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.
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.
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.
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. DudeRanches.org is a tremendous resource with listing of ranches all over the U.S.
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 Amazon.au. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Come and enjoy my little piece of paradise. I will be exploring yours in January 2020. Cheers, 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.