Thursday, September 12, 2019

Skirt the crowds and beat the summer heat in Yosemite with a stay at Tenaya Lodge, an all-inclusive resort with hot and cold pools and a complete spa center.
Located just outside the south entrance of Yosemite (1-hour drive from Yosemite Valley) it makes a perfect home base for explorations in the famed 1,169 square mile National Park.
John Muir waxed poetic about billowing clouds mushrooming into tender blue skies forming magnificent cloudscapes. He lovingly described lacy white curtains of water fanning over granite ramparts and the unending beauty of the Sierra Mountains. Muir had Yosemite to himself, but today we share some of nature’s finest handiwork with 5 million visitors annually. It is worth it to deal with the crowds, but you need to make a plan.
Sunset over Half Dome. Photo courtesy of Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite.
Study a guidebook before entering the park and read the newspaper handed out at the visitor center located in the Currie parking lot and in Yosemite Village.
There are a number of activities available, from films sharing the history of Yosemite to a gallery of Ansel Adams’ photographs of landmarks like Half Dome and El Capitan. Lodging in the busy valley ranges from campsites arranged through the National Park Service, to tent and wood cabins and two lux hotels. James Kaiser’s complete guide to Yosemite is very helpful.
Yosemite Valley Tunnel View
Enter the valley through a mile-long tunnel carved through granite that opens to the view of the valley floor. This famous scene has been captured by such masters as Albert Bierstadt who painted a massive 40-foot square image of the scene “Looking Down Yosemite Valley” to inspire Easterners to come to the park. He was one of the White Mountain artists who was dumbstruck by the glistening granite walls streaked with waterfalls carved by the Merced River snaking through the valley floor.
The Yosemite Valley Floor Tour is a great way to see the Park.
If you choose to drive on your own, ditch your car at the first opportunity which is Currie parking lot. (Shuttle stop #1). Hop on the free service with friendly operators who will help guide you to your destinations. There are options for all levels of fitness from rock climbers to handicapped.
There are 20 stops on the shuttle service with Yosemite Falls being one of the easiest hikes. The trails in the valley are paved and family friendly. This easy walk loops to the Yosemite Lodge where, if you are not inclined to hike and want to see as much as you can in a short time, you can catch a tour on an open-air tram with a ranger guide. ($37.50).
Merced River, as enjoyed by Linda Ballou
If you are planning to hike the more taxing Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada falls (stop #16), go there early in the morning. It is a steep ascent for about a mile, sweetened by a breeze wafting off the charging waters of the Merced, aptly called River of Mercy.
This intermediate trail involves 600 rock steps that take you to the base of Vernal Falls, a powerful rush of water sliding over a granite lip creating rainbow sprays and swirling bowls of foaming water.
The second leg of the trail deposits hikers at Nevada Falls. Brave hearts who want to climb Half Dome veer off this path to the John Muir Trail. By noon the sun is intense; hikers need to be careful to hydrate. The air is dry and if you are coming from a lower elevation you especially need to be drinking lots of water. This trail is heavily populated, but I found a quiet lunch stop on a massive boulder with a dead-ahead view of Vernal Falls.
Mirror Lake (stop 17) is a great destination if you are looking for serenity and solitude. It is a short, easy trail that crosses Tenaya Creek Bridge then follows the creek to Mirror Lake. Nearby is the majestic Ahwahnee Hotel built by Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, in 1927 to entice wealthy Easterners. He knew that if the park was not profitable, it would not be preserved. You can enjoy a cool drink on the patio of this elegant establishment overlooking a vast meadow framed in towering rock buttresses.
Halfway between the famous valley and the Tenaya Lodge, a snaking road through a thick forest takes you to Glacier Point with a vista of unrivaled beauty. At the Washburn Overlook, Half Dome dominates the scene with three waterfalls and mountaintops spreading to eternity. From Glacier Point itself you overlook the verdant valley 3,000 feet below. There are many trails fanning out from Glacier Point, but the Panorama trail takes you along the rim for more stunning views.
Linda Ballou Enjoys a Tunnel Tree in Mariposa Grove, at Yosemite National Park.
The recently re-furbished trails throughout the “not to be missed” Mariposa Grove of ancient Sequoias is accessed by shuttle at a parking lot just inside the south entrance to the park. Here is a chance to breathe deeply the tranquility of the forest and admire the nobility of these giants that have withstood fire, flood, and the intrusion of mankind for thousands of years.
Tenaya Lodge offers an all-day tour in an open-air safari vehicle that takes you to all the high points in the vast park including Glacier Point and the Mariposa Grove which are both located closer to the lodge than the valley floor. This option saves you time trying to figure things out and leaves the driving to your competent guide. At the end of a touring day, families enjoy S’mores by the fire on star-studded nights.
Yosemite Trail Rides
One mile from the lodge, Yosemite Trails Saddle and Sleigh, located in the Sierra National Forest roadless wilderness, offers rides there and in the Mariposa Grove. A highlight on my journey was the 2-hour Vista Crest ride on a fit, well-mannered mount in the deep shade of tall pines clomping across clear water streams framed in frilly ferns to views forever.
Tenaya has just opened Explorer cabins at the lodge that overlook Big Creek. The scent of pines is in the air and birdsong is your wakeup call. A shuttle from the cabins to the main lodge is provided so guests have easy access to all amenities.
No matter how you chose to explore, “You Must Come and See” Yosemite.
This article first appeared on the National Association of Baby Boomer Women on my Adventure Travel Column
Linda Ballou is an adventure travel writer with a host of travel articles on her site You will also find information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales from Alaska to New Zealand, and Lost Angel in Paradise where she shares her  favorite  hikes and day trips on the coast of California.
Subscribe to her blog to receive updates on her books, travel destinations and events.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

I went to the mountains to lose my mind....

I went to the mountains to lose my mind....

 and find my soul. John Muir

Off to explore The Range of Light that John Muir loved so well.  Staying at the Tenaya Lodge just two miles from the southern entrance of Yosemite National Park. It has been a long time coming. I tried once before to go through the front door and was put off by the mobs.  I am going in September in hopes that the crowds will have thinned out.  I know the park is well-loved and  busy throughout the year.
I did a horsepack trip into the John Muir Wilderness on a trip that begins near Bishop years ago. This involved five days on horseback and popping my own tent.  I ended up being airlifted out with two fractured ribs, but that is another story that I tell in my book Lost Angel Walkabout.  It was no ones fault, just a mis-step that made my trip take a nasty turn. But, I never stopped loving the ethereal beauty of the high country in the Sierras.

I loved the mountains so much, I took my heroine in my novel The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon there. That is where she finds solace and sustenance and meets a solitary cowboy who helps her find her way.

Now, I look forward to having all the comforts including swimming pools, spas,hiking guides and easy access to the park. I'm excited to see the granite spires memorialized by Ansel Adams,  Albert Bierstadt and  Galen Rowell whose images capture the etherial beauty of the region. 

 I promise a full report when I return in mid-September 

Linda Ballou, shares a host of articles and information about her travel books on her site  You will find information about her novels and media offerings at

Subscribe to Linda’s blog to receive updates on books, and travel destinations and events.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Nature can be our Salvation - Big Blend Radio Interview

Lisa, and her mother Nancy, host a show honoring National Parks about the globe. Several of the day trips in my latest book Lost Angel in Paradise.   They were especially interested to learn more about the Santa Monica Mountains and the effects of the horrific Woolsey fire in 2018. I really enjoyed chatting with them and sharing why I just had to write this book.  Please join us on a journey up the coast of California.

 My travel collection Lost Angel Walkabout is an armchair traveler’s delight. While living in Hawaii, I found nurturing, a spiritual awakening and the heroine for my historical novel, Wai-nani: A Voice from Old Hawaii set in pre-contact Hawai’i. In 2015 I published The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon an action-adventure, new-adult novel set in California where I reside today.  Today, I enjoy guest ranches and horse treks with outfitters. In addition, I am the adventure travel expert for the National Association of Baby Boomer Women. Please stop by my site where you will find travel articles, photo essays and more about my books.

Presently, I am focused on getting to as many beautiful places I can before they are gone! That is why I created this web page dedicated to travel.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

What made me do it? Globerovers Magazine Wants to Know

It is July again and time for the latest issue of GlobeRovers Magazine. Issue 13th, now in its 7th year!
The feature destination is Argentina, from the far north on the border with Bolivia all the way down south to Ushuaia ⁠— the gateway to the Antarctic Peninsula. We also have articles about Cyprus and Mauritius Island, Australia, Canada, and we enjoy a colourful New Year Festival with the Naga people in the remote Nagaland region of Myanmar.
Photo Essays include the proboscis monkeys and orangutans in Malaysia’s Sabah State on Borneo Island, Peru’s Sacred Valley, and a boat trip down the Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo in China. Furthermore, we have expert opinions about Travel Ethics, traveller interviews, book reviews, and a lot more!.
Outdoor Day in Carpenteria-Baby Cake Beach

Editor, Peter Steyn, wanted to know what made me publish my 32 favorite day trips along the Coast of California In Lost Angel in Paradise.

Peter: What inspired you to write this book?
Linda: I love to hike and wander alone. I am fully engaged when I am in a state of exploration. However, I do love to share my adventures with friends and this is a way that I can. It is my gift to all who have asked me to take them with me. 
 For complete  interview  Answers here

Now, I can get back to enjoying everyone of my days all over again.
Happy Summer!!

Linda Ballou is an adventure travel writer with a host of travel articles on her site You will find information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales and her latest book Lost Angel in Paradise.

Subscribe to her blog to receive updates on her books, and travel destinations and events.


Monday, June 10, 2019

32- Day Trips from L.A. to the Lost Coast of California!

I go to the forest to lose my mind and find my soul” ~~ John Muir

It is my extreme pleasure to share outdoor days that have helped me achieve balance in my life. 

So many friends ask me to take them hiking, but part of my pleasure is hiking solo. Being alone allows me to absorb the beauty of my wanderings and to take time to listen to birdsong and the chatter of the creatures great and small.
Which is why I take great pleasure in inviting you to use my newest book, “Lost Angel in Paradise: Great Outdoor Days From Los Angeles to the Lost Coast” to escape with me as I take you on my favorite power-packed outdoor days along the sun-splashed California Coast from Malibu to Mendocino.
  • Let your spirit free strolling long stretches of sand in solitude.
  • Breathe deeply of the restorative energy of fern forests shaded by towering redwood giants.
  • Kickstart creativity while meandering among flower infested meadows listening to wind voices off a full blown sea.
  • Get the rust off your soul and find harmony in nature.

Linda Beside Solstice Creek
When you are done with your hike, tuck into tasty treats at a sweatband-friendly eatery Linda has tested personally. You have earned your calories!
I implore you to explore and to seize your day in the “Beauty Way.” A state of harmony in nature the Navajo call Hozho. These daytrips can be enjoyed by anyone with a modicum of fitness and a spirit of adventure.

Carpinetria Bluff Walk
Certainly, you can share these days with a friend. In fact, in some instances it is not advised to go alone.
I have added links at the end of each piece that provide detailed maps of a suggested outing and recommended eateries. There are additional hard copy resources at the back of the book.

You can download the book to your phone, or iPad with the free app Amazon provides in the Kindle store. Lost Angel in Paradise is also available in print on all major oneline distriution sites.

It is also available on I-Tunes  for Apple people

Blow Hole Montana De Oro
Finally, be sure to visit – and bookmark – my new website www.LostAngelAdventures.comspotlighting my travels around the globe.

Nicholas Flats Back Canyon"Not all who wander are lost!!” J.R.R.Tolkien

Happy explorations.

Top Senior Adventures BlogLinda's mission is to experience as many beautiful places on our planet as she can before they are no more. Travel tales relating her experiences while kayaking, horseback riding, sailing, birding and hiking about the globe have appeared in numerous national magazines. She had great fun collecting travel stories, and profiles of people she met in “naturally high places” for her book, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales. Go to for more adventures.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Q & A about Travel in the U.S. from Down Under

 Kathy Marris of" 50 Shades of Aging" fame wanted to know.
Are you planning a trip to the USA in the future? If so here’s some very detailed and informative information from American author, Linda Ballou. There’s nothing better than getting travel information from a local who really knows her country back to front. I’m sure you will find this Q & A with Linda to be invaluable.

1.Whereabouts do you reside in the United States and how long have you lived here?

Topanga Canyon is an artistic enclave nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains between Santa Monica proper and Malibu. It is as far out of L.A. as I can get without leaving L.A. I have lived in Southern California all my adult life, but only five years in Topanga. I am most familiar with the west coast, the southwest and northwest. I am not expert on the East Coast, so I will stick to what I know best in my answers.
Planning a Trip in USA
Topanga Canyon, Santa Monica

2.What are your thoughts about travel in the US? Do you think that most travellers tend to visit the frequently visited places like LA, NYC, San Fran and New Orleans?

L.A. is a huge tourist destination with Disneyland and Universal City Studios being a big draw for families. Yes, people do visit the cities, but for Europeans and Asians it’s the great open spaces of the wild-west that hold an appeal. I am from Alaska and that is on many people’s bucket list. It is one of the last wilderness areas that supports mega-fauna and abundant marine life. I always tell people who are taking a cruise up the Inside Passage to be sure to visit Glacier Bay. That is an opportunity to get up close and personal to a lot of wildlife. Here is a link to YOU MUST GO AND SEE a piece I wrote about Glacier Bay.
Planning a Trip to USA
Ice Berg in Glacier Bay, Alaska

3.Where would you recommend travellers to the US visit, especially those wanting a different US experience?

The magical formations in the Four-Corner region where Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado intersect is spectacular. The road trip out of Las Vegas to Zion and Bryce that continues on to Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Monument Valley is incredible. The Grand Canyon is also in this region and worth a peek over the rim. I rafted through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River and it was one of my most meaningful journeys.
Planning a Trip to USA
Castles in the sky at Bryce Canyon

4.I notice you do a lot of adventure travel so where would you suggest travellers go in the US to experience some “off the beaten track” activities like hiking, horse riding and kayaking.

Guest ranches are a great way to experience the west. They offer a variety of activities, hiking, river rafting and horseback riding. For instance, the Nine-Quarter circle located outside of Bozeman, Montana offers lots of activates. You can horseback ride, or hike in gorgeous country, take a picnic lunch to Yellowstone National Park, or raft the Gallatin River during your week at the ranch nestled in a valley hidden from time. I have stayed at dude ranches all over the west. Go to my site for ARTICLES on ranches that I have enjoyed. is a tremendous resource with listing of ranches all over the U.S.
Planning a Trip to USA
Horseback riding at Jackson Hole Wyoming

5.Describe where you live and what you love about it? What are the must dos and sees in your town/city?

I live in a canyon sheathed in a thick forest. It is part of the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy, the largest urban preserve in the U.S. I have miles of trails to hike just outside my back door. Even though I live in L.A. I don’t deal with the traffic on most days. I can roll down to the beach which is only ten minutes from me and take a dip in the Pacific. I doubt Malibu is as lovely as your beach, but I feel I have best of both worlds here. My e-book Lost Angel in Paradise is a collection of 32 day trips along the coast of California that I HAVE PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED AND ENJOYED. It is in the Kindle store. You can download it to your phone and have live links to trail heads and restaurants that I mention. The companion print book is now available.
Planning a Trip to USA
Linda in Malibu, California

6.Like Australia, the US is a vast country with huge distances between cities. If I were to do a month long road trip where would you suggest I go?

I would not try to do the whole country in one trip. It is just too vast. A road trip through the New England States is wonderful, especially in the fall. I love the San Juan Skyway, a 125 miles loop that starts and ends in Durango, Colorado. It takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery in Colorado including the trendy Telluride. A side trip to Mesa Verde one of the oldest and best cliff dwellings of the Anasazi on this route is well worth taking in.
Planning a Trip to USA
Found my heart on Mossy Cave Walk in Bryce Canyon
The drive up the central coast on Highway One from Morro Bay, through Big Sur to Carmel is not too shabby. You can keep driving north to Santa Cruz. The stretch of coast between Santa Cruz and San Francisco is delightful. Keep on the coast and hit Point Reyes Seashore and many other high points that are listed in my book on the way to the Oregon Coast. But, why stop there? Keep going north to the Canadian border. It is all beautiful.

7.What is the best time of year to travel to the US? Should I avoid travelling in winter (unless I’m a snow skier)?

Spring through fall would be best for the west (March-October). Sticking to the shoulder season is always good to avoid crowds.
Planning a Trip to USA
Jackson Lake-Mt. Moran Jackson Hole, Wyoming

8.In Australia we have strict gun laws, so the vast population is un-armed. Is it safe to travel through the US, considering the fact that we are unaccustomed to guns?

I think the news plays up the worst stories. I don’t see people toting guns, and I don’t worry about it when I go out. I am more afraid of being killed on the freeways by someone texting. That said, I am for stronger gun control and see no need for heavy military guns to be available to private citizens. Terrorists are active all over the world, not just here. Very sad.

9.I love the coastal areas of my country as we have some of most beautiful beaches in the world. Where in your country would you recommend for beach goers?

The beaches in Santa Barbara are lovely and swimmable. In my book LOST ANGEL IN PARADISE I highlight beach stops along the California Coast. However, the Oregon Coast is windswept, dramatic, easily accessed, and not crowded. However, the currents are strong and the waters are a bit chilly for swimming. I suspect it is much like your Great Ocean Road.
Planning a Trip to USA
Hiker on beach south of Pismo Beach on the Central Coast

10.What do you consider are the best cities to visit in the US?

I get misty every time I cross the Golden Gate Bridge over the San Francisco Bay. There is something about the tangy sea air and the brisk wind that captures my heart. The city itself is vibrant, but it is expensive, so you might want to stay on the north side of the bay in Sausalito or Corte Madera. Take the commuter ferry over to the city. It will drop you off in the business district, but it is an easy stroll to Fisherman’s Wharf. You can catch the famous cable cars from there and tour the city that way. Driving there is madness.
Planning a Trip to USA
Golden Gate Bridge, SAn Francisco
Come and enjoy my little piece of paradise. I will be exploring yours in January 2020. Cheers, Linda

About Linda

Linda Ballou is an American author and adventure travel expert for The National Association of Baby Boomer Women who lives in Topanga Canyon, California. Linda’s mission is to experience as many beautiful places on our planet as she can before they are no more. Travel tales relating her experiences while kayaking, horseback riding, sailing, birding and hiking about the globe have appeared in numerous national magazines. She had great fun collecting travel stories, and profiles of people she met in “naturally high places” for her book, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveller’s Tales. In her latest effort, LOST ANGEL IN PARADISE, she shares her favourite day trips along the California Coast.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Kathy Marris Sheds Light on Down Under

Kathy Marris is my counterpart ‘Down Under.’ She is the author of 50 Shades of Age, a lighthearted collection of stories on being 50 something.  A top blogger for the mature travelers she shares insider tips for travelers in OZ, and favorite holiday spots in striking distance – like Bali.
Australia is on my radar for 2020, so she seemed a perfect source for tips to make my trip more meaningful and less hectic. So, many tour companies have you spending a lot of time in airports zipping around a large country with extremely diverse eco-systems.
I asked Kathy questions that will help me streamline my trip and avoid tourist traps. I have been having a hard time deciding where I want to go because each region offers different experiences at different times of the year.

To help me get my bearings, where in Australia do you live in relation to Sydney?  

I live on the Far North Coast of New South Wales in a little coastal town called Kingscliff which is 815 kilometres north of Sydney. It is around 8-9 hours drive or 1.5 hours by plane.

Which part of Australia would you suggest for the first time visitor?

Sydney Harbor Sail-in
Like your country, the United States, Australia is a vast country and is completely different from north to south and east to west. Most tourists coming to Australia tend to visit the East Coast of Australia, taking in the cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast/Brisbane and the Far North of Queensland – Cairns/Port Douglas.
The East Coast is the most populous part of Australia and the cities are diverse from the south to the north, with easy flying distances between them.

What is your favorite region and why?

I may be a little biased, but I love the region where I live now on the Far North Coast of New South Wales. The beaches here are beautiful, very pristine and relatively uncrowded.
The region surrounding the Tweed Coast is aptly named the Green Cauldron because there are mountains, rainforests, volcanic rich soil that is perfect for farming all types of produce, particularly bananas, sugar cane and fruit and vegetables.

What is the best time of year to explore your favorite region?

Summers can hot and humid in this part of Australia, winters are mild but can get cool, so I would recommend visiting in either Autumn or Spring. – October/November or March/April.

What are important sites not to be missed that most do?

Federation Square, Melbourne
In the southern state of Victoria, Melbourne is a very cosmopolitan city with great food, culture and beautiful gardens. A day trip to the Great Ocean Road, around and hour out of Melbourne is a definite must see.
Sydney in New South Wales, known as the Harbour City , is spectacular. The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, a visit to Bondi Beach and catching a ferry across the harbor are the must sees.
The Gold Coast is renowned for having some of the most beautiful surf beaches in Australia with mild year round temperatures and heaps of sunshine. It also has several Theme Parks like Sea World, Dreamworld, Movie World and Wet N’ Wild. The lush green Gold Coast Hinterland is also incredible to visit on a day trip.
Brisbane, only a hour’s drive north of the Gold Coast is also a magical city to visit with it’s location on the Brisbane River than is fringed with beautiful parklands, cultural precinct and kilometres of cycling/walking paths.
Cairns located in the tropical Far North of Queensland is also an amazing city with the World Heritage Listed Daintree Forest situated to the north, the Great Barrier Reef, beautiful palm-fringed beaches and warm year round temperatures that enable you to swim and snorkel. Inland is the amazing Kuranda historic train and sky-rail set amongst lush tropical rainforests.
Uluru in Central Australia is also very popular with tourists, but you would need to fly out here as the distance is huge and there’s little to see in the arid inland of Australia.

Go Way travel offers many different self-drive tours. Do you think a first time visitor should tackle driving in Australia? The distances seem vast.

Kuranda Rail
Yes the distances are vast in Australia, but I always believe that driving holidays enable you to see so much more of the “real Australia”, rather than just cities and touristy areas. Melbourne to Sydney is 878 kilometres so this can be accomplished in two days comfortably. Then it’s a similar distance from Sydney to Gold Coast/Brisbane. Driving from Brisbane to Cairns in Far North Queensland, maybe a little ambitious. It really depends on how long you have.

Are there tour companies you recommend for the 50+ traveler?

Without doing some research, I don’t really know of any tour companies in Australia. We have mainly spent our time holidaying in our country in our caravan (trailer).  I would maybe look at Intrepid Travel or Adventure Tours.

Have you been to the Port Douglas/Great Barrier Reef region? Are there tour companies there that you would recommend for that region?

Yes I’ve spent some time in this region and it’s a must see. Once again I’ve never done an organized tour here, as we have always self-driven. There is a company called Experience Oz that do some great tours all over Australia so that may be a good place to start.

I was told November in Port Douglas is the wet season and unbearably hot. Is this true?

Yes the Far North of Australia is very hot, humid and wet in the summer months – December to March. I would avoid travelling at this time.

How do you feel about a side trip to Tasmania?

Tasmania is an amazing island! We have had several trips here touring around in a campervan (RV). However once again, you need at least a week to get around to see all the wonderful sights on this island.
Thank you Kathy for taking time to help me plan my trip. I think readers who contemplating a trip down under can benefit from reading your blog

Linda Ballou is an adventure travel writer with a host of travel articles on her site You will also find information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales from Alaska to New Zealand, and Lost Angel in Paradise where she shares her  favorite  hikes and day trips on the coast of California.
Subscribe to her blog to receive updates on her books, travel destinations and