Monday, July 24, 2017

Hats Off to Susan Hutchison

Susan Hutchison, a petite, powerhouse, was recently inducted in the Hunter Jumper Hall of Fame.
In the Ribbons
Her show jumping career has been highlighted by more than three dozen Grand Prix wins. She represented the United States at six World Cup Finals and the World Equestrian Games in Holland. I interviewed her legendary mentor, Jimmy Williams, in 1993.
Jimmy Williams and Susan  Hutchison
At that time she was his most promising protégé vying for the World Cup. Susie was the rider I had in my mind while I was writing TheCowgirl Jumped Over the Moon that takes you from the Grand Prix circuit, to the high Sierra’s, and back again. I felt honored to sit down with her beneath a shady tree at Susan Hutchison Stables in Temecula. She has about twelve prize mounts stabled there and a
 fistful of students she trains in between competing in International events.
Her life has been like an arrow shot from a bow destined to hit the bull's eye. Groomed to become a riding champion from the age of 5, she has had no desire to become anything else in this lifetime. She is totally focused on the riding world, loves what she does, and aims to win. She often competes against her own students, decades her junior. She says horse jumping is one sport that you can actually get better at with age. She has had the litany of broken bones that come with the territory, but has no intention to slow down.  Her motto given to her by Jimmy “No Guts, No Glory” is tattooed on her arm.
Susie with one of fine horses

Linda meets Susie
My hat is off to Susan Hutchison. More to come about her incredible career and unshakable spirit in future articles.

Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, shares Great Outdoor days in L.A, as well as 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  

Friday, July 21, 2017

Leave the world behind at the Laramie River Ranch

Krista Burleigh, leading my ride, dreamed of owning a ranch and spending her life sharing her love of the outdoors and horses with her guests. She and husband Bill, roamed the West to find the perfect spot.
They picked the Laramie River Ranch for its isolation and endless miles of trails that fan from the ranch and offer a variety of terrain and great footing for the horses. I have sampled many dude ranches and the LLRoffers an unrivaled, rustic, authentic western experience on the back of well-trained, fit horses.
From a distance the sage-covered hills look barren, but on closer inspection you find they are peppered with a profusion of wildflowers; giant white angelica, lavender lupine, pink vetch, yellow cinquefoil, and orange Indian paintbrush brighten the scene.
This is a land of extreme beauty and extreme moods to match. Our ride started out with a blustery wind that kept the bugs at bay. Then an intense sun shone through a mountain of mushrooming clouds forcing us to shed layers of clothing. When we returned to the barn, a cloudburst sent us running to the shelter of the lodge.

All of the guests congregate for happy hour at the end of a riding day.

Jalapeno poppers and Buffalo wings were my favorite appetizers. Dinner begins with fresh greens, followed by a healthy entre choice, and ending with divine desserts.
The day’s activities are shared in the dining hall. Non-riders may hike with a naturalist, do a little fly fishing in the Laramie River, go birding, or just read a good book.
A spate in the hot tub under velvet heavens scattered with stars soothes muscles that have not seen action for a while.
Lulled by the gentle voice of the river, sleep comes easy. Waking to the sounds of bird twitter and the clatter of hooves as the wranglers bring the horses in from pasture made me eager for another day in the thumping heart of the Old West.

There is no internet service at the ranch and nary a flat screen to jog you back into the troubles of the modern world.

One man who had come here when he was five was returning 60 years later to share the ranch experience with his daughter. He was delighted to find nothing had changed in the valley. It was just as he had remembered and it thrilled him to be able to give his daughter who had never ridden before more than video games.
The wranglers said she was a natural who “stuck to a horse like a spider monkey sniffing glue.” Tears welled as the family bid their farewells to Krista and Bill promising to return next year.
As we sat overlooking the verdant pasture nestling the ranch beside the Laramie River in the middle of the pine-framed, untouched rolling hills, I asked Krista if she still loved her life.
Without hesitation, she replied, “How could you not!”
Rides range from 2 hour wild flower walks to all-day rides with a private guide. Clinics are available for novices and those who want to perfect their riding skills. Activities for non-riders include fly-fishing, naturalist guided walks, tubing on the Laramie River, square dancing and sitting on the porch enjoying a good book.
  • Laramie River Ranch is less than an hour’s drive from Laramie, Wyoming and 3 hours north of Denver. I took the scenic route through the Poudre River Valley on Hwy 14. It is worth the extra effort, but that last 25 miles are on unpaved county road 103. Be prepared for moose crossings.
  • All photos in this post are courtesy of Diane Lather Belfour and the Laramie River Ranch.
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, The Cowgirl Who Jumped Over the Moon, deals with horses, World Cup racing, and the beauty of California’s High Sierras.
For a complete bio as well as published on-line clips with photos go to my website Your reward, aside from learning about me and my work, will be to discover the secret to youth! Follow my blog or friend me on Facebook to keep up with my latest adventures.”
 This article first appeared in my column on the National Association of Baby Boomer Women.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Can we Talk? Interview on Travel Notes and Beyond

Anda Galffy of Travel Notes and Beyond fame wanted to talk?  Here is the interview..

This month I had the pleasure of interviewing Linda Ballou, a very prolific travel writer from my sweet hometown, Los Angeles. Besides writing about her outdoor adventures on her travel blog and other media outlets, Linda is also the author of three books. Here is my interview with her:

1. Tell us a little about yourself: Who are you? Where are you from?
I was born in California, but my parents moved to the wilds of Alaska when I was 13. The beauty of the Chilkat River Valley surrounded by majestic snow-slashed peaks grounded me in nature. I find solace and sustenance in the great outdoors. Today, I am an adventure travel writer based in L.A. My mission is to get to as many naturally beautiful places I can before they are gone. The universal threats to the environment make this journey more pressing with each passing day.

2. What is your blog about and how did you start blogging?
I share my outdoor adventures in travel articles and gorgeous images but, I also have a three books to my credit. Wai-nani: A Voice from Old Hawai’i set in pre-contact Hawai’i; The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon that takes the reader from the Grand Prix circuit to the John Muir Wilderness on horseback; and Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales. My blog is a mixed bag with posts relating to my books and to my travels that serves as a platform for my personal point of view.

Linda kayaking on Un-Cruise

3. Do you travel for work or for pleasure?
I am in it for all the fun I can get. My handbook “How to Make Travel Writing Work for You” on kindle details the renegade way to get great trips. I am not in it for the money, I am in it for adventures that give me something great to write about.

4. What is the most stunning place that you have ever visited?
The south island of New Zealand is the most phantasmagorical as it is so varied. Around each turn on the highway that circles the island is another natural wonder. However, Alaska remains unrivaled in its majesty. I am going to Patagonia in December which promises to be a close runner up.

Linda at Taggart Lake in the Tetons

5. Do you feel that blogging takes time away from your social or family life?
Not at all. As I said it offers the freedom to say what’s on my mind. I share my thoughts and experiences on social media which broadens my interaction with other humans. Recently, I have been having fun using my blog as a platform to get article assignments. It has been working like a charm saving me time creating query letters.

6. What is the one thing that is too large or impractical to travel with that you wish you could take with you when you travel?
I can’t take my main computer. It is way too much trouble, plus I don’t want to drop my brain in the drink, or have it stolen. I take notes on my netbook, or a yellow pad if I will be somewhere remote where there is no power

7. Are there any countries that you would not consider visiting and why?
I am not interested in going to Iraq or other war torn and dangerous places to visit. I love Africa, but there are parts of that continent that are just too risky. I am into to filling my mind with beauty, not angst and turmoil. I give to organizations that are helping with starvation and suffering around the globe to ease my guilt.

8. Do you have any funny travel stories?
Look Ways on Both Islands which was published in I Should Have Stayed Home and is in Lost Angel Walkabout details the time I was nearly deported from Tahiti. Being mistaken for a drug mule and grilled by gendarmes for a couple of hours is funny in retrospect, but not when it happened.

Linda in Costa Rica

9. What is the most adventurous thing you have ever done?
Jumping a cross-country course in the wild west of Ireland on an Irish Hunter was the most exciting and arguably stupid thing I have ever done. It is a minor miracle that I lived to tell the story titled Irish Mist which is in my book Lost Angel Walkabout.

10. What is your favorite mean of transportation (plane, train, car, ship)?
I am a horse person. Riding on the back of a good horse in gorgeous country is my favorite mode of transport. Short of that, I love rafting and kayaking on rivers. I also loved doing an Un-cruise” throughout the Hawaiian Islands on a small ship with about 25 passengers. From the above mentioned list, I think a road trip in a car provides the most freedom to explore.
You can follow Linda on:
My home Page has pages for each of my books and an articles page Link to How to Make Travel Writing Work for You on Amazon

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Epic African Journey

I made it to Africa and it was all that I had hoped for and more!!
Journey of Giraffe on the Chobe River

It’s late May in Chobe National Park, Africa’s third largest wildlife preserve, and creatures great and small are fat and sassy. Tall golden grasses are plentiful. They are the favorite of the many herds of massive elephants and a host of antelope along with Cape buffalo, zebra, and more. The sable with its handsome striped face, the kudu with its elegant curled horns, and the seemingly thousands of impala all glow with good health. They look at us in our open-air, tiered safari vehicle with curious eyes as we trundle along sand tracks.
Leopard-Courtesy of OATS

I got to share highlights of the trip in this video clip on Around the WorldTravel. A wonderful excuse to go to Santa Barbara, my favorite get away. Your comments  are welcomed on this YouTube video

The finale of the trip was a stop at spectacular VictoriaFalls  where I embarked on an Elephant Back Safari spotlighted here in FabSeniorTravel newsletter.  

I traveled to Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This piece" Botswana Highlights" is the first in a series of three giving more d
details onn what I experienced in each country.

Full Itinerary of my trip with Overseas Adventure Travel 

I have a host of travel articles on my site, along with information about my travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, and my historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’I, as well as my latest novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon
 Subscribe to my blog to receive updates on books, and travel destinations and events.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

World full of Wonders Awaits

Just returned from adventures in Estes Park, Colorado, gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park, a world full of wonders.
I am working on my articles detailing trails with tips for would be hikers.

 From there I headed to the Laramie RiverRanch
where I stepped off the grid for a glorious four days. That’s where I met my trusty steed, Owen,
who cheerfully carried me over hill and dale to head spinning vistas in what is left of the Wild West.

More to come, but I have to get to work while these fine experiences are fresh in my mind.

I have a host of travel articles on my site, along with information about my travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, and my historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i, as well as my latest novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon
 Subscribe to my blog to receive updates on books, and travel destinations and events.