Thursday, January 12, 2017

Rancho Del Oso – Where Redwoods Meet the Sea

Waddell Beach is a wild stretch of surf eighteen miles north of Santa Cruz on Highway One. I was driving to San Francisco from L. A. when the rust colored meadow with its muted mauve and lavender grasses lacing the winding sea-bound creek called to me. Flashes of ducks, geese, and other shorebirds stirred my birding instincts. I yearned to know the valley that stretches from the beach into the redwood basin better, so when I visited friends in nearby Felton during the holidays, I asked them to share this
Rancho Del Oso Nature Preserve turned out to be a local favorite. An easy, wide trail winds through beach, marsh, stream, and a riparian corridor. Self-guided trail maps can be easily obtained at the nature center about a half-mile into the park. Guided walks are provided on the weekends by docents. A horse camp is available for equestrians who bring their own mounts. Along with the equestrian trails in the park are trails for hikers and bikers. Monterey pines, mixed woodland, redwoods, coastal scrub, and mountain chaparral create a collage of color and shapes fringing the broad meadow of the Theodore Hoover National Preserve bordering Waddell Beach Park.
Most hikers are content to take the lower trail from the beach up to Berry Creek Falls, felt by many to be the most beautiful falls in all of the Santa Cruz Parks. Across from the falls is a platform with benches affording fine views and a good place to picnic. The clever hiker can have a friend drop them off at the Park Headquarters at the top of Big Basin and hike about five hours down to Waddell Beach. An afternoon bus from Waddell Beach returns to Santa Cruz. Be sure to check times and schedules before making that commitment. The ambitious hiker may take the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail thirteen miles to the top of the basin and enjoy extravagant vistas. Big Basin is California’s oldest state park, established in 1902 to save the ancient redwood forests. The park has grown to more than 18,000 acres with more than 80 miles of trails passing among streams, waterfalls, and old-growth redwoods.
Redwoods were heavily logged in the basin by William Waddell from 1867 to 1875. Logging stopped when he was killed by a grizzly bear, and the valley became known as the canyon of the bear. Grizzly bears have not been seen in the area since the 1920s. In 1913 Theodore Hoover was able to buy much of Waddell Creek watershed. His Rancho Del Oso encompassed about 3,000 acres, reaching from the ocean to the boundary of Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
 Since that time, five generations of his family have lived here. There are still private family homes bordering the parkland. I felt a twinge of envy as we strolled past the neatly trimmed redwood homesteads of his descendants. The sun was smiling on their meadow bright with yellow wildflowers, dotted with persimmon trees heavy with orange globe. Neat rows of purple cabbage and a variety of lettuces fanned across the foothills. A thick hedge of berry bush brambles surrounded the fields to keep the deer and wild pigs from harvesting the crops.
We crossed a wooden bridge and walked beside Waddell Creek where the remains of a cement weir are used in the biological study of fish. During spring and winter months you may see mature steelhead and salmon in deep pools. President Hoover, an enthusiastic angler, fished here when he visited his brother. As a state park, the stream is now closed to fishing.

When we entered the deep redwood forest, the temperature dropped ten degrees. The cool breath of the towering monsters felt like a deep drink of soothing water. Lacy ferns nestle at the base of the trees ensconced in brilliant green moss. A gauze of Spanish moss draped the upper limbs of the evergreens. Warblers flashed through the still forest, illuminated by beams of light streaming through the protective arms overhead. I strained to see the birds I heard chirping. A kingfisher, a red-tailed hawk fat from easy pickings, and the flash of a stellar jay were all I could see.

As we were leaving, a wedge of pelican came in for a splash landing in the estuary. Curlew poked for treats in the mud at low tide. I wanted to stay longer to explore quietly on my own, but the fog was rolling in and it was time to go. I vowed to return to see the wildflowers in the spring and feel the cool forests in the summer. The constantly changing panorama of this natural wonderland is so varied it demands that the hiker come back for more.
Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center is within the coastal section of Big Basin Redwoods State ParkYou may park at Waddell Beach Park across from the trail head to Rancho Del Oso. There is parking on the surf side of the Highway. You can explore the wetlands, rocky tide pools, or hike anytime of the year.
Guided nature walks at the Rancho Del Oso Nature Center 831-427-2288
This a list of the hike options at Rancho Del Oso
Big Basin Redwood State Park Headquarters, where the Skyline-to Sea-Hike begins, is hosts to numerous trails spiraling throughout the redwood forest. There is also a nature museum with stuffed animal, bird, and inspect specimens on display. 
Big Basin Headquarters
21600 Big Basin Way in Boulder Creek 831-338-8860

Boulder Creek, a charming village nearby Park Headquarters is a good place to stay.

 Subscribe to my blog and receive updates on her books, and travel destinations. I will be sharing my favorite hikes along the California Coast from Los Angeles to the Lost Coast in my California Daze Column each month.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Earthiest's Creed

In the words of Edward Abbey…I am not an atheist, I am an Earthiest!

Earthiests are people who literally need to plug into the planet to recharge. Whether sitting on a rock warmed by the sun,
or face planted down on the sand at the beach, standing on a mountain top arms spread with palms up to gather energy, or resting against a tree, I am gathering energy from the earth.

 Some people think nothing is happening when they are sitting still because their minds are too busy to feel anything. But, they are receiving nature’s gift just the same.  An earthiest consciously makes themselves more receptive to the bounty by quieting their minds and will not miss an opportunity to plug into the universal gas pump! 
 Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, has a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, her historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i and her latest action-adventure novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon  

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

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Triumphant Year for the" Lost Angel"

It pays to google yourself once in a while. To my delight, I discovered that I am on the list of Top Baby Boomer Blogs forSenior Adventures. As the Adventure Travel Expert on the National Associationof Baby Boomer Women, my articles are shared in many places that I have not initiated. It is fun and exciting to see how the internet works in strange and mysterious ways

 Africa has been on my list for about a decade. I finally made it in grand style this year.  The Ultimate Safari with Overseas Adventure Travel that took me to less traveled tracks in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia was everything I had hoped for. I wrote half dozen articles about my time there. Here is the link to my interview on Around the World TV.Here is a link to Into the Wilds of Africa  featured in Real Travel Adventures E-zine.
Me with my favorite guide Cowboy

Collateral goodness from my journey brought me to Mat Dry, safari guide and owner of  This is Africa safaris. He gave me the most flattering review that Lost Angel Walkabout has received to date!

There is no other way to say it; Linda Ballou is an OUTSTANDING writer and an incredibly dynamic individual! Lost Angel Walkabout is about as captivating a collection of travel tales as one could hope to read..

 Mat helped me with my article The Elephant in the Room that I shared on Green Loons eco tours. I felt the need to bring awareness to an environmental problem that is not discussed because South Africans are afraid it will dissuade tourists from visiting their respective countries.
Two sides to the Elephant story

Peter Steyn, editor of Globe Rovers Magazine headquartered in Hong Kong, reached out to me on Social Media. That is one of the really fun things about my writing journey. You never know who will stumble upon one of your articles, or books and find you interesting.

This is the conversation that ensued and appeared in Globe Rovers along with the following book review of Lost Angel Walkabout. What a fun encounter. Check out his magazine for lots of great info on distant destinations for the intrepid traveler.

Stay tuned in for more adventures to come as I work on my next travel collection "The Lost Angel Rides Again", Wild Ballou Wander, ? You tell me. Cheers Linda

Armchair travel makes a great gift for your travel loving friends!!
Lost Angel Walkabout available with free shipping on my site or all online distribution sites.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Warm Aloha for the Holidays

What better gift than a journey to ancient Hawai'i. If you purchase Wai-nani on my site I will provide gift wrapping and free shipping anywhere in the U.S., including Hawaii.

I will also include Wai-nani's Wayfinder, a map I created that takes you to sacred historical sites on the Big Island.  I visited almost all of them in my research for Wai-nani. Reading my book and having the map in hand will enhance any visit to the Islands.
Wai-nani's Wayfinder

Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, has a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, her historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i and her latest action-adventure novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon  

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

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Heart felt thanks to my readers

I have been on the journey of a self-published author for nearly a decade. In this time of year end reflection it dawns on me that I owe a debt of gratitude to my readers. The collateral goodness of writing is connection with the hearts and minds of kindred spirits. Making a buck is always a good thing, but that is not why writers write. They do it because they want to share experiences in a way that engages and inspires others.
 The act of writing our thoughts comes back to us in strange and mysterious ways.

While I was at a guest ranch a man took a tumble off his horse. He bounced back up smiling and said" I want to thank you little lady. You just saved my life! I read you article the "Art of Falling" and I knew just what to do to break my fall and keep from getting hurt." That meant more to me than I can express here.
Fun Night Sharing Wai-nani with Book Club

It has been so wonderful meeting people online who have read one of my books and have found it worthwhile, even rewarding to travel with me, and my characters. Even though my books are in different genres, a common theme is that they are all destination pieces. They all take you to a places you can't get to any other way. It is my extreme pleasure to give back to the world in this way.

This a note of thanks to all of you have purchased my books and posted reveiws for them. That means so much to get feedback and to know that people have enjoyed my work. I hope there will be many more readers who want to see the ancient Hawaiian culture through Wai-nani's eyes, or will take a thrilling ride with Gemcie in the Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon, or become a stow away in the " Lost Angel's "backpack for more wonderful outdoor adventures.

I am busy gathering more tales for my second travel collection. You can help me by selecting the title you like best.

(1) The Lost Angel Rides Again
(2) Wild Ballou Wander
(3) 50 Shades of Ballou

Please leave a comment letting me know which one you like the best.

Wishing you a Bountiful New Year filled with love and laughter!!

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Holiday Hike to Share with Friends

Trail mates come in all shapes, sizes, and attitudes. Get to know a new friend, or catch up with an old one, while you  burn unwanted holiday calories on this easily accessed 2.5 mile loop.

The Sara Wan trailhead located on Pacific Coast Highway at the foot of Corral Canyon is one of the Santa Monica Conservancy’s newer acquisitions. The well-maintained path is wide enough for two and switches back and forth to heavenly vistas. Bear to the left on your way up canyon and enjoy the murmur of Corral Creek as you begin your hike. Fog chased by a cool breeze off the Pacific drifts through stands of eucalyptus, alder, Coastal Live Oak and willow tracing the path of the creek and keeping things comfortable. Soon you will be in mountains
frosted with pink bush mallow and lavender Chia sage, so bring a hat, water, and sun block. Once aloft, you enjoy an easy stroll with sweeping views of the coast all the way to Point Dume.
The path takes you to a vantage point with stunning views of Catalina and the Santa Monica Bay before leading you back to the parking lot.

The best ahi burger on the entire 27-mile stretch of scenic Malibu Coastline awaits your return at the open air Malibu Seafood Café adjacent to the parking lot. You can treat yourself to lobster live from the tank or be happy with scrumptious fish and chips. From the upstairs covered patio, dolphins are often seen cavorting in the deep channel. A flock of wild parrots, migrants from Mexico, have made homes in the palms swaying overhead.

A siesta on the Dan Blocker beach on the other side of PCH is a wonderful way to cap off this outdoor day. Bring a good book and wait for sunset. You can park in the Santa Monica Conservancy lot all day for five bucks—such a deal!

Your friends will thank you for bringing them here.

Directions: Malibu Seafood Market 25653 Pacific Coast Highway is about 11/2 miles up the coast from Pepperdine University between Malibu Canyon and Kanaan Road. An MTA bus stop is there for those who prefer not to drive.

Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, has a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, her historical novel Wai-nani, A Voicefrom Old Hawai’i and her latest action-adventure novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon  

 Subscribe to her blog Linda's Blogand receive updates on her books, and travel destinations.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon in the Ribbons

Year in rear view mirror for The Cowgirl Jumped Over theMoon 

 California Riding Magazine selected
The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon for the Good Reads in their Holiday Gift Guide.
What better gift for your horse loving friends?

It was quite a leap of faith for me to publish this story.  Writing it was part of my own healing process when I had to give up riding due to an injury. I am so pleased that The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon is a finalist in the Indie Excellence Awards.  For it to receive this recognition is quite on honor.
Cowgirl has garnered numerous 5-Star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads from horse lovers, and general readers alike. I am marketing it under the genre “New Adult”, but the story can fall under “Women’s Fiction”, or even “Western Romance.” Here are some of my favorite comments from readers
**Horses. Romance. Adventure - who could need anything more from a book?

** I could smell the leather and sweat, feel the wind buffeting the flags at the shows, hear the whispers of the trees when Gemcie was out in the trail.

** Her writing is so descriptive that you feel you are in the saddle and experiencing everything Gemcie does. The words describing the amazing mountains makes you able to feel the wind and smell the rain.

While writing The Grand Prix jumping scenes in Cowgirl I kept a vision of Susan Hutchison in my mind. She is an incredible rider whose slogan is “No Guts-No Glory.” I saw her riding Samsung Woodstock in the 90’s when they were on their way to World Cup. She kindly agreed to an interview that appeared in the California Riding Magazine. The timing was auspicious because she was inducted into the Jumper Hall of Fame in 2016.

I especially enjoyed my conversation with Diann Adamson Can WeTalk”  that appeared in her newsletter Le Cour di l’ Artiste.

The Response to my storyand interview with Le Romantique, a site hosted by a Canadian teen, was important to me because I wanted to know if my book held appeal for the younger audience.

Cowgirl went Down Under in an interview with Christine Meunier, author of the Free Rein Series

A fantastic write-up and endorsement for my book appeared on Equine Addiction in Sept. 2016

Gina McKnight of Riding and Writing Fame spotlighted me on her blog early on.

I am grateful for all the enthusiastic support that The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon is receiving and can't wait to get back in the saddle myself for more riding adventures. Cheers, Linda

Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, has a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, her historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i and her latest action-adventure novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon  

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

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Star on the Senior Adventure Travel Blogs for 2016

It pays to google yourself once in awhile. I discovered that I am on the Best Senior Adventure Blog lists for 2016 !!

 Once for my adventure travel column on the National Association of Baby Boomer Women

and again for my personal blog Linda Ballou Talking to You.
I would love for you to subscribe to my blog. It is an ecclectic mix of travel adventures, insights into Hawaiian history and mythology, and pieces about Cowgirls who jump over Moon!!

Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, has a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, her historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i and her latest action-adventure novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon  

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

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Best of Times with Bobo

While living on the north shore of Kauai, I got a job as a cub reporter at the Kauai Garden Island
Napali Coast Kauai
  This gave me access to people on the Island I found noteworthy.  Suzanne “Bobo” Bollins, who lived at the notorious Taylor Camp (1969-1978) where young people fleeing the Viet Nam war and materialism of the mainland were living out the ultimate hippie fantasies, seemed a good prospect. It was said that Bobo swam the tumultuous waters of the Napali Coast wearing only a belt with a pouch containing a dry pareau for when she reached the shore. This seemed quite a miraculous feat to me, so I made an appointment to interview her.
She welcomed me in her tree house abode with a glass of Merlot. She told me that dolphin often played with her on her swims from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Valley—some eleven miles away. She said she felt their intelligence when they came close to look her in the eye.  She seemed perfectly at ease in her Spartan quarters, forerunner to the “Tiny House” movement today.  Her brown skin was weathered from the sun and a thick braid of golden hair went to her waist. Stories of the residents cavorting nude were over-stated, she told me. She was wearing a sarong tied at the shoulder in the early Hawaiian kikepa style, and said regular clothes were worn by residents in the evenings to fend off mosquitoes.
 She was highly animated in the telling of her month-long stays in the valley held sacred by Hawaiians, but abruptly stopped short to announce that the lava rocks in the canvas-domed sauna just outside her door were ready. This was to be an evening of sharing with the other residents in the camp. Bobo offered me a hit off of a joint of the most powerful pot I have ever run into in my life, and asked me if I would like to join them in a ceremony celebrating Earth Mother. Curious minds want to know, so I stripped to my undies and joined the group wearing no more than their birthday suits. We sat in a circle around the steaming crimson rocks holding hands while chanting a reverberating Om.  The heat generated by the cauldron of molten rocks combined with the intense communal sharing of energy brought me to a feverish crescendo. I stumbled out of the sauna, and planted myself face down in the frigid mountain stream running through the camp to cool off.  Energy shot through the top of my head like a comet, leaving my mind as clear as the sparkling heavens above.

At that time, the highly romanticized camp of peace and love hippies, glorified in coffee table books today, was nearing an end. Elizabeth Taylor’s brother, Howard who owned seven acres of beach front property had originally allowed a group of thirteen disenfranchised youth from San Francisco to build their camp on Ke’e Beach. Soon, there were over 120 people, including women with small children living at the camp. The residents of Taylor Camp who did not pay taxes, lived on welfare and food stamps, soon found themselves at odds with the locals. What’s more native Hawaiians didn’t like the desecration of the Kalalau Valley by hippies camped there. It was rumored that home boys had put a dead pig upstream the week before my visit to contaminate the water and encourage the tree-house people to move on.

Still, I admired Bobo for her extreme bravery and athleticism.  At the time I did not know that I had found the inspiration for the dolphin that would be the loyal friend of my heroine in Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i.  It is fascinating to witness how life experiences boomerang into an artist’s consciousness and appear in their work. Many Wai-nani readers view her relationship with a dolphin family as fantastic. The truth is that all of the interaction between my heroine, and her best friend--a bottle nose dolphin, is real. That is to say, I researched the behavior of dolphins and their relationship with humans throughout history to bring authenticity to the story.  A documentary film detailing life in Taylor Camp was released in the Islands. Bobo’s granddaughter, Natalie Noble, stars in the film swimming alone in the buff along the majestic Napali Coast. I suspect there are dolphins playing in her wake.