Thursday, May 28, 2020

Sharing my Walkabout with Boomer Far Out Adventures


I had so much fun re-visiting my travel stories in Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler's Tales.
My travel wings are clipped, but I can still enjoy sharing my past adventures. Craig Koehn loves spotlighting Booming Boomers on his podcast Boomer Far Out Adventures. We are not over the hill, we are in for the thrill of being alive and holding each day precious.

I take you to from the majesty of my Alaska homeland to of  magical beauty of New Zealand, the wild west of America and the romantic isles in the south seas. My theme song is that nature can be our salvation. In this modern age I believe that reconnection with the natural world is critical to achieve harmony and balance in ourselves and with others.

Take a listen. The podcast is also available on your favorite online distribution site.
Podcast interview with Boomer Far Out Adventures

Adventure travel writer, Linda Ballou, has rafted, kayaked and horseback ridden through pristine wilderness areas around the globe. The most memorable of these journeys are chronicled in her book Lost Angel Walkabout.  In Lost Angel in Paradise she shares 32-of her favorite daytrips along the coast of California. In this issue we learn about her latest effort Get Great Trips for Free.  Learn more about her travels at

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

California Coast -A Love Story

Are you ready for a road trip up the coast of California?!

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. 

Kick-start creativity while meandering among flower-infused meadows, listening

to wind voices off a full-blown sea. Get the rust off your soul and find harmony in nature. When you are done with your hike, tuck into tasty treats at a sweatband-friendly eatery that I have tested personally. You have earned your calories!

Download e-book available at I-Tunes, and Amazon Kindle Store $4.99
Companion Print book at all major online Distribution sites $9.95 Signed copy with free shipping at Linda Ballou’s website

Friday, May 15, 2020

Wet, Wild and Wonderful River Trips

The Los Angeles Times recently ran a piece suggesting that river rafting could be the best thing to do this summer “Why white-water rafting could be the safest way to a family vacation this summer.”A doctor from Seattle who has been working with Covid 19 patients feels the need to get into the fresh air to re-charge his batteries. He will be taking his children on a river trip and believes it will help him re-connect with his family. River rafting is one my favorite ways to get out into pristine country. Gliding along following the ebb and flow of a river, rubber necking gorgeous scenery and listening for the rumble of the next rapid ahead is one of my favorite things to do.

Rogue Rivr-Oregon

Tatshenshini River-Fairweather Range

Momentum River Expeditions is a small company with personalized service on some the best rivers in the U.S. They run the Tatshenshini River, a 125 mile run from the Yukon to the Gulf of Alaska. This is for the more rugged outdoors enthusiast as it involves rafting through glacier fields and being totally unplugged. The Salmon River in Idaho is a bit more civilized, but don’t be surprised if you see Big Horn mountain sheep standing on the shore. It takes you through a deep canyon far away from the maddening crowd. Ashland Oregon, of  Shakespeare Festival fame, is home base for Momentum River Expeditions. They run the family friendly Rogue River with small groups and experienced guides that pride themselves on their home cooking all summer.
Salmon River-Idaho
Whether you are a seasoned river rat, an intermediate adventure junkie, or a family looking for a way to spend quality time together there is a river for you. Check out all the river rafting options offered by Momentum River Expeditions

When Linda is not river rafting, hiking or horseback riding in gorgeous country she is writing about her experiences. Her articles appear in Go World, Real Travel Adventures and on her Boomer Column on She shares her most memorable journeys in Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales. Linda resides in the City of the Angels and takes you to her favorite hikes of the coast of California in Lost Angel in Paradise. Get Great Trips for Free is her latest offering. Learn more at

Friday, May 8, 2020

Make Your Downtime Count

Fun Q&A with Lisa Smith about what it takes to succeed in the travel writing world.
Now is the time for you to position yourself to take advantage when the world re-opens.
Trust may it will! Don't waste this gift of free time.

Get Great Trips for free is available for dowload on Amazon in the kindle store.

I have a host of articles and information about my travel books at

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Building Blocks to Your Dream Destinations

Make your time at home count and get great trips for free!
Successful people position themselves to succeed. In this handbook I provide a road map for “Travel Writer Wannabes.”   Often people tell me I am lucky.  I do feel lucky that I have been hosted on fabulous trips around the globe. But, I worked hard to get lucky!  Because of my travel writing skills I have enjoyed fabulous trips with like-minded travelers to exotic locales around the globe.
Since being gifted with downtime that allows me to focus on my writing, I created this book to help those who have asked me,
 " How do I get great trips?"  This guide takes readers on the fast track to getting their dream destinations.
 Don’t waste this time. Use it to create your writing platform. You need a web page and clips of articles. Use what may be a year before the travel industry is up and running to your advantage. Position yourself to approach tour companies with a professional media kit. They will need ways to re-vitalize their businesses and you could be the answer.
I will be sharing more travel tips on my YouTube Playlist. Presently, there are 5 videos on my Tips for Travel WriterWannabes playlist. Purchase on Amazon. Or on my site

Adventure travel writer, Linda Ballou, shares travel essays in her book Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, and 32 Day Trips along the California Coast in Lost Angel in Paradise  and Get Great Trips are available on her site and Amazon.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Enjoy Your Staycation with Armchair Travel

Armchair travel at its best is informative, entertaining, well-written, sparks our wanderlust and provides a sense of place. All of these books fill that criteria for me. Enjoy your staycation.
Wilderness: The Gateway to the Soul, by Scott Stillman. Stillman is preaching to the choir in my corner of the world. One of my stories, set in Sedona, Not Enough Said for Solitude, is about taking time to connect with nature. For some time, I have been encouraging people to toss the remote out the window and breathe deeply of our beautiful world. However, it is refreshing to find this younger voice sharing the many ways that nature can be our salvation. I believe people are too concerned about being connected on social media and are so harried keeping up with technology they have lost touch with themselves. I am not able to carry a backpack into remote regions solo like Stillman, but I do enjoy river rafting and hiking in our country’s varied, majestic landscapes. I thank him for taking me into places I can’t go alone and for allowing me to imagine the peace, silence, and magic of these wild places. This is a poetic rendering that will help you become free in your wildness.
The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner. The right to pursue happiness is guaranteed to us in our constitution, but it seems most of us have chosen goals that don’t bring us to that blissful state. Weiner made it his mission to understand why and figure out what constitutes happiness in different cultures about the globe. It seems Americans for all their wealth and creature comforts, are among the least happy of peoples. I looked forward to curling up with this fun, thought-provoking romp each night before going to sleep. Weiner admits he falls back on generalizations about cultures, but he does it with self-deprecating humor. “Be here now” is the accepted mantra for happiness these days. The people of Thailand say it more simply, “Don’t think too much.” The Danes, declared to be the most content since there are no expectations in a socialized country, are not included in this journey. Perhaps, Weiner, a self-proclaimed grump, will take us there next time he explores what makes us glow from the inside out.
Talking to the Ground, by Doug Preston. This epic horseback journey across the Navajo Nation is well-researched, informative, and fun. Preston takes his wife-to-be and her nine-year-old-daughter with him on a harrowing trek that turns life-threatening on more than one occasion.  Preston displays a deep knowledge of the Navajo, the ancient ones, and the geography of the Navajo Nation. We visit canyons where ancient cliff dwellings can’t be reached any other way than by horseback, camp under the stars, and feel a deep connection to the land. Preston shares a journey that brings his family together in a very special way. I loved this book and didn’t want it to end.
Baboons for Lunch by James Michael Dorsey. I love a man with a sense of humor. It’s hard to imagine the distinguished James Dorsey I know to be slinging dung balls at monkeys, or bouncing unceremoniously across the desert on a camel, but he does. In his effort to connect with cultures that are rapidly disappearing, he finds himself in some precarious situations. He always handles them with respect for his hosts and delivers insights to his readers. This is a wonderful well-written collection of tales from silly to soul-searching. Obviously influenced by Tim Cahill, my travel writing hero, Dorsey shares his exploits with self-deprecating humor while delivering a deeper message.
A Sunburned Countryby Bill Bryson. The first time I read this book I enjoyed it. The second time I read it a couple of years later, after learning a great deal more about Australia from other sources, I loved it more. Bryson does not take you to the typical tourist stops. Rather, he takes you many places best avoided, but he explains why in the process. His focus is on odd happenings in history, and quirky people he meets along the way. He is always researching museums and reading local papers to ferret out more little-known factoids about the place. He does not spend a lick of time at the Great Barrier Reef except to tell us about the couple that was left there to try to snorkel thirty miles back to shore. Instead, he takes us to the distant shores of Western Australia, a place so vast that it has never been completely explored, to stare at blobs of matter called stromatolites credited with being the first bits of life in our universe. No matter where we are, he always throws in a bit of sly, self-deprecating humor. Fun read chock full of information and insights into the people and places down under.

Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, by Linda Ballou. Since I’m the only woman author in this collection, may I suggest my own book? Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding, writes, “Awaken your senses with thrilling tales of an intrepid soul’s search for beauty in the wilds. Ballou embraces life and draws readers into her adventures with vivid descriptions that make you feel you are traveling alongside her. She brings an intelligent meditation on nature in richly detailed, often poetic stories.”Available on my site and on Amazon. 
My mission is to get to as many beautiful places she can before they are gone! I share a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her articles and books at   

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Thursday, April 23, 2020

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! 

 I have a host of travel articles on my new site dedicated to travel including my travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales 

My  historical fantasy novel,Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i and my latest action-adventure novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon  are  

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

Monday, April 6, 2020

Going Solo on Safari

dawn on chobe_1When I told friends I was going on the Ultimate Safari that would take me to Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, their first question was, “Are you going alone?”
Well, yes, but not exactly. I told them that I would join a group of 14 other travelers upon arriving in Johannesburg and that we would be sharing the 17-day adventure that would take us to four different bush camps in vast wildlife preserves.
Don’t you feel uncomfortable being single among a group of couples?
“Nope, not at all. I’m there to experience what can be a dangerous place safely, not to get a date.”
My tent house at Banoka Camp-Delta_1-webThe stats are out. Solo women are the largest travel demographic in the United States. Ladies are not willing to wait for a friend or a reluctant husband to be ready for the adventure their heart desires. They are making the leap on their own.
Whatever their status: widowed, divorced, married, or single, these women are smart, curious, and immensely interested in engaging with local people and cultures.
Overseas Adventure Travel is one of the first outfitters to dispense with the solo traveler supplement that oftentimes makes traveling alone prohibitive.
Forty percent of OAT travelers (up from 27 percent in 2010) are going solo. Of all the solos, 80 percent are women. On my trip were three other solo women: one married with a husband at home and two senior world travelers who had gone to Thailand with OAT in the past.
Land Rover with ellie-Tom SchwabWhile on game drives, we shared tiered seating in open-air land rovers. Traditionally, seating positions are rotated to give everyone a chance at the best viewing.
Everyone was open and eager to meet new friends and to share the day with them. I never felt a sense of exclusion or social unacceptance. In fact, I think the couples relished the opportunity for new conversation.
Table setting on sunset cruiseOur buffet meals were served on long dining tables that encouraged guests to circulate. Each meal provided the opportunity to get to know another guest.
“Sundowners,” as happy hours on the savannah are called, were another fun op for getting to know one another.
Actually, I had a much more stimulating social life on safari than I normally have at home. It was full of fun exchanges with fascinating people.
No, I didn’t feel the least bit alone or uncomfortable in this setting.
At the end of our journey I asked several of the women what they enjoyed the most from our trip.
Walking Leopard-Tom Schwab_1
Courtesy Tom Schwab
One seasoned traveler who had been to Africa seven times, said she loved boating up the Kafue River from our bush camp in Zambia to fish. She needed engagement and was not content to be a passenger. She came back to camp with a mess of tilapia and a big grin on her face.
She became my companion on the Elephant Back Safari offered at the Stanley Livingstone Wildlife Preserve. As we lumbered along on our giant mobile rocking chair behind four other elephants and a gun-toting guide, she kept saying, “This is Crazy.” I knew she was loving it.
Another woman, a retired school teacher, was moved at our visit to a school in Zimbabwe where the kids danced and sang a welcome song for us. We were given time to sit down and interact with them so they could practice their English on us.
Lions are what the married, solo female had come to Africa to see. Thank goodness we came upon a pride of fourteen in Chobe National Park or she would have gone home disappointed. Tracking a pride of five in the Okavango Delta was a highlight for me.
Ellie safari_1Riding shotgun while crashing through the brush on the hunt, reminded me of times with my father in Alaska. Finding a majestic male lion sleeping in tall grasses where he lazed away the day with his mate and their daughters after a night of hunting was an unforgettable thrill.
best mother ellie with twobabies_1All trip guests were wowed by the power and strength of the immense numbers of elephants we saw. Heading back to the comforts of our lodge, we rounded a bend to see a wall of about two hundred of them blocking our path. What a shocking mass to behold! After the initial flurry of snaps, we moved toward crossing the channel where they were drinking.
Wise Guy (our OAT guide) cautiously moved forward with his band of seven guests as our separate band of eight trundled behind in the second land rover. As we made our way, the elephants trumpeted, flapped their ears purposefully, and stamped their “big-boy feet,” threatening to T-bone us as we forged the river.
CUbaby ellie-Tom Schwab_1
Courtesy of Tom Schwab
Wise Guy stopped midstream leaving us facing an enormous matriarch who was furious because we were too close to her baby. Finally, he got us out of the way, and we surged forward as her blasting trumpet followed.
All hearts were pounding as we navigated the gauntlet of gray mountains furious with our intrusion. We left the normally docile creatures shuffling and snuffling the water feeling grateful to be alive.
Our last lunch in the wilds was at Masuma Pan, a watering hole frequented by a thirsty menagerie of animals. A parade of elephants sauntered in for a long draw at the trough, a dazzle of zebra grazed in the distance with a handsome male sable (antelope), a pod of hippo lollygagged in the water all snorting and blowing bubbles, while a rank of impala chuffed a warning sensing a cat in the neighborhood.
shatangi ladies_1A herd of kudus with two striking males, a platoon of baboons, a crocodile, and a trio of giraffes turned up late for the party. This was a fitting finale to the all the game drives we had enjoyed in our time in the bush.
It is customary on the last night of one’s stay at a given camp that hosts build a fire in the boma and invite guests to dance with them to beat of drums.
I would hate to have missed being inside the music and feeling the warm embrace of these lively, extending people with their bright smiles because I was afraid to leave home alone.
Linda Ballou says her mission is to experience as many beautiful places on our planet as she can, before they are no more. “Travel tales relating my experiences while kayaking, horseback riding, sailing, birding and hiking about the globe have appeared in numerous national magazines.
 I had a great deal of fun collecting travel stories, and profiles of people I have met in “naturally high places” for my book, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, while my latest book, Lost Angel in Paradise is a collection of 32 of my favorite daytrips on the coast of California

For a complete bio as well as published on-line clips with photos go to my website focuses on my travel destinations. Follow my blog, or friend me on Facebook to keep up with my latest adventures.”

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Are There Too Many Elephants in the Room?

By Linda Ballou, NABBW’s Adventure Travel Associate
On my visit to South Africa in 2015, I was surprised to learn that there are too many elephants! With so many environmental groups fighting to prevent the poaching of these emblematic creatures for their ivory tusks, it was ironic to learn that as early as five years ago, the African parks were actually dealing with elephant over-population.  Then, an estimated 120,000 elephants roamed the vast, unfenced preserves of Botswana under the protection of armed, patrolling rangers. Today there are 130,000.
But that’s just the Botswana elephant population. Add in neighboring Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa and the African elephant headcount is estimated at  256,000, or more than half of the total estimated elephant population of Africa.
In response to the growing population Mokgweetsi Masisi, the President of Botswana, lifted the ban on hunting elephants set in place in 2014. Conservationists who have been working for years to find a better answer to the problem are infuriated.
Why Is the Growth of the African Elephant Population a Problem?
Example of an elephant-ravaged dead zone
Elephants graze about 18 hours a day, each taking in about 400 pounds of grasses that the kudu, impala, sable, and other wildlife need to survive. They eat the leaves of the Mopane tree that giraffes and other creatures rely upon.
Dead zones are left in their wake where they have eaten everything down to a nub and killed trees by debarking them with their tusks. This rate of unsustainable devastation will leave animals starving if something is not done to curb damage caused by the growing population of elephants clustered in Southern Africa.
Michael Masukule, leader of a community adjacent to Kruger National Park in South Africa, said, “They destroy our crops, occupy our drinking places, compete with our livestock for food, and are a danger to our people. Whatever decision you take, do not forget us people who encounter elephants every day.
Villagers live in fear of the pachyderms that plunder their crops at night leaving them without enough food for winter. Elephants have killed people living on the edge of and inside national parks when they’ve tried to stop them from eating everything in sight.
On the flight from Chobe, Botswana to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, we gazed upon a seemingly endless green carpet of Mopane forests pocked with the watering holes of thousands of resident elephants. It was hard to believe that there is not enough space to go around. But since 80 percent of Botswana is desert, the remaining 20 percent must be shared by vast herds of zebra, antelope, and elephants – and roughly 2.3 million humans.
Are There Any Viable Solutions to This Elephant Overpopulation?
Several solutions have been suggested, including:
  • Introducing birth control, which has proven to be both too expensive and impractical as the drug has to be re-injected every six months to be effective.
  • Culling the herds is talked about in whispers, but government officials are afraid that approach will alienate visitors and might even trigger economic sanctions from other countries who are not living with the elephants devastation, and do not understand the gravity of the situation.
Culling is particularly problematic because of the legendary intelligence and memory of the elephants. If they see humans killing off family members, they are likely to become aggressive and more dangerous to villagers and tourists alike. The entire family, including babies, would have to be killed at the same time to prevent this type of revenge. It’s not feasible.
  • Installing hives of African bees. There are, however, some smaller steps that can be taken to minimize the effects of elephants on local crops. Elephants are afraid of bees. The installation of hives of African bees at intervals surrounding a field have effectively deterred the elephants and given the villagers income from the honey they produce.
In 2002, researchers found that African elephants stay away from acacia trees with beehives. Later studies revealed that not only do the elephants run away from the sound of buzzing bees, they also emit low-frequency alarm calls to alert family members about the possible threat.
  • Planting a buffering crop of chilies. Just as they don’t like bees, elephants don’t like chilies. Capsaicin, the chemical in chilies that make them hot, is an irritant causing elephants to cough, sneeze, and eventually turn away from crops surrounded by a buffer of chilies. (For more details on this plan, refer to the 2014 BBC article by Shreya Dasgupta.)
  • KAZA – or migrating the elephants elsewhere. Other solutions considered are extending existing parks through more land acquisitions, moving more elephants from overpopulated to underpopulated parks, and opening corridors between parks to allow elephants to resume some of their old migration routes. Enter the Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area also known as KAZA TFCA – which opens up elephant migration routes crossing international borders.
This initiative of the governments of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe was formulated in 2012. It involves the land situated in the Okavango and Zambezi river basins where the borders of the five countries converge.
Sadly, implementing the good intentions of this agreement has proven to be difficult, as the elephants are not co-operating. They are remaining clustered in parks like Hwange in Zimbabwe where there are man-made watering holes able to sustain them throughout the dry season.
KAZA is a wonderful idea whose success will be determined in decades rather than years. This region is a very dry region with and has limited water resources. The elephant is a water-dependent species. Getting elephants to move (migrate) may very well be impossible as they follow the memories of the matriarch(s) who may have never learned a migratory pattern.
“Just because KAZA is implemented doesn’t mean the elephants can take advantage of it. They are at the mercy of the elements and their needs. Shutting down the man-made resources might stimulate elephant movement, but it will also cause tourism to suffer, one of the main reasons for the treaty being created,” according to Mat Dry, Safari Guide, author of This is Africa, and owner of TIA Safaris.
This article is not designed to diminish or minimize the efforts of conservationists fighting to prevent the slaughter of elephants in the Congo by militants who sell the ivory to purchase ammunitions, or in the Selous in Tanzania, a park that has been ravaged by poachers. That horrendous disregard for life must stop.
However, Africa is an enormous continent and what is true in the Congo and other parts of Africa is not the reality in other countries. Outsiders should understand that if culling becomes the only answer to this problem, it will not happen until all else fails.
But, again, this current situation is not sustainable for the other animals in the parks or for the humans living in and/or on the edge of the last great wild places in Africa.
Sadly, instead of ordering culling in a responsible, humane way by rangers, the elephants are to be shot by trophy hunters. Elephants are intelligent creatures with keen memories who protect members of their family.
This approach of killing a single adult member of a family will create angry, vengeful matriarchs, and rogue bulls that will likely terrorize villagers. When I was in Zimbabwe, I could hear the low rumble of the elephants grazing peacefully nearby our tent camp while we were sleeping.  A marauding elephant could easily destroy a wilderness camp. This is a dangerous response to a serious problem that could wreak havoc for the 2-billion tourist industry.
The restriction of flights to Africa to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is giving elephants a reprieve. Hunters can’t enter the country, but, according to a recent article by Antony Squazzin, “Seven hunting packages, of 10 elephants each, were available for auction. Only one (package) was not sold as no bidders met the reserve price of 2 million pula ($181,000),” said Adrian Rass, managing director of Auction It Ltd, of Botswana.
Hopefully, an answer to the elephant conundrum will appear by the time things get back to our “new normal.”
Note: Special thanks to photographer Tom Schwab for the wonderful elephant photos. 
This article first published on the National Association of Baby Boomer Women,
Editor: Anne Holmes, Boomer CEO
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.

Friday, March 20, 2020

I love these Walking Guides

The best thing you can do for yourself now is Get Outdoors! Cicerone Press offers wonderful collection of walking guides for fantastic tracks around the globe.  I ordered Walking in The Cotswolds and in Walking in Cornwall in England as I hope one fine day to get back to the UK and take a much more up close and personal look. These books provide rich detail of the region, history, geology, and footpath difficulty. Informative, compact print with color images help the reader know what they are getting into.  Each of the books are written by locals with in depth knowledge of the nuances of the places they call home. They share specific instructions on how to get to the trailheads with detailed maps.  In addition, they give you information on the nearest transport, if it is wise to rent a car or to take public transport.  Suggestions for accommodations near the footpaths listed in the books are extremely helpful for the traveler.

With these pocket books that fit easily into my back pack, I feel confident to tackle hiking in the storybook footpaths of the Cotswolds, or the coastal cliff walks of Cornwall on my own. There is information about local guides if I arrive and feel uncertain. However, it looks like it will be a bit like following a buried treasure map with posted landmarks to my daily destination. It is recommended that you stay in a village close to many walking paths and explore a region in depth rather than rushing through all the walks  listed in the books trying to tick off as many as you can in a short time.
Go to the and select you next adventure. Planning your next trip can be as stimulating as the travel itself. If you live in one of the many countries listed in their catalogue you will learn new ways to get out and explore in your own back yard.

P.S. in the U.S. they cover The Grand Canyon, Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail 
For walks along the Coast of California check out my book Lost Angel in Paradise. 
For more about my articles and books go to

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Travel Tips for 2020

The ability to speed through immigration and customs after landing from an international flight without wasting time waiting in line is perhaps one of the greatest modern improvements to travel.” -- AFAR Magazine

Global Entry, long touted as the fastest way to skirt custom lines requires you to check in on a kiosk and charges an annual fee. The mobile passport app allows you to go directly to the exit door security officer, and it is free.  No more standing in a customs conga line for an hour after an exhausting flight. You should set up the app before leaving home to speed up the process when you re-enter the U.S. available on Google Play and in the Apple Store.

Jared Kamrowski, owner of, says that Google Flights is the best source for tracking down the cheapest airfares. Google is intent on making their app better than other third party sites like Expedia and You enter your desired dates of travel and destination, and you will receive alerts as to the best fares for your itinerary. When you decide to purchase, the site will deliver you directly to the airline.  You should always make your flight reservations directly with the airline without third party commissions and the most complete inventory of flight offerings. Download the app for the airline you use so that you get up to date notifications about flight or gate changes. Sign up on his site for more $$ saving tips.

P.S. Southwest Airlines does not participate in Google Flights. Their fairs are always low and that don’t charge baggage fees.

Tips from travel gurus at the  Los Angeles Adventure travel Show. Happy Travels in 2020
Adventure Travel Writer Linda Ballou

Sunday, March 8, 2020

March is Women's History Month.-I salute Ka'ahumanu.

Brave, athletic, strong, passionate, caring and centered in herself, I saw her as a forerunner of the modern woman. It was a tremendous gift to be given the opportunity to visit the cave where she was born. It took the entire crew of six members of the Hana Canoe Club to paddle me to her birthplace.  We pointed the tip of the outrigger into the oncoming waves that sloshed over the bow and paddled through the foaming surf to the protected shallow waters lapping at the lava rocks beneath  the cave where she was born. I climbed the jagged black lava to a path that led to a large opening with two indentations big enough to accommodate a human.  Her mother enjoyed a lovely view of Hana Bay and the green mountains floating on the horizon. Offerings of flowers were placed in front of the openings. Before leaving I floated in the waters at the foot of her cave considered to be healing by those who come here for sacred ceremonies.
Chiefess Ka’ahumanu

. While Ka’ahumanu was still a baby her parents fled from Hana to Hawai’i to the Big Island where they lived in royal comfort. Wai-nani,A Voice from old Hawai’i my historical novel (1750-1819) is inspired by the life of the precocious Chiefess Ka’ahumanu. To some she is remembered as the” loving mother of the people” and to others she is the “flaw that brought down the chiefdom.”

Written With Warm Aloha In the Name of Ka’ahumanu-Linda Ballou

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Suiting up for Great Barrier Reef

 Stinger Suits are required for snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef. The stinger and box jellies don't normally come out this far (30 miles off shore)  but, better to be safe than dead, I always say.

Donning Stinger Suits for our day at GBR-Gail Betts Photo
Linda Goldman, Julie Zabilski, Ann Nielsen, Linda Ballou
The busy harbor in Cairns is where tourists board vessels for a day of snorkeling and diving on the reef. It was raining the February morning we left for the 30-mile cruise to our first snorkel stop, Simpsons Reef, but it cleared by the time we reached our destination. Stinger jellies are not this far from the shore, but we suited up in lycra stinger suits just in case some did not get the memo. Half of the 180 passengers on board were celebrating Chinese New Year. Amazingly, we were all fitted with masks and snorkels, and entered the 80-degree water with military precision. Those who didn’t snorkel took a submarine cruise with viewing windows.
Linda in the center of  Simpson Reef snorkel spot
Great Barrier Reef from Below

The reef’s coral heads look like giant pudgy brains in colors ranging from murky brown to emerald green and electric blue in an unending variety of shapes and sizes. Fishes of many colors flit in and out of the crannies and cubbyholes that afford protection from predators. The giant clam that can reach 400 pounds and the giant green turtles are a thrill to spot. I almost walked on water when I spied two 5-foot moray eels slithering through the reef near the ocean floor. The reef which is over 125 miles in length and has over 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands, is endangered. The temperature of the water has been getting warmer each year for the last four years. Climate change is causing acidification, and bleaching of the corals which means death to the reef jeopardizing all the marine creatures that depend upon it to survive.
Great Barrier Reef from Above

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.
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