Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lost Angel heads for the Best Travel Writer's Conference in the West

Truly honored to have my book Lost Angel Walkabout –One Traveler’s Tales in the Book Passage Store for the Travel Writer’s Conference in Corte Madera, California the nexus of the plexus for travel writers and photographers. Proud to say that Tim Cahill, “ America’s Best-Loved Adventure-Travel Writer” and the headliner for this event, gave me an interview that is included in the pages of my book. I look forward to re-connecting with the cream of the crop in the travel world Aug. 12-15. For more information go to See you there!

Turtle Love

Have a blast while helping turtles last in Baja, California

NEW TRIP – Volunteer Sea Turtle Monitoring and Sea Kayak Quick Tour Combo Baja
Why this trip: Provide vital assistance to sea turtle researchers; itinerary combines an intro to sea kayaking and snorkeling in Mexico’s newest marine park (Loreto Bay National Park; also a UNESCO World Heritage Site) - novices welcome!
LORETO, BAJA CALIFORNIA -- Idaho-based Sea Kayak Adventures, Inc. is offering an exciting all-inclusive eight-day trip package where participants can spend three days hands-on helping researchers monitor and tag endangered sea turtles at their nesting beach in Magdalena Bay, then three days paddling a sea kayak alongside dolphins and sea lions in the clear waters of Loreto Bay in the Sea of Cortez. The itinerary offers opportunities for novices to paddle and explore uninhabited desert islands by stable sea kayak, snorkel with colorful fish along isolated coves in clear turquoise waters and learn all about sea turtles. All activities are led by naturalist guides.
For Trip Details :

Monday, July 26, 2010

Eco-alert -Sea of Cortez

I posted the eco-alert below in my book Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler's Tales after the story called "Part of the Pod." My hosts on this journey, Nancy Mertz and Terry Prichard, co-owners of Sea Kayak Adventures, requested I post thier rebuttal to the statement below. No one likes to admit making a mistake, but if my research is faulty, or out of date, and the Sea of Cortez is being patrolled and protected by the Mexican Government, I am very happy to report the error of my ways.


When I took this trip a decade ago there was still an air of excitement over the formation of the Bahia-Loreto National Marine Park in 1996. This was a conservation experiment that promised set an example for the world in restoring and preserving over-fished marine environments. Shrimp trawlers that rip up the ocean floor and kill everything in their path, gill nets that capture manta ray, dolphin, seal and more were to be banned. Night fishing was outlawed and fishing permits were to be limited by PESCA, Mexico’s federal fishing agency.
That is why I am so saddened to report that not only have more fishing permits been issued, officials are not enforcing the law. Illegal shrimp trawlers and gill nets continue to rape the sea once “ferocious with life.” In addition, an even meaner threat has been added to the brew. The inshore reefs for the most part are totally barren. About 7-8 years ago, Hooka divers began scouring the remaining pockets of the reefs to capture what is left of the small reef fish. Once located the divers herd the fish into monofilament gillnets. Many of the larger parrot fish, and cabrilla didn’t get caught in the nets. So, about 6 years ago “Pistolero” came into play. These divers shoot the larger remaining fish at night with spears. They also take lobster, octopus, snails, and clams. These methods are effectively clearing the reef of any living creature that can be eaten.
Locals say that the fish have declined 90% in the last ten years. They know that without the time to reproduce there will soon be no more fish left in the sea. It is easy to demonize the Mexicans who seemingly have no regard for the natural wealth bestowed upon them. Local enforcement looks the other way if bribed, poverty stricken locals do whatever they have to do to survive and PESCA defends their environmental policies saying they are doing everything they can to save the Sea of Cortez. However, like the drug trade fueled by demand by northern Americans, so is the illegal over fishing encouraged by the enormous demand for seafood in the United States.
Can the Sea of Cortez, once the most nutrient rich nursery for all manner of marine and birdlife be revived? Not without the help of organizations like the National Resource Defense Council and that continue efforts to prevent the death of all life in the Sea. But, I don’t think there will be a real solution to the abuses to marine life until there is an international agency with the funds to patrol our oceans and the authority to enforce environmental laws, but in the meantime we can support these agents of change.


We want to let you know - since 1996 when Loreto Bay became a national marine park, things have VASTLY improved there, they have rangers regularly patrolling it for poacher fishermen, etc. And, now it is a UNESCO World Heritage site as well.We have not heard the shrimp trawlers strip mining the water column in years and years. The waters have become even more regulated, so now you cannot use a jet ski in the park, nor can you set up semi-permanent basecamps with generators (which is allowed on Isla Espiritu Santo off La Paz city 5 hours drive south of Loreto). La Paz and Loreto are really the only good kayaking spots with islands to camp on, thus of the two, Loreto is really the only pristine camping left, and many committed local environmental and tourist organizations are determined to keep it that way - very heartening. We have seen whales coming back in greater numbers, both in Baja and in BC Canada since we've been in business (1993) so that is good too. Also, since you were there, the Mexican government is now strictly regulating and protecting the three gray whale calving lagoons on the Pacific coast - Magdelena Bay to the south, 2 hours from Loreto, where we operate, San Ignacio and Guerrero Negro.No one can kayak with the gray whales or bring their own motorboat any longer - during calving season in Feb, you must go with the government-licensed cooperative that runs skiff tours 2 hours at a time among the gray whales. So we have witnessed vast improvements since we first wre in Loreto. I am happy to discuss any of the latest happenings with you. Warm regards, Nancy tollfree 1-800-616-1943

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Good of Going to the Mountains

by Linda Ballou

I bound up the boulder steps of the Basin-Cascade trail tracing an energetic river graced with glistening waterfalls. While navigating the twisted roots of birch trees, I chanced a look to the heavens trembling with lemon leaves rustling in a flirtatious breeze. Relishing a moment of sacred solitude while waiting for the rest of my hiking group to join me at the base of Ellis Falls, I listened to the full throated roar of the powerful white curtain of water carving a path through sheer granite. The fragrance of balsam fir and the fecund odor of the gold and amber carpet of falling leaves filled the air. Like the poets, painters and millions of trampers before me, I’d come to the White Mountains of New Hampshire to rid myself of commercial chatter, pollution and to know Mother Nature’s healing heart.

Over 600 miles of well-marked paths lace our first National Forest. These trails seduce the hiker into shady glens through lacy fern forests and to alpine climbs pocked with turquoise glacier cirques …. Read more here

Find these articles and more on Linda’s website,

The Good of Going to the Mountains was originally published in Real Travel Adventures in 2006

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

You Must Come and See - Land Explored by John Muir

By Linda Ballou

John Muir explored the fiords of Glacier Bay in 1879 in a sixty-foot, spruce canoe with a Tlingit Indian guide. I'm glad to be aboard, The Spirit of Adventure, a 150- passenger catamaran with two glass-enclosed decks to roam and an open deck on top for viewing. Our Captain, a jaunty young woman with a ponytail down to her waist, is wearing a crisp naval white and blue uniform. The introduction to the cruise, given by the ship's naturalist, a national park ranger, is interrupted by the sighting of a sow with two cubs. While I scan the shore with field glasses looking for the bears, a sea otter floats close by the boat showing off the kit she carries on her belly.

Surf scoters darken the sky as they lift in the thousands before the bow
of the boat cutting through metallic water. Flocks of black oyster-catchers
join them creating a fluttery curtain across the skies. We cruise close to South Marble Island, home to the tufted and horned puffin. They work hard to fly, beating short wings in the air, but in the water they dive hundreds of feet effortlessly. Jaunty fellows in black tuxedos, they seem overdressed for the occasion. They share this tiny rock island with ….

Visit Linda’s website to read more of her articles.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blog Talk Radio interviews Linda Ballou, author of Wai-nanai, High Chiefess of Hawaii

Fill your mind with beauty and come along with adventure travel writer, Linda Ballow as she journeys to an ancient Hawaii with the spirit and character in fabled magical realism with Wai-nani, the High Chiefess of Hawaii.

Listen to her interivew at Blog Talk Radio

as she talks about her books, Wai-nani, Lost-Angel Walkabout, and her travel adventures. Visit her website at

Friday, July 16, 2010

Contest Winner Receives Copy of Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawaii, Epic Journey

Congratulations to Darcy Danielson of Ashland, Oregon the winner of the signed copy of Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawai'i.

Darcy is heading for the Big Island in December. Reading Wai-nani will greatly enhance her experience of the Islands. Many of the historical sites mentioned in the story are easily accessed and enjoyed today. The cove next to the Place of Refuge is a wonderful place to snorkel. A miraid of colorfish are always there and dolphins often come here to rest after a night of fishing in deep waters.

Presently, I am working on a map that will help readers Walk with Wai-nani in the Footsteps of the Ancestors. If I have it completed before your departure, I will send one your way.

Congratulations Darcy.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mother Nature Has Her Own Solution to Clean up the Oil Spill in the Gulf

By Linda Ballou

I have a strong connection with nature and I write to bring awareness to ecological problems about the globe. The current BP (British Petroleum) oil spill in the Gulf is the worst environmental travesty perpetrated by mankind in our lifetime. It horrifies me that BP knew they were taking risks that could allow this to happen and yet they did nothing to prevent it. Greed in the name of the almighty dollar caused this catastrophe.

I am absolutely appalled, disgusted, dismayed, and downright mad about what is going on, or should I say what’s not going on in the cleanup effort. Several groups and organizations have come forward with viable environmentally-safe (green) and economical solutions to remove (not just disperse) the oil from the water.

Here are six examples:
The Texas Land Office and Texas Water Commission have successfully used oil-eating microbes to clean up large oil spills. Microbes hunt down and eat the toxic oil and leave only a biodegradable waste that is non-toxic to humans and marine life. It only takes weeks to accomplish this—not years like the Exxon Valdez spill. Warehouses full of microbes are readily available.

Show Me Energy Cooperative has offered to use BM007, a biofuel pellet made from Swiss grass and other cellulose materials to absorb the oil. This renewable, agricultural product can absorb 800 gallons of oil per ton and is environmentally safe and available for immediate application. The reclaimed material can be squeezed to get the oil out, or it can be formed into an energy product that can be burned commercially.

Mobius Technologies has 2,000,000 pounds of its EPA-authorized MPU oil-sorbent powder (Micronized polyurethane) that can be delivered from its current inventory to the Gulf within five days via air cargo. Millions more pounds can be delivered continuously thereafter. Within seconds of application, MPU forms an oil-cake that is resistant to wave action and does not sink. This allows the product and the oil to be permanently removed as it is collected.

According to the Walton County (FL) Sheriff’s Department and spokesperson from Florida-based CW Roberts Contracting, Bermuda hay and Bahia straw can be used as a very effective environmentally-correct solution for oil spill cleanup. The organic material, which is plenteous in supply, could be scattered over the surface of the ocean via boats with hay blowers to mop up the oil. The straw could then be collected by air lifts or boats; or it may be allowed to wash ashore where it can be swept up using standard beach cleaning equipment. Representatives from BP were in the audience watching the demonstration CW Roberts is already under contract with the Walton County Office of Emergency Management to protect their beaches from the oil spill. It’s not like this company is a fly-by-night operation that doesn’t know what it’s talking about! The president of CW Roberts told the audience that his company could have boats and equipment on the water in less than a half-day. People everywhere are ready and willing to supply the hay. CW Roberts asked BP and the Coast Guard for the chance to do a 10-acre live demonstration in Gulf waters. They were told that approval has to come from higher up. Mother Goddess already approves; she’s even supplying the materials. If you need man’s approval, then get it!

A piece of chemically-treated cotton cloth developed by University of Pittsburgh is able to separate crude oil from sea water within seconds by using gravity alone. The treated cloth allows water to pass through but not oil.

Even human hair can be used to solve this environment problem

Dispersants allow BP to hide the problem by making it look as if the oil is being cleaned up but it is not. In fact, dispersants break the oil down into such small particles that it cannot be cleaned up with any of the natural products mentioned above. Dispersants leave the oil in the water and will still adversely affect aquatic life.

We have got to do something not only about the oil spill, but about the legislation that protects mega giants like BP from having to pay for their catastrophic mistake that is killing marine life and making the world an unsafe place to live. I encourage you to write to your congress person or state representative and request that one or all of these natural solutions be put to use immediately and that laws be changed to close down companies that do not comply with safety regulations already in place.

Let's work together to make it look like nature intended.