three knee operations. “Stop saying, ‘I’d love to do that.’ You can do that.”
The title of their book holds the couple’s key to successful traveling: their sense of humor.
Once, when they were attempting to catch a glimpse of the Andean Cock of the Rock — it’s a bird — in the rain at 4 a.m. in Ecuador, Amy was covered in mud, her hair frizzed from humidity. She whispered to Richard, “I bet you won’t see this on an episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” a reference they always get since they’re from New Jersey.
“We think that almost anything can be funny; you just have to look at it in the right way,” Richard says. “When one of us gets totally annoyed, the other usually covers. We tend not to get really upset or annoyed at the same time.”
“We’re really good at ying-yanging it in that way,” adds Amy.
The Road Ahead
The Lynns have a map in their house and like to put a pin in all the places they’ve been. The map is filling up, but they plan to continue investing in pins.
This August, they’re traveling to Tonga, Fiji and American Samoa for a special occasion — their 40th anniversary. No relaxing on beaches for them. They’ll be swimming, and no doubt photographing humpback whales.
They have many more photographs to share and are working on their second book, which will feature the world’s top 100 destinations.
Although the couple is now focused on photographing destinations, they aren’t done with animals. There are many more to capture, and they hope to publish yet another book filled with their exotic scaly and furry friends. Because, after all, animals are their true passion.
“It doesn’t matter what your loves are and what your passions are,” says Amy. “You should do what makes you happy. Ours is chasing wild dogs, and others’ could be completely different. But if that’s what you like to do, why aren’t you doing that?”